Examples of Secular Pharisaism

As I explained in a previous post, secular Pharisaism places blind adherence to rules above the common good and the rights of individuals. Here is one example of secular Pharisaism: Teen with brain tumor barred from prom.

As I understand the situation, based on the information in that news report, the school knew that this teen has a brain tumor, and knew that he had broken his hip. But because he did not fill out the proper forms, giving the school written notice that he was absent from school due to these tragic events, they turned him away from his prom. So they prioritized rules above the good of the students, the good of an ill and injured student in particular, and above common sense.

And district Superintendent Raynee Daley’s public apology was not really an apology. He said: “We cannot let students participate in the absence of a medical release, and when we did not get a release in time, we were forced to make a decision that turned out to be very unfortunate in order to protect the safety of our students and staff.” Of course, it is absurd to claim that anyone’s safety was endangered by allowing a teen in a wheelchair, who has brain cancer, to attend a prom. And the school was not “forced” to make a foolish decision. They simply follow rules without regard for the benefit or harm that results.

Secular Pharisaism is becoming increasingly common in our society. In another example, a farmer set up a small pond, fed by a stream, so that his cattle could drink. Wyoming welder, facing $16M in fines, beats EPA in battle over stock pond The EPA tried to force him, by means of heavy daily fines, to do away with the pond. An attorney for the man said that federal law clearly exempts stock ponds from EPA rules. Yet the government pursued the man anyway. They operated under a disingenuous and exaggerated interpretation of the law, so as to give themselves powers not granted by Congress, and then they enforced those rules without regard for the truth of the matter, or the common good.

This is what happens in any society when a large portion of the population is not in the state of grace, which is the state of loving God and neighbor. Rules are followed without any reference to morality, because many of the persons making and enforcing those rules have long ago abandoned the eternal moral law. They do not act out of love of neighbor, and so, of course, many problems ensue.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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