God in the Public Square

As I sit here and write this, our society is witnessing the growing effects of when the spiritual and the secular collide. The Federal government and several states are in political battles to defund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. The homosexual agenda and the fight for gay marriage continues to spread to more states. The common theme I see in debates between those on both sides of these issues is whether or not our faith has a place in politics. I have personally witnessed this in discussions I had regarding gay marriage and abortion. Countless times I have been told to "keep my religion to myself" and to "stop acting like the taliban and shoving my beliefs down the throats of others". I have also been told many times that I have lost touch with reality by believing in an "imaginary friend in the sky and a fairy tale book written thousands of years ago".

It does little to help the situation when many of our politicians, who claim to be Christians, openly profess that it is their duty to separate their private beliefs from their public office. They usually go on to quote JFK's famous campaign speech about his religion as if were scripture. The truth is that for many years our culture has slowly but deliberately been pushing Christianity out of the mainstream and into the sidelines. It has become extremely politically incorrect to even mention the name of Christ in public. How ironic is it that the same so called "progressive" mindset that is advocating homosexuals to come out of the closet and live openly, is also behind the push to shove Christianity in the closet as if it were something to be ashamed about. Let me be clear here. This is not meant to be a tirade blaming homosexuals for all the ills in society. My point here is that our culture has turned 180 degrees to where it is now taboo and even shameful to openly live your life as a Christian. Any mention of our faith as our guide in our personal and political beliefs is met with scorn and accusations of extremism and bigotry.

As a Catholic and a father of three, I am deeply troubled by the legacy of moral decay we will be leaving our children and grandchildren if we as Catholics continue to remain silent. The reason that this secularism has been so successful in marginalizing Christianity is because many Christians leave their faith at home or at Church and not live it openly. Positive change in our society will only come about when we stop being afraid to let our faith permeate every area of our life both public and private. Father Larry Richards once said that God is either the God of everything in our life or he is the God of nothing. The point of that statement is that we can't compartmentalize God. Our faith in Him has to be a part of everything we do. Unfortunately many Catholics and Christians are allowing God to be marginalized and any mention of Him to be removed from our society. The results of that have been disastrous.

I started thinking about all of this more deeply after reading Men of faith should be involved in politics -- Moses is proof by Bryan Fischer and Be Brave - Be Uncomplicatedly Catholic. These articles raise two important points that many of Catholics seem to have forgotten. The first is that as Christians, God expects us to get involved with politics. The author used Moses as an example. I also see John the Baptist, and the Apostles as examples. John the Baptist and most of the Apostles were martyred because they dared to challenge the political leaders of that time by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. These saints challenged unjust and oppressive anti-Christian rulers and willingly gave up their lives for their faith. Yet here we are 2,000 years later and we are afraid to publicly stand for our Church teachings because we don't want to be seen as intolerant or politically incorrect.

The second point comes from Be Brave - Be Uncomplicatedly Catholic, which is a review of the book The Courage to be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church by George Weigel. In his book Weigel writes: 
“The answer to the current crisis will not be found in ‘Catholic Lite.’ It will only be found in a classic Catholicism — a Catholicism with the courage to be countercultural, a Catholicism that has reclaimed the wisdom of the past in order to face the corruption of the present and create a renewed future, a Catholicism that risks the high adventure of fidelity.”
This goes hand in hand with what I have been thinking about. Unless we have the courage to be authentically Catholic - which means living in stark contrast to the culture around us - we are part of the problem and not the solution. As Catholics, God calls us to share His message not only through words but how we live our lives. Our actions will often have more impact than just our words. This includes speaking out and opposing our political leaders when they are advocating laws that are contrary to God's natural and moral law.

The truth is that our society today wants to shove our faith and our God in the closet and out of the public square. This hostile society wants us, as Christians, to be silent and just fall in line with everyone else. But God wants us to remember that only a dead fish goes with the current. Our duty as Catholics is to swim against that current and wake up this culture that has become intoxicated on its own "freedoms". It is our moral obligation to remind this culture that freedom is not right to do anything you want but the ability to do what is right.

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