The Darkness in the Sky
On a clear, moonless night in New Mexico, one can see thousands of stars, shining brightly against a dark canopy. If conditions are just right, the Milky Way, in all its wonder, can be seen from the backyard. I’ve always loved astronomy and star-gazing, even though I can only pick out a few constellations without the aid of a star map (now a handy app on my iPhone).
Known for stargazing, New Mexico has 13 observatories equipped with telescopes used for astronomical research. In 1999, New Mexico was one of the first states (hey, at least first in something) that passed a law regulating outdoor night lighting:
One of the first of its kind in the US, the Night Sky Protection Act makes dark skies a priority in New Mexico for the health of its people, wildlife, and economy. The act requires that outdoor lighting be fitted with shielding that directs light downward, rather than upward or laterally. The act allows present lighting to remain throughout its useful life, but requires the installation of conforming lights whenever replacement would normally occur, so that any economic burden is limited or avoided altogether.
The law also allows local communities to enact more stringent local ordinances. The New Mexico Night Sky Protection Act takes important steps to stop continued increase in light pollution while the bright stars are still among the things that make New Mexico the “Land of Enchantment.”
The Darkness Descends Through Immoral Legislation
Making dark skies a priority is not the only darkness that has been prioritized in the state of New Mexico. Following the just concluded legislative session in Santa Fe, the majority Democrat Party, along with Democrat Governor Michell Lujan-Grisham, have enacted laws that increase the darkness in our state. Sadly, this darkness is of the moral and spiritual kind.
In the race with California, New York, and Illinois to become the most pro-abortion and pro-transgender states in the nation, several recent laws were passed and signed into law. These include one of the most radical pro-abortion laws in the nation, allowing unrestricted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Although our state is overwhelmingly Catholic, including the Governor and many state representatives and state senators, the majority have followed where former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (now deceased) “blood legacy” led them, namely “personally opposed, but publicly supportive” of abortion.
Well, in the case of Governor Lujan-Grisham and many Democrats across the country, the personally opposed has been replaced by personally and enthusiastically in favor of abortion, with no meaningful restrictions. Who would have thought that the Democrat Party would go from Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal, and rare” abortion mantra to the “shout your abortion” movement in just a few short years? Even Joe Biden, a self-professed staunch Catholic (actions speak louder than words), has changed his position on abortion, even supporting the elimination of the Hyde Amendment which prohibits federal funds from being used for abortion. This is certainly not the Democrat Party of my parents and grandparents.
The Darkness Promises Freedom, But Results in Bondage
Nor is a party that supports “gender-affirming healthcare” (aka, permanent surgical procedures and puberty-blockers) for children, especially without parental notification, much less consent, that their child is making a life-altering decision that, in many cases, is sadly irreversible. I suppose New Mexico Democrats embrace the President’s radical position on children:
There is no such thing as someone else’s child. No such thing as someone else’s child. Our nation’s children are all our children.
The Orwellian-named “Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act” does not offer true freedom, but rather an enslavement to sin and spiritual darkness, as the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops clearly stated:
Untruthfully called the “Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act,” this bill is neither about health care nor about freedom, for it denies essential truths about God’s plan for humanity and seeks to supplant God’s vision with the lies and shackles of the Evil One. If there are those who think we are exaggerating, just read the front page of today’s Albuquerque Journal (February 7, 2023). The last thing we need in our state is a Satanic temple from Massachusetts to offer free “reproductive health” services (read abortion).
We shudder to think what the “Religious Abortion Ritual” that they require is all about. More specifically, it will force school teachers to facilitate abortions and even promote transgender surgeries among school children. It is, in fact, the most radical bill of its kind in the nation and continues New Mexico’s penchant for rejecting the most vulnerable and weak among us. We cannot help but think of these words of Pope Francis: “Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection.”
The Spiritual Weapons to Overcome the Darkness
So, how to overcome the “lies and shackles of the Evil One” that have plunged New Mexico and much of the country into deeper spiritual and moral darkness? Because these political issues are rooted in spiritual ones, the right weapons to fight against the Culture War and the spiritual battle being waged are primarily, although not exclusively, spiritual weapons. As a supplement to, not a substitute for, these spiritual weapons, we have political freedoms (at least for now) that we can use to push back against the darkness.
One of those freedoms, endowed by our Creator and enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, is the right of the people “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In addition to the federal right, New Mexico’s Constitution gives its citizens a similar right (with limited exceptions):
The people reserve the power to disapprove, suspend and annul any law enacted by the legislature. . . .
From a practical matter, how do the citizens of New Mexico who oppose these recently enacted laws exercise their constitutional rights? Through a process that involves collecting enough signatures on a petition that would require the New Mexico Secretary of State to include a referendum on the ballot at the next election. The people would then be able to cast a vote that could “disapprove, suspend and annul” these evil and immoral laws.
The Political Weapons to Overcome the Darkness
“Better Together New Mexico” (website here) is spearheading this referendum campaign effort. Although most referendum campaigns ultimately fail, either by falling short of the signatures required to get on the ballot in the first place or, by being defeated at the ballot box, this particular campaign is gaining momentum across the Land of Enchantment. In villages, towns, and cities across New Mexico, people are attending referendum meetings in unexpectedly high numbers. Just a few days ago, at a meeting hosted by the church I pastor, the turnout was almost double what was predicted, with a standing-room-only crowd gathered to hear how they could stand against the darkness.
I don’t know whether or not this referendum campaign will ultimately prevail. The Governor, Secretary of State, and other government officials are against us. They will use any means, fair or unfair, to prevent these laws from being voted on, much less actually rejected by the people. This is a seemingly impossible task.
Governor Lujan-Grisham and the Democrat-controlled New Mexico Legislature have done their best to extinguish the light so that greater spiritual darkness can descend upon our state. However, “if God is for us, who is against us? . . . No, in all these things (including this referendum campaign) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31b, 37) Now is the time to let our light shine so brightly that the darkness flees. Then the only darkness that we will have to contend with are the pitch-black nights that allow us to view God’s magnificent Creation as we give Him the glory that He is rightly due.