My staff tells me we can’t enroll in “Facebook donate.” That’s the direct-donation feature allowing users to embed a donate button on their Facebook pages, posting messages such as: “In lieu of gifts on my birthday this year, please donate to my favorite nonprofit, First Things.” Except, of course, you can’t do that for First Things. We get the runaround every time we request access to Facebook’s direct-donation function.
Maybe we’re frozen out because of some oversight. Or maybe Facebook, like so many other gigantic global corporations, wants to sideline those who aren’t on board with the latest progressive pieties. It’s hard to know, because they won’t answer our inquiries. Fortunately, no tech giant can prevent us from embedding a donate button on our own website.
I suppose it’s to be expected. First Things is not a go-along, get-along movement. We say things that offend the delicate sensibilities of those who enforce “right opinion” these days. God is the highest good. Men and women are different. Life must be defended, from conception until natural death. Children are not consumer products. A free economy must serve the common good. Sodomy is a sin.
We seek to lead, not follow. That means taking risks. More than twenty years ago, our founder, Richard John Neuhaus, published a symposium, “The End of Democracy.” The Supreme Court’s Casey decision cementing abortion rights into our legal system was fairly recent. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had found a right to doctor-assisted suicide. The powerful locomotive that would haul us to same-sex marriage was gaining momentum. The contributors questioned the legitimacy of our regime. Re-reading that symposium recently, I was struck by its prescience.
We’re still taking the lead.
We speak frankly about the problems of the Francis pontificate. We are not cowed when Vatican proxies attack us as “integralists.” There are theological principles that must be defended—and we defend them.
Nor are we cowed when commentators object to our ecumenical initiatives, such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together, saying it is a cynical use of theology to gain political advantage—or a false ecumenism of post-doctrinal convergence.
After corporate America punished Indiana for protecting religious freedom, we published Patrick Deneen’s trenchant analysis, “The Power Elite.” No other leading conservative publication has called out the global corporations for their aggressive partisanship in the culture wars.
Many people bemoan the atmosphere of progressive intolerance at colleges and universities. Only First Things has published Darel Paul’s “‘Diversity’ and Discrimination at Harvard,” pointing out that the ideology of diversity serves the class interests of the technocratic elite.
First Things has the chutzpah to say the obvious: that the Republican Party establishment is not willing to sacrifice any political capital to protect our religious liberty.
Donald Trump has many failings. But First Things has avoided compulsive anti-Trump hysteria and tedious, self-protective virtue-signaling. Instead of crawling into a foxhole, we’re trying to understand our current cultural situation—and to discern our responsibilities as religious believers.
Facebook and other powerful actors in today’s world would like to silence religious conservatives. We’re not going to cooperate. We will not accept dhimmitude in a secular, progressive regime.
To be true to our mission, we need your help. Our spring fundraising campaign ends today. There is still time to contribute to our $500,000 goal. Your integrity of witness and commitment to faith in God’s Word are indispensable. As our campaign closes, please join us on the front lines.
R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.