The Guest Commentary in the recent issue of the Monitor (“The face of God is not just white . . . or American; Feb. 8 issue) pointed to the growing hatred, divisiveness and neglect for the poor in America and around the world.

While I fully agree with the article’s message, I don’t believe that the intemperate speech of certain politicians is the cause of hatred, paralyzing division and neglect of the poor. Frankly, I am less concerned with the hate of the few than the indifference of the many. Hate has always existed in America, and our history points to it being directed against many groups, including Catholics. True, hate groups have increased their visibility lately, but their vile rhetoric does not pose the greatest danger to our society.

Most Americans do not hate their neighbor. The biggest danger to the soul of America is indifference.  When a society attempts to detach from a loving God, indifference replaces love. In the Gospel story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man is not condemned because he hates Lazarus, but because he is indifferent to his suffering. He has become so self-absorbed, that he doesn’t even see the man suffering on his doorstep.

The senators who killed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which prohibits an abortion after 20 weeks, most likely do not hate innocent children. However, intent with pleasing their party leadership to advance their political careers, ignoring the medical proof that a child feels pain at 20 weeks, they are indifferent to the suffering caused by the murderous act.

What is disturbing, is that 14 Catholic senators, including New Jersey’s Bob Menendez, voted against the bill. Had nine of them voted favorably, the bill would have passed, and much suffering would be alleviated. Unfortunately, outside of the condemnation of Cardinal Dolan and the senator’s bishops, there has been no public Catholic outrage. Have we been bullied or lulled into indifference to evil?

We are a potentially huge force for good. But, we are not using our voice and vote to respond to Jesus’ command to establish his Kingdom on earth and some are even complicit in advancing evil. Whether complicit or indifferent, inaction poses a great threat to the soul of our country. Many of us are like frogs being ever so slowly cooked that we don’t recognize the life-threatening danger we are in. Jesus promised the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church. He did not promise hell would not reign in America.

For too long, many of us have stood by as, ever so slowly, any public acknowledgement of our God and his commandments are being ripped from society. We have been conditioned, largely by a clever manipulation of the of the separation of church and state doctrine, bolstered by political correctness, to be passive. We have been silent as Christian symbols are removed and his Divine Will ignored in shaping our political and social agenda.

It is indifference that permits the divisiveness, hatred and mistreatment of the poor and innocent. Indifference allows evil to take root and grow. History proves that evil triumphs when a society neglects God. Lent is a good time to examine our conscience. Have we become indifferent to evil? When we pray God bless America, stand beside us and guide us, do we mean it enough to allow him to act through us?

John Toman
St John Baptist, Allentown