The early Christian martyrs were charged with a rather unusual crime: “atheism.” They were called such by the civil magistrates, and and many of the pagan Roman citizens, since they refused to worship the official gods of the Roman Empire. Further, in calling Jesus “Lord” they were directly indicating that they were at odds with the official declaration of the Senatus populusque Romanus (the Senate and the Roman People), that Caesar was “lord.” Their use of the word Evangelium to reference their sacred writings was considered a usurping of a word associated with divine emperor, who alone could utter an Evangelion, a word that was good news of great joy that will be for all the people (cf Lk 2:10).
Yes, the opinion of many at the time was that these Christians were trouble makers who upset the civil balance. They were considered impious and unpatriotic in failing to worship, and thus placate, the gods. Their “atheism” could bring forth bad things for the civil order. They were therefore unjust in their failure to recognize the political, social and sacred order. The Emperor too, was seen as a mere man. This might undermine the authority and respect he both had and was due.
Hence to withstand the Christians, and to attempt to force them to comply with the “just” demands of the law, was seen as a virtuous and praise worthy stance by many in the Roman world. Whatever penalties, might be necessary to compel Christian observance of these “just” norms was seen by many as necessary and good. Further, ridicule, persecution and even death were seen as something these unjust and unpatriotic people deserved. The sporadic persecutions that broke out against the Christians flowed essentially from this mentality.
Today, many of the same ingredients are setting up against Catholics, and other Bible-believing Christians, who have not simply caved and accepted all the increasing demands of a secular culture. And this secular culture has developed a kind of religious fervor around its central dogmas of abortion on demand, the Gay (LGBTQ) agenda, Gay “marriage,” Gay adoption, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, separation of Church and State, and the removal of all religious influence from the public schools, and public squares.
This agenda is presented with a dogmatism far more severe than the religious opponents they accuse of being inflexible dogmatic. The PC police will immediately swoop in any even mild transgressions of the secularist sensitivity code. Even an unintentional lapse of the tongue must be punished with immediate resignation or forceable removal, no matter how sincere the apology, or how significant the context of the remarks.
And those Christians and others who fail to adopt this new secularist and sexually revolutionary social order are called: hateful, bigoted, harsh, intolerant, reactionary, homophobic, and just plain mean. Many of these extreme secularists consider themselves not only permitted to speak of us in this way, but see themselves as righteous in doing it. Further, any attempts to eject or exclude us from partaking in the public discussion, exercising our right to free speech, and having equal access to public monies or grants to serve the poor, are seen by the extremists, not only as permissible exclusions, but righteous ones.
For in a way we are “atheists” to their new secularist dogma, which many of them hold with religious fervor.
And while many of them accuse us of “imposing our values” on others, it is really they who, now gaining significant power and influence, are imposing their values far more than they imagine. They not only demand tolerance but insist on approval, and dramatic changes in civil law and longstanding cultural norms. And anyone, like the Catholic Church, that will not conform, must be legally compelled in stages to comply through desertification, exclusionary policies, defunding, endless legal challenges, and so forth.
And all the while the extreme secularists call us bigots, refusing to see their own bigotry. They refuse to accept, for even a moment, that our opposition to much of their agenda is rooted in principled, sincere adherence to long standing religious teaching, a teaching that we believe to be given us by God himself. No indeed, not only will they accept our sincerity, but the Scriptures themselves are openly ridiculed and scorned. Never mind that we consider the Scripture to be sacred. That does not stop increasing numbers of supposedly “open minded and tolerant” secularists and others from spoofing, mocking, ridiculing and scorning Scripture. They also misuse it, quoting verses out of context and in ways that give no acknowledgment of long held interpretive principles.
But yet, we are somehow the bigots, somehow, we are the insensitive and intolerant ones who seek to impose our agenda. Well look again oh ye accusers, and heal yourselves. For despite all the talk that the Gay Lobby, and the Secularists have about their status as victims, they look awfully powerful, influential and well ensconced in high places.
I will not tell you there are no bigots in any Catholic or Christian Church. In what may be as many as 1.5 billion Christians on this planet, you just might find a few. But simply refusing to burn incense at the new altars of secularism, does not simply equate with bigotry, and it is time to stop labeling Christian opposition to the radical secular agenda that way. And if their are any true bigots among Christians, shame on them. Any Catholic should read the Catechism at #s 2357-2359 to discover a proper and balanced view.
But it is also time for many of the extreme Secularists, the abortion advocates and extreme members of the Gay lobby to see their own bigotry as well. Who is asking them questions, and having them render an account for their pressure tactics and ridicule of Christians and the Christian faith? They have every right in this Country to differ with us and to take part in the public discussion of moral issues. But the ridicule of the Christian faith and the use of terms such as hateful, intolerant etc., and the use of legal pressure to force compliance bespeaks a bigotry and religious based discrimination and it ought to be confronted for what it is.
In this video Newt Gingrich turns the tables on the media that, to my mind, have a one-sided view of this issue. My use of this video should not be equated as an endorsement in the current political campaign. This blog does not, and cannot take specific stands on particular candidates, other than to comment on things they have said related to the faith. In this matter I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Gingrich’s articulation of the matter and appreciate him confronting the media on their line of questioning, and also the questions they fail to ask.