The Radical's Dilemma

The Radical's Dilemma

By John Mallon

A recent poll of American religious attitudes has revealed the curious news that Christians do not want to be pastored by people who openly embrace behavior which is condemned by Sacred Scripture. 

This indicates that Christians want priests and ministers who believe and practice that which they were ordained to preach and teach.

Julia Duin reported the findings of Evangelical pollster George Barna in the Washington Times of December 31, 2004. According to the report, those polled "overwhelmingly reject homosexual clergy."

This will come as a shock to those who have tried to rewrite history and Christian Tradition to portray Jesus as "nice," and Christianity as "inclusive." The irony is that Christianity is the most "inclusive" body in history, with the caveat that inclusion requires belief in the Creed, or at least a willingness to accept it, and a willingness to be free of practices and behaviors which are destructive to themselves and others, which Christianity calls sin. The fact is, many are drawn to Christianity by the desire to be free of these behaviors, and the recognition that Christianity offers that hope.

I think it was Rabbi Abraham Heschel who said, "God is not nice. God is an earthquake."

For the editorial writers of the New York Times, the 2004 presidential election seems to have hit like an earthquake. Garry Wills, who bills himself as a Catholic, was aghast by the results. He was upset that in all 11 of the state votes to ban same-sex marriage the measure passed. He said, "[Karl] Rove understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution." ("The Day the Enlightenment Went Out" New York Times, 11/4/04)

The curiosity of this statement is that the Virgin Birth is not simply a doctrine of the Catholic faith, but a dogma, (there is a difference), held not only by Catholics but by all orthodox Christians. It is one of those articles in the Nicene Creed which, if you do not hold it, you simply cannot claim to be Catholic. Certainly Professor Wills knows this. He is also saying by implication that belief in the Virgin Birth is Preposterous. He has also written a book called "Why I am A Catholic." He's got me curious. 

His colleague, Thomas L. Friedman had an article on the same page of the Times that day. Friedman was shocked that the majority of Americans held an entirely different concept of America than he did, especially regarding abortion and homosexuality.

What does this mean for public policy? It means that many traditionally minded Americans are finding their voice and are saying "NO" to an agenda that attacks their beliefs and their families. It means a corner has been turned in the public debate.

The Washington Times report on the Barna Poll also revealed that "American Christians increasingly want their religion reflected in public symbols and language."

There is a backlash against those who, for the last 40 years, have been attempting to rewrite Christianity and rewrite the U.S. Constitution. Christians and other believers find themselves in the position of having to raise their voices to keep rights they have always enjoyed in America: freedom of religion and freedom to express their beliefs. 

The notion that believers of other faiths are offended by Christian beliefs in the public square is simply poppycock—a smokescreen thrown up to intimidate believers by those attempting to force an agenda hostile to belief itself. 

A "brave new world" has been promoted citing traditional morality and the Judeo-Christian Western tradition that supports it as immoral, oppressive, intolerant, "non-inclusive," and unacceptable because these traditions reject certain behaviors the radical world blesses, but which, experience shows, lead not to freedom, but bondage. 

The radical mind is offended that Judeo-Christian heritage declares shedding innocent blood (e.g., abortion) and sodomy (homosexual activity and other acts) to be two of the four sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance. No small thing.

We have already observed radicals of various stripes attempting to use non-democratic means like U.N. treaty instruments to enforce agendas that are openly hostile to the beliefs of all major world religions—agendas which would lead to tyranny, as would any other ideology devoid of time-tested commonly held moral codes. 

C.S. Lewis reminded us over 50 years ago in his book "The Abolition of Man" that those "social reformers" who seek to replace the objective moral law with something they think is "novel" are sawing off the branch on which they sit. There is simply no other point of reference.