Those members of America’s community who are religious should be preparing themselves for attacks from an administration run by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, according to the political editor for the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson.
He commented on this week’s 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury who was assassinated by “followers of King Henry II of England” over his opposition to the king’s assertion that the king deserved a higher allegiance than God.
It was in the news nearly a millennium after the fact because President Trump’s administration issued a proclamation honoring Becket as “a statesman, a scholar, a chancellor, a priest, an archbishop, and a lion of religious liberty.”
The conflict arose over the king’s demand that he had the right “to encroach upon the affairs of the house of God,” and Becket’s refusal to agree.
Eventually, the king lost his temper, demanding, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” and his knights responded, confronting and murdering Becket.
His death is considered the reason why, 45 years later, the Magna Carta was written to include the promise, “The English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.”
“This proclamation from Trump’s White House is remarkable as much for its candid support for religious liberty as for its unapologetic embrace of religion itself. It’s hard to imagine a modern American president, of either party, issuing passages like this, calling not only for an end to religious persecution worldwide (and specifically in China) but for revival of religion in the United States,” Davidson wrote.
He quoted from Trump’s statement: “We pray for religious believers everywhere who suffer persecution for their faith. We especially pray for their brave and inspiring shepherds—like Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong and Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu—who are tireless witnesses to hope. To honor Thomas Becket’s memory, the crimes against people of faith must stop, prisoners of conscience must be released, laws restricting freedom of religion and belief must be repealed, and the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the oppressed must be protected. The tyranny and murder that shocked the conscience of the Middle Ages must never be allowed to happen again. As long as America stands, we will always defend religious liberty. A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure—because justice, goodness, and peace cannot prevail without the grace of God.”
Then Davidson turned to his warning.
“It’s unnerving to think how diametrically opposed to this view the incoming Biden administration will be. Although he professes to be Catholic, Biden has already indicated he will once again target religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, as the Obama administration did, in an attempt to force such religious orders to participate in state-funded abortion,” he wrote.
Harris is worse, he said.
She “is an open anti-Catholic bigot. She infamously imposed an unconstitutional religious test on a nominee for the federal bench in 2018. When Brian Buescher was nominated as a District Court judge, Harris inveighed against him for being a member of the Knights of Columbus, asking, ‘Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?'”
He continued, “Harris’s obvious implication was that adhering to orthodox Catholic moral teaching somehow renders a person unfit for positions of public trust, such as the federal judiciary.”
He noted Harris has a long history of attacks on Catholic moral teaching, including her assault on the rights of David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, which had exposed the illegal trafficking of organs from aborted children by Planned Parenthood.
Also, she supported a law, later struck down by the Supreme Court, that attacked pro-life pregnancy centers.
“American Catholics, and indeed all Christians, should acknowledge how rare it has been to have, in President Trump, a chief executive who seems honestly to care about religious liberty and the rights of conscience. Likewise, we should acknowledge that what’s coming under Biden-Harris will be much different,” he said.
“It’s not too much to say we should expect persecution of the church. And when it comes we should be ready to say, like Becket, ‘God is the supreme ruler, above Kings… we ought to obey God rather than men.'”
Trump’s statement noted the impact of Becket’s faith.
“Thomas Becket’s martyrdom changed the course of history. It eventually brought about numerous constitutional limitations on the power of the state over the Church across the West.”
He continued, “When the Archbishop refused to allow the King to interfere in the affairs of the Church, Thomas Becket stood at the intersection of church and state. That stand, after centuries of state-sponsored religious oppression and religious wars throughout Europe, eventually led to the establishment of religious liberty in the New World. It is because of great men like Thomas Becket that the first American President George Washington could proclaim more than 600 years later that, in the United States, ‘All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship’ and that ‘it is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.'”
America’s “freedom from religious persecution,” he explained, “was bought with the blood of martyrs.”
He said, “If we are to continue to be the land of the free, no government official, no governor, no bureaucrat, no judge, and no legislator must be allowed to decree what is orthodox in matters of religion or to require religious believers to violate their consciences. No right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.”
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