Boston is home to some of the greatest historical landmarks in American history, like the Old North Church where Paul Revere started his famous midnight ride. But walk around Boston these days and other churches tell a different story.
Churches are trying to lure in congregants with promises of activism that read like online virtue signalers. For example, the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston brags about its 150-year history of “subverting the dominant paradigm through social outreach” and “exercising skepticism and living the questions.”
This is not the spirit of power, but the spirit of fear. Rather than proclaiming that church is an integral part of community life, Emmanuel Episcopal’s desperate parishioners are recycling garbage terms from the grievance studies laundered through academia that have now polluted our broader culture.
In the secular “progressive” attacks on the Judeo-Christian tradition that built Western Civilization — as part of their campaign to “fundamentally transform” it — churches in an irredeemably blue city like Boston are ground zero. They need to survive but they aren’t sure how. But the solution isn’t trying to win points with those progressives who want them utterly removed from public life.
This is most clearly on display with Pope Francis, who champions unrealistic immigration and climate change policies for plaudits from the media. Following that lead, left-wing activists are trying to do the same at home. The activist/anarchist playbook directs, “Few institutions bring as much respect and credibility as religious groups. Many organizing campaigns need respect and credibility, especially at the beginning stages.”
And now the gun control lobby is trying to subvert churches to undermine gun rights.
“Nuns vs. Guns” is the strategy at work for destroying lawful gun manufacture and ownership with policies that always fail in the legislature and the courts. For-profit activists are using pawns like The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and Sister Judy Byron to attack gun makers’ credibility among shareholders. ICCR created the Investor Statement on Gun Violence and demands — under threat of boycotts or other social violence — that institutional investors sign its principles. Many have buckled to the pressure and signed on to work hand in glove with gun control groups.
Going along with this is the Episcopal Church, which has adopted the policy of shareholder activism to “subvert the dominant paradigm through social outreach.” The Episcopal Church doesn’t invest in gun manufacturers, but it does own stock in Dick’s Sporting Goods and supported its crusade against firearms. The strategy didn’t work for Dick’s, which has lost millions for siding with their impossible-to-please critics rather than their law-abiding customers.
And it won’t help the Episcopal Church’s long-term health either.
The political left has weaponized the institutions it controls — mass media, higher education, entertainment — to attack and belittle Christianity, an institution that’s usually on the opposing side in political disputes. Normally leftists wave the flag of the separation of church and state, but if a church can be conned into advancing a left-wing cause … well, the church and state don’t need to be that separated.
On this issue, or the climate, or mass migration, so-called progressives will offer a tiny sliver of affirmation to counteract the negativity they heap on churches. Politically this phenomenon is called gaslighting. Left-wing groups hate churches, but now they offer a way for the subjects of their hate to (ahem) find redemption.
Gaslighting is the sign of an abusive relationship … and using it to get groups to sign manifestos is basically the same as an inquisition forcing a public confession.
Shareholder activism has become popular as a way for CEOs and hedge fund managers to distract from how wealthy they are. Like jangling a set of keys to distract a cat, millionaire activists can distract from an issue like income inequality by targeting those evil gun makers — while also going everywhere with armed guards. And while gun violence is a problem, gun control doesn’t prevent violence: London has long bragged about its strict gun control laws, and now a defenseless population has no defense against knife violence.
Maybe the Episcopal Church needs to “exercise skepticism” about gun control.
The right to bear arms is a cherished piece of American character and history. The men who wrote the right to bear arms had just finished a war, not a hunting trip. The freedom of religion and right to self-defense are at the very beginning because the Second Amendment makes a real nice backstop if the government starts encroaching on the First (and yes, secular leftists want the First Amendment out of their way).
Maybe Paul Revere needs to take another midnight ride. One gaslight if by land, two if by sea.