Monday, October 13, 2008


The God factor

“The ‘God question’ is part of our public life, and we simply can’t avoid it. Does God exist or not? Each citizen answers that in his or her own way. But the issue is not theoretical. It goes to first premises. It has very practical implications, just as it did at our country’s founding. If we really believe God exists, that belief will inevitably color our personal and public behavior: our actions, our choices, and our decisions. It will also subtly frame our civic language and institutions. If we really believe God exists, excluding God from our public life—whether we do it explicitly through Supreme Court action or implicitly by our silence as citizens—cannot serve the common good because it amounts to enshrining the unreal in the place of the real.

“People who take God seriously will not remain silent about their faith. They will often disagree about doctrine or policy, but they won’t be quiet. They can’t be. They’ll act on what they believe, sometimes at the cost of their reputations and careers. Obviously the common good demands a respect for other people with different beliefs and a willingness to compromise whenever possible. But for Catholics [and other Christians] the common good can never mean muting themselves in public debate on foundational issues of faith or human dignity. Christian faith is always personal but never private. This is why any notion of tolerance that tries to reduce faith to a private idiosyncrasy, or a set of opinions that we can indulge at home but need to be quiet about in public, will always fail….

“Christian morals profoundly frame the way you think and live. The Christian system of values is ‘written all the way through all our actions, all the time.’ Christianity has so deeply shaped our environment that we take it for granted. Even people who have no faith at all live in a world largely created by the Christian faith.”


Excerpt from the book by Charles J. Chaput, RENDER UNTO CEASAR, Chapter One, Starting at the Source, pp 9, 10. Doubleday 2008

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