I don’t even think, as Hugh Hewitt has suggested, this is because of Obama Care. I think this is a battle that is a long time in the making. The truth of the matter is the first shots were fired by Thomas a Becket in 1164, when Henry II of England imposed the Constitutions of Clarendon on England. Becket, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrongly told Henry that the laws of the land did not apply to the Church. If a priest committed murder or rape, it was up to the church, not the state, to punish him.
(NOTE: This is The Pink Flamingo’s highly Anglo-Centric view of history. I am not in any way attempting to criticize or disparage the Catholic Church, which I greatly admire. I rather lean in that direction, but bitterly cling to my Anglican version of the world).
Everything we are today as a free and independent people stem from those days. Henry II imposed what is today basically known as common law. He required trial by a jury of one’s piers, writs for arrest, and that a man was innocent until proven guilty. This the entire backbone of our society. Henry’s writs and constitutions eventually led to the little uprising that gave us the Magna Carta, which, along with the Declaration of Arbroath became the basis for the Declaration of Independence.
But, Becket was too damn arrogant to see it that way. He lost. On December 29, 1170 he was basically hacked to death by a group of noblemen seeking favor with Henry. They did not receive it. Henry was demonized for the whole tawdry affair, but, looking back on it, Henry was right. Becket was wrong. No institution has a right to set those who are part of it above the law.
That was the greatness of Henry II. He is arguably one of the greatest figures in history, not because of his personal foibles, but his vision. He had a heck of a vision!
The second salvo in the so called “culture war” was when Henry VIII had the hots for Anne Boleyn starting from around 1525. To understand the whole affair, one needs to understand that Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Her parents were Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile (THAT Ferdinand and Isabella).
Simmering below the surface, since the days of Henry II and Becket was the notion that England could not be its own nation until the “yoke” of the Church was broken. During those days, Rome interfered in everything. If a monarch had a falling out with a pope (and it happened all the time) the entire country would be excommunicated as long as the monarch refused to knuckle under to the pope.
Rome interfered in everything for a very good reason. From the “fall” of the Roman Empire around 475AD until the Renaissance, nearly a thousand years, it was the one bastion of light and learning in the western world. It was probably the only true civilizing force in “Christian” Europe.
Over the centuries the battles, literal and figurative, would literally become quite bloody. It had absolutely nothing to do with religion, faith, or Christ and everything to do with a male pissing contest throughout Europe. (As in male grunting, spitting, drinking, squatting, pissing, scratching, belching, and posturing as to who was the most macho). Who was the strongest? Until Henry VIII came along, England was usually getting the short end of the stick. Spain, France, and Rome were always considered stronger.
Henry considered himself “England” as did every monarch through Charles I, and divine right of kings. His was the ego that would not bend. If it hadn’t been about a divorce, it would have been something else. He was itching for a fight to prove, basically, that he was more powerful than Francis II, who basically looked down his French nose at Henry. (As a side note, the politics of the Spanish Armada and their utter defeat at the hands of England in 1588, were beginning to take shape).
The issue of the divorce between Henry and Catherine was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. It was a long time in coming. From what I’ve been reading, recently, it is entirely possible Anne Boleyn was very much a reformer (as in Reformation). She may have used the entire situation to propel Henry into the Reformation. In 1533 Henry and Anne were married. A few months later Thomas Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury) of Henry’s marriage to Catherine was declared null and void.
It was during this time that a tradition for The Pink Flamingo’s family began. Aside from death due to old age, the most common cause of death in my family is death by execution due to treason because of religious differences with the Crown, or Cromwell, etc.
During the reign of Elizabeth I (daughter of Henry and Anne) settlers began crossing the Atlantic, seeking a new life in America. Those who headed toward the southern part of the Atlantic seaboard, were there primarily because of financial reasons. Those in New England were in New England because of religious reasons. From 1642-1651 England was torn apart by civil war between the forces of Oliver Cromwell (I have personally stomped on the spot where his head is buried) and the Crown. The Crown lost, and more of my ancestors lost their heads along with it.
When Charles I lost his head, and Charles II (the Merry Monarch) was restored to the throne in 1658. England became a Constitutional monarchy. The monarch cannot govern without Parliament’s consent. This is important because power of the Church of England was forever broken.
The Pink Flamingo finds rather laughable the complaints that we are engaged in a culture war. The real culture war began after Charles II was restored to the throne. He was, for the time, one of the most hedonistic of all modern leaders. His court was infamous. He fathered at least 12 illegitimate children, had many infamous mistresses, and a good old time. The primacy of the Church of England had been broken, not only in England but across the Pond.