U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (4th District, La.) said something in reply to the furor that erupted over his commentary on Little Demon that deserves some commentary of its own:
The implication is that it is just fine to have explicitly evil ‘entertainment’ being broadcast over the public airwaves as long as Christians have the ability to voice their objections to it.
But this raises a very serious question: What is the highest aim of our society? Maintaining an amoral freedom with no responsibility to any traditional religious values? Or a society where as many people as possible know the freedom that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Body the Church?
If we choose the first, we undermine the Church as well as many of the freedoms that we have enjoyed for centuries. Without the principles of Christianity acting as guardrails in the marketplace of ideas, if Christianity is simply one of many voices in that marketplace, other principles will become dominant, and they won’t be as generous and merciful as what we have known heretofore. Mary Harrington acknowledges that this is already unfolding in the West:
If we choose the second option, aiming for a society of Christians, then that will necessarily entail us putting limits on what can enter and move about freely in the marketplace of ideas. Whatever undermines the Church would have to be excluded or strictly limited; shows like Little Demon would have to be banned.
Louisiana, thanks be to God, actually took a good step in the direction of Christian limits of the marketplace by passing and enacting Rep. Laurie Schlegel’s HB 142, which ‘would create a “civil cause of action against commercial entities that publish and distribute material for minors on the internet that don't verify the age of their users first.” In other words, Louisiana parents would be able to sue entities that distribute sexually explicit material for damages if the entity failed to take legitimate steps to verify the age of its users.’
In the debate surrounding this law, the same question of primacy arose: Is the marketplace itself the highest good, or does the marketplace exist to serve some higher principle? The La. State Legislature and Gov. Edwards (surprisingly!) responded correctly in favor of the latter:
The passage of HB 142 is praiseworthy, but the questions raised above remain largely neglected.
There can be no doubt, however, that the rich fruits of a Christian culture – the virtues (love, joy, peace, patience; forgiveness, second chances; fearlessness in the face of death; etc.), the arts (hymns, architecture, paintings, literature, and more besides), and the Saints – do not grow from the wild tree, the morally neutral and unregulated market. If we want those blessings, we must cherish and nurture the Church more than the nihilistic free market.
There are countries in the world that are doing exactly that, like Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Hungary. We hope the rising generation of leaders here in the States, and in the South especially – which has shown more faithfulness to Christianity than the other cultural regions of the U. S. – Rep. Johnson (La.), Gov. DeSantis (Fl.), Attorney General Landry (La.), Treasurer Moore (W. Vir.), J. D. Vance (Ohio), and others, will pay special attention to leaders like Orban and to Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia, whose speech in honor of Orban will make for appropriate closing material for all of us to dwell further upon (via the good folks at Chronicles):
Walt Garlington is a chemical engineer turned writer (and, when able, a planter). He makes his home in Louisiana and is editor of the 'Confiteri: A Southern Perspective' web site.