Obama’s “Right to Worship” Ushers in New State Religion

The constitutions or laws of many nations provide for what is called “religious liberty.” In practice, this liberty is under severe restrictions in numerous countries, if it exists at all. The fact is that no one can really talk about religious freedom without examining what the “religion” holds. Grace builds on nature but does not contradict it. No religion, without further discussion, can simply believe anything at all. Some minimum criterion of order and right is presupposed to this freedom to follow religion’s teachings or one’s conscience. Concern about “fanaticism” is legitimate, even when such fanaticism is rooted in some religion’s basic explanation of itself.  Yet not everything religion holds is ipso facto “fanatic,” despite what many state ideologues want to maintain.

Much of the controversy today is not precisely about religious freedom but is instead over matters of fact and truth. Abortion, homosexuality, genetic experimentation, and euthanasia are not primarily “religious” issues but rational ones. On these life issues, not a few religions have come to embrace what are, in effect, irrational “rights” that contradict reason. Therefore, “religious freedom” is really, at bottom, a philosophical and political issue because it pertains to what a reasonable politics can rightly allow.

Though religious freedom, in its American form, was almost unique in the world when it was first established at the nation’s founding, this liberty had been almost taken for granted in this country until recently. Now its erosion is suddenly well-advanced. Its very meaning is in doubt. The belated realization of this change in understanding of religious liberty has alerted some few, perhaps too few, to the seriousness of the issue. Indeed, the change extends beyond American borders since our government often seeks to require its new understanding of religious liberty on others as a requirement of any aid or help.

Religious liberty is still, however, the reason why many believers leave their country of origin in search of another where their beliefs are welcome. This emigration today is especially from Muslim countries, where “religious liberty” means, basically, that everyone should be Muslim, or if not, agree to second-class citizenship. Any valid theory of religious liberty would allow major religions to hold that its position is true, provided it was not imposed by force or coerced in some other way.

Every January 16 since 1996, the American president has issued a proclamation setting aside that day as Religious Freedom Day. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom keeps extensive files on religious freedom in most countries. While most declarations retain the phrase “religious freedom,” it has been noted that around 2010, the phrase, “freedom of worship,” rather than “freedom of religion” sometimes appeared. If we understand “freedom of religion” to mean “freedom of worship,” does it make any difference? Small errors in the beginning lead to huge errors in the end, as Aristotle long ago remarked. Freedom of worship, at least in idea, seems to be designed to distinguish or separate religious freedom from freedom to worship. Even when the term “freedom of religion” is used, many of the actions of the current U.S. government, such as those forcing religious believers to support government programs contrary to their faith, indicate that “freedom of worship” is meant.

The distinction thus conveniently backs up the Obama administration’s moves to place all health, education, and charitable organizations under the umbrella of state control. Consequently, I am “free” to believe or say what I want within the walls of a church or place of worship. This view implicitly takes all religious people out of the public realm if their religious or philosophical view is contrary to that of the state. This position is the modern version of the political views developed by Marsilius of Padua and Thomas Hobbes. Religion must be solely internal with no public effects. The state controls all external actions. This exercise of control is what the change in wording was designed to accomplish.

How does the president understand “religious liberty”? In his 2013 Proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, he wrote: “Foremost among the rights Americans hold sacred is the freedom to worship as we choose.” He then refers to the history of this right. “Because of this protection by our Constitution, each of us has the right to practice out faith openly and as we choose.” In the 2014 Proclamation, the phrase “freedom of worship” does not occur, only “religious freedom.” The source of this freedom is explained in this manner:

Today America embraces people of all faiths and of no faith. We are Christians and Jews Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, atheists and agnostics. Our religious diversity enriches our cultural fabric and reminds us that what bind us as one are not the tenets of our faiths, the colors of our skins, or the origins of our names. What binds us Americans is our adherence to shared ideals—freedom, equality, justice, and our right as a people to set our own course.

It is this understanding of religious freedom that the country wants to promote at home and abroad.

Religious freedom thus really has nothing to do with God. It has to do with “ideals.” Just where these ideals come from or why they are binding is not clear. Evidently, unlike in the real world, these ideals do not conflict with one another, nor do members of religions or no religions. Each religion and philosophy is presumed to have purged itself of anything important enough to cause a conflict. Since religious conflict is seen to be a major cause of war and disorder, the state will not allow any differences to be manifest outside the place of worship.

The real public “religion” becomes the religion of state that decrees this happy world in which everyone gets along. These principles are valid for all men, not just America. The “tenets” of faith, our race, and national origin mean little. On this theological or philosophical basis, the state allows us to believe or practice what we want. It is the state alone that controls the public order. It does not care about any ideas or religions so long as they never question the principles that motivate the state itself.

American Elites Abandon Jeffersonian Ideal of Religious Liberty
January 16 was chosen as the date of Religious Freedom Day because it was on this day in 1786 that the General Assembly of the State of Virginia passed Jefferson’s famous “Act for Establishing Religious Freedom.” This memorable Act has long been considered to contain universal principles valid for more than Virginia. It was the main influence for the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which stated that Congress could not establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof. The subsequent legislative and juridical history of religious freedom has almost brought it about that we have, instead of religious freedom, established a secular state as, paradoxically, the official “religion” of the state. President Obama is but a recent spokesman of this new “political religion” that little tolerates any view of freedom contrary to its own. Ironically, the state itself violates the separation of church and state by becoming in effect its own religion.

As even President Obama states, we were founded by Christians seeking to escape religious intolerance. We now, however, live in a nation in which Christians, who maintain its basic truth and morality with philosophic reasons, must consider changing their principles or leaving their states, as Governor Cuomo in New York, himself a professed Catholic, has maintained, if they insist on believing and practicing their religion. The larger issue of coerced participation in the HHS mandate to support abortion and contraception funding only makes it clear that religious liberty is no longer allowed in the land, only “freedom to worship” in private.

In this light, it is of interest to read the Virginia Act. Jefferson began by stating that “the Almighty” has “created the mind free.” This statement is not exactly true. The Almighty, to be sure, created rational beings each with a mind, will, and body. The mind is not “free” to state whatever it wants. It is directly oriented to what is. When a human being comes to act on what he knows or state what he sees, then he is free. That is, he is not determined. He can even lie and state falsely what he sees. This freedom of will—what Jefferson really meant—gives him many options. He did not mean that both sides of a contradiction were equally true.

Jefferson next made a practical point. If we attempt to force belief by “temporal punishments, burdens, or civil incapacities,” we just cause people to be “mean” and “hypocrites.” What is wrong with this? Well, “it is not the plan of the Holy Author of our religion.” So we do have a religion. It has an Author. Do we today still “hold” this truth? And is Jefferson’s reasoning now to be considered fallacious because he referred to a “Holy Author” and to “our religion?” Can we really have a religion without a “Holy Author?” What would be its object or purpose?

What Jefferson seemed most concerned about was “imposing” beliefs and opinions by a civil or ecclesiastical power. He even thought that “false” religions existed over “the greatest part of the world and through all time.” But he seems concerned about them not because they are “false” but because they might be coerced. Also he rejects the compelling of money to support these doings.  All should be able to give their money to “pastors” with whom they feel “most comfortable.” Jefferson likes those pastors who have good morals and who “labor for the instruction of mankind.” “Civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinion”—like geometry and mathematics. The civil order itself sees the political and philosophical need of religious freedom on its own (civil) terms.

Jefferson held, with some naiveté, that “truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human disposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is freely permitted to contradict them.” Free argument, persuasion, and debate are no doubt the correct context to deal with fundamental differences. But Madison was no doubt wise in Federalist 51 when he warned that we have no government of angels and must constantly take steps to check the government itself. The New Testament itself warned that, in following Christ’s teachings, his disciples would be dragged before governors and courts. There is little evidence that truth by itself will always prevail in political societies.

Yves Simon, in his General Theory of Authority, brought up this very question of whether speculative truth by itself is able to prevail in such a hostile environment. Simon wrote: “Whoever believes in philosophic truth knows that philosophy is a domain where the order of truth will not come into existence spontaneously.” It often takes more than argument to protect what is good and true. The individual does need society to assist him in knowing the truth, but another society can lead the same people away from the truth. Simon added:

Temporal (political) society cannot shirk concern with the thoughts of men, even on the deepest levels, and still discharge its more obvious duties—say, protecting innocent life, giving property a guaranty against evildoers, and assuring some sort of dignity in marriage—and those relative to the immanence of what is now essential in common life, in other words, to the fact that the principal part of our common good is contained within our souls. (126).

Ultimately, the good of human actions and institutions is directly related to the truths that men accept or reject in their souls. Jefferson’s optimism never works out in practice. We now see that it is the state itself that is the major threat to philosophy and religious freedom.

The Modern State as Quasi-Established Religion
In this light, then, let us take another look at Jefferson’s own instructions. If we look carefully at his proposal, we can see its inadequacy particularly when it comes to polities that themselves have become in effect religious or ideological claimants to decide what religion or philosophy really mean. The Act of the Virginia General Assembly concluded:

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

In Jefferson’s reading, the state is to prevent enforced religious thought. A man cannot be deprived of job or goods because of his beliefs. All shall be free to profess and argue their position and such argument shall not cause him civil disabilities.

But if it is the state itself that insists its legislated or juridical doctrines are the ruling force, it can and does cause both restrictions on the public expression and cause legal and financial burdens on people who disagree with it. Religion is forced to support the “religious/ideological” laws of the state that now defines what is to be tolerated. To disagree with the state causes financial loss and requires approval of what people hold to be wrong. The difference between Jefferson’s hypothesis and the situation today is, at bottom, that the modern state is not just a “temporal order” but itself a quasi-established religion that enforces what it will or will not allow in ultimate questions about human life and death.

How did Jefferson think of the “authority” of this Act? Could not another legislature change it?

And though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such an act will be an infringement of natural right.

Since a legislature is bound by a constitution, even if it tried to restrict religious freedom by law, it would not be valid. But Jefferson recognized a law higher than even a constitution, which the Assembly recognized, but did not create. In this higher law, the unchangeable properties belonging to a human being as such are recognized. They belong to all mankind.

So the understanding of religious freedom today means more than mere government protection of religion. Now it means that citizens are protected from legal restrictions on the latest so-called “rights,” following Hobbes—thus, “rights” to abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage, fetal experimentation, and other life issues that in practice undermine human dignity.

For the tradition of Hobbes, “rights,” including religion, were under the control of the state to give whatever content it chose. It is this understanding of “rights” that currently forms the core of a new civil religion that is being imposed on society against any real freedom of philosophy and religion. Religious freedom becomes “freedom to worship,” in order that religion may have no effect external to what goes on in houses of worship or in the inner souls of mankind.

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.


Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., taught political science at Georgetown University for many years. He is the author of The Mind That Is Catholic from Catholic University of America Press; Remembering Belloc from St. Augustine Press; and Reasonable Pleasures from Ignatius Press. His newest books include A Line Through the Human Heart: On Sinning and Being Forgiven (2016) and On the Principles of Taxing Beer and Other Brief Philosophical Essays (2017). His most recent book is Catholicism and Intelligence (Emmaus Road, 2017).

  • Objectivetruth

    Excellent article, Father Schall. Thank you. I do believe that future generations of devout Catholics will be joyfully calling out “Viva Christo Rey!” from their cells in the bowels of federal lock up. Blessedly, they won’t be alone in their imprisonment. For they will be comforted by the angels and encouraged with the memories of saints and martyrs that came before them, similarly being persecuted for His name.

    • tom

      Maybe…ah…we shouldn’t let this happen and start excommunicating “Catholics” who support abortion, Marxism and unjust wars? Those Christians who adhere to basic principles of the “natural law” are still in the majority but won’t be in a few years. Should Catholics not be given moral guidance when they join America’s armed forces to attack Muslims, unjustly?

      • uncle max

        Good point but I would argue that they have already excommunicated themselves, and committing blasphemy when taking communion. God will deal with them in His own time, which means that – before anything else – they need our prayers for the grace of contrition.

        We COULD use some Bishops with some cojones, though.

        • tom

          The funeral accomplices in the life of Edward Kennedy were particularly troubling. O’Malley presided at the basilica and Wuerl did the honors at Arlington. Two cardinal sins.

          • Cormac_mac_Airt

            Cardinal O’Malley looked on passively as the Rite of Christian Burial was used as a backdrop to proclaim a “saint” of the state religion discussed above by Father Schall. Clerical Cowardice of the frst order.

            • tom

              I never got over it. I suspect a big check was written for 30 pieces of silver. Then, Wuerl piled on!

            • Fr Eric

              That is what happened. Ed Kennedy received a Christian burial, but there did not have to be a Mass (the family had one in private) and Cardinal O Malley simply could have said that all speeches and testimonies will be relegated to another venue later in the day at a different location.

      • dove1

        Catholics should be given moral guidance from day one! They should not join in attacking anyone unjustly.
        However, defending the world from Islam is not going to be an appealing prospect in any way. They don’t talk.
        Unjustly attacking? Not so sure about that! I don’t think that treating the enemy like criminals on foreign soil is a winner. Sacrificing lives of the good guys for the sake of trying to sort through their population to find the ones who would be convicted in a legal proceeding is a recipe for failure.
        In our situation here and in war there, the company you keep determines the outcome for you! China used that effectively to build a whole culture of obedience. You could say anything you wanted, but the Kings men would kill you, your family and everyone who knew you. So pressure on you to stay in line did not come from the king, it came from everyone around you. Waging war against the Muslims requires that we change their minds about wanting to war against us. Today, that should not cost a single American life, a couple of weeks from now, it might cost millions.
        I remember telling my wife a week after we went into Irag, that if we did not pack up and leave within a couple of weeks, we’d doom ourselves with rules of engagement, generate our own opposition, leave broken and disrespected.
        A parent has to get the attention of a wayward child. Same thing. Get their attention and make it clear that it is going to hurt us to have to decimate you, so please don’t require that of us. That is not what we want, but what you insist by your behavior is needed.

      • jacobhalo

        You don’t have to excommunicate them. The priests at the pulpit need to say before every communion, those who support abortion, etc. please do not receive communion. You need to go to confession and renounce this disastrous crime. The priests don’t have the guts today as they once had before Vatican II.

    • dove1

      Will happen! Praise God! We will get right with God through the fire! Eternity will be ours, face-to-face with Love!

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    I rather fancy “freedom of worship” is a translation (and not a very happy one) of « La Liberté des Cultes » a phrase that figured prominently in the French Enlightenment.

    The expression is rather equivocal. « Le culte » means adoration or worship; it also means religion, particularly, but not exclusively, in the sense of denomination (« Le culte juif » = the Jewish religion; « un ministre d’un culte » = minister of religion) It does not have the pejorative overtones of the English word “cult,” for which the French equivalent is « La secte. »

    Originally used to signify opposition to the legal monopoly of the Catholic Church – “freedom of denominations” – nowadays it means “‘the independence of the political authorities and of the different spiritual or religious persuasions [« options » in the French] This signifies an absence of political intervention in religious matters and an absence of religious sway over political authority.” This is also known as laïcité.

    • dove1

      Hobbes, Locke, et al were the root of freemasonry (humanism) involvement and thought in politics and that was the core belief of the founders of the USA and of the French Revolution. There just weren’t enough Catholics here and those who were, were in a small and consequential minority, to have a need for the guillotine! But we have always been only barely tolerated here. Makes us more like the early Christians, and that ought make us firm in our dedication to Him and His Church. Strong trees grow in high winds….

      • TheAbaum

        It’s a convenient theme on here by the PHO’s to say the framers were deist(some where), freemasons, humanists and they are responsible for creating an inherently defective and hostile system.

        Let’s grant they were men afflicted with prejudices common to their times, and sinners extraordinaire. But the present government isn’t what they designed. What we have today is as much the responsibility of Woodrow Wilson (not a Mason) and the Roosevelts and Nixon (not a Mason) as Jefferson, Washington & Franklin. Either you understand political ambition exists and runs on taxes and an apparently yet unexhausted appetite for Treasury debt or you don’t.

        Unfortunately, that theme doesn’t explain the following In England, a “Catholic” King with an apparently insatiable carnal appetite decides to go to war with the Pope after being given the title “Fidei Defensor”. John Locke, Hume Mill, were all the progeny of Henry Tudor, since he was responsible for separating their ancestors from Rome. John Calvin similarly grew up Catholic.

        In Catholic France, there was a bloodier and nastier revolution, and they gave us the detestable Voltaire. Spain had anti-Clericalism. In a scant century, Mexico went from enshrining Catholicism to hunting down Priests. Being pervasively Catholic hasn’t served as any innoculant against discrimination or political persecution.

        If you want to look at the present position of the U.S., look at our prominent politicians- “Catholics” are well represented. Ted Kennedy is dead, but was an early supporter of Barack Hussein Obama. Ditto Bob Casey. Pelosi, Biden, Boehner, all Catholic. Even those who aren’t like Steny Hoyer have a connection (Georgetown JD).

        There isn’t a single Protestant on the Supreme Court. Even Poland, there’s a rising tide of anti-clericalism.

        And yet the statist idolaters will trot out a myriad of obscure writers, ignore Augustine and Thomas More to propose yet another golden calf that they promise THIS TIME will bring us milk and honey, if we just agree to give them free reign to give absolute power to the state.

        There was a reason why Christ was tempted with pictures of all the Kingdoms in the desert and not Salome’s dance.

        • dove1

          Good observations! Sin, whether just personal or as a part of a whole integrated world-view (like freemasonry, Islam, etc.) is the root cause of all the shortcomings we face on earth. Mexico went south because of freemasonry. But that is ok, because we kicked them all the way from Oregon to south of the Rio Grande because of freemasonry! The problem with Christianity, I am concluding in my old age, is that it hasn’t been tried! We seem, in fact, to grab onto anything but. God Bless!

          • TheAbaum

            I’m more concerned with what happened in Mexico in spite of the fact that it was the land of Juan Diego, than whatever force created the situation.

            There’s always going to be politicians and political theorists, finding excuses to enhance their own power and comfort. There’ll always be another Herod beheading a John to remove voices that question them.

            • dove1

              What you are saying is true enough, but I believe that Our Lady has done wonderful things for the people of Mexico and Central America. I see a special love of God in the Mexicans. That might just lead the way for us! Certainly, democrats that think they will bring millions of Mexican immigrants here and that will go well for them, fool themselves. Those who come here want good things for themselves and their families – like opportunity and equality. When they see and understand from a reinvigorated Church, they will be the best assets we have to oppose communism in all it’s forms here in the USA. Viva Christo Rey!

        • Art Deco

          Must disagree. The important figures were Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, and, in a notably different way, Harry Truman. The system was as is pretty much from 1974 to 2008.

          Although it is not important, both Roosevelt and Truman were freemasons. LBJ was a candidate for a membership in a masonic lodge; I am not sure he was ever inducted.

          • TheAbaum

            Must disagree with what?

            • Art Deco

              Woodrow Wilson (not a Mason) and the Roosevelts and Nixon (not a Mason)

              Nixon was a poor administrator, made some horrid appointments, and failed in certain policy objectives. However, he was not a sponsor of innovations in state-society relations and made an attempt to reduce federal manipulation of state and local government.

              The Wilson Administration saw the institution of two regulatory commissions (one with some dubious enabling legislation) and federal subvention of road construction. (It also saw the erection of a central bank, but I would not go hankering after the alternative). There were also some temporary agencies set up at the start of the 1st World War which were dissolved in 1919. There were abusive uses of federal police power, but, as Willmoore Kendall said, the American tradition is ‘ride ’em out of town on a rail’. It was the centrally directed aspect of this that was innovative.

              The ratio of federal spending to domestic product remained within a certain ballpark right up until 1930 (bar during the war).

              People like William Voegli fancy the Wilson Administration was jaggedly discontinuous with its predecessors. It was not.

              • TheAbaum

                The point was that every officeholder affects the design of government, even if they are highly restrained individuals who see they job solely as executing the law and not modifying it as a plenary, as the current occupant sees his role.

                However if you need specific programs that expanded the scope and reach of government, Nixon gave us wage and price controls and the EPA.

                AS for Wilson, I did have in mind the Fed, but also the Federal Possession and Control Act, creating the United States Railroad Administration (USRA), which took control of the railways on December 28, 1917.

                It’s not just the creation of administrative agencies or the ratio of government spending to GDP.

                • Art Deco

                  Wage and price controls were not a novelty and they were gone by the time Mr. Nixon departed office in every competitive market bar that for petroleum products.

                  The EPA’s initial approach to certain problems was troublesome (a function of the mindsets of the time, most particularly that of Paul Rogers, it’s principal sponsor). However, it was addressing problems within the state’s legitimate purview: externalities and information imperfections. WIthin the context of a federal system, some of the EPAs standards might be problematic. However, watersheds and air currents do not respect political boundaries, and I think you would discover that the traffic in industrial and household chemicals is seldom intra-state.

                  • TheAbaum

                    Boy was the editor right when he or she asserted you love to argue with people who are inclined to agree with you.

                    “Wage and price controls were not a novelty and they were gone by the time Mr. Nixon departed office in every competitive market bar that for petroleum products. ”

                    So what? They were improper, stupid and counterproductive.

                    Nixon’s misconduct by way was responsible for Carter, whose 1976 victory was certainly a consequence, and that clod gave us the CRA and oil price caps.

                    Whatever the good intentions behind the EPA, one has to deal with it’s growth, mission drift. But hey, thank god we have the EPA, who now promises to relieve us of the scourge of wood stoves.


                    • Art Deco

                      Um, no. Mr. Carter attempted to deregulate energy prices and achieved some limited success over a congressional filibuster. The main body of the Democratic Party had no enthusiasm for a number of his efforts.

                      Boy was the editor right when he or she asserted you love to argue with people who are inclined to agree with you.

                      No, I do not. That wasn’t the editor who said that, it was “Patrick”. My point was that the Nixon Administration saw little or no innovation in state – society relations. The salient innovations were local to the Roosevelt, Truman, and Johnson administrations.

                      In evaluating the EPA, the appropriate yardstick is not some ideal state, but the state that might ensue if no efforts were undertaken against externalities and common property resources were not managed.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Corrected attribution noted. The content is correct.

                      Ideal? The EPA is nowhere near “ideal”. Is this an attempt at dry humor?


                    • Art Deco

                      No institution is. Again, externalities are real, principal-agent problems are real, and common property resources do not survive a laissez-faire regime. The point is to contrive a regulatory regime that promotes an optimal balance between competing uses and competing parties. That is not done by pretending there is no problem to address.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          David Hume was Scottish; not HVIII but Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart and John Knox separated his ancestors from Rome. Scotland was one of the only countries in which the Reformation succeeded in the teeth of government opposition, just as Ireland was one of the only countries in which the government was unable to impose it.

          • TheAbaum

            Would there have been a George Wishart or John Knox without Henry?

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              “Would there have been a George Wishart or John Knox without Henry?”

              Absolutely. As it happens, both of them took refuge in England, but were lucky to escape with their lives. Wishart recanted his Protestant views before Cranmer in 1542 and Knox was actually burned in effigy in Bristol.

              In the Act of the Six Articles, Henry had re-affirmed
              (a) the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation;
              (b) the view that one need not receive both bread and wine in the communion;
              (c) the obligation of priests to remain celibate;
              (d) the binding character of vows of chastity;
              (e) private masses; and
              (f) auricular confession.

              Under that Act, Cranmer burned Lambert the Sacramentary, with whose views he privately agreed – an rare piece of hypocrisy.

              Wishart and Knox were influenced by the Continental Reformers, as Patrick Hamilton had been.

              • TheAbaum

                Why do so many of your responses include utterly irrelevant things?

                Aparently, Wisharts recantation wan’t complete, he was still preaching Calvin and Zwingli just before his death.

                Henry opened Pandora’s box.

  • Don

    A very fine article. How sad and ironic that the power of the freedom of religion is being sapped by so-called Catholics. From JFK to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, Catholics have been right up front seeking to gut the Constitution of this most important freedom. The silence of many bishops in response to those actors is most disconcerting. Thankfully, there are many wonderful and faithful Catholics who do raise a voice in opposition – like Fr. Schall.

    • John Uebersax

      Are Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden really Catholics? It seems to me they have as much as excommunicated themselves.

      • tom

        No bishop has the Faith to excommunicate our enemies within. Our bishops are afraid of the Democratic Party. This is disturbing when compared to the battle German bishops patriotically made against the Nazi Party.

      • dove1

        They have, CINO, like RINO!

      • Don Campbell

        But that’s the point. Until the Church formally excommunicates them (or otherwise publicly declares that they are out of communion with the Church because of the public positions they have taken that are opposed to the Chruch’s teaching, they retain a kind of Catholic legitimacy. Guess what folks? Catholicism requires that we assent to the Magisterium; we don’t get to make up our own mind. That’s the whole POINT of Catholicism: the Church not the individual is the ultimate authority. I suppose that’s not quite properly stated; of course we get to make up our own minds, but if we decide in opposition to the Magisterium that excludes us from the faith. They are wolves among the sheep. They need to be driven out, for the good of the flock. The Church will not be able to accomplish much of anything as long as half its members oppose its teachings.

    • BillinJax

      Thank God there are a few Bishops here in America who will like many of the Church Militant (us) continue to hold fast to the faith speaking for the truth and in Christ’s name accept our Cross and follow Him through the suffering which is sure to come knowing the Church’s final victory is ours for eternity.
      God Bless Fr Schall for a wonderful article and explanation of our current situation.

      • dove1

        Amen, hope to see you there!

    • dove1

      You’ve got the “so-called” right! Jesus knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. The “catholics” you mention do not, in their words and actions, appear to know him. We must pray for them and the Church! We will not win without heavenly aid because of the nature of fallen man – pride and other inclinations to sin. The enemy chose this time because his time is getting short and he see that he had his best opportunity with those living today. But he has already lost – happened 2,000 years ago. Now, we must work for the good of the souls of those in need.
      When the holy innocents asked God when they’d be avenged, He answered that when the last soul that was going to be saved, was saved, then He’d act. Think about that! Since Adam and Eve there have been real people who either make it to Heaven or do not. And there is a real end – the last soul in! That is a finite number and we are approaching it. SO, if we want Jesus to come, we must work for the salvation of souls….. and…..Pray for the consecration of Russia!

  • Sokolov

    The 1935 Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics “guaranteed” freedom of worship. Not freedom of religion but “freedom of worship”. Is any more explanation required?

    • Adrian Joshua Elder

      I am sorry. But you are incorrect. Please check the facts.


      • Becky Chandler

        “ARTICLE 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of
        conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and
        the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of
        antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.” http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/36cons04.html I can not personally vouch that this is the correct translation of the 1936 Soviet constitution, over what is presented in Wikipedia, but it is consistent with other communist constitutions such as Cuba’s.

        • TheAbaum

          Either way, it’s an empty promise.

      • Phil Steinacker

        I’d be EXTREMELY careful not to claim another is in error by relying solely in wikis of any kind for proof. That is a fool’s errand.
        Don’t you know ANYONE can go an edit a wiki entry to reflect their articular view? Did you know that last month a national feminist group claims they set a date for over a million American feminists to spend that date “fixing” political “errors” on Wikipedia? Whether you agree with feminism or not, that is a sobering reality. You really ought to give up wikis to prove apoint.

        Doing so without corroboration from a second VALID source is asking for egg on your face.

  • tamsin

    It has been a conceit to imagine the separation of church and state, as though the state (through its body of laws that enforce a particular morality, its collective vision of good conduct) is not also a church.

    • TheAbaum

      But worship of the state is a religion.

  • Watosh

    Actually the liberal thinkers who came up with the idea of Religious Liberty felt it would be an anti-Catholic measure. Again as was touched upon in the above article, Religious Liberty eventually conflicts with the idea of a secular democracy in which the majority determine what is right and what is wrong. In the early years of our country this did not surface a lot, because the overall outlook of the Protestant majority shared a lot of the social beliefs of Catholics. We pride ourselves on the possession of religious liberty, but we also loudly proclaim, as did J F Kennedy, that we would not let our private religious beliefs influence our actions in office. In other words the laws enacted or desired by the majority took precedence over any religious beliefs. So many Catholics succumbed to the “Americanist Heresy,” while for many years Catholicism appeared to bloom under this religious liberty, and American Catholics claimed to be the road for the Church to take in order to prosper. Now look at things today. Joseph Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Kathryn Sibelius, not to mention NY governor Cuomo support policies the Catholic church condemns. And the Catholic Church has been split so that Catholics end up as adherents of liberal, profane party principles rather than Catholic teaching. Orestes Brownson once said that the only thing that could keep the country on the right road was the Catholic church, since the Church would not be influenced by the secular interests. He said the Protestant Church could not do this because the Protestant Church could be moved to different positions. Orestes Brownson was a brilliant Catholic theologian who began as an anti-Catholic Protestant minister, wandered about theologically, sometime being a Unitarian, but kept on striving for the truth. Eventually he became an outstanding Catholic thinker. Jeffersonwas a deist who was not a Christian. He is celebrated for saying “All men were created equal” while being a slaveholder, and preaching fiscal restraint and avoidance of debt, while he went into debt to pay for his elaborate life style. Now we treat his words as gospel.

    • publiusnj

      We should call Biden, Pelosi, Sibelius and Cuomo what they are: principle-less politicians. They use their birth religion as a tradeable commodity useful in establishing their position in the power structure. If gays are looking to trade their votes for social accommodations and therefore willing to join the Democrat coalition which will accommodate their position, the Democrat Coalition needs a cover story to justify ignoring the traditional and still Catholic position on Gay Marriage. Catholic fellow travelers such as Biden supply the cover needed (remember: Biden went out in front of Obama on the issue of Gay Marriage). Likewise, to gain the “women’s vote” “Catholic” fellow traveler Sibelius sought to take away the conscience rights of Catholic employers on birth control/abortifacients coverage in the ACA.

      Watosh is right on the inability of “the Protestant Church” to stand up to the State. There is a good reason for that: there is no Protestant Church. Rather, there are thousands of Protestant churches. Even if some Protestant churches do stand up for a particular principle, enough others can be encouraged to take a different position in line with the state’s wishes. The worldwide uniformity of the Catholic Church prevents the state having a similar influence on the Catholic Church, but that is precisely where the Catholic fellow-travelers like Biden prove so useful to the Secularists. Call them “useful idiots” or more likely “cynical poseurs” but one thing is for sure, the secularists look for ways to “divide and conquer” the Catholic voice on social issues. That may also be why people like George Soros support groups like “Catholics for Choice.”

      • Don Campbell

        So why should the likes of Biden, Pelosi, Sebelius, et. al. be permitted to remain Catholics in good standing? They are heretics, pure and simple. They reject core Catholic teachings. Our bishops have no courage. They are so afraid of being labeled as “judgmental” that they will tolerate any heresy. Biden, et. al. have the right to believe anything they want, but they should not have a right to reject Church teaching and remain within the Church.

        • publiusnj

          I am looking at this from the viewpoint of politics. If excommunicated, Biden might well wear it as a badge of courage against a homophobic American hierarchy and protest his love of the Catholic Church, tell a story about an understanding priest in his past who taught him to follow his conscience and all the good gays he has known who just want what straights get even if they are the worst philanderers and then cluck that he needs to follow his conscience. So, an act of excommunication standing alone would probably not advance the Church’s public policy agenda and might be evidence of “persecution” of a poor guy like Joe.

          Excommunication still might make sense but only if it were part of a broader strategy in which the CatholicChurch stands up for a particular set of principles and calls out this country for going down an utterly amoral path.

          • TheAbaum

            If that is not only possible, but likely, game over. Prepare for the circuses.

  • BillinJax

    I’ll say it again.

    There are two stumbling blocks on the “religious secular progressive” road to government run socialist Utopia for Obama; Christianity, namely the Catholic Church and the U. S. Constitution.

    He has time after time shown little or no respect for the concepts and
    sanctity of either of them. He speaks of civility then governs as a dictator
    blaming any interference to his agenda designed to totally transform America on
    those who cherish religious freedom and/or our founding documents. Most if not
    all of those who oppose him are quickly referred to in any number of wicked
    terms by his reverent media and adoring cultists on the left who have managed
    to establish their own hierarchy in Washington adhering to and honoring only
    the Democratic platform. A platform which wanted to remove all mention of God
    from its dogmatic Obama inspired agenda.

    One can not deny that regardless of how the press attempts to portray their
    messiah’s message his actions and edicts clearly indicate he will not rest
    until along with his minions in congress and the legion of appointed
    bureaucratic regulators have legally disenfranchised our religious freedom and
    his liberal courts have judged our Constitution obsolete

    • publiusnj

      The Constitution is a block only if someone stands up for the Constitution; the feckless State Executives, Congress and Courts twist themselves to avoid confrontations with the secularists as last night’s callow action by the AZ Governor shows. Look for a second example at how the USSC effectively ignored the Gay Marriage issue by affirming the lower court’s striking down of the CA Referendum on standing grounds simply because CA politicians had chosen to ignore their duty to defend the People’s decision. That dodge of non-enforcement by State AGs on the grounds Gay Marriage is required by the US Constitution is a third example. It is now being pushed by Obama and Holder as a means of rolling over all opposition to Gay Marriage and making it the law of the land even though the USSC struck down DOMA on the ground it was a usurpation of the state’s right to determine issues of marriage.

      Likewise, the Catholic Church will only be a block if the hierarchy stands up to Obama. Since most of us Catholics were raised Democrat and still don’t trust the Republicans on social issues for a lot of very good reasons (look at what McCain did yesterday on the Arizona Religious Freedom Restoration Act Clarifications), the Catholic political response on social issues has been at best a “diffuse” one (i.e., the USCCB chides the Republicans far more loudly on Immigration/Minimum Wage issues than it does the Democrats on the surely no less serious issues of Abortion and Gay Marriage). So long as the USCCB indiscriminately beats up both Republicans and Democrats–the party of murder by choice (Abortion, Euthanasia)–it will have no impact on the public discourse because the Democrats will ignore the USCCB on everrything and so will the Republicans. The USCCB needs to exercise discernment and choose a strategy that maximizes the impact of its views.

      • TheAbaum

        The USCCB needs to exercise discernment and choose a strategy that maximizes the impact of its views.

        Perhaps they’ll have a fit of humility and prudence and realize they have no aptitude or acumen for politics. A good start would cancelling the noxious Al Smith dinner.

        • publiusnj

          And cede the field to Biden et al? That hardly seems a viable long term strategy. Obama will be no more gentle than Henry VIII was.

          • TheAbaum

            I give you Stephen Blaire.

            Perhaps if he had spent less time on Episcopal committees, and not spent his time worrying about the federal budget he seems to have no particular competence to opine upon, or had been more contentrated on Stockton than Maryland’s end of the death penalty (while apparently not seeing a need to comment on O’Malley’s push for SSM, please prove me wrong), this could have been avoided:


            Cede the field? We need linebackers, not in the infamous terminology of the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York “cheerleaders”.

      • Don Campbell

        Wrong. Until the USCCB – the bishops – demand that Catholics either assent to the full Magisterium or GET OUT OF THE CHURCH, heretics will continue to undermine the Church from within while affirmatively rejecting core Catholic teachings on issues such as marriage and abortion. If there is no sanction (on earth, at least) for heresy then people will continue to oppose Church teaching while claiming to be good Catholics. But, the Bishops a) are afraid to appear judgmental, and b) know their congregations would be immediately cut in half. And, unfortunately, the demand for a profession of allegiance to the full Magisterium from every Catholic as a condition to remaining in communion with the Church is the very last thing our new Pope seems inclined to require. It may mean closing parishes, schools, etc and chopping the “Catholic” population of this country down from a supposed 70 millin to 20 million, but that’s exactly what the Church needs.

        • publiusnj

          As I note in response to another of your comments on another of my comments, excommunication might make sense from a political viewpoint but only if the Church has an overall strategy. You want to go with a fortress approach complete with jeremiads and loyalty oaths. I am not sure that will work; it might instead backfire. In all events, whatever we need to do will require a lot of thought and considerably more single-mindedness than has been exhibited to date.

          • TheAbaum

            There is a certain way to use authority, in discretion. One of this interesting things about authority is that it’s like a muscle, it’s either used regularly-so it’s maintained and strengthened or it wastes away and is injured when called upon.

            The way to reinvigorate the authority muscle is through exercise with graduated intensity.

          • Evagrius

            Let’s start with some baby steps. For example, let’s begin with the truly radical and revolutionary step of simply enforcing Ex Corde Ecclesiae. After 20 years of thumbing their noses out it, let’s ask our so-called ‘Catholic’ universities to comply or stop calling themselves Catholic.

            • publiusnj

              By the time we get finished with such circular firing squads, the 70 Million strong Catholic Church will be a lot smaller than the 20 Million Don Campbell postulates. So many of the young see the Catholic Church as obscurantist. We have a persuasion problem that needs to take on the raging fire of Gay Marriage and whatever else is hurtling down the slippery slope (e.g., Polygamy, etc.).

              • jacobhalo

                That is not true about the young. As a traditional Catholic who attends the EF, we have a ton of young people who love tradition. The young have a problem with OR. We have sermons which address, abortion, homosexuality, etc., sermons you will never hear the Novus Ordo Missae.

            • jacobhalo

              You don’t asked, you demand, or stop calling themselves Catholic U. If someone is working for me and he or she doesn’t comply with the business philosophy and doesn’t push what we are selling, that person would be fired.

        • jacobhalo

          Good point about heresy. You only have to deny one teaching of the church in order to be a heretic.
          When Pope Benedict was a cardinal, he said the church would be better off if it was smaller and the people believed the teachings.

      • jacobhalo

        you don’t trust republicans on social issues? All of the big cities are controlled by democrats. Most of these cities haven’t had a republican mayor, city council or school board in 50 or more years. A large majority of the poor live in these cities and they stay poor and uneducated. What have the democrats done for them? Republicans expect people to do for themselves. Of course, we should help those who are really poor, not those who are frauds and suck the blood of the government and its taxpayers. “Ask not what your country can do you. Ask what you can do for you country.”

        • publiusnj

          I trust Republicans more on social issues than I do Democrats, but that ain’t saying much. I was raised a Democrat but left the party after Mario Cuomo’s infamous speech in 1984 which made it clear that there was no place in the Democrat Party for anyone pro-life. The Democrat Party is the party of abortion and euthanasia. I will never vote Democrat again.

          I do not trust the mainstream Republicans on social issues because they are Washington or statehouse politicians who will sell out their mothers for enough votes to win the next election. I don’t trust the Tea Party Republicans because they have no coherent message and are more concerned about the deficit than about Life or Gay Marriage. I don’t trust libertarian Republicans (some of whom are Tea Partiers) because they often are as quick to endorse Abortion and Euthanasia as well as such stuff as Marijuana Legalization as the left wing of the Democrat Party. The main message of the Republican Party on Gay Marriage and Abortion has been states rights, but when state AGs stopped defending all the Referenda that the People won on Gay Marriage, the Republican Establishments have formed no effective push back. Why? Because very few of them have any principles.

          • TheAbaum

            We seem to be given the choice between a party that we can be assured will do the wrong thing and one we can’t be assured will do the right thing.

            • publiusnj

              Well put.

              • TheAbaum


    • Don Campbell

      Stumbling blocks? In what way? Sorry to laugh at this, but I don’t see anyone stumbling. All I see from my perspective is the bood-heels smashing into our faces. We are being (have been?) crushed. The fundamental transformation has been accomplished. It’s over. And unfortunately, most Americans are too stupid to even realize it. Yet.

  • John Uebersax

    I agree: modern agnosticism/atheism/secularism is itself a religion, founded on unproven (and wrong) first principles. Where does this leave us? I believe the front line of the battle concerns epistemology: we should teach people to look to sources of intuitive, natural wisdom — to rediscover and use the means by which one discovers genuine first principles of morality and religion.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Pascal expressed it beautifully: “We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart, and it is in this last way that we know first principles; and reason, which has no part in it, tries in vain to impugn them. The sceptics, who have only this for their object, labour to no purpose. We know that we do not dream, and, however impossible it is for us to prove it by reason, this inability demonstrates only the weakness of our reason, but not, as they affirm, the uncertainty of all our knowledge. For the knowledge of first principles, as space, time, motion, number, is as sure as any of those which we get from reasoning. And reason must trust this knowledge of the heart and of instinct, and must base every argument on them. The heart senses that there are three dimensions in space and that the numbers are infinite, and reason then shows that there are no two square numbers one of which is double of the other. Principles are intuited, propositions are inferred, all with certainty, though in different ways.

  • disqus_59KZkHgegx

    All Catholics must look into the mirror: How many of you willingly supported this President, who is so contemptuous of the “bitter clingers”, in 2008 & 2012?

    • jacobhalo

      I don’t know how a Catholic, not a Catholic in name only, could have voted for this president. I have a Catholic neighbor, who seems to be a practicing Catholic, who overwhelmingly supports this president. I don’t get it.!

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Lord Macaulay once remarked, “We know through what strange loopholes the human mind contrives to escape, when it wishes to avoid a disagreeable inference from an admitted proposition. We know how long the Jansenists contrived to believe the Pope infallible in matters of doctrine, and at the same time to believe doctrines which he pronounced to be heretical.”

      • Marie Ann EstherVentura Ferenc

        I get what your saying..AND HOW AWFUL. I am still shocked and reeling that Catholics could have done this, and in huge numbers…THIS speaks to both ignorance and selfishness, such as the UNIONS…They sold their souls for the 10 pieces of silver Obama would toss their way and assit them in UNIONS….GOOD GOD…such shame.

      • jagnote

        I think you can understand your neighbor’s vote if you realize that the Church in the past few years has become a pseudo social services organization. Charity has morphed into the “peace and justice” manifesto so emphasized by some of the U.S. Bishops and a preponderance of consecrated religious. Obama represents everything that these folks proclaim…he is a minority (and must be protected and promoted), he wants to take all the money he can from the “rich” and give it to the “poor”, he wants the government to assume responsibility for every phase of citizens’ lives

  • Kevin Symonds

    Pope Leo XIII had much to say on this topic. We should re-read “Libertas.”

    • Evagrius

      Agreed. While they are re-reading “Libertas,” the U.S. Bishops conference can re-read Testem benevolentiae, an encyclical addressed specifically to the U.S. bishops and expressly warning them, in diplomatic terms, against trying adapt the deposit of the Faith to make it fit within America’s secular institutions. How little has changed in the last 100 years.

  • cestusdei

    This religion of the State has much in common with sharia. You can worship, but you will be a second class citizen. We are well on our way to that.

    • tom

      Cuomo II telling roman Catholics to get out of New York is a chilling reminder of our secular leaders. They hate Christianity.

  • Griz

    Catholics are at War

  • John Albertson

    We are at war indeed, but our bishops were not trained in warfare.

  • Mack

    The Faith and the faithful are not helped by craven bishops dancing attendance upon this man at festive public dinners.

  • Blobee

    Did you know even communists under Stalin had “freedom of worship”? However, in Soviet Russia, you were not allowed to speak about religion, even to children, outside the walls of a church. Isn’t it interesting we can’t identify this move as atheistic communism imposing itself on the people?

  • Susan McGuinness Getzinger

    In Oct. 2013 Pres. Obama makes the Mass illegal for our soldiers, even if Priests volunteer, taking away the daily sacrifice and oblation; Passover (Nisan 14) and Easter line up in 2012&2015 like they did during he speculative dates of Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion (and the killing of John the Baptist/Elijah -the warning). 30&33AD. 2012 had a super moon and 2015 has a blood moon (33 had a blood moon) and the financial situation of the state (Roman empire – world leader) was – Wikipedia: “Emperor Tiberius founds a credit bank in Rome.[2]
    A financial crisis hits Rome, due to poorly chosen fiscal policies. Land values plummet, and credit is increased. These actions lead to a lack of cash, a crisis of confidence, and much land speculation. The primary victims are senators, knights and the wealthy. Many aristocratic families are ruined.” If we are not in the tribulation, then we are in a precursor.

  • Susan McGuinness Getzinger

    This Ash Wednesday the state of CT is putting for an “assisted suicide” Bill, as the state likes to choose Holy days to keep crowds low in order to subversively make sin legal. If we testify with ashes on our heads, then more proof we are in pagan Rome, testifying to the truth with the incense of God marked on our heads as we go against the idols of death.

  • Susan McGuinness Getzinger

    Julian the apostate reintroduces paganism, tolerance in state schools and undermines Christianity.

  • WRBaker

    One of the most outlandish things I know to be true is a bishop who has a person on his financial committee who was on an Obama commission but now works for a Democratic state assemblywoman who has 100% pro-abortion/gay rights ratings. Incredible? I’ll bet there is more that goes on in most dioceses that is never known.
    What could be done about all of these politicians is for the Vatican (it’s obvious you can’t wait for most of the bishops) to pick the worst CINO politician in every diocese and publically impose Canon 915.

  • Pingback: Spanish Devils - God & Caesar()

  • philconl

    I realized quite a while ago that the more the State takes over, the further down the path of discord with one size fits all under the power toward chains and death by the state we shall become.
    We see how their takeover of the school systems has caused immense controversy and laws that violate Freedom of Religion, they just cannot help themselves.

    The 1st amendment widely restricts the Government from sticking it’s nose where it doesn’t belong. Instead of retreating from their overreach when they encounter 1st Amendment violations in their own actions, they spin out lies and lay down the tyranny hammer on the population.
    They are outside their legal scope, and they should be reigned in.

  • Paul

    Today’s religious freedom is translated into the right for religious existence so long as it is kept in a box and preferably with a lid tightly shut – this is poignantly true for Christians and particularly Catholics.

  • Pingback: Huffington Post: Too many Catholics on the Supreme Court | Our Tyrannical Government()