So far in the July of 2012 conservatives continue to marvel at President Obama’s high approval rating (47%) amid the lackluster economy. Rush Limbaugh was even complaining today that the mantra- “It’s the economy stupid!” –is simply not enough to challenge the presidency of Barak Obama in November. According to the most listened to talk radio show host, people under the age of 30 have developed an entitlement mentality. Indeed, as long as the State is generous with food stamps and unemployment benefits, people are relatively content with the high unemployment rate. Not enough people care where this country is headed. Other high profile conservatives are echoing the same concerns.
The U.S. Bishops, for their part, are staying on message by sounding sound the alarm about the injustices of the HHS mandate. The words of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, from a sermon given in April, still resound in Catholic media venues: “This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries -- only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down.” Nevertheless, President Obama’s rating stands at 47%. Perhaps thirty years ago a bad economy and intrusive polices which violate religious liberty would have been political suicide, but not today!
I cannot tell you how amazed I am that those who want to see aggressive secularism go away (and leave us alone) are not spending more of their time trying to dismantle State-run education where secularism- aggressive or passive –is being taught. It have proven to be a rival of the Catholic Church's mission in the United States and even a force that undermines the Founding principles of our nation. Yes, parents are the primary educators of their own children but most parents have delegated that responsibility to schools. For this reason, a State monopoly on education has created an entitlement mentality of epidemic proportions; especially among the younger generations.
I said it before, but the younger generations are even more socially and fiscally liberal than those politicians in Washington D.C. today. They have much less sympathy for principles of religion, morality and liberty. With each passing year children are being taught that the solution to their problems resides in politics or in the State itself. Individual self-reliance, the self-governance of a family and the virtues Christianity instills are not only ignored in public schools, but they are routinely challenged.
Leo XIII warned that without proper religious and moral instruction "every form of intellectual culture will be injurious; for young people not accustomed to respect God, will be unable to bear the restraint of a virtuous life, and never having learned to deny themselves anything, they will easily be incited to disturb the public order.” Disturb the public order not just with violence, but with a demand for handouts like Occupy Wall Street and that half-civilized nation of Greece.
Again, we have been warned about this before. The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore also cautioned Americans against a secularized education system: “A one-sided education will develop a one-sided life, and such a life will surely topple over; and so will every social system built up of such lives...” Are we not seeing unfold today?
Once the American public grows accustom to receiving benefits from the State as a matter of policy, political rulers will have few limitations to their power. Writing for the Vanguard Press in 1951, Etienne Gilson, a Catholic philosopher, wrote an article equally prophetic. In the article, “The Breakdown of Morals and Christian Education,” he writes the following:
"To the full extent that it educates, the State educates in view of itself…The only conceivable end of a State-owned education is the State itself. States themselves may not know it. They may sincerely believe that nothing is more foreign to their honest intentions; yet, to put it bluntly, the only reason why a State may not want children to be educated in view of God is that it wants them to be educated in view of itself. Totalitarian education does nothing more than go the whole way along the same line. The result is what we know: political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery." I have used the above quotes before but circumstances require that they be repeated.
Liberty loving Americans can protest! They can also focus exclusively on the ballot box and therefore put all their hopes in the next election. But I tell you, if we do not come to publicly acknowledge that State-run education has lulled half of our citizenry to sleep- or better yet, induced an apathetic slumber -then we can continue to be disappointed with election results and court rulings.