Stand up And be Counted

A statue of Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was pulled down in June, a stone bust of Abraham Lincoln set on fire in Chicago, a monument honoring Black Union soldiers in the Civil War vandalized, and the Emancipation Monument in Washington DC threatened with destruction. Atrocious acts of violence against images of people instrumental in ending the evil of slavery.

Who committed these crimes? The Klu Klux Klan, the direct action arm of the Sons of the Confederacy, a gang of sinister alt-right white supremacists? No, this was the work of Black Lives Matter, BLM, an organization which sells itself on ending racism. 

Lincoln, Grant, black soldiers, all symbols, apparently, of the sin of racism. Confused? Well yes, until you remember that the BLM movement believes pretty much everyone and everything else is too. 

Columbus, Andrew Jackson, Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, an Elk statue in Portland, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Confederates, Mount Rushmore, the US flag, Veterans Memorials, police forces, you name it — for BLM all these and more are racist and accordingly attacked. The whole edifice, the whole system, Lincoln, Grant and black soldiers included, is guilty of white supremacy and has to be torn down, cancelled or dismantled. 

New York Black Lives Matter President Jack Hawthorne sums up the approach. Speaking on The Story he told Martha MacAllum, “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right?”

Burn down this system. If you’re thinking all of this sounds a lot like revolutionary Marxism with a special emphasis on racial identity politics, you’d be right. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors said as much in a 2015 interview with The Real News Network:

“The first thing, I think, is that we actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia (Alicia Garza, fellow BLM co-founder) in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories.”

Where did Cullors learn these theories? Thanks to an interview with Democracy Now! we know, at the Labor And Community Strategy Center under the mentorship of its Director, Eric Mann, a former member of the revolutionary  terrorist group, the Weather Underground. According to the outlet, the Center describes its work as organizing to “focus on Black and Latino communities with deep historical ties to the long history of anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, pro-communist resistance to the US empire.”

There you have it, a self-described cadre of trained Marxists dedicated to overthrowing a culture or system they despise because they believe it’s inherently colonialist, imperialist and oppressive. Given this, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Christianity, the perceived religion of “the system” finds itself in the cross hairs. 

Here’s Shaun King, a prominent BLM activist:

“Yes. All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down,” stated King on social media, “They are a gross form of white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda. They should all come down.”

And come down they have, or at least the attempt’s being made. 

A bronze statue of St. Junipero Serra was pulled off its plinth in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on the same night Ulysses S. Grant met his brazen demise. At the time of writing, the statue of St. Louis, in Forest Park, St. Louis is being targeted for removal, as are Catholics praying around the monument in defense of the saint. These have been violently attacked by Black Lives Matter radicals led by a Muslim, Umar Lee.

Lee explained BLM’s aversion to the statue on local news, KMOV-TV. Louis IX “was anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and an anti-black crusader. He does not need to be on public property overlooking our city.”

Neither, it seems, do Christians, who were shoved, shouted at, cursed and in at least one instance, allegedly punched and beaten with a stick. But this is mild by historical standards. Consider the opening years of the Russian Revolution when the Bolsheviks rounded on the church with demonic fury. Metropolitan Hilarion describes the carnage:

“Clergymen were murdered with particular brutality. They were buried alive, had cold water poured over them in sub-zero temperatures until they froze, were placed in boiling water, crucified, whipped to death and chopped with axes. Many were tortured before their deaths, or murdered along with their families or in the presence of their wives and children.” (Ted Byfield, High Tide and the Turn.)

Again, from Russia in 1918:

“In Voronezh, seven nuns were boiled in a cauldron of tar. Archbishop Joachim of Novgorod was hanged upside down over the Royal Doors on the iconostasis. Over fifty priests were murdered in the Diocese of Stavropol alone; another 42 were killed in the Diocese of Perm. In Perm, the Bolsheviks cut out the eyes and cheeks of one priest, paraded him through the streets, and then buried him alive.” (Dimitry V. Pospielovsky, A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory, and Practice, and the Believer, vol 2: Soviet Anti-Religious Campaigns and Persecutions.)

Similar scenes played out in Spain during the country’s Civil War (1936-1939) where at least 18 bishops, 4,184 priests and seminarians, 283 nuns and some 4,000 laity were killed by Leftists for helping or hiding clergy and religious. Spanish historian Monsignor Carcel Orti commented on the hatred of the Communists for the Church in an interview with Catholic Culture:

“After 1936 in all the main cities, cathedrals, religious communities and parish churches were attacked, ransacked and burned. These persecutions aimed at erasing all traces of Catholic tradition in Spain. Hatred for the faith went even beyond murders and found expression in thousands of sacrilegious acts: tabernacles were emptied, consecrated particles were eaten, shot at, strewn in the streets and trodden on; churches were used as stables, altars were demolished, priests and nuns were held at gunpoint in the attempt to force them to recant their faith.”

Russia and Spain, just two examples of Marxists and fellow travelers persecuting the Church in the twentieth century, one hundred blood-soaked years which saw an estimated 33 million Christians killed at the hands of Communists and their affiliates. The sheer magnitude of the persecution speaks volumes, representing almost half the number of martyrs in the whole of the Church’s history. (Statistics: Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.)

Of course the killing, torture and imprisonment of Christians by the Left continues today, notably in Communist China and North Korea. For these revolutionaries, the very concept of God, to quote Lenin, is “unutterably vile” and to be stamped out, from the barrel of Mao’s gun if needs be. Why such bile? 

Listen to Lenin again, “Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.” (Vladimir Lenin, Religion and Socialism, 1905) And in the words of Marx himself, “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.” (Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843) Put simply, religion stands as an oppressor of the people and has to go.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, no stranger to Communist persecution, speaks:

“Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot. To achieve its diabolical ends. Communism needs to control a population devoid of religious and national feeling, and this entails the destruction of faith and nationhood. Communists proclaim both of these objectives openly, and just as openly go about carrying them out.” (Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, Godlessness: the First Step to the Gulag. Templeton Prize Lecture, 1983)

To return to North America: Over the last weekend, July 10-13, St. Gabriel’s Mission in California, founded by St. Serra, was gutted by fire, a church was burned in Ocala, Florida, and another in Indiana. That’s not all, a statue of the Virgin Mary was set on fire in Boston, and another statue of Mary was vandalized in New York. Two more statues, of Christ, were vandalized later in the week, one image being decapitated and another, at a veterans cemetery in Montana, merely painted brown. It would seem Shaun King’s admonition that it “should all come down” is being taken seriously.

We must take it seriously too. In the face of this threat, and it’s a real one, compromise, weakness, inaction and appeasement are not an option. Instead, Christians of all denominations must not only identify the enemy but also stand up in defense of the Faith, mindful of Christ’s words:

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt. 5: 10-12)

Be assured that against this witness for Christ the “gates of Hell shall not prevail.” (Matt. 16:18)

Fr. Michael Heidt is a priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth and Editor of Forward in Christ.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.