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Living Faith: Practicing religious liberty

Created date

November 26th, 2013
C. S. Lewis

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when C.S. Lewis died? I ll bet you do. It was 50 years ago last month. November 22, 1963, to be exact, the day Lewis collapsed from kidney failure, and President Kennedy died tragically in Dallas. Now you remember!

Kicking and struggling

Both men were military veterans, well educated, often quoted, widely published, and went by the nickname Jack. Faith was a defining element in both of their lives. Lewis, perhaps best known as the author ofThe Chronicles of Narnia, was an atheist from his teens into adulthood. While on the faculty of Oxford, he came kicking and struggling to the Christian faith under the influence of his friend and colleague, J. R. R. Tolkien, a Catholic. Lewis eventually joined the Anglican church. Kennedy, of course, was the first (and so far, only) Catholic president. He was born into the church, so I suppose we could say he came into it kicking and struggling like Lewis. Lewis became a widely respected defender of theism, publishing books such asGod in the DockandMere Christianity. Kennedy was more defensive about his faith, due to the hesitancy of many 1960 voters to elect a Catholic president, but addressed the issue head on: I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope or any other ecclesiastical source. Though very forthcoming in the public display of his faith, Lewis agreed with Kennedy about the separation of church and state: I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence, theocracy is the worst of all governments. As 2013 draws to a close, and we remember our activities of 50 years ago, let us also remember the religious liberty we enjoy the kind that allowed Kennedy to be elected, Lewis to be heard, and all of us to live our faith as we choose. Editor s note: This month marks the end of the Living faith column. Bill Tamulonis is pursuing other professional commitments; we wish him well on his new journey. If you would like to see the column continue, please tell us at or 703 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228.