Monday 22nd December 2014

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Say It Isn’t So: But What If It Is?

April 8, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

What I found so disconcerting about David Gushee’s column on March 17 in the online edition of the Religious Herald, the newspaper published by the Associated Baptist Press, was that I could find no way to challenge his thesis. Gushee is a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University and a regular columnist at the Religious Herald. What did Gushee say that left me unnerved? He stated flatly that American Christians have no choice but to “say goodbye to Christian America.”
Christian America? Didn’t the First Amendment’s “no establishment clause” make clear that there was to be no such thing? Gushee is not hamstrung by the secular liberals’ attempt to sell us on that notion. “For almost 200 years it was both legally forbidden to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States and culturally a fact that Christianity was the unofficial religion of the United States. Call it legal disestablishment and cultural hegemony. That was who we were.”
Gushee elaborates: “[T]he legal disestablishment of Christianity was often fictive. The city council opened its work with prayers by the Baptist preacher, juries were instructed with Bible quotes and politicians ran for office exuding Christian rhetoric. And the kids were led in the Lord’s Prayer over at the elementary school. There was one more or less coherent moral world, and it was drenched in semi-official Christianity.”
One has only to look at the movies that Americans watched in the middle years of the 20th century to see that Gushee is correct. Priests and Protestant ministers were part of the plot in dozens and dozens of the films of that era.
All that has ended, argues Gushee. Whether it be on abortion, school prayer, or censorship issues, court cases ended that semi-official status. Beyond that, the polls indicate unmistakable changes on issues such as same-sex marriage and extramarital sex, especially among younger Americans.
“Here are some staggering numbers,” writes Gushee. “White Protestants and Catholics constitute 69 percent of the U.S. population 65 or older, but only 25 percent of the population 18-29. Only 11 percent of the over 65s claim no religious affiliation, compared to 31 percent of the 18-29 year olds. We live in one physical territory, but in a very real sense we do not live in the same country.”
And the country with the Christian consensus is old and dying out. The new secular America is on the rise.
Gushee’s advice for his fellow Baptists is to accept the fact that these changes are real: “If the numbers hold up, Christians will have no choice but to face the end of their cultural hegemony and the tightening up of what disestablishment is taken to mean. Those who lead Christian communities will face the challenge of communicating the possibilities, and not just the losses, facing a now-minority church.”
As they say, we are entitled to our opinions, but not to our facts. Gushee has the facts on his side. It does little good to ignore the polls about the growing secularist bias among younger Americans. There are too many polls that say the same thing. But what does “facing this challenge” mean?
For starters, it does not mean we should soften or water-down our beliefs in an attempt to win over those who reject Christianity. A powerful cultural shift was responsible for the current secularist bias among younger Americans. Who is to say that there will not be a future cultural shift — a new “Great Awakening,” if you will — that will move the country back toward its Christian roots? Consider how, as a result of persistence of pro-life groups and the sonogram images of unborn children, the polls have moved in recent years on the issue of abortion on demand. God writes straight with crooked lines. A wishy-washy defeatist Christianity will appeal to no one.
Moreover, just because Christians with traditional beliefs are no longer a solid majority does not mean we will be without clout — if we stand strong for what we believe. If traditional Christians are now a minority, we are a sizable minority that politicians will ignore at their peril. One has only to look at how Jews, a tiny percentage of the country, have been able to influence public policy because they make clear to the politicians what it will take to gain their support on Election Day. We could also point to how homosexual activists, another tiny minority, have been able to shape public policy by standing firm for their demands as a voting bloc. The Christian hegemony may be gone, but all that means is that Christians will have to work harder to make their voices heard.
There is another angle to Gushee’s thesis that we must face. If his numbers are correct — and I think they are — there is no longer a “silent majority” of Americans with traditional values waiting to be mobilized on Election Day. This means that Catholics loyal to the Church and the Magisterium are often going to find themselves faced with only “pro-choice” proponents of same-sex marriage on the ballot when they go to vote. The secularized American Gushee describes will not vote for candidates with traditional views on these issues. What does that mean for Catholics in, for example, San Francisco or New York City?
How should they react to the candidacy of a law and order, pro-defense, fiscally conservative candidate who is socially liberal on abortion and same-sex marriage, someone along the lines of Rudolph Giuliani? Remember now, if Gushee is correct, we are not likely to find the alternative of a pro-life champion of traditional marriage with a chance of winning on the ballot. Is it a prudent choice to not vote at all in such a situation, and thereby help clear the way for a hard-core left-wing candidate?
If not, what should our calculations look like? I can see the logic of those who insist they will never vote for a pro-abortion, pro “gay rights” candidate. There is something to be said for fighting for lost causes. But in this instance it would mean fighting for a lost cause that helps advance the agenda of the secular left. That complicates matters. I submit that this is a discussion that has to take place among Catholics with traditional values.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

CACG: Faux Catholic Front Group Still An Outsider?

At Catholic World Report Anne Hendershott revisits the notorious democrat front group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and gives us an idea of their set of 2016 tricks. Promising yet again to “move beyond partisan and ideological divisions,”…Continue Reading

The Catholic Weakness

A large proportion of traditional, Mass-going Catholics don’t believe basic Church doctrine. Why not? By Maggie Gallagher   Last week I wrote about one piece of data that jumped out from the Austin Institute’s fascinating new study, Relationships in America:…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke . . . “The Church depends on sound Catholic family life, and it depends on sound Catholic families.”

An Interview with Cardinal Burke  On Vatican II Q. Your Eminence, you grew up before the Second Vatican Council. How do you remember those times? A. I grew up in a very beautiful time in the Church, in which we…Continue Reading

Did Pope Francis really say all dogs go to heaven? UPDATED

That nice man, Pope Francis, says you get to see your pets again in Heaven. But Pope Benedict is a mean old Grinch who wants to remove the animals from your Nativity scene Christmas decorations. Oh, really? Please don’t believe…Continue Reading

Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to child abuse

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney, and Nick Squires in Rome 8:04PM GMT 12 Dec 2014 Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said, in what is believed to be the first such…Continue Reading

Pope Calls For More ‘Integration’ Of Divorced Catholics, Gays

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must consider various ways to integrate the divorced and civilly remarried in the life of the church — not merely allowing them…Continue Reading

‘I’m not worried’ about resistance, Pope Francis says in new interview

Vatican City, Dec 7, 2014 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with the Argentine daily “La Nacion” published Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of topics, giving specific attention to the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia,…Continue Reading

Catholic Church Severs Ties with Agency over Gay Adoption Ruling

The Catholic Church in Northern Ireland is pulling the plug on a long-standing relationship with the Family Care Society, a Catholic adoption agency, after a judge ruled that all adoption services must be willing to place children with same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Reaction to Chicago archbishop’s remarks on pro-abort pols receiving Communion

n a radical departure from the position of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Blase Cupich – said to have been handpicked by Pope Francis for Chicago – has presented giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians as a positive move. Asked Sunday…Continue Reading

Pope Francis dodges reporter’s question on treatment of homosexuality in Synod’s controversial mid-term report

Since the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, reporters around the world have been wondering where Pope Francis stands on the controversial language about homosexuality in the mid-term Synod report.  The opportunity to ask the pope…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cupich Says Yes to Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

In October of last year veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister wrote of the new path that many believed the Church was embarking upon. Magister observed: “In Italy, but not only there, it was the cardinal and Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini…Continue Reading

Francis calls for a change mentality in the Church, easier homilies and flexible times

Francis addresses participants of the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities: “Go out and facilitate”, don’t be afraid of multicultural contexts or of proclaiming Jesus DOMENICO AGASSO JR ROME Francis was honest from the start: “I don’t want…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope: At Christmas Jesus Knocks At The Doors Of Your Heart

POPE701

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday invited the faithful to listen carefully when God knocks at their door. “Too often – he said – Jesus passes by in our lives, he sends an angel and we are so caught up in our thoughts and concerns we do not even notice”. Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for…Continue Reading

Pope Francis receives John XXIII Community

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received nearly 8 thousand members and associates of the Pope St. John XXIII Community on Saturday. Now recognized as an Association of Lay Faithful, the  Pope John XXIII Community was founded by Fr. Oreste Benzi of the clergy of the Diocese of Rimini in 1968, on the basis of his decade of experience with young people…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: The Church Is Not An Entrepreneur But A Mother

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism.  The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence. The Pope’s reflections on the themes…Continue Reading

General Audience: Jesus Chose To Come To The World As Part Of A family

POPE700

Vatican City, 17 December 2014 (VIS) – The family is the “great gift that the Lord has given to the world ever since the beginning, when he entrusted to Adam and Eve the mission of multiplying and filling the earth; the gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in His Gospel”, said the Holy Father during this Wednesday’s general audience, in…Continue Reading

Anna’s Wish

By DEREK BECHER Anna lay still on her hospital bed, which was tilted slightly upward, while she slept. Her parents sat beside her, with their hands clenched together, sharing a prayer as they watched their only child laboring with each breath. She had only just turned nine, but the brave little girl had fought the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Piacenza To Confessors.. Remember The Priceless Ministry Of Confession At Christmas

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is a letter to confessors from Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, major penitentiary, released Gaudete Sunday, December 14. In the letter, the cardinal emphasized that “the time of Advent, and especially the days of the beautiful novena of Christmas, are characterized by a particularly attentive waiting, not only by men for God…but…Continue Reading

Archbishop Of Karachi . . . Says “The Taliban Will Stop At Nothing Now”

By JOHN PONTIFEX LONDON (ACN News) — Innocent people in Pakistan — young and old alike — are now at increased risk of terrorist attack, according to the leader of the country’s Catholics, who has called on the government to step up security in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of…Continue Reading

Ten Complacent Maxims

By DONALD DeMARCO Mark Strand, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, passed away recently (November 29, 2014). He was a staunch atheist, declaring that he had never met God and had never been to Heaven. He said: “Although there are a lot of people claiming that God is telling them what to do,…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Abortifacient Brief: Depo-Provera”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 2 of The Facts of Life, “Abortifacients,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Depo-Provera is an injectable contraceptive drug that sometimes has an abortifacient effect. It also possesses…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity… Didn’t Jesus Have Brothers And Sisters?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 1 “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His Mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us?” (Matt. 13:54-57; also Mark 6:2-3). “And His Mother and…Continue Reading

The Canon Of Scripture

By DON FIER Part 2 We ended last week’s installment by showing that the apostles and early Christians accepted the 46-book Septuagint as the authentic Old Testament right from the Church’s beginning. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, these 46 divinely inspired books constitute “an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture” (CCC, n. 121) and “bear witness to…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Questions And Answers About Christmas Q. Do we know the exact year in which Jesus was born? A. No, we do not. In the sixth century, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus drew up a calendar that fixed the birth of Christ in the Roman year 753, but scholars today agree that Dionysius miscalculated by a few years. So it is…Continue Reading

The Law Of The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Holy Family (YR B) Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 Col. 3:12-21 Luke 2: 22-40 Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In a particular way this refers to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. However, it also refers to all families that are striving to live according to the ways of holiness and truth.…Continue Reading

Pope’s Message For World Day of Peace . . . “No Longer Slaves, But Brothers”

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is the text of Pope Francis’ message for the 48th World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1, 2015. For a text with footnotes, go to www.zenit.org. + + + At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Urban V

By CAROLE BRESLIN The year 1309 marked the beginning of the Avignon papacy, under Pope Clement V, who was French. The Popes of Avignon built a papal palace, increasing it in size over the next 70 years. The first crack in the control of the papacy by the French began when Pope Urban V left Avignon to reside in Rome…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Sabbas

By CAROLE BRESLIN Silence. Quiet. The search for peace, serenity, and calm has led many in today’s world to take up Yoga, Eastern mysticism, or life in remote areas to escape the noise of our modern world. This is not a modern quest. The quest for quiet has been with man for millennia. Although St. Anthony the Great (died 356)…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading