Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.
—Abraham Lincoln: First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1861
I quote President Lincoln on this Independence Day Weekend not as a suggestion but as a reminder that the direction of our country is yet in our hands to shape. Admittedly many of us are growing weary of the existing Government whose policies hollow out the First Amendment protections of religious freedom. It appears more and more that the "separation clause" that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, applies only to Christianity. And the guarantee that the government will not "prohibit the free exercise thereof" is no longer had by default but by long fought legal battles.
Our present Government goes out of its way to distance itself from the Judeo-Christian God. All First Amendment lawsuits that have reached the Supreme Court always involve some form of Christian practice that is being restricted by government. And if the "separation clause" applies equally to all other religions then someone should sue the government for promoting Islam. The actions of our government officials certainly comes close to qualifying for government establishment of religion when it comes to the treatment of Islam. In fact it seems that our present government's interpretation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment is that it bans the free exercise of Christianity but is open to all others especially Islam.
Since 9/11 government officials have repeatedly and consistently declared that Islam is a religion of peace and love. That in itself is a theological position that the government is passing judgment on. And while we don't expect our Government to recognize Jesus as Savior our Government continually recognizes Mohammed as the Prophet. The White House changed the wishes on its official Christmas card to "Season's Greetings" so as not to appear to be endorsing Christianity. Yet this month the White House hosts an official celebration of Ramadan.
Additionally our military personnel are instructed to treat the Quran with great care and must use gloves when handling it. Not so with a Bible. After the attack on the US Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi, both the White House and the State Department attributed the attack to an anti-Islamic video produced in the US. While that turned out not to be the case the producer of the film was quickly hunted down, arrested on an outstanding warrant, incarcerated so as to send the message "thou shall not criticize Islam". Then the extreme apologetics proffered by Secretary Clinton, decrying the video and distancing the US government from it was a defense of Islam that has no comparable comparison to any defense of Christianity put forth by a government official. After all Mrs. Clinton would be the first to say there is a 'war on women' by those who want to deny women their 'reproductive rights' which is a veiled reference to Christians who oppose abortion and sued for relief from the Contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Yet she never mentions the war on women that is woven into Sharia Law.
I am not picking a fight with Islam but rather pointing out the unequal treatment our present government gives to Christianity. While I admire the Islamic community for pushing back on anti-Islamic sentiments I challenge Christians to stand up against the anti-Christian positions of that same government. Just because we are Christians does not mean that we are not citizens.
Whenever the name of Jesus is mentioned in public the official reaction is to tell Christians that there is a separation of Church and State and not to impose your religion on the public square. Yet when the name of Allah is mentioned we are commanded to treat it with great respect. Are we no longer "one nation under God" but "one nation under Allah"?
Which will it be, O Christian?
Love, Fr. John B.