Posts Tagged ‘moral decay’

This letter to my pastor, a wonderful man, was written during President Bush’s second term in office.

Dear Father,

Yesterday, my wife told me that you asked about me.  Thank you.  I appreciate that.  Perhaps we could spend a few minutes together one of these days talking about my unsuccessful efforts to reconcile some issues in my very convoluted spiritual journey.  With that meeting in mind, here are some thoughts on which I would surely appreciate your point of view.

I don’t know that any single event served as a tipping point for leaving the church but, if pressed, I would say it was probably the second-term election of GWB.  Oh, the first one wasn’t any bargain, either, but the second one made it clear that the rules had changed and that religion, and specifically Christianity, was at the heart of it.  Foolishly, I never thought that any religious group in America could influence the outcome of a major election.  Okay, a Senator or two from Kansas, maybe, but the Presidency? No way!

But it wasn’t just that GWB won, it was how he won.  Otherwise good people, many of them right in our own parish, were blinded by a mantra of moral decay brought to America by Godless liberals.  Prayer in the schools became more important than children going to school hungry.  Abortion rights became a lynchpin in the campaign against so-called activist judges who brought us evils like the New Deal, voting rights and affirmative action.  And the environment?  Why worry about global warming, a National Forest or two or mercury in the blood of our children when, in the inglorious tradition of James Watt, the end of days is at hand, anyway?

Tragically, the election of GWB was both a referendum on religious credentials and a demonstration, for all the world to see, of how religion can be used to influence the body politic of the most powerful nation on earth…a body politic that is either too ignorant, too lazy or too stupid to ask the hard questions of anyone who wraps him or herself in a cloak of Christian values.

I’m embarrassed for America and I’m embarrassed to be a Christian.  I resent the self-proclaimed morality police…the ones who high jacked our religion…the ones who would display the Ten Commandments in public buildings because they think we need to be reminded of our moral underpinnings and yet fail to pay attention to Christ’s message in the Sermon on the Mount.  And I’m embarrassed, ashamed and more that a little bit angry at those who give this president a blank check to lead the nation into an unjust war and gut our nation’s social programs because, after all, he is a man of faith.

But what really causes me pain is how moderate clerics and church leaders of all Christian denominations refuse to challenge would-be leaders who beat the drum of Christian values as a means to grab power, or who refuse to hold a spotlight on the unholy alliance between religion, business and government.  Does anyone give a damn that this is Fascism?  To argue that the pulpit should be free of politics ignores reality.  The pulpit is already politicized.

Then there are the many issues of present-day Catholicism, issues that make it more and more difficult to define myself as a Catholic.  For example, is it right for the “universal church” to purge gays from the seminary?  Surely, many Catholics will take comfort in the spin that doing so is in response to the clergy abuse situation. Yet, one would be hard pressed to find an expert who could draw a causal link between homosexuality and pedophilia.  This makes the issue of homosexuality nothing more than a politically correct red herring.

And, is it right that the church continues its ban on birth control when 40 percent of sexually active adults in eastAfricahave either HIV or AIDS?  How many deaths does it take for a theological position like this to be reconsidered or is this terrible human toll somehow in God’s plan?

And, speaking of blood, we cry for our war dead war, but who cries for Iraqi families…the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who die and whose bodies are torn apart in a war of liberation that they didn’t ask for?  Or would it be un-American or un-Christian to bring it up?

The week or so ago, in connection with a CCD function, Fr. Joe gave an interesting and very useful talk about spiritualism and religion, noting that more people claim to be spiritual than ever before but often find organized religion wanting.  It’s no wonder and it sums up the problem that I face with my own spiritual journey.  I don’t think I have ever felt as spiritual as I do now and never more estranged from religion.  If ever there was a time when people needed to embrace the simple message of Jesus Christ it is now.  Yet, religious leaders seem far more interested in preaching support for our war-criminal president.

I suspect that if Jesus Christ were to walk among us once again, he would be none too pleased.

Kindest regards, Brian McCabe