Monday, November 30, 2009

The Truth Isn't Popular

The December issue of First Things includes Joseph Bottum's piece calling Christians to more forcibly (and effectively) defend their religious freedoms called A Demand for Freedom (sub req):

Still, America's religious believers are not wrong to feel ringed in, somehow--teased and ragged and bullied and pressed in on. And they have responded, generally, like the bewildered boy surrounded by bullies. Take Fr. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, for example. This is not a stupid man. At the very least, he's one of those sharp, get-ahead people with an ability to tell which way the wind is blowing. And there's no gainsaying the fact that, with healthcare reform, changes in the tax code, and homosexual rights routinely posed against religion, the wind is blowing hard against Notre Dame and all the other limicole institutions--hospitals, schools, and charities--that stand between the Catholic Church and the state. But somehow, despite his cleverness, Jenkins has chosen the big, tormented, clumsy boy's solution: stupidly hoping that the cool kids will like him if he tries to do the same things they do. They won't, and in the meantime he succeeds mostly at kindling anger in all the pro-life people who ought to wish Notre Dame well.

The clumsy boy trying to appease the cool kids seems like a perfectly apt analogy for Fr. Jenkins and his actions. Bottum closes with a clarion call to action:

As Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants of many denominations, Christian believers do not hold all the same beliefs. But all believers must stand up now and make a declaration. We must demand from the powers of the world genuine freedom for believers: the freedom to earn their livings, the freedom to educate their children, the freedom to practice their charities, and the freedom to speak the truth--all without compulsion to violate, along the way, the conscience formed by faith in Jesus Christ.

We must demand, as well, genuine freedom for the churches: the freedom to proclaim the gospel, the freedom to persuade conversions, the freedom to make the case for Christianity by participating in public discourse, the freedom to operate charitable and educational organizations, and the freedom to decry sin wherever it is found.

Finally, we must call the churches of every Christian denomination to cast off their torpor and compliance--to shed their fear of scorn and disapproval. The churches must take up their first and greatest duty: the proclamation of the Gospel of Life in a time increasingly enticed by death--the proclamation of the Gospel of Light in a world increasingly stumbling in darkness.

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