As Christians celebrate Easter, I couldn’t help but regard the burning of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral on the Monday of Holy Week, no less, as an ugly metaphor for the tribulations that Christianity is suffering throughout the European continent and the whole of Western civilization.
We live in a nation where Christianity’s historic and longstanding influence continues to wither on the vine. Much of it is a self-inflicted pruning of grand proportions that continues to be well-documented and very accommodating to prevailing zeitgeist.
How does it affect a nation that is perhaps more divided politically, culturally and racially since the Vietnam War, or as some will argue, since the Civil War? The figures are telling as the number of Americans who claim “no religion” has nearly tripled since 1991, running in a virtual dead-heat with Catholics and Evangelicals.
According to the recent General Social Survey, the “no religion” crowd is 23.1 percent of the population — an astonishing increase of 266% over the last 30 years. Catholics are 23% and Evangelicals 22.5%. Mainline Protestants have declined from nearly two-thirds of the nation back in 1982, to just 10.8% — juxtapose that with New York City that claims 9% of its 8.4 million residents as Muslim.
Many mainline Protestants have forsaken any modicum of orthodoxy they borrowed from Catholicism, while cultivating and then imbibing on the poisoned fruit of the Sexual Revolution that harvested the LGTBQ insurgency, whose vines are helping to strangle what remains of Western Christianity.
These same mainliners made headlines recently by “blessing” a Planned Parenthood abortion mill in Ohio and followed up saying in a press release: “Many faith leaders and people of faith hold that accessing and providing abortions are good and godly decisions.”
If this doesn’t say it, then what does?
Society’s contemporary opinion on Christianity is straightforward: the more private, the better. Such trivializing only breeds contempt and the eventual rejection of institutional faith that is certainly reflected in this most recent of polls.
Catholics may be the largest religious group only because of Hispanic immigration. But research says many of these immigrants — whether legal or illegal — will allow the prevailing secular culture to baptize and confirm them as they drift away from the faith after only one generation.
The tragedy lies in direct correlation with the abandonment of Western civilization’s Christian heritage, while embracing irreligious secularism that has one of its main anchors within the walls of the church itself. When the American church’s leading university — Notre Dame — has a problem with banning pornography on campus, while paying for contraceptives and abortifacients through their healthcare plan, the prevailing culture doesn’t want prisoners, just fatalities.
Many of those who attend weekly Mass are indifferent to abortion, contraception and gay marriage, and they are more than anyone in the rectory, or the episcopate wants to admit. In actuality, they aren’t too far removed from those “cultural” Catholics who are planted everywhere else, but in the pews. The same holds true for many of the quintessential doctrines of the church — in particular — the Real Presence of the Eucharist, where nearly two-thirds don’t believe.
From my experience, the conviction that exists among Evangelicals in their doctrines is much greater than among Catholics, resulting in a more authenticated witness and zeal.
Resulting Election Days confirms this time and again, most especially in last November’s Texas Senate race. Evangelicals overwhelming supported conservative and anti-abortion Sen. Ted Cruz, while the majority of Catholics supported Beto O’Rourke, who is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and an ardent cheerleader of the transgender movement. O’Rourke, who ran a strong enough campaign for senator, believes he actually has a shot at the Democratic nomination for president.
To underscore even further, take the doleful and weak response of the Catholic hierarchy and laity to the infanticide legislation recently introduced in New York and Virginia.
John Adams, a Founding Father and the nation’s second president said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”
If Christianity throughout the United States and the rest of Western civilization is to be the viable and exemplar way of life, it appears that Evangelicals will lead the way given that true, active and measured Catholic witness from the Rio Grande to Rome has — like the rooftop of Notre Dame de Paris — gone up in smoke.