Public GoodJun 02, 2016
The secular left’s effective and efficient assault on religious freedom is fraught with danger for people of faith. Yet, as Christian history proves, it is during the worst of times the church has proven strongest, often growing amidst sustained persecution. Modern day anti-theists foolishly may think they can drive “religion” from human existence, but their efforts are obviously futile. While the words “the gates of hell will not prevail” against the Christian church may be foolishness to them, it’s a promise that has more than proven the test of time – and all the hate that can be thrown at it.
Unfortunately, because so much of the “culture war” has been fought on the battlefield of political discourse, and an unbalanced media ignores much of reality of religious practice, most Americans are oblivious to the public good of the public exercise of religion. Such ignorance makes them susceptible to anti-religion propaganda, making the church an easy target.
There were multiple reasons the Founders made the free, public exercise of faith – not mere “belief” or “worship” – the “First Freedom” in the Bill of Rights, not the least of which is the sustainability of the Republic. But the fact is the contribution of religious action to the good of society is overwhelmingly positive. (Secular liberals, feel free at this point to insert “What about the Crusades!”, but face it, that was 1500 years ago. Let it go.)
Most Americans are likely painfully unaware that it was the Christian church than started hospitals, this despite the number of medical centers named “Presbyterian” or “Baptist” or “Bon Secours.” (In fact, one in six hospitals in the US is Catholic, treating millions of Americans daily.) Adoption, a quintessential religious practice, continues to be a focus of Christian and Jewish faith organizations. Not to mention the plethora of social services provided by “faith-based” communities, from feeding and providing shelter for the homeless to helping those enslaved to sex trafficking to providing for victims of sexual assault and abuse. In fact, a 2006 study out of Syracuse University found that religiously affiliated Americans give far more in charitable contributions than their non-religious counterparts.
Which brings us to the a study released in April by The Pew Research Center which you likely never heard about because its conclusions don’t fit the anti-religion narrative so carefully crafted by a secular liberal media. In it, Pew finds:
“Volunteerism and donations to the poor are especially common practices for those who are highly religious. Among people who pray daily and attend services weekly, 45% also say they volunteered in the past week (including 23% who did so mainly through a church or other religious organization). Just 28% of Americans who are not highly religious say they volunteered in the past seven days. The gap is even bigger when it comes to helping the poor: 65% of the highly religious say they donated money, time or goods to help the poor in the past week, compared with 41% of all other U.S. adults.”
Of course, that’s not to say that secular liberals don’t have sympathy for the poor, etc. I know many who do and who work very hard to improve the quality of life of struggling communities. The point here isn’t what charitable actions secular liberals do or don’t do, it’s the purposeful blackout by the secular left and too many in the media of the enormous public good done through religious charities by religious – and in particular Christian – communities.
As I witnessed the debates over religious freedom during this year’s General Assembly, I was saddened by the visceral hostility toward people of faith displayed by those advocating against that freedom. Whatever fuels their anger, whatever personal trauma has distorted their view of God and faith and Christianity, it’s manifesting itself through political vendetta. That hate blinds them to the fact that every day across this nation religious hospitals, organizations and charities provide enormous amounts of care for underserved communities and the sick. But it’s pretty clear that groups like the ACLU are happy to deny care to millions to accomplish their goals.
But while secular leftists who seem bent on creating a religion free, gender free, decency free society rail against people of faith for their “ignorance” and “discrimination,” it might be good to remember that diminishing religious freedom will have enormous cost to our society, both in human and economic. Small government “conservatives” and “libertarians” should keep that in mind when they side with the anti-religion crowd on “social issues.” Remember, if charitable organizations and hospitals are driven from the marketplace, their work has to be replaced; likely by a government that’s more expensive and less efficient and effective. And your donations won’t be by choice.