The Myth of the Neutral State

If there is anything that distinguishes the contemporary world from past ages, it is our secularism, that is, our belief that society should exclude religion as much as possible from public life. We see this in our own country in the “separation of Church and State.” This used to mean that the government officially endorses no single denomination to the exclusion of others; today, it seems to mean that no religion (especially Christianity) may be expressed in our public life. According to the Popes, this degeneration is completely predictable. A society that fails to make the Faith essential to its social and public life inevitably marginalizes and oppresses it.

We may divide the world into a multitude of beliefs and ideologies, but the Faith divides all societies neatly into two. As Pope Leo XIII explained, “This twofold kingdom St. Augustine keenly discerned and described after the manner of two cities, contrary in their laws because striving for contrary objects; and with a subtle brevity he expressed the cause of each in these words: ‘Two loves formed two cities: the love of self, reaching even to contempt of God, an earthly city; and the love of God, reaching to contempt of self, a heavenly one'” (Humanum Genus, no.2). However flawed a Christian society may be in its members, one still can distinguish a society with God as the principal of its laws and customs from a society that excludes the Faith.

Pope Leo’s analysis allows us to see that when a society removes the Faith from its center, it does not, as it were, stay “neutral” with regard to religion. Where there is not the contempt of self for God, there is only the contempt of God for self. It is not unlike the state of the individual soul. There is not a neutral state between sanctifying grace and the burden of original and personal sin.

As St. Thomas explains, the soul that rejects the law of God is then subject to the “law of the members” of which St. Paul speaks in Romans 7.23; that is, the compulsion of sensuality that wars against his reason (Summa Theol, IaIIae, Q.91, a.6). If we do not follow the law of God, we fall under the law of sin.

WashingtonPrayer3Hence, a society deprived of God’s grace is at the mercy of the collective concupiscence of its sinful members. Why should God assist a society that, as a society, makes no effort to implore his assistance? Pope Leo cuttingly remarks “To have in public matters no care for religion, and in the arrangement and administration of civil affairs to have no more regard for God than if He did not exist, is a rashness unknown to the very pagans; for in their heart and soul the notion of a divinity and the need of public religion were so firmly fixed that they would have thought it easier to have city without foundation than a city without God” (HG, no.24).

The notion that society can remain “neutral” on religion loses its credibility every day in this country, not only as the government removes religion from public life (especially through court decisions), but even Christians themselves voluntarily treat Sunday as another day for work and business, send their children to anti-religious schools without a qualm, and frequent blasphemous and obscene entertainments in movies and television. We are seeing what the Sovereign Pontiffs have predicted; if a society does not worship God in its laws and public life, it will slowly but surely rebel against Him.4695796289_676d4ab9de_z

This article, The Myth of the Neutral State is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

Arthur Hippler

  • Dear Arthur, This is a great post, and I wish I had written it–I wish I knew all this data, I mean, not to mention the lucid delivery.

    But it pulls up short. All this is the background. What is the conclusion to this set-up?

    I think I know. I think it’s to begin to build for a new Catholic religious state.That’s the only possible conclusion that my pea brain can deduce.

    I further deduce, as part of the building of that state, a third party like FIDESZ in Hungary, like theirs a coalition party (but that must be only at first, with the ultimate strategy of a Catholic state through conversion and out-breeding them. Sorry, blunt.

    And I further deduce and then blurt out, and it’s gotten me in lots of trouble, that we Catholics should quit attacking Muslims for wanting a religious state, because we have to cleanse that concept, it’s been banished,along with some other concepts like God and white pride and no divorce and chastity and so forth and so on. Solutions you’re not allowed to use. Whereas the concept of the religious state is the only single political move we can make that might save us. So.

    But this puts me in a position to seem to defend muslims, as in the next statement I usually make, that they are a lesser enemy to us than secularism. When in fact, I’m not sure of that. And plus it puts my in very bad company, with all liberal Europe, in fact, which refuses to see any implicit evil in islam because they do not wish to do their own reproducing and think they must import labor (but really it’s just the same old oppressors of Christ’s flock who saw their main chance after world war II to press down wages through ‘diversity’, wages which were all the paid pundits agree were ‘ridiculous’ in Europe, that is, they were a good wage and a just wage, the kind we would have in a Catholic state (you know Pius XI said that the economics of a Catholic state were ‘indistinguishable’ from those of a ‘moderate socialist state). sometimes I am inclined to back up my original statement about not attacking them for wanting a perfectly reasonable thing even for a heretic by saying they can’t really mount a sustained attack on Europe because they have too much in-fighting due to their inherent liberalism (they deny original sin, you know, and lack a magisterium). Again, that’s what liberal Europe says.

    But I do believe and feel and fear that secularism is the more fierce enemy and has almost killed us already. I’d rather struggle with a man who believes in God than a man who believes in nothing but his own — oh, I’m so tempted to put something ugly. But then you get all that Belloc said, and so forth.

    And here’s another way I get myself in trouble: I say stop using ‘religious freedom’ and begin to teach the dif between that liberal cry, and the promise of tolerance, which is different. And then here comes Myanmar and I don’t have a clue as to what Catholics there should do–we can’t, under the logic you have presented as Catholic tradition (and I can’t see any hole in it, after having read the encyclicals myself), accept a buddhist state, and ‘religious liberty’ is the only demand I can come up with, unless maybe it would sufficient if the Church publically said, but in softer diplomatic terms, ‘screw you and we’re working, through conversion and just out-multiplying you, to have a Catholic state here someday.’ If you read the link you’ll see the government is putting a two-child limit (!! shades of wonder at the pervisity of humanity sometimes!!) but I’ll have to re-read it to see if that’s only for muslims, or Catholics too (but that’s the problem, they probably are already contracepting themselves into oblivion as elsewhere in the middle east and east and Europe too for that matter)

    In any case, Arthur, what conclusion, what practical conclusion, do you draw from your material here? What must we do? And how shall we do it?

  • Avatar photo John M. DeJak says:

    Excellent piece, Arthur.

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