We have been faced lately with the defection of a number of highly-placed American Christians on serious matters of faith.
In particular, there has been a large retreat among political and intellectual Christian leadership on the question of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. They are either tossing marriage out the door altogether, or they are, as I was once counseled concerning abortion, urging the rest of us to leave our beliefs at home or inside our houses of worship.
I’m not talking about one, specific, runner. I’m talking about a whole group of people who have grown fat off denouncing other people for not supporting the very values they are now running from themselves. Excuse me please if I won’t go along with their self-serving patter.
But I’m not going to.
I think they’re self-serving phonies.
I also think that they should consider persecuted Christians around the world who are holding fast to the cross in the face of horrific suffering.
“Faith in Orissa is growing because of the persecution. This mission, in the face of violent persecutions, has become the focus of religious and priestly vocations.”
Consider, for a moment, what sincere Christians face in India. According to Archbishop Barwa,
… the district of Kandhamal, where the majority of Catholics of the Archdiocese live, has faced untold persecution”. The highest point were the pogroms of 2008: “During the persecutions, there was an ethnic cleansing of all Christians in 400 villages, more than 6,000 houses, 340 churches and chapels, clinics and schools were burned and destroyed. Thousands of believers were injured, several women and girls, including a nun, were raped and about 60,000 men, women and children were left homeless”. The Bishop recalled that 75 Christians (22 Catholics, 28 Baptists, 12 Pentecostals, 5 of independent churches) and 8 non-tribal Christians were brutally murdered.
The text continues: “Five years after the persecutions, visiting the affected communities, the faithful say to the Bishop: the persecutors burned our houses, property, and killed our loved ones, but they did not manage to destroy our faith and cannot separate us from the love of Jesus Christ .We are proud to be Christians and proud of our faith”. Words and actions of this kind “are clear signs of growth in faith. They may be poor and illiterate, but rich people of faith”, he comments.
The Archbishop explains that still there is no guarantee that persecution will not be repeated: “We live trusting in God and making every effort, as individuals and communities, to build peace in Kandhamal, but we surrender to God and say: Let there be your will”.
He goes on to describe what I believe is beginning to happen here in the “Christian” West when he says, “Each growth is a process that requires pruning, trials and suffering.”
The devil is collecting the low-hanging fruit with the runners who are running away from traditional marriage in America today. These folks don’t need persecution to make them tuck tail and skeedaddle. If you stop and think about it, they’ve never really talked about following Jesus. Their focus for decades has been on denouncing other people. They haven’t urged us to live by our faith or even to bring people to Christ. Their entire focus has been on manipulating us into believing that being a Christian was summarized by how we vote.
The purpose of all this wasn’t our souls or the conversion of our culture. It was their power.
All they needed to switch horses on these issues they were pushing in lieu of actual Christianity was for the manipulations to stop delivering enough votes to give them the power. They are switching — and trying to get us to switch along with them — on 2,000 years of Christian teachings because denouncing people over those teachings has stopped being profitable. The minute they see the money is leaving the fight, they leave the fight right behind it.
Christianity is growing in India because the Christians there are following Christ.
Cowardice and Christianity don’t mix. Opportunism and political manipulations don’t mix with Christianity, either.
They never have.
Christianity was so ascendent here in the West that its popularity covered for the manipulators and cowards in our midst. But things are changing. Faithfully following Jesus is beginning to be a career breaker, rather than a career maker.
We shouldn’t be surprised when people who were only pretending to follow Jesus in the first place fall away under these circumstances. It is inevitable.
I am humbled by the persecuted Christians in our world today, those in Orissa among them. I know that God holds them close, because I know that none of us has the courage to stand toe to toe with satan incarnate and not run unless the Holy Spirit is empowering them.
We need to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in every way we can, including by praying for them every single day. I hope they in turn will pray for us.
Because their prayers avail much.
Because they walk with God.
The link to this article is courtesy of reader Fabio.
Don’t be alarmed by defecting Christians.
It’s just the Holy Spirit, pruning the dead wood.
Christianity in America suffers from a blight that is choking out the Word and covering up the Light of Christ.
That blight is the heresy of conflating Christ the Lord with partisan politics. This has gone on so long and become so endemic that a lot of people actually think that they are following Christ by how they register to vote.
Even worse, people who confuse Jesus with the R and the D always seem to end up lopping off parts of Jesus in order to make Him fit into the partisan box. If you’re an R, this has historically meant that the Sermon on the Mount is just jesus (little j) blather that comes from the First Century and doesn’t mean much. I’ve had the experience of using the phrase “If you’ve done it to the least of these, if you’ve done it to Me,” in debate and seeing the bored, patronizing expressions cross those Republican faces.
They don’t want to hear it.
Likewise, anyone who has ever gone into a Democratic Party what-not with the idea that gay marriage or abortion or any trendy social sin is not a “human right” is going to learn what the word “cut” means in the Victorian sense. They will cut you dead. And that’s if they’re in a good mood.
My point, which I’ve made over and over again, and which I’ll keep on making until it’s no longer pertinent, is that the R and the D aren’t Jesus. Party platforms aren’t the Gospels.
We are now living with the inevitable consequences of this decades-long heresy of political jesus. People are increasingly sick and tired of the heresy. They find — quite rightly — that it is a sham and a flam and that partisan politics jesus is a bogus god not worth their time.
Many outspoken Christian leaders have maintained so loudly and for so long that this perversion of the Gospels that they’ve been preaching is, in fact, the true Gospels of Christ, that they’ve managed to convince not only their besotted followers, but the larger population, as well.
A lot of people believe that political jesus; political party apologist jesus, mean and heartless django jesus, is actually Our Lord.
Why do they think this?
Because Christian religious leaders and their followers have been telling them so for decades.
This group of disenchanted, disaffected-with-Christianity reactors to political django jesus, has grown to the point that they are now able to affect the outcome of national elections. Which means that they are now players.
That also means that the same political parties who’ve used and abused the name of Christ for so long are now trying to get shed of Him. The stampede for the exit ramps among politicians and professional Christians of every stripe has become such a crowded field that it is a parody of itself.
The National Review published a whimsical essay today titled “A Form Letter for Defecting Conservatives.” This humorous article is an accurate representation of what is happening and the flabby, flimsy lies these runners are using to explain themselves.
What interested me the most, however, is that the National Review’s title underscores the heresy I’m talking about. The “issues” these running rabbits are dumping are the same issues that traditional Christians have fought for these past decades. They are the issues that put the Rs in the winner’s circle. Hence, the use of the word “conservative” to describe these folks.
However, what they are, are sham Christians who’ve used a faked fealty to Christ to win elections or build big careers in publishing, think-tanking or some other moneyed and powered endeavor. As anyone who isn’t wearing a mental blindfold can tell just by looking around, they haven’t done much good. But they have certainly done well.
The reason they are hitting the door on these “issues” now is because they never believed them in the first place. I’m not saying that people can’t experience a change of heart, that they can’t be converted. But this mass stampede of political opportunists for the higher ground of a different take on traditional Christian teaching has nothing to do with conversion. It is pragmatic people being pragmatic and taking care of themselves.
They never believed it in the first place, and whatever they tell you now, they don’t believe that, either.
The heresy here is that none of this — none of it — has anything to do with Jesus. By conflating politics with the Gospels, we have corrupted politics and defamed the Gospels. These aren’t “defecting conservatives. ” The reason they aren’t is that issues like the sanctity of human life and marriage are not issues. They are truths. The sanctity of human life and marriage are not “conservative” values. “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me,” is not liberal spin.
These are the law and the prophets of God Almighty. They are the teachings of Christ the Lord.
We are beginning to reap the whirlwind that we have sown by lying about the nature of God for political gain.
My advice is don’t be alarmed or dismayed by all these recanting Christians and born-again nihilists.
Let them go their way and don’t worry.
The Holy Spirit is pruning the tree of life so that it can bloom anew.
Here, from Monty Python, is an anthem for the runners.
The cheap grace of following the world in Jesus’ name is not grace at all. It is a lie we tell ourselves to keep from having to “chose this day whom” we “will serve.”
Sadly, it is also a delusion. Trendy jesus, pragmatic jesus and all the other false messiahs these theological snake-oil salesmen are selling having nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ Who was crucified on Calvary and calls each succeeding generation of Christians to “pick up your cross and follow Me.”
Following the real Jesus exacts a price. As the Light is smothered by the ever-encroaching darkness of humanity’s fealty to its own passions rather than the living God, the price for those who do not accede to the darkness goes up exponentially.
We may be willing to be friends with those who serve other gods, but they will not be friends with us. We may find our careers truncated, our friendships forfeit, our lives troubled in many ways when we follow Christ. He told us this would happen. If the world hates you, remember that it first hated me, He said.
The anger directed at us is just a side-blow, a glancing near miss of the object of the real hatred, which is satan’s hatred for the Savior of Humankind. Those who attack people for following Christ, even if they only do it with rudeness and exclusion, are the unwitting pawns of this evil.
Our task is always to be the witting servants of the good. God has no use and no desire for “unwitting pawns.” We can blunder into following satan, but we always chose to follow Christ.
Life in Christ is an intentional, moment by moment, living out of the faith. It can only be done through grace, and that grace does not come from us. There is no intelligence, courage or intuition we possess in and of ourselves that can equip us for following Jesus in a post Christian world.
The capacity to follow Him is a free gift of divine grace. He equips us to run the race that is before us if we ask Him daily and trust Him constantly. When we fail, all we have to do is reach out to Him and ask for forgiveness. That’s all there is to life in Christ: Just say “yes” to Him, and keep saying “yes” as each new challenge arises.
This is the Living Lord Who stood before Pilate, endured the blows and humiliations, hung from the cross and died. He understands everything He is asking of us because He has already endured all of it and far worse for us. He can help us on the Way as someone who has walked it Himself.
First, you’ve got to go to Rome.
Here’s what to do next if you want to be part of one of Pope Francis’ General Audiences while you’re there.
There seems to be a dedicated group of abortion advocates who don’t care about human life, except, perhaps, their own.
I am not saying that everyone who thinks abortion should be legal falls into this category. But I have no other way to characterize people who would oppose the requirement that babies who survive an abortion be given medical care.
What am I supposed to say about these people?
One of Public Catholic’s readers went all apoplectic over Obama’s Lowest Moment in the 2008 Campaign. He denounced Infant Born Alive Acts as “garbage” and “thinly-veiled” attempts “to encroach on Roe v Wade.” Then, I guess to add what he thought was the cherry on top this little statement, sputtered at me to get out of the Democratic Party.
Not only is he confused about the Democratic Party — (It’s not an invitation-only private club run just for him.) — but his grip on what the Infant Born Alive Acts are about is tenuous, as well.
The video below is a sweet reminder of what Infant Born Alive Acts are addressing: The human lives of real human beings.
Two hundred Coptic Christians demonstrated in Nashville for peace in Egypt a few days ago. God bless them.
Here is the video.
I apologize for talking about this now, on Sunday.
But the weight of grief and oppression I felt Friday — which is the day I usually write about our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ — has lifted, and I feel compelled to talk about it now.
According to Asia News, at least 58 Christian churches, schools, homes and shops have been attacked, looted and torched in Egypt in the last three days. The Christians of Egypt need our prayers today on this Lord’s Day.
Sunday is a time of rejoicing and feasting, our Sabbath of thankfulness for the Resurrection and its promise of eternal life. But on this Sunday, it is also a time for us to unite ourselves with Christ crucified all over the world.
Jesus suffers this minute in Egypt. His churches, convents, institutions and homes are burnt and destroyed. His people are subjected to terror and all forms of violence.
This is the face of Christ Crucified in our world today.
We can not ignore our Suffering Savior in these His people.
I hope that you will pray the Novena for the Persecuted Church that we began today. I hope also that you will pray and ask God to show you how you may help our persecuted brothers and sisters.
The list below is the names of the churches, convents and institutions that have been attacked that we know of. From Asia News:
Catholic churches and convents
- 1. Franciscan church and school (road 23) – burned (Suez)
- 2. Monastery of the Holy Shepherd and hospital – burned (Suez)
- 3. Church of the Good Shepherd, Monastery of the Good Shepherd – burned in molotov attack (Asuit)
- 4. Coptic Catholic Church of St. George – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 5. Church of the Jesuits – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 6. Fatima Basilica – attacked – Heliopolis
- 7. Coptic Catholic Church of St. Mark – burned (Minya – Upper Egypt)
- 8. Franciscan convent (Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) – burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt)
- 9. Church of St. Teresa – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 10. Franciscan Church and School – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 11. Convent of St Joseph and school – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 12. Coptic Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart – torched (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 13 Convent of the Sisters of Saint Mary – attacked (Cairo)
- 14. School of the Holy Shepherd – attacked (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- Orthodox and Evangelical Churches
- 1. Anglican Church of St. Saviour – burned (Suez)
- 2. Evangelical Church of St Michael – surrounded and sacked (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 3. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George – Burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 4. Church of Al-Esla – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 5. Adventist Church – burned, the pastor and his wife abducted (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 6. Church of the Apostles – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 7. Church of the Holy renewal – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 8. Diocesan Centre Coptic Orthodox Qusiya – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 9. Church of St. George – burned (Arish, North Egypt)
- 10. Church of St. George in al-Wasta – burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt)
- 11. Church of the Virgin Mary – attacked (Maadi, Cairo)
- 12. Church of the Virgin Mary – attacked (Mostorod, Cairo)
- 13. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George – attacked (Helwan, Cairo)
- 14. Church of St. Mary of El Naziah – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
- 15. Church of Santa Damiana – sacked and burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
- 16. Church of St. Theodore – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
- 17. Evangelical Church of al-Zorby – Sacked and destroyed (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
- 18. Church of St. Joseph – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
- 19. Franciscan School – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
- 20. Coptic Orthodox Diocesan Center of St. Paul – burned (Gharbiya, Delta)
- 21. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Anthony – burned (Giza)
- 22. Coptic Church of St. George – burned (Atfeeh, Giza)
- 23. Church of the Virgin Mary and father Abraham – burned (Delga, Deir Mawas, Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 24. Church of St. Mina Abu Hilal Kebly – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 25. Baptist Church in Beni Mazar – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 26. Church of Amir Tawadros – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 27. Evangelical Church – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 28. Church of Anba Moussa al-Aswad- burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 29. Church of the Apostles – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 30. Church of St Mary – arson attempt (Qena, Upper Egypt)
- 31. Coptic Church of St. George – burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
- 32. Church of Santa Damiana – Attacked and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
- 33. Church of the Virgin Mary – burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
- 34. Church of St. Mark and community center – burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
- 35. Church of Anba Abram – destroyed and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
- Christian institutions
- 1. House of Fr. Angelos (pastor of the church of the Virgin Mary and Father Abraham) – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 2. Properties and shops of Christians – Burnt (Arish, North Egypt)
- 3. 17 Christian homes attacked and looted (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 4. Christian homes – Attach (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
- 5. Offices of the Evangelical Foundation – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
- 6. Stores, pharmacies, hotels owned by Christians – attacked and looted (Luxor, Upper Egypt)
- 7. Library of the Bible Society – burned (Cairo)
- 8. Bible Society – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
- 9. Bible Society- burned (Asuit, North Egypt).