Catholic World News

'Big Government' threatens to quash Church influence

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.

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  • 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.