By Judie Brown
We have been hearing a lot about the erosion of protection of religious freedom lately. It seems that the Democratic party is unusually vocal on this subject.
Today, more than ever, far too many of us are often pressed to leave God out of the picture when acting in defense of life and truth in a public way. This situation prompts me to consider the virtue of justice and what it has to do with the current challenges confronted by Christians.
According to Catholic teaching, justice is the virtue that enables us to assume our responsibilities and to give others their due. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. ‘You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.’”
The just man will boldly defend equality for all persons, born and preborn. The just man—whether Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or no particular religious persuasion—knows that we have the right and the duty to press on until justice for all is truly a matter of practice rather than a platitude.
But in America today the just man is finding it more and more difficult to function in a way that is consistent with the virtue of justice. Why is this so?
It is clear that Americans are losing their religion. It is as though man’s sense of God is lost. St. John Paul II warned years ago that “when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life; in turn, the systematic violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity, produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence.”
Consider these profound words in the context of recent events. We have a president of the United States who used a platform at the “Catholic” Georgetown University to suggest that churches should not focus on “divisive issues” like protecting life and preserving marriage when these churches engage politically. We are also aware of the attitudes of other powerful politicians who opine that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” so that abortion and other reproductive health services are supported in law and in society.
In other words, those who believe in God and in His laws are stumbling blocks to the ideologues who not only want to publicly decry religious freedom if it does not suit their agenda, but actually entertain the idea that Church teaching must change! The question one has to ask is simple: If Church teaching does not change, what sort of punishment should we expect?
If this isn’t America unhinged, then I do not know what it is! This nation, founded “under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” is in big trouble.
Defending truth and life is not a debatable obligation for the just man. In fact, it is an honor to be called by God to serve in this way. So as the pro-death zealots increase their cries for silence in matters of faith, truth, and justice, it is up to folks like us to sing a little louder, pray a little louder, and never back down from the challenges ahead.
We must stand with God in the public square no matter what the cost.
Justice can only be served when God is central to our efforts, not relegated to the closet.