This awareness that Christians are different, and different in ways that make a very big difference, will, I expect sharply increase in the months and years ahead. For all of President-elect Obama’s wafting language about bringing us together, healing divisions, and so on and so on, if he seriously intends to follow through on his extremist abortion views, we are headed for the intensification of an American version of the Kulturkampf that Bismarck came to rue. The focus is on FOCA, the Freedom of Choice Act, that Obama says he wants to sign on his first day in office. This act would eliminate the very modest restraints and regulations established by states, provide government funding for abortions, and in its present form, require religiously sponsored hospitals and clinics to perpetrate abortions or go out of business.[Hat tip to E.E.]
The aggressor in the opening phases of this Kulturkampf is the Obama administration. The initial response to the aggression was evident in the meeting of Catholic bishops this week in Baltimore. There were refreshingly bold statements by bishops, and by Francis Cardinal George, president of the conference, on the imperative to protect the integrity of the Church’s teaching and to employ every legitimate means to resist the further advance of what John Paul the Great taught us to understand as the culture of death. Some bishops even invoked the venerable tradition of martyrdom, sounding very much like the successors to the apostles that they are.
The Christ against culture model does not come naturally to Catholics. The Church is much more disposed toward conversion, providing moral guidance, and the transformation of culture. The Christ against culture model is never chosen, but sometimes there is no choice. Pushed to the wall by the Obama aggression, it seems evident that most of the Catholic bishops are, in the words of Paul to Timothy, prepared to “fight the good fight.”
In this contest of coming months and years, it seems certain that cooperation between Catholics and evangelical Protestants will be greatly strengthened. And their efforts will enlist the support of many other Americans who are only now awakening to the fact that the unlimited abortion license imposed by Roe v. Wade and its proposed expansion by its hardcore supporters is indeed unlimited. If President-elect Obama does what he says he wants to do, this champion of national unity will preside over one of the most divisive periods in American history.
Monday, November 17, 2008
The Coming Kulturkampf
Richard John Neuhaus has a thoughtful and provocative piece worth reading, "The Coming Kulturkampf" (First Things, November 11, 2008). Excerpts: