This is truly a must read, from a fellow blogger, Catholic, and American.
By: Edna Jean S. Halbach
During the last year I have come to realize there are many events where a conflict between my faith and my government exists. Our Constitutional First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This phrase gives us the right to practice our faith without the fear of government directing our faith based actions. As a Catholic-Christian, I have been taught that following the Ten Commandments is paramount for the salvation of souls. Yet Jesus also taught that man should follow man’s rules. So, at what place does our religious freedom end and the laws of the land, of man, begin?
I look at Jesus’ life and he followed the rules of the land; yet, he also simultaneously challenged people to see the Light and take up a different path. A path where all are treated fairly and with respect, a path where you took care of each other, a path where as a man He didn’t back down in his lessons or his beliefs and what he wanted for all of us. In the Bible these examples are shown in stories such as where the woman being stoned to death is rescued by Jesus with the question of “he who is without sin should cast the first stone”. He showed us how to care for each other through the beautiful example of the Good Samaritan story, and He always stayed with His teachings through announcements like the following: “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
We are a people who were designed by God for God. God does not approve of sin; yet He always forgives sin. It frustrates me when people don’t even recognize sin anymore. If you point out to someone they are doing something wrong or against the laws of God you are given the quick response of “Don’t judge me!” Well, as a Christian I believe I am doing God’s mission, like Jesus, to point out where someone is making the wrong choices. I don’t go around saying you are a bad person, that I hate you, or that I wish you harm. I am also not saying that I don’t want anything to do with a person who is not following the Commandments of God. I am only pointing out that God tells us a particular action is wrong; and, if we want to gain access to Heaven one needs to try (operative word is try) and stop the actions that may stall our entrance beyond the golden gates.
Maybe that is the lesson we need to announce every week from the pulpit. Our priests, pastors, ministers and deacons need to stop stating their homilies and sermons in a politically correct manner. Some seem to be scared to just lay it out on the line as to what constitutes a sin. Maybe not all faiths have the same sin list as Catholics or Christians for that matter; but, I do know the Christian faiths are based off the Ten Commandments and a large portion of Americans are classified as Christians. One survey states “79.5% of Americans are Christian”. So why do the pastors, ministers, and priests practice such hesitancy to say and teach the rules of the faith? I think The Government has made some of them afraid to teach in the manner of Jesus for fear of being labeled “judgmental” or “not inclusive”. Jesus’ teaching manner was done without apology, with true conviction, while maintaining compassion; it is possible to preach the truth with a Christ-centered attitude.
And, on a personal note, this is where the conflict between Church and State begins.
I do side with the teachings of the Church; it is against my faith for me to believe, practice, or follow a law where my faith is asked or told to be superseded for the rights of others. I do not believe my country, whose success comes from capitalism; can lawfully force a business to provide a service or product that is in direct conflict with their belief system. If I don’t want to sell or provide something I should not be demanded to, or fined by The Government, because of my decision. How is this so hard for people to understand? It is the consumer’s choice to buy or not to buy something regardless of what the product is… be it coffee, chicken sandwiches or insurance. Let the consumers decide! This is what capitalism is all about. Supply and demand is how a company’s decisions will prove itself successful – not The Government. Our government should not tell or dictate what a legal and law abiding faith based company can sell or provide.
Last time I looked the USA is still a republic. So, if we truly are a republic and over 70% of Americans are Christian with Christian values, why are the elected officials enacting laws and placing taxes (or are they now fines?) on The People based on a value system that goes completely against their faith? I have heard many say faith is out of date and the laws and traditions of certain religions are really archaic. I have also read where many practicing Christians don’t agree with all of their church’s teachings. So once again, bouncing back to the issue of faith, I have to ask…
Where are all the pastors, priests, ministers and their Christian followers on this issue?
Since I am a Catholic-Christian I personally would like the priests and deacons to be as honest about our Catholic tenets as Cardinal Dolan is regarding the health care mandates and Cardinal DiNardo is about the Pro-Life issues. Like children, we need to be reminded on how to behave in order to achieve spiritual success in the eyes of our Lord. I do not want our priests to be like the spiritual leaders of Israel we read about in Ezekiel where they are too concerned about their positions and not about the people. The Lord, using the parable of sheep and shepherd for His people and their leaders, gets mad because “they (the sheep) were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts.” (Ezekiel 34:5) We need to be shepherded in the laws of God so we can confidently make the right decisions and have an ally as we try to follow the teachings of Jesus. And with that I come back to country.
Our country was founded on faith, the Christian faith. As the patriot and a framer of our Constitution, Patrick Henry stated over 200 years ago at the beginning stages of our country: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” We, as Christians, need to no longer be afraid to express our desire for a country that tries to live a life patterned on Christian values. We need to no longer be afraid to denounce the laws and taxes/fines that go against our faith-based teachings.
So, I must say to the 79.5% of Christians in America, we don’t truly have a separation of church and state; we have the “right to protect” our faith from a government who wishes to negate the founding principles of our Constitution. The United States of America is a country governed by The People based on the Laws of Nature and God.
Side Bar Comments:
79.5% of Americans consider themselves Christian. PEW Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, December 2011
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” Patrick Henry (5 time Governor of Virginia)
Taken from: “God’s Law the Foundation of Free Government” written by Carolyn Alder
“The moral law to which man has been subjected by his Creator, and of which his feelings, or conscience as it is sometimes called, are the evidence with which his Creator has furnished him. The moral duties which exist between individual and individual in a state of nature accompany them into a state of society,… their Maker not having released them from those duties on their forming themselves into a nation.” (Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 3:228)
“We have stacked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self- government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison, Framer and defender of the Constitution
http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/weiner/X0023_9110_Natural_Law.html The United States Constitution and the Natural Law By Bob and Rose Weiner 10/91