If you are a certain New York Times best-selling author, and up and coming evangelical leader named Eric Metaxas, the federal regulation requiring employer insurance packages to require contraception coverage smacks of Nazi era legislation, and God really wants us to do better than we did against the Nazis this time. Read all about it in my essay at Religion Dispatches. (Excerpts, below)
[anti-Nazi German theologian Dietrich] Bonhoeffer’s voice, Metaxas explained, was prophetic:He joins conservative Catholic leader, and Opus Dei priest Fr. John McCloskey in encouraging people to imagine a revolutionary future; maybe a revolutionary present.
“I see him as someone who like Isaiah, or Jeremiah, was saying things to call the people of God to be the people of God... In his day, clearly his voice was not heeded. His voice, if it’s prophetic, is not Bonhoeffer’s voice—it is really the voice of God.”
“This HHS mandate” situation he said “is so oddly similar to where Bonhoeffer found himself” early in the Nazi era. “If we don’t fight now,” Metaxas warned,
“if we don’t really use all our bullets now, we will have no fight five years from now. It’ll be over. This it. We’ve got to die on this hill. Most people say, oh no, this isn’t serious enough. Its just this little issue. But it’s the millimeter... its that line that we cross. I’m sorry to say that I see these parallels. I really wish I didn’t.”
[McCloskey's] dystopian manifesto of a decade ago rocked American public life.
The prominent priest’s appearances in major American media at the time included Meet the Press, with Tim Russert. On the show, McCloskey discussed his avatar, Fr. Charles, a future priest, looking back on the history of the Church in the U.S. from the year 2030. The Church had faced persecution, participated in a civil war that broke up the United States—and although the Church now comprised fewer members, the remnant hewed closely to doctrine and had achieved Catholic supremacy in some places. Church membership had also been refreshed by hundreds of thousands of “orthodox” evangelicals who had been co-belligerents in the war.
McCloskey is no militant-but-obscure cleric—he has been a regular in the national media and is credited with the conversion of the rich and powerful, including Newt Gingrich, then-Senator (now governor) Sam Brownback (R-KS), journalists Robert Novak and Lawrence Kudrow, former abortion provider Bernard Nathanson, publisher Alfred Regnery, financier Lewis Lehrman, and Judge Robert Bork. McCloskey also famously accompanied then-Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) to Rome for the canonization of Opus Dei founder Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer in 2002.
McCloskey recently published an update of his essay. “I—or perhaps my thesis” he wrote, “received quite a bit of vitriolic criticism from the elite mainstream media and even from the late Tim Russert on Meet the Press. A goodly number of faithful Catholic writers also found it dark and threatening, however, although I had intended it to be positive and optimistic.”
“My avatar priest,” he continued, “looked back from the vantage point of 2030 to reflect on recent ‘history’: the story of American Catholics who became confessors and martyrs to the faith as the federal government of the ‘Culture of Death’ persecuted them.”
In his original essay, McCloskey’s avatar, Fr. Charles, explained how “the great battles over the last 30 years over the fundamental issues of the sanctity of marriage, the rights of parents, and the sacredness of human life have been of enormous help in renewing the Church and to some extent, society.”
McCloskey’s literary device allows him to avoid openly seditious language, while suggesting that conservative Catholics and allied evangelicals should prepare for civil war.