There are an awful lot of people I know in the world of public policy, many of whom I respect and admire. But beyond respecting his wisdom and admiring his courage, I just plain like Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. I like his Irish feistiness. I like his sense of loyalty. I like his sense of humor. Most of all, I like how he drives his opponents mad. And with his new book, "Secular Sabotage: How Liberals are Destroying Religion and Culture in America," he could be expected to be stricken from all manner of Christmas card lists -- except the people he skewers don't believe in Christmas.
Disclaimer: I'm on the Board of Advisors of the Catholic League. I've been involved with this terrific organization for many years because Bill Donohue invited me, and I've never been able to refuse Bill Donohue anything.
"Secular Sabotage" is serious business. Donohue insists the United States should be considered unequivocally a Christian country. Eight out of 10 Americans consider themselves as such. Indeed -- and I didn't realize this -- the United States is the most Christian country, in quantitative terms, in the world. "In fact," states the author, "the U.S. is more Christian than Israel is Jewish." And yet if this is so, why can't we celebrate Christmas? Why can't our children pray in school? How did we just elect a president who insisted the United States ought not to be considered a Christian nation?
The popular culture's hesitation to acknowledge the truth of this country's Christian identity is a direct measure of the success a tiny minority of Americans has enjoyed in thoroughly intimidating the majority. While Donohue discusses secular sabotage, he is clear that these ought not to be considered simple secularists existing alongside the faithful. They are nihilists out to expel Christianity not just from the public square but from the public conversation entirely. And they are powerful enough to be succeeding.
The Christian nation has at its core the nuclear family. Erase the notion of the nuclear family and you've destroyed the Judeo-Christian identity of America. The secular saboteurs know this, which is why the author writes they "not only seek to destroy the public role of Christianity, they seek to sabotage the Judeo-Christian understanding of sexuality." The sexual revolution of the '60s, no matter how morally improper, at least believed itself to be governed by the goal of love. The sexual revolution today has no such illusions. As Donohue documents, it is about instant self-gratification; and rather than build a separate societal structure, the nihilists simply want to tear down existing norms. How else to explain the radical feminists' zealous obsession with abortion?
How else to explain the radical gays' overt hatred of the Catholic Church? Several years ago I attended an early morning Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. It was celebrated by the late John Cardinal O'Connor. I noted a large battery of uniformed police guarding the door and lining the aisles. When I raised this issue later at breakfast with Cardinal O'Connor, he just smiled rather sadly. An aide pointed out that the size of the daily police presence was in direct relation to the number of death threats aimed at him.
But the anti-Christian, anti-Catholic agenda of the nihilistic secularists is not confined to the cultural. It is now in the open, very political, and absolutely determined to crush the Judeo-Christian identity in America.
Donohue tracks the increasingly shrill attacks against Christians in general and the Catholic League in particular by the radicals at the Democratic National Committee; he exposes how in 2004 Sen. John Kerry, a self-described "devout Catholic," hired a spokeswoman for ACT UP, the gay group that attacked St. Patrick's Cathedral, as his director of religious outreach; and how in 2007 presidential candidate John Edwards hired religious bigots to organize his Internet presence.
Donohue believes there are some positive signs. Young people seem not to be as radical as their parents. There are new alliances being created among conservative Catholics, Protestants and Jews. And there's this nugget: "But not all agnostics and atheists are secularists at heart."
At first blush, this doesn't seem to make sense. The late great Steve Allen didn't make sense, either. A fallen Catholic, Allen was a self-proclaimed agnostic who openly championed all manner of liberal political causes. But few were as upset and outspoken as he against the left's attacks on Christianity and Catholicism.
In the final analysis, it may be liberals who are trying to destroy religion and culture in America, but it's not all liberals, as Steve Allen, Sen. Joe Lieberman and others have shown. But no matter who is attacking the Christian faith, there's one thing for certain: that fellow will have to face Bill Donohue.