Sunday, July 4, 2010

We are the Church & We are the State

Independence Day July 4
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. BCP 242

Can we reason together for a moment?

Amongst all that troubles the Republic in our day, nothing is so singularly responsible for a host of ills as the Church’s surrender of the public square.

As people of faith, we have slunk away from the heat and light of political discourse as if our faith was a slightly embarrassing private function. Something best kept behind closed door and politely disguised with air-freshener. We have surrendered our place at the podium to be worried over like a scrap between the cur-dogs of hedonist secularism and brain-denying fundamentalism.

This craven retreat is especially shameful in the Episcopal Church. Of all denominations, we have the most experience at being Church IN State. We were in law the State Church until the Revolution, and thereafter in practice well into the 1950s.

What happened?

We flaked-out, turned yellow and ran away.

The reasons are complex and messy. A malignant alliance of self-hating establishment flower-children, an abandonment of competence in the guise of diversity, and the greed is good careerism that drew the brightest in, and destroyed them; left the Church with too few voices worthy of hearing or respect.

As the pews emptied out, and the leaders became more extreme and less relevant, we went from Invocation and Benediction – having the first and last word at every public event; to standing out on the sidewalk with badly written placards, shouting slogans.

But we cannot accept this as an end-state, or we will see the end-of-the-state. We must go to our best and brightest and call them to a ministry of infiltration. We cannot capture the podium in collars, we must be invited back by those already seated there.

Our faithful must speak and write, run for office and vote, return in reason and holy power to the halls of state – as competent statesmen, not extremist agitators.

It is our duty to God and to those saints and heroes who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to purchase for us the freedom we now enjoy.