Save Freedom of Worship

News & Politics

G.K. Chesterton said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

His quote comes to mind after I inherited a box of family paraphernalia upon the death of my dear sister, who suddenly suffered a massive heart attack in 2015. The contents include a series of letters my father wrote my mother – before they married in 1948 – from the South Pacific during WWII. The box has many Kodak snapshots (with Navy wartime censor notations on the back) of Dad having a grand old time with his buddies in the Admiralty Islands and elsewhere. The photo of sailors playing with puppies, appealing to feminine sensibilities, is particularly amusing.

Dad convinced us for many decades that his time in the Navy was like a vacation in the tropics. It was only later in life – like so many veterans of the time – that he revealed he suffered a difficulty or two, especially on the garden paradise of Eniwetok Atoll late in the war.

The Navy has no record of Dad’s adventures because of the devastating 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Missouri. Hope remains that we’ll find something in the years ahead, but our family treasure box suffices in the interim.

Early in my priesthood, during my first assignment in the early 1990s, a parishioner knew of my armchair interest in history. He delivered a photograph of a Norman Rockwell painting stored then, as I recall, in the National Archives. The Government duplicated the original into propaganda posters for the WWII war effort. The painting depicted people of all faiths praying, with faces reflecting the glow of an unknown light. A woman is prominent in the painting with a Rosary draped over her praying hands. The picture is as beautiful and touching today as it was during the war.

The Government was selling war bonds. So, the poster included these words:

SAVE FREEDOM OF WORSHIP

EACH ACCORDING TO THE DICTATES OF HIS OWN CONSCIENCE

BUY WAR BONDS

Our national authorities understood the culture our soldiers left behind and used the poster to advance the war effort. (Copies of the poster remain available for purchase on the Internet. Parents, why not donate the poster for placement in the history classrooms of our schools?)

In recent years, we’ve witnessed the formation of a subversive anti-religious culture from our schools to the highest levels of our Government. Our fight for religious liberty isn’t foreign. The battle is domestic.

The Biden Administration recently prohibited – then permitted – the celebration of a Catholic Mass on Memorial Day. Last year, the National Park Service denied the Knights of Columbus permission to organize a Memorial Day Catholic Mass at Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia. They cited a new policy that designates “religious services” as prohibited “demonstrations.” Norman Rockwell, the citizenry, the entire United States Government during WWII and in the following years, and my Dad with his brothers in arms would be horrified. After the First Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against NPS, the Park Service permitted the Mass.

Godless leftists threaten the foundational liberties of our nation. Let’s enkindle the love for God, family, and country behind every soldier and citizen. Save freedom of worship. “The night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Rom. 13:12)

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky is a Catholic priest of the Arlington Diocese of Virginia. He is currently the pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, Virginia.

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