It’s not very often that I would commend the Roman Catholic Church. I disagree with much of their theology, their practices and their attitudes, but in the last couple of weeks, I commend them, along with a number of other religious groups that I may have little or no affinity towards, for their willingness to stand for their conscience.
I do not need to explain the situation. I think everyone knows that the recent Health Care bill is now being interpreted to mean that every employer, with extremely rare exception, is required to provide coverage for contraception, abortion drugs (“morning after” pills), and sterilization. While the media has focused almost solely on contraception, the requirements go far beyond that. The leading voices in the Roman Catholic Church in America (there are some exceptions among the liberal Catholics, but they are the minority) have declared that they will not abide by the law, no matter what the consequences and no matter what kinds of political maneuvering take place to make the requirement more palatable.
I commend the willingness of the Catholic Church, along with numerous other Christian groups, large and small, to take such a public stand on the basis of their convictions. We hear frequently of the demise of “Christian” America. While we look with some measure of hope at the Tea Party and some Republicans, most of us are pessimistic enough to believe that America will continue her slide to the political, cultural, and economic left, as more Americans become dependent on the government for their livelihood, as the rich and the politicians turn events toward their own financial benefit and power, and as the common citizen grows increasingly discouraged with the future of our country.
The concern frequently raised is that America will lose her Christian foundation, with the attendant concern (more frequently implied than expressed) that the loss of a Christian America will mean the end of Christianity (or at least the Christianity that we know). This belief is a symbol of American narcissism. As I read the New Testament, I marvel that the early believers were able to plant and grow churches in such a hostile environment. For the most part, the early Christians were poor. Paul encouraged the Gentiles to send an offering for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. The early Christians had no political or constitutional right to worship as they saw fit. Persecution was the norm. Yet, somehow, without the wealth and status that we enjoy today, Christianity not only survived, but prospered.
The “Great Experiment” in America may soon be coming to an end – that experiment of a free people, with a free religion, in a free country. We need not fear this possibility. The greatest growth of Christianity has been in times of greatest difficulty. I still pray for a revival like those God gave in the past. I still pray for God to open the eyes of Americans, especially believers, to the advantages of freedom. But I also pray that God will steel his people for the potential persecution that may come should the Lord tarry his coming. Christianity and America have been synonymous for much of this country’s existence, but I doubt that the Lord makes the same connection.
May we be willing to stand now and in the future, when far greater issues arise.