Commentary on social and moral issues of the day

Has “God Bless America” Become a Vapid Mantra?

Fr. Steven C. Kostoff

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January 23, 2009.

Lost in the euphoria of Tuesday's inauguration is the awareness that another large crowd gathers in Washington DC today. It's the March for Life, held annually for 36 years on the date of that Roe v. Wade was passed, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand and has claimed well over thirty million lives. An Orthodox delegation will be present. His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church of America will deliver the invocation at the annual Rose Dinner that will follow the march that evening.

I don't want to diminish the importance of President Obama's inaguaration but a disturbing fact remains: Despite the rhetoric of working to reduce unwanted pregnancies (as if becoming pregnant is like catching a cold) in order to reduce abortions, it is common knowledge that the new administration is openly pro-abortion. Abortion advocates are elated that funding restrictions against abortion, especially through the UN and other international agencies, will be lifted. This will be the first act of the new administration. (Ed. This is exactly what happened.) Pro-lifers are steeling themselves for these reversals and see a future where the value of life for the defenseless diminishes even more. The Obama administration is treating abortion and other life issues as if they are settled policy.

Of course biology shows us something different. Life is a continuum that begins at the moment of conception. That fact is clear. But abortion and the other sanctity of life issues are not about biology, but ideology. Abortion advocates claim the right to destroy a child in her womb knowing full well that the "fetus" (Latin for little one) is a human being. That is the hard truth behind the shrill and brutal cry for "reproductive rights."

From where have we fallen? In our way of thinking, legality trumps morality. Cultural historians argue about the causes, but many say the roots of devaluation reach back to the Enlightenment. Our generation represents the triumph of the autonomous individual over life itself; the triumph of the abstract idea of "rights" over the concrete reality of a human life.

Mother Teresa taught that the moral strength of a country is determined by how it citizens its children (including the unborn), infirm, and elderly. Where does that place America?

Do we really expect the blessing of God when we don't protect the weak and defenseless? How does such blessing work with the abuse of our unborn? Has "God bless America" become a vapid mantra?

Fr. Steven C. Kostoff is the parish rector of Christ the Savior/Holy Spirit Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, OH. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he teaches in the theology department.

Posted: 27-Jan-2009

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