God’s laws are above man’s

In our contemporary crisis of conscience, we have one advantage that Thomas Becket apparently did not have. Our struggle resembles Becket’s, inasmuch as it is with the United States government, on the one hand; on the other, however, is the United States Constitution and its First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Becket gave his life “to the Law of God above the Law of Man;” in our case, the law of man, rightly understood, is in accord with the law of God.


I am cautiously optimistic that the Constitutional protection of religious freedom will prevail in the present conflict. But there are no guarantees. Murder in the Cathedral is a meditation on martyrdom. Memorable are the words from Becket’s Christmas sermon: “A martyrdom is always the design of God, for His love of men, to warn them and to lead them, to bring them back to His ways. It is never the design of man; for the true martyr is he who has lost his will in the will of God, and who no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of being a martyr.”