The early Christian martyrs were charged with a rather unusual crime: “atheism.” They were called such by the civil magistrates, and and many of the pagan Roman citizens, since they refused to worship the official gods of the Roman Empire. Further, in calling Jesus “Lord” they were directly indicating that they were at odds with the official declaration of the Senatus populusque Romanus (the Senate and the Roman People), that Caesar was “lord.” Their use of the word Evangelium to reference their sacred writings was considered a usurping of a word associated with divine emperor, who alone could utter an Evangelion, a word that was good news of great joy that will be for all the people (cf Lk 2:10).
Yes, the opinion of many at the time was that these Christians were trouble makers who upset the civil balance. They were considered impious and unpatriotic in failing to worship, and thus placate, the gods. Their “atheism” could bring forth bad things for the civil order. They were therefore unjust in their failure to recognize the political, social and sacred order. The Emperor too, was seen as a mere man. This might undermine the authority and respect he both had and was due.
Hence to withstand the Christians, and to attempt to force them to comply with the “just” demands of the law, was seen as a virtuous and praise worthy stance by many in the Roman world. Whatever penalties, might be necessary to compel Christian observance of these “just” norms was seen by many as necessary and good. Further, ridicule, persecution and even death were seen as something these unjust and unpatriotic people deserved. The sporadic persecutions that broke out against the Christians flowed essentially from this mentality.
Today, many of the same ingredients are setting up against Catholics, and other Bible-believing Christians, who have not simply caved and accepted all the increasing demands of a secular culture. And this secular culture has developed a kind of religious fervor around its central dogmas of abortion on demand, the Gay (LGBTQ) agenda, Gay “marriage,” Gay adoption, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, separation of Church and State, and the removal of all religious influence from the public schools, and public squares.
This agenda is presented with a dogmatism far more severe than the religious opponents they accuse of being inflexible dogmatic. The PC police will immediately swoop in any even mild transgressions of the secularist sensitivity code. Even an unintentional lapse of the tongue must be punished with immediate resignation or forceable removal, no matter how sincere the apology, or how significant the context of the remarks.
And those Christians and others who fail to adopt this new secularist and sexually revolutionary social order are called: hateful, bigoted, harsh, intolerant, reactionary, homophobic, and just plain mean. Many of these extreme secularists consider themselves not only permitted to speak of us in this way, but see themselves as righteous in doing it. Further, any attempts to eject or exclude us from partaking in the public discussion, exercising our right to free speech, and having equal access to public monies or grants to serve the poor, are seen by the extremists, not only as permissible exclusions, but righteous ones.
For in a way we are “atheists” to their new secularist dogma, which many of them hold with religious fervor.
And while many of them accuse us of “imposing our values” on others, it is really they who, now gaining significant power and influence, are imposing their values far more than they imagine. They not only demand tolerance but insist on approval, and dramatic changes in civil law and longstanding cultural norms. And anyone, like the Catholic Church, that will not conform, must be legally compelled in stages to comply through desertification, exclusionary policies, defunding, endless legal challenges, and so forth.
And all the while the extreme secularists call us bigots, refusing to see their own bigotry. They refuse to accept, for even a moment, that our opposition to much of their agenda is rooted in principled, sincere adherence to long standing religious teaching, a teaching that we believe to be given us by God himself. No indeed, not only will they accept our sincerity, but the Scriptures themselves are openly ridiculed and scorned. Never mind that we consider the Scripture to be sacred. That does not stop increasing numbers of supposedly “open minded and tolerant” secularists and others from spoofing, mocking, ridiculing and scorning Scripture. They also misuse it, quoting verses out of context and in ways that give no acknowledgment of long held interpretive principles.
But yet, we are somehow the bigots, somehow, we are the insensitive and intolerant ones who seek to impose our agenda. Well look again oh ye accusers, and heal yourselves. For despite all the talk that the Gay Lobby, and the Secularists have about their status as victims, they look awfully powerful, influential and well ensconced in high places.
I will not tell you there are no bigots in any Catholic or Christian Church. In what may be as many as 1.5 billion Christians on this planet, you just might find a few. But simply refusing to burn incense at the new altars of secularism, does not simply equate with bigotry, and it is time to stop labeling Christian opposition to the radical secular agenda that way. And if their are any true bigots among Christians, shame on them. Any Catholic should read the Catechism at #s 2357-2359 to discover a proper and balanced view.
But it is also time for many of the extreme Secularists, the abortion advocates and extreme members of the Gay lobby to see their own bigotry as well. Who is asking them questions, and having them render an account for their pressure tactics and ridicule of Christians and the Christian faith? They have every right in this Country to differ with us and to take part in the public discussion of moral issues. But the ridicule of the Christian faith and the use of terms such as hateful, intolerant etc., and the use of legal pressure to force compliance bespeaks a bigotry and religious based discrimination and it ought to be confronted for what it is.
What an excellent piece !!
So, as the piece rightly says, the Romans regarded the early Christians exactly as the Catholics later regarded the Moslems, Jews, Incas and Protestants – in fact, everyone except themselves.
“…ridicule, persecution and even death were seen as something these unjust and unpatriotic people deserved. “ Msgr. Pope reminds us.
Toad agrees wholeheartedly with the Msgr.
Bigotry begins at home, and ought to stay there.
We are all bigots, in one fashion or another, probably. Or what would we be doing on CP&S?
Msgr Pope again.. .forgot to take his medication…
Hasnt he twigged? It’s all a left wing plot and conspiracy. With a bit of persecution thrown in.
Is Charles Pope really paranoid? Does not contemporary liberalism infer the plausibility of (ethical) subjectivism? Is not this subjectivism an expression of and a rationale for tolerance? Does not subjectivism seem to complement politically correct maxims of liberal society?
Or, does it make ethical discussion virtually impossible? Removal of ethics from the public arena and rational debate relegates them to the private world of the individual, the closed world of the group and its psychology and, more cynically, the vested interest. In reality, the subjectivist collapses the distinction between obligation and inclination, between judgement and choice, even between what is right and wrong.
We then ennoble acts which degrade the human made in the image of God.
It’s a pity Charles Pope doesn’t suggest what the Church ought to do next.
In regard of bigotry here I just found a quite interesting and (in my opinion) succinctly and oppositely put remark, attributed to William Drummond:
“He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave”
I think it sums it up quite well: people are entitled to have different opinions, they might be wrong but in Christianity the erring conscience is seen as compelling (as long as the person doesn’t see the light of the truth, he is obliged to obey his conscience), I remember the protocols recording the process of Jan Hus in Constance, where, before he was led to the stake, the official who was to carry out the order asked him to think over again, but said also that Hus must act according to his conscience, he couldn’t retract his opinion contrary to his own conviction.
Coming back to the originally topic, a bigot is one who is repeating like a parrot what he learned from the group he adheres to and refuses to provide reasonable arguments for the ideas he repeats mindlessly. The refusal to argue with reason is the main characteristic of a bigot. And I am sure such persons can be found in every group. There are religious bigots but also atheist bigots. Those who see the secular principles of contraception and pro-choice to be absolute values and not debatable and regard whomever against these ideas to be bad and condemnable are certainly bigots, because they refuse to let their opponents to have a chance to speak out and argue for their cause.
But of course there are also religious bigots who smell heresy everywhere. Christians are also human beings and have different characters and are prone to all kinds of human weakness.
As for what the Church should do, like shieldsheafson asked, I think against bigotry there is no medicine. It is a character deficit and I am afraid we have to cope with this kind of person.
I think it is best just to ignore bigots. There is no use talking to them. If the Church wants to argue for her cause, she should just speak out boldly and try, with the help of reason, that is, with the help of philosophy and sciences, to defend her ground. Those who can hear and who are with an open-mind will put down their prejudices and discourse with us Christians. We should not waste our time conversing with bigots. There are too many more interesting things to do.
Well spoken teresa !! 🙂
Toad agrees totally with Teresa and Jabba.
The end of the world is surely nigh. (about time, too.)
The early Christians were, in the end, more powerful than their Roman rulers.
Toad refers to the end of the world.
Well, the US and the Israelis are doing their best to make his thought come true. Each week sees a new provocation – the latest being the murder of an Iranian scientist in Tehran.
If the Iranians did this in Tel Aviv or Washington there would be hell to pay, and jets scrambled.
The Iranian regime is unattractive – but not half as unattractive as the US and Israel.
This coming year may be our last.
If the Iranians did this in Tel Aviv or Washington there would be hell to pay, and jets scrambled.
I think this sort of thing goes on all the time, but that it rarely makes the international news.