|Pentecost, by Jean II Restout, painting circa 1732|
The 2016 presidential election is finally over, and what has been delivered to Catholics (and all Christians) in the United States is a favourable result. Hillary Clinton has soundly been defeated in the electoral college, insuring the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency. The two candidates could not be more sharply contrasted.
Donald Trump has promised not only to support the religious freedom of Christians against unconstitutional executive mandates, and frivolous lawsuits by homosexual activists seeking to punish and destroy all Christian businesses that refuse to cater to their perversion, but he has also promised to repeal the Johnson Amendment. This would be a huge game changer if enacted. The Johnson Amendment was a change to the U.S. income tax code in 1954 which prohibited churches and other tax-exempt organisations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. If repealed, it would mean that clergy could endorse or oppose political candidates directly from the pulpit on Sunday mornings, and have no fear of the church losing tax-exempt status. Once repealed, and used in at least one election cycle, it is doubtful the government would ever be able to re-enact it again without eliciting calls of religious discrimination from the populace. In other words, once it's gone, it will likely be gone for good, until an absolute tyrant assumes the Oval Office.
It is however that last point I want to address, because that is what we may soon be facing in 4 to 8 years. Hillary Clinton's candidacy was probably the most anti-Catholic (and by extension anti-Christian too) candidacy in recent memory. The Wikileaks emails revealed a latent hostility toward faithful Catholics in the highest levels of the Clinton campaign, which they have never apologised for, not even to this very day. In these leaked emails, faithful Catholics were referred to as "backward" and part of a "Middle Ages dictatorship" that is the Catholic Church. This combined with Hillary's well-known hostility toward traditional Christianity, and a comment she recently made at the 2015 Women of the World conference: "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed." (See the video here.) The comment was made in the context of creating laws that make unrestricted abortion a fundamental human right. So Hillary was on record as stating that religions must be changed to accommodate the Leftist agenda. We can only speculate as to how she might have worked toward this end as president of the United States. It would probably be fair to assume that tax exemption might be revoked of those religions that refused to comply. It would probably be fair to assume that religions that refused to comply would not only have their tax exemption revoked, but also find themselves under federal scrutiny as well, in the form of IRS audits and FBI investigations. Then of course, it would probably be reasonable to assume that those religions that refuse to comply would immediately find themselves targets of homosexual activists suing for some frivolous charge of "discrimination" fully backed by Clinton's Justice Department. This is just one way in which Hillary might have brought her presidential powers to bear against the U.S. Catholic Church, and any other religious organisation brave enough to stand up to her.
There is, of course the other side of things as well. A Hillary Clinton Whitehouse would not only have brought external pressures upon the U.S. Catholic Church, but from Wikileaks again we learn that another plan was hatched by top officials in her campaign to bring pressure against the U.S. Catholic Church from within. In a Wikileaks email exchange between John Podesta and Sandy Newman, the creation of a "Catholic Spring" was discussed, in which a plan was hatched to create a "revolution" within the Catholic Church wherein laypeople would publicly rebel against the teachings of the Church and demand Catholic leadership change to accommodate the Leftist agenda. Within this exchange, John Podesta (Hillary's chief campaign adviser) wrote that he (apparently with others) created "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" and "Catholics United" specifically for this purpose. Together, based on what Hillary Clinton has actually said, and the Podesta emails leaked to the public, it became apparent late in the 2016 presidential election cycle that Hillary and her staff were plotting a complete assault on the U.S. Catholic Church, both externally (from the Whitehouse) and internally through a "Catholic Spring."
As I pointed out in a previous essay, the new Anti-Catholicism is a sick and insidious form of bigotry in which the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic -- meaning one who doesn't follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Political Leftist are usually keen to surround themselves with dissident Catholics, who actively oppose the teachings of the Church, if not in word than certainly in deed. One example of this is the Obama administration, wherein the self-loathing, fake Catholic, Joe Biden, was brought in as Obama's vice president. This gave Obama the political cover he needed to enact a rabidly anti-Catholic agenda in his infamous HHS Mandate, and still maintain at least plausible deniability against charges of anti-Catholicism, because you see, he has placed a "Catholic" (albeit a fake Catholic) in the second highest office in the land. That's how it's done. Of course, Hillary Clinton attempted to do the exact same thing, with the nomination of the self-loathing, fake Catholic Tim Kaine. From this it's fair to assume that her plans to attack the Catholic Church were at least as far reaching as Obama's if not significantly worse, all the while using her fake Catholic (Tim Kaine) as political cover against the charges of anti-Catholic bigotry. The tactic is a clever one, and its been in use for a long time. Fake Catholics, like Tim Kaine and Joe Biden, are praised and lauded as "visionaries" and "heroes" in the spiritual world, while real Catholics, who actually believe and practice the faith, are derided as "backward" and part of a "Middle Ages dictatorship." Fake Catholics are given posts in the highest offices in the land. Real Catholics are considered a "danger" to the public.
It is this very paradigm, this very mentality, that inspired Cardinal Francis George, the former Archbishop of Chicago, to say: "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square..." The good cardinal went on to say: "His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." However, it's the first part of this quote that is of particular interest to us. Cardinal George fully expects his successor to die in prison, and his following successor to die as a martyr in the public square. What would land a Catholic bishop in prison if not the kind of administration that Hillary Clinton hoped to inaugurate this January? Oh sure, it may not have happened right away. It may have taken her some 4 to 8 years to get the law just right for this to happen, but there can be little doubt she intended for things to head that way.
Catholic bishops (and clergy of all ranks) should be thankful that Catholics turned out en mass this last November 8 to vote for Donald Trump. While he is nowhere near an ideal president-elect, he is infinitely superior to the alternative that would have existed in Hillary Clinton. I imagine some clergy will be ungrateful for this, but on behalf of all Catholics who voted for Donald Trump, I will extend a hearty "You're Welcome!" anyway. It's the least we could do to keep you all out of jail, and it was our pleasure to do so.
Effectively, what happened on November 8 was this. The U.S. Catholic Church, along with many other socially conservative churches in the United States, just dodged a bullet.
Thanks to the intercession of Our Lady, and the intervention of Our Lord, the U.S. Catholic Church, along with many other socially conservative churches in America, has just been given a 4 to 8 year reprieve from government obstruction and persecution. That's all it is. It's just a reprieve. We now have 4 to 8 years to act, and if we squander it, we will get exactly what we deserve in 4 to 8 years.
As we are witnessing now, with Leftist organised demonstrations and riots across America, leading up to the inauguration, this is nowhere near over. In fact, it's only just begun. Leftist radicals are calling for the assassination of our president elect, and vowing to disrupt the inauguration. These same Leftist radicals have vowed to demonstrate, riot, and in every way obstruct the emerging Trump administration. Make no mistake about it. As we have seen from the Wikileaks emails, and comments from their highest representatives, these Leftists are militantly anti-Catholic and have in their sights the complete destruction of the U.S. Catholic Church as we know it. They will stop at nothing, and they're not going away.
Over the next 4 to 8 years we can expect these people to become significant troublemakers. We can expect disruptions at mass. We can expect threats against real practicing Catholics, especially outspoken ones. (This is why I encourage real practicing Catholics to be armed where it is legal.) We can expect assaults on our priests and bishops. We can expect vandalism of our churches and cathedrals. We can expect Leftist anti-Catholicism to permeate our cities, campuses, employers and every aspect of public life. They didn't get what they wanted in the Whitehouse, so now they're going to have to resort to more crude means of attacking the U.S. Catholic Church, and so they will. This is guaranteed.
If we are not diligent in carrying out our duty as Catholics, then these people WILL assume power after Trump leaves office. It may be in 4 years, or it may be in 8, but they WILL assume power, and when that happens, the U.S. Catholic Church will have hell to pay. The speculation of Cardinal George may still yet become prophecy.
What U.S. Catholics have right now is a WINDOW of OPPORTUNITY and nothing more. The election of Donald Trump will not save America. This election wasn't about saving America as far as Catholics are concerned. We know that this country cannot be saved in its present form. Rather, this election was about giving U.S. Catholics about 4 to 8 years of breathing room, which is enough time to effect a change in our society for the better. I'm talking about Evangelisation which is uninhibited by government obstruction and persecution. Leftists WILL soon persecute us, but for 4 to 8 years, those Leftists won't be in any positions of significant power. So what we have is a reprieve from their wrath backed by the state. During this 4 to 8 years, if we are diligent, we may be able to change the American culture enough to significantly interfere with any future Leftist takeover of the federal government. This may reduce, or possibly even eliminate, any future persecution of our Catholic children in the next generation. If, however, we are negligent, and we squander these next 4 to 8 years of reprieve, we and our children will suffer full state-backed persecution together sometime after 2020 or 2024.
What will American anti-Catholic persecution look like? It's not going to be like what we see in Communist China, Cuba or North Korea. Rather, it will be more subtle, but just as insidious. The outline of this persecution has already been given to us, by the implications of Hillary Clinton's public statements and John Podesta's leaked emails. We can expect the federal government to revoke the tax exempt status of the U.S. Catholic Church. This will force dioceses to sell off many parishes to pay for back taxes owed to the IRS. Then clergy will be told it is a "hate crime" to speak out against homosexuality, same-sex "marriage," gender theory, abortion or contraception. When they do, they will be fined by the government. Then clergy will be told they must recognise, and maybe even perform, same-sex "weddings." If they don't they'll be led out of their parishes in handcuffs just like Kim Davis was in Kentucky for refusing to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses under her name. We can expect employers to require employees to sign "non-discrimination" contracts, which include a clause to accept same-sex "marriages" as legitimate. When real Catholics refuse to sign them, they can expect to be fired. Meanwhile, this whole time, we can expect an orchestrated "uprising" or "revolution" within the Catholic Church, with people paid by Leftist organisations to agitate within the Church. These people will demand an end to the Church's teachings against homosexuality, same-sex "marriage," gender theory, abortion and contraception. In addition, we can expect these same people to push for female ordination and Church blessing of same-sex "marriage." This is what anti-Catholic persecution will look like in America when it comes to our door.
We have 4 to 8 years of reprieve from this. During this time, we can expect some crude agitation, disruptions and threats, but they don't have political power right now. We've got 4 to 8 years before they do, unless we act now.
So what is it that faithful Catholics need to do? The answer is simple. Just get back to basics. Don't worry about all this social justice nonsense right now. We've got bigger fish to fry. We're trying to save our children from having to choose between their faith and their freedom. So the way we do this is straight forward. We spend the next 4 to 8 years reaching out to our society with the basic gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is how we do it...
- PRAY! And I mean pray every day. Do a Rosary or something, but PRAY! This is primarily a spiritual battle we are fighting, and if it is to be won, it will be won entirely on the spiritual level first and foremost, above everything else. So if you want to win, then pray!
- Get back to mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation.
- Repent of your sins and go to confession NOW!
- Learn the Faith and learn it well. Get a simple Catechism and read it. Read the Bible and Catechism regularly. Use the resources of Catholic Answers to help you understand your faith. Also, my own apologetics page and books, will help in this area too.
- SHARE YOUR FAITH !!! Start with your family, particularly your children, then your friends and neighbours.
- Reach out to your neighbourhood. Order some of these low cost authorised Catholic gospel tracts, and make sure your entire neighbourhood receives one on their front porch. Talk to them about your Catholic Christian faith, if you feel comfortable doing so.
- Direct your non-Catholic friends to Catholic Answers apologetic resources when they have lots of questions you may not feel able to answer. Catholic Answers has two pages: one for Protestants, and another for Non-Christians. Also you can direct them to my own apologetics page as well.
- Not only should you invite your non-Catholic friends to mass, but you should make sure they get an opportunity to talk to your priest, or any knowledgeable Catholic at your parish. Usually a deacon, or the Director of Religious Education (DRE), or one of the catechists will do.
That's it folks. That's what we need to focus on like a laser beam for the next 4 to 8 years. If we fail to do this, we get what we deserve in 2020 or 2024. This is our last chance. It is our last great reprieve. Donald Trump and the Republicans can't fix America, but they can hold back the tide of anti-Catholic obstruction and persecution, at least for a little while. It's up to us to do the rest and be faithful to our baptismal calling as evangelists. Failure to do that now, is no longer an option.
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'
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