America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.— attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America by Sherwood Eddy, The Kingdom of God and the American Dream, chapter 1, p. 6 (1941)In the 19th Century a French foreign visitor by the name of Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in an attempt to assess why America was so vibrantly healthy, successful and prosperous. He produced a tome one of the great works of American literature entitled, “Democracy in America” in which he dissected every aspect of American life looking for the answer to his question. In it he said, “The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.” Well a lot has change since de Tocqueville’s visit.
In this the 21st Century Pope Benedict XVI comes to America to assess what is the failing of religion in America. The demonizing of Christianity in America has weakened the Church and the persecution of Christianity in America is just short of some of the more odious anti-religious regimes in current history. Of course the gaiety of a White house welcome is intended to blunt these realities but it won’t be successfully done.
The media has already lined up the running narrative of what will be negative coverage of the papal visit. It has to because what the Pope stands for is so diametrically polar opposite of what America has become and what the media stands for.
Of course the Church has aided in its own persecution by allowing itself the indulgence of sexual perversion and molestation.
In this the Church seems to have reversed its gospel command, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,’ (Romans 12:2) and has became a secularized and marginalized “also ran” in the eclectic mix of poly- philosophic belief systems that make up the United States in the 21st Century.
For de Touqueville religion in America was a given reality. The only question was which form of Christianity was the most influential in this country.
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there … in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there … in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there.For Pope Benedict he will find an American people on the whole ignorant of their Christian heritage and in rebellion against Christian tenets and teachings. Benedict will find superficial Christians who rather sequester themselves behind the four walls of their Churches rather than follow the Great Commission of “go and teach” or Apostle Paul’s edict to, “give everyman a reason for the hope that is within you”
Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.--Attributed to ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE by Dwight D. Eisenhower in his final campaign address in Boston, Massachusetts, November 3, 1952.
Benedict will find love and total acceptance from the adherents of his faith but a cold austere rebuke is waiting if the Pontiff ventures into the kingdoms that were once offered to the Messiah if He but bow down. Those kingdoms are reserved for the secular real world that religion has no business in, a world in which the Pope or religion really ought not mettle.
Alexis de Tocqueville would not recognize the America which Pope Benedict XVI is visiting today.