In their Catholic Evidence Training Outlines, Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward address the prevalent spiritual illness of religious indifference. The eminent Catholic duo—renowned for their influential work as street apologists, authors and co-founders of the Sheed & Ward publishing house—describes religious indifference as “the belief that no religion matters at all.” The indifferent man, according to the apologists, reduces religion to a sort of optional hobby—like stamp-collecting.
On the contrary, Sheed and Ward argue, religion is far from an idle amusement. It is the “first necessity.” Further, they do not say it is the man who rejects it who is the fool but the man who neglects it.
A Great Paradox
Father Robert Barron has called this present state of society, “a ‘meh’ culture of relativism.”
A great paradox that descends from this prevalent attitude of religious indifference in our culture is that it is often accompanied by an intense repulsion towards dogma. Yet “the indifferent” are often severely dogmatic on issues like abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage. Religious dogma is condemned not because it is religious but because it is dogmatic; thus, religious dogma is traded for non-religious or even anti-religious dogma. This human inability to escape the self-affirmation of objective truth in practice led G.K. Chesterton to say:
“In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don’t know it.”