Relineligious arguments, of course, have had a few momentsnin the secular sun in recent years. One notes, however, thatnthey are accorded public recognition only if they concur withnthe “trends” identified by the “progressive” gospel. Clergynwho address questions such as the role of religion in education,nthe moral condition of events that pass as modern entertainment,nor the virtues that can be nurtured through economicnliberty receive the ultimate contemporary denunciation:nthese questions “have not kept up with the times.” God’s arguments,ntoo, are supposed to succumb to the moral myopia thatnviews “newer” and “better” as synonyms. This moral myopiancould be sustained as long as the “progressive” prelates ofnmodem morality could shape public discourse around verynpopular civil-rigjits causes and a very unpopular war. Oncenthe moralistic fervor that inspired advocates of these causesnbecame wrapped in the ambiguous consequences of theirnsuccess, and the outrages of abortion and Soviet armamentncould no longer be ignored by any morally sentient beings, religiousnarguments reentered American politics.nThe movement to curb the consequences of legalized abortionnin the United States has been the most productive vehiclenfor those who wish to analyze today’s fads in the perspective ofnenduring standards. The Catholic Church, speaking through thenNational Conference of Catholic Bishops, succeeded for anwhile in establishing abortion as “its” issue. But even in thisnposition, its leadership has been characterized by bad politicalnjudgment and isolation from its own roots. The Church secularizednand Americanized its arguments to gain support for itsnopposition to abortion, concentrating its argument on then• THE RETURN OF GOD •nnn”right to life” of the unborn, although that right was seldomntraced beyond the Declaration of Independence. Truncatingnthe argument in this fashion serves secular purposes, but itnlimits the ability of the clergy to speak to their congregationsnon the broader dimensions of the abortion debate. It also preventsnabortion’s other opponents from incorporating differentndimensions of religious arguments into the political debate.nTo cite only the most obvious example, proponents of abortionnhave aligned their arguments with the movement ton”liberate” women from traditional notions of virtue. Onensteeped in a religious argument should remember that “liberation”nfrom one of this world’s passions frequently is achievednby enslaving the spirit through different passions.nWhile nonsecular arguments have found a voice on whatnhas been labeled the “religious right,” the Catholic Church innthe United States has moved to defuse its seemingly strongnidentification with some of the less socially acceptable opponentsnof abortion. Using the debate surrounding various draftsnof the pastoral letter on nuclear weapons, the staff of thenUnited States Catholic Conference has done its best to mergenopposition to abortion and opposition to nuclear weapons asnthe new “prolife” position. The tactic enables the Catholicnbureaucracy to denigrate the contributions of RepresentativenHenry Hyde (who believes in serious consideration of thenSoviet menace) even as it “moderates” the abysmal record ofnSenator Edward Kennedy (who regularly supports publicnfunding of abortions). The new “proUfe” position has the dubiousnmerits of compromising the Church’s traditional teachingsnon abortion and communism and aligning it with those whonrespect neither its traditional nor its compromised positions.niLvery thoughtful adult recognizes that religious leadersnhave a great deal to say in the numerous areas where politicsninvolves moral questions. One expects, however, that whennpeople speak in the name of religion, they will speak from thenenduring word of God, rather than from the preachings of thenposeurs who would recast His message by replacing prophecynwith progressivism. The work of God depends on a traditionnmuch older than the doctrine of natural rights that sustainsnAmerican liberty. Given the contemporary alternatives—anregime of natural rights or a regime that denies both naturalnrights and their Creator—it is hardly surprising that the DivinenWord is returning to our politics despite the best efforts ofnleading sages to isolate it. Religion reenters our politics evennas it becomes increasingly polarized. Those engaged in thendeveloping discussions of religion and politics must be fiillynaware that the Creator does not wear the moral blinders ofnour time. His message is one of eternal salvation, not one of ancomfortable life on earth.n—Edward J. LynchnDr. Lynch is a free-lance ivriter hosed in Washington, D.C.nAugttstl983n