Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/9/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We are the soul of the world in this age. That vocation has never been comfortable. That's why we have as our sign a cross.

We are the soul of the world in this age. That vocation has never been comfortable. That is why we have as our sign a cross. Intolerant Secularism is on the rise. We must not cower when confronted by those who attempt to silence us. Our message is not our own. It is for the whole world and it still sets the captives free.

The Roman Colliseum

The Roman Colliseum

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/9/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: secularism, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, Rome, Diognetus, establishment clause, free exercise clause, free speech, HHS mandate, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On January 11, 2012 the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Though the case dealt with the ministerial exception, it was a rare moment for the High Court to speak favorably about religious institutions and their rights.

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (the first part) was intended to protect against the establishment of a National Church and a forced adherence to its doctrine by all citizens. It was more aptly understood as an Anti-Establishment Clause.

Poor judicial decisions have contributed to the erosion of the protections which were supposed to be associated with this clause. They have also led to an interpretation of a Church/State separation which is hostile to religious institutions, discriminates against people of faith and seeks to censor religious speech and expression in the public square.

The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment (the second part) was intended to protect religious institutions and people of faith in their vital role in speaking and acting with freedom in an authentically pluralistic society - in order to serve the common good.

Yet, the Free Exercise of Religion is now routinely violated. The unconstitutional Edict issued by the Health and Human Services through which the Affordable Care Act will be applied is a recent example. The current US Administration seeks to compel the Church, in her institutions of care, charity and service, to violate her deeply held religious convictions. 

For the longest time in our history it was presumed in the United States of America that the values informed by religious faith - and the active participation of religious institutions - were to be welcomed because they serve the common good.

Now, both the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment clause have been turned on their respective heads. They are used to silence the Church and the religious speaker and actor - or in an to compel the Church to act in a way which she cannot and will not.

The Free Speech clause of that same First Amendment has also been subverted. When the message and the messenger being examined under its increasingly hostile scrutiny is determined by the State to be speaking what it considers to be a religious or moral message, the Amendment's protections seem to no longer apply.

Religious or moral speech is censored and locked behind the four walls of a Church. The once robust American vision of the free exercise of religion is being reduced to a freedom of worship. The right to speak freely and contend in the public square is in danger.

In a culture which claims there is no objective truth, those who claim otherwise are now perceived as a threat.

Given this hostility, the Supreme Court's reaffirmation of the rights of Churches and religious institutions to follow their own internal doctrine in Hosanna-Tabor was a welcome decision. However, one decision is not enough to turn the tide.

The establishment clause has been twisted into a permutation which the American founders would not have even recognized. 

One has only to look at the treatment of the poor senior citizens in this story. They have been told they must remove their Christmas tree in a private facility. Or, the edict of the Governor of Rhode Island to call the Christmas tree a "Holiday tree".

Or, the 9th Circuit Justices ruling last year that the Mount Soledad cross, which had stood on Mount Soledad since 1913, had become a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because they said so.  

Too many Federal Judges make up their own rules by which they decide whether a religious symbol, especially a Christian religious symbol, will be allowed to stand on public land or in a public building. There is not even a pretense that the actual words of the Establishment Clause have any precedential value.

The Establishment Clause was once properly understood as an "anti-establishment" clause. It was intended to prohibit the "establishment" of one particular religion - in the sense of a Federal or State sponsored Church which mandated adherence from unwilling citizens.

The American founders fled coercive approaches to religion which compelled adherence to a particular sect. Yet, they were certainly not anti-religious. They were also not against religious symbols or religious expression. Our history is filled with them.

Or, more accurately, it once was. Religious symbols are no longer seen as a wonderful sign of the history of the West and the American founding by the new Judicial Oligarchs or the secularist ideologues that hold some public offices.

Rather, they are seen as a threat in an increasingly intolerant secularist order. When they are allowed they must be demonstrated to have been eviscerated of any religious meaning and somehow thereby rendered "secular" and acceptable.

We will make it through this challenging time. We have done so in the past. However, we need to recognize what is really at work. We need to remember our history not only as American citizens but, even more importantly, as Christians.

The early Roman authorities charged the Christians of that era with "odium humani generis" [hatred of the human race] when they arrested them. Some in Rome had lost respect for the dignity of all human life while still claiming to be enlightened and progressive.

They practiced primitive forms of abortion as well as exposure, the killing of unwanted newborns. The Emperor Nero was overt in his promiscuous homosexual behavior. Some historians note his having taken a male "wife".

The history of ancient Rome shows a correlation between the growth of hostility toward the Christians and the spiraling moral decline of the Republic. The Romans of that age did not want hear the Christians oppose abortion and the practice of "exposure" (the killing of newborns).

Their hedonism was threatened by the Christian witness and lifestyle. They accused those Christians of intolerance and upsetting the public order.

One of the ancient Christian manuscripts from that age, written to a pagan inquirer into the Christian faith, is entitled a "Letter to Diognetus". It spoke of the distinctly different practices of the Christians:

"They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land. They marry like all others and beget children but they do not expose (kill or abandon) their offspring. Their board they spread for all, but not their bed."

The insistence of those early Christians on defending all human life and the witness of their faithful monogamous marriages - eventually - transformed ancient Rome. But it was not without opposition, hostility and, sadly, persecution. So it may be in our day.

Out in front in our own age, speaking truth and refusing to worship the new false gods are faithful Catholics. Fortunately the government has not (yet) charged us with "hatred of the human race."
However, there seems to be a growing effort to brand us as extreme or intolerant.

The letter to Diognetus also contained these words:"what the soul is in the body that the Christians are in the world." Those who insist on remaining faithful as Christians (Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox) must not retreat.

We are the soul of the world in this age. That vocation has never been comfortable. That's why we have as our sign a cross.

Our position is the opposite of hatred of the human race. It is borne out of a love for the dignity of all men and women in their person, their bodies, and their families. It expresses our hope to see all men and women experience authentic human freedom and flourishing.

Intolerant Secularism is on the rise. We must not cower when confronted by those who attempt to silence us. Our message is not our own. It is for the whole world and it still sets the captives free.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More U.S.

The Pope, the Pets, the Paparazzi and the Propaganda Media

Image of Pope Francis pets a dog

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The passing on of this complete fabrication, as well as the embellishment which accompanied it, were not simply a matter of the secular press failing to comprehend this Pope. In fact, religious news sources, both Catholic and Protestant, jumped in. This all ... continue reading


A journey to the land of the free: Part One -- Beaten and scared young children flee violence and turn to the United States for hope Watch

Image of Many young immigrants have no more fight in them when they decide to cross the border, they're only trying to survive.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blistered feet and filthy, blood-stained skin is the forlorn image of immigrants preparing to cross the border. With hopeful hearts and anxious minds, immigrants, of all ages, assemble to make the leap into their promise land. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most ... continue reading


Pope Francis, the real architect behind the U.S.-Cuban thaw Watch

Image of With personal appeals, letters, and hosted meetings, the Vatican and Pope Francis can accurately be called the masterminds behind the recent thaw between the U.S. and Cuba.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba took the world by surprise, but perhaps one man was not as shocked as the rest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A senior official with the White House reported that Pope Francis made personal appeals to both President ... continue reading


Looking forward to your tax refund this year? Don't hold your breath. The IRS suffers after extreme budget cuts. Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heavily stricken with budget cuts and new tax-related laws, the IRS considers implementing its own temporary shutdown. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Congress has recently cut the IRS budget by $346 million. The IRS' budget has been cut a total of $1 billion since ... continue reading


OBAMACARE DOES NOT WORK! Vermont gives up free healthcare plan as too expensive Watch

Image of Vermont's governor announced that a planned universal healthcare program for the state has been cancelled because the massive tax hikes would devastate the state's economy.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, announced that he was canceling his longtime dream to create a single-payer health care system for his state. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The announcement came on December 17, citing problems with paying for the Green ... continue reading


The disgusting new fact of American life: More than 46 million Americans on food stamps for 37 straight month Watch

Image of Obama has been in office for about 70 months, and 37 of those months have seen the most amount of Americans on food stamps, ever!

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is self-evident that President Obama continues to undermine the abilities of the lower class, enforcing government-reliance on those who can least afford it. The number of Americans on food stamps under Obama has continued along its record breaking path, as, ... continue reading


Faith in the United States' race relations hits a strikingly low point after no indictment verdicts Watch

Image of 57 percent of American's say race relations in the United States are bad, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Those are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, a man who fought long and hard for a better today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A land where discrimination no longer prevails is a reality that seems no ... continue reading


Why is he so upset? Because of the secret Republican time bomb in the government funding bill Watch

Image of The federal government has funding through the 2015 fiscal year, but Republicans will have many opportunities to fight the president's programs in that time.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Senate has approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed to fund nearly the whole of the federal government through the 2015 fiscal year, ending weeks of drama in Congress and relieving doubts that the government might be shut down again while Democrats and ... continue reading


You know about the 'Bishop of Bling' but do American clergy have the same problem too? Watch

Image of The Bishop of Bling was sacked after he spent $43 million renovating his home.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has called for "a Church which is poor and for the poor." However, not every member of the clergy may have read the memo. A number of high-ranking Church officials in the United States live in lavish homes, sometimes bordering on the scandalous. LOS ... continue reading


Water leak leads to discovery of 1795 time capsule - left by Paul Revere! Watch

Image of A worker holds the time capsule left by the revolutionaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Paul Revere, the fearless revolutionary who mounted his horse to declare that "The British are coming! The British are coming!" has left an enduring national legacy - in both deed and actions. Excitement is mounting with the discovery of a time capsule left by Revere ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 7:10-14
10 Yahweh spoke to Ahaz again and said:11 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 20th, 2014 Image

St. Dominic of Silos
December 20: Benedictine abbot and defender of the faith. Born in Canas, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter