Tea Party and other conservative and libertarian groups are organizing a nationwide “Day of Resistance” on February 23 in opposition to President Obama’s radical agenda — in particular, his “executive order” attack on Second Amendment rights. Organizers say that more than 50,000 people in more than 30 states already have registered to participate in what they estimate will be 100 local rallies. The goal is to unify patriotic Americans from across the political spectrum behind the U.S. Constitution and gun rights.
Without getting into political debate over gun control, I do want to acknowledge that I think it’s a worthy effort. That’s mostly because they are exercising their right to demonstrate against presidential actions that they believe are unlawful. They’re banding together in order to make their voices (hopefully) heard by an administration that has apparently gone wayward in both its objectives and its methods.
In keeping with my propensity for organic thinking, I began to wonder how this initiative might fit into the broader scope of things, and especially within the scope of our faith.
What is happening here in the United States is ab out more than unjust executive actions, more than dangerous healthcare mandates poorly disguised as taxes, and more than assuring that the wisdom, aspirations, and safeguards put into place by our founding fathers is preserved. So dire is the situation, that our bishops have warned us to be prepared for civil disobedience and religious persecution from a government that has become increasingly hostile toward people of faith.
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, head of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty wrote in a February 15 letter to Congress that there is “a new, more grudging attitude in recent years toward citizens whose faith or moral principles are not in accord with the views of the current governing power.” That’s not something to be taken lightly, folks.
Most certainly, we have not only the right, but also the obligation to stand up for what is right politically, religiously, and morally. And as I sifted through my various frets and thoughts about the crisis we’re facing in this country, I had to ask myself, “What really is at the root of it all? Where does the fight really begin?”
And I knew – and still know – that the root of it all is evil and the fight begins within ourselves. In order to stand strong against forces that seek to deprive us of our rights, freedoms, and dignity, we have to become strong inside – spiritually – and there begin the victory over evil, first within, and then without.
The Early Christians lived through times not unlike the ones we live in now. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul explained well what needs to b e done when the faithful are surrounded by evil.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. No, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Ro 12:14-21)
St. Paul isn’t suggesting that we take religious persecution or denial of our rights and freedoms lying down. Rather, he’s advising us not to lower ourselves to their level and allow ourselves to be ensnared in their treachery. We can’t let the evil overcome us; we must overcome it. To do that, we have to conquer, by the grace of God, our own sinfulness.
So, how do you think it would be if the faithful banded together, purged their hearts, bolstered their souls, sharpened their minds, prayed, fasted, sacrificed, did all in their power to gut their lives of sin, and rallied for a Christian Day of Resistance – to evil? And what if – to stretch our imaginations further – that turned into many, even countless, Christian Days of Resistance?