Click here to advertise on

'Big Government' threatens to quash Church influence

Catholic World News - March 07, 2012

In an incisive and sometimes acerbic essay, columnist Mark Steyn argues that mainstream Christian churches have irreparably damaged their own standing by adopting the attitudes of political liberalism. Steyn warns that the Catholic Church in America risks the same fate.

The decline of Christian influence in Europe, Steyn writes, took place in part because the churches formed alliances with governments, straying from their own religious tenets. In America, meanwhile, the separate roles of church and state were preserved, and religion remains stronger:

As the Episcopal and Congregational churches degenerated into a bunch of mushy doubt-ridden wimps, Americans went elsewhere. As the Lutheran Church of Sweden underwent similar institutional decay, Swedes gave up on God entirely.

But even in America the problem is evident, the columnist warns:

Nevertheless, this distinction shouldn't obscure an important truth — that, in America as in Europe, the mainstream churches were cheerleaders for the rise of their usurper: the Church of Big Government.

In America today, Steyn says, the Catholic Church is facing an enormous challenge from the Obama administration, which is determined to limit the influence of religion in public affairs. President Obama and his liberal allies fault the American bishops for provoking the conflict by involving themselves in political issues. But Steyn asks, “if contraceptives and abortion and conception and birth and chastity and fidelity and sexual morality are now "politics," then what's left for religion?”

Proponents of Big Government always wish to expand their sphere of political power, and therefore to limit the role of religions, Steyn notes. The martyrs of the early Church refused to accept those limitations:

Back in the late first century, Ignatius injected himself into enough "political debates" that he wound up getting eaten by lions at the Coliseum. But no doubt tut-tutting NPR listeners would have deplored the way the Church had injected itself into live theater.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($25,417 to go):
$150,000.00 $124,582.96
17% 83%
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: unum - Mar. 08, 2012 8:25 AM ET USA

    There is much deploring of the "war on religion" without a definition of the opponents or the battleground. But, Mark Steyn points out the rapid expansion of progressive governments for years, and the barrier freedom of religion represents to further growth. What we have seen up to now are skirmishes, but the Obama administration may have fired the first shot in an all-out war on religion. Steyn's column is a must read for all Catholics, especially our political USCCB bishops.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 07, 2012 7:11 PM ET USA

    One hopes that this link will be forwarded to every bishop in the United States---and the West in general. Since it comes from the National Review, there is 0 chance that more than half a dozen of them will stumble upon it themselves.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

Denial of Service Attack: Success! December 19
Federal debt as a social-justice concern December 19
Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle December 18
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed December 18
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? December 18

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17