By tomorrow night, final votes for our next president will be cast, and soon thereafter, we’ll know our country’s leader for the next four years. On this eve of the election, however, it seems imperative to note that this has never been about two guys named Donald and Joe.
Rather, it’s about two opposing visions of America, and possibly losing an essential freedom crucial for a flourishing society: the freedom of religion.
Recently, an important element of these two visions previewed on television during, and after, the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
In one, we had Her Honor, a woman of deep faith and intellect, responding with integrity and grace to the scrutiny of senators testing her fitness for the role, often using her faith as a dagger.
In another, we had non-religious “funny” man Bill Maher referring to her as a “nut case,” arguing skeptics would be more effective adjudicators since they aren’t “torn between rational decision-making and what it says in the old Jewish book of fairytales.”
I’m surprised Maher challenged Coney Barrett’s reasoning capabilities, given her adept and rational responses, which seemed to point to, and originate from, an objective, eternal source. I’m skeptical, too – of Maher’s morality. If it comes not from a loving, good God who created and ordered our world, why entrust ourselves to it?
We’re all moral creatures who have at our disposal an eternal guide to help lead us to the common good. Let’s lean on this.
In the 1800s, Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll wrote: “Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time.” In his recent piece, “Voting for a Vision, not a Person,” Michael Warsaw referenced Carroll, who once said those who decry the Christian faith undermine the very foundation of morals, “the best security for the duration of free governments.”
In a recent homily, Fr. Joseph Mary of Eternal World Television Network explained these two visions thus: one whereby religion is seen as leading to our flourishing, and another – like Maher’s apparently – whereby religion is seen as a threat to be squashed.
In the latter, he noted, the government is the authority over religion and conscience; in the former, religion and conscience are the authority over government. Quoting John Adams, he said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Pope John Paul II, he added, once predicted the future would be decided not on battlefields, but in the bosom of the family.
This is what’s at stake most of all in tomorrow’s election: your family and mine, and our right to a free conscience. Religious freedom, if diminished, will be a devastating loss for all – including those who struggle to rationalize a rational God.
With the abandonment of God, so goes hope. I pray that as we move into tomorrow, we will uphold the wisdom of our prime founding father, God, and persevere together in his grace.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Nov. 2, 2020.]