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Biden Embraces Augustine, but would Augustine Embrace Biden?

Biden Embraces Augustine, but would Augustine Embrace Biden?

By David W. Virtue, DD
January 30, 2021

In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden made several references to St. Augustine and the City of God.

Here is what he said:

Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that a people were a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans? I think I know. Opportunity. Security. Liberty. Dignity. Respect. Honor. And, yes, the truth.

Noble sentiments indeed. Biden then went on to say this with respect to his own view of the common objects of America's love: opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and truth. As one columnist noted, "Biden didn't just refer to Augustine, he also made part of his political theology a key element of his own Inaugural vision."

It is certainly, a departure from anything Trump might have said, presuming Trump had even heard of Augustine. Trump's mantra was more in keeping with Norman Vincent Peale and the notion that if life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. The "pursuit of happiness" and the good life was more Trump's style.

But since he took office, Biden has issued a number of Executive Orders that Augustine might not feel so sanguine about. In fact, he might feel downright insulted that he had been misquoted or taken out of context or worse, used for a variety of issues that Augustine could not or would not in the least support.

The Spectator opined that Joe Biden was now the high priest of the cult of woke, and that restoring mandatory critical race theory training is a dreadful idea. Ouch.

That's just for openers. The Equality Act which Biden wants to sign into law, is seen by many as a perilous threat to religious freedom. There would be serious consequences for the nation if that were to happen. It would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, as one commentator noted, "the Act forbids appeal to the 1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) on the part of individuals or organizations."

Here's what this means in practice:

Faith-based hospitals and insurers could be forced to provide gender-transition therapies that violate their religious beliefs.

Children could seek to change their gender without parental knowledge or consent.

Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies could be forced to place children with same-sex couples or lose their licenses.

The Act would dismantle sex-specific facilities, sports, and other spaces. As a result, biological females would be forced to compete with biological males in sports and for athletic scholarships. Sexual assaults on girls in bathrooms and showers could escalate.

Faith-based schools and businesses could be forced to violate their beliefs regarding homosexual activity or face fines, censure, or worse.

Churches that rent their facilities to the public could be forced to rent them for same-sex marriages and other LGBTQ events.

One wonders how Augustine would feel about all this that Biden now proposes and how it would impact the lives of those who truly believed in both the City of God and the City of Man, not to mention his Confessions whose unifying theme is that of redemption. In the Confessions, Augustine saw his own painful process of returning to God as an instance of the return of the entire creation to God.

Biden might argue that stopping the Keystone pipeline is a "creation" issue supported by Augustine, but that barely justifies all the other issues he wants incorporated into American life. Biden is doubling down on issues that reflect the very sins Augustine would have abhorred.

Augustine's volume distinguishes sharply between two cities: the worldly city and the City of God. Biden is dipping into the worldly city it would seem and not the heavenly one.

It is why millions of conservative Christians, both evangelical and Catholic, feel uncomfortable with Biden even though he promises to Make America Normal Again. What he defines as normal is what millions of Americans will now eschew.


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