Should Government Workers Have to Avoid Religious Symbols and Clothes?

By John Zmirak Published on March 29, 2019

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports:

The Coalition Avenir Québec government is proposing a new law that would prohibit public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols such as a hijab, kippa or turban.

The stated aim of the bill, titled, “An act respecting the laicity of the state,” is to affirm religious neutrality in a manner that “ensures a balance between the collective rights of the Quebec nation and human rights and freedoms.”

The ban would apply to, among others, Quebec Crown prosecutors, judges and any public employee who carries a firearm, as well as teachers and principals.

The report doesn’t clarify whether this new ban would include a cross or crucifix worn around the neck. A similar law in France did end up banning religious jewelry such as many Christians wear, even among students at public schools.

The Muslim Tail Wags the Dog

Support for such laws is doubtless rooted in anxiety about the influx of Muslims. That’s a worthy concern, but should Jews whose families have been well-assimilated patriots for centuries, or religious Christians, really have to avoid religious symbols? Just to provide political cover for cleaning up the side-effects of catastrophic immigration policy? How about just cutting off the influx of future jihadis and jihadi brides?

Ah, but that would smack of “discrimination.” And we have to pretend that our laws against discrimination apply to foreign residents asking for the privilege of entering our countries. As good Western Kantians engaged in slow suicide, that is.

But I have other thoughts about this. Maybe the law isn’t such a bad idea. Maybe we should push it even further, for the sake of waking people up.

Gray, Formless Jumpsuits for All Government Workers

Let me state my modest proposal first, then lay out my reasons for it. Not only should government workers have to shun religious garb. Every person working for the federal government outside of its traditional, proper role of protecting public order and guarding the nation’s borders should have to wear a civic uniform. I have in mind something like a drab and formless charcoal jumpsuit with “Govt. Property” crudely stenciled on it, front and back.

Imagine if every person in Washington, D.C. employed by a government agency (outside the military and police) had to wear such a uniform. Staffers on Capitol Hill. Employees of federal contractors, from Planned Parenthood to Catholic Charities. Every. Single. Person. Except of course for Members of Congress themselves and personnel in the military.

That would highlight for us a few important facts. First, just how massively overgrown our federal government has become. Second, it would remind us of the effect that has on society: It secularizes and homogenizes everything.

The Bigger the State, the Smaller the Church

One of the main reasons that I support small government is that states in the West are secular. Of course, we can debate whether or not they ought to be. But let’s just posit that fact as a tenacious one. Western governments are secular and likely to remain so for our lifetimes, and that of our children. At least.

As Christians must fight on multiple fronts. We must of course try to reform the governing philosophy of our country. That means first fixing the courts, then fighting for better laws. But given how tough the fight will be to shift the massive hulk that is Leviathan, we also need to protect ourselves. To keep the ravenous hunger of the secular State from devouring all the money, time, and energy in society. That means fighting to shrink the government itself.

Not only are governments secular and indifferent to the teachings of the Bible. Most of our governments also disdain even the tenets of Natural Law, which honest people can know by reason alone. It’s not debatable that this is a terrible idea. Instead of looking at what people really are, and protecting their rights to do what is proper to human beings, our laws rest on a different standard. They protect a grab-bag of “rights,” which don’t arise from any consistent picture of human nature. Or any view of the Good. Nope, they’re just the end-result of political pressure, typically by leftist elites. Hence such invented “rights” as the right to abortion, to same-sex marriage, to public recognition of one’s “sexual reassignment,” et cetera.

Proteus Squats on the Throne

We can, should, and must push back against this Protean mass of nonsense in place of a political philosophy. If left to metastasize, it will simply outlaw orthodox Christianity. We saw that in all those cases of government persecuting Christian bakers, florists, and wedding planners.

But the nonsense of groundless natural rights is also a stubborn fact. Proteus squats on the throne, and he isn’t going anywhere without a fight. We’re unlikely to beat him completely. For the foreseeable future, then, our governments’ policies will be driven by neither faith nor reason.

Shrink the Secular State

So we as Christians must fight on multiple fronts. We must of course try to reform the governing philosophy of our country. That means first fixing the courts. Then fighting for better laws. But given how tough the fight will be to shift the massive hulk that is Leviathan, we also need to protect ourselves. To keep the ravenous hunger of the secular State from devouring all the money, time, and energy in society.

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That means fighting to shrink the government itself. The secular, anti-natural law philosophy of our regime dictates one thing. Every last dollar it spends (or hour of our wages it taxes) goes to serve its purposes. Not ours, and certainly not God’s. So if the feds take thirty or forty percent of your income? That’s how much of your life they have secularized. Diverted not even to protecting real goods dictated by natural law, but arbitrary “rights” invented by atheist judges. As I wrote a whole decade ago:

In America, State action will be secular in spirit, utilitarian in execution, and in the service of the modern culture of death. Until and unless we can evangelize and overtly Christianize the State — I’m not holding my breath — we are morally obliged to shrink it, squeeze it, entangle in complications and starve it of funds however we can. We are obliged to be libertarians for the duration.

What this means is that the daydream of so many Catholics nostalgic for the “good old days” of FDR and Monsignor Ryan (the “Right Reverend New Dealer,” as he called himself), the fantasy of a pro-life Democratic party, is in fact a toxic fantasy. It’s an impure thought, to be banished the old-fashioned way: with cold showers and exercise. The proper place of Catholics, for the foreseeable future, is alongside the people at Tea Parties, supporting candidates like Ron Paul — even if some of our fellow travelers are packing heat or smell of weed.

The same thing applies to Christians of every church. And I think it would help us all to recognize just how huge the beast that is the secular utilitarian State has become if government workers had to wear those grim uniforms which I suggested. There is nothing more drab and dismal than the picture of human life that has been American law since Planned Parenthood v. Casey. We might as well see things as they really are. It would help goad us to change them.

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