One thing about Catholics is that, when it comes to partisan politics, they’re split pretty evenly. Only deeply ignorant people lump Catholics in with the “Religious Right” since about half of them are on the religious left. Many are admirably antiwar, and of course, there is even a nice anarchist pacifist tradition, in which one finds Dorothy Day or Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.
Some Catholics, however, are absolutely terrible on issues of nationalism and war. This article below, written by a priest with whom I broadly agree on almost all theological and liturgical issues, was particularly tasteless. Fr. Zuhlsdorf, who is generally sound when writing about things that he actually knows something about, always ends up toeing the neoconservative line every time he ventures into foreign policy. Most clergy can be safely ignored when opining on political matters, and this case is no different. The text of his irreligious column is below with my comments in brackets.
Usama Bin Laden … Rest in… well… whatever… [How classy. Zuhlsdorf must have forgotten about Matt 5:44.]
by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
Pres. Obama announced tonight, fairly late on a Sunday night, that Usama Bin Laden was killed a week ago, as it seems.
I am guessing that he made this announcement tonight, USA, time, so that people rising in other parts of the world would get the fresh news during the morning at the beginning of a week, as markets open, etc. Had it come at the end of the week, it would have been fodder for Friday evening Muslim sermons. [Because all Muslims liked Osama bin Laden, you see. This assumption that all Muslims support violence is at the heart of the neocon ideology. Always ignored is the fact that a majority of "Christian" Americans support the dropping of American bombs on Muslim women and children.] It still will be, but after several days.
Nevertheless I find the timing of both the event of his killing by a small team of US operatives in a fire fight and the release of the news interesting. One friend called me to opine that they actually found him at a Taco Bell in North Carolina and flew him back to Pakistan before… you know. [ho ho] Moreover, the President seems now to be ready to quote a standard of American patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance, with its strong invocation of God, when for sometime he couldn’t bring himself to quote the Declaration of Independence [written by an anti-Christian Deist] correctly with its reference to a Creator who gives us our rights. [Yeah! Why can't Obama be more like Bush who once said that the Constitution "is just a goddamn piece of paper."] Color me cynical.
This is a syndicated post, which originally appeared at Mimi and Eunice » IP. View original post.
MSNBC reports on the horrifying death of a two year old. The child apparently died of starvation. This is a good example of why separating the church and state, just as separating everything else and state, is so important. The separation of church and state benefits the church more than it benefits the state. States with close ties to religion do not suffer; the religious organizations which ally themselves with the state do. They begin to take on the characteristics of the state: the lack of accountability, the lack of personal involvement in the lives of people they supposedly serve.
The lack of a genuine personal relationship? The lack of attention to detail? That does not sound like Christianity as I am familiar with it. That sounds like government as I am familiar with it. When religion and state wed, religious practice gives way to state practice, not the other way around. You do not see government unionized workers selling their worldly possessions and working to serve the poor, but you do see people ignoring their own religious tenets in order to qualify for government funds.
Involving the state in charity destroys much of the value of that charity in that it radically alters the incentives of the charity workers. It basically transforms them from philanthropists into government employees, and people like Quasir Alexander suffer for it.
Last night, I attended “Heal Our Heroes: Ministering to the Military in Our Midst,” an event here in Houston featuring keynote speaker Colonel Oliver North. (I was invited by a friend who had a table.) It was a fundraising dinner for Military Ministry, which provides various spiritual counseling and resources to soldiers. There were parents and a singer who had lost loved ones or suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc. from the Iraq or Afghanistan war, various testimonials, etc. It was very Protestant in that Jesus was mentioned repeatedly and they explicitly pushed for us to give money at the end (Catholics are a bit more discreet when they ask for money–they just pass the basket).
I can understand wanting to help those who are suffering from the effects of war–even the soldiers. But after showcasing all the soldiers’ whose lives have been ruined by the military and by war, you would think there might be a word about peace or stopping the fighting that causes such devastation. But no, not a word. I suppose this is understandable: their mission was to raise money, so they focused on that.
But two other things really shocked me, both regarding the degree to which American Protestant Christians have intermingled their faith with patriotism and love of the state. For one, an award was given out, which was a miniature replica of a statue of Jesus hugging a soldier. Now I have no doubt the idea of a loving, compassionate savior giving succor to someone damaged by war is compatible with Christianity, but this seemed to go beyond that. And this impression was reinforced by the words of a young lady who spoke on behalf of MM. She said that in this world there are only two classes of people who have directly given their lives for you: Jesus, who gave his life to save your soul; and the soldier, who gives his life to save your freedom. Jesus comforting and forgiving the soldier–fine. Comparing soldiers to Jesus? Sacrilege. I don’t think Jesus is supposed to have had guilt or PTSD over what He did. Soldiers do, for a reason: War is hell. Jesus didn’t kill and murder people. Soldiers do.
Christians in America, especially Protestants and the “right-wing” types, it seems to me, have their priorities a bit out of place. Statolatry crowds out true faith and religion.