Lawrence P. Grayson
A significant danger facing America today is that its people are losing their sense of religious values and allowing the culture of the country to be shaped by militant secularists. The results are unsurprising: abortion and same-sex marriage are legal; assisted suicide and euthanasia are gaining acceptance; pornography is rampant; and religious persecution is underway.
When secularism dominates the culture, religious freedom must be curtailed. Secularism is a belief system that is anti-theistic, rooted in materialism and hedonism. It is alluring because it gives societal acceptance to unbridled human passions. It does away with distinctions of right or wrong, even treating wrong as right and right as wrong. Secularism is an idolatry in which the beliefs of the movement replace God in setting the standards of morality, of conscience, and of truth. If man genuinely believes in God and lives his life accordingly, he would be in direct and continual contradiction to the aims of secularism. Hence, secularism must necessarily oppose religion, persecute its believers, drive it from the public square, and nullify it.
Religious persecution in America has begun:
On July 14, the courts again ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor must agree to have contraceptive coverage provided to their female employees or face crippling fines.
In Houston, pastors were subpoenaed to submit their sermons on sexuality to legal scrutiny.
Christian ministers who operate a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho were ordered to perform same-sex weddings under threat of fines and imprisonment.
Catholic adoption services in several states have closed rather than provide adoptions to homosexual couples.
In New York City, Yeshiva University was sued for not providing housing to same-sex couples.
A Methodist Camp in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, lost some of its tax-exemption because it would not allow same-sex, civil union ceremonies on its grounds.
And there are a growing number of bakers, photographers, florists and providers of wedding facilities who are being sued because they are unwilling to provide services for events that violate their consciences. Now there are threats that religious schools may lose accreditation, student aid, federal grants, and tax-exempt status, if they do not go along with the secularist agenda.
The strongest opponent to the secularist-dominated society, and the most necessary for a return to a moral order, should be the Catholic Church. Its teachings are clear. Popes have been speaking out against secularism in one form or another since at least the French Revolution. And Catholicism is the largest religious denomination in the Western world.
In America presently, the vice president, speaker and minority leaders of the House of Representatives, 31 percent of all members of Congress, six of the nine justices of the Supreme Court, numerous media and business leaders, and almost one-quarter of the population identify as Catholic. If their Faith guided their actions in public life, America would be a different country. Many who claim to be Catholic, however, give little or no thought to God and ignore the teachings of His Church in their daily lives.
Those who are militantly secularist are a very small minority of the population. But there are many, many Catholics who provide societal support for secularist ideas and actions. These are fellow travelers, although they may not consider themselves so. The politician who says his religious convictions will not affect his political actions is a fellow traveler. The judge who rules according to changing societal directions rather than the letter and intent of the law is a fellow traveler. The teacher who prohibits religious expression in class assignments is a fellow traveler. The newscaster who gives equal treatment to a small number of pro-abortion protesters at a massive pro-life rally is a fellow traveler. The parent who privately objects to a school presenting LGBT lifestyles as normal but will not publically oppose it is a fellow traveler.
Christianity will not win the conflict with secularism through political activity, although the legislative and judicial processes certainly should be used. Nor will it succeed by compromise, trying to coexist in a hostile environment. The lion will not lie down with the lamb. The long-term solution is a return of America’s culture to its Christian roots.
For the Church to be an effective force for societal transformation, leadership by the bishops and priests is necessary. In the American colonies, it was the clergy, speaking forcefully from their pulpits about the abuses of the British crown and the rights and duties of man, who set the stage for American independence. Similar Gospel-based leadership is needed today to decry the evils of secularism and help develop the resolve of the laity to lead their lives, publically and privately, according to the teachings of the Church. `The Catholic laity, in turn, must become more outspoken in defending moral law, fight for the sanctity of the family, raise their children in the Faith, and exhibit a true love of God.
The immediate future will be difficult. But have hope. As the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, who was a strong voice protesting Nazism, wrote, “If God permits evils…it is to test us; it is precisely our struggle against evil that God wills, even when we suffer external defeat.”
The Church will agonize and there will be decreases, most likely significant, in parish membership. Those who remain true to the Faith will experience hostility, social stigma, isolation, and perhaps legal suits, fines, and even imprisonment. But the reduced Church will be a reinvigorated one, comprised of people who are willing to evangelize and live the Gospel on a daily basis.
Pray for the nation. Pray for your family. Be devoted to the Rosary. Fast, attend Mass and Eucharistic Adoration regularly, and put your Faith in God. For if God is with us, who can prevail against us!
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Published August 2015