A large crowd packed into St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids yesterday to hear Rev. Robert A. Sirico’s presentation on “The Rise and Eventual Downfall of the Religious Left.” This is a political movement, he said, that “exalts social transformation over personal charity, and social activism above the need for evangelization of the human soul.” (He also took time to critique the Religious Right.)
Rev. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute, began by pointing to a “series of signs” that often characterize the Religious Left today:
1) A tendency to believe that the Kingdom of God is not something essentially eschatological; it is a state of being that can and should be achieved on earth through human effort.
2) A loathing of the economically successful rooted in the assumption that wealth is generally unjustly acquired even and especially if it has been accumulated through market means.
3) A conviction that the cause of material inequality is due to injustice that must be rectified, usually by a forced redistribution of the wealth.
4) A reliable bias against commerce and the merchant classes, their products, their marketing, and their cultural presence.
5) A fixation on government programs that purport to do good for others and a pronounced preference for public policy (that is political) solutions instead of voluntary individual or communal efforts.
6) A judgment that unless physical states of social well being are realized, issues such as faith and morals are somehow invalidated.
7) An attachment to the idea that the natural environment represents a source of moral light in the world that is darkened by the activities of human beings.
Rev. Sirico will be discussing the Religious Left on Friday, March 14, on Ave Maria Radio at 4 p.m. with host Al Kresta. (The originally scheduled debate with Jim Wallis is being rescheduled at Wallis’ request). Pick up a live stream for Ave Maria Radio here. (Update: Audio of this interview is available for download in .mp3 format here.)