I’ve gotten lots of e-mail from my piece of last Friday, re: the peacenik pastors and bishops. First, a big shout-out to the Mormons, a number of whom wrote to say, “Hey, we support the president, and there are lots of us!” Second, I’ve noticed that there are many people, Catholic and Protestant, writing to say they’ve absolutely had it with the constant peace sermons in their churches, sermons that don’t even acknowledge that sometimes, force is the only way to deal with evil. They’ve had it with Bush-bashing from pastors. They’ve really had it with the refusal to pray for the president and our troops during this time of war, except to petition God to make them choose peace, no matter what.
I have an idea. It comes from my own embarrassment over sitting there in the pews a couple of weeks ago and not speaking up. I was at St. Agnes parish, a fairly conservative church in Manhattan, when the pastor recited the antiphonal “prayers of the people” during that part of the mass. His only mention of the war was to ask God to cause “our leaders to learn to wage peace, not war.” Everybody said, unthinkingly, “Lord, hear our prayer.” I wish I had blurted out, when the pastor finished his litany, “Lord, guide and protect our president and our soldiers during this time of crisis.” I bet nearly everybody in the pews would have agreed with me. But you know how we Catholics are, always sitting there in silence, never openly objecting to anything our pastors say.
I’m embarrassed by my silence of that night. From now on, why don’t we insist that prayers for the protection and guidance of the president and our military be allowed into our church services? What could possibly be objectionable about that, even to anti-war churchgoers? And when pastors start unfairly trashing the president and the country, explicitly or implicitly, stand up silently and turn your back to them. Or protest in whatever way seems appropriate to you. Just don’t be silent out of fear of disapproval. You might be surprised by how many of your fellow churchgoers agree with you, but are afraid to say anything about it.