Thanks, But No Thanks

Recently I've been writing in BreakPoint about the need for Christians to separate themselves from the culture--not to separate in the sense that the Amish do, but rather to clearly take a stand, to be willing to be countercultural. A few days ago I heard about a Catholic priest who perfectly illustrates what I mean. Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who is Catholic, recently donated $5,000 to St. Joseph's Church of North Grosvenordale, Connecticut. But in a move that took the senator by surprise, St. Joseph's administrator, Father George Parker, sent the money back to Dodd. He even returned the interest Dodd's donation had accumulated--$218.27. Now returning the senator's check was no small sacrifice for the church. Among its other obligations, St. Joseph's subsidizes the local parish school to the tune of $280,000 a year. So what prompted Father Parker to give up one of the biggest individual donations the church received last year? It had to do with Senator Dodd's enthusiastic support of abortion--including his support of President Clinton's veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. "His pro-abortion stance goes against the fundamental teachings of the Church," Father Parker explained. And he added, "The money was considered blood money." Father Parker's faithfulness stood in sharp contrast to the actions of the local Knights of Columbus, a Catholic civic group. Shortly after Father Parker returned the check--and over his objections--the Knights threw a breakfast for Senator Dodd, where the senator openly promoted abortion rights. Now a little church skirmish unfolding in a New England village may not appear to be an earth-shattering event. But it gets to the heart of what I've been saying about the need for Christians to separate themselves from the culture. Recently I mentioned the Barmen Declaration--the decision by German theologians to proclaim independence from both the Nazi state and a church that had sold its soul to Hitler. I said that Americans are rapidly approaching the same point of moral disintegration faced by the Germans--that like them, we are reaching the point at which we have to separate both from the state and fellow Christians who have abandoned the truth of the gospel. That's why Father Parker's decision was so important when he marked Senator Dodd's check "return to sender." He was declaring his independence both from the state and from faithless fellow Catholics whose primary allegiance is not to the gospel, but to the things of the world--in this case, abortion rights and the powerful statesmen who back them. The good new is that when the story of the returned check became public, money began pouring in to St. Joseph's from all over the world. Within a few weeks, the church had received $15,300--more than triple what it lost by returning Dodd's donation. And Father Parker has received the enthusiastic support of his parish. During a recent church service, the congregation spontaneously stood up and applauded Father Parker for his courageous stand. Saying "thanks, but no thanks" to Senator Dodd was a massive rebuke that is echoing across the country--even across the world. And it's a grand and glorious witness to the integrity of the church.    


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary