Though the US has separation of church and state, we have long been accustomed to American Christianity being consonant with American patriotism. But close Christian observers of American life have wondered for the last couple of decades — at least in my experience — if and when the day will come when being a faithful Christian will require one to oppose the US government and the American system. As America de-Christianizes, what was once unthinkable by conservative Christians is now fast moving from the fringes to the mainstream of our thinking.
Catholic World Report has published a blockbuster interview with Cardinal Gerhard Müller, formerly the head of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal office (before the more liberal Pope Francis dismissed him), in which Müller has shocking but important things to say about this. The cardinal said:
“Now the U.S., with its conglomerated political, media and economic power, stands at the head of the most subtly brutal campaign to de-Christianize Western culture in the last one hundred years.”
That quote comes from a response the cardinal gave when asked for his view on Joe Biden presenting himself as a faithful Catholic, despite his long record of being in favor of unrestricted abortion:
Cardinal Müller: There are good Catholics even in the highest Vatican positions who, in their blind anti-Trump sentiments, put up with everything or play down what is now being unleashed in the U.S.A. against Christians and all people of good will.
Now the United States, with its conglomerated political, media and economic power, stands at the head of the most subtly brutal campaign to de-Christianize Western culture in the last one hundred years. They play down the lives of millions of children, who now fall victim to the worldwide, organized abortion campaign under the euphemism of “right to reproductive health”, by referring to Trump’s character faults.
An otherwise highly respected confrere reproached me, saying that I must not fixate on abortion. For now that Trump has been voted out, this eliminates the much greater danger that that madman might push the nuclear button. I am convinced, however, that individual and social ethics has priority over politics. It crosses a line when faith and morals are reckoned by a political calculus. I cannot support a pro-abortion politician just because he builds public housing, as though I had to put up with what is absolutely evil on account of something relatively good.
Kath.net: Given the pro-abortion positions of the new President, can and should American Catholics simply and obligingly go along with his calls for “unity” and the healing of wounds?
Cardinal Müller: Reconciliation is the gift that God has given us through Jesus Christ. Precisely for Christians in politics this should also be a standard for their speech and actions. But an ideological rift in society is not overcome when one side marginalizes, criminalizes and destroys the other, so that in the end all institutions from the media to the international firms are now ruled only by representatives of the capital-socialist mainstream.
In the United States, as in Spain now, the Catholic schools, hospitals and other non-profit institutions supported with public funding are being compelled to implement immoral policies; if they refuse they are closed. Even the most naive must be able to tell by now whether the talk about reconciliation in society was meant seriously or was only a propaganda trick.
The very same ones who talk about it at the top of their lungs should examine themselves critically about their own contribution to the division. The slogan, “If you won’t be my pal, I’ll smash in your skull,” is not the right path to reconciliation and mutual respect.
Cardinal Müller is right about the phony reconciliation offered by the Left. It’s typically, “Submit to us, and then you will have peace.” This is why conservatives who object to whatever progressives say is the next radical change they want to make to society stand condemned as aggressors in the culture war. It’s not aggression if you’re defending yourself!
That said, what the Left is pushing for, and is getting, in an American version of the French policy of laïcité — a hard secularism that pushes religion hard to the margins of public life. The only kind of Christianity that is going to be tolerated is Joe Biden’s kind: the sort that doesn’t contradict anything that secular progressives want. There’s a reason why our media, which heretofore furrowed its collective brow over the religious beliefs of Trump administration appointees, are falling all over themselves to highlight Biden’s Catholicism. They know Biden is tame. And they know that Biden gives cover to the anti-Christian policies that they advocate.
We are losing — and having taken from us — the sanctity of life. It’s not only abortion. It’s genetic engineering too.
We are losing — and having taken from us — the truth that male and female are innately part of what it means to be human. That humanness is a given, made in the image of God. We are being told that we can create ourselves.
We are losing — and having taken from us — the truth that sex is part of the cosmic order, and inseparable from Christian anthropology (that is, the Biblical view of what a human being is).
We are losing — and having taken from us — the transcendental dimension of life. The sure confidence that there is something beyond this life, and that we will be judged in the next life by how we lived in this one. Instead, we are taught that today is the only thing that matters, and that satisfying the sovereign Self is the greatest good.
We are losing — and having taken from us — the ideal that all men are created in the image of God, and that means schemes to divide us along racial lines are dehumanizing.
There is no question that we are losing Christianity in the West. Europe is virtually a museum of the faith, and we in the US are headed in the same direction. (It is quite frustrating to me that so many of my fellow conservative Christians have long poured their passions into politics, even as the faith itself crumbles within the churches.) But we are not going to get the paradise that seculars expect. As the historian Tom Holland documents so vividly in his great book Dominion, most of the things that secular liberals love about Western civilization are products of Christianity.
What Cardinal Müller means, I think, is that all the major power-holders in the United States are equally committed to creating a world in which all are “liberated” from the chains of tradition, of religion, of biology, of history, of national feeling, and are turned into a herd of consuming individuals eager to be controlled by elites. They want Brave New World. The “subtle brutality” of which the German cardinal speaks is what I mean by “soft totalitarianism.” They aren’t going to smash the windows of your shop or burn it down, as the Nazis did. They are just going to make it impossible for Christian dissenters to do business.
Here’s a pertinent example. Catholic World Report, which published the Müller interview, has been suspended from Twitter since January 23, for posting a link to a news brief on Rachel Levine, the transgender Biden nominee to a position in the federal health department. From a story CWR just posted on the situation, the tweet that got CWR in trouble:
You cannot say that Rachel Levine is biologically male on Twitter, without being suspended on grounds of “hate”. CWR can have it’s Twitter account back if it deletes the tweet above. CWR reports:
It seems evident that Twitter’s focus is the descriptive of Levine as “a biological man identifying as a transgender woman…”
Since Levine is “transgendered”, it’s curious why Twitter would think it harmful or hateful to note what Levine is “trans-gendering” from or to.
Twitter is clearly indicating that unless CWR and other outlets jump through arbitrary and constantly-changing rhetorical and ideological hoops, they cannot use Twitter. Just as bad, Twitter is implicitly making CWR admit to hateful or bigoted language, even though such was never the case. Not only is such an approach subjective in nature, it is an overtly biased, unfair, and discriminatory approach that both stifles free speech and undermines CWR’s right to report on current events.
“Subtly brutal”: you have to live by lies if you want to participate on Twitter. Imagine a magazine, especially one with an online presence, trying to do so without being able to promote your work on Twitter. Maybe Facebook will do the same thing. CWR called Levine what Levine is: a biological male who identifies as a transgender woman. That neutral description is called “hate” by Twitter. Soon it will be impossible to say what is factually true without losing the ability to participate in the online marketplace. Because people will need to feed their families, they will live by lies. Soon enough, people will forget what it was to be a man, or a woman.
This is a small thing, maybe, but it’s what Cardinal Müller was talking about. So Christians in the near future — and even now — are going to be asking ourselves what kind of social order, and country, are we expected to defend? This is why I wrote Live Not By Lies — and why I hope you will read it, and not just read it, but do something about what’s happening.