Now that we have examined Biblical principles of government and statesmanship as well as the major categories of public policy, we will now examine the future of public policy and whether a Biblical perspective on government and statesmanship is still relevant today, and if so, how.
Define the term Culture Wars and its history in American society.
Evaluate the impact of the Culture Wars on American public policy.
Evaluate the state of competing political ideologies in the policy arena today, particularly in light of issues such “Black Lives Matter”, the “Me Too Movement”. Remember to refer to our discussion of political ideologies
Discuss ways forward based on what we have learned from past policy interventions.
Synthesize the above with a biblical model of government and statesmanship.
Moving Forward paper
The culture war is a concept that was first introduced in the 1960s when the U.S. was experiencing partisan and religious conflict over cultural matters. During this time, the country experienced the formation of various movements to fight against conservatism that refused to make any changes to accommodate the minority. Consequently, there was the enactment of various laws that assisted in bridging the social and political gap between the whites and the minorities. However, some of those laws were not fully embraced by these supporting conservative ideologies, especially because they conflicted with religious cultural values. Thus, there has always been a way to reverse some of these policies or neglect in their implementation. Besides, there is still war focusing on blocking more upcoming liberal ideologies which seems to interfere with conservatism political and intellectual status quo, and religious traditions. This paper analyses the culture war and its impact on public policy.
Cultural War and Its History in American Society
The culture war is defined as religious, political, social, and intellectual conflicts over cultural pluralism in Western Culture. According to Teasley and Tyson (2007), cultural wars contain various departure points and have polarized American conservative and liberal forces over matters that include multicultural education, abortion rights, the separation of state and church, homosexuality, education, and ethnic and racial identities. The United States experienced partisan and religious conflict over cultural problems such as abortion that was first defined as a Culture War from the early 1960s (Castle, 2018). The term culture war was later reintroduced by James Davidson Hunter in 1991. Hunter argued that cultural issues regarding religious and family values, abortion, feminism, guns, gay rights, and race had redefined American politics. Hunter theorized that bitter conflicts related to these issues would be the future politics pivot in a polarized country. Hunter’s culture war theory is said to frame culture conflict dynamics in American society between socially progressive and conservative cultural warriors. Hunter portrayed this cultural war as a deep-rooted struggle regarding the initial ideologies of how we will organize our lives together, major institutions purpose-driven struggle, and a struggle to mold the national identity (Sehorn, 2019).
According to Thomas (2010), the culture wars rise from two disproportionate philosophical impulses, founded in various moral understanding systems, that are labeled as progressivism and orthodoxy. The latter is typified by a commitment to transcendent, definable, and external sources of moral authority, while the former follows a relativistic moral authority view that changes with the human knowledge boundaries and historical circumstances. The main cultural wars troops are religious groups distinct by the progressive-orthodox division regarding religious behaviors and beliefs. According to Jacoby (2014), the main division is no longer founded on historic faith traditions such as Catholics versus Protestants, but across and within them, for instance, Catholics and orthodox Protestants against their progressive counterparts, so that association in these traditions currently almost irrelevant in politics. Layman and Green (2006) claim that the principal façades in the culture war are moral matters such as family values, gay rights, and abortion, where the progressive-orthodox religious variations are most clear.
According to Kaufmann (2002), recent scholarship proposes a continuing U.S. political parties’ secular realignment. The 1990s decade, in particular, was noted for the cultural issues ascendance to the American politics forefront and a rising political division between an individual with progressive moral values and those that hold traditional moral values. Admittedly cultural matters such as gay rights, civil rights, women’s rights, and abortion rights are not new. However, they have turned out to be more extra consequential to the rhetorical and political uniqueness of the parties as well as their followers. Scholars have numerously claimed that religious beliefs and cultural values increasingly define cleavages of the party; with observant and evangelical Christians increasingly making up the Republican Party ranks, while non-believers, non-Christians, and secular Christians bolster the Democratic Party membership (Layman et al., 2006).
Impact of the Culture Wars on American Public Policy
The culture Wars have paid an important role in slowing down the enactment of public policies related to moral issues and conservative religious stands. Although America has eventually enacted gay rights rules, women voting, abortion, discrimination laws, and gun law, their enactment was mostly delayed due to cultural conflicts involved in their enactment. Besides, the struggle involved in the fight for these policies enactment was real in different ways. One of the earliest experienced cultural wars was about the provision of women’s rights. According to Yamin and Bergallo (2017), the women’s struggle started from the 1970s onwards women’s right activist across the globe created regional and international networks and generated feminist comprehension of reproductive rights wherein safe abortion and safe pregnancy were key elements. American women were part of the women network that focused on women’s rights struggle. However, contrary to their anticipations, the reproductive choice matter in the United States was not fixed in1973 despite the groundbreaking decision by the Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade case. According to Dillion (1995), there was ferocious obstruction by the Catholic Church from the onset. Later in the 1970s, the Christian fundamentalist consolidated a counter-discourse as a meta-language of the novel conservative political association that interconnected economic policies and principles with traditionalist-patriarchal family arrangement and ideologies, an antifederalist paradise of rolling states’ privileges and an anti-secular biblical perception of the globe. Abortion legalization inspired the counter-mobilization of a huge number of conservative grassroots activists in a Republican Party Support that incorporated safeguarding the life right for the unborn child as a primary tenet of the 1980 presidential platform. According to Maier (2018), a contrasting proposal on reproductive choice and sexual practices represent deep ontological variations regarding the meaning of life and society’s purpose. In abortion case, this comprises of disagreement on the importance of life, the personhood inception, question of entitlements, rights, and their effects for citizenship, the consequences and possibility of gender equality, and the gendered family genealogy. This dispute was nicknamed by Hunter as a cultural war, referring to matters that prompt emotionally based political squabbling among elites regarding national identity and history, values, and moral authority (Hunter et al., 2006).
The abortion law seems to experience different treatment in different places. Also, their count seems to change from time to time. The states stand on the issue is highly determined by which party is leading the states. States that are administered by Democratic leaders seem to have a loose grip on the matter, while states that are administered by Republican leaders seem to have a tight grip on the matter (Medoff, 2013). Similar to the variation in abortion law embracement, there has been a contradiction on biblical view on the matter. Those that support abortion are guided by versus such as Numbers 5:11-31 where a woman accused of unfaithfulness if found guilty and happens to be pregnant, the child is to be aborted. This is used by women rights defenders to argue that the fetus does not have the right to live. Besides, in the book of 2 Kings prophecy is made where King Hazael would attack Israelites kill everyone and ripping open the pregnant women’s wombs 2 Kings 15:16. In Hosea 9: 10-16. God is to punish Israelites by killing their unborn children. All these verses show disregard of unborn children, especially when the parents are associated with any sin. These verses can be used to justify abortion for children conceived via any form of rape, which is a sexual crime, likely to annoy God. The bible also contradicts in the matter whereby Deuteronomy 20:18, 53 the fruit of the womb is cursed and people are instructed that they shall eat the fruit of their womb if they disobey God. On the contrary, the bible in some parts recognizes fetus importance and as God’s creation, known to God long before birth for instance in Jeremiah 1:15 and Psalm 139: 13-16. These contradictions make abortion a complex topic even in the face of religion. The main outcome has been conservative men standing against the issue, while conservative women and religious progressive group embracing the abortion law, especially where conditions are put; permitting abortion in some circumstances (Kaufmann, 2002).
Culture war also played a great role in delaying the provision of lesbian, gays, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) rights and nondiscrimination policies in the United States. Although same-sex couple marriage partnership was enacted in 2014, the group has been struggling to attain this for quite a long time. Unlike other moral based rights struggle such as blacks rights and women’s right, where one could not be illegal for being a woman or black, LGBT has experienced a unique struggle since being gay has been termed as illegal in the country for a long time. According to Wilson (2014), homosexuality was first regarded as a criminal offense punishable by English law in 1290. This crime was punishable by death even in the 1600s. The law formation considered sodomy a crime against the man and God. This law was highly guided by the bible especially in 1 Genesis 19 that depicts how Sodom and Gomorrah were punished by God due to sexual immorality, sodomy is one of them. Homosexuality is also condemned in 2 Leviticus 18:22 where the act of a male having sex with another male is termed as an abomination and in Leviticus 20:13, those who commit homosexuality abomination are instructed to be put into death, and their blood to be upon them. This means the bible permitted their murder with no one to be held accountable for it other than them. Although the homosexual conviction was low, they did happen now and then. The position prevailed in the 17th and 18th centuries. The punishment may have changed in the 19th century, but homosexuality remained a crime until recently, after a long struggle by the gay rights movement. According to Wilson (2014), the modern gay and lesbian rights movement was established in the 1950s. During this time all along to the end of the 20th century arrested gay men were arraigned for gross indecency. The situation changed in the 21st century with the enactment of same-sex marriage and inclusion of sexuality among aspects that employers or public service providers should not discriminate. However, despite the struggle and successful enactment of gay rights or same-sex marriage, LGBT still experiences a high level of discrimination in the country. According to Klinken (2017), LGBT experience a high level of objection from religious people. LGBT rights are regarded as an upcoming threat to religious liberty. The LGBT rights objectors fear that policy or law guaranteeing LGBT equality will need them to do things that are against their religious beliefs or inhibit them from doing things that are demanded by their religious beliefs. Objectors are concerned that the same-sex couple inclusion in marriage definition will push states to silence and drive any opposition from the public sphere to LGBT rights, including bitterness that is founded on religious traditions (Brown, 2010). Although LGBT rights have been granted by the law, there is very high resistance in the public, especially among the conservative religious people. This means the culture war continues outside the political and policy arena, making it hard to effectively implement these policies, despite being enacted.
Culture wars have also been found to influence various public policies created to protect minority groups in the United States. The majority of minority groups, especially blacks are characterized by a high level of poverty, lack of proper education, poor health, engagement in crimes, and drug use among other vices. Their current state is highly associated with their origin in the U.S.; the slave trade, where they were regarded as a lesser human than others. Since the abolishment of slave trades, blacks have been fighting for their equal rights in the country (Murray, 2015). Such experiences among other racial political discrimination initiated the formation of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. The civil rights movement focused on fighting for equal rights for black people which included the right to vote. Suppression of African Americans’ rights to vote has made it hard to elect leaders that can sponsor public policies that address blacks’ needs. Although there have been many changes since then, the black stills experience a high level of inequality and a considerable level of discrimination and stereotyping in society, which has highly impacted their life negatively. As a result, black Americans are always in a struggle to influence the formation and change of public policies to address their life challenges (Street, 2007). These fights brought about multicultural conflicts, especially in the U.S. political arena. According to Teasley and Tyson (2007), Black Americans perceive culture and diversity understanding as core to global multiethnic discourse. This has resulted in their conflict with America’s political forces that are more absorbed in conserving the status quo in ethnic and racial relations that favor certain groups. The need to uphold power associations has caused the American anti-multicultural movements to take part in cultural wars on various fronts. These include xenophobic tendencies against immigration practices and policies, progressive stereotypical media forecasts of non-white individuals, revisionist history, and limited intellectual discourse. In Teasley and Tyson’s (2007) views, a rather simple approach is employed where the cultural and political people’s movements are deemed pathological and thus, problematic, which subsequently diminishes any discussion and focus of White supremacy. In this line, most conservative Americans think tanks always rise to the occasion of suppressing any form of liberal intellectualism dominance in the education system, and any other system used to fight blacks’ inequality in the country. These fights also play a great role in suppressing efforts to enact policies that would aid in reducing inequality between blacks and whites in the country.
Competing Political ideologies in the Policy Arena Today
Over the last four decades, and specifically during the past five years, abortion legality restrictions in the U.S. resulting margins of subordination and autonomy of women’s bodies have incited heated debate in federal and state congress, campaign trails and courtrooms. Based on this, abortion access has again turned into a question of rising government scrutiny in various states. Varying state positions on the abortion issue have engraved a national geopolitical line of fault rooted in conflicting political ideologies and their varying bio-political proposals. Confronted with different political costs that include a high number of women identified as pro-choice and opting for abortion legalization is a particular case, antiabortion strategies have transformed over time. In the beginning, the anti-abortion movement wanted full re-criminalization (Maier 2018). Currently, the audacious incrementalism approach progressively limits access via multiple tactics that condition available professional measures and personal decisions. As such, the religiously founded dissertation has supported 285 antiabortion measures from 2011 to 2013, obstructing reproductive rights in 32 states which are still assured countrywide by rulings of the Supreme Court. According to Maier (2018), the abortion mystery seems to accordingly invoke modern political dilemmas which reflect some main postindustrial paradigm tensions. A developing appetite for easing separation walls between state and religion among religious orthodoxies accompanies a transformed states’ right push in a global context of growing encouraged supranational and international corporative and institutions distorting of contemporary nation-state hegemony.
Black Lives Matters (BLM) is another political ideology in existence in the U.S. BLM has risen as a social movement in reaction to the many killings of unarmed black Americans. According to Clayton (2018), the legacy of Jim Crow laws and slavery has left a systematic racism residue in the United States that has undervalued African Americans’ lives. The BLM is rooted in individual and collective Black People experience in the U.S. It promotes active resistance to the progressing devaluation and dehumanization of their lives. The movement engages in direct, nonviolent action to bring African American abuse and police killing into attention. The movement also focuses on eliminating racial discrimination in the U.S. justice system where blacks are incarnated in huge numbers, and where black is more likely to be imprisoned than whites for a similar offense (Carney, 2016). BLM addresses the same issues that the past blacks’ liberation movements were concerned about. These include the criminalization of the blacks and the expendable perception of black bodies. Although the issue of police brutality against blacks is a known vice, this movement has been criticized by some conservatives as too divisive and confrontational (Clayton, 2018). This means the movement agenda may also be delayed, as the movement experience resistance from those who still consider their discrimination as just and their development as a threat to their status quo.
Another competing political ideology is the Me Too Movement. This is a women movement that focuses on fighting against women’s sexual harassment, especially non-white women in low-income communities. The movement inspires women to speak up against sexual harassment and assault experiences and seek to punish the perpetrators for their actions and to give survivors the needed support. The MeToo movement acquired more publicity and traction after Hervey Weinstein was indicted for sexual abuse and harassment by several actresses over numerous decades (Murphy, 2019). MeToo movement gives a world nature of violence against women, sexual assault, and harassment and also offers the common dismissal of victims’ experiences and the responsibilities that they have in educating others on how to fight for their rights. The main agenda in this movement is training women to use the provided platform or laws to seek justice (Regulska, 2018). The two ideologies demonstrate that the enactment of public policy against some deep-rooted cultural practices is not enough. More needs to be done to ensure the proper application of these policies to gain the anticipated results. This clearly shows winning the policy war is not enough, people have to be empowered to use the law to achieve justice.
Way Forward Based on what We Have Learned from Past Policy Interventions
The culture war is deeply rooted. It involves a struggle between liberals who wish for the change, and conservatives who wish to maintain the status quo. The war is deep-rooted in religion, social, political, and intellectual aspects, with conservative people fighting any change that would contradict their political, religious, and intellectual ideologies, as the libels struggle to gain inequality. Based on the analysis, the culture war started in the 1950s-1960s and was highly provoked by the formation of various movements seeking change. Some of these movements included the civil rights movement, gays, and lesbians’ rights movement and women’s rights movements (Castle, 2018). The civil rights movement was fighting against black Americans’ discrimination. Its main intention was the provision of equal rights to blacks. This was anticipated to assist in bridging the poverty gap and social inequalities experienced by the black people in the U.S. The women’s rights movement focused on acquiring women’s liberation against political discrimination and the provision of rights to make their own decision on productive matters (Teasley and Tyson, 2007). The most interesting observation is the waving states of these policies. Although there were changes, these changes are not static. There have been constant changes in abortion law from one state to another, based on the leadership in the state. There is also a lack of uniformity in the application of these policies (Maier, 2018). In most cases, people are still resistant to employing these policies fully, especially in matters related to homosexuality. Based on the competing political ideologies, discrimination continue but within the set laws such as criminal law. Although women have been granted some of the needed rights, they are still being abused sexually and expected to cope. Although there are laws against sexual harassment, their application makes it hard for some of those women to seek or to get justice (Dillion, 1995).
The culture war has paid a great role in slowing down the enactment of public policies put in place to address issues of cultural conflict. After most of those policies have been enacted, it has been considered hard to implement them without experiencing various challenges. This means that the struggle is not over yet. Although the liberal movements won in those matters, some of the implementers still have a conservative mind and would use all possible means to limit the effect of these laws. Consequently, their success will be considered minimal. To address this, liberals should maintain their struggle in the fight against injustices and discrimination (Moayerian, 2018). Just like the newly formed movements; Me Too and Black Live Matters, liberals should continue putting pressure into the system and pushing for their political, social, and religious ideologies to enhance change. They need to put more pressure on the implementation of the already existing laws by working as a team by supporting their members in legal cases and other aspects related to these issues (Berkman and Plutzer, 2009). Educating people on the best way to use to fight for their rights, and offering them legal platform would also go a long way in enhancing change (Imber, 2001). The government should consider making relevant changes to enhance a state of equality in the country, especially by the effective application of the laws to protect the minority from social injustices.
The culture war is a deeply rooted war against a different political, religious, intellectual, and social ideology. It is more of a fight between majority and minorities, including women, the majority fighting to protect their status quo and minorities fighting to be recognized and treated equally or better. In a quest to gain better treatment, blacks and women among other liberals formed different movements to fight against discriminative law in the country. This resulted in the heated struggle in the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in major significant changes in the U.S. public policies. However, these policies did not completely solve some of the problems they intended to solve. Minorities still suffer from a high level of discrimination in various aspects of life. Although the policies are there, their implementation has been considered poor. This creates the need to form new movements that will focus on pushing on effective implementation of the current policies and formation of more policies that center on the protection of the minorities against various aspects of discrimination.
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