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usurped by choice

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 09, 2007

Mark Steyn, always an interesting commentator on public affairs, has his own unusual insight on the Romney speech. (Scroll down a bit, past his comments on the housing market-- although they're good, too.)

Steyn picks up on Romney's reference to the great European cathedrals: "so inspired... so grand... so empty." Romney argued: "The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe's churches." And Steyn agrees: "In Europe, the established church, whether formal (the Church of England) or informal (as in Catholic Italy and Spain), killed religion as surely as state ownership killed the British car industry."

The steady growth of the state, Steyn argues, led many Europeans to see the government as "the all-powerful beneficent provider of cradle-to-grave welfare." State agencies provided material welfare and moral guidance. And with churches viewed as adjuncts to the state, active religious faith slid into desuetude.

Now Steyn zeroes in on his own point:

"Freedom requires religion," said Mitt Romney, and, whether or not one agrees, in Europe big government has led naturally to small religion...

Europe's religious decline derives in part from the state's usurpation and annexation of so many of the other supporting structures of society, including the church.

Right on. But there's a question begging to be asked: How did the state annex religion? Or to state the question more directly, why didn't religious leaders fight the usurpation? When you've answered that question, apply the answer to the role currently played in American society by Catholic Charities.

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