Is there any truth to the Catholic Church’s complaint that America is becoming less tolerant of Christians? Michael Kinsley investigates in his new column, Catholic Bishops Issue Hollow Plea For Sympathy:
The Catholic Church feels oppressed. As reported in the New York Times, this week’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was a big pity party.
Religious liberty is under siege. The group’s president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, declared, “We see in our culture a drive to neuter religion” — which he attributes, ambiguously and ominously, to “well-financed, well-oiled sectors.” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia gave a speech to college students declaring that the “America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country’s past. It’s not a question of when or if it might happen. It’s happening today.”
When the Catholic Church declares that everything’s going to hell, you have to take it seriously. Nevertheless, complaints about oppression of Christians in U.S. society always amaze me. Practically everyone in the country is a Christian. (Jews are about 2 percent, Muslims less than 1 percent.) Yes, of course, Bishop Chaput is referring to believing, or at least observing, Christians. But even there, the U.S. is among the most observant countries in the world. Almost half of all Americans tell pollsters that they go to church at least once a week.
If anyone is trying to oppress Christians, he or she is doing a pretty lousy job of it. Christians — believing Christians — are everywhere you look. And even if you limit the discussion to oppression of Roman Catholics, I defy Bishop Chaput to find much of that in our country in 2011.