CAMPAIGN 2012—Religious Freedom vs. Aggressive Secularism


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ABSTRACTGEORGE WEIGEL COLUMN   Search HOME NEWS DENVER CATHOLIC REGISTER EL PUEBLO CATOLICO PARISHES OFFICES CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ARCHBISHOP AQUILA BISHOP CONLEY QUICK LINKS >>> About the Archdiocese Becoming Catholic Pastoral Handbook Cardinal Stafford Library Calendar Donations Web Archive Contact Us MENU BY TOPICS MENU GEORGE WEIGEL Cemeteries & Mortuaries Child & Youth Protection Clergy Education/Classes Hispanics (En Español) Evangelization/RCIA Liturgy & Spirituality Marriage & Family Life Other Catholic Organizations Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary Social Teaching St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Vocations Youth, Young Adults & Campus Ministry Archive 2012 Archive 2011 Archive 2010 Archive 2009 Archive 2008 Archive 2007 Archive 2006 Archive 2005 Archive 2004 Archive 2003 GEORGE WEIGEL COLUMN George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. His column, "The Catholic Difference," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register , official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver.  Click here to read his biography .   Subscribe Today! For only $20 per column (print or online), you, too, can publish George Weigel’s weekly column in your newspaper, bulletin or journal. For more information, contact Kayla Snider, in the Office of Communications for the Archdiocese of Denver, at kayla.snider@archden.org . CAMPAIGN 2012—Religious Freedom vs. Aggressive Secularism   September 19 2012 - Some years ago, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor coined the term “exclusivist secularism” to describe a disturbing phenomenon in western societies: the determination of some intellectuals, activists, and politicians to scour public life of transcendent religious and moral reference points in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusion.” Taylor’s “exclusivist secularism” is not the benign “secularity”—the separation of religious and political institutions in a modern society—that Pope Benedict XVI has praised for helping Catholicism develop its understanding of the right relationship between Church and state. No, by referring to “exclusivist secularism,” Charles Taylor was raising a warning flag about an aggressive and hegemonic cast of mind that seeks to drive out of the public square any consideration of what God or the moral law might require of a just society. Aggressive secularism was once thought to be a primarily European malady. Then it migrated to Canada. Now it has become a serious problem in American public life. Catholics can do something about that, if they understand what the Church asks of “the world.” The Catholic Church asks—and, if circumstances require, the Church demands—two things of any political community and any society. The Church asks for free space to be itself: to evangelize, to celebrate the sacraments, and to do the works of education, charity, mercy and justice, without undue interference from government. The Church freely concedes that the state can tell the Church to do some things: to obey the local sanitary laws in church kitchens hosting pancake breakfasts, for example. But the Church refuses to concede to the state the authority to tell the Church what to think and preach, or how to order its ministerial life and serve the needy. Moreover, the Church asks, and if necessary demands, that the state respect the sanctu.......