DO I REALLY WANT TO BE A HYPOCRITE?
As a young Protestant my last experience of actually “worshipping” in a church (outside of funerals, weddings, etc.) came when I was about fifteen. It was Easter Sunday in the warm climate of California. It was a modest sized church, and on this day the only seating was outside on folding chairs on the front lawn. It looked to me that there were as many people outside as inside. A loudspeaker was provided in order to hear the service and of course, the sermon. As a family we had ceased going to church on a regular basis a few years prior. This was special, it was Easter.
Many decades have passed since that day. American culture has passed outwardly through the “Beatnik” and “Hippie” eras and still is outwardly and inwardly the “Me” era. These were not merely cute expressions of adolescent breaking away, but, a desire to change society by those who saw their future in power over the management of society.
I suppose my thoughts while sitting there were the same as many of my generation, “What am I doing among these hypocrites sitting on a lawn in front of a church that I would not see the inside of, probably ever!”
Did I miss the point of religion?
And so did most of my entire generation, and the generation that has followed us, and the generation that came before us in America.
ARE NOT THE SIGNS CLEAR ENOUGH?
A few years ago while attending a conference I had dinner with several people, a conversation began with a man sitting next to me at that dinner table. He was a doctor originally from Turkey and now living in Michigan. He asked me if I thought that the conditions that caused the Nazi holocaust could ever happen here. My immediate answer without a second’s thought (I am prone to this lack of restraint) was, “No, I don’t think so because each person you see at this table is taught from birth by their parents to revere freedom.” I have pondered this answer many times over the years. What exactly was “freedom” to those people and does it have the same meaning today.
As a new Catholic, the Church gave me the answer when I started to read and hear an explanation of moral relativism, especially coming from Pope Benedict XVI. He said in his Papal Message for World Day of Peace 2012:
“Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of educating is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires.”
AN EX-COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT PROTECTS RELIGION
Living almost my entire life under the threat of powers that wanted to dominate the world, specifically National Socialists (Nazi), Fascists, and Communists, it was bizarre to read a recent article (February 4) with the headline, “Romanian Court Orders Skyscraper Demolished to Protect Catholic Cathedral”.
My uncle’s parents emigrated from Romania in 1906. He and my aunt traveled there in 1966 and 1972, she recently remembered an incident from 1966.
In 1966 Lou and I went to Romania to visit his family (first cousins) for the first time. This was the first time in more than 40 years that Romania’s borders were opened to Westerners. A lot of journalists went in that year. We were not on assignment, merely visiting family, so had no official status. I think that helped us because we were not guided about [and] given the party line as we had been previously in Bulgaria.
Having contacted the family and been joyously welcomed by all, we had to have a meal in each and every cousin’s home — even the most humble cottage in the small village of Sibiului. One evening, after dinner, about ten of us were sitting around the table talking, of course, in Romanian. The cousins were telling Lou about their oppression and the subject of religion came up among other things. (Lou was translating for me as I do not speak the language.) One of the women said that brother George had been a chanter in the church before it was forbidden to attend services.
I love church music, chants in particular, and asked him to sing for me. Almost as one the group reared back and said, “No, No, No!” They explained to Lou who relayed to me that if he was heard chanting they all could be arrested and maybe put in prison. They were very distraught. I withdrew my request realizing how very naive I was in asking and how easily we take freedom for granted.
An argument ensued. George prevailed. He would sing. One of the women got up closed the windows, pulled the curtains and bolted the door. No one was pleased. All were flushed. The men stared down or straight ahead. The women sat upright twisting their hands. George sang softly.
I know he could not do justice to the song. Chants are not written to be whispered. It was the only gift the men who had been stripped of land and freedom had to give–the gift of prayer in quiet music. There were no repercussions that I know of. – Gloria Evon
BUT THIS IS AMERICA!
Barton v. City of Balch Springs, No. 3:03-2258 (N.D. Tex. 2004)
“Senior citizens in Balch Springs, Texas, were told to stop praying before their meals, listening to inspirational religious messages, and singing gospel songs in their senior citizens’ center because of a new city policy banning religion in public buildings. The citizens sued to defend their right to religious freedom. The seniors were told that if they won their lawsuit, their meals would be taken away since praying over government-funded meals violates the “separation of church and state.” The Department of Justice also opened an investigation.”
Illinois Severs Ties With Catholic Charities Over Adoption to Homosexuals
“The state of Illinois ended its historic relationship with Catholic Charities, which was the organization that inspired the first child welfare services in that state, because of the organization’s religious views against adopting children to homosexual couples. Although Catholic Charities was willing to refer homosexual couples to other adoption agencies, the state refused to accommodate them. Ironically, this religious discrimination is in response to the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act. The Act, when combined with state anti-discrimination laws, requires homosexual civil unions to be treated like marriages, but only provides protection to religious clergy who decline to officiate a civil union. Two-thousand children will now have to transition to new agencies.”
These two incidents and over 600 cases like these are documented here by The Family Research Council, the same organization whose offices were the target of a gunman last August in Washington, D.C.
Or, recently from the Beckett Fund For Religious Liberty:
“More than 200 synagogues, churches, and other houses of worship were damaged or even destroyed when Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast last October. And, when the snow and ice fell on them this weekend, they were still in a state of disrepair. Even though Congress has made billions of tax dollars available to the communities that are trying to rebuild after that devastating storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) refuses to help.”
“American Atheists v. City of Detroit Downtown Development Authority rejected the arguments that FEMA seems to have bought into. As the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated in its opinion: ‘If a city may save the exterior of a church from a fire, it is hard to understand why it cannot help that same church with peeling paint or tuckpointing – at least where it provides the same benefit to all downtown buildings on the same terms.’
We defeated Communism, restored freedom to Eastern Europe, so how could religion ever be outlawed here the same way it was there?
HOW TO OUTLAW RELIGION IN AMERICA
Back it into a corner then stomp on it, like a bug.
“…recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires.”
We are nearing the point where we recognize “Law” only as definitive, but do not recognize that “Law” is created and changed by the desires of the “Self” which is influenced or not by objective truth. Without recognition of God, we have insured the future of personal desire via the Constitutional Amendment procedure and allowing repeal of existing laws. But, specific law is not only created by Congress and other legislative bodies, it is created in modern America by regulation. This power is specifically given to governmental agencies to make rules that carry the force of law.
A recent example is the Health And Human Services (HHS) mandate concealed within the text of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, better known as “Obamacare”. The effect of these rulings developed by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) an agency of the HHS, after the law went into effect, was to require all employers to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraceptives which include abortifacient drug, items that have historically been objected to by many Americans. Conscience objectors are defined as religious and in a way that confines them within the four walls, floor and roof of a building. Reducing free exercise of religion, it’s presence, and confining it’s existence – the first step.
The regulation allows the HRSA to exempt (it may, does not have to) organizations under these conditions:
(1) its purpose is the inculcation of religious values,
(2) it employs “primarily” persons who share the organization’s religious tenets;
(3) it serves “primarily” persons who share the organization’s religious tenets; and also
(4) it qualifies under the IRS code as a church or religious order.
Attempts to propose modifications to these rulings that HHS hoped would avoid court intervention, proved to be only illusionary and deceptive. This is a fundamental change by modern American leadership for the regard religion has had in American public life, supported by an increasing number of the population. Cracks in the structure that made America great that can be widened and spread by the disease of relativism amuck in the population, cracks that will doom America to declining influence and prosperity and ultimately totalitarianism.
Another area of power that can force change with a minimum of opposition is the treaty power of the president with a resolution of ratification of the Senate and a sympathetic or apathetic population and court. The “International Criminal Court” is an example that has been proposed and rejected for many years, but, it still has it’s proponents in politics. As said by Justice Black in Reid v. Covert:
“The concept that the Bill of Rights and other constitutional protections against arbitrary government are inoperative when they become inconvenient or when expediency dictates otherwise is a very dangerous doctrine and if allowed to flourish would destroy the benefit of a written Constitution and undermine the basis of our government”.
America was founded on the belief in law as a protector of civilized association under the Christian God and His natural law. We know this from the Declaration of Independence. America progressed imperfectly, and when Christianity exerted itself, as in the history of slavery and civil rights, Christian guidance corrected faults. When belief in God is removed from our consciousness using the excuse that religion is an outmoded lifestyle and that it’s teachings have disregard for personal desires, it will eventually be removed also from the formulation and protection of law.
“They explained to Lou who relayed to me that if he was heard chanting they all could be arrested and maybe put in prison.”
Without the protection of Christianity, we are left to ourselves and our human failings and lust for power – even in America.
© 2013. Howard Duncan. All Rights Reserved.