Monthly Archives: December 2013

Polygamy

“In the biblical story in Genesis, God creates Eve as ‘an help meet’ for Adam, because she is the only creature who can fulfill that function.  While it is obvious that ‘surplus’ non-alpha men will be losers in any society where polygamy becomes widely acceptable—women will also be losers—harem members instead of helpmeets.  This is something that feminists and their male enablers who blithely tout polygamy as another  ‘diverse family arrangement’ ought to think about.”  Charlotte Allen

America’s Polygamous Future

Charlotte Allen, The Wall StreetJournal, December 19, 2013, p. A 19

When the Supreme Court paved the way for universal recognition of same-sex marriage last June, opponents predicted that polygamy would be next.polygamy1(2) They didn’t realize how quickly this would happen.

Less than six months after the high court issued a pair of decisions expanding access to gay marriage and its benefits, a federal judge in Utah has ruled unconstitutional key parts of a Utah bigamy law that makes polygamous cohabitation a crime. The law had been challenged by 44-year-old Kody Brown and his four wives, who, together with their 17 children, star in the reality-TV show “Sister Wives.” The Browns, who used to live in Lehi, Utah (they have since moved to Las Vegas), belong to one of several breakaway Mormon sects that practice plural marriage. (The mainstream Church of the Latter-day Saints formally abandoned polygamy in 1890, shortly before Utah became a state). An estimated 40,000 residents of Utah live in polygamous households.

To be sure, the court ruling, by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, does not legalize polygamous marriage or even invalidate Utah’s bigamy law in its entirety. All 50 states have antibigamy laws on their books. But Utah’s law, apparently uniquely, forbids plural marriages entered into via multiple marriage licenses and also applies to a married person who “cohabits with another person.”

The typical practice for breakaway Mormon men, including Kody Brown, is to enter into only one legally recognized marriage but to take on additional “sister wives” in “spiritual” unions sanctified by religious ceremonies. Such unions are technically adulterous, but since the state of Utah does not prosecute adultery, Judge Waddoups said there was no “rational basis” for Utah’s criminal law to distinguish between plain old adulterous cohabitation and informal polygamy entered into for religious reasons.

His ruling thus affects only so-called “fundamentalist” Mormons. However, the decision becomes precedent elsewhere, then it may apply to an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Muslims in the U.S. who are in similar polygamous arrangements that they believe are permitted by the Quran.

Still, since what can’t be criminally prosecuted is de facto permissible, the plural-marriage toboggan is now positioned firmly downward on the slippery slope. Judge Waddoups’s decision has already been hailed by polyamorists, libertarians and feminists. In an April article for Slate, Jill Keenan argued that legal polygamy “is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice” that would allow women to select among “diverse family arrangements” for the one that suits them best. Continue reading

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Bonhoeffer

“Bonhoeffer, a pastor, fought Nazi efforts to meld Protestant churches into a single ‘Reich Church.’  Alexander Kazam

Book Review: ‘No Ordinary Men,’ by Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern

The pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his lawyer brother-in-law worked together to resist the Nazis and help Jews escape Germany.

Alexander Kazam, The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2013, p. A 17

Though the Nazis never won an outright majority in the parliament of the decaying Weimar Republic, they received nearly 44% of the vote in the critical election of March 1933—a mandate that enabled Adolf Hitler’s anointment as supreme leader. To some, however, the evil character of the Nazi regime was visible from the start. Among them were the young Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi, the subjects of Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern’s “No Ordinary Men.” In this concise, engaging account, Ms. Sifton, an eminent book editor, and Mr. Stern, a distinguished historian of Germany, trace Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi’s evolution from partaking in small acts of opposition to playing leading roles in the anti-Hitler resistance.

Bonhoeffer, a pastor, fought Nazi efforts to meld Protestant churches into a single “Reich Church.” Dohnanyi, a lawyer in the military intelligence service, used his position to document Nazi crimes and save Jews while joining several plots to kill Hitler. Their paths of resistance intertwined when Dohnanyi recruited Bonhoeffer to the anti-Hitler conspiracy.

Born in 1906, Bonhoeffer received a strong moral and intellectual upbringing from his father, Karl, an eminent Berlin psychiatrist, and his devout mother, Paula. The family had a notable independent streak; Paula chose to home-school their eight children in their early years. (“Germans,” she observed, “have their backbones broken twice in life: first in the schools, secondly in the military.”) One morning in 1922, Dietrich was in school when he heard “a strange crackling” from the street. It was the assassination of Germany’s Jewish foreign minister, Walter Rathenau, a crime the Bonhoeffers recognized as an omen. “Only think of the trouble we shall have later with these people,” Bonhoeffer’s brother Klaus wrote. Continue reading

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Starr on Christianity

“The very concept of freedom, including religious freedom, has ancient Christian roots.”  Ken Starr

“Contrary to popular perceptions, the precursors for modern ideas of liberty are rooted in Jewish scripture and the writings of early Christians such as St. Paul, Tertullian and Lactantius.” Ibid

Ken Starr: No tolerance without Christianity

Christian persecution in the Middle East undermines hope for democracy.

Ken Starr, “No tolerance without Christianity,” USA Today.com, December 13, 2013

In a recent speech at Georgetown University, a British cabinet minister said some startling things about Christians in the Middle East:

“Across the world, people are being singled out and hounded out simply for the faith they hold…. [Middle Eastern Christians] are rooted in their societies, adopting and even shaping local customs. Yet … [a] mass exodus is taking place, on a Biblical scale. In some places, there is real danger that Christianity will become extinct.”

Such a public expression of concern about Christians is unusual for a Western government official. This speech was particularly striking because it was delivered by a Muslim – Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Brit born of Pakistani parents. Warsi understands better than most the costs to the Middle East if Christians flee.

The silence of Western governments about this phenomenon and its primary cause – the rise of Islamist extremism – is at best short sighted. The Christian exodus represents not only a humanitarian crisis, but a looming national security problem for the West.

As Baroness Warsi notes, Christians have helped shape the cultures they are now fleeing. In Iraq, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, Christian communities have lived and worked for almost two millennia. If they continue to exit the region, or if they continue to be persecuted and repressed, the increasingly thin chances that Middle Eastern countries will develop into stable, peaceful societies, free of violent religious extremism, will virtually disappear. Continue reading

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