While visiting my Dad in Shreveport this weekend, I had a chance to return to the church of my youth – St. Marks Cathedral. As I sat in the service, I realized that The Episcopal Church (nee: “ECUSA,” herein referred to as “TEC”) makes a dandy analog for the Federal Government, and the current events vis á vis “States Rights” versus “Federalism.” Allow me to explain…
I grew up in the church. Literally. I attended a private school that was operated by my Episcopal church. I was in the choir and served as an acolyte, so I was up there, six days a week, for nine months out of the year. I was – and remain – awestruck by the majesty and power of that building, the organ, the choir, and the liturgy. If you want to see a building in Deep South that is as close as you’ll come to the kind of sanctuary you’d expect to see in Merry Olde England, St. Marks has got the goods.
Even if you’re not an Episcopalian, you’ve probably heard that the church is in the midst of a schism between the liberal-controlled national leadership and the more-conservative individual churches and dioceses. The liberal TEC is attempting to force conservative parishes to accept liberal theological concepts like the ordination of an openly-homosexual bishop, a bishop that claims to be both a Christian and a Buddhist, and the marriage of same-sex couples in the church.
Predictably, the conservative churches attempted to sway the liberal leadership, to no avail. After a succession of unsuccessful attempts, many of these parishes opted to break away from the liberal TEC, seeking pastoral oversight from more-conservative bishops in Asia or South America. Even more predictably, the liberals took umbridge at this, and insisted on blind obediance to their plans. They’ve taken churches to court, stripped bishops of their positions, and attempted everything short of excommunications, interdictions, and Spanish Inquisitions. (Nobody, of course, expects the Spanish Inquisition. Ahem.)
The conservative churches have pointed out – repeatedly – that the actions of The Episcopal Church fail to live up to the standard of a scripturally-sound litmus test. They’ve worked within the system, trying to guide the national body back into a place where they can be seen as being in communion with Anglicans in the rest of the world. The leaders of TEC have remained singularly unwilling to budge. Only after it became undeniably apparent that there was no other way but to sever ties did the conservatives contemplate leaving the fold. As a result, Episcopalians are in the midst of a schism that will end up dividing the Episcopalians into two distinct groups – the liberal TEC, and the conservative Anglicans.
Now consider what is happening with the Federal government versus a number of the more-conservative states. Texas, Montana, Utah and several others either have passed or are working on legislation that reasserts the rights of the States over the power-grabbing Federal government.
The U.S. Constitution limits the Federal government to 17 specific powers. That’s it. It furthermore specifies that ALL other powers are to be retained by the States and/or the People. As in “We the People.” Unfortunately, the Federal government has run roughshod over that concept for the last 80 years or so. Of even more concern, the Obama administration is busy trying to make the last 80 years of Federal expansionism look like a modest tilt to the left.
This is not some esoteric debate about Constitutional law. This concerns the very future of the United States. And just like the folks running The Episcopal Church, the Feds seem to be arrogant, disconnected, and oblivious as to what We the People actually want. When the bluest of a “blue” state – California – votes 2 to 1 to repudiate the concept of tax increases and runaway spending, you’d think that it’s time to sit up and take notice. Nope. Not inside the Beltway. They seem to think that the pomp and circumstance, the cult of personality of our Teleprompter-in-Chief, and the majesty of governmental buildings in D.C. are enough to win the day. Not anymore. The States Rights-enforcing laws in these red states are a bellwether of what is to come.
Will the Several States consider withdrawing from the Union? I think it’s unlikely – but not inconceivable. It’s not like it’s not been tried before. I think it’s far more likely that the behavior of the Federal government will trigger a revolt at the polls, especially in the House, where we could see upwards of 70 to 80% fresh blood in the halls of Congress, along with career politicians like Nancy Pelosi being forced into early retirement. I also believe that the relentless plans to remake our government by the ObamaNation will result in The Chosen One finding that the country wishes to choose someone else, come 2012. We’ll see. But I wonder why so many leaders fail to see paralells between their situation and someone else’s. After all, as Santayana observed, those that do not learn from history are condemed to repeat it. History comes in many forms – recent history counts, too.