November 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Use it or lose it. That’s the advice one of the United States’ leading Catholic entrepreneurs and philanthropists wants to give to fellow Christians who are worried about growing threats to freedom of religion in the country: Either unapologetically bring your faith into the public square where it belongs, or sit back and watch as the country’s traditional religious freedoms continue to disappear.
Tim Busch, the founder of The Busch Firm, whose many business ventures include successful hotel and grocery store chains and a faith-infused winery, says that the “natural tendency” of many Christians, including even some religious leaders and bishops, “is to back down and say ‘let’s not offend anybody.’”
“I think that’s just fear, I think discomfort,” he says. “I think we just need to have more courage.”
Pointing to the Obama administration's HHS mandate as the prime example, Busch says that there are clear signs of a growing persecution against Christians in the U.S. But ultimately, he says, it is a “very minor persecution” compared to past persecutions, such as the violent suppression of religion in Mexico in the early 1900s.
At the same time, he adds, Christians could soon find themselves taking a precipitous trip down a slippery slope if they don’t “stand up and fight” now. “Because if we don’t they’re going to block us from using prayer in the marketplace, and pretty soon they’re going to say that now you can’t really do it in your homes, and now you can’t do it in your churches.”
The end result, he said, is that religion will be “squashed” and freedom of religion will be “boiled down” to serving “the least common denominator, which is atheism. And we don’t want that. People don’t want that.”
“It is who we are, that’s it.”
Busch is especially interested in seeing his fellow Christian businessmen bring their faith into the marketplace.
His own business ventures bear the unmistakable stamp of his Catholic faith, something for which he makes no apologies. Visitors to any of his six hotels, for instance, will find a Catholic Bible, a crucifix, and a rosary in their nightstands. At one of his hotels, as well as at his business headquarters, they’ll even find a chapel where Mass is regularly offered.
If, on the other hand, hotel guests are looking for porn, they won’t find it on any of the hotels’ televisions. Busch long ago made the decision to axe the room-based movie services, because they all came packaged with on-demand smut, something he couldn’t offer in good conscience.
“You’re catching people at their weakest point,” he says. “If they’re single and traveling and they arrive [at the hotel] and it’s 10 o’clock at night and they see these movies and they’re flipping through it. And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these hotel things but it practically forces you to the porn. You can hardly get away from it.”
Busch applies similar principles to his winery, which he called “Trinitas Cellars” – Trinitas being the Latin word for “trinity.” The winery offers several explicitly religious-themed wines, including the “RatZINger” (zinfandel), Psalms (sauvignon blanc), and the Rose’ary (rosé). All of the winery's wines bear a blessing on the back that reads, “May God continue to guide you and bless you all the days of your life.”
While some retailers have refused to stock Trinitas wines because of the blessing on the bottle, Busch is untroubled. “It is who we are, that’s it.”
Busch also routinely begins business meetings with a non-denominational prayer. And in all the years that he has been in business, he says that, contrary to what you might expect, he can’t remember anybody complaining about that, or any of the other ways he has melded faith and business. “I’ve never had one person or letter written to me saying to me, ‘How dare you bring God into a secular public square environment!’ If I did, I’d do it anyway. I’m just saying, I haven’t.”
There was one occasion, he says, where two women filed two separate complaints on the same night about the presence of the religious articles in the hotel nightstands. When Busch’s general manager called him, “flipping out,” Busch simply told the manager to remove the articles from the rooms for the night and apologize to the guests that they were offended.
But when the manager looked up the women, he found they weren’t even checked into the hotel. He suspects the women must have heard about the fact that the hotel provided the Bibles, and “they were just filing an idle protest.”
“Had they been a legitimate guest, I don’t’ have any problem removing it from the nightstand for the evenings they’re there,” he said, adding that the women have their freedom of religion, too. “The problem is they weren’t checked in, so there was nothing to remove.”
“I think we’re going to stare the devil down.”
Busch says that those who would argue that his faith has no place in his businesses, or in the marketplace, are simply wrong.
“God created everything that we deal with in the universe, and so many times in our culture we’ve assumed that religion and the worship of God is something that is done on Sunday morning. But what we forget is that our worship, our prayer, is everyday work,” he says. “And so if this is true, and I believe it to be, then how are we going to not acknowledge God in the workplace when it’s Him who created it all?”
Busch is optimistic about the future of religious freedom in the United States, assuming that Christians stick by their guns.
“The HHS mandate is a showdown on the religious freedom issue, and it seems that we’re prevailing,” he says. “Even those on the Left seem to be supporting the concept of religious freedom and the necessity for it.”
“I think that our state of our nation – not necessarily our president – but the state of the nation and our judicial system, is set up to support religious freedom on the Right and the Left,” he added hopefully. “I don’t think we’re at a devastation point. I’m very proud that it seems like our country is holding out.”
“I always say the devil’s a coward. I don’t think the devil’s going to stare us down,” he said. “I think we’re going to stare the devil down.”