The Imposition of Our Beliefs

Claiming that “we don’t want to impose our beliefs on society” is not merely politically convenient; it is morally incoherent and irresponsible. —Archbishop Charles Chaput

The first thing I thought about when I saw this quote was the freedom of speech. We Americans live in a country where we can pretty much say whatever we want to, yet at the same time, we still feel as though we have to censor ourselves unless we want to be dubbed bigots or hypocrites.

To me, hypocrisy is not being outwardly aligned with your inner beliefs. So the only way you can be a hypocrite is if you say you are X, yet you do not act like X. If you truly value your inner beliefs, you tend to live them regardless of what society thinks. You impose your beliefs on society whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.

I suppose the error lies in when a person deliberately conceals his beliefs from the world, to “hide light under a bushel,” so to speak. Doing so would create a schism in the person’s heart, a rift that could grow wider and deeper with time. Perhaps Archbishop Chaput is reminding us to reconsider what we truly believe and how integrated our beliefs are with our outer lives.

2 thoughts on “The Imposition of Our Beliefs

  1. I think “imposing” comes in two different forms.

    For private individuals, it’s exactly as you say — people should live in line with their professed beliefs.

    But it’s different when you have some form of power and authority. What if Jimmy Carter, when he was elected president, had said, “Okay, I’m a Baptist, so now this is a Baptist country. Everyone line up to get converted.”?

    And I know that was a concern when Jeff Bezos brought the Washington Post — would he impose his own beliefs on the editorial staff, or interfere with articles which might be critical of Amazon.

    Anyway, I think this is why “imposing beliefs” can get a bad rap.

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    1. I think that the vast majority of politicians love power more than they do anything else, so they do not do nearly as much as they should to stick close to their inner beliefs after taking public office.

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