The End of Entitlement
COMMENTARY: With the campaign to push people of faith to the margins heating up, it’s time to get real.
Massgoing Catholics are a threat to national security.
Or so the FBI thinks.
No, I am not describing the premise of a wacky new sitcom. I wish I was. The recently leaked FBI memo targeting traditionalist Catholics reminded me about a friend who was raised in an Eastern bloc country. When he was growing up, Communist Party officials would lurk outside his church noting those who were attending. He and his family knew going to Mass made them targets of government persecution.
Last time I checked, we don’t live in an Eastern bloc country. When did going to Mass in the “land of the free” become an issue of national security? Or the rosary become a “militaristic” symbol associated with AR-15-toting violent extremists? It seems like just yesterday the federal government lauded the work of faith-based organizations and launched bipartisan initiatives to support them.
Times have changed. And it’s time people of faith understood this.
I met a friend for lunch recently, and we discussed the many cases of government overreach into religion. Whether it be health care mandates and taxpayer-funded abortion or the ongoing campaigns to force faith-based groups to accept radical gender ideologies, the government is on the move. Extremely frustrated about this state of affairs, my friend admitted, “I felt entitled to certain protections because I was a Christian.”
In our “entitlement” culture, people feel they should be treated differently for any number of reasons. My friend thought he should be treated differently because he was a person of faith. And why shouldn’t he? Our country was founded on Christian principles. Our Constitution enshrines our God-given freedoms, including our freedom of religion. It is — or at least, once was — part of our national DNA. What we are witnessing is a cultural revolution, a sort of national genetic engineering that seeks to abolish our freedoms.
As people of faith, we are now condemned as bigoted, intolerant, hateful, divisive, homophobic, transphobic, extremist, radical, and dangerous. The government, academia, and influential media and tech corporations are actively trying to push us to the margins. Through legal coercion, intimidation, and bullying, they aim to force us into silence and submission.
Our time of entitlement is over.
Christians once felt entitled to speak freely without adverse consequences. No longer. Many people of faith feel like they are being pushed underground. In fact, anyone who professes traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs on morality, marriage, the sacredness of the human person, gender, and sexuality are marginalized, persecuted, and “canceled.”
This should not surprise us. In fact, we need to expect more of the same. Jesus promised us this would happen. In the Gospel of John, he said:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (John 15:19).
How should we respond to the world’s hatred? Courage and joy. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33), and in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
As we resist this anti-Catholic, anti-religion revolution advancing around us, we need not be afraid. The truth is that persecution has been part of our story from the beginning. Many of our brothers and sisters who walked this road before us met the same challenges. We call them saints and martyrs. They remind us that, yes, the road is difficult, and the fight is hard, but it leads to eternal life, and we never walk alone. Let us be strong, courageous, and faithful, rejoicing in the Lord’s love, goodness, and victory over this passing world.
Franciscan Father Dave Pivonka is the president of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Franciscan and EWTN News are co-sponsors of the conference “Journalism in a Post-Truth World,” March 10-11 in Washington, D.C.
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