What is with all of these political movements and their bus tours? It seems like every tea party organization, former presidential candidate, and special interest group has hit the pavement in a brightly colored vehicle. One of the most recent groups to take part in this new phenomenon is known as “Nuns on the Bus” led by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Sounds good, right? Who doesn’t want a group of charitable nuns visiting their town for some good old fashioned charity work? However, while their actions might appear noble on the surface, the ideology of these nuns veers from traditional Christianity. Earlier this year, this organization was called out by the Pope himself for their pro-gay marriage, feminist theories of social justice which Pope Benedict claimed stand in stark contrast to the tenets of the Catholic church. Yet, despite the criticism, these nuns are still trucking and taking their perverted Catholic doctrine all around the nation.
First off, let me clarify that while this sect of nuns is preaching a dangerous ideology, what they plan to do on their bus tour is not all bad. During their 9-state tour, they will serve the needy at Catholic-sponsored social service agencies. That’s great and I support their service. However, the ideas that they preach are dangerous. They plan to put a “spotlight on social justice” and economic inequality. Their website includes articles and resolutions supportive of the Occupy Movement, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and “reducing your carbon footprint.” Jesus spent years preaching about violent social movements and environmentalism, didn’t he? I think not. While some of the charitable actions that this group of religious women will undertake during their bus tour are commendable, the ideology they preach is borderline blasphemy.
Perhaps the best criticism for this “social justice” ideology comes from none other than C. S. Lewis. In his work “The Screwtape Letters,” Lewis depicted a fictional back and forth between two demons who were trying to seize the soul of a man living during World War II. In one letter, the title demon “Screwtape” says the following: “On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.” Unfortunately, this appears to be what the LCWR is doing. Time and time again they have come under fire from the Catholic church because of their socially liberal policies. Seemingly, as C.S. Lewis warned in “The Screwtape Letters,” they are treating social justice and the end and Christianity as a means to achieve it. They desire equal outcomes (i.e. social justice) instead of equal opportunity. Thus, it is no surprise that they have recently attacked Catholic Paul Ryan for his equal opportunity budget proposals which they believe do not go far enough in pursuing their social justice goals. Sister Simone Campbell voiced her disagreement on a very mainstream, conservative outlet: The Colbert Report. Nothing says traditional Catholicism like Stephen Colbert, right?
The issue with this worldview is that it is a perversion and misuse of true Christian or Catholic principles. As C. S. Lewis said, Christianity (nor any other religion) should not be used as a means to anything, even if the end sounds as nice and fluffy as “social justice.” Social justice should arise from Christianity, not the other way around. This ideology uses Jesus’ principles as a means to achieving social justice. Christianity and Catholicism cannot be molded to fit one’s socially liberal agenda. Christianity is not about controlling outcomes. God controls the outcome. We just follow his lead and hold on for the ride.
Maybe the title “Nuns on the Bus” is appropriate. While I do believe these religious women will do wonderful charity work during their tour, they are misguided. Christianity is a foundation, not a freeway. Recall in Matthew 7 about the man who built his house on rock and the man who built his house on sand. The rock stood up to worldly pressures, whereas the sandy foundation was destroyed. Christians are supposed to build their lives on the rock solid foundation of biblical principles. Unfortunately the women of the LCWR seemingly are not following this principle. They are currently surrounded by a lot of sand. Before long, a wave will wash their movement away in the tides of true Christianity.