(I’m cleaning out the drafts tonight. The beginnings of this were written a year ago. Funny how things continue to repeat… and those shrugged off as “doom and gloom” types continue to be right. “Oh, government healthcare will never mandate abortion coverage and gay people don’t want to force anyone to agree with them, they just want to get married!”)
On other sites, I was busy *discussing* why the use of the term “jesuit” as a slur to accuse a new Congressman of being in league with the New World Order, apparently because he voted against the poster’s wishes and had graduated from one of the several dozen Jesuit universities in the U.S., was a) offensive, b) laughably inaccurate, and c), yes, in spite of the poster’s protestations to the contrary, anti-Catholic. (If you use vocabulary specific to my religion as a slur, it’s pretty obvious you neither like nor even grudgingly respect my religion.)
I wound up discussing something else entirely: how do you get from freedom to tyrrany? What does it look like along the way? Subtitle: How Henry VIII led to the New World Order (I’ll pull it together, honest.)
Part 1: Henry goes astray
King Henry VIII was considered intelligent and handsome as a young king. The king wrote a document that thoroughly picked apart Martin Luther’s theological innovations and defended the long-held Catholic teachings on the Sacraments. For this, the pope granted Henry VIII the title “Defender of the Faith,” a title the British monarchs still claim. (The honor would not go to another Englishman until G.K. Chesterton in the early 1900’s.)
And then things started to go wrong. The queen failed to produce a male heir. Henry wanted a divorce (and had #2 lined up already). The pope said no.
By the time the first act was over, Henry had had one of his closest friends and advisors executed for refusing to grant to Ceasar the things that were God’s: St. Thomas More, former Chancellor of England, went to the executioner’s block for treason because he would not publicly declare the king the head of the church in England, saying, “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” More would not be the last Catholic executed in Britain for the sin of being a faithful Catholic.
(More, as a lawyer, knew that he could not legally be convicted for not saying something, namely approval of the king’s divorce, remarriage, and seizure of leadership of the church in England. As a realist, More probably knew that he would be convicted anyways. Ironically, the Department of Justice recently put out a memo insisting that, “Silence will be interpreted as disapproval,” during LGBT pride month, and, thus, the silent would be subject to disciplinary action. Here we go again…)
Part 2: Henry creates excuses to abuse his opponents
As Henry VIII continued on his sex-driven romp over Church and conscience rights, his next step was to line up more support. How? Simple! Declare anyone who opposes you to be a horrible, evil traitor and seize their property. Monasteries were sacked and given away as prizes to whatever schemer wanted to be a lord and would say anything Henry wanted to get there. Monks and nuns were turned out, leaving the poor, the sick, and the undereducated that they had served with nothing. Generations of donations meant to beautify churches for God’s glory, free art galleries for anyone, were destroyed to make Henry’s point.
The point? “I am EVERYTHING, and I will brook no opponents, not even God.”
I dare say that St. Thomas, who was, “The king’s good servant, but God’s first,” was a good deal better for England than any of the opportunists Henry raised to the nobility.
Our country hasn’t started wholesale seizure of church property yet, but it’s happened before, and not just in England. However, the churches that insist on maintaining moral standards as they teach, serve, and heal are being forced out of providing adoption services, hospital care, and education.
Fire a teacher for breaking the moral behavior part of her contract? Get sued, lose tens of thousands of dollars fighting it in court.
You’re a Catholic agency and won’t place a child for adoption with a gay couple? You can quit, or we’ll take your license away.
Do you hold the belief that abortion is murder, not healthcare? Tough luck; you’re going to be paying for it anyways, as of August 1.
The marginalization didn’t begin here, but it is accelerating.
Part 3: Elizabeth follows her father’s footsteps
We think of history as a fairly neutral telling of events. Unfortunately, this is hardly ever what happens. Queen Elizabeth I’s masterful rewriting of history is one such example of, to put it gently, less-than-neutral history reporting.
“Good Queen Bess”, as we are told in school her subjects called her, was running a police state. (And a lot of her subjects didn’t think she was very good at all.) Neighbors were encouraged to turn in neighbors on any suspicion of Catholic sympathies. Catholics caught at mass were arrested, left in prison in horrible conditions, and allowed to die. Those caught hiding a priest were killed, many in gruesome and cruel ways. Families that could, escaped to the continent. Just as with the Pilgrims later, however, the English crown wasn’t content with fleeing, the crown demanded compliance, religious objections be damned. Travel abroad for any reason became difficult as the police state sought to retain its victims.
During this period, history was rewritten. Catholics were vilified, the Church was cast in the worst light possible, and Catholic countries were elevated from mere competitors to evil incarnate. Any tales of misdeeds out of Catholic countries or their colonies were elaborated and widely publicized. Captured priests weren’t men trying to serve the hunted flock of faithful, they were evil, skulking spies, working for England’s arch-enemy, Spain, and seeking to corrupt good, honest (and above all, Protestant) Englishmen (never mind that most English were still Catholic until some time later; most were biding their time until “all this blows over”… within a generation, those people were generally Anglican). Much of what is taught in this country about everything from Henry VIII forward has been processed and sanitized to make Protestant England look good. It’s called the Black Legend, and, although much of it has been disproven, it’s still taught.
Then, as now, anti-Catholicism is approved and encouraged.
Part 4: The chickens come home to roost
Eventually, we get to Dickens. (Yes, I’m skipping some stuff.) Poor houses, debtors’ prisons, child labor, evil factories, miserly money lenders preying on the poor, etc.
Dickens was part of a movement to reform how the country dealt with the poor and the sick. Why? Because about two hundred years earlier, Henry VIII had dismantled the institutions that had been doing that work. As England became increasingly urban, the disjointed efforts of some of the churches wasn’t enough to deal with the overwhelming flood of people displaced from the countryside.
Further down the line, the government became more and more involved in providing services that used to be the job of the Church. The government stepped in and recreated programs to care for the poor and to provide education. Of course, that never comes free; the government provides the teachers and doctors, but first makes sure they’ll toe the government line.
And so, here we are: Henry VIII’s dream realized. The government is EVERYTHING. The government provides the abortion if your mom wants it, delivery on the taxpayer dime if she doesn’t. Welfare to take the place of the totally unnecessary father, government schooling to tell you it was your right to get that money, because rich people who worked hard and stayed married are just mean homophobes. They’ll tell you which news to watch. The government will try to tell you which churches are “good”, and which insist on following their own consciences (not approved! we said abortion and gay marriage are good, now get in line! how dare you say God outranks us! WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND WE OWN YOU. I think you need to be audited by the IRS… and maybe the FBI, while we’re at it.). They’ll get your sports teams and the cartoons to push the administration’s agenda, because we
don’t want will not tolerate dissent.
But, hey, none of that is going to happen, right? I’m just a crazy conspiracy theorist. One of those “confusing” blogs, as President Obama said in his first term, taking a page from Elizabeth’s smear campaign (step 1: if you can’t refute the argument, disparage the person making the argument).
Yes, history repeats itself. Tyrants are much the same in every age. Sooner or later, they demand that they be the object of worship.
Daniel went to the lion’s den for praying to God, not the king.
The early Christians were fed to lions in the Colliseum for refusing to worship Caesar.
Cardinal George of Chicago said that his successor better be prepared to die in prison if he intends to defend the Church’s right to preach the Gospel and act on it, because history tells us how this usually turns out, once we start down this path.