American "Freedom" & Moral Relativism

Are the Muslims justified when they call America, “The Great Satan”? (And this is not a thread for getting into the morality of Muslims.) Is the American idea and its false notion of freedom the reason for the moral decadence that is being spread throughout the world. I now that Europe failed the morality test beforehand and then influenced America but it seems America, as a “super power” has had more influence on the world as a whole in promoting such false ideas of freedom and the moral relativism that is ultimately ushered in.

I have seen a lot of threads concerning the role of church and state and have partaken in a few but is the ultimate problem with our secular government the fact that it is secular and divorced from Christ and His Kingship?

With no disrespect to people of other faiths, I post this question based off the Church’s understanding of “religious freedom” and the position that all individuals and states or societies are subject to the one true faith, Catholicism.

I know this is controversial but I wanted to start a new thread with these specific thoughts.

God bless!

Shocktrooper, we are in agreement on this one; I’ve discussed this issue at some length on another thread. Here, I’ll simply say that secularism, in the long run, has to be a failed experiment because this is God’s Creation. We’re playing on his field. It is he that has made us, not we ourselves, and we are his. I suspect that most people have a viewpoint something like this: hell is ahead on the left, heaven is ahead on the right, and meanwhile we’re on some kind of “neutral ground”. I think this perspective is dangerously mistaken. We, as individuals and as societies, are either in grace or out of it. Moral neutrality is an oxymoron.

Any form of human government is bound to fail. Look what happened when the church got involved with the government. Witch hunts, inquisition. Crusades etc . I love the church but all human government will fall because they are imperfect like us.

I don’t think the things above were necessarily bad things or responses. Though some bad things were committed by those partaking (again, the human element you mention).

It’s a difficult subject. We can’t deny people religious liberty. It’s a necessary consequence of respect for human dignity, as the thinking and teaching of the Church have made clearer than it was in the 19th century and before.

That doesn’t mean the State can not and should not officially recognize authentic religion. But then again look at the countries that have combined official Christianity with religious liberty, either to this day or until the last few years: England, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark all have or until recently had established Churches. Roman Catholicism is the state religion of Monaco. These have still become culturally very secular countries, more so than some officially secular countries like Poland or the United States, or at least that’s the impression I get from this side of the Atlantic.

Edit: It has not been my impression that Western secularism has had a great deal of influence on non-Western cultures, unless you consider East Asian secularism to be derived from the West or unless you consider Latin America distinct from Western Civilization. Religion seems to be quite strong (sometimes too strong, if it’s a bad religion) in places like South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Does religious liberty demand public worship or evangelization contrary to Truth? If so, wouldn’t this be scandal to the highest degree?

Moral relativism increases as the influence of organized religion decreases. We have seen it increase even within the Churches. Moral relativism will never completely take over for the simple reason that you have to have laws, and the violation of laws requires punishment … or else moral anarchy will prevail.

What do you mean? Obviously it does not require that anyone participate in such things.

I suppose you mean, does it require that such things be allowed to occur.

To “public worship” I would certainly say no, if you mean worship as an official part of the public life of the State. But I assume what you really mean is private worship in houses or privately owned churches or temples or whatnot (in the case of the Catholic Church, I should add, worship really is public since the Church is a public institution independent of and ultimately superior to the State, though the State retains a legitimate role in organizing the secular order).

Ultimately, it seems to me that religious liberty is an application of respect for conscience. A person cannot, without a just reason such as the protection of society from serious danger, be forced to act against their conscience. This includes being forbidden to do things they believe they are morally obliged to do.

To justify restrictions on speech or on the building of worship spaces one would have to make a persuasive argument that the action you wish to restrict presents too great a danger to the public or consists of an injustice against someone else. For example, we can and should forbid human sacrifice because it of course is a grave injustice against the person being sacrificed. If someone claimed their religion required them to drive 100 MPH down a road, maybe as some rite of passage, again we could deny them that right on the basis of the danger it poses to other citizens.

Is non-Catholic worship or proselytization a danger to society or an injustice against individuals grave enough to justify limiting conscience rights regarding them? This is not a rhetorical question but a serious invitation to defend a position that has a long history in the Church but has fallen into disfavor.

First, thank you for the discussion. I am really appreciative to be able to converse with others that may know more about this than I.

What I am getting at is…religious liberty does not mean that one has the liberty to preach things contrary to truth. Just like the Catholic definition of liberty is the freedom to choose what is right, not what is wrong. So yes, I do mean “it does not require that such things be allowed to occur”.

I am not saying that the Church should not allow other faiths to do what is required for their worship. I don’t believe the Church teaches this, but I do know the Catholic Church does reserve to Her alone the liberty and judgement to limit other faiths from converting Catholics or performing other duties in public. Sometimes this means their public proselytizing can be checked. However this has not been practiced for some time now.

I agree with this as long as you understand that one can’t be forced to act against a properly formed conscience, meaning they can’t be forced against their will or conscience to do something wrong. Freedom of conscience does not apply to a malformed one if the person is culpable in forming his conscience that way. So if a person has formed their conscience in a way that is contrary to Christ and His teachings, then those in authority are bound by justice to correct the situation. Otherwise, they fail to carry out their duty to protect the flock.

Outside the Catholic Church, there is no salvation. I can’t think of anything more dangerous to society than a false religion that teaches that one can achieve salvation apart from Christ. I do understand the Church’s teaching on this and I agree with Her; I am not saying that only visible Catholics are saved. What I am saying is that the Church should foster the best environment in this life that will better prepare the people for the next. For us Catholics, only the Church is granted this duty, not any other faith.

From a Catholic perspective, YES, I think the danger is present to justify such limits on those that teach falsehood. Like you, I think this position has fallen into disfavor, but that does not mean it has been eschewed completely. We just can’t get around the fact that modernism and relativism is intrinsic to the American experiment and to the Protestant faiths. The only way for the Church to fight against relativism pertaining to faith and morals is to simple stand for the truth. While doing this though, She, by default, has to counter false faiths because they are rooted in relativism. Because of the fallen human nature, the Church has to put up rails or laws to protect the flock. This is what a good Mother does. This is what a good Father does.

Thanks, again.
God bless!

Witch hunts not “necessarily a bad thing?” Those of us who live near Salem, where numerous innocent people were civilly murdered back when part of the community was called Danvers Village, would tend to disagree.

Shifting the focus away from Protestantism for a minute, your words supporting limitations on conscience rights, on “performing other duties in public,” limitations on teaching, etc., would, sadly and shockingly, be totally at home in 1930’s Germany regarding Judiasm. I thought we had moved beyond that.

Muslims were the only ones wise enough to forbid usury–now they will get “capitalism” and “freedom”.

I think that this “American Freedom” is a result of moral relativism. People being free and able to vote in new laws that conform to their beliefs result in this relativistic state.

We can still hold fast to Natural Law but in America, if there is a law (i.e. gay marriage acceptance) that is put in to practice, then this causes moral beliefs among others to separate from the natural law. AND since these new laws are laws in America, then when those who follow Natural Law disagree with those who conform their beliefs from the Laws of America, there is a certain stand still. Those whose morals come from America’s laws cannot be accused or wrong because of it being a Law. Us Natural Law followers cannot tell them they are wrong because, since we both live under the same government, we follow the same laws. Laws that give us freedom to choose and follow.

My :twocents:

I think this is a fair statement but I don’t agree with the comparison. The Catholic Church holds the fullness of truth; secular or atheistic Germany did/does not. As a Catholic, one should want an environment that would foster authentic “freedom” to do what God desires of us. I am not advocating for a theocracy, dictatorship or anything like that, but what I am saying is that the laws of a nation (regardless of the type of government) should abide in the natural/divine/moral law of God and actions by those opposed to it should be taken to hold people accountable. We kind of have this now with murder, rape and other offenses against God, why not all the others? Once you start making concessions (sodomy, sodomite “marriage”, abortion, euthanasia, no fault divorce, fornication, co-habitation, contraception, pornography), where does it end. The slide into moral decadence is clear and the things that we would have never thought would become licit actually become just that. With the moral decline, no one can say for sure that polygamy, incest, bestiality, pedophilia, rape or murder will not be illicit in 25+ years.

Our current system allows mankind to define what “morality” is, as if it is something that can change with each generation’s voting block. The moral law is immutable and the quicker we acknowledge that and enforce it, the better off all people will be, even those outside the Church. Our American system is flawed due to the foundation it was founded on, that mankind, by majority vote, is the arbiter of truth and morality, as long as it does not conflict with the founding documents, at least for now.

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