(First of two)
In Ireland in June of 2013 the American president said, “If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation” (emphasis added).
Frequently politicians make veiled comments overseas which are intended to be heard also in their home country. Whatever the purpose of the visit to Ireland, and of this particular statement, it is a loaded statement not lost on people whose religion is important to them.
American Catholics for Religious Freedom responded, “Secular progressives like President Obama ignore the truth that faith-based education is a component of the Religious Freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.” As Lutherans who place emphasis on the spiritual education of our children and therefore promote and establish Christian schools, we cannot ignore any suggestion by someone in authority that Christian schools contribute to divisiveness. We share the concern of others who value their own parochial educational system.
This commonality of concern has nothing to do with supporting or promoting each other’s religion. It has to do with the right of each citizen under the law, and indeed of every religion, to worship and teach as they choose. Although we cannot respect the substance of any teaching that is contrary to Scripture, we grant that all citizens have the constitutional right to practice their own brand of religion. To deny that right to anyone is to deny the right under the law to all to practice their religion. To deny that right to anyone denies our right to practice our faith as well as to educate our children in our own schools.
This commonality of concern has nothing to do with supporting or promoting each other’s religion. It has to do with the right of each citizen under the law, and indeed of every religion, to worship and teach as they choose.
Not too many decades ago, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland resorted to violence to promote their religious/political agendas. The defense of and promotion of religion by violence and at the point of a gun finds no support in Scripture. Scripture teaches us that our weapons are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4).
The suggestion that the mere existence of Catholic and Protestant parochial schools causes division is not true. In purely secular matters, people of different religious persuasions can work and have worked together for the country’s common good. The notion that schools of different religious persuasions are divisive suggests one of two things. One is that such schools should be eradicated, and all the children should be enrolled in schools where the government dictates how children should eat, socialize, think, and believe. As we are entitled to our opinion, we suggest that such is the intent of the comment made in Ireland.
The second implication is that all churches, regardless of what they teach, should get together for the greater good of what the world sees as the mission of the church. This idea promoted by many Protestants, including apostate Lutherans, is contrary to the Scriptures which teach that we are to be of the same mind and same judgment in matters of faith (1 Corinthians 1:10), and that if we are not of such a unified mind and judgment, God binds us to remain separate and apart in the exercise of our religion (Romans 16:17-18).
It has been suggested that the Ireland statement reveals an anti-Christian bias. Given the times in which we live of which Scripture speaks (2 Timothy 3), and given the evidence of official approval of homosexuality, abortion, and the general deterioration of morals in
our society, the anti-Christian charge bears consideration.
It is interesting that with the world-wide ascendency of Islam there
is fear of attacking the Muslim faith while anything “Christian” (whether in teaching or in life) appears to be fair game.