Skip to comments.Democracy threatened when people of faith don’t act
Posted on 01/21/2004 8:46:59 AM PST by ninenot
It seems ancient history now, as I recall the controversy of a quarter-century ago as to whether or not the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King should be a national holiday. Well, it is ... and were all the better for it. Its annual celebration allows us to recall his dream of freedom, respect for the dignity of every human being, and his hope for a society where justice prevails.
Last January, I remember being so moved by the stirring words of Sr. Anita Baird at the Cathedral, as she applied the teachings of the Rev. King to the challenges of today. Never will I forget celebrating Mass at St. Jerome in Oconomowoc and listening to an eighth grader, Max Woods, recite his famous, I Have A Dream speech.
Martin Luther King was a prophet, an orator, a philosopher, a civil rights leader, an organizer, and a shrewd political leader. First and foremost, though, he was a pastor, a preacher, a clergyman, a minister. I first finished reading Marshall Fridays biography of King, and it hit me again: The title that gave King his most satisfaction was reverend; the document that most formed him was the Bible; the person who most molded him was Jesus; the cause for which he lived and died he saw not as political but as spiritual, not as a legislative strategy but a moral crusade. He was, before anything else, a religious leader, who believed that the demands of the Gospel were not limited to the sanctuary but had to go to the streets. As he preached, If I can do my duty as a Christian, if I can bring salvation to a world thats going wrong, if I can spread the message as the Master taught, then my life will not be in vain.
Men and women of religious faith can be proud that one of the most towering figures in American history, whose birthday is a national holiday (an honor only given to Jesus, Washington, and Lincoln), is a pastor, a clergyman.
Although one would never realize it from reading the Letters to the Editor in our newspapers, the Rev. King, in bringing his deeply held religious convictions to a public, social, and political sphere, is part of a glorious American tradition. Historians such as Sydney Ablstrom make the case that the American Revolution itself was the result of the religious awakening that molded America in the mid 18th century. Our great national reform movements to end slavery, to promote civil rights, to question war, and to protect life have all been religious initiatives, led by men and women who believed that their faith, their prayer, their church, their Lord, were the normative, defining forces in their lives.
Shrill voices today tell us that real Americans believe in a severe cleavage between ones faith and ones public life. For them, there is a high wall of separation between church and state (a phrase not found in the constitution) which means that believers check their faith and morals at the church door on Sunday, the temple steps on Saturday, a mosque carpet on Friday. For them, religion is private, and has no right to influence the decisions we make in real life. These voices urge a naked public square, where faith, moral convictions, and deeply cherished religious beliefs have no place in business, politics, education, law, or social discourse.
To which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King would say, nonsense. America is at its best when men and women of every faith, or of no faith at all, bring their deepest held beliefs to influence every decision they make, private and public. As Pope John Paul II notes, we have a duty to propose never impose our moral and religious convictions to the commonwealth. A value-neutral democracy, as the secularists would propose, is, according to the Rev. Martin Luther King, a contradiction. The charter of our Republic, from the Declaration of Independence, to the Constitution, to his I Have a Dream oration at the Lincoln Memorial, are shot-through with religiously informed moral truths that have a place an honored, essential, necessary place in civil society. The eloquent preacher and zealous Baptist pastor, Martin Luther King, reminds us that our civil rights are grounded, not in the changing whims of a value-neutral secular society, but on unchanging, binding moral truths, traced to the Creator, self-evident to his creatures.
Thus, Democracy is threatened, not when church leaders and people of strong faith speak, act, and lead, but when they dont.
Remember that on Jan. 19, when we celebrate this pastors birthday. Remember that, too, on Jan. 22.
The Rev. Christopher Coyne, the Boston Archdiocese spokesman, has no expectation that O'Malley ever would ever direct his priests to refuse communion to pro-abortion rights officials, he said. Unless a person is clearly deranged or saying things against the church at that moment, the archdiocese's policy is that no priest or lay communion minister should ever refuse communion, he said.
"A priest or a Eucharistic minister is not a policeman or policewoman," Coyne said. "The proper place for a conversation (about church doctrine) is not in the communion line, but before or after."
I'd hold my fire on this -- Coyne was the one who answered (you may remember from previous posts that I have no use for Coyne), and he said only that he "had no expectation. . . ." I don't see anything in the article that says he and O'Malley have even discussed it.
O'Malley has quite a bit on his plate right now (settlement negotiations, consulting priests and laity about closing parishes) without plunging into anything else at the moment. I'd wait and see.
Cold enough for ya? ;-) It's a balmy 23 down my way - after last week I don't even bother to wear a winter coat if it's above 20.
Re Coyne. As I said, I don't like or trust him; he's apparently against rocking the boat -- just the attitude that got us into our current messes!
Coyne... very hard to figure him out. Seems to play middle of the road. Not to say I can't understand that - the amount of "Boston Priest Forum®" priests here who are running the monied and powerful parishes and educational establishments is very daunting. I honestly believe that they would openly revolt (with the help of the Boston Globe and all the local radio broadcasters and most of the laity) if the bishop came out now and "Burked" the politicos here.
Let's face it, even the Holy Father doesn't "Burke" people.
The daily readings in the Church now come from the kingdom books and involve King David. A man after God's heart. A man who also committed an adulterous rape then murder.
"I would sin like David, if only I could repent like David"
I've been ambivalent about the King holiday as well. I had always considered it a good example of how political correctness has inundated our culture. Until this year I thought that King's impact on America was relatively small, but while listening to his "I Have a Dream" speech on the radio this past Monday my attitude has changed. So melodic, lyrical, and mesmerizing was that oration, and so entrancing that I ran a stop sign right in front of a cop. "That wasn't even a California stop", he told me. So, now, at last, I have some personal insight into how MLK affects Americans.
Still, he was a nice guy....
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