8 / CHRONICLESn”bingo” instead of “banco.” It’s a natural mistake.)nFreedom of religion is a vast umbrella that may be used tonshelter Islam and Buddhism, Voodoo and Santeria, ChristiannScience and the Unification Church, along with thenbranches of Christianity and Judaism with which the framersnof the Constitution were familiar. One man’s humbug isnanother man’s revelation, and in contemporary America it isngetting harder and harder to distinguish between a Methodistnprayer meeting and a Black mass, between Koshernbutchers and the ritual sacrifice of goats and chickens in anChicago housing project. In a country where Satanists go onntalk shows to defend their point of view, can we reallynexclude Oriental cult leaders from the rights and privilegesnenjoyed by Jesuits? If the draft were reinstituted, it would benimpossible to decide on the bona fides of every shirker whonnominated himself High Priest of the ancient rites of Baal.nPerhaps we ought not to try. After all, the Constitutionndoes not automatically exempt priests or other “conscientious”npersons from military service. In the nation’s first 100nyears, various religious groups, like the Quakers, won certainnprivileges from state legislatures, but even in the Civil Warnthe Episcopal Church failed to secure draft exemption for itsnministers. It has only been in the 20th century that suchnexemptions have been routinely granted, but the federalncourts have consistently maintained that it is a privilegenrather than a right. Right or privilege, it was exercised withnan unwholesome frequency in the last years of conscription.nIn many denominations it is a standing joke to suspect thenvocation of any clergyman who attended divinity schoolnduring the Vietnam War.nwhat earthly or heavenly good it does to exemptnUnitarians and free-thinking Methodists from the draft isnanybody’s guess. I can’t even imagine the rationale thatnwould justify special treatment for liberal seminarians whonprofess, more or less, nothing. Even for serious Protestants,nthere is no obvious reason why ministers should be accordednspecial treatment. At the heart of the Reformation is annattack upon the metaphysical status of the clergy. While thenProtestant minister must be a man of virtuous conduct andncorrect principle to carry out his duties, the priest—nCatholic, Orthodox, or even Anglican — is what he is innspite of his character. He can bind and loose souls, exorcisendemons, and act in persona Christi in the mass. As a holynman, his purity is of as much (perhaps more) concern as hisnmorals, and he must be kept free from the taint of blood.nSuch a person should not be in a position to make war orneven to sit on a jury in a capital case.nThat, at least, was the ideal. History records more than anfew examples of Catholic bishops — even a Pope—leadingnarmies into battle, and in the last century some Orthodoxnpriests in the Balkans were as much partisan commanders asnpriests. While I would not necessarily recommend draftingnthe clergy, it is a pleasant speculation. What would it be likenif we reinstituted national military training for all able men?nI can see it now. Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island, SC,nin August. As the DI gets to the end of roll call, he bellows:nArbuckle, Fatty, Most Reverend; Greenstreet, Sidney, MostnReverend. Between them this pair of typical bishops weighnin at half a ton, and one would pay a good deal to see themnwallowing through an obstacle course in the summer heat.n”Come on, your excellencies, get the lead out. MOVE.”nnnBack in the barracks the bishops could explain their viewsnon social justice and world peace to recruits from Arkansasnand Alabama. “Tell that to the Marines” is an old Armynresponse to any ridiculous story, but even the sensitivenMarines who complained about Clint Eastwood’s HeartbreaknRidge would have trouble swallowing any of thenCatholic bishops’ declarations. It is precisely these politicalnstatements and activities that are undermining all ournnatural respect for the clergy.nThe bishops and denominational leaders had better makenup their minds on what their proper business is — politics ornthe faith. If it is politics, then they should register as lobbyingnagents or run for office. Frankly, it does not matter whichnside they are on. Defenses of free enterprise and democracynare as out of place in the pulpit as tirades against Reagan andnnuclear weapons. If Christianity can be reduced to ancapitalism or Communism, it is a very paltry sort of faith.nThe truth is, the Church has flourished under the ByzantinenEmpire, the French monarchy, and the predemocraticnAmerican republic, and today it is as strong in CommunistnPoland as it is in democratic America. In both cases, Insuspect it is in spite of, not because of, politics.nThere is something suspicious in the conduct of mennwho abandon the highest vocation and descend to the levelnof political shills. Like the Rev. Richard Price, they celebratenbloody revolutions and give speeches on equality. Burke’snanswer to Price’s sermon on the French Revolution was hisnfamous Reflections, in which he made an observation that isnfar more relevant today than it was in the 1790’s:nPolitics and the pulpit are terms that have littlenagreement. No sound ought to be heard in churchnbut the healing voice of Christian charity.nThe alternative is some form of state religion. If we cannjudge from the examples of the Russians, the English, andnthe Swedes, state churches experience all the corruptingninfluences that usually accompany excessive wealth andnpower. A little suffering is good for the faith. Persecutionnforces us to choose between God and Mammon, butnestablished churches are more tolerant: Why not God andnMammon? The result, in England, has been a series ofnrevolutions against the establishment, represented by thenfigures of Wycliffe, Cranmer, Sir Thomas More, thenPuritans, the Anglican bishops who resisted James II, thenWesleys, et al. The English Church has had more than itsnshare of great men, but in most cases they have foundnthemselves at odds with the political opportunists whonserved as bishops.nMy friend Browne, by the way, is working on a playnwritten in answer to Jean Anouilh’s Becket and Eliot’snMurder in the Cathedral. In his Henry 11, we will be treatednto a politicized and faithless cleric who used his ecclesiasticalnoffice as a base for schemes and plots against one of the mostneffective rulers in the history of England. Reduced to despairnover his friend’s betrayal and his interference with every plannfor reforming the government and strengthening the realm.nKing Henry II finally uttered the line that increasingnnumbers of Americans are already thinking in their hearts:n”Will no one revenge me of the injuries I have sustainednfrom one turbulent priest?”n