The Gay Marriage Ultimatum: “Choose Me or Christ”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tambako The Jaguar https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tambako The Jaguar https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/

People still come to me for help, solace and advice.

It’s a natural adjunct to 18 years in public office in this community. People know me, and they’ve learned over the years to trust me. Not only that, they’ve formed the habit of turning to me when they want to talk about something they can’t discuss with the people around them because they know that I won’t, ever, talk about what they tell me.

I left office a year ago, but I didn’t stop being the mother confessor for a lot of South Oklahoma City folks. I don’t know if I ever will.

The Supreme Court sent a number of people my way since last Friday, all of them looking for solace in the face of personal attacks they had suffered because of the decision on gay marriage. They called me on the phone, approached me after mass, in checkout lines and while I was running errands. I also had internet encounters of the same type that went far beyond the boundaries of my community and my personal friends.

Here’s the summarized version of what they told me:

There was a lot of yelling and screaming in certain circles this weekend. It was directed at Christians in their personal, and, heretofore, safe personal relationships. It was also directed at priests who spoke about the decision from the pulpit. One friend, who gave me permission to discuss this, witnessed an ugly blow-up at a longstanding poker game she and her husband go to. The people there hold diverse opinions about matters of faith and morality, but they’ve been meeting for this friendly get-together on a regular basis for years.

This week, the atheists in the group refused to practice civility. They cursed the Lord, called Christians bigots and homophobes and were otherwise verbally insulting. According to my friend, this began with a celebration on the part of the atheists over Obergefell. She said she felt like, “OK, you won your deal, have your celebration.” She said the Christians at the table kept silent.

But when the celebration turned to repeatedly cursing the Lord and calling Christians ugly names, she said one of the Christian men told them to shut up. It devolved from there into two men squaring off to fight one another. At that point, my friend stood up and told them to stop it.

She said, “I’ve never forced my faith on you. I don’t come here with a Bible telling you what to do. But you are disrespecting me and my Jesus and I will not stand for it. You stop this now or my husband and I are leaving and we won’t be back.”

My friend is the most soft-spoken Hispanic woman you’d ever meet. I’ve never heard her raise her voice. Not once. Not ever.

She said the room fell silent and everyone sat back down. But she doesn’t think she and her husband will be back for more fun next week. They are through with the group.

I’ve heard stories of spouses calling one another names and people walking out of mass on their priests. I also had Public Catholic readers directly ask me what they should do in the face of this hate that is being directed at Christians.

I think that my friend gave a template for how to handle friends who are not family. We really need to stand our ground. If the people we call friends do not respect us enough to allow us the space and personal dignity to hold our own beliefs and act on them, then the friendship is on sick and sad grounds. I know from personal experience how painful this is. But there is nothing we can do but let them go.

That also goes for priests who have parishioners walk out on them when they teach what the Church teaches about marriage from the pulpit. Many of these walkers away will walk back later. But whether they do or not, priests must still teach the truth. They have a responsibility before God to protect their flocks from the error of grave sin. Silence in a situation where their parishioners are facing this kind of abuse is cowardice. It is a shepherd, running away to protect himself when his flock is in danger.

Family members are a bit more difficult. There are several gay people in my family and we’ve never had a problem. The reason is simple: We love one another. I may not support gay marriage, but when my gay family member has to go to the hospital or is in trouble with the law or just lonely and feeling bereft, they know that I’m there for them. I will sit in the hospital waiting room, go to the trial and hang out with them when no one else will.

They do the same for me.

What is politics, compared to that?

However, this sort of familial sanity does not prevail in all families. Children, in particular, are too willing to use their parents’ love for them, a love they do not doubt or they wouldn’t do this, as a form of blackmail. “If you love me, you’ll desert your faith and back gay marriage.”

Chose me, or chose Christ. That is the thing in the balance.

All I can say is that you must never stop loving people because they are jerks and bullies. But no one — no one – can be put between you and Jesus. Jesus has to be your first loyalty.

That doesn’t mean you lecture them or even try to get them to change. Even if you do this with the intention of saving their souls, it is still the wrong thing in this circumstance. They are too set on their downward path to listen. Their ears are stopped and their hearts are hardened.

All you can do is love them and continue to love them and reach out to them in love. That, and keep the faith with your faith in your own life.

Aside from the fact that Jesus Christ must be your Lord or He is nothing to you, what they are demanding is far beyond the right of any person to demand of another. It is a crude and vicious violation of your integrity as a human being, of your natural human rights as a person.

At bottom, it, as my friend said, “disrespects” you. I heard a discussion this weekend in which someone more knowledgeable in these matters than me said that these kinds of attacks on the integrity of another person’s soul are always an indicator of disrespect. They do not respect you and your right to believe as you believe.

Disrespect at this level is disrespect of you as a person. You have a responsibility to yourself, to God and to the person attacking you not to accede to this. Mutual respect is the beginning of genuine trust. It is the foundation on which all good human relationships are built.

If I cannot trust you to respect me as a person enough to allow me the dignity of making my own choices in matters as profoundly personal as faith and morality, then I can not trust you at all. There can be no friendship, no true relationship, without this basic level of respect and the trust that comes from it.

I don’t know if my friend should go back to her poker game or not. It’s possible that the people there heard her and that they will respect her in the future. But if they do not, she really does have to leave.

I know my friend well enough to know that she would take a lot of disrespect directed at her, personally. But she will not abide disrespect to Jesus Christ.

That has to be the bottom line for all of us. Even the most co-dependent among us must stand for Christ in these times.

Do it in love. If you love someone, give yourself the freedom to keep on loving them. Never send someone who is really close to you away. If they leave, that is their choice. But when and if they decide to come back, welcome them home with the same love you felt before they left, and then let the past go.

Love hurts in times like this. The people we love are the ones who can and will nail us to the cross. But if our first love is Jesus, He will help us through this. Stay the course, my friends. On the other side of this Gethsemane, you will find that your faith in Him is stronger, your walk with Him closer, your love of Him, deeper.

You may lose trust in the people around you, but your trust in Him is a rock on which you can build your life.

Did Your Pastor Preach on the Supremes’ Decision on Gay Marriage?

This is an informal, non-scientific poll that I’m conducting from my own curiosity.

Did you pastor address the Supreme Court decision doing away with marriage in his homily Sunday?

Has he ever preached on the issue of gay marriage?

I’m just curious.

Bishop Tobin, You Can’t Lead People by Bashing and Shaming Them.

Bishops are teachers, leaders and administrators.

They are also priests.

When a bishop becomes so exasperated with his flock that he no longer likes them or feels love for them, it’s time for that bishop to go back to God in prayer.

Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island has published a letter to is flock that is a case in point.

I can’t say what Bishop Tobin feels in his heart, but various comments he’s made and things he’s done lead me to believe that he’s more than a little disappointed in the people in the pews in his diocese. He runs a diocese that is more densely Catholic than most, but also less publicly committed to following the Church.

Bishop Tobin has experienced the personal and pastoral debacle of seeing members of his flock defy him and vote to pass laws legalizing gay marriage. He preached and taught the right things, but they didn’t listen, or rather, not enough of them listened.

Poor man, he took their sins on his own back and blamed himself for the failure of those who should have followed hm to do what was right. It must have been a bitter black moment for him as a leader of souls.

This exasperation, this disenchantment, with the people he is tasked to lead comes blasting out in a recent article he posted concerning the way that Catholics dress when they go to mass. He wants his flock to show their respect for the Lord by dressing up a bit when they come to Church.

Fair enough.

Catholics are notoriously casual in the way we dress at mass. I wear a lot of jeans and t-shirts to mass myself. Maybe we should be a bit more polished in our appearance. Many of my fellow Catholic Patheosi think they should. Me, I’m not so sure that I agree. I think that casual is the new normal of our culture and there are much bigger fish for a bishop to fry than taking on the role of fashion cop.

But I’m not a bishop and I don’t set bishops’ agendas. If Bishop Tobin looks out over his flock and sees attire that is unseemly and disrespectful of the Lord, it is will within his job description for him to admonish the faithful to spiff up a bit. It is the job of Catholics in the pews to listen to him and try to follow his teaching. He is, after all, their spiritual leader.

What is unfortunate is that, when he attempted to do this, he let loose with his anger at the people he leads. Here’s a bit of what he said:

You know what I’m talking about; you’ve seen it too. Hirsute flabmeisters spreading out in the pew, wearing wrinkled, very-short shorts and garish, unbuttoned shirts; mature women with skimpy clothes that reveal way too much, slogging up the aisle accompanied by the flap-flap-flap of their flip-flops; hyperactive gum-chewing kids with messy hair and dirty hands, checking their iPhones and annoying everyone within earshot or eyesight.

These displays reveal a gross misunderstanding of the sacred space we’ve entered in the church and the truly sacred drama taking place in our midst. C’mon – even in the summer, a church is a church, not a beach or a pool deck.

Every member of the worshipping community should dress appropriately for Mass, but the obligation is even greater for those who fulfill public ministries during the liturgy – ushers, lectors, servers, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Because they’ve assumed a public role in the sacred liturgy and are in the public eye, it’s important that they give good example to others in the way they dress, speak and present themselves during Mass.

Certainly the people of God should dress with appropriate modesty when they go to mass. I agree that those who participate in the mass should make an effort to be visually presentable when they do so.

But I can tell the good bishop that long-term leadership of a group of people depends on trust and inspiration, not verbal flogging and public shaming.

Every person who comes to mass is a volunteer. Every single one of them has something else they could be doing. Every person who is sitting in a pew is there because, at least at some level, they are seeking Christ the Lord. That deserves respect, which is exactly what I think Bishop Tobin is trying to ask for himself and the mass in his misbegotten post.

I think that the bishop wants people to respect the mass, and I am guessing that he would also like for them to respect him. However, I do not think that talking to the people in the pews in the manner I quoted above will garner the respect he is seeking.

The reason why is simple: To get respect, you have to give respect, and Bishop Tobin disrespects his flock in this letter.

People will follow a leader through all kinds of hell and high water if they trust that leader. They will respect and support a leader who respects and supports them. That respect and support is the basis of trust and inspiration, and trust and inspiration is the basis of leadership.

When a leader — it does not matter if it is a priest or a president — disrespects the people he or she is trying to lead, they damage that essential element of trust and inspiration. When they do it repeatedly, they can destroy the trust, quench the inspiration, that is necessary for them to lead.

Bishops have a tough job. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to get tougher as time goes forward. Their authority is battered and tarnished by their own failings in the priest sex abuse scandal.  The Church itself has become the sign of contradiction against the satanic influences that are ripping at our whole society.

Those satanic forces are gathering and will attack the Church without ceasing so long as it stays true to its mission of preaching the whole Gospel of Christ. Bishops, as the generals in the Lord’s army, are the top targets in these attacks.

But they can no go to ground and take cover. Bishops need to stand and lead. They must lead, and they must do it fearlessly and with the kind of strength and faith that only the Holy Spirit can give.

It is not possible for any man to do the job that confronts our bishops out of his own wisdom or strength. If God does not support these men, they will fail. That means that they have to unlearn the lessons of clericalism that have formed so many of our religious leaders and take on the humility of true followership of Christ. There is no other way for a bishop in today’s world to effectively do the job that is set in front of him.

Leadership requires a lot of those who take it up. Among other things, it requires self-discipline. That self-discipline includes a refusal not to indulge personal pique in public venues.

That’s what I read in Bishop Tobin’s remarks: Personal pique.

He is dangerously close to giving the impression that he flat-out dislikes the people he must lead. He needs to stop this and stop it now.

If he is genuinely concerned that the level of casual dress in his parishes has become so extreme that it endangers the sanctity of the mass, he must, as is his job, teach in that area. But it is imperative that he do so as a bishop, a priest, a father and shepherd of a flock that he loves and longs to lead to heaven.

There aren’t many chances when it comes to publicly dissing the people you lead. Such behavior violates the compact between leader and those who are led. If they trust you deeply, they will give you one or two second chances, but only if they love you deeply and trust you absolutely. No one ever gets more chances than that, and most leaders get no second chance at all.

All bishops, not just Bishop Tobin, need to take this to heart. I know what I’m talking about here.

I want to see our bishops succeed. I pray for their success. When I see a bishop shoot himself in the foot this way, I think it’s important to say something.

Bishops must respect and love the people God has entrusted to them. If they do that, they will find the job of leadership a natural outgrowth of the trust they receive in turn.

For a comprehensive dust-up on this whole question, check out The Anchoress who, as usual, says it best, or, have a look at Jen Fitz who employs old-fashioned story-telling to make her point.

Cafeteria Catholics Wear Red as Well as Blue

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

It was a rout.

They knocked one another down, running away from Him.

The temple guards tried to catch John Mark by grabbing his clothes. When his clothes tore lose, Mark ran away naked into the night like a panicked bunny rabbit.

A few days before, John and James had been arguing over who would sit at the places of honor in His Kingdom.

Now, they ran.

It was ignominious defeat, an end to all their boasting and bragging about their great loyalty.

Jesus has suffered many Gethsemanes since that night, many times when His followers ran from Him and straight into the maw of the world. People stampede the same as a herd of cattle. When they are panicked, they will run right over a cliff and to their destruction.

We are the weakest of followers for a Heavenly King. The question isn’t why we choose Him. The question is why He chooses us.

Given our behavior, that question is so confounding that only one answer is possible. That answer is love. He loves us, and love makes all things right, even our tawdry behavior.

The disciples ran that night because they were panicked, afraid for their lives. They also ran because, as Jesus told them, This is satan’s hour. 

But satan doesn’t have just one hour. His taunts and beguilements are an ever-renewing source of spite, hate, malice and lies. This time in which we live is every bit as much satan’s hour as that night in the garden.

Satan will use any doorway into us, including what we think of as our faithfulness to Him. One clear sign that we can use to discern that we are on the wrong path is when we begin to base our righteousness on the sins of other people.

That is the first sin of cafeteria Catholics, of the red and the blue, the left and right. They are forever attacking one another and claiming righteousness for themselves based on the sins of the other.

Cafeteria Catholics of the left claim, often rightfully, that those on the right ignore the cries of the poor, that their economic policies concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish all others. They are accurate when they say that this is not free enterprise, because it isn’t. It is corporate fascism, the corporatism that has been consistently condemned by every recent pope.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right claim, often rightfully, that those on the left attack the human, that they seek to destroy the very foundations of civilization with their destructive nihilism. Abortion, gay marriage, mutilating surgeries used on mentally ill people, euthanasia, egg harvesting, porn; these are the crimes of the left.

Both groups condemn the pope and the Church for violating the “teachings” of their side. The Pope is a sign of contradiction to this world. Cafeteria Catholics of both the right and left react violently when the Holy Father’s teachings contradict and lay bare their own departures from following Christ.

They don’t respond to this revelation that they are walking outside the faith with humility and a desire to change. They don’t even do as I often do when the Pope’s teachings contradict my shibboleths, by twisting and turning, arguing and complaining, before I ultimately give in and follow.

Hardened cafeteria Catholics respond to the teachings from the pope that contradict their politics by going into spittle-throwing, self-righteous rages. They attack and defame the pope himself for calling them to a conversion they do not want to make.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right have, for many years, condemned and excoriated anyone who departed from what they termed obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.  Their brittle self-righteousness in condemning everyone who departed from their standard of faithfulness has driven many people from the Church, turned people away from Christ.

It was not their faithfulness that drove people away. It was their self-righteousness, their ugly use of the Church as a club to beat their political opponents over the head.

But when the pope, this Pope, dares to teach the truth about corporate fascism, they turn hard about 180 degrees and attack the Church, and the Holy Father themselves. I have deleted the most appalling comments about Pope Francis in the past 24 hours, comments that come from the pit of spiritual death.

That, of course, is nothing new. I delete appalling comments about the pope and the Church almost every day.

Cafeteria Catholics on the left chime in on a regular basis, letting me know that the Church has failed to live up to their self-righteous standards, as well. The Church, they say, is cruel and has no compassion because it “condemns” the sick and elderly to suffering when a good dose of poison would end it for them.

The Church is cruel because, while it admits anyone, including homosexuals, it will not tell homosexuals that their sins are not sins.

The Church supposedly hates women because it will not support them in killing their children with abortion.

Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, the red and the blue, abandon the Church founded by Christ the Lord to bend their knee and give their loyalty to the false gods of this world. Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, seek to limit the Church’s teaching to areas that goad the other guy’s ox and not theirs.

Jesus Christ doesn’t mean all that much to either side. They will abandon Him on behalf of their political philosophies anytime. Any time at all.

They do not follow the Vicar of Christ. They follow the pundits and talking heads who taught them this false gospel of self-righteousness and condemnation of others in the first place. They are comfortable in their mushy wallows of false doctrine and self-congratulation. They like pointing the finger at the other guy and declaring that he is not faithful, while, they proclaim, they themselves are absolutely faithful.

Left wing cafeteria Catholics loved to attack Pope Benedict XVI. They piled onto Pope John Paul II. But they’ve decided to patronize Pope Francis by misinterpreting what he says to fit their politics. They are attempting what the right wing accomplished by doing the same thing with the teachings of the earlier popes: Self deification.

Right wing cafeteria Catholics breathe fire at Pope Francis. I’ve deleted comments from them that say outrageous things about him. This is especially poignant, coming as it does from people who have long based their claims to righteousness on their faithfulness to the teachings of the Church.

In truth, neither group of cafeteria Catholics is looking for leadership from the Pope. What they both want is validation of their sins. That, and holy verbiage they can use to condemn their enemies in the wars of this world.

They aren’t looking for redemption and forgiveness. They have no use for salvation that comes at the price of a cross. They have convinced themselves that they don’t need it.

They are so certain of their theological omniscience that they lecture the pope on Church teaching. They are so proud of their righteousness that they use themselves for the measure by which they judge what is right and what is wrong.

Cafeteria Catholics are exactly like the political movements they have made the lords of their lives. The only difference is that the puppet masters at the top of these movements know what they are doing. They got their 30 pieces of silver.

Their followers down below do not have the respect of those on top these movements. These hapless souls who’ve sold their birthright for a bowl of pundit porridge are just things to be used by those they follow.

Do not run away from the Lord of all life. Do not feed your salvation to the dogs of this world.

The simplest way to know that you are following Christ is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scripture tells us to Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. 

I would make that more explicit. I would say trust the Vicar of Christ and do not follow the pied pipers of the media and the internet to your own destruction.

Save. Your. Soul.

Turn your back on the death-dealing philosophies of this world, whether they are from the right or the left.

Choose Christ.

Vatican Puts Former Nuncio to Dominican Republic on Trial for Child Sex Abuse, Porn.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dennis Jarvis Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dennis Jarvis Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

The Vatican plans to put former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who served as the Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic on trial for child sex abuse offenses while he was overseas, as well as additional charges of possession of child pornography while he has been living at the Vatican.

Former Archbishop Wesolowski was laicized in 2014. He was found guilty of “grave crimes” under Canon Law. He is being tried under Vatican City State law — as opposed to Church law. Possession of child pornography is a criminal offense under statutes of the Vatican City State.

From National Catholic Reporter:

The former papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic who left his post in 2013 after being accused of sexual misconduct with minors will stand trial next month at the Vatican with possible “international legal cooperation.”

Former archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, a Polish-born prelate who served in the Latin American country from 2008 to August 2013, will stand trial beginning July 11, the Vatican announced Monday.

Wesolowski was recalled to Rome nearly two years ago after allegations of abusing young boys and possessing child pornography. While originally free to roam the city upon his arrival, he has been living at the Vatican under a form of house arrest since Vatican officials arrested him in September 2014

Monday’s statement said the president of the Vatican City-State’s tribunal “has ordered the trial” of the former nuncio, for offenses from his time in the Dominican Republic and while living at the Vatican since 2013.

“With regard to the period spent in Rome, the nuncio is charged with the offence of possession of child pornography,” the statement reads. Charges from the former prelate’s time in Latin America, the Vatican said, are “based on evidence transmitted by the judicial authorities of Santo Domingo,” the Dominican Republic’s capital city.

 

 

 

 

Climate Change Crosses Political Lines: What’s a Bishop to Do?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

So, Pope Francis has written a soon-to-be-released encyclical on the environment.

Long before we got this close to actually reading the document itself, we’ve been treated to histrionics and “instructions” to the Holy Father to mind his own pontifical business.

Rush Limbaugh took time away from counting his money to come out against the encyclical he had not read. Predictably, he based his thinking on his own greed-is-good theology. Now, he’s running his jaws, flapping about a “leaked” version of the encyclical, which, for all we know, a Vatican janitor pulled out of the trash. Of course, Mr Limbaugh repeats his slanders about the pope being a “Marxist” while he’s doing this.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum chimed in a few weeks ago, instructing Pope Francis to “back off” talking about climate change. His logic? The Church should steer away from scientific questions. According to Fox News, an unnamed blogger at First Things “accused the pope of promoting ‘theologized propaganda’ on conservation — a post the journal’s editor later disavowed.”

According to WMAL, the GOP is on the verge of doing battle with Pope Francis over climate change. USA Today has written an article stating what is obvious to anyone who understands politics: The opposition to this encyclical is about money.

In the meantime, environmentalists and liberals are tuning up for their happy dance. I have no doubt that their interpretations of the upcoming encyclical will be as self-serving and inaccurate as those of Mr Limbaugh, et al.

Every pope in recent memory has spoken out about the environment. Every pope in recent memory has taken a strong stand against the evils of corporatism, which is organized greed wedded to government power. Why is Pope Francis any different?

The answer to that is as obvious as the answer to why corporatists oppose him with such venom: People are listening to this pope. They’re paying attention to what he says. For the first time in a long time, ordinary people see the Church as accessible. Pope Francis is a father figure to billions of people who never listened to the Church before.

He has shifted the Church away from the appearance of partisan alliances and given it the old-time Gospel outlook of a Church that is beholden to no political party or faction. That is exactly as it should be. The Church should have one Master, one Lord, and that is Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what the nay-sayers are yapping about, Pope Francis is entirely within his purview when he addresses the environment. Human beings were explicitly told from the beginning that we have “dominion” over this earth. We were commanded to care for it as good husbandmen, to lead it to be fruitful and to bring forth its goodness for all humanity, for all time.

Corporatism is the antithesis of this. Corporatism is evil, and like all evil, it only destroys. Corporatism rapes the environment. Corporatism cuts down the rainforests, and plunders the wealth of the ground, all the while displacing people, shutting them into economic slavery and destroying both their hope and their future. Corporatism destroys life on a global scale; wiping out whole species of beings like mowing down grass.

Of course corporatism’s well-paid mouthpieces fear this pope and his message. Of course, they are enraged by the very thought of this upcoming encyclical.

All this presents the American bishops with an unsettling conundrum, one that, like most of their problems, is at least partly of their own making.

America’s Catholic bishops sit on shaky thrones. Their prophetic voice has been chipped and scarred by the clergy sex abuse scandal. Their authority and ability to teach is compromised by the refusal of priests in the parish to carry the message on critical issues such as the sanctity of marriage.

The bishops were forced to reach over the heads of their priests and go directly to the people in the pews in the matter of the HHS Mandate. It is to the everlasting credit of the pew-sitters that they found loyalty and support there in this critical fight for religious freedom.

Now, with this encyclical, they have to go in y0ur face with their most loyal followers. The civil religion, which worships at the altars of the R and the D, is divided cleanly along party lines. The Ds support abortion, backed the HHS Mandate and have fallen over backwards into gay marriage. The Rs have become the only home that faithful Catholics feel they have in the political sphere.

Given that the level of teaching at many of our parishes tends toward a Hallmark card Christianity that no longer addresses the lived reality of many of those in the pews, serious Catholics have been taking more and more of their “teaching” on theological matters from the Republican Party.

This was frankly encouraged by the original founders of the religious right such as Jerry Falwell. Rev Falwell, and most of his fellows, imposed their own political beliefs on the Gospels. They did this even when those political beliefs ran counter to what the Gospels themselves plainly said.

As a result, the religious right deified corporatism. The Catholic Church did not join in with this heresy. But the bishops and the parish priests did not oppose it in the kind of clear language that is necessary to teach the people in the pews. They failed, at a critical juncture, to effectively teach the constant teachings of the Church. These teachings go back in a straight line, from one pope to the next, for hundreds of years. But the people in the pews never got the message.

This created a vacuum where there should have been legitimate Christian teaching. This vacuum left the people in the pews to make up their own theology. Over time, they were seduced by the civil religion of party politics. Faithful Catholics in the pews came to substitute the civil religion for Christianity in matters concerning economics. They exchanged the teachings of right-wing corporatists for the constant teaching of the Church in economic matters.

Now they are hardened in this heresy. And the bishops stand hapless, unable to figure out how to set things right.

At the same time, “progressive” churches did their part by bastardizing the Gospels on issues life, marriage, gender identity and the sexualizing of women and children. Left and right, they both cut their religion to suit their politics. The political heresy reigned.

Nobody in the religious sphere, other than the popes themselves, was teaching the whole Gospel of Christ.

Now, after decades of this, we are reaping the whirlwind.

Part of the damage of that whirlwind is that the American bishops are now faced with teaching an encyclical in parishes where the most faithful of the parishioners have drunk so deeply of the Republican Kool-Aid that they actually place more trust in the likes of Rush Limbaugh than they do the Vicar of Christ. These are people who are dying for leadership. They want to be led. They’ve settled on following the teachings of their political party rather than the teachings of their Church.

I haven’t read the encyclical Pope Francis has written on the environment. But I do not doubt that it is based on the simple fact that humanity’s dominion over creation is a responsibility, and not just an opportunity for destructive exploitation by the few to the detriment of everyone else.

Pope Francis is Peter. Think carefully before you follow the R or the D instead of the Church created by Christ the Lord.

As for the American bishops, my heart goes out to them. They are in such a mess, and they don’t appear, most of them, to be up to the task in front of them.

One thing I know: We don’t need institutionalized “company” men, at this time. We need men of God.

From The New York Times:

… With Francis expected to make the case that climate change, unchecked development and overconsumption are exacerbating the suffering of the poor, advocates for the environment and the poor are thrilled.

But the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States may be harder to win over. At the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops here last week, bishops from around the country said they were withholding their enthusiasm until they saw the document on Thursday.

Some said they were wary about getting the church enmeshed in the debate over climate change, a contentious issue in the United States. They also expressed concern about allying with environmentalists, some of whom promote population control as a remedy, since the church sees abortion and contraception as great evils.

Some bishops said they had received hate mail from Catholics skeptical of climate change. That has added to the bishops’ hesitation and confusion on the topic.

The Church Without Nuns is Like a Human Heart that’s Cut in Half

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Ben Eekhof

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Ben Eekhof

Legislators can be dismissive of clergy.

In fact, elected officials are, whether they will admit it in public or not, downright cynical about collared folk. Anyone who’s been through a political campaign and had the experience of a member of the clergy lying about them from the pulpit is bound to be changed by the experience.

In my young life, I’ve had clergy of many denominations stand behind the pulpit and call me everything but a nice person. Much of this was back in my anti-religion period when I was pro choice.

They did not confine themselves to the fact that I was pro choice. They claimed variously that I owned whole chains of abortion clinics, was a communist/prostitute/lesbian/whore/slut etc, etc, etc.

Then, when I experienced the love of Christ and converted, when I began to do my best of make up for the harm I’d done by being pro choice, I got attacked by clergy from the other side of the spectrum. They accused me of criminality (which made them lawsuit bait, btw), hating women/hating men/being in favor of rape, and, of course, sexual promiscuity and having had many abortions.

Notice that the lies always included sexual slurs. I think there’s a reason for this, given that I am female and the clergy who attacked me were all male. But I won’t go into it here. Just use your imagination.

Most elected officials end up being attacked by clergy at some point in their careers, and most of the time these attacks are among the most vicious and dishonest they experience. So, when a member of the clergy shows up to lobby for something or other, politicians tend to regard them more as other politicians than men and women of God.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by JohnPickenPhoto https://www.flickr.com/photos/picken/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by JohnPickenPhoto https://www.flickr.com/photos/picken/

Not so with nuns. The reaction a group of hardened and cynical legislators has to a nun, particularly a nun wearing a habit, is absolutely startling. The reason why is simple. They believe that the nuns are for real. They don’t see them as another political power player. They see nuns as genuinely holy people.

This leads me to the post that my colleague, Sr Theresa Aletheia Noble, published today. It’s an account of an encounter she had with a young man who had recently been released from prison. She writes,

Filled with the chutzpah that only an Italian background and the Holy Spirit can give you I rap on his window. He turns toward me with an unfriendly glare.

“Hi!” I say brightly, fully employing my “naive nun” routine, “Your mom wanted me to meet you.”

After a few moments, the man hesitantly opens the car door without looking at me.

He stays in his seat.

I wait, knowing I cannot really talk to him if his eyes stay glued to the steering wheel.

I realize that he is just as afraid of me as I am of him.

After an awkward moment he gets out of the car. I notice a tattoo on his neck in bold script: “La vida es sufrir” (life is suffering).

He moves uncomfortably from side to side.

I touch his arm and say, “I’ve been praying for you and I will keep praying for you. Feel free to come by to talk anytime. We have a chapel that you can visit.”

He takes his sunglasses off and squints in the sun, grinning slightly.

I just look at him intently as if to say, “I’m know this invitation seems absurd, but it still holds.”

We look at each other in silence for a few more seconds.

I wave and walk back to the bookstore, his mother close behind me. As I walk, I realize that, despite appearances, there is really not much that separates me from this mother’s son. Whatever he does, whatever he is involved in, it seems like it is only a few steps away. I can almost touch it. In some mysterious way I almost feel that I am him. In that moment something about my vocation clicks.

I am a sister: a sister to Jesus, a sister to gangbangers, a sister to grace, a sister to sin.

Nuns, sisters, especially when they wear clothing that makes it clear who they are, have a vocation that even they may not be aware of. They are a visible sign and a presence of God’s grace in this world.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/

Would this young man have opened his car door for a priest? Probably. But the encounter would not have been the same. There is a unique and irreplaceable personal power in the feminine that no priest can possess. There is also the public perception of nuns and sisters as people who are authentic in their commitment to Christ, who are, in fact, holy.

I dealt with people like this young man on a daily basis all the 18 years I was in office. I also dealt with frightened people, people outside the law in many ways, and victims of those outside the law.

I can’t remember one time when a frightened or lawbreaking person turned me away when I approached them. There was never a time when they offered me harm. There were many, many times when they came to me in trust and desperation; unafraid to confide in me, trusting absolutely that I would not betray their confidences, that I would help them in whatever way I could.

That is the power of the feminine, even without a habit. It is the power of mother love, even in a government situation.

Nuns are an irreplaceable component in the Church’s structure. Without them, the ministry of the  Church becomes too male to be truly functional. That is because men are not the human race. They are half of what we are as humans. Women and men together are the human race. Anything less is shorn and weak; a quasi-functional subpart of the damaged whole.

Without nuns, the Church is like a human heart, struggling to beat, even though it’s cut in half.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stijn De Clercq https://www.flickr.com/photos/stijndc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stijn De Clercq https://www.flickr.com/photos/stijndc/

Hypocritical Clergy Shut the Door of the Kingdom of Heaven in People’s Faces

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kristian Bjornard https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjornmeansbear/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kristian Bjornard https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjornmeansbear/

My colleague, Linda LaScola writes a blog over on the Atheist Channel. The focus of her blog is fallen clergy, specifically, Christian clergy who have become atheist.

Quite a number of the posts she writes are about clergy who have become atheist, but continue to keep their jobs as Christian clergy. Ms LaScola and her fellow atheists like this sort of thing, because these guys and gals are worms, eating into the wood of Christianity from the inside.

They are also liars, phonies and charlatans.

This is how Ms LaScola summarized the situation in a promo line she put on one of her recent blog posts:

“…there are clergy who are purposely or inadvertently discouraging their parishioners from holding some of the foundational beliefs of their religion. They no longer believe themselves, so are not very convincing when conveying religious beliefs. In some cases they are not even trying.” 

Odd as this may sound, my response to Ms LaScola’s comment, as well as her headline “Clergy Fuel Flight From Religion,” is Amen sister. You are telling the truth.

Of course, Ms LaScola supports these phoney baloney lying preachers, as, so far as I can see, do the rest of her fellow Atheist bloggers. A good bit of atheist carrying on is based on flat-out lying. The rash of atheists going in to Catholic Churches and pretending to be worshippers in order to gain access to a consecrated Host that they then filmed themselves desecrating is a case in point.

Clergy who lie to their parishioners and misrepresent themselves in order to gain a trust and followership they do not deserve take this lying to a whole new level. They use their position to lead trusting people away from where the people themselves expect to be led. The only place where these folks and their pathological behavior are heroes is among those who hate Christianity.

However, the fact remains that a good number of our clergy do a number on the faith. They are one of the reasons that so many people are leaving the Church.

First, they don’t preach Christ. They don’t share Christ. They don’t even believe in Christ. The Christ-less-Cross-less Christianity they offer is not Christianity at all.

Second, they actively attack the consistent, and up until about a decade ago, universal teachings of Christianity. They work against the faith and try — with success — to scatter the flock. They align themselves publicly with people who have repeatedly stated in public and in writing that their goal is the destruction of Christianity. They support limitations on the First Amendment as a means of attacking their fellow Christians. They join in with the mockery, ridicule, hazing and bashing of their fellow Christians.

Some of these people are just weak-minded thought-bots who suffer from an overdose of narcissism and hubris. They are often highly educated in that they possess many earned degrees. But they are people who do not have a center. They behave like baby ducks imprinting on whatever is the new intellectual trendy. They are spiteful and sarcastic, but there’s no spine. They are weak all through.

A good number of the others are in fact the venal liars that they appear to be. They “come out” to atheists blog sites such as Ms LaScola’s and receive praise, support and sympathy for their “plight” of being an atheist who is supposedly trapped inside the clergy.

This claim is, of course, another of their lies. They are not “trapped” in the clergy.

Nothing and nobody is making these folks stay in their cushy jobs. They could stop lying, leave the clergy and live lives consistent with their true beliefs any time they wanted. They hang on because they like the unearned respect that people give clergy and, if they are part of one of the major denominations, they also like the easy pay, free housing, health insurance and retirement.

It’s a good life, being a lying, two-faced phoney preacher. You can be treated like a cult hero by Christian bashers; their very own boy. At the same time, you get to be a pretend man or woman of God with all the kudos that go with that.

Sweet.

The Catholic Church is not immune to this problem of phoney clergy. We’ve got quite a few of them. Here are a few cases in point:

Priests are bucking the Catholic Church leadership to support gay marriage in Ireland. 

Archbishop Orders Minnesota Priests to Support or Stay Silent on Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

Father Bob Pierson, Gay Priest, on Why Catholics Should Support Gay Marriage

Md Catholic Priest Defends Gay Marriage Before Congregation Despite Opposition

Georgetown University Caves to HHS Mandate

I could go on, but it gets repetitive. The point I’m making is the same one I made in an earlier post. There are reasons for the decline of affiliation with Christian denominations and the rise of nones that we’ve seen in recent polls.

Christian bashing is one of those reasons. I’ve written quite a few posts talking about that. Now, I think it’s time we talk about fallen clergy. I absolutely do not mean the stalwart souls who preach the Gospel, care for their parishioners and do all they can to follow Christ. I do not want to pick these good men apart or criticize them. I’m grateful to them.

I have been blessed with true pastors with a genuine heart for God ever since I converted to the Catholic Church. The one phoney pastor I had in my entire life was years ago when I was an Episcopalian. This guy actually bragged about destroying people’s faith.

I also do not want to talk about the honest doubters who are struggling with their faith, or the equally honest men and women who leave the clergy because they no longer believe what the Church teaches.

This discussion is about those who wear the collar under false pretenses and actively work to undermine the body of Christ by leading God’s people away from the Way. I have nothing good to say about these people.

They are today’s version of the people Jesus was talking about when He said,

What sorrow awaits you, teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter, either. 

 

The Christian Basher in Chief Explains Pope Francis

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Christian/Catholic bashers come from all sectors of society.

Some of them come from the left. Others come from the right. The thing they have in common is that their agenda is always and forever their agenda and not that of the Gospels.

They attack Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular, for one reason. They want to either use the prophetic and moral voice of Jesus Christ to advance their nihilist/corporatist agendas, or they want to destroy this voice.

The contrary thing about the Catholic Church is its unbending fealty to the Gospels as a whole. The Catholic Church does not pick out one part of the Gospels to follow and dump the rest of it. The Catholic Church follows the entire teachings of Christ.

This makes the Catholic Church what Simeon told Our Lady that Jesus would be: “A sign of contradiction that will be opposed and spoken against.”

That is what Jesus said would happen to His followers when He told His disciples, If they persecute Me, they will persecute you. A servant is not greater than his master. 

This fealty does not apply to all Catholic laity, nor to all Catholic priests, and not even, sadly, to all Catholic bishops and cardinals. But the Church as a whole does not depart from the historic and eternal Word that leads to life everlasting. For guidance, we do what Christians have always done. We look to Peter.

What this means is that while there are individual Catholics who write books, give interviews and lead lives that witness to the fallenness of this world rather than to life in Christ, the Church itself does not waver in following Him. It also means that for every fallen Catholic yammering away on a talk show or showing up in a divorce court or hanging out on a porn site, there are many others quietly living lives of goodness and value that build up the Body of Christ.

It means that, while there are priests and bishops who pander to the culture, there are others, such as Cardinal Cordileone in San Francisco, who accept the brickbats and slanders that come to every true follower of Christ the Lord.

It also means that the most powerful among us are also those who are most jealous of the power this true moral voice gives to the Church. They love to stroke the fallen clergy and fallen Catholics who feed at the trough at public approbation for betraying Christ by following the world’s teachings instead of the Gospels. But those others, those who refuse to bend their knee and kiss Caesar’s ring, stick in their throats like a bone.

A case in point is our President.

No president in American history has launched such a direct and outrageous attack on the First Amendment and the Catholic Church as that engineered by President Obama with his HHS Mandate. That attack on the basic freedoms of every citizen in this country is, sadly, only one part of what he has done.

Under President Obama’s administration, Catholic organizations have had to end apostolates to trafficked women because they wouldn’t refer them for abortions. Catholic adoption agencies have been closed because they wouldn’t place babies with homosexual couples. People of faith, including Catholics such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, have been forced to spend day after day in court, defending basic rights that an Administration that believed in American freedoms would support rather than challenge.

President Obama’s recent comments concerning Christians, particularly Catholics, strain credulity when they are taken in the context of his administration’s constant attacks on the First Amendment. It seems that the president decided to sound off on how Christians and Catholics should interpret the Gospels. Not surprisingly, he called on them to put aside 2,000 years of Christian teaching and join in following after him.

In fairness to President Obama, he was speaking at an anti-poverty summit of Evangelical and Catholic leaders at Georgetown University. That at least makes his comments on topic. The gist of what he said was that Christians have been too focused on abortion and that they need to be more like Pope Francis with his emphasis on the poor.

First of all, if the president had bothered to consider where he was, he might have realized that Catholics, as well as other Christians, have placed a considerable emphasis on the needs of the poor for some 2,000 years now. He was speaking at a Catholic university because of the powerful focus that all Christians place on education.

How many of the finest institutions of higher learning in the Western world were begun by religious people, seeking to spread education to everyone? How many schools are there in Africa, Asia and even the Middle East today that were begun and are run by Christians, seeking educate those who cannot get an education otherwise?

Likewise, how many hospitals, clinics, homes for the destitute and help agencies were begun or are run by Christians? The entire HHS Mandate fight came about because there are so many of us out there working to provide help for people who would not otherwise have it. The ACLU has sued the Catholic bishops to try to force them to stop teaching Catholic teaching in Catholic institutions precisely because, they say, so many of our hospitals and health care agencies are Catholic.

Get that? So many of them are Catholic. That’s because Catholics care and have cared for a very long time about the welfare of human beings, all human beings, everywhere.

That is what following Jesus Christ inspires people to do. Christians are builders, helpers, educators, healers. The light of Christ not only shows us the Way to eternal life. It shows us the Way to abundant life for all people in this life.

President Obama’s comment was a well-done form of Christian bashing. It was somewhat like his earlier remarks about the Crusades in that it was based on a lie and that lie is being used to bash Christians and weaken the Christian witness in our society.

The other half of his comment was equally inaccurate. Christian advocacy in the political realm, especially that by the Catholic Church, is not limited to abortion. I know that. And so does he.

We both know because we’ve been in the political realm for most of our adult lives and we’ve been the recipients of the advocacy from Catholic entities about everything from support for increasing the minimum wage, to the welfare of immigrants.

My strongest help when I passed the bill protecting rape victims from having their personal information released was Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Abortion was not mentioned in the bill. Ditto for legislation cleaning up nursing homes, the fight to stop Jim Crow legislation against Hispanics, minimum wage, and a host of other things.

Catholic teaching on justice to the poor and the dignity of workers goes back to Christ. It has been elucidated most powerfully by a long series of Popes, beginning with Pope Leo’s historic encyclical Rerum Novarum and going up through every pope since, including Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is not leading the Church down new pathways. There is nothing new or revolutionary about a Catholic Church that stands for the poor. The only thing that is new is this plastic attempt to “play” Catholics by making them think it is new.

As for the Catholic Church standing for the basic right to life of all human beings, how can anyone with half a brain honestly expect the Church Jesus founded to do anything else?

Does President Obama seriously expect the Catholic Church to come out in favor of the wanton murder of innocents?

President Obama’s many little jibes at Christians in general and Catholics in particular are finely-tuned Christian bashing administered by a self-serving pro in the art of skewering his political opponents. They are also, as these things must be, based on lies.

I’ve already done a whole series on the appalling inaccuracies in the way Christian bashers depict the Crusades. I suppose I can do another one on the even more appalling — since the evidence to the contrary is right in front of them — way that Christian witness is slandered and lied about.

It disgusts me when the President of the United States says things like this. He has no business inciting prejudice against a whole group of Americans. He also has no business telling churches how to interpret theology. As he once said, that is “above his pay grade.”

I am resigned to the fact that our president is a Christian basher. I don’t like it. But I’ve been forced by his own behavior and comments to accept it.

This man needs our prayers friends.

Perhaps more important than that, Christians everywhere need to stop letting Christian bashers define them, their faith and their culture. Christian bashers are bigots. They are liars. They are haters of the first order. Remember that when they try to tell you something about your faith.

Christianity Declines Sharply in America. Here’s the One, Two Three of It.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Recent polls show a seven percent drop in the past eight years in the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christians.

This is due to a number of influences. Here is a short list of things I think have contributed to this situation.

First, and absolutely foremost, the incessant Christian bashing and hazing of Christians has to be at the top of the list. Christianity is attacked from every quarter, every single day. Christians have become the new hate group and Christianity is the new hate faith. This is done by lies, slander, half-truths, mockery and flat-out hate. Being a Christian who stands for Christ means that you will be ridiculed, reviled and attacked.

Second, the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men — and it’s nearly all men — have abandoned Jesus Christ to go off after a political, little g god who — Surprise! — thinks like them. They have drop-kicked the Beatitudes and much of what Christ and the prophets taught to preach and teach the gospel of Ayn Rand and Arthur Laffer. They seriously claim that there is no moral requirement to policies and behavior where economics and moneymaking are concerned.

They have deified corporatism and war and claim a moral imperative for policies that impoverish the people of this country. They have become so identified with the Republican Party that they might as well take the cross down off the altars in their churches and put the elephant up there, instead.

Third, the other side of the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men and women — a good number of these are women — have drop-kicked the calls to justice and personal morality. There is no moral innovation or personal death-dealing philosophy that they do not support. Many of them have gone so far as to align themselves with militant atheists who openly state that they intend to destroy Christianity.

They have attempted to create a moral imperative for murder of the unborn, the elderly, the sick and the helpless. They support the limitation of religious freedom and join in with critics of the Gospels. They are so identified with the Democratic Party that, like their fellow wing-nut brethren on the right, they might as well remove the cross off their altars and replace it with the Democratic donkey.

Fourth, we have far too many preachers who eschew any controversy, including the controversy of the Cross. They are so namby-pamby and feel-good that you can’t tell by listening to them if they really believe in anything or not. This kind of preacher does well in wealthy parishes. All they have to do is mumble a few platitudes over the vicissitudes of life that their parishioners encounter and preach well-written sermons that are like soft pillows of reassurance to people whose problems are always wrapped in the comfort middle-class ease.

These pastors don’t convert anybody. In fact, they’re proud of not proselytizing, as if trying to save people from eternal hell was too gauche for them. You won’t find any mention of the R and D in their churches. And, except for the annual Christmas Eve candlelight service and the gauzy Easter service, you won’t find much mention of Jesus, either. They, and their churches are what Jesus called “neither hot nor cold.”

Item four is a good bit of why item one has been allowed to flourish. Their indifference to Christ makes defending Christ an impolitic overreaction for them.

Items two and three are what created the monster in the first place. It does not matter if they are aligned to the left or the right, clergy who practice the political heresy do not preach Christ. It is easy to caricatureize Christianity when you focus on fallen and false shepherds such as these. The Holy Spirit will not honor the preaching of heretics who preach a false gospel of political redemption and who lead people to political alliances rather than to the cross.

Yes, we need to take a stand against the Christian bashing that is going on in this country. We need to do it, not just as Christians, but as Americans. This vitriolic bigotry is a lethal poison in the body politic. No group of people in America should be subjected to the vicious and destructive hazing that has become normal for Christians.

Yes, those of us who are called to the political world need to stand up for the civil and Constitutional rights of Christians. We certainly should vote for an end to abortion and to save the family. No Christian can vote for murder, which means you cannot vote for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research. You may not kill people.

But by the same token, no Christian should vote for corporatism and corporate welfare that impoverishes the people of this country. Economically, this country has been at war since 1941. That, and not social security, is why we have a deficit. History is replete with the economic meltdowns that occur when wars go on too long.

Too many of our wars are fought for corporate greed rather than to protect the people of this country. Too much of our money is going to build a defense that is not even useful to the defense of this country.

Do you realize what I have just done to you? I have basically told you that you can not support either one of our political parties. That isn’t an accident.

We need to take the elephant and the donkey off the altars of our churches and put the cross back up there.

People need to hear the true Gospel of Christ in all its fullness. This generation needs the saving power of Calvary as much as the pagan world of the first century.

Our priests and preachers need to stop preaching politics and start preaching Christ. They need to preach Christ and Him crucified without shame or dissembling, with the full power of belief. We need to convert this culture, one person at a time.

We will not do that with politics. We will do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. We will change the world when we start trying to change the world for Christ and Him alone.

Our clergy need to preach Christ. You and I need to preach Christ as well; with our lives, with our words, with our daily witness. But none of us — not clergy, not laity — can do this without the power of the Holy Spirit. That begins on our knees.

Pray. Pray every day. Pray for real. Then be a living witness to your salvation.

As for our clergy, stop thinking it’s about you. It’s not. You weren’t called to do well. You were called to do good. Your vocation is meant to make a gift of you to God’s people. All vocations do that. They make us a gift to others.

We need shepherds.

Far too often, we’ve had wolves.

From the USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.

That’s the top finding — one that will ricochet through American faith, culture and politics — in the Pew Research Center’s newest report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” released Tuesday.

This trend “is big, it’s broad and it’s everywhere,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.

Christianity still dominates American religious identity (70%), but the survey shows dramatic shifts as more people move out the doors of denominations, shedding spiritual connections along the way.

Atheists and agnostics have nearly doubled their share of the religious marketplace, and overall indifference to religion of any sort is rising as well. Only the historically black Protestant churches have held a steady grip through the years of change.

 

 


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