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This is my faith; this I know, and no one shall wrest it from me

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 38 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], pp. 224-25)

j0255559Would you — could you — defend your faith?

With the increase in anti-Christian news stories and commentary in the West, initially European, but increasingly American and Australian, we have to decide how we will defend our faith.  A Jewish comedian, Jackie Mason, asks if it is now a crime to be a Christian.  You can see his very short stand-up routine here (place your cursor over the screen without clicking until you get to the August 20, 2009 video, then click to view). 

One of Churchmouse Campanologist‘s regular readers, Cinzia, wrote the Australian daily newspaper, The Age, to comment on the columns of a lapsed Catholic, Catherine Deveny, who enjoys attacking the Church.  Her robust letter to the editor reads as follows (in part):

Dear Sirs

I am appalled by Catherine Deveny’s anti-Catholic article published in the Age on 12 August 2009 (Title: Pew, that was a lucky escape) and by your role in spreading this anti-Catholic commentary.

I am also very disappointed that you ignored the fact that her vile and spiteful words would certainly offend Catholics all over Australia, and I am sure that faithful of the other Christian communities have also been deeply offended.  Christians, who are taught to turn the other cheek, are an easy target, and mocking them and their deeply held convictions is a cowardly act, plain and simple.

I notice you have terms and conditions that apply to all readers who wish to have ‘their say’ and post comments on blogs – the rules essentially say:   Comments that are offensive, defamatory, unsuitable or that breach other aspects of the terms will be deleted.

Rules of this kind apply universally and under all circumstances by decent people.  Even when there are no written rules, human beings with any intelligence and decency  follow a golden ‘unwritten’ law in terms of how to respect and consider other people and their beliefs.  

How is it then that Catherine Deveny alone is considered to be ‘above’ these rules and is allowed to publish such offensive material on a regular basis?  I have seen other articles by her.  She seems to take every opportunity to vilify the Catholic Church (see for another example her article dated 28 May 2008 titled ‘Easter? Oh wake me when it’s over.’) And how is it that The Age doesn’t adhere to its own rules by way of example?

Sure enough, we’re all sinners, some more, some less, and weak as all human beings. 

… By what she writes, Ms Deveny displays absolute ignorance on matters of faith, religion and the Catholic Church.  An example of this is her “repeat like a parrot”  talk of pedophile priests which in reality constitute a very small MINORITY among the Catholic priesthood.   She chooses to ignore the REAL facts – one of them being, for example,  that thousands of Catholic priests the world over live a highly moral  life dedicated to helping others, materially and spiritually.

While I do not dispute that Ms Deveny has an absolute right to express her opinions, what good can really be achieved with such offensive language and hurtful words?

… The Catholic religion will continue to foster faith, forgiveness, respect and goodness throughout our world – and maybe that’s a lesson Ms. Deveny can learn from, as a start.

Cinzia also sent a copy to the Archbishop Hart of the Archdiocese of Melbourne with a cover letter, which began:

Dear Archbishop Hart

Here below, for your information, is copy of a letter I sent to The Age in response to the journalist Catherine Deveny’s appalling article which appeared under the ‘Opinions’ section on 12 August.

My question to you is this:  Does the Archdiocese ever respond to such articles?  or do they just get ignored?  Surely as Catholics and followers of Christ, we should have the courage to stand up against such vilification and stand up to our faith?  What do you, as leader of the Catholic Church in Melbourne, do about these kinds of things?  This particular columnist no doubt has a deeply rooted hatred for the Catholic Church …

Unfortunately, the Archbishop doesn’t seem to respond to newspaper editorials or letters from concerned Catholics.  But, that doesn’t matter — the fight must go on, with or without clergy or their representatives who, rightly, should be taking the floor and aren’t, for whatever reason

Speaking of which, in March I attended a Lenten talk given by our area’s Member for Parliament (MP) on being Christian in an increasingly secular world.  He’s a nice guy and gave a good talk, but when we asked him what could be done with regard to all the anti-Christian rhetoric we heard on the news and read in the papers, he said to write in to those organisations.  Was our MP going to help us?  ‘Well, no, I won’t be able to do that.  That’s your job as Christians.’   Maybe he figures if he speaks up for Christians, he will need to do the same for every other faith; he didn’t say.  People then said that they had written in to the BBC and newspapers, but to no avail.  His response was, ‘If enough of you write in, your message will get through.’  We’ll see.  There were clergy present, but, as in Cinzia’s case, they weren’t as upset as we were.  Still, we’re not deterred — we’ll keep hammering away in a polite, persuasive manner.

In the US Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck had the courage to read a Bible passage on stage at the Washington, DC Tea Party.  A first-person account from a woman who was scheduled to speak at a local  Tea Party on September 12, recounted her experience and inspiration from Beck.  Victoria Jackson wrote the following for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood:

Liz:  …  Did you see Glenn Beck today?

Me:  The protest sign in the Washington D.C. crowd that said Ephesians 6:12? *

Liz:  Yeah!

Me:  I looked it up!  And, right while I was reading it, Glenn Beck said, kind of apologizing, ‘I don’t usually do this…ya know, read the Bible on the air…but…’

Liz:  I know!  He read it! 

Me:  He read the Bible on the air! 

Me:  I wish I had a Bible.  I should read that Psalm 12 thing in my speech.

Liz:  I think I have a Bible in the car…(she looks around and finds one in the glove compartment!)

She has one! 

… We get to the Federal Building.  It is a beautiful California day.  Lots of American flags are flapping against the blue sky… I have Liz’s Bible stuck in the waistband of my jeans because my hands are holding two protest signs.

I start thinking about whether or not to read the Bible in my speech.  Why am I afraid to? 

This is not a Liberal crowd.  Liberals would not approve of Bibles being read in public.  They took them out of the schools and are trying to get “In God We Trust” and “One Nation Under God” taken off of our money, and out of the Pledge of Allegiance…  

All decisions and most political issues all come down to whether you are FOR GOD or AGAINST GOD. 

The reason Liberals-Communists-Atheists don’t like Bibles is because they do not want the competition.  ‘No man can serve two masters…’  Matthew 6:24.  You cannot worship God and the State.  You must choose one. 

As I stood in front of the sea of faces, flags, and signs, I opened my mouth and let my heart speak.  I saw myself digging the Bible out of my waistband and holding it up in the air.  I heard my mouth saying, ‘I always took my freedom for granted.  My freedom to worship.  This is the next thing Obama is going to try to take away from us.  Newly appointed Cass Sunstein’s agenda is to stop conservative/Christian talk radio and TV and Internet …’ 

At the end of my speech I said, ‘Psalm 12 says…’  Right then, I was given the ‘Wrap It Up’ sign.  I paused for a second. I mumbled something about hoping in God and not a man.  Then, I left the podium. 

I did not read it out loud.  I don’t know why.

Well, let’s assume Victoria was a woman properly brought up and when time was called, she stopped speaking.  She, too, tried.  Rest assured, there will be future occasions for all of us in the West to defend our faith.  And let us pray that it continues to remain a struggle fought with words and ideas alone.  In the meantime, let us pray for the thousands of persecuted Christians around the world whose churches, work and lives are taken away each day.

* For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places

Ephesians 6:12 (King James Version) 

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