Bp. Conley on “atheocracy” and growing hostility to religion

From CNA:

Dallas, Texas, Nov 8, 2011 / 06:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Increasing hostility to religion and growing restrictions on religious expression are “the biggest challenge the pro-life movement faces,” Bishop James D. Conley told a benefit for a Dallas pro-life group.

“If we think it’s been hard over these past four decades, I think the biggest challenges we face lie ahead of us,” the apostolic administrator of the Denver archdiocese said Nov. 5.

“America today is becoming what I would call an atheocracy — a society that is actively hostile to religious faith and religious believers. And I might add — the faith that our society is most hostile toward is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular.”

The bishop’s comments came in his address to the annual benefit dinner for St. Joseph’s Helpers and the White Rose Women’s Center in Dallas, Texas.

Secularism, Bishop Conley said, is not simple neutrality towards religious beliefs. American elites are not neutral towards religion, but are “deliberately engaged in a process that aims to remove all traces of religious faith from our public life!

This creates “publicly enforced religious indifferentism” in which Americans participating in civic life must first agree to think and act as if they have no religious convictions or motivations at all.

This “atheocracy” has no ultimate truths or inviolable ethical principles for its guidance.

“Hence, it has no foundation upon which to establish justice, secure true freedom, or to constrain tyrants,” Bishop Conley said, citing John Paul II’s warning that a democracy without values easily turns into “open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

“God, not government, is the only sure guarantee of human rights and the blessings of our liberty. We need to live as if we believe that,” the bishop said. “Only a people who believes these truths to be sacred and self-evident can build a society worthy of men and women created by God.”

[...]

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13 Responses to Bp. Conley on “atheocracy” and growing hostility to religion

  1. nanetteclaret says:

    “…we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams, 11 Oct. 1798

  2. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    “America today is becoming what I would call an atheocracy — a society that is actively hostile to religious faith and religious believers.”

    I think he forgot the Muslims.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    “If in any State the Church retains her own agreement publicly entered into by the two powers, men forthwith begin to cry out that matters affecting the Church must be separated from those of the State. Their object in uttering this cry is to be able to violate unpunished their plighted faith, and in all things to have unchecked control. And as the Church, unable to abandon her chief and most sacred duties, cannot patiently put up with this, and asks that the pledge given to her be fully and scrupulously acted up to, contentions frequently arise between the ecclesiastical and the civil power, of which the issue commonly is that the weaker power yields to the one which is stronger in human resources. Accordingly, it has become the practice and determination under this condition of public policy (now so much admired by many) either to forbid the action of the Church altogether, or to keep her in check and bondage to the State. Public enactments are in great measure framed with this design. The drawing up of laws, the administration of State affairs, the godless education of youth, the spoliation and suppression of religious orders, the overthrow of the temporal power of the Roman Pontiff, all alike aim to this one end – to paralyse the action of Christian institutions, to cramp to the utmost the freedom of the Catholic Church, and to curtail her every single prerogative.” [Leo XIII: Encyclical: Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885 (PE 93; 27-29)]

    We were warned of this a Long Time Ago.

  4. Joseph-Mary says:

    Bishop Conley is a wonderful, holy, honest, and strong bishop. He is holding the reigns nicely in Denver while we await a new archbishop. He will be a great archbishop for some diocese within the next few years.

  5. frjim4321 says:

    Hmmm, I think he is missing a major theme in American politics and that is role of fundamentalism in all denominations. Case in point, religion is a major theme among the candidates for the republic party. It’s been argued by some that what we are heading for is indeed not an “atheocracy” but rather a theocracy not too different from that practiced in some of the Islamic countries. For example, look at some states where religious zealots are controlling high school science curriculums and forcing creationism to be taught as a science.

    It’s overly simplistic to say that American society is becoming “atheocentric” without taking into consideration powerful religious forces that are influencing American politics.

  6. Dennis says:

    This may seem obvious to some, but I had not had reason to think about it until recently. This post leads to the point that atheists wrongly claim that removing religious references from the public sphere does not force their views on others (hence, it would not be an actual atheocracy). The error in this reasoning is that they view religion as a private matter only, while we believe it is a public matter as well. So when atheists try to reduce religion to a private matter by saying it has no place outside of one’s home or church, they are trying to force what they believe on us.

  7. chcrix says:

    Fortiter Pugnem:

    The Moslems are nothing to the modern secular state. They serve merely a tool to attack public expressions of a certain kind of religion. Remember the lawsuit filed against the Catholic university in behalf of them for which they were neither consulted nor actually actually listed as plaintiffs.

    FrJim:

    “…religion is a major theme among the candidates for the republic party. It’s been argued by some that what we are heading for is indeed not an “atheocracy” but rather a theocracy not too different from that practiced in some of the Islamic countries. ”

    To a degree, but with this difference: In this country the aim is to place the state above all scrutiny by subordinating religion to it. In essence denying religion the ability to dissent from state edicts. In the islamic republics the aim is to abolish the distinction between the state and religion, denying the state the ability to allow dissent from a particular religion.

  8. Gabriel Austin says:

    We were warned about this for far more than a century ago. Our Lord Himself told us that we would be persecuted for our beliefs in Him. The world has always been “atheocratic”: viciously so. The presidents who have smiled benignly on Catholicism have done so for votes. And now there are those who smile benignly on criticism of the Church – also for votes.

  9. Michael Floyd says:

    I agree with Bishop Conley. What is happening now is an assault not only on Church influence but also on right reason. By that I mean specifically the gradual wain of the influence of Natural Law as a fundamental ideology in Western culture. Democracy without Natural Law is simply mob rule, and we are seeing the budding of mob rule all around us (99% vs the 1%, as an example). “Fairness”, however vague and arbitrary, is immerging as the new standard of societal good. Unfortunately ill-defined or misguided “fairness” is exactly the kind of term that lends itself to a mob rule mentality.
    On the other hand, Natural Law is based in, as the American Constitution points out, “self evident” truthes. Self evident truth is by nature divinely illuminated. That is, we know self evident truth without recourse to any outside influence or evidence. We know it, and we know the truth of it, because we have access through our nature as divinely created beings to knowledge of justice. Justice is a characteristic not of man but of God and knowledge of justice comes from the spark of divinity which lives in each of us. When God handed Moses the Ten Commandments He wasn’t teaching a new law to humanity, but was pointing out that which is indellibly inscribed on the stony hearts of each one of us. The Law that lives within us can’t be learned but it can be obscured by sin.
    We know the Law, but too often we reject it. Tragically, the current trend to “fairness” is a usurpation of the Natural Law, and is leading a niave generation down the familiar path towards totalitarianism.
    I believe that there is a rather dark period for us looming on the horizon. We as Catholics must, and will, shine all the brighter for it, for where sin increases grace abounds.

  10. Johnno says:

    frjim4321 -

    There’s nothing wrong with teaching Creationism. Evolutionism is also a disguised religious belief system with no rational or scientific evidence freely being indoctrinated in schools as a secular and godless fact, which it isn’t. If we’re teaching one religious belief system in the science classroom, we ought to allow a Christian one as well. Belief in Evolution has undermined the Bible, undermined the Passion of Christ, made the existence of death and suffering an act of God and not sin, and goes against several dogmas of the Catholic faith, stated in the Bible or defined infalliably by Popes and Vatican I. Evolution has placed nature over nurture and argues that natural inclinations of the body supercede spiritual morality, and where Christianity and current religions are also evolutionary processes that will disappear when a new spiritual system replaces it. We’ve been indoctrinating our children and society with it for years and then wonder why people lose their fith and place more creedence on atheist and naturalist scientific worldviews and secular values. It’s time to wake up and see the lie that ethe evolutionary worldview is! This is one area the Protestants have been doing a far better job of than the Catholics!

    Anyway America is not headed for any sort of theocracy, unless that theocracy be that of secular humanism, an inevitable logical of Protestantism itself. One that will justify all kinds of immorality and claim it is consistent with following Christ and God (And it won’t consider Christ God, just another guy with nice cherry picked things to say).

    The role Islam will play will be one of two things:

    1) Used as a stepping stone for secularists to undermine Christianity and Truth for the sake of tolerance and diversity. Then once Islam serves its purpose to the secular humanists they’ll turn against it as well. Then the Church will be persecuted from two fronts, Secular Humanists and atheists and Communists in the West and far East and that of Islam in the Central Middle East and several parts of Asia.

    2) Secular Humanism will in undoing Christianity, unwittingly destroy the one means they have of fighting radical Islam. Their dream of seeing a secular humanist and atheistic utopia will be dashed when instead, more people abandoing Christianity or growing up in a world hostile to it will have to replace that void in their worldview with something. Secularism and atheism isn’t rational enough and offers nothing concrete or fundamental. A strong vocal evangelism of Islam will fill that void, and the ranks of Islam will grow and overtake secularism and atheism, and replace it with the Islamic State and Shariah. Just as it was in the days of Israel, when the people abandoned God, they were handed over to an enemy who’ll destroy them, and they will finally learn the folly of what they’ve done once they threw out Christianity. The supposed ‘tyranny’ they thought they sufffered under Christianity (and all those nice feeble Christians they could walk over) will become real and worse under the sword and brutal intolerence of Islam! It’ll be a bitter irony they deserve!

  11. moon1234 says:

    “It’ll be a bitter irony they deserve!”

    I think a fair number of US would be dragged along with them. Remember that we are REQUIRED to speak out against this stuff or we will suffer the same fate.

    In any event Athiesm IS a religion. The quote from John Adams said it best. I would LOVE to use that quote against a raging liberal in a public setting. All they would be able to do is pipe back that we have different views today. Which is their whole point.

    The ideals of the constitution put us squarely under our creator, yet most politicians today deny this very fact. Civilization as a whole is becoming unwrapped and the pace is acclerating. War, genocide (abortion), greed, averice, lust, etc. It is all acclerating.

    We are quickly being pushed into a war with Iran, with Islam itself. What then? I worry a lot about the world my children are growing up in. The amorality is frightening.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Johnno,

    Catholics actually cannot believe in strict Creationism and never have taught that God created the world in exactly six days. We have believed in the “eons” idea put forward by St. Augustine. As Catholics, we are allowed to believe in a type of evolution which is controlled by God and not random. The only stricture is that we must believe that all humans come from one man and one woman-in other words, we cannot believe in “group evolution”. You can check out the last five Popes on this. I highly suggest the following encyclical to help understand how the Church approaches modern philosophical and other ideas: plus something from the Catechism on evolution. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html
    and from the Catechism—-
    159. Faith and science: “… methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (Vatican II GS 36:1) 283. The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers…. 284. The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering the meaning of such an origin….

  13. Johnno says:

    Supertradmum -

    I was once an ardent defender of evolution, and as I understand it, the Church has made no dogmatic statements about it, but has allowed free inquiry by Catholics into it. I’ve no doubt that the past few Popes did believe in it to an extent as well as our current pontiff. But in all humility I must say they are entirely wrong and their acceptance of it is much like the acceptance of heliocentrism by Popes and the Church back in the day (Actually it’s worse because the heliocentric system for a good while back then actually had strong rational arguments in its favor, which macro-evolution didn’t and still doesn’t). The Scientific consensus sided with it and they were raised within the scientific environment inherited from the Greeks understanding. I will even humbly disagree with Augustine on his view, which isn’t dogmatic, and besides which Augustine made those arguments to address an audience under a completely different context and reason than what we have an issue with here.

    Furthermore Catholics are not denied to believe in strict Creationism. This is false. Catholics are free to investigate evolutionary ideas under some restrictions, and free to reject it entirely in accordance with the entire main Church Tradition of the ages along with the clear words of inerrant Scripture. To say so would undo all the early statements made by many of the Church Fathers, and the entire Jewish tradition, and be clearly contradicting Exodus and other passages of the Old and New testament and the direct words of Christ Himself that all specify that in 6 Days God created the world and that is why we have the Sabbath, and that is why we observe it, also that man and woman were made at the beginning of creation and this is what marriage and sex was intended to be, as well as contradicting the clear Apostolic teachings and Traditions from the Jews to the Church that death and suffering are intruders and enemies and a curse upon God’s original creation due to man’s rebellion and sin. According to the current evolutionary driven scientific consensus, death and suffering were the very means God used (if God exists) to create our universe, and are therefore of God’s own design for millions of years, which further makes a mockery of Christ’s Passion, as if God sent His Son to die for us to save us from death and suffering that God Himself is responsible for. As well it denies Vatican I’s own dogmatic teachings that neither corporal nor spiritual beings have come about by evolution. The Angelic beings did not go through a process of evolution to eventually become what they are, hence neither did man. The current scientific consensus of evolution, whether of the cosmos or biological, is contradictory to the faith on many levels.

    The Cathecism makes many vague statements that could be taken either way, but it is correct in saying, “methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith.” And here we have the crux of the matter. The current evolutionary paradigm is not a result of good unbiased methodical research, nor is it carried out in any truly scientific manner. To conduct scientific research into this very field is impossible by nature. Evolutionists claim these things have been happening on a macro level for billions and millions of years. But they have never witnessed it, we have no observable evidence or records from the past, we have no time machine to go back and observe it, we cannot observe it today, and the idea that we will observe it a million years from now which is what it requires of us is a statement not of fact, but of a religious faith that it will turn out to be true. They don’t have any idea how life evolves in the first place. How do organisms and DNA gain more information to become more complex. Reproduction only preserves the current code already inherent in DNA. Mutations do not add more information, mutations are a result of losing DNA information through corruption. So how do things become more complex? The only evolution we do observe is change on the horizontal level, or if it’s vertical then it is downward towards less complexity. They’ve postulated all sorts of ideas but they have what amounts to a good amount of nothing. Even the idea that the universe or Earth is millions or billions of years old is based on assumptions that are interpreted to fit a biased worldview. Even if the world and universe does have the appearence of looking mature in age, it does not undo the creative abilities of God. Great wine takes years to age… yet in Cana our Lord made some in seconds. God can do anything. He could have also arguably used an evolutionary process too, but ultimately God Himself revealed to us that He did not and told us what He did do. This is clear in Scripture and in the logical implications of the nature of sin in relation to death and God’s plan for salvation.

    There is no good reason to believe in Evolution from any scientific standpoint. It is just another consensus driven paradigm that the secular world promotes and holds on to because it provides a basis to doubt in Christianity, to doubt the Church, and to justify immorality and ignore all those troublesome topics of sin and judgment and also as a grounds to hate and reject a god who would create a suffering world like this where children die, people starve, diseases are prevalent and nature is brutal and red in tooth and claw. It’s observations like this that led Charles Darwin and other athiests to justify their unbelief/rebellion.

    There is plenty of scientific evidence that supports a young universe and 6 Day Creation worldview. However, this has long been censured and belittled by the scientific establishment in the same way pro-homosexual groups and pro-abrotion groups would like to silence all opposition claims by clinging to some notion of Church/State separtion that they incorrectly interpret anyway. Science has been hijacked to support an anti-Christian worldview, and is then conveyed as indisputable fact through the media, movies, and majority of science fiction. There is no reason to continue compromising our Faith with a naturalistic ideology which is the contrast opposite. Likewise we cannot use science to prove a 6 Day creation (we also cannot travel back in time or experimentally recreate the conditions and methods that God used to create), but we can disprove all current evolution ideas and show that actual scientific data is consistent with belief in 6 Day Creation and consistent Christian theology and tradition.

    But if you believe that disproving macro-evolution is going to change an athiest’s mind, it is unlikely. Ultimately they do not believe in God, not based on any scientific merits, but ultimately because they do not personally want to. Those high within the establishment know about the pathetic substance that compromises the evolutionary story of origins are well aware of how poor it is. This doesn’t stop them. For them it is a dogmatic belief. Even if they don’t posess any answers or evidence they will continue to irrationally believe in it and explain away or around evidence to the bitter end. They are more religious and blindly faithful to something so intangible than the very folks they accuse and criticize for irrationally believing in God, and they are completely oblivious to it… God wastes no time with them, Scripture merely describes them in a footnote “The fool has said in his heart, there is no god above…”

    In the end current Science has proved the Bible and the teachings of the Church to be in the right, and atheistic naturalism wrong. But for them the consensus majority of what the scientific establishment would rather believe is all that matters. To quote Richard Lewotin, Genetisist and Marxist about how science is really being conducted:

    “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”