This guest article was written by Conor Martin and was originally published at The Libertarian Republic.
With American Catholic membership at an all-time low, it’s time to point out that, while “The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church” (Matthew 16:18), we should be concerned with why so many Catholics are leaving the Church.
Some attribute the dropping number of Catholics in America to being so well off in terms of our economy, technology, and other luxuries compared to other countries. Although I won’t deny that is a factor, I believe that the Catholics proposing a new law every time something bad happens are much more to blame. In fact, I would assert that these advancements have made Catholics lazy, so that they would rather let the government take care of problems, rather than step up and do it themselves.
Let’s look at charity and the welfare state. As far back as 1955, we see a decline in Catholicism in the US following years of the New Deal putting forth economic welfare programs, and as the Eisenhower administration is adding disability insurance to social security. Yet, this was praised by Catholics, as many believed the charities at the time had been stretched to their fullest extent due to the Great Depression, and the government helping people is charitable.
What those Catholics advocating for those welfare programs then and even larger programs now fail to understand is that this does not help people. Government welfare programs are not nearly as effective as private charities, and in fact hurt private charities’ ability to help people. For example, last year a soup kitchen in Kansas City had government officials pour bleach in food meant for the homeless, because “the volunteers preparing and serving food didn’t have permits.”
Another result of the government getting involved in “helping” the poor is that the private industry has less funding to put towards charities due to higher taxes and increased prices needed to pay for said programs.
Above all else, the government does not use voluntary means to fund these programs. It is only through taxes, under the threat of imprisonment by the government, at the end of a gun that people comply to fund these programs that Catholics are under the impression will help people. This is not charity in the slightest, and isn’t even close to Christian and Catholic values.
Conservatives, you’re not without sin in this, either. While it is true that most of the policies I listed above are touted by much more liberal Catholics, your constant desire to use the state to establish a moral code is no better.
Your crusades against weed, prostitution, and having the government involved in marriage has not helped the church at all. Saint Thomas Aquinas would actually agree with me as well, as in his Summa Theologica he states,
“Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.”
The desire to establish the perfect government theocracy where everyone is moral, respects each other, and follows God’s teachings is understandable. What Catholic conservatives fail to realize is that the perfect theocracy cannot be run by imperfect men (i.e. every man ever); thus, we should instead wait for God’s return when that perfect theocracy will be established.
The second we start to advocate for a government that establishes the moral code, we risk the men running that government turning the tables on us and making our religion illegal, such as they have in China, burning bibles, churches, and forcing Christians to renounce their faith.
How would they do this you might ask? Well, we do believe that at every mass we are consuming the body and blood of Christ, clearly making us a threat because we are not psychologically stable. Or they look at any random scandal from recent years, and use that to lie to fabricate a justification in order to protect others from us.
Ultimately, big government policies continue to exist because Catholics have become lazy, making Americans turn from the Church and toward the government. We would rather the needy and misguided get help and direction from the government instead of getting on our own two feet, going to these communities in need, and helping them.
This has done nothing but create a much more dangerous religion compared to any others throughout history. The government giving out these resources and setting the moral standard has created the religion of Statism. A religion that operates and grows based purely on force, but justifies it’s actions for the “common good.”
We must stand up to Statism, empty our pockets to charities, and go to those communities in need that lack morality. We need to set the example that we have been taught by the Church. Perhaps by following our lead, they will cross the Tiber, come home to Rome, and grow the Church further.
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought” –John Paul II