Seldom recognized, but it is true nevertheless that theological illiteracy leads to constitutional illiteracy. If Americans who care about the welfare of this nation can understand this basic law of politics they will not be tempted to put all of their eggs in one basket; namely the basket or box of the ballot. No doubt, the election on November 6th is of monumental importance. But there is little discussion about the reason why this is so.
Even if the outcome of the U.S. presidential election of 2012 is what practicing Christians hope for, by no means can they assume that the threat of all-powerful State is behind us. Politics is but the effect of three fundamental institutions: marriage-family, religion and education. Unfortunately, our State-run education system has driven a wedge between religion and other institutions, including education itself. In fact, it has successfully privatized and isolated Christianity to the point of irrelevance. As such, this perceived irrelevance has carried over into politics and has led to all sorts of problems for society and the Catholic Church.
Not only members of the media, but the Catholic clergy too must come to terms with the following question: When the principles of Christianity are no longer being taught to 90 percent of our children five days a week, nine months out of the year, can we really expect that they will put their confidence in the Church, the institution of marriage-family or even in free enterprise? As for the family, it is where virtue and self-governance is best fostered. And it is within the environment of self-discipline where freedom best flourishes. But the family cannot do these things alone. In fact, it is the Christian religion that is at the service of the family for this very reason. Indeed, this service consists of sanctifying souls, that is, infusing a moral power for the will and providing truth for the mind so that blue print for right living can be properly executed.
However, we are at a point in our nation’s history when the institutions of government and education are growing ever more unfriendly to the family and religion. Still, all four institutions are the four pillars that prop-up every nation. Even if one pillar should crumble, it will undoubtedly take the rest down with it. And our secular and irreligious public education system is doing just that. Consequently, for the last several years Christians- and all who esteem the founding principles of America -have been anxiously biting their nails with every presidential election.
In the fall of 1911, three years before World War I, Harper’s Weekly carried this forcible statement about what is now taking place before our eyes:
“The greatest cure-all for all the difficulties and troubles that lie ahead in this country, and all other countries, is the improvement mentally, spiritually, morally of the people of the country. The powers that must be used to secure that improvement are education and religion. Education gets ample attention, but without the strong reinforcement of religion, it will not bring our country and our civilization safely through the perils ahead of it. It is mainly to religion we must look to make men friends of peace, respecters of justice, upholders of righteousness. If there be nothing in our life but grab and get, no joys but the joys of the senses, no happiness but what is based on material superfluities, we shall not last long nor go far.”
In 1940, Bishop John F. Knoll of Fort Wayne, Indiana, reiterated the same caution Harper’s Weekly issued some thirty years before. He said, “We repeat that the ‘religion in education’ question must be solved if a better social order is to prevail in the future.” Unfortunately, it was solved in 1962 and 1963 by the U.S. Supreme Court; but not for the good. Without a lot of fuss from Christians, religion was banished and subsequently purged from the public education system. As a result, what we have today are weaker families and a weaker Church. A big contributing factor to this weakening effect is a highly secularized and universal education system that has proven to be unfriendly to Christianity. Inevitably, this translates into a government that is cold to religious liberty. Even worse, it has led to religious indifference among the people.
Education, government, the family and religion are pillars that stand and fall together. Rarely in history has the family and the Church escaped the repercussions of a godless educational and political system. It is, therefore, in the Church’s best interests to do away with a secularized government by first ridding our nation of a secularized education system. In its place, we should begin to expand an education system that is private and inspired by Christian principles. If we fail in this endeavor, the growing epidemic of constitutional illiteracy among the youth of America will engender a sizable voting bloc indifferent to constitutional principles. Such indifference can only lead to tyranny.
Keep in mind that during the first hundred years of America’s existence, Christian instruction was inextricably bound-up with public education. It was the foundation upon which religious liberty and national prosperity was guaranteed. Indeed, biblical and theological literacy occasioned a better understanding of those principles that undergird the U.S. Constitution.
The point is this: Before we can save liberty and prosperity in our day we have to first know what leads to liberty and prosperity. Then we can talk about America's restoration beyond November 6th . As Pope Leo XIII once said, "When a society is perishing, the wholesome advice to give to those who would restore it is to have them return to the principles from which society sprang...Hence, to fall away from its primal constitution implies disease; to go back to it, recovery."