George Weigel: Defend Religious Freedom
In it cites the extremist attacks in expressing our Catholic faith in the public square.
The forms of these attacks are egregious because they that attack us are also tearing apart the moral fabric of this nation.
This past October, in the heat of a political campaign, the nation’s political newspaper of record, the Washington Post, ran an editorial condemning what it termed the “extremist views” of a candidate for attorney general of Virginia who had suggested that the natural moral law was still a useful guide to public policy.
Mr. Weigel goes on to cite the many notable Americans and world statesmen that have used natural law as an argument for equal rights from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Thomas Jefferson [emphasis mine]:
The Post, determined to nail down the claim that homosexuality is the equivalent of race for purposes of U.S. civil-rights law, deplored this as “a retrofit [of] the old language of racism, bias, and intolerance in a new context.” The Post’s claim was, to adopt its language, “extremist,” suggesting as it did that the label “bigot” [pillorying those that mention natural law as bigots and extremists] ought to be applied to notable historical personalities who had appealed to the natural moral law in causes the Post would presumably regard as admirable: figures such as Thomas Jefferson, staking America’s claim to independent nationhood on “self evident” moral truths derived from “the laws of nature”; or Martin Luther King Jr., arguing in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” that “an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law”; or Pope John Paul II, who, at the United Nations in 1995, suggested that the truths of the natural moral law — “the moral logic which is built into human life,” as he put it — could serve as a universal “grammar” enabling cross-cultural dialogue.
What can we do about it?
…one of the great challenges of the younger generation of Catholics will be to rise to the defense of religious freedom in full. This defense must be both cultural, in the sense of arguments winsomely and persuasively made, and political, in that young Catholics must drive the sharp edge of truth into the sometimes hard soil of public policy.
Gaudium et Spes clearly spells this out to us [emphasis mine]:
…the Church sincerely professes that all men, believers and unbelievers alike, ought to work for the rightful betterment of this world in which all alike live; such an ideal cannot be realized, however, apart from sincere and prudent dialogue. Hence the Church protests against the distinction which some state authorities make between believers and unbelievers, with prejudice to the fundamental rights of the human person. The Church calls for the active liberty of believers to build up in this world God’s temple too…
Mr. Weigel explains how we can communicate our message with those that don’t believe [emphasis mine]:
I have long argued that it is a matter of both political common sense and democratic etiquette that Catholics in public life should make our arguments in ways that our fellow citizens, who may not share our theological premises, can engage and understand — which is to say, in our particular case, that Catholics should bring to bear in public life the moral truths we hold through arguments framed by the grammar and vocabulary of the natural moral law.
Basically this is a call to arms, especially for the younger generation of Catholics [emphasis mine].
The defense of religious freedom by the younger generation will be the work of a lifetime. But it must begin sooner rather than later, for the threats to religious freedom in our country are great, and are likely to get greater before they abate. At stake is nothing less than the long-term integrity of the American experiment in ordered freedom.
 Gaudium et Spes (21)