By Michael Warsaw
Michael Warsaw is the Chairman of the Board and
Chief Executive Officer of the EWTN Global Catholic Network.
Taken from the National Catholic Register on October 17, 2020
The choice voters will make Nov. 3 is between two philosophical views about the future of America.
In this year’s presidential election, the choice isn’t really between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It is a choice between two completely different views of America. That difference is philosophical, not simply personal.
One campaign has built itself on the notion that America is a great country, with much to offer. It embraces a vision that sees religious practice and belief in God as central to the country’s private and public life. In this understanding of America, faith is not something to be defended against with a “wall of separation” designed to keep Christians out. Instead, faith — and Christianity itself — are seen as critical to the flourishing of our country in a perspective shared by many of our Founding Fathers. This was the understanding of men like Samuel Adams, James Madison, Patrick Henry and George Washington.
Emblematic of such thinking are these words by Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence Charles Carroll, who wrote in 1800: “Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion … are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
Under this view of America, Christians and other people of faith are seen as a large part of the solution to the challenges our country faces, just as they have been central to so many positive movements in American history — from the right-to-life movement of the past four decades to many of the great causes for justice and rights of the 19th, 20th and the 21st centuries.
Unsurprisingly, the traditional view of our country holds that the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom should be protected, that people of faith should not be discriminated against for their beliefs, and that all Americans, including those not yet born, have a God-given right to life — the first right listed in the Declaration of Independence.
Under this vision, the Constitution is viewed as a well-crafted document that continues to serve the country effectively and should be interpreted as written — not adapted and changed to meet the fads or trends of the moment.
This vision of our country believes that the values America supports through our foreign policy and overseas assistance should be values like religious freedom rather than abortion. It believes in equality of opportunity, opposes violent riots, and stands against the revisionist historians who would undermine everything in America in order to so taint the country’s heritage as to make it anathema.
This view does not hold that everything in America is perfect, or that every founder of our country or leader who espoused this view is a saint, but it believes in the greatness of the country and the idea that the tools exist within our Constitution and system of government to fix those problems that arise without having to completely change our system of laws and government. This is the classical view of America.
Against it is rising a progressive view that is increasingly popular in many colleges and universities and the news media and with protesters and rioters and even in political circles, including one of the presidential campaigns.
In this telling of our history, America has much to atone for and little to be proud of. Traditional religious and Christian values are seen as a form or vehicle for discrimination, not a central element of the country. Abortion isn’t just celebrated; its export with taxpayer dollars is an article of faith for them. Contraception in this view is a fundamental right that outweighs even the constitutional religious-freedom rights of nuns like the Little Sisters of the Poor. Conscientious objection is dismissed, and religion is seen as something to be subverted and brought into the progressive fold, not something to be celebrated for what it is and what it believes. In fact, traditional religious beliefs are seen as a major threat to the country, and religious values are seen as out of step with the newfound progressive “American” ones.
America’s progress in areas of racial equality is downplayed, and while the country continues to struggle with legitimate issues related to race, for this group hope of improvement is dismissed within the current system. For them, only a complete repudiation of the American system is acceptable. How well it has done relative to so many of its contemporaries and how attractive coming here remains to oppressed people worldwide is ignored.
The redefinition of sexual values and of the family itself are central to this worldview, and religious people who disagree with such an agenda are labeled bigots. American “imperialism” is decried, while a blind eye is turned to the real imperialism of communist countries. Overlooked by this view is that a religion-embracing America that believed its people’s rights came from God has done far better for its people over time in trying to keep God’s promises than many of its contemporaries who simply tried to keep man’s promises.
As a recent EWTN documentary pointed out, where governments tried to kill God, they have often turned next to killing people. Religion must submit to politics and the state in this view. And submission will always be developing, because for this progressive crowd, evolution is everything. Their own values and vocabulary from yesterday are constantly supplanted by new values and new language. Their goal is not static but evolving, yet undeniably in an anti-Christian direction. Politicians that supported the Defense of Marriage Act, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or the Hyde Amendment a few decades ago now find these all to be repugnant. For advocates of this understanding of America, values are not unchanging, but utterly changeable depending on political expediency and cultural trends.
This view of America that seeks to renounce the role of God and the importance, uniqueness and greatness of America’s founding and subsequent history is the progressive view of our country.
This, more than the candidates themselves, is what is on the ballot. You are casting your vote this year for a long-term vision of America, not for a person. Keep that in mind: Pray, and vote for the future of your country. God bless you.