Is John Kerry a genuine Catholic? Kerry’s candidacy raises a crucial question: Can a political leader be pro-abortion and still be considered a principled Christian?
Moreover, like John F. Kennedy before him, Kerry claims that the American people need not worry about his Catholicism influencing public policy if he is elected President. As he has repeatedly told the media, “I am not running to be a Catholic President, I am running to be a President who happens to be Catholic.” In short, Kerry’s Catholic views are privately held beliefs that will not enter the public square.
Kerry’s assertion that there is a split between public and private values is part of a larger, dominant liberal worldview that seeks to marginalize religion from civic life. In her latest book, The Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey challenges this view and offers a radical alternative.
Pearcey, distinguished Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at the World Journalism Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, claims that a proper worldview encompasses all of reality, not just fragments of it.
Ultimately, she argues that a person’s worldview must be consistent both with their private beliefs and their public positions. This means that a Catholic politician who is true to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church cannot be in favor of abortion or embryonic stem-cell research. Therefore, Kerry, along with other prominent leaders such as Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Rudy Giuliani–who claim to be Catholic and yet do not support a culture of life–are shirking their public moral responsibilities.
Building from her previous book, written with Harold Fickett and Chuck Colson, How Now Shall We Live?, Pearcey develops the understanding of a comprehensive Christian worldview. For Pearcey, a truly informed worldview is “a biblically informed perspective on all of reality.” This means that a professor at a college does not leave his faith behind when he enters the classroom, nor does a businessman forget his Christian beliefs before entering into negotiations. Rather, a person’s Christian convictions should permeate his every decision and word.
Well-written and thoroughly documented, Pearcey traces her own spiritual development from atheist to devout Christian in her book. Having struggled with her own Christian upbringing, Pearcey was determined to understand the intellectual underpinnings of the faith she was raised in. It was only after intense searching that Pearcey found her way to a Swiss retreat, L’Abri Fellowship, where she studied under renowned philosopher Francis Schaeffer. It was at L’Abri that Pearcey became grounded in Christianity and saw that it was the only viable basis for any worldview.
Pearcey’s book deftly traces the contemporary distinction between private and public morality through an historical analysis. With personal anecdotes, Pearcey also outlines the mental roadblocks that stand in the way of developing a consistent worldview. The book also touches on an array of topics from Darwin’s theory of evolution to the rise of feminism and the breakdown of gender roles and the family.
Pearcey’s book is a rousing call to action for Christians to wage the culture war. In a recent interview with the MacLaurin Institute, Pearcey said, “Christians everywhere realize that America is in moral free-fall. Aggressive homosexual activism, unchecked abortion, decadent entertainment, failing families-a host of issues have jolted Christians out of their cultural passivity. We are waking up to our responsibility before God to help shape public policy.”
Total Truth presents a compelling case for a Christian worldview. It also shows that Christians are no longer willing to remain silent in the face of America’s moral decline. In this crucial election year, Kerry would be wise to take note.