The Americanism Mistake


Church and State are separate, but we only live one life.

Yesterday I called into Patrick Madrid’s radio show at the end of his 4 o’clock hour show. The topic was regarding this article, about ladies who were asked to stop praying at a shopping Mall at the end of their daily exercise walk by a security guard. Here is a quote from the article that will give you an idea of just how far the shopping mall’s policy regarding prayer goes:

“I said, sir, are you saying that people who eat in the food court can’t bow their heads and pray?” she said. “He said, ‘No ma’am.’ That’s exactly what he said.”

So I got in to talk on the air with Patrick at the very end*. I asked him what he thought about publicly berating the security guard, taking a picture of him and asking people to agree that he is wrong through an image meme or something similar. We both agreed that it was not really acceptable for followers of Christ to do such things, I had just posed it as a hypothetical, and that this mall is opening itself to this type of ridicule.

Hind sight is always 20/20, they say. Shortly after the show ended I had a terrible realization. I had just been party to participating in a heresy of the Church, Americanism. The heresy of Americanism is the belief that a person has a “personal / spiritual life” and a “business / secular life” and that these two lives should never meet.  It gets its name from when more Catholics started showing up in the United States of America, and many protestant Americans were worried that these Catholics would start to take offices and swear allegiance to the Pope. (Francis for Ruler of the Free World!… yeah sadly he wouldn’t take it.) This heresy, is of course a false belief. It is when separation of Church and State goes too far. What we do in a secular world and with our business is equally who we are. We are not two people and the hat magically switches when we walk out the door of our homes and Churches. Everything we do will be weighed by God when we die, EVERYTHING is on the plate. We can’t get out of doing wrong, or ignoring God because we are at work.

So here is what we missed; We are Christians always. Praying is a normal and preferred state of ‘being’ for all Christians. Prayer takes up 1/4 of our Catechism (I would argue almost 1/3 by volume). If you don’t want people praying, Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Wicca; Then you must ban the type of person, not the act of prayer. The statement you cannot pray here, is really the heresy of Americanism saying: Don’t bring your “Christian life in here”, but the real statement is “Christians are not allowed to be Christians here, they must be their secular selves” since the preferred state of a Christian is to be in prayer. If you don’t want a Muslim rolling out a mat to pray on during their prescribed hours, or blessing food before a meal, the truth is you really do not want Muslims in your shop, and this is an abomination to the dignity of the human person, by doing so we would push the Muslims away from Christ. We need to change the culture to be use to prayer in the public settings, we need to get back to where people praying is a comfortable normal. Push the standard: pray in public, encourage TV shows to show people honestly praying for help and guidance! This is the problem, prayer has become so out of place that it is seen as wrong. The only way to change that is to pray in public.

*Note: if you are a listener to Patrick Madrid’s Radio Show, you may note that when I call in I use my Confirmation name, Michael.

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