Monday, November 12, 2012

Setting the Stage for Four More Years

Well, the election is over. Despite all the prayers, homilies, letters, statements, donations, and petitions, the pro-abortion candidate was re-elected president. As the election returns came in Tuesday evening, I found my excitement gradually reduced to depression. I turned off the television and got ready for bed. Remembering the famous “Dewey defeats Truman” headline of 1948, I flipped the TV on one more time just as Obama was projected as winner of Ohio. I immediately turned it back off and tried to go to sleep. I had to use a sleep aid that night – something I do not like to do.

Wednesday morning was tough. The news-talk radio I customarily devour every day on my way to work was too much to bear. Even music seemed inappropriate. I shut the radio off like I do when driving through the cemetery. I wondered what the stock market would do in light of the election result. It fell more than 300 points, really no surprise to me. Investors were discouraged also.

A CNN poll said fifty percent of Catholics voted for Obama and forty-eight percent voted for Romney. Obama won the Catholic vote. I realize that many people who are Catholic do not practice the faith, but how can so many ignore what has been an unprecedented outcry from our Catholic Bishops regarding infringement upon our religious rights by the current administration. Sadly, I believe it is a reflection of a certain disdain for the Catholic Church, even among its own members, many of whom dislike being told how to behave or how to think.

Perhaps I should look at this more optimistically. A Fox News poll showed fifty-seven percent of Catholics who attend Mass weekly voted Romney, and forty-two percent for Obama. Many Catholics still follow the teachings of the Faith in their desire to lead good Christian lives, but we are now the minority in this country. The balances have tipped to the point where same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, and other intrinsic evils cannot be stopped. One only need look at the electoral map to see the polarization of our population.

What will the next four years bring? Will our country continue to disregard the moral compass and drift even farther off course? Voters in two states opted for legalized same-sex marriage. Los Angeles County voters decided to require actors filming pornographic movies to wear condoms. (Yes, it was on the ballot.) Will Catholic institutions be able to uphold Church teachings in the face declining morals and governmental intrusion?

Monsignor Charles Pope has an article on the Archdiocese of Washington blog on the five stages of religious persecution. He credits Johnette Benkovic for speaking about the five stages at a recent fundraiser for WMET radio in DC. The five stages of religious persecution are:

1. Stereotyping the targeted group
2. Vilifying the targeted group for alleged crimes or misconduct
3. Marginalizing the targeted group’s role in society
4. Criminalizing the targeted group or its works
5. Persecuting the targeted group outright.

The Catholic Church has felt the slings and arrows of the first two stages for many years. In my lifetime, stage 3 has become evident in the way society has forced the elimination of Christian symbols. Public nativity scenes are no longer allowed, students cannot pray or thank God in graduation ceremonies, and Bibles are not welcome in public schools.

We now find ourselves dealing with stage 4. Several Catholic charities have been forced to stop adoption services because of governmental requirements to serve same-sex couples. The HHS mandate is attempting to require Church sponsored institutions to fund insurance that provides for abortions and birth control, obviously unacceptable for any Catholic with a properly formed conscience.

Is Stage 5 looming on the horizon? Signs have already cropped up in Canada and Europe where preaching on Catholic doctrine can be considered a hate crime. How far will our government go to enforce laws that infringe on religious liberty? How far will the Church go to stand firm on teachings considered non-negotiable? Will we be forced to close schools, hospitals, and charities rather than violate our principles? A storm may be brewing. Only time will tell.