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How to Deal with Forced Secularization...

....and by "deal with," I mean "dissent against in a peaceful manner that still allows you to stay true to your faith." The title, as you can see, would have been too long.

A certain bit of news from across the pond is starting to make quite a stir in the Catholic blogosphere. While we Catholics in the US are busy fighting, or at least complaining about, the HHS rubbish...our Christian brothers and sisters in the UK are fighting for the right to wear a cross to work. My first reaction was, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Unfortunately, however, this was not a joke.
Click here for the article....

Call me crazy...but the idea that someone can get fired over wearing a cross sounds a lot like what things were like in Nazi Germany when the Jews had to hide their faith for fear of persecution. I am all for religious freedom and respect others if they aren't Christian. Believe me, I really do not care what religion you are as long as you respect my beliefs.In my can wear your Star of David proudly around me...or your triskelion, your Ohm pendant, your long as I get to wear my cross alongside of you without fear. This may seem like a foreign concept to many, but tolerance isn't about hiding what you are for fear of's about respect. It's about allowing other people to worship as they please without forcing them to hide it. This is why I just cannot accept the fact that two UK women have to go to court over their right to wear a cross at work.

Is this where secularization going? Is this the meaning of the TOLERANCE that secularization is supposed to spread? Isn't tolerance supposed to be one of the main reasons behind secularization? Isn't secularization supposed to stamp out extremism? Isn't secularization supposed to bring about a society where people can worship as they please in private so that they can be tolerant to one another in public?

Yeah, this doesn't seem to make much sense to me either. This type of cross-banning secularization only breeds more extreme forms of the militant atheism and retaliation from the more militant religious folk. In other words, I can only see this form of public secularization as a way to fan the fires of both extremes....and it is the reasonable and tolerant people like me that end up suffering. I mean, I can't be the only one who keeps seeing this correlation between "secularization" and extremism? In my experience, discrimination begins with ignorance...and what better way to breed ignorance than to force religion (or lack thereof) into a box that is not allowed in public. Wouldn't we all be a little more tolerant of one another if we were allowed to share this essential part of our lives with everyone else (assuming, of course that we allowed others to do the same). THIS. THIS IS TOLERANCE. Forcing employees to hide symbols of their religious beliefs, however, IS NOT TOLERANCE. It is, instead, an example of the types of laws and bans that led to Kristallnacht.

I can't even tell you how dismayed I was when I read the article above...but then my brain started developing ways to challenge and/or beat the system. I've read enough history to know where this form of secularization is going. It will get really bad for a while, but in the end it will die out. History has a way of repeating itself. We had the dechristianization of France during the Revolution in the name of "reason" (because nothing says reason like countless murders) ...the mass killings of Christians during the persecutions which led to the Cristero War in Mexico...the atrocities that happened to religious folk under Stalin....etc etc etc. Were any of these atrocities ultimately successful in their eradication of Christianity in the name of "reason?" Absolutely not. Many may have died as a result of compulsory secularization and some may have even abandoned their faith in the process. However, religion made a comeback in these countries and countless others for millennia. Sure, the former USSR is still in the process of rebuilding its churches and faith (thanks, in part, to people like these grannies on a mission). However, compulsory secularization has failed time and time again...and will continue to fail. It's only a matter of time...and if you are patient enough, you ultimately see how forced secularization always fails.

We Christians, like it or not, should be used to this right now. We started off as a persecuted people who had to resort to all forms of secrecy when it came to worshiping God and practicing the religion we love so much. Therefore, if there's one thing we've gotten really good's this idea of "hiding in plain sight." Yes, we got crucifixes and the whole world knows what they represent...but does the whole world know the rest of the story? Probably not. Even if I'm ever banned from displaying a crucifix, I got a lot of Catholic tricks up my sleeve. I will share a few of them below and will try to come up with some more if I ever find the time.

Exhibit A: The Tau Cross
St. Anthony and St. Francis's cross of choice.
This here is one of the earliest versions of the Cross as we know it. I could be wrong, but it may actually be a more accurate version of the type of cross that Jesus Christ was nailed to. It certainly was a favorite of St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua (two very badass saints). It is still quite popular among the Secular Franciscans...and not as well-recognized by the "secular" world. Its shape is even simple enough to incorporate into all sorts of things. The uses are endless and it would take quite a while for the rest of the world to catch on.

Exhibit B: The Scapular
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel brown scapular...
though they do come in Passionist black and other colors/devotions
JPII before he was Pope...wearing a scapular!!!
I am a big fan of the scapular and started taking my brown (and very beat-up) scapular around with me. I've already had to resew it to ensure that the brown wool does not come off the cord. The best part about these is that faithfully wearing one counts as a prayer. You put it on so that one wool square is on the front and one is on the back. Wearing it faithfully also brings you the protection of Our Blessed Mother....even if hardly anyone outside the old school Catholic circles has ever heard of it. 
For more info, click here! Be sure to look up some of the other scapulars out there if you are interested. Some of them are more low-key than the one seen above (no embroidery) and they are usually very reasonably priced. Considering how this practice is not very much in vogue these days (at least as far as I can see), there is a very high likelihood that no one will ever catch on to your devotion. Also, as far as I know, there is no law outright prohibiting the use of wearing one (again, because it is rather far as the rest of the world knows at least...wink, wink). 

Exhibit C: The Hair Shirt
The hair shirt. Oh yeah. I went there. 
Back in the day, the hair shirt was the way to go when you wanted to perform some sort of penance or mortification...or if you wanted to offer up a bit of suffering in order to ease the suffering of a soul in purgatory or pray for a sinner's salvation. Hair shirts were typically made out of goat hair or another form of rough cloth. The hair shirt brought minor discomfort to the wearer and acted as a reminder of why this individual sought to resist temptation. There are many variations of the hair shirt. You may, for example, wear a rough cloth belt or other accessory in order to achieve some form of minor mortification/penance. You could, hypothetically wear it on top of your clothes, but I think the custom is to wear it under your clothes. If times get tough and we really start getting persecuted by particularly anti-Christian secularists, this may be the best way to go. As the hair shirt has fallen out of popularity some time ago, I can't expect too many people knowing what it is especially if you keep your shirt on at work. 

I don't know how bad things will get as the world attempts to push us farther and farther away from our own personal paths to God. I don't know how soon it will be before I am arrested for refusing to comply with some form of objectionable law. I don't know how soon it will be before I am publicly punished for refusing to adhere to a moral code set by a government intent on selling its own version of saccharine-based religion substitute. I don't even know if any of these scenarios will ever play out. However, I am prepared and if it comes to it, I will refuse to stand down if I feel my rights are being abused, ignored, or attacked. Fortunately, it seems like there is still some room within the law to appeal against unfair laws and to express my opinions against a leader if I feel that he or she is taking things a bit too far when it comes to maintaining the balance between the separation of church and state and the protection of religious freedom. There is a fine line between secularization in the name of tolerance and secularization for the sake of anti-religious bigotry disguised as tolerance. 

It seems like we have a very long ways to go before anyone starts getting rounded up and lined up in the public square for execution. We are still in that phase of persecution when there is still some law on our side and some sympathy from others who really do care about the true meaning of tolerance. As uncomfortable as this story from the UK (and this HHS mandate) may be right now, we are nowhere near the worst-case scenario just yet. If this changes, however, (and I only say this because I know that history repeats itself)....I hope they know who they're dealing with. I am quite skilled at finding and exploiting loopholes within the system. Furthermore, I do not give up on a just cause. EVER. 

Pax Vobiscum fellow dissenters....stand strong and keep praying. God's got your back...just keep trusting Him.

1 comment:

  1. Not be allowed to wear a cross?!?! That is simply crazy horrible! Unfortunately, not that surprising, though. :(