With the election of 2016, one can say the tide had changed toward religion in America. The newly elected President Donald Trump took another path from that of his predecessor and made religious liberty a hallmark of his administration. This is not to say that this greater degree of importance changed the people’s attitude as far as worship and the practicing of their faith is concerned, but what it did is restore a measure of respect that had been lost or diminished over the years.
Of course there grew a chorus of naysayers and malcontents, and by their statements and criticisms, proved they had little, if any, tolerance and patience for this newfound recognition of the institution of religion. But many Americans were grateful to the president for his unabated commitment to religious freedom, which even goes beyond these shores, as was proven in 2019. In a speech before the United Nations, President Trump expressed his mandate with these words “Protecting religion freedom is one of my highest priorities.” And that the right to religious freedom “was also an urgent moral duty.”
Then 2020 reared its ugly head, and the Coronavirus and tragic death of George Floyd created a new dynamic. Violent and destructive riots and protests at the hands of radical leftist elements, in the form of anarchists and Antifa, manifested into an all-out assault on history and those who served, fought, and died for liberty and freedom. Statues of historical figures were toppled, defaced, or destroyed by angry mobs, who sought to erase the past for its perceived sins and transgressions.
Over the years there have been isolated incidents of this hostility toward monuments and statues, but since the Charlottesville, Virginia fiasco, this aggression has increased, where now it has become a full-scale effort to remove from the public view all manner of the remnants of historical figures. Attacks on statues, mainly in cities and states governed by Democrats, can be attributed to a number of reasons; most were directed at historical figures, which in one way or another were involved with slavery, or had events in their lives that might have had elements of racism deemed questionable by today’s standards. Most of these figures, with few exceptions, were of white men.
However, when this wanton destruction and/or defacement of houses of worship and religious symbols became the objects of attention of these irrational and violent individuals, then another narrative was created. The Church of St. John in Washington DC was set ablaze, but the fire was extinguished before any permanent damage was done. The anarchists expressed their hatred and bias toward America, and Christianity for its pro-life, pro-family, and traditional values, while another faction believed that the depictions rendered, such as that of Christ, showed the visage of what can be described as European in appearance, when it should have been a person of color. There were accusations of racism, and some accused the church of idolatry.
Historic churches have been targeted; centuries-old San Gabriel Mission Church, in San Gabriel, California, was destroyed by fire set by an unknown arsonist. Satanic symbols were painted on the door of a church in New Haven, Connecticut. Obscene words spray-painted on the outer walls of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. In St. Louis, Missouri, protestors/vandals spray-painted and chalked slogans on the majestic equestrian monument to St. Louis IX, King of France.
In a recent statement, Democratic Representative Ocasio-Cortez remarked that the statue of St. Damien of Molokai that resides in the US Capitol represents “Patriarchy and White Supremacist Culture.” Josef De Veuster was born in Belgium in 1840, entered the seminary at the age of 19, and took the name Father Damien. He was sent to the Kingdom of Hawaii and established a parish for Lepers, and without the sanctions of the Church or their families. In that capacity, Father Damien built schools, roads, orphanages, hospitals, and a graveyard. Father, now Saint Damien, remained for twenty years until he died of Leprosy. Like most of her inane and grossly ignorant remarks, this ignoble little brat has proven she has no knowledge or respect of history, and is an embarrassment to the Congress and the United States.
President Trump has spoken out in defiance of this radical element that seeks to erase history. The Catholic Church expressed its dismay, and as expected admonished those who perpetrated this wanton destruction as being “troubled individuals crying out for help.” Perhaps; but first, before the Church extends a hand of compassion and understanding, and we heal and vanquish society's many ills, and then dispense with all the virtue signaling and woke standards, these criminals must be brought to justice and made to pay the price - no slap on the wrist. They must learn that in a nation of laws, wrongdoing will be punished if order is to be restored and maintained.