THE LAUNCH OF ‘MUSCULAR LIBERALISM’
By Maggie Gallagher
Last month, facing the problem of Muslim assimilation, British Prime Minister David Cameron denounced multiculturalism and called for a new “muscular liberalism” as the basis for a shared national identity.
Applauding conservatives, beware.
For Cameron’s new liberal muscles were pumped this week at Owen and Eunice Johns, whose religious objections to homosexuality were used to bar them from becoming foster parents.
I wrote about this case recently, but Cameron’s comments call renewed attention to the underlying dynamic now being launched in the Western world: the end of liberal multiculturalism and the launch of liberal monoculturalism. It’s not a pretty sight.
Owen and Eunice Johns, by all accounts, are two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. They emigrated to Great Britain from Jamaica, raised their own children, and took in foster children during the 1990s.
Recently, they decided to share their home and their love with abused and neglected children again. They applied for the requisite foster-care license. As part of the home study, they were asked this question by the Derby City Council: “Would you tell a child that it was all right to be homosexual?”
No child had ever complained about the Johnses’ treatment in their home. This case is not even about whether the Johnses are permitted to mention Christian beliefs around a foster child.
As Daily Mail columnist Stephen Glover put it, “The (Johnses), who are Pentecostal Christians and were born in Jamaica, do not hold their views in any aggressive or hectoring way. They seem to be strikingly good people, and have fostered very many children. They were simply unable to respond in the affirmative to this question posed by Derby City Council.”
A British court ruled that a commitment to orientation equality “should take precedence” over the Johnses’ religious liberty, or their freedom of speech.
And this week, the newly buff Cameron called the exclusion of the Johnses “appropriate,” and went on to lecture that Christians must be “tolerant and welcoming and broad-minded” toward gay relationships. (What? Not enough to be prime minister? He wants to be pope too?)
In Great Britain, Christians are now effectively second-class citizens, judged “unfit” to care for foster children. If they are unfit to foster children, logically they are also unfit to adopt, and possibly as one British lawyer suggested to the press, unfit to parent their own children, too.
Could it happen over here?
Yes. We see the first steps of the muscular liberalism process at work already in the state of Illinois, in its probe of evangelical, Lutheran and Catholic foster-care agencies for discrimination against gay couples in foster care. For the ACLU and the gay rights community, suddenly the right to live as we choose isn’t good enough. Any foster-care agency that does not place children with gay couples now must be discriminated against by the government in the name of anti-discrimination.
The ACLU claims that legally requiring foster-care agencies to be inclusive would expand resources to help 16,000 kids currently in the Illinois foster-care system.
This is just Orwellian doubletalk. The new “inclusive” policy would exclude three religious foster-care agencies from recruiting parents. This cannot possibly expand resources available to needy kids.
So John Knight, an ACLU attorney, is instead focused on the idea that the real wrong is the message sent to gay kids in foster care by permitting religious agencies to help abused kids: “That they aren’t really welcome now or in the future.” (Given how many adoption agencies encourage gay adoption, that seems a stretch.)
But wait a minute … By that logic, what about the clear message the government would send to evangelical, Lutheran and Catholic kids by excluding evangelical, Lutheran and Catholic foster-care agencies?
Um, the ACLU is not concerned about that government message — at all. Sending that message to Catholics, Lutherans and evangelicals — your beliefs are not worthy of equal public respect — is not a problem; it’s the point.
Beware the new muscular liberalism: The next wave of human rights abuses will be committed by liberal governments in the name of human rights.
(Maggie Gallagher is the founder of the National Organization for Marriage and has been a syndicated columnist for 15 years.)