We have the power to end Christian nationalism’s hold on the United States. Just ask France.

American flag and a cross
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By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

− Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn,” 1837

The opening shots of the American Revolution at the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, sparked freedom from imperial tyranny that would lead to the establishment of the United States. But it also gave impetus to the possibility in other Western countries, especially those in Europe, that the people could end the perennial yoke of monarchies.

While some of these revolutions were more successful than others, the movement was undergirded by the philosophical, artistic, and political European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries known as the Enlightenment. This period was based on ideas celebrating reason, nature, and humanity and how individuals understand the universe to improve their condition.

This philosophical project emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition. Its goal was for a rational humanity based on knowledge, freedom, and happiness. Thinkers such as Descartes, Locke, Newton, Kant, Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, Spinoza, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith became the movement’s leading exponents.

Enlightenment philosophers were read widely by the educated classes in the American colonies and Europe. Revolutionary fervor shook Europe’s most populous country, France, beginning in 1787 and ending in 1799. It reached its first high point in 1789 with the end of the ancien régime and the further weakening of the feudal system.

But a new “shot heard round the world” was fired by U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022.

The Court was not undergirded by Enlightenment philosophies, nor did it base its decision on knowledge, freedom, and happiness. Instead, the Justices based their salvo on the tyranny of Christian nationalist autocracy and the full merging of church and state.

The Court disregarded the issue of precedent when it overturned Roe v. Wade (1973) in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, thus unraveling the legal right to abortion that Americans maintained for nearly the last 50 years. The Court left it to the states to decide whether they would grant reproductive rights.

Since Dobbs, many state legislatures have banned reproductive healthcare for pregnant people and those who wish to become pregnant. They have also cast doubt on the use of in vitro fertilization procedures (IVF) and the use of mifepristone and misoprostol, safe and effective drugs for medication abortions.

Comprehending fully that movements for good and for evil often spread from one nation to another, the French Parliament and President Emmanuel Macron acted to erect a clear and impenetrable wall to repel this illiberal and counter-Enlightenment revolution from invading French shores.

Both houses of Parliament passed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion. Macron then signed and sealed it with hot wax on International Women’s Day. Though abortion has been legal in France since 1975, it is now the first nation to officially enshrine abortion protections into its constitution.

At the signing ceremony, Macron also pledged to support granting the right to terminate a pregnancy within the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.  

“Today is not the end of the story but the start of a fight,” he said at the Ministry of Justice. “We’re going to lead this fight in our continent, in our Europe, where reactionary forces are attacking women’s rights.”

France’s actions should give impetus to the reality in other Western countries, especially the United States, that the people can end the perennial yoke of Christian nationalism.

Viva la revolution!

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