Overcoming the darkness

1 Nov

NOVEMBER 1, 2013 — For most people, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to allow Catholic priests contracted by the government to voluntarily minister to our troops, including Sunday Mass during a partial government shutdown.

Military+Chaplains+Travel+Afghan+Battlefield+qSydjrkwiXPlBut that wasn’t the case last month. One priest — Fr. Ray Leonard, a contractor at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia — sued the federal government for access to his base. He did not withdraw the lawsuit after the government ended the shutdown in mid-October.

Contrary to what the mainstream media were saying, 83% of the federal government was still funded and operating during the so-called shutdown. And for two Sundays in early October, President Obama’s Department of Defense prohibited 50 Catholic priests from saying Mass and administering other sacraments at U.S. military facilities across the country. While Catholic priests were barred from military bases — even to voluntarily administer the sacraments — Protestant ministers were unaffected by the shutdown. The government has not explained the discrimination.

rtxlxh4By singling out Catholics, military leadership tipped its hand to a deeper vein of contempt for Christians in the U.S. armed services. Christian men and women in uniform are being told to park their beliefs at the door or face the consequences of a military that is rapidly being secularized. But our First Amendment freedoms do not end when we enter the classroom, the courtroom, our business place — nor should they end when we enlist to serve our country in the military.

Christian civilians and all citizens of good will need to take notice of how men and women of faith are being weeded out of leadership positions. They’re either being demoted or forced to retire, while secularists and those with a socialist bent are advancing. There’s a lot at stake here. In his farewell address, George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” John Adams made it clear that “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

If Americans want the Republic to continue as we’ve known it — one nation under God — we have very little time to reverse course. We can only expect to maintain our rights and freedoms if we exercise them. We must always remember that knowing and living our faith publicly is the first step. As St. John wrote, we’re called to be “the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness [will] not overcome it.”

 PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of this blog and the editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine. This article appeared in the November issue of Legatus. It is reprinted with permission.

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