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The Catholic Response

Recently, a conversation between a devout Baptist Christian and a declared atheist discussing the attributes and inspirational qualities of Helen Keller went something like this:
Atheist: Helen Keller is my favorite communist. She was an amazing woman. She was also an Atheist. Most people don't know this about her.
Baptist Christian: I had no idea that she was an atheist. It truly puzzles me how anyone could not believe in God.
Atheist: Believing in God is beneficial for a lot of folks. People have believed in a higher being or beings since humans first formed communities as we moved out of the hunter-gatherer stage. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as religions don't force their ideas on everyone else. If you find solace in it, great.
Baptist Christian: Silence.
At this point the Catholic jumps into the conversation with the following response:
Secular ideas are not without bias, and like religions, secularists are responsible for forcing their ideas on everyone else as well. Those who love God understand that he is much more than just a beneficial source of solace, otherwise people would have stopped believing in him (or his alternative labels) eons ago.
More and more Catholics are in a position, not only to defend our faith, but to defend God’s very existence. Our evangelical responsibility is not limited to defending what we believe against attacks from other Christians. We are being called to stand up and speak up for God. This brief example of an actual conversation is representative of a very common problem.
First of all, and this point bears a great deal of attention, when the Atheist says there is nothing wrong with believing in God “as long as religions don’t force their ideas on everyone else,” there is a huge contradiction in values regarding an earlier statement that Keller was his “favorite communist.” Was communism not an idea forced upon many who did not wish for it to oppress their lives? The sheer inability to leave a communist country suggests a dominating force. The role of the KGB is brought into the question of force as well.
Catholics need to be on their toes. Who has NOT heard the accusation lately that religions force their ideas on others? The point made by the Baptist Christian is that she finds it hard to believe that people don’t believe in God. This is not a statement of force. If anything, it is an invitation to discover what God is all about. As Catholics that is the approach we need to take to combat the anti-Catholic, anti-God, anti-religion attitude. We are not forcing our love for God on anyone. We would like to invite others to discover what this wonderful relationship is all about. We needn’t approach it by preaching on street corners, but with the way we live our lives and show our love for others. This is the strong message coming from the very lips of our pontiff.
“Pope Francis has clearly reaffirmed the Church's moral teaching, in accord with her unbroken tradition. What, then, does he want us to understand about his pastoral approach in general? It seems to me that he first wishes to have people set aside every obstacle which they imagine to prevent them from responding with faith. He wants, above all, that they see Christ and receive His personal invitation to be one with Him in the Church. The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ's universal call to holiness” (
An invitation is not an act of force. Those being invited should feel welcome. The Catholic response is to show Christ’s love.

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