My father used to dread Columbus Day. As a proud, first-generation American of Italian descent, early each October he would begin to lament the airing of TV documentaries belittling the discoverer of the Americas and the publication of numerous anti-Columbian tomes. He would inevitably end with a prediction that “Viking ships will sail into our harbors.” He was seldom wrong.
Being the fruit of the tree that was my father, I too have an internal calendar which tells me that if the History Channel is serving up shows like “Something About Mary Magdalene” and “Banned From the Bible: Part 2,” and if sacrilegious art exhibits abound; Easter must be right around the corner.
On this year’s menu for Holy Week was an art exhibition in New York featuring the infamous “Chocolate Jesus” which was eventually shut down amid the protests of the Catholic League and others. And receiving less notoriety is one in Chicago which depicts Democratic savior Barack Obama as the King of Kings.
While this juvenile “art” and Church-bashing documentaries are frustrating, there is something that is more offensive still. That much of the media in the U.S. and Europe are politically liberal is a given. What is becoming increasingly alarming is the anti-Christian slant with which they present the news and its growing influence on some Americans.
While those of us on the political right have come to expect this, now even the Vatican has disclosed a welcome but entirely overdue discovery that Western media is biased in its reporting. Said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, in a tone worthy of Tony Snow:
We face an extremely grave problem. The church’s messages are subject to a type of manipulation and falsification by some western media…. Commentators who take phrases out of context in a misleading extrapolation are exercising their trade dishonestly.
This manipulation of public opinion is at work as we speak. Is the practice of infanticide called abortion a political hot potato? If so, it’s the fault of the followers of Jesus, and not those who actually take innocent life. Are diseases like AIDS killing thousands? Don’t look to those who encourage sexual licentiousness; blame the Catholic Church for not handing out condoms in Africa. Terrorism? Merely payback for Christian-American repression and/or the Crusades.
But could this disinformation policy practically affect the thinking of the huge majority of Americans who claim to worship Jesus Christ? Too much of the public seems to be acting out these nefarious ideas, the worst of which is the doctrine that people must keep their faith — the Christian one only, thank you — out of public life lest they be considered religious fanatics. After all, everyone knows that “more people have been killed as a result of religious wars” than any other, right?
The 20th century was the bloodiest, most savage epoch in recorded human history, yet little of the carnage was a direct result of religious pursuits; quite the opposite. Most of the regimes responsible for the deaths of untold millions were those that discarded Christianity in favor of the State. The extent of suffering in the service of Communism, Socialism and Nazism was unprecedented; as was that of those who opposed them.
Our constitutional republic, with its safeguarding of religious liberty and God-given rights, is one of the only forms of government that can stand in the doorway of such ferocity. As we presently see, there are certain religions whose tenets are totally incompatible with protecting those rights for all. Our Christian heritage — tempered by the experiences of our European forefathers — paradoxically guarantees the rights of others to disparage its Founder with impunity.
But this does not mean we must accede to their irrational fears and hatred for those whose charity toward them springs from the heart of Jesus Christ. As history has painfully demonstrated, less Christianity leads to more violence and hate, while true adherence to the Gospel can only bring the peace and love of which liberals so fondly speak.
There are those in this country who agree with the Islamist view that America is indeed the Great Satan. But as Jesus said, Satan cannot cast out Satan; a house divided against itself cannot stand. The only way we can lose our God-given freedoms is if we agree with those who wish us to ignore the tenets of the Prince of Peace by putting Him into a closet whose door only opens on Sundays. Or at Easter.