Charles J. Chaput is the Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia. He is also a friend of mine. We first became acquainted during his tenure at the Denver archdiocese. The Archbishop is among the most eloquent advocates for the biblical principles and values we share. I greatly appreciate the courage and boldness with which he speaks.
This past Sunday he gave an extended address on how to build a culture of religious freedom in America. He sees what we see – that little by little our liberties are being eroded by legislators and judges. Archbishop Chaput is a realist but also a man of deep faith, so he doesn’t mince his words.
I want to share just a short but powerful excerpt of his remarks. In light of the upcoming election, how do you resonate with this?
Is this the way forward toward renewing the American culture?
America needs a special kind of citizenry; a mature, well-informed electorate of persons able to reason clearly and rule themselves prudently. If that’s true–and it is–then the greatest danger to American liberty in our day is not religious extremism. It’s something very different.
It’s a culture of narcissism that cocoons us in dumbed-down, bigoted news, vulgarity, distraction, and noise, while methodically excluding God from the human imagination.
America is now mission territory. Our own failures helped to make it that way. We need to admit that. Then we need to re-engage the work of discipleship to change it.
Nothing about life is predetermined except the victory of Jesus Christ. We create the future. We do it not just by our actions, but by what we really believe–because what we believe shapes the kind of people we are … A culture is more than what we make or do or build. A culture grows organically out of the spirit of a people–how we live, what we cherish, what we’re willing to die for.
If we want a culture of religious freedom, we need to begin it here, today, now. We live it by giving ourselves wholeheartedly to God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ–by loving God with passion and joy, confidence and courage; and by holding nothing back. God will take care of the rest. Scripture says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps 127:1). In the end, God is the builder. We’re the living stones.
The firmer our faith, the deeper our love, the purer our zeal for God’s will–then the stronger the house of freedom will be that rises in our own lives, and in the life of our nation.