Radiating Jesus in Our Parishes, 3

This is my third commentary on section 41 of The Church in America.

Why isn’t the typical American parish radiating Jesus? I think that the main reason for the failure of the typical Western parish to radiate Jesus is the non-preaching and non-acceptance of Mark 1:15, that call to a change of heart. While we can never say anything about any particular couple or parish, the statistics say that the teaching of Humanae Vitae is widely rejected. At the USCCB website you can find an article that says that only one-tenth of one percent of Catholic women who are doing anything about birth control are using any natural form of conception regulation. Pope Paul VI certainly was correct in 1968 when he wrote the following in Humanae Vitae, section 18:

It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a “sign of contradiction.” She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.

Truly Pope Paul VI was prophetic.   In section 17 just preceding this, he prophesied about the various adverse consequences of the widespread societal acceptance of marital contraception.

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone [emphasis added]. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

In short, the Pope predicted something very close to the ObamaCare birth control mandate. What the Pope was too polite to say is that once a culture accepts one unnatural form of sexual activity such as marital contraception, it has no logical way of saying “no” to any other such activity. In his commentary on Genesis 38:6ff, Martin Luther correctly called the Sin of Onan a form of sodomy. Once a culture accepts marital heterosexual sodomy, it has no way to say no to homosexual sodomy. The same-sex “marriage” issue is the direct consequence of the societal acceptance of marital contraception.

The bottom line is that when a significant majority of fertile-age Catholic parishioners accept and practice marital contraception, the parish is failing to be the faithful organism that is radiating the Lord Jesus. What is radiating is not the pleasant odor of sanctity, to use a pious phrase, or even that of antiseptics as in the hospital image of the Church. Instead, the smell is not sweet.

It would be nice if I am wrong. But how can a parish in which pastors won’t preach and parishioners won’t accept what the Church teaches are the divine truths about human love—how can such a parish radiate Christ who is the ultimate Author of these truths?

Next week. What can priests do easily and without significant costs of any kind?

John F. Kippley, August 17, 2014

 

 

 

 

Radiating Jesus in Our Parishes, 2

This is my second comment on the 1999 papal exhortation titled The Church in America.

This teaching from St. John Paul II presents a beautiful ideal, but it is far from being realized. It seems to me, a man who sits in the pews, that it might be helpful to have greater clarity and emphasis on the ultimate purpose of the parish. That is, what is the real purpose of the parish? Isn’t it to help individual persons grow in Christian holiness?

It is certainly true that one way in which the parish leadership assists its members to grow in holiness is to encourage community among parish members and to encourage service to others, whether parish members or not, as indicated in section 41 of The Church in America. Let’s call that the Matthew 25 Last Judgment and humanitarian aspect of parish life.

But that’s not all. What about the call of Jesus as he started his public ministry? “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). Or, in a few more words: Have a change of heart. Wherever necessary, have a change in behavior. You can’t serve God and mammon. Don’t worry about what to eat and drink. Seek first the kingdom of God and trust Him to take care of the rest of it.

Is this the way it is? We are supposed to be a Eucharistic community, but some statistics indicate that a very large percent of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. We have very clear teaching against all unnatural forms of birth control and in favor of generosity in having children, but the statistics show that only a very small percent of fertile-age couples accept these teachings. If they were followed, we would anticipate lots of babies and larger families.   Our seminary problems would chiefly be having enough space and faculty to handle the crowd.

Next week: Why isn’t it happening?

John F. Kippley, August 10, 2014

See also Sheila’s blog at www.nfpandmore.org/wordpress .

P. S. My effort to explain and uphold Humanae Vitae via the covenant theology of sexuality is published by Ignatius Press as Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality. This is the book that, in a previous edition, helped Scott and Kimberly Hahn, while still Protestants, to accept Catholic teaching on birth control. During its summer sale, Ignatius is offering it for only $6.00, but only through August.

 

 

Radiating Jesus in Our Parishes, 1

Recently I was part of a small retreat team, and the topic assigned to me was “Radiating Jesus in Our Parishes.” My talk was supposed to be, more or less, a commentary on section 41 of The Church in America, an Apostolic Exhortation by Saint John Paul II, dated January 22, 1999. The background for the Exhortation was a Latin American synod of bishops held in 1997, but it is addressed to the entire Church concerning “the encounter with the living Jesus Christ, the way to conversion and communion and solidarity.”  References are to a Synod document.

Section 41 is titled, “The parish needs constant renewal as a Eucharistic community.”

1.  The parish is a privileged place where the faithful concretely experience the Church. (137) Today in America as elsewhere in the world the parish is facing certain difficulties in fulfilling its mission. The parish needs to be constantly renewed on the basis of the principle that “the parish must continue to be above all a Eucharistic community”. (138) This principle implies that “parishes are called to be welcoming and fraternal, places of Christian initiation, of education in and celebration of the faith, open to the full range of charisms, services and ministries, organized in a communal and responsible way, capable of utilizing existing movements of the apostolate, attentive to the cultural diversity of the people, open to pastoral projects which go beyond the individual parish, and alert to the world in which they live”. (139)

I suspect that almost no one can find fault with that statement as far as it goes. But what is lacking is any clear statement about the need to challenge the individual person, the married couple, and the family to grow in faith and holiness.   Reading that statement, one would not perceive as a great challenge to the Church the fact that only a small percent of adults in the typical American parish actually believe and follow the moral teaching of the Church. It does not challenge the parish leadership to try to persuade adult Catholics to conform to the teaching of the Catholic Church and to cease conforming to the culture.

2.  Because of the particular problems they present, special attention needs to be given to parishes in large urban areas, where the difficulties are such that normal parish structures are inadequate and the opportunities for the apostolate are significantly reduced. The institution of the parish, however, retains its importance and needs to be preserved. For this, there is a need “to keep looking for ways in which the parish and its pastoral structures can be more effective in urban areas”. (140) One way of renewing parishes, especially urgent for parishes in large cities, might be to consider the parish as a community of communities and movements. (141) [emphasis added]. It seems timely therefore to form ecclesial communities and groups of a size that allows for true human relationships. This will make it possible to live communion more intensely, ensuring that it is fostered not only “ad intra”, but also with the parish communities to which such groups belong, and with the entire diocesan and universal Church. In such a human context, it will be easier to gather to hear the word of God, to reflect on the range of human problems in the light of this word, and gradually to make responsible decisions inspired by the all-embracing love of Christ. (142) The institution of the parish, thus renewed, “can be the source of great hope. It can gather people in community, assist family life, overcome the sense of anonymity, welcome people and help them to be involved in their neighborhood and in society”. (143) In this way, every parish, and especially city parishes, can promote nowadays a more person-centered evangelization and better cooperate with other social, educational and community work. (144)

I want to draw attention to the underscored sentence about one way to renew—become a parish that is a community of communities. A most obvious application would be Presentation Ministries based in Cincinnati and with home-based communities in a number of states. My talk was given at one of its retreats.

3.  The kind of pastor who is needed. Moreover, “this kind of renewed parish needs as its leader a pastor who has a deep experience of the living Christ, a missionary spirit, a father’s heart, who is capable of fostering spiritual life, preaching the Gospel and promoting cooperation. A renewed parish needs the collaboration of lay people and therefore a director of pastoral activity and a pastor who is able to work with others. Parishes in America should be distinguished by their missionary spirit, which leads them to reach out to those who are faraway”. (145)

Again, no one can find fault with this statement as far as it goes, but I would like to put it in context. This Apostolic Exhortation was published on January 22, 1999 in Mexico City. Much of its talk about the problems of the apostolate in large cities refers much more to Latin America with its huge city slums than to North America. I wish that Pope John Paul II had also included in this document the recommendations he had made just four years previously in Rome. In May 1995 he co-sponsored with the Royal Society of England a conference on breastfeeding and mothering. Bishop James T. McHugh of the United States made the introductions. In his address, the Pope endorsed the recommendations of the World Health Organization and UNICEF that mothers should breastfeed their babies for at least one year and then up to two years and beyond.

It would be very helpful if the Pope had carried that sort of thought forward into this document. It would be helpful to the Church as a whole if Catholic parishes were known as centers of breastfeeding. Here in the United States such thinking is apparently not yet on the radar of parish expectations.

The document is beautiful, and I don’t think anyone can take exception to its message as far as it goes dealing with the communal aspects of the parish and the ideal pastor. I hope that it has had good effects in Latin America and all throughout the world.

Next week: Current challenges in many parishes.

John F. Kippley, August 3, 2014

P.S. This week is World Breastfeeding Week and Sheila is blogging daily at http://nfpandmore.org/wordpress/ .

 

 

 

 

 

Do Biblical Themes Apply Today?

In his homily on the readings for July 24th (Jeremiah 2:1ff and Matthew 13:10-17), our priest noted that much in our culture today parallels the things against which both Jeremiah and Jesus spoke. That struck a resonant chord for I have long wondered if the current attacks on the Church are analogous to the attacks that the Lord allowed his Old Testament people to suffer when they became unfaithful.

In the prophets and the psalms it is very clear that God has selected the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not for any merits of their own but simply to show God’s love, mercy, and power at work in the world. They would exist only by his very special protection. The Babylonian exile, however, represented God’s lifting his special protection since the people no longer wanted to walk in his ways. Their return to Israel was due to a moral miracle worked through a pagan, not by any virtue of their own except repentance.

By analogy, if we acknowledge that the Church was suffering internal corruption during the 15th and early 16th centuries, can the rise of Protestantism be compared to the Old Testament assaults? And what about today? After Vatican Council II ended in 1965, its work was widely misinterpreted as permission to become worldly in the worst sense of that term instead of a call to evangelize the world. This came to a head in 1968 with the massive rejection by Catholics of almost 2,000 years of Catholic teaching against marital contraception. The result is that in these United States it is estimated that less than one percent of fertile-age Catholics are living out the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

To tighten the analogy, the Chosen People settled in the land of Canaan among peoples who were worshipers of Baal, considered the god of fertility. Ritual prostitution was common and even required. As OT scholar Fr. Bruce Vawter wrote someplace in his book, The Conscience of Israel, a young woman might not like the idea, but playing the part of a temple prostitute was part of their religion. This proved to be a great temptation for all too many of the Chosen People who chose to join the Canaanites in these practices.

Can we not say that all too many of God’s chosen people—his baptized—once again have fallen into the trap of pagan sexual immorality? And can we not say that this time around these sins may be even worse—and especially for those who benefit from the teaching authority of the Catholic Church—because the participants are hoping not for the gift of fertility but in their idolization of contraceptive sex are hoping for infertility?

Is it not possible that God has somewhat lifted his mantle of protection of the Church in recognition of the failure of Church leaders to really confront this massive moral heresy?

Regardless of the value of this speculation, I suggest that all Christian parties ought to agree on a few things.

First, we all ought to be praying for authentic reform and renewal all throughout the Church in the widest meaning of that term. We all ought to be praying for a rebirth of modesty and chastity, for a stop to contraception and sodomy and abortion and FOR a culture of life.

Second, all Catholics ought to be praying for the conversion of North America, for the reconversion of Latin America, for the reconversion of Europe, for the conversion of Russia, for the conversion of Islam and the Jews, and for peace in the Holy Land and all throughout the Middle East and the entire world. If we love these peoples, we want what is best for them, and that means that we want them to have lives of full Catholic faith and holiness.

To me these things are so obvious that I sometimes wonder: Why don’t we hear these petitions at Mass? Why don’t we hear these petitions before the start of group rosary prayers? Certainly, someone might say, God knows all these needs, so why should we tell him what he already knows?

Well, if that’s the case, why pray in petition for anything? Maybe the Lord just wants to see if we are sufficiently interested in these projects to give a bit of our time in prayer.

At any rate, please join me in making these intentions part of your daily prayers and intentions. The current wars are not going to be resolved just by guns and more killings.   And really, you cannot reasonably want your descendants to have to live under Sharia law.

John F. Kippley, July 26, 2014

See also Sheila’s blogs at the NFPI website, www.nfpandmore.org.

(A 30% discount is now offered on all Kippley print books at lulu through August 7 in recognition of NFP week and World Breastfeeding Week.  In addition, Sophia is offering a 25% discount on Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood through August 7.  The code for the Sophia discount is “motherhood.” Ignatius Press is offering Sex and the Marriage Covenant for only $6.00 through August 31.)

Did Bottle-feeding Increase the Use of Contraception?

Early this summer, a physician who is knowledgeable about natural family planning and its statistics asked this question: Is there any study that shows a connection between bottle-feeding and the acceptance of contraception?

The short answer is that Sheila and I are not aware of any study that attempted to measure that relationship.

A more helpful answer, however, is found in the work of Dr. Otto Schaefer, a physician who worked among the Canadian Eskimos in the 1950s. He went there as an advocate of formulas and bottle-feeding. What he experienced led him to become a champion of the pattern of nursing that we call ecological breastfeeding.   He saw that the birth interval in this culture before the arrival of bottle-feeding was three to four years. With the advent of the trading post and formula and bottles, the babies were coming every year, and the mothers were complaining. In short, he witnessed a very clear example of hyper-fertility caused by the loss of breastfeeding.

This was very similar to the hyper-fertility of the 1950s here in the States. The WWII vets had returned and many wanted nothing more than to get a job, get married and have children. They were soon joined by the veterans of the Korean War (1950-1953). Prosperity was in the air. If formula-feeding made child-rearing much more expensive, so what? And they couldn’t wait to use jar after jar of Gerber-type baby food.

The result among many of these young families was the hyper-fertility of a baby every year. Breastfeeding was so rare in the United States in the Fifties that no one seemed to know that having a baby every year was highly unusual in breastfeeding cultures.

Nor did most married couples of the Fifties and Sixties know much about the first form of systematic natural family planning—Calendar Rhythm. Our landlord told us that he and his wife had practiced the Ogino-Knaus rhythm—they called it the O-K method—during the 1930s with a hundred percent success and three children. But that knowledge seemed to get lost in the postwar years. A great book on Catholic marriage published about 1956 referred to Calendar Rhythm, but instead of giving the formula, the author told couples to see their priest, assuming he would know.

The result was hyper-fertility. Contraception became widely practiced among those who had no moral/religious objections to it, and faithful Catholics and other Christians had large families. But even among the faithful, there were some real questions. A mother of seven who had married right after college was experiencing obvious varicose vein problems. She was about 30 and realized she had another 15 years of fertility; so she asked me, the parish lay evangelist, point blank, “What are we to do?” At that point I didn’t know enough even to give her accurate Calendar-Temperature rhythm rules.

However, there were certainly others who were very clear in saying that they were sure that the Church was going to change its teaching, so they hinted that it was okay to go ahead and use unnatural forms of birth control. Their articles were in periodicals read by Catholics, and their brochures and pamphlets might be found in church literature racks. There was little vocal opposition from the local clergy.

This is the background for my conviction that the demise of breastfeeding and its consequent hyper-fertility played a big role in the acceptance of contraception.

That’s why Sheila and I have always included ecological breastfeeding in our natural family planning instruction. When mothers follow the Seven Standards of ecological breastfeeding, they will experience, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea (no periods). They have a right to know this, and they also have a right to know that without following the seven standards they will most likely have a relatively early return of fertility.

Aside from the extended natural infertility that God Himself built into this pattern of baby-care, there are a plethora of demonstrated health benefits for babies and even for the mothers. In our manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, we list 21 health benefits for babies and 8 for the mothers. It seems to me that everyone who loves mothers and babies would want young couples to know these things. That’s why we think ecological breastfeeding should be incorporated into every church-affiliated NFP program. We don’t think that young people should have to wait for a July freeze in Texas for this information to be made universally available in church-affiliated educational efforts.

Are programs that relate breastfeeding-in-general, commonly called cultural breastfeeding, with delayed fertility really being fair with couples? That was the sort of talk common in the early 1960s before Sheila did her research and published the importance of mother-baby closeness and frequency of nursing. Cultural nursing almost guarantees an early return of fertility.

For accurate information, see www.nfpandmore.org, the manual mentioned above, and especially Sheila’s most recent book, The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor available at that website. Faithful Catholics and other interested parties need and deserve every help they can get in countering the sexual revolution and anti-family propaganda, and this sort of down-to-earth help simply must become a common part of the help that is given.

John F. Kippley, July 19, 2014

 

 

 

Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage

I recently received a notice about a conference dealing with homosexuality and the future of marriage. I did not recognize the named lecturers, so I replied to my source: Who is going to talk about the connection between the acceptance of contraception and the acceptance of sodomy?

In recent discourse about sodomy under the title of “same-sex marriage,” it is common for critics to say that the acceptance of “same-sex marriage” will lead to the destruction of traditional Christian marriage. I have to disagree with them even though we share the same convictions about the immorality of sodomy. It seems to me that the growing societal acceptance (or imposition) of sodomy-as-marriage is more of a sign that modern society and federal judges have already rejected traditional Christian marriage.

Let’s go back a few years. I don’t know when the America anti-sodomy laws were enacted, but it was in 1873 that the Comstock anti-contraception laws were first passed by essentially Protestant state legislatures for a basically Protestant America.   It was exactly 100 years ago in the spring of 1914 that Margaret Sanger began her successful campaign to legalize the sale and distribution of contraceptive devices and information. In the national census for 1910, there was one divorce for every eleven marriages, a divorce rate of 9 percent.   The “philosophy” of Margaret Sanger was that unlimited sex and very small families would yield great family happiness. With the nearly universal acceptance of Sanger’s ideas, today we have a divorce ratio of 1 divorce for every two marriages, a rate of 50%. If we assume that the divorce rate is an indication of marital unhappiness, we can conclude that a 500 percent increase in the divorce rate indicates a very serious increase in marital unhappiness, just the opposite of Sanger’s predictions.

During the next 15 years there was increasing speculation about contraceptive marriage. The so-called progressives were openly advocating deliberately childless marriages for which they even had a special name—companionate marriage. In brief, within a few short years, the societal acceptance of contraception had led to the destruction of the idea of marriage as a divinely instituted and permanent relationship for having children and raising them in the ways of the Lord.

In 1920, the bishops of the Church of England were faced with this growing debate and reaffirmed the Christian Tradition against marital contraception.

In 1929, secular humanist Walter Lippmann wrote that the progressives were following the logic of birth control, not the logic of human nature.

But in 1930 the Anglican bishops folded and accepted marital contraception, thus earning for themselves the distinction of being the first organized Christian communion to accept contraception. In the course of their debate, the more conservative Anglican bishops warned the others that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead logically to the acceptance of sodomy. The history of the Church of England has proved that prediction as all too true. If you want a specific event to mark the start of the sexual revolution, I submit it was the Anglican acceptance of contraception in August 1930.

That was quickly followed by the acceptance of contraception by the Federal Council of Churches in February 1931, which led to the general Protestant acceptance of contraception despite some very strong initial opposition. The introduction of the birth control Pill in 1960 added gasoline to the fire, and the widespread rejection of Humanae Vitae by Catholics starting in 1968 tragically added more fuel to the flames.

Martin Luther was correct when he called the contraceptive sin of Onan a form of sodomy. Further, while every unnatural form of birth control can be called a form of heterosexual sodomy—seeking to make the act just as sterile as homosexual sodomy—some heterosexuals engage in the same anatomical acts as homosexuals as their form of birth control. This acceptance of sodomy by heterosexual couples certainly makes it difficult for them to call “evil” the same sterile acts performed by homosexuals.

In the language of baseball, the acceptance of marital contraception by those who call themselves Christian was strike one against the societal acceptance of Christian marriage.

Strike two against the societal acceptance of Christian marriage was the acceptance of no-fault divorce. Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation on September 5, 1969, making California the first American state to grant no-fault divorces, and by 1985 every state had a no-fault divorce law. As Maggie Gallagher wrote some years ago, in this country, the government won’t let you get married for keeps. Even though both spouses marry with the best intentions and enter a valid, sacramental marriage, if the relationship goes sour and one spouse wants a divorce, there is no legal support for permanence. The one who wants out wins.

To the extent that there is societal acceptance of sodomy as same-sex marriage, that is the third strike against the societal acceptance of the Christian Tradition of marriage as permanent and ordered toward the social purpose of having children as well as the personal hopes of marital happiness. Sodomy has been with us since early biblical times, so why is it having greater acceptance today? I submit that it is because so many of those who call themselves Christian have turned their backs on the demands of Christian married love.

This brings us back to the early years of the Church. From what I can gather, Roman society was as debased as contemporary post-Christian and non-Christian cultures. The witness of our Christian ancestors living chaste and fruitful marriages gradually changed that aspect of the culture.   Those Christians who deplore sodomy but practice contraception are inconsistent. They may be simply ignorant and therefore not hypocritical, but they need the same conversion that they are urging on those with same-sex attractions and behaviors.

The renewal of contemporary and future society is truly dependent, once again, on Catholic leaders and the faithful living the Faith to the full.

 

 

 

 

 

What is real patriotism?

The 4th of July, Independence Day, traditionally has been a day to celebrate the birth of the United States as an independent nation, freed from the constraints of being a colony of England, then one of the world’s great powers. The signers recognized the seriousness of what they were doing, and the Declaration is largely an apologetics text explaining the reasons for their revolt from what they considered despotism.

Of special interest for July 4, 2014 is that the first two sentences of the Declaration refer to God. In the first sentence our founders refer to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” as their reason and authority setting up a separate and equal country among the nations. In the second sentence they profess that it is their Creator who has created them and Who gives them the right to secede.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence is a profoundly religious document, not in the sense of quoting the Bible or ecclesiastical document, but in the sense of recognizing their creature-hood and the Creator as the Source of all life and good.

When the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 15, 1791, religion was still important in the minds of Americans, and so was their negative experience with the established Church of England. Thus we read:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is simply absurdly anti-historical to regard the First Amendment as anti-religion or as a national freedom from religion.

As Catholics and others know very well, the “free exercise” of religion is under great attack. This past week’s Hobby Lobby by the U. S. Supreme Court was a partial reaffirmation of religious freedom, but the battle is far from over. As far as I can see, the Court did not address the irrationality of the HHS claim that there is a compelling need for every woman to have free unnatural forms of birth control. With birth control devices and drugs cheap and widely available, no reasonable case can be made for a compelling need that can be met only by forcing employers to provide these things for free.

Lost in the argument has been the increased immorality aided and abetted by the promotion of contraception. And that brings us to a most important consideration for the Fourth of July. The words of President George Washington in the masthead of this blog site still hold true: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

It is national suicide to pretend that his words are obsolete.  Real patriotism will both keep them in mind and act on them.