Those of you who have been readers of BeacBy on Lights for any length of time probably gave nod of recognition to the heading this department. Current Comments is back again. Perhaps many of you thought it was dead and now has been resurrected. In a sense that is true. But we would rather compare it to a person who is drowning, not to one who has been buried. A drowning man supposedly bobs on the surface, goes down once, twice, each time re-appearing. The third time down he does not come up. Thus it is with our department. Current Comments first appeared in Beacon Lights some years ago. It lasted for a while, and then dropped under water. It surfaced again, a few years later, but soon went down a second time. Now it has re-appeared for the third time and will make an effort, we hope successfully, to stay above sea level. Your interest, suggestions, comments and criticisms will perhaps give it enough buoyancy to stay afloat this time.
The scope of this department is going to be changed somewhat. Events and topics of interest in the particular sphere of the church, home or school will be treated under Critique, ably written by Agatha Lubbers. Current Comments will try not to overlap. It will consider events and topics of current or perennial interest on the scene of national and international affairs – politics, history, scientific achievement, propaganda, ideology, etc.
Your writer approaches his task with some hesitation. He can lay no claim to being an expert in this field, not even an “amateur expert.” And affairs that baffle the real experts and often make their predictions seem ridiculous must be handled cautiously by the unskilled. Two considerations, however, lead him to write. The first is that he will attempt not to become an expert, not to go out on a limb with probable predictions, but only to draw a few and perhaps obvious conclusions from each situation. Secondly, he has one advantage that few commentators today can claim. That advantage is the perspective of Holy Writ, the only true perspective. Although the Bible cannot give us handy, ready-made answers in terms of every current problem, it does speak to us today and lays down certain truths which will forever stand inviolate.
The political battle-lines in the U.S.A. have once again been drawn up and set in array for the great November fight. The issues being discussed by the candidates and parties are many. There is one issue, however, which they would like to avoid. This is the religious issue. Smooth-operating John F. Kennedy, Democratic nominee for President, is a Roman Catholic. From the time of his announcement of candidacy, many eyebrows have been raised questioningly.
“Religion must not be an issue,” say the Democrats. The Republicans, obligingly enough, agree and promise not to campaign on those grounds. But that issue is not so willingly wished out of existence. It is an issue quite obviously. The very emphasis that both parties give to it, insisting that it is not issue, proves clearly that it is. The Democrats do not have to say, “The color of Jack’s hair must not be an issue.” The Republicans do not have to produce an agreeing statement. No one considers Kennedy’s hair to be part of the campaign battle.
But Kennedy’s religion is a different matter entirely. To many people, enough to make the Democrats somewhat uncomfortable, Kennedy’s Catholicism is a vital concern. Anti-catholic literature is rolling off the presses; Protestant ministers are warning their congregations from the pulpit. That which must not be an issue simply is an issue, and not a minor one.
Yet, the religious issue is not so much an issue relating to religion. We are not concerned regarding who is the more religious, or who has a sticker code of proper principles. One could conclude quite safely that Kennedy is probably a better “Christian” than Nixon, who apparently does not have enough religion for it to become an issue.
Rather, the issue, the religious issue, is a political issue, deriving from the nature of Kennedy’s religion. The Catholic Church is far more than a religious giant; it wields political power as well. Its official teaching is that of the supremacy of the Church over the state.
But what about Kennedy’s position? He, of course, could never run for office maintaining the official Catholic stand. He chooses the traditional American view and states openly that he believes in the separation of church and state. Quite possibly he makes this statement sincerely. But his position is opposed to the position of his church.
That immediately raises another question. Can Kennedy, assuming his sincerity now, maintain his position? For the present, we can answer affirmatively. American Catholicism, because it is a minority group, has been given a rather free reign by the church in the sphere of politics. But the Catholic Church in America finds itself in a unique situation: due to our democratic traditions and its minority, it cannot take over the country. But its plans and strategy are visible to all but the blind. Look at history, past and present. Whenever the Catholic Church could, without exception, it has seized political power. Its official teaching of supremacy has never been and undoubtedly never will be repudiated. Quite recently the Vatican made a pronouncement to the effect that when the Catholic’s have a majority of a country’s population, they should run the government according to the principles of the church. The Catholic population in America now comprises one-third of our people, and their ranks are constantly growing. Their move for power, however, must wait until they have the majority, perhaps in the not too distant future. Hence, it would be folly for the church to try at the present to control Kennedy. He undoubtedly could last his term untouched. But it might not go that way if another Catholic received the highest office several years from now.
Many Catholics in America are casual Catholic, who sincerely believes in such non-Catholic ideas as freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. But casual Catholics tend to lose their casualness when faced with the threat of excommunication. Although Kennedy is perhaps not much of a risk, he could pave the way for a Catholic successor to whom the Vatican could and would dictate.
Now the Church is very inconsistent, biding its time. Consistency would demand that Kennedy be acknowledged as one of two things, no third alternative being possible. He is either a heretic and should be declared anathema, or he is a puppet of Rom.
I can’t tell you how to vote; I don’t even feel that I can warn you not to vote for Kennedy. But I can tell you to consider very, very carefully and prayerfully that religious issue. You are usually urged to get out and vote, regardless of who you vote for. That is nonsense; a vote for the wrong man is worse than no vote at all.