The Obligatory Obama Speech Post

Sunday, May 17, AD 2009

After months of discussion, Obama finally gave his commencement address at Notre Dame University today.  Due to a near fascistic exercise on the part of the ND administration, the event was virtually free of any signs of protest, and Obama made full use of the event to do his “don’t you wish you could be as moderate and measured as I am” shtick which we know so well from the campaign.  The text is as follows:

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15 Responses to The Obligatory Obama Speech Post

  • Let me add to that faith part and also what troubled me. Right after that he said:

    “And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.”

    Now Obama has touched on this theme before

    http://www.barackobama.com/2006/06/28/call_to_renewal_keynote_address.php

    Now what is troubling as you tell Catholics to be sure to base things on reason (I think we have a good hisotry of that) he fails to mention the important side of the coin that Secular folks have as a part of this bargain

    As he stated last year

    “But what I am suggesting is this – secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country.”

    That was missing and in a Speech that was watched by millions perhaps a tad unfortunate. Especially as we have seen recently even by using Reason on issues of abortion and gay marriage any hint of our religious viewpoint gets us dismissed. As we in a striking section of the Iowa Supreme Court Opinion on gay marriage

    I do wish Obama had not omitted that

  • Obama did what Obama always does: he gave a glib speech that does not stand up under more than a few minutes cursory analysis. Much more disturbing to me was the reaction of most of the Notre Dame students who acted as if they were at an Obama rally, including ritualistic chants of “Yes We Can” to drown out protestors speaking up for the unborn. Whatever knowledge most of the students received during their college days at Notre Dame, the key Catholic teaching of the duty to defend innocent human life seems to have been carefully omitted.

  • “What troubled me….” How laudible and sensitive, jh. So the ceremony site was devoid of outside pro-lifers. Then again some of those pesky dinosaurs
    were present among the graduates. That is, those on other parts of the campus praying for Dear Leader’s immortal soul. And that of Father Jenkins. Who can brag tut tut pulled off that one. But not so fast. Note that in the past five days,both Presidents have hotwired the pro-life movement. Based on the hundreds of noble souls who spent quality time in some of South Bend’s finest holding tanks. Including my new hero, Father Westin- what was it, arrest 22, 23, anyone counting? Frankly, the conditions were never better for a movement that had been gulping wind of late. An extraordinarily pro-abort POTUS combined with the ND President whose idea of dialogue is the equivalent of the grumpy old man shouting You Kids Stay Off My Property was superb in bringing the issue of the babies front and center. I even saw brave souls hauled off on my local 6 a.m. teevee newscast so even the MSM had to cover their arrests. So everybody claims victory and goes home. Perhaps as much ‘dialogue’ as Father Jenkins will allow. Along with the increasing financial hole caused by decreased contributions becaused of the invitation. That won’t be filled while he has the job.

  • Darwin you might be interested to know that even the Progressive Mr Winters has thoughts similar to you over at America’s blog

    Obama Gets a C minus at Notre Dame

    http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=28452923-3048-741E-7282751823625667

  • Take no comfort from the sop Winters is throwing to pro-lifers. His buddies at Commonweal were orgasmic over the Obama spiel. But what can we expect? For forty years, our catechesis has insisted that “Be nice” is not just the cardinal moral virtue but the only moral virtue. Obama has spent enough time around Catholics (and hired enough of them to run “Common Good” websites) that he had no problem standing up in front of a bunch of expensively but poorly educated kids and giving them back exactly what their Catholic school teachers have shoveled at them from first grade up to their Notre Dame graduation. Naturally, they ate it up.

  • JH,

    I would imagine that for someone like Winters, who actually imagines that Obama might make a good faith attempt to do something positive in the pro-life realm (on the “reducing need for abortion” side of things, of course) and meet Catholic Democrats half way, it would be even more disappointing. Obviously, if Obama had in fact made some statement that seemed like a positive move towards the Church’s position in this speech (even if it was something as basic as saying he’d gone too far by promising to sign the Freedom of Choice act — which is unlikely to be passed in its original form in the first place — and instead promising to veto it if it reaches his desk as being “too extreme” — a promise that would itself be as empty as his original one to sign it) Obama would have totally cut the legs out from under his conservative Catholic critics and handed those like inters a major victory.

    Of course, unlike Winters, I would never have imagined that happening in the first place. But if it had, it would have been a signal defeat.

  • Gerard, I think you’re right. While the idea of the one of the nation’s most prestigious Catholic institution giving an honorary law degree to a politician who professes a view of the law that is so contradictory to Catholic values cannot be considered a good. The effects may well be as you say. And what’s more, I bet we will see stronger, greater and more unified actions from the bishops in the future.

    I think the text of the degree is enough to make any thoughtful Catholic vomit, but even if that’s just my bias, any bishop who thought it prudent to give Fr Jenkins the benefit of the doubt and keep quiet through this is probably feeling rather disappointed and probably resolved to head this sort of thing off in the future.

  • I ma actually optimistic in some ways. I don’t think many of these Bishops and Cardinals have taken kindly to this. I also think they perhaps have been taken about with the name calling toward them.

    Again though what can they do. I think we all realize that United States Bishops Conference actual Jurisidcational authority has often been a question. See debates on the Citizenship document. Now we see it as to a 2004 explict directive

    However what is shocking is this provides that even the Bishop of the Dicoese where these Catholic Universities reside are pretty much powerless. Having the local Bishop have such a disconnect from a University is troublesome.

    So I am not sure what the Bishops can do or how they are going about doing it

  • Good speech, Barack.

    Interesting.

    So do you actually think that, or is this just the obligatory “one in the eye for the conservatives” reaction?

  • Someone on Bill Bennett just pointed out that “open hearts and open minds” is part of the United Methodist creed… it is most certainly NOT part of the Catholic creed.

  • So do you actually think that, or is this just the obligatory “one in the eye for the conservatives” reaction?

    As if it had to be asked . . . . But hey, at least michael came up with something above school-yard taunts and obscenities here.

  • What strikes me as particularly dunderheaded about the speech is his repeated and detailed invocation of the Civil Rights movement to prove his points. Does he honestly not know that most pro-lifers see themselves as the abolitionists/civil rights movement part two, or does he actually want to douse himself in unintentional irony?

  • “Good speech, Barack.”

    His teleprompter must have been working.

  • I walk into church and there is a sign on the window that says “Contact your congressman to vote against the abortion bill.” This sign went up sometime after the first of this year. My immediate question was, “Hey, where were you during the election? “ I must digress here to tell a short story. During last week’s mass (yes, I am Catholic) a sudden political discussion arose regarding the invitation by Notre Dame University to Mr. Obama to speak at the graduation. Obama is outspoken in his support of abortion rights. He asks us to be tolerant of differing view points. I guess he means we should tolerate the killing of unborn humans. Now we can get into an abortion discussion but that is for another time. Anyway, during the impromptu discussion (right in the middle of a prayer, no less,) Mr. Obama’s position on abortion was condemed, but his positions on the economy, forgien policy, and health care and the death penalty were applauded by several members of the congregation. One would assume that those people voted for Mr. Obama and by extension, the policies of the Democratic party. Now we all know what happens when we “assume.” But it would be safe to say that these people voted for Obama because they wanted money to be appropriated for universal health care, for welfare payment to the poor, welfare payment to the banks, welvare payments to the car companies (and by extension the unions, thereby giving the unions control of the car companies, thereby giving contol to the government, thereby giving control of a large part of the economy to the Democrats) and money to many other “worthy” causes. So in the end it is really about money…government money. (Just an aside…it’s not government money, it’s money extracted from taxpayers, eventually at the point of a gun if it if someone wanted to take it that far. Oh yeah, and money borrowed from the Chinese, who I’m sure have nothing but the best interests of the United States at heart. But I digress again.)

    “Uhh…you digress alot…what’s your point?” you ask.

    My point is, that if someone is against abortion, why would they ever vote for a Democrat in the first place? Every Democratic office holder is always and everywhere going to support abortion. Well maybe not some local office holders but they belong to the political party that will always and everywhere support abortion. Voting for a Democrat is like giving the ax to the executioner. Do you think he’s going to put it down and lay down with the lambs when it comes time to support abortion? The chance to strike a blow against abortion was at election time! Why was it not taken then? Oh yeah, I forgot. It’s so we can get government money to support “human dignity.”

    God says he knew us BEFORE we were in the womb. So as the liberals are so fond of saying, “the research is in, there is no longer any question.” Human life began BEFORE conception. Are we going to cut that life short for our thirty pieces of government silver? Where is the human dignity in that?

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  • Very interesting.

    The Amish seem to be a nice prototype of a level of subsidiarity that we Catholics continue to debate and theorize about.

    Something that many Catholic economists should study further on.

Book Review: The Death of a Pope

Friday, May 15, AD 2009

Out today from Ignatius Press is The Death of a Pope, a new novel by Piers Paul Read, a mainstream novelist (his survival novel Alive about a rugby team whose plane crashes in the Andes topped the New York Times bestseller list when it came out 25 years ago, and was later made into a film) who has also written both fiction and nonfiction on Catholic themes. He wrote a popular history of the templars a few years back, and On the Third Day, a thriller about the discovery in modern Israel of a crucified skeleton that some allege to be proof that Christ did not rise from the dead.

I had not read any of Read’s previous books, but when Ignatius emailed me and offered me a review copy, the premise of the novel sounded interesting and I could not resist the lure of a free book. However, I did not initially expect much of it, my idea of modern “Catholic thrillers” having been formed by the likes of Pierced By A Sword, whose prose style treads that delicate line between incompetent and downright laughable.

However, I need not have feared. Read’s prose is deft and indeed literary, though the modern device of using present tense narrative to convey immediacy is not necessarily my cup of tea. Those inclined to literary snobbery will not find themselves holding their noses as they read this novel by any stretch. The less pretentious reader will enjoy the fast-paced plot, which whisks him from a terrorist trial in London, to the refugee camps of Uganda, the chemistry labs of Cairo and at last to the 2005 papal conclave.

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Gallup: More Americans Identify as "Pro-Life" Than "Pro-Choice" For First Time

Friday, May 15, AD 2009

This is only one survey, but it is encouraging all the same. The denial of legal protection to an entire class of human beings is one of the most serious human rights issues of our time. Here’s an excerpt from the article, with some thoughts below:

A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and 42% “pro-choice.” This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

Gallup1

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27 Responses to Gallup: More Americans Identify as "Pro-Life" Than "Pro-Choice" For First Time

  • I’m going to put the comment I left on this same survey at Inside Catholic here.

    Of course it is always encouraging to see pro-life numbers on the increase.

    The problem is that these numbers tell us nothing about what is likely to happen in the future. Not only can one be ‘personally’ pro-life and politically pro-choice – one can even be politically pro-life, in theory, and have higher priorities than abortion.

    I suspect this is a major reason why, in spite of such numbers, there aren’t enough pro-life politicians to push through a serious pro-life agenda. When was the last time abortion ranked anywhere near the top of the list? Not any time recently, if this list of polls can be trusted:

    http://tiny.cc/wQPX6

    Time and again, the economy is at the top of the list, and abortion, when it even makes the list, is at the bottom (you may have to scroll down to see some of those polls). Given these priorities, it makes no difference if one is pro-life or pro-choice. The status quo wins.

    As some have suggested in a discussion over the plausibility of a pro-life Democratic campaign at American Catholic, we basically need a pro-life Obama – someone who people will vote for on the economy, who also happens to be pro-life. It doesn’t need to be the Obama brand of neo-Keyensianism, but it had better not be laissez-faire, give the top .01% a massive tax cut supply-side nonsense either.

    In the end, the average hedonistic American has his priorities, and we have ours. If ours are important to us, and we are in the minority, then we have to find a way to attach our priority to the majority. The pro-choice lobby isn’t that strong. If abortion is a low priority for Americans, radical feminist ideology barely registers. Give them the choice between ‘guy whose economic policies I like, and who is pro-life’ and ‘guy whose economic policies I don’t like, but who is for a woman’s right to choose’ and the contest is over.

  • I agree to a certain extent, Joe, but with the following caveats (disagreements are more interesting anyway):

    1) I think you overstate the importance of the economy. While any time we are in a severe recession the economy takes precedence, the 2000 and 2004 elections really had very little to do with the economy. When we aren’t in a recession, other policies can matter an awful lot, and politicians generally try to cobble together an attractive menu of positions. The level of pro-life sentiment is important in shaping politicians views. If, like Tim, you want to see pro-life Democrats, well then one of the most likely ways for that to happen is for a majority of Americans to be pro-life.

    2) Some judges are heavily influenced by opinion polls. Justice Kennedy is a good example; he changed his mind on overturning Roe at the last minute, but he upheld the popular Partial Birth Abortion Ban. As Constitutional Law scholar Michael Klarman observed, “Any court on which Justice Kennedy is the median voter will never do anything to provoke dramatic backlashes.” On these and other issues, his opinions seem to track neatly with public opinion polls.

    3) Additionally, your assertion that “the pro-choice lobby isn’t that strong,” is simply false, at least with regard to the Democratic party. Name a prominent Democrat who says they are pro-life, and is willing to vote against their party on judicial nominees or even on something less significant like the Mexico City Policy. The pro-choice lobby is extremely influential in the most influential party in the country, and the status quo is in their favor; I’d say they are operating from a position of strength.

  • It’s fun to disagree. As long as you’re not E. I’d rather go to the dentist in that case.

    1a) The economy is always somewhere near the top. And in an economic system with a boom-bust cycle, you never know when it is going to be at the top.

    1b) But even if it were nowhere near the top, abortion rarely is. The real point here is that an affirmation of the pro-life position doesn’t necessarily translate into a prioritization of that position. This time it was the economy, next time it may be something else. Strategies must be formulated accordingly.

    2) I don’t know if that fact makes me cringe or not. Opinion polls can’t always be trusted. I just pointed out one reason why. But hey, if a judge wants to misread to poll to our advantage, that’s alright by me.

    3) I wasn’t speaking in regards to the Democratic Party. What “is” the party? If it is the party politicians and functionaries, you have a point. If it includes registered Democrats, the power of the point diminishes. If it includes all people who might be inclined to vote Democratic, it is irrelevant.

    Party loyalty and even basic party identification is diminishing. People didn’t vote for a Democrat, they voted for Obama. The average voter doesn’t give a rats behind what Planned Parenthood thinks. Sync up pro-life politics with whatever their concern is at the moment, and you will have a pro-life victory. That’s how Casey won PA. A real pro-life candidate could do it too.

    The point is, they have no real power or influence over the American voter. Let them huff and puff. They know as well as we ought to know that the battle over abortion will always take a backseat to some other issue for most Americans. With things the way they are now, and are likely to be for some time to come, its going to stay in the backseat, maybe even the trunk, indefinitely.

    The good news is that means they will let their guard down. 2010, mid-terms, lets get guys like Tim on the ballot in districts where there are pro-choice Democrats or Republicans, promoting a pro-worker, pro-family, pro-second amendment agenda.

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  • Though obviously polls can deviate a bit based on sample, it seems like an encouraging point in that it shows people prefer the “pro-life” label.

    The challenge will to be to come up with a pro-life agenda which can successfully capture this sentiment, which I would imagine is in many cases a rather soft sentiment and not ready for bruising clashes.

  • John Henry,

    I like this bit: fourth grade biology.

    Hilarious!

    DarwinCatholic,

    Yes, a pro-life agenda is needed to capture this sentiment.

  • I love seeing Prof. Klarman quoted.

    😉

  • Yeah, he was my 1L con law prof. Great guy. I was sorry we lost him to Harvard.

  • I didn’t realize he had left UVA. That’s bad news.

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would leave the cozy confines and laid-back atmosphere of “Whithers High” for snooty Cambridge.

  • Agreed, although Klarman is an ardent Red Sox fan; love for Fenway can make people irrational. Plus, I think his kids were heading off to college so it was a good time to make the move.

    Did you know Stephen Smith ’92? I think he was there around the same time as you; he’s leaving for Notre Dame this year. I’m sad to see him go, but glad that Notre Dame is attracting high-quality Catholic faculty.

  • Yeah, Steve and I are friends (although, since moving to Ohio, I’ve been out of touch with him for a few years). We got to know each other in the Federalist Society when we were at UVA together.

    I hate to see him leave UVA as well, but if he has to go somewhere, I’m glad it’s Notre Dame. One more good guy (solid Catholic, a member of the K of C, and politically conservative) on the faculty will go a long way.

  • My favorite Steve Smith story:

    Shortly after Justice Thomas was confirmed, the UVA Federalist Society went to visit the Supreme Court for oral arguments and to have an audience with the newly minted Justice.

    Justice Thomas was still vocally bitter about the confirmation hearings, especially the racial component of his being unacceptable because he was a black conservative. The Justice saw Steve amongst our group and told him how glad he was to see a “young brother” who could think for himself, and told him to look him up if he was ever interested in clerking.

    Of course, Steve went on to clerk for Justice Thomas after he graduated.

  • Small world. I didn’t realize you and Prof. Smith knew each other. He is a student favorite; I had dinner with him a few weeks ago as part of a conservative group at the law school. Very funny and insightful guy.

    I hadn’t heard the Justice Thomas story, although it’s not surprising that he stood out in a crowd; he and his sons (also tall) are hard to miss at Mass.

  • His height, yes, as well as the fact that he was the only African-American in a group of mostly white conservatives and libertarians. Given what Justice Thomas had just gone through, I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t noticed Steve (and seen him as a kindred spirit) in that particular setting.

  • Yes, that was an ugly, ugly confirmation battle, and it’s not surprising that Justice Thomas noticed Prof. Smith in a group of Fed Soc students – of course, Prof. Smith’s excellent credentials (law review, order of the coif, etc.) certainly didn’t hurt his SCOTUS clerkship chances either. It is tough to be a conservative African-American.

    During the Dartmouth Board of Trustees battles a couple years ago, I read articles which devoted several paragraphs to describing his selection as a huge setback to campus efforts for diversity and inclusiveness (because he was conservative); curiously omitted from the narrative was the fact that Prof. Smith was himself African-American and had a fairly inspiring personal story.

  • In my humble opinion, Steve Smith and his fellow Federalist Society, Law Review, and Order of the Coif cohort, Adam Pritchard (now at U. of Michigan), were the most intelligent people with whom I went to law school. And I say that not to take anything away from people like Laura Ingraham, Prof. Todd Zywicki, etc.

    I apologize that I’ve taken this thread off track, but I’ve certainly enjoyed having done so.

  • “I apologize that I’ve taken this thread off track…”

    Not at all. I’ve enjoyed it as well, and, for once, I’m taking one of my own threads off track rather than someone else’s. 😉

    I didn’t realize that Todd Zywicki, Adam Pritchard, and Laura Ingraham went to UVA. It will be interesting to see who goes where in the next twenty years…

  • Hey, I don’t mind either but I also wouldn’t mind continuing our friendly disagreement 🙂

  • I heard this poll mentioned at the end of a drive-time newsbreak on one of the local radio stations in Springfield today… could be getting some MSM attention soon.

    Gallup says one explanation for the shift could be that the sharp leftward turn in Obama’s policies have moved what most people think of as “pro-choice” farther to the left. IOW, “real” pro-choicers believe in virtually unrestricted abortion, and those who think abortion is morally wrong and favor at least some restrictions (no partial birth, no taxpayer funding, etc.) are starting to think of themselves as more pro-life than pro-choice.

    While we may think of them as the “mushy middle” and not consider them truly pro-life, politically speaking, they will probably be the key to reversing or at least halting the damage now being done by the Obama administration and a liberal Supreme Court.

    Still, it appears that the number of people who think abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances” is up slightly as well.

  • Notice also the really significant shift toward pro-life since the early to mid 1990s, which some observers attribute to the publicity surrounding partial-birth abortion. In some ways, the partial-birth controversy turned out to be a blessing in disguise for pro-lifers as it called attention to just how gruesome the method (and by extension, all abortions) really was. Perhaps the various Obama-related controversies (Mexico City policy revocation, the threat of FOCA, Canon 915, Notre Dame scandal) have had a similar effect.

  • Being a black conservative is difficult.

    The same can be said of latino conservatives (I don’t care what we’re called, I’d prefer to be called a Castillian-Portuguese-Mexican, but that’s my axe to grind… and mock Politically-Correct liberals).

    The name-calling from the hispanics on the left are downright rude and inappropriate. The b*%$ing sessions amongst active latino conservatives concerning how their treated by latino liberals that I witness really paint most liberals (at least in the city of Houston) in the political arena in a very bad light. The vitriol and hate is disturbing.

    Sorry to jump in the thread that way, but I had to let it out to show our “superior”, “tolerant”, and “open-minded” liberals how demeaning they can be.

  • Hey, I don’t mind either but I also wouldn’t mind continuing our friendly disagreement

    Apologies, Joe. I owe you a response – it will have to wait an hour or two, but I will respond soon.

  • 3) I wasn’t speaking in regards to the Democratic Party. What “is” the party? If it is the party politicians and functionaries, you have a point. If it includes registered Democrats, the power of the point diminishes. If it includes all people who might be inclined to vote Democratic, it is irrelevant.

    Well, from a pro-life perspective, what I care about is how the pro-choice lobby is able to influence policy and judicial appointments. And, along those lines, I find your assertion that “the pro-choice lobby isn’t that strong” puzzling. There is a pro-choice litmus test for any prominent national Democratic politician. Is there any doubt that Obama’s SCOTUS nominee will be a strong pro-choicer? That is the type of influence that matters in the legal/political realm, and it seems to me the pro-choice lobby is very influential from that perspective.

    Party loyalty and even basic party identification is diminishing.

    I think your assertion that party loyalty is diminishing is unsupported by the evidence. If anything, party identification is hardening. It’s difficult to imagine a better recipe for a landslide defeat than the 2008 election (unpopular incumbent, unpopular war, crashing economy), and Obama’s margin of victory was around 6%. Contrast that with Reagan’s 18% margin of victory in 1984, and consider the close elections in 2000 and 2004, and it’s hard to conclude party loyalty is waning.

    People didn’t vote for a Democrat, they voted for Obama. The average voter doesn’t give a rats behind what Planned Parenthood thinks. Sync up pro-life politics with whatever their concern is at the moment, and you will have a pro-life victory. That’s how Casey won PA. A real pro-life candidate could do it too.

    I agree that an attractive spokesperson is essential for the success of any party, and many voters aren’t going to base their vote on abortion. That does not necessarily mean, however, that public opinion polls are unimportant; they have a very real effect on the bundle of policies politicians use to market themselves, and, as I suggested above, judicial, journalistic, and academic perceptions of the popular will.

    The point is, they have no real power or influence over the American voter.

    Again, I would say a lobbying group doesn’t need influence over voters if they have a litmus test veto over national candidates; the NRA doesn’t control voters – no lobbyist does directly. To influence policy it’s sufficient to have an institutional presence, and the support of a vocal portion (and preferably large) of the party’s base. As the pro-choice lobby has both of these things, they are quite influential.

    Let them huff and puff. They know as well as we ought to know that the battle over abortion will always take a backseat to some other issue for most Americans. With things the way they are now, and are likely to be for some time to come, its going to stay in the backseat, maybe even the trunk, indefinitely.

    Well, that’s certainly not the case with judicial appointments (the most significant legal/political tool for protecting the unborn), and possibly not for conscience protections and perhaps some of the more palatable components of FOCA, if they are enacted piecemeal. I am not sure in what sense it’s ‘staying in the trunk’ when the pro-choice lobby is basically checking off the wish-list items it has received and is likely to receive from the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats.

    The good news is that means they will let their guard down. 2010, mid-terms, lets get guys like Tim on the ballot in districts where there are pro-choice Democrats or Republicans, promoting a pro-worker, pro-family, pro-second amendment agenda.

    As I’ve said before, I would love for this to happen. It would be great to have pro-lifers in both parties, and even better to have some legitimate pro-life European style-social democrats; nevertheless, I think the reality is that the pro-choice lobby is very effective in establishing litmus tests, that the Democratic base, by and large, is heavily pro-choice, and that these factors provide the pro-choice lobby with a lot of influence.

  • John,

    I don’t think we should mistake political polarization for party polarization. It’s similar but not identical. Obama’s 6% is considerably larger than either margin Bush won, and not much smaller than the ones Clinton commanded. The country has become more polarized since Reagan, so I don’t think you can go that far back for a comparison for today.

    Bottom line is, I think people voted for a man, and against the GOP.

    As for the power of the pro-choice machine, again, I want to restate that it depends on what level of the process we are talking about. Holding the levers of power is one thing; winning the hearts of the people is another. I think there are enough people who would vote for a pro-life Democrat to make the abortion lobby irrelevant. I think that is why Casey won, and why any pro-life Dem could stand a chance. The key is to have the people driving the process, like they did for Howard Dean, like they did for Obama, instead of letting the party grandees control everything.

    Call it my instinct. If you have a pro-life Dem promising pro-worker economic reforms, relief for families and expecting mothers, second amendment rights, and other issues near and dear to the hearts of the American worker, no one is going to care what NARAL says. No one. You will hear the crickets chirping. The voters are who count. The voters elect people who appoint judges and form policy.

    The DNC wants to win. It is a party machine first, an ideological apparatus only second, like any other political party. Parties shift all the time. Sometimes slowly, sometimes more quickly. They shift because they want to survive, they shift under pressure. At the start we may have to rely on more grassroots means of support, but a few victories will convince the national party of the merits of pro-life Dem candidates. Pragmatism will trump radical feminist ideology and pro-life Dems will emerge in greater numbers. It could happen.

    I meant, also, ‘in the trunk’ for voters, as long as the economy is as bad as it is.

    In the end if you want to change the status quo you have to win the support of the people, not judges and party grandees. And it is among the people that the abortion lobby has less influence. The key is to find districts where a pro-life Dem could more easily defeat an incumbent Republican than a pro-choice Dem, and go to town.

  • Another thing this poll indicates to me is that when some “teachable moment” occurs that forces people to seriously think about abortion — instead of simply ignoring the issue as most do during times of war, economic crisis, etc., — a distinct shift toward pro-life usually takes place.

    My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that most people who don’t take the abortion issue seriously, who haven’t studied it or been taught anything about it one way or the other, or who prefer not to think about it at all, will say they are pro-choice, simply because it sounds good to them. After all, having a choice is always a good thing, right? It is only when they are confronted with the true nature of the “choice” they are defending that some (not all) will reconsider their position.

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How Long in the Wilderness?

Thursday, May 14, AD 2009

Reflecting on Nancy Pelosi and the torture controversies, E.D. Kain makes the following prediction:

To me, Pelosi’s denial (and accusation against the CIA) lays bare a deeper truth about the Democrats.  Without Obama they’d be nearly as big a mess as the Republicans.  Most of them are complicit in the Bush torture program and the wars.  The party is almost headless without Obama – led by the fickle and hardly inspiring Reid/Pelosi duo.  After Obama, if conservatives learn anything over the next eight years – yes, I’m predicting it will be eight – unless the Democrats get some sort of order and discipline and more importantly, some grander vision, then I think the GOP should have no trouble at all coming in and cleaning up.

I have thought for a while that the Republicans will be out of power for a significant period of time, both because of the Bush administration’s failures, and because the current Republican attempts to rebuild (e.g. constant infighting, unconvincing narratives about the role of fiscal excesses in Bush’s unpopularity, rallying around Rush, and Michael Steele’s various embarrassments) seem woefully ill-suited to the current political environment. I still think E.D. overstates things considerably when he says that Republicans “should have no trouble at all coming in and cleaning up,” but the idea that Obama is a sui generis figure  is worth entertaining. The gap in charisma between Obama and Nancy Pelosi or Henry Reid, for instance, is substantial, and Obama is significantly more popular than many of his policies. Will the Democrats still look as relatively desirable once Obama is no longer the spokesperson of the party? And will Obama’s popularity wane significantly as his Presidency progresses?

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26 Responses to How Long in the Wilderness?

  • John Henry,

    Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing the party that brought us torture, Iraq, opposition to immigration reform, and a significant share of the financial crisis stay in the political wilderness a while longer. Incompetence should have consequences.

    You’d prefer the party that brings us infanticide and federal funding of abortion and experimentation on tiny humans?

    Good grief.

  • Matt,

    My political opinions (which are still a work in progress) do not track well with either party, and, to the extent you think the post says I prefer Democrats, either I have been unclear or you misread the post. If I am more critical of Republicans, it is most likely because I voted Republican and was subsequently disappointed (to put it mildly) by Republican leadership.

  • JH,

    I recognize that, but you do know that we have a 2 party system, and expressing a preference for one party to remain out of power necessarily means the other will be in power.

    I’m sure most of us would chose a 3rd more Catholic option if one were presented, that’s just not reality. Given the circumstances, whatever it’s faults, one party is clearly superior to other.

  • The problem with the Republicans is that they couldn’t control their spending. It turns out that the Democrats are suffering from the same problem too. I guess, we are all suffering from the consumerist binge.

  • “How Long in the Wilderness?”

    2010. The failure of Obama both economically and in foreign policy is going to be on an epic scale.

  • The dynamic has changed too much to retain conventional wisdom on the parties’ political fortunes. The welfare state has expanded past the point of no return. Issues like marriage, abortion, family, etc. have brought us to the brink of having two civilizations that cannot coexist in the same territory. And now we’ve got a terrible recession.

    I don’t think there’s any way to analyze what happens in 2012 or later because there is too much social upheaval.

  • That’s an interesting point Steve; I agree that we are in uncharted territory simply because of the size of the debt we’ve taken on and the severe recession. As far as ‘culture war’ issues, I think they generally yield to economic concerns for a significant portion of the electorate(as they did this past November). I agree there is a lot of uncertainty, even a higher degree than usual because of the economy, but I also think the ‘social upheaval’ is fairly mild compared to, for instance, the mid-60’s through the mid-70’s.

  • How long the GOP or any party remains in the “wilderness” depends to some extent on where you are. If you live in a “red” state like Texas, the GOP never went into the wilderness. If you live in a “blue” state like Illinois or Massachusetts, the GOP may be in the wilderness at least as long as the Israelites were (40 years).

  • Elaine is right of course to some extent. On the state level it probably depends on how much the Federal taxpayer kicks in to save them. If the “progressive” states don’t continue to get bailouts they will be in collapse and see big gains for the opposition.

    On the federal level, 2010 will almost certainly see a surge by the Republicans, not necessarily to the majority, but hopefully enough to allow a block on the worst of Obama’s policies and nominees.

  • That’s a good point, Elaine/Matt. The South is the GOP’s base, and it is a fairly valuable electoral stronghold. I probably should have been clearer in the post, but I was referring to national politics, where the Democratic party is clearly in the ascendancy.

  • John Henry,

    Democratic party is clearly in the ascendancy.

    They have nowhere to go but down at this point, and they will, fall significantly in congress. National polls have already swung in the Republican’s favor or very close. Presidentially, a lot will have to happen to take Obama down in 2012 (and a lot may happen), so far he seems immune to paying the price for his errors and bad policies.

  • On the other hand, if Obama continues moving toward “Bushism”, he’s going to lose his base:

    Obama to Revamp Military Panels for Detainees

    This cracks me up. The looney left is going to be in a tizzy.

  • ps. more news about harsh crackdown on peace protesters. Worse yet the 2 protesters have a substance abuse problem (they carry around gasoline-filled bottles with rags stuffed in them, strictly for inhaling purposes).

    http://wcco.com/rnc/mckay.crowder.molotov.2.811139.html

  • And of course, there are smaller Dem or GOP strongholds at the regional, county and local levels. County-by-county electoral maps of the 2004 and 2008 elections show this pattern. On these maps, most states are varying shades of purple rather than solidly red or blue.

  • Matt and Elaine are on to something. The GOP’s national fortunes rely on its ability to do a better job on the local level. Even if you take a place like Maryland where I live, especially in Montgomery county, there’s no reason the GOP should have absolutely no voice here. It comes down to local recruitment and just hitting the pavements, making small waves that reverberate at a national level.

    The national focus of the party is really a problem, both philosophically and practically. The absurdity of the Florida situation is just such an example. You have a popular sitting governor deciding that he has to make his splash in DC and run for the Senate, a move that has completely upset the applecart in one of the few states with a successful state Republican party. The NRSC of course had to throw fuel on the fire. It’s like the national GOP can’t get out of its own way (with moves like trying to brand the Democrats as the Democratic Socialist Party at RNC meetings just another example).

  • As far as ‘culture war’ issues, I think they generally yield to economic concerns for a significant portion of the electorate(as they did this past November). I agree there is a lot of uncertainty, even a higher degree than usual because of the economy, but I also think the ’social upheaval’ is fairly mild compared to, for instance, the mid-60’s through the mid-70’s.

    I agree that this is true. The reason I bring them up in this situation is threefold:

    1. The direction our country is heading with respect to the culture war issues (abortion, marriage, fornication, adultery, pornography, etc.) indicates a societal addiction to sex. Even if it’s not reflected in exit polls, this will drive election results.
    2. Are we on the brink of massive divine retribution for our culture of abortion, fornication, adultery, pornography, etc. as Father Corapi believes? I really don’t know, but this would drive circumstances that would affect future elections in ways we can’t anticipate.
    3. Even if we do not experience a direct divine chastisement, there is no question we will suffer the consequences of dismissing natural law. This will absolutely drive entitlement spending. Something has to give here, and nobody knows what it will be.

    <<<<<<>>>>>>

    [ed. Steve – I inserted in italics the comment you were responding to for clarification. Hope that helps. JH]

  • Tip O’Neill, Democratic House Speaker during the Reagan years, said that “all politics is local.” Both parties forget this at their peril.

    Democrats have made significant gains in suburban areas (I’m thinking of suburban Chicago though I’m sure there are other examples) by concentrating on local races. Republicans need to do the same. If the GOP can win back city councils, county boards, state legislative seats, etc. — particularly in the suburbs — then maybe, eventually, the governor’s mansions, Congress and White House will take care of themselves.

  • One way to alleviate the problem Paul refers to (too much party focus on the national level to the detriment of state and local races) would be to allot presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than on a statewide winner-take-all basis.

    If this were done in states like Illinois or New York that are dominated by highly populated and predominantly Democratic metropolitan areas, it would allow the downstate/upstate/rural residents (who include many GOP voters) to have some effect on the outcome of a presidential election, whereas now they have none.

    Combine that with a move toward computerized Congressional redistricting (now being done in Iowa) in place of blatant gerrymandering to protect incumbents, and national races would become a heck of a lot more competitive.

  • Elaine,

    proportionality is a terrible idea and is not consistent with the intent of the constitution (electoral reps chosen by the state, not by the district).

    It’s a bad idea because it concentrates electoral power in the largest centers principally in NY and LA. You see, in each state there are districts which always go one way or the other, and districts which swing. The current system requires candidates to show interest in small and large states, and all districts in those states. If proportionality (by district or by % of state) was in place, the smaller states with dispersed population would be ignored because the difference between a win and a draw in those states would only swing 1 or 2 electoral votes, whereas a strong win in NYC and California swings many more electoral votes.

  • As for Steve-O’s idea that “massive divine retribution” would affect the outcome of future elections… perhaps we can glimpse a small-scale example of how such change would look in post-Katrina Louisiana. (Of course, I am not saying that Katrina was necessarily massive divine retribution for anything, but you get the drift).

    One of the reasons strong, pro-life, reformist GOP figures like Bobby Jindal and the GOP successor to scandal-ridden Congressman William Jefferson (sorry I can’t recall his name right now) were able to get elected in Louisiana is because hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents left the state and never came back after Katrina — and they took hundreds of thousands of usually reliable Democratic votes with them.

  • Ah, Matt, but the Constitution leaves it up to states to decide HOW they will allot their electoral votes. (The district system was used in many states prior to the Civil War, by the way.) And the current system doesn’t encourage interest in “small and large states”; it encourages interest only in perceived “swing” states while states that are solidly red or blue are ignored.

    It also means that if, say, a Democratic presidential candidate won NY, CA, FL, IL, and a few other large states by a fraction of a percentage point, while losing many other smaller states by a landslide, and even losing the overall popular vote, he or she would still win the election.

    And furthermore, it disenfranchises people like me (a downstate Illinois resident who votes GOP most of the time). Yes, I voted, and I voted for McCain (with some reservations) out of a sense of duty and aversion to Obama’s anti-life views. However, I knew darn well it wasn’t going to make any difference since Obama had Chicago in the bag, and with it, all of Illinois’ electoral votes. With a congressional district system, however, my vote might have actually meant something since I live (just barely) in a Republican district (now represented by Cong. Aaron Schock.)

  • Elaine,

    yes, of course and each state should have the right to apportion it’s electoral college if it’s foolish enough to do so.

    Granted that your vote in the election doesn’t influence the result, but then again if you’re in a strongly Red or Blue district, it still doesn’t count so you’re in the same boat there. Obama is unlikely to spend a lot of time in your district anyway, because he can hit all the Chicago districts in 1 day, and send a few hundred million there in pork to secure it, vs. campaigning all over the state, and spreading is pork money thin.

    The true landslides you’re talking about, where one party would not win any of the districts in a number of states are incredibly rare and even more rarely would that party be able to win a substantial majority in enough states to win the election. The reality is we are just not that disproportionately divided by party in any region.

  • I wouldn’t call a proportional electoral vote “foolish”, just different.

    No matter how we slice the electoral vote system, we are going to at least occasionally end up with presidents that win the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, and who ignore smaller states — unless we go to the proposed electoral compact system that guarantees an electoral victory to the winner of the national popular vote. However, that too has its problems and would only aggravate the problem you refer to (elections being decided in big states with big metro areas.)

    For the proportional electoral vote system to really work in terms of making elections more competitive would require a drastic change in how congressional districts are drawn, and of course, an end to gerrymandering districts so they are dominated by one party or the other.

    Otherwise, the only way for pro-lifers or conservative Republicans to make a difference at the national level would be for them all to move to red states and boost their electoral vote count.

    As distressed as I am by the current state of affairs in Illinois, I don’t plan on moving, partly because I’m not really into hurricanes, kudzu, fire ants, tumbleweeds, wildfires, decade-long droughts, or year-round air conditioning. I’ll wait for global warming to bring them to me instead 🙂

    In the meantime I’ll put up with the tornadoes and blizzards and continue to work and pray for the reform of our state, which as I’ve said before, is a long-term project on par with praying for the conversion of Russia.

  • Elaine Krewer,
    I wouldn’t call a proportional electoral vote “foolish”, just different.

    What I mean is, that it would be completely foolhardy for any state to diminish their importance in the electoral process by being proportional while all or the majority of states are “all or nothing”.

    No matter how we slice the electoral vote system, we are going to at least occasionally end up with presidents that win the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, and who ignore smaller states — unless we go to the proposed electoral compact system that guarantees an electoral victory to the winner of the national popular vote. However, that too has its problems and would only aggravate the problem you refer to (elections being decided in big states with big metro areas.)

    Which is precisely why the founders did not chose direct election. There is no issue having popular vote losers being selected, it’s perfectly acceptable in a republican democracy.

    Otherwise, the only way for pro-lifers or conservative Republicans to make a difference at the national level would be for them all to move to red states and boost their electoral vote count.

    I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Republicans have made a difference at the national level over the course of the last 40 years. The battle has shifted back and forth, but it is not helpless even under the current system. No need to move to a red state though. Even in the blue states, conservatives out reproduce liberals, and the red states all grow while the blue states shrink due to fertility levels and taxes.

    If you want to talk about effective reform… look at restoring the proper balance between state and federal powers… eliminate the direct election of senators.

  • I probably should have specified that my support of a proportional electoral vote system is based on it being implemented nationwide for all states at the same time (so that no states are unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged).

    I’m all for promoting a proper balance between state and federal power, but I’m not so sure eliminating direct election of Senators would do that. Do we really want to go back to having state legislatures pick Senators?

    That system is what allowed Stephen Douglas (pro-choice on slavery) to beat out Abe Lincoln for the Illinois Senate seat they were competing for when they held their famous 1858 debates. It led to dozens of accusations of bribery or other corruption against prospective Senators believed to have “bought” their seats. Legislative deadlocks also left many states without Senators for long periods in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • The part of the 17th Amendment that really needs to be scrapped is the provision that allows governors to fill Senate vacancies by appointment — the provision that gave us Roland “Tombstone” Burris. I wouldn’t have a problem with legislatures choosing interim or temporary Senators, particularly in cases where 2 years or less are left in a departed Senator’s term.

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-13-2009

Wednesday, May 13, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  Mark Shea has accused the pro-life anti-abortion torture defenders for creating the ‘nightmare’ of Patriot Act abuse.  A homeschooled kid was arrested under suspicion of sending death threats to President Obama via his computer.  It seems as if someone hijacked his IP address to issue those death threats.  As of now he is in jail and hasn’t been allowed to meet his family nor lawyers.

To read Mark Shea’s posting on this click here.

2.  Child molesters in the Church again?  Nope, but the mainstream media isn’t picking up on the story of a Los Angeles school district ‘repeatedly’ returning child molesters to the classrooms.  In a front page story on May 10 the Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) “repeatedly” returned teachers and aides credibly accused of child molestation back to classrooms, and these individuals then molested children again.  The major networks, MSNBC, and CNN have failed to pick up on this story.

For the full story by Dave Pierre of NewBusters click here.

3.  It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.  Which is directly contrary to Pope Benedict XVI’s (as well as the Magisterium’s teaching) statement that condoms were not the solution to the problem of AIDS.  Fr. Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame, is a board member of Millennium Promise which promotes condom use to fight the spread of AIDS.

For the article click here.

[Update I:I want to make an addendum that so many of you insist I make.  I want to also add that Fr. John Jenkins seems to support abortion as well as condom usage.

Millenium Promise, the organization that Fr. John Jenkins is a board member of clearly states on their very own website the following:

(http://www.millenniumpromise.org/site/DocServer/Millennium_Development_Goals_Report_2008.pdf?docID=1841)

Which can be found on the main webpage of Millenium PromiseEmphasis mine.:

Page 84 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

Budget and Procurement. The budget for the HIV/AIDS response depends on a number of factors. On the treatment side, the major budgetary concern is the provision of ARV drugs to those in need. Beyond ARV costs, other costs include staffing, other medication, CD4 counts, prevention programming, condom provision, nutritional supplementation, and VHW support.

Page 85 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

Communication for Preventing Disease and Changing Behavior: Behavior change communication plays a key role in preventing the spread of HIV and must be seen as a central element in any response to HIV/AIDS. This core intervention includes education, awareness building, advocacy, condom distribution, and education (both male and female), rights building, and voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) promotion among other activities.

Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

Contraception and family planning: Family planning and contraception services are critical to allow women to choose family size and birth spacing, to combat sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and contribute to the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality. Services include: (1) Counseling; (2) Male and female condoms; (3) Pharmacologic contraceptives including oral, transdermal, intramuscular, and implanted methods; and (4) IUDs

Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on abortion:

Abortion services: In countries where abortion is legal, safe abortion services in controlled settings by skilled practitioners should be established. In villages with a nearby district center with sound surgical capacity, these services can be referred. However, in instances where no district center or alternate post for safe abortion practices is accessible, abortion services can be offered at the village level, provided that sufficient surgical capacity exists.]

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88 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-13-2009

  • It is unfortunate, but unsurprising, that Mr. Shea’s response to the evidence that there is more to the story – in fact, that the underlying premise is 100% false – is to retort, “But Charles Krauthammer is eeevil.” Well, perhaps, and I’m no supporter of Charles K’s stance on torture, but that doesn’t make the story one is relating any more true.

  • I’m a bit surprised by his statement, but that is what he wrote and I printed it word for word. I can understand his passion, but to paint a whole swath of good Catholics as part of the problem in abusing the Patriot Act is a bit much.

  • Yeah, it sounds like on Shea’s story, the kid was arrested on a standard federal warrant (no Patriot Act invocation), the charge is that he repeatedly called in false bomb threats to schools in return for money from students (who wanted the day off), and he’s a known internet prank caller — though his mother disputes that he ever made bomb threats, and he has in fact been charge and appeared in court several times along with a state appointed attourney.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/05/teenage-bomb-threat-suspect-was-an-internet-prank-phone-call-star/

    So nearly everything Shea is basing his post on is wrong, but aside from that…

    I hope this isn’t a sign of Bush derangement syndrome morphing seamlessly into Obama derangement syndrome. There are enough real bad things to decry about the current administration without people insisting that homeschoolers are being scooped up by a Patriot Act weilding Obama and imprisoned without charge.

  • Very good news from Egypt, though. Especially as per the discussion we were having on that topic last week.

  • These comments on Mark’s blog sum up the problem with his post:

    Some kid gets arrested because of a law passed in 1939 which, sensibly enough, makes it illegal to make bomb threats by phone. His mother believes him to be innocent and says that this law passed in 1939 is somehow connected to the Patriot Act. Obviously she’s partial in this, and doesn’t know anything about the law, and is upset by the charges against her son. But what’s Mark’s excuse? What would make Mark spread the lie that this is about the Patriot Act, or uncritically repeat the kid’s mother’s assertions of his innocence?
    Thomas | 05.10.09 – 11:00 am | #

    ——————————————————————————–

    I do not like cops or the government. However, from the press release issued by the Department of Justice, the kid was arrested under Title 18, USC Sec 844(e). The press release also states that the charge is unrelated to the Patriot Act. A Federal Warrant was issued which means a Judge signed off on it.
    Rafael | 05.10.09 – 1:18 pm | #

    I am saddened by this article from mark Shea. If time had been taken to read three or four “current” articles on this situation, one would clearly see that the Patriot Act was not used in this instance, that long standing law was utilized, that the initial stories from the mother have been retracted and further that the quote from Charles Krauthammer (sp) has nothing to do with this case and that the quote used actually misrepresents the article that it is taken from. I enjoy Mark Shea’s articles on theology and catholic belief but this article is shameful for its lack of research and representation of incorrect facts as truth.
    Mike in Lebanon Kentucky | 05.11.09 – 11:30 am | #

  • It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    This does not seem to be supported by the linked to article. Father Jenkins apparently sits on the board of an organization that supports the Millennium Development Goals. Well, the Vatican also supports the Millennium Development Goals. If the fact Father Jenkins sits on a board that supports the MDG means that he believes in promoting condom use to fight AIDS, then logically one would have to conclude that the Vatican also supports this, which is absurd.

  • Darwin,

    Yes that story from Egypt is heart-warming. The judge could still rule against the convert, thus denying his right to a new ID card showing him as a Christian. But the convert has all his paperwork in order, so it will be interesting how the judge rules and what reasoning he uses to deny his request to change his ID card to show that he is a Christian and not a Muslim.

  • Thomas,
    Furthermore, it is possible that the mother may not be as innocent as we might otherwise assume:
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,519570,00.html

    Mike,
    Yes, Mark has a short trigger. He has sound moral instincts, and I’m sure he is a good egg, but he routinely lets himself get offended before he has all the facts. And as the facts come in he shifts to painting straw men with a very broad brush and then proceeds to vigorously argue with them. It is torturous to observe, and since I oppose torture I seldom visit there anymore.

  • Blackadder,

    The Vatican supports the MGD, but the Vatican is not on the Millennium Promise as a board member.

    Logically you don’t make sense.

  • Vatican is not on the Millennium Promise as a board member.

    That’s true but irrelevant. The supposedly bad thing about Father Jenkins being on the board of Millennium Promise is that the organization supports the Millennium Development Goals, which the Vatican also supports.

  • BlackadderIV,

    Yes, it is true that both the Vatican [ed.-actually, the Vatican doesn’t support MGD after further research] and Fr. Jenkins support the Millennium Development Goals, but the Vatican is not on the board of Millennium Promise and Fr. Jenkins is.

    Hence since Millennium Promise pushes condom use to prevent the further spread of AIDS and that Fr. Jenkins is a board member, then Fr. Jenkins by default supports condom usage.

    That in itself creates a scandal, even if the perception of a scandal is apparent, then Fr. Jenkins should not be a board member at all.

  • Hence since Millennium Promise pushes condom use to prevent the further spread of AIDS

    What is the evidence that Millennium Promise pushes condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS? The only evidence cited in the article is that the group supports the MDG. Clearly this is not good evidence, as the Vatican itself supports the MDG.

    Maybe Millennium Promise supports condoms. Maybe it supports Satanic child sacrifice. Who knows. All I know is that the linked to article provides no evidence in support of the claim that the group (and by extension, Father Jenkins) does support condoms.

  • BlackadderIV,

    The Vatican clearly does not support the MGD’s. You know it and I know it. The Vatican would not support condom usage and abortion. Besides, nowhere in the article does it say that the Vatican supports MGD’s.

    Fr. Jenkins on the other hand by his being a board member MP that supports condom usage and abortions, has not distanced himself from those MGD’s that support it.

  • Tito:

    I agree with Blackadder on this one. The article provides a weak link, too weak to charitably launch a criticism that assumes Jenkins is weak on contraception.

  • Michael Denton,

    As a board member of a pro-life organization I would not want my organization endorsing causes that go counter to Catholic teaching. I would resign or work towards amending the predicament.

    Fr. Jenkins has compromised himself by being a board member of said group. Fr. Jenkins is also president of Notre Dame, so we can assume he is very careful about what organizations he is a member of. He holds a high profile position and should be careful as a representative of the Catholic Church and her teachings. By being a board member he gives unwarranted assurances that it is o.k. to pass out condoms and procure abortions for whatever reasons.

    We can debate where the link is weak or not.

    The fact remains that it is causing scandal by his mere association, even more so now that he has made the monumental blunder of not only inviting the most pro-abortion president to speak, but also giving him an honorary degree in which creates more scandal.

  • The Vatican clearly does not support the MGD’s. You know it and I know it. The Vatican would not support condom usage and abortion. Besides, nowhere in the article does it say that the Vatican supports MGD’s.

    The title of the article from Zenit I linked to is “Holy See Promotes Millennium Goals at U.N.” The first sentence of the article states “The Holy See urged the United Nations to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, saying that ‘it is an obligation in justice.'” I’m not sure how you can say that “nowhere in the article does it say that the Vatican supports MGD’s.”

    Fr. Jenkins on the other hand by his being a board member MP that supports condom usage and abortions

    Again, there’s no evidence that Millennium Promise does support condom usage and abortions. If you can produce some evidence that it does so, then okay, you’d have a point about Jenkins being a board member. But one shouldn’t accuse Father Jenkins (or anyone else) of supporting condom usage or belonging to an organization that supports condom usage unless one has some evidence that these claims are actually true.

  • BlackadderIV,

    I don’t have the link to the Zenit article you are referencing.

    The mere fact that MP supports MGD is enough to cause scandal. Even the perception of support is enough to cause scandal.

    Clearly you and I disagree on whether Fr. Jenkins supports condoms and abortion.

    We can leave it at that.

  • Tito,

    The link is here.

  • Here’s part of the article if you are having trouble with the link:

    NEW YORK, SEPT. 18, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- The Holy See urged the United Nations to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, saying that “it is an obligation in justice.”

    Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, stressed the importance of the development goals, which include eradicating half of the world’s poverty by 2015, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

    “It remains an obligation in justice in the service of human dignity to attain and even to surpass the Millennium Development Goals, thereby establishing an essential pre-condition for peace and collective security, and for the elimination or substantial reduction of the threat from terrorism and international crime,” he said.

  • BlackAdderIV,

    Thank you for the link.

    It seems the Vatican is clearly backing the MGD’s in rectifying the situation of the poor. That’s what I read in the article.

    I do see where you are coming from and I do agree with it to an extent. But assuming you are correct, Fr. Jenkins is still causing scandal by the mere appearance of support of condom use.

    Thank you for the vibrant discussion. You never fail to offer a positive and constructive debate.

  • Btw, where did the stuff about abortion come from? You started out by saying that Father Jenkins supported condom use to fight AIDS, and then at some point started adding “and abortion” to the end of your claims that Father Jenkins supports condoms. What’s up with that?

  • Tito:

    Since you say:

    But assuming you are correct, Fr. Jenkins is still causing scandal by the mere appearance of support of condom use.

    I think that then you should alter these claims in the original post:

    It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    and

    Fr. Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame, is a board member of Millennium Promise which promotes condom use to fight the spread of AIDS.

  • But assuming you are correct, Fr. Jenkins is still causing scandal by the mere appearance of support of condom use.

    I don’t think scandal can be properly based on false accusations made against someone. Suppose I said that the American Catholic blog supported condoms, and repeated the claim a bunch of times. Would that mean that you should resign from the blog, because even the mere appearance of support of condom use was causing scandal? I don’t think so.

  • I continued reading the MGD and it shows that abortion is a contentious issue within the UN in further developing the MGD’s to include abortion.

    What’s up with your hostility?

  • Michael Denton,

    No such thing will be done.

  • BA,

    There is a clear link between the MGD and MP. You can debate until your face turns blue, but you can’t argue with facts.

  • I think Tito might have picked up on one of these articles:

    http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/index.php?s=228024285a02e66b8f754d589f7b900a&showtopic=93977&mode=threaded

    A further issue of concern is Millennium Development Goal #5 which is to “Improve Maternal Health.” In 2005 there was an enormous campaign to change MDG#5 to include women’s reproductive health – a code word for abortion. This campaign failed, but there is still an ongoing power struggle over this issue. Some organizations such as UNICEF and UNFPA have issued public documents stating that women’s reproductive health is indeed now included as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

    Since those seeking to incorporate abortion rights in the MDG failed in their efforts, it seems unfair to include abortion in the litany of accusations against Fr. Jenkins. That said, MDG#6 is pretty clear in its promotion of contraception.

  • I continued reading the MGD and it shows that abortion is a contentious issue within the UN in further developing the MGD’s to include abortion.

    It’s contentious, but for now abortion is not part of the MDGs. On that particular score, it thus unfair to imply that Fr. Jenkins has an abortion problem.

  • No such thing will be done.

    Y’see, Michael, Tito is infallible.

  • Michael I.,

    What are you studying again?

    Paul & BA4,

    I see where abortion hasn’t quite made it on the MGD agenda so I’ll refrain from accusing Fr. Jenkins on that point. Though he is still causing scandal for supporting condom distribution which is contrary to Catholic teaching.

  • Though he is still causing scandal for supporting condom distribution which is contrary to Catholic teaching.

    Even though I do agree that there’s an undeniable link between the Millennium Project and the Millennium Development Goals, and as a board member Fr. Jenkins is at least tacitly responsible for the end product, this still might be an over-reach. What was/is Fr. Jenkins role in developing those goals? Did he push back against MDG #6? Did he decide to continue to support the MDGs despite of this provision? And what of the Vatican’s seeming support?

    I don’t completely dismiss your concerns, but I think this matter deserves further serious exploration before we declare Fr. Jenkins to be a supporter of condom distribution.

  • I don’t completely dismiss [Tito’s] concerns, but I think this matter deserves further serious exploration before we declare Fr. Jenkins to be a supporter of condom distribution.

    Agreed.

  • I don’t completely dismiss [Tito’s] concerns, but I think this matter deserves further serious exploration before we declare Fr. Jenkins to be a supporter of condom distribution.

    Likewise, agreed.

  • I agree with the previous three commenters.

    Tito:

    You are out of line if you don’t retract. You have asserted that a priest openly rejects the teaching of the Church on contraception. This would be a very serious sin if true, and is a very serious charge, especially against a priest, and especially against a priest of high prominence.

    You, by your own admission, lack the evidence for such a charge. Perhaps Jenkins does support them, but you have not one bit of evidence other then “he’s on a group which is associated with this group that includes contraception.” You need much stronger evidence then that to accuse someone, particularly a Catholic priest, of such wrongdoing as you accuse.

    If you do not update the post with a correction, this post is calumny [ed.-if you continue to slander me you will be placed in moderation].

  • John,
    I agree as well. I do not think that being a board member of an organization that does has perfectly sound purposes but also supports condom distribution automatically makes one a supporter of condom distribution. For all we know Fr. Jenkins opposes condom distribution and has faithfully registered his objections at board meetings. One is not required by Catholic teaching to resign from each and every organization that takes actions or positions inimical to Church teaching — that is a prudential decision. That is exactly why we can have pro-life Democrats, and indeed it is good that we do. I have served on the local United Way board off and on for 15 years notwithstanding the fact that the local Planned Parenthood agency as a grantee. If fact, I have been instrumental in ensuring that donors can elect to direct their donations so as to exclude Planned Parenthood and helped devise the accounting procedures that give that actual effect. We cannot resign from the world. While one might argue that it is imprudent for Fr. J to remain a board member for reasons of potential confusion or scandal, that is a prudential calculus that belongs to him. The fact that he has chosen to remain a board member is very weak evidence that he actually supports condom distribution.
    All that said, perhaps Tito has other evidence and I missed it (in a hurry — lots to do).

  • Michael Denton,

    You will be guilty of slander if you continue with your uncharitable and dishonest accusations against me.

    I will not repeat what I’ve already explained why Fr. Jenkins seems to promote condom usage. Your obtuseness will not be tolerated if you continue with your behavior. This is your first and only warning. If you continue you will be placed on moderation.

  • Mike Petrik,

    By the simple fact that you are a board member of United Way makes you in formal cooperation with evil. United Way funds abortions and it is something not to be proud of. [ed.-I was wrong here, United Way operates independently at the local level.]

    I can see why there is hostility to my position. You clearly are going against church teachings.

    You cannot be publicly for abortion, but privately against it. Just like many typical ‘pro-life democrats’.

  • Everyone,

    That is the problem with complacency and nuance. By giving excuse after excuse to why Fr. Jenkin’s is on the board for an organization that promotes condom usage and quite possibly abortions is to fall into relativism.

    [ed.-edited for charity] Too many good and well-meaning Catholics make excuses for those Catholics that continue to drift away from Catholic teaching to the point that they are completely in camp with evil. Such as Fr. Jenkin’s honoring the most pro-abortion candidate in the history of the United States and Mike Petrik sitting on the board of an organization for 15 years that funds abortions is inexcusable.

    We need to change the culture, not be changed by it.

  • There is a clear link between the MGD and MP.

    First, it really should be MDG, not MDG. It’s Millennium Development Goals, after all, not Millennium Goals Development.

    Second, I’m not arguing that there’s no link between Millennium Promise and the Millennium Development Goals. That is very clear. The question is whether supporting the Millennium Development Goals means supporting condom use. Given the fact that the Vatican (which certainly does not support condom use) supports the Millennium Development Goals, I would argue the answer to this question is no.

    The specific MDG in question is number six, which is to “[c]ombat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.” Whatever some UN bureaucrat might say on the matter, isn’t it obvious that one could support that goal without supporting the use of condoms as a means to prevent the spread of AIDS?

  • BlackAdder4,

    I agree with your statement that you can support the goal without supporting the use of condoms as a means to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    What I say is that due to Fr. Jenkins actions of late he has brought the light of scandal upon himself. If he has done this, he may have made other mistakes as well. One of them being that he is a board member of MP. Assuming that he is there for the correct reasons, he is still causing scandal by bringing attention to such a scandalous position.

    And I do like MGD (Miller Genuine Draft), but yes, I was referring to MDG. Thank you for the fraternal correction.

  • Tito,

    No doubt Father Jenkins has made many mistakes and is open to criticism on many fronts. That doesn’t mean that one has free reign to accuse him of whatever one wishes.

    This doesn’t have to be difficult. You didn’t look into a matter very carefully, and ended up making a charge against Father Jenkins that isn’t supported by the evidence. Okay, it happens. The thing to do when this is pointed out to you is just to own up to the mistake, retract the charges, and move on. Retrenchment on such a matter will only serve to further damage your credibility.

  • Tito:

    Mike Petrik making excuses for those who actually support the very things you mention?

    My dear friend, you seem to be conflating one’s residence within a certain organization/entity with direct allegiance & support of the very activities it purportedly sponsors.

    If that were indeed the case, that this Guilt by Association automatically renders a person culpable of the very crimes you seem wont to prosecute him for, then that would make any citizen of the United States who pay their taxes guilty of similar crimes, given that the U.S. government provides monies to national abortion programs (and, even now, in light of Obama’s fierce Pro-abortion Crusade, it would seem globally as well); and, therefore, by that very same logic you’ve applied thus, makes every tax-paying U.S. citizen guilty of formal cooperation with evil, too.

    You’re better than this — or, at least, I should hope.

  • BlackAdder4,

    Again we can agree to disagree.

    I made no mistake and will not retract my facts on the matter.

    e.,

    Fr. Jenkins causes scandal by his mere association of such an organization.

  • Tito,

    The claim that “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS” is unsubstantiated, and I agree with Michael Denton’s recommendation that it should be retracted.

  • Christopher,

    I made no mistake and will not retract my facts on the matter.

    You have your opinions on the matter which are incorrect. Fr. John Jenkins is causing a scandal by his board membership to an organization that supports the promotion of condom use.

  • I think that the baseless of Tito’s accusation has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of everyone but Tito, and demonstrating it to his satisfaction does not seem to be possible, so I’ll leave the conversation here.

  • BlackAdder4,

    Just because your unsupported accusations are supported by others doesn’t make it right.

    You are not satisfied unless your able to smear me which is uncharitable to say the least.

    The conversation would have been better served if you hadn’t participated in the first place.

  • Re: Millenium Promise

    Millennium Villages Handbook

    Abortion services: In countries where abortion is legal, safe abortion services in
    controlled settings by skilled practitioners should be established. In villages with a
    nearby district center with sound surgical capacity, these services can be referred.
    However, in instances where no district center or alternate post for safe abortion
    practices is accessible, abortion services can be offered at the village level,
    provided that sufficient surgical capacity exists

    Contraception and family planning: Family planning and contraception services
    are critical to allow women to choose family size and birth spacing, to combat
    sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and contribute to the
    reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality. Services include: (1) Counseling;
    (2) Male and female condoms; (3) Pharmacologic contraceptives including oral,
    transdermal, intramuscular, and implanted methods; and (4) IUDs

    So, while the absolute evidence is not in the articles, it is clearly in their approach.

    The insidious use of euphemisms like “prevention services”, “maternal health”, “reproductive health” etc. does not change the reality of what Millenium Promise is doing. None of us should be so naive as to believe they are being moral.

  • Off topic (and perhaps simply for comic relief at this point), is the icon typically used in Tito Edward’s posts a painting of the very man featured in the icon in blackadderiv’s posts?

  • Tito,

    Paul Zummo’s questions stand, and I note you have not bothered to respond:

    What was/is Fr. Jenkins role in developing those goals? Did he push back against MDG #6? Did he decide to continue to support the MDGs despite of this provision? And what of the Vatican’s seeming support?

    Until you actually provide evidence to substantiate your accusation, the claim that Fr. Jenkins personally support condom use is groundless.

    That you preface your claim with “it seems” indicates your own uncertainty in making the accusation.

  • Everyone,

    I am adding substantial evidence of Millenium Promise‘s goals for condom usage AND abortion to the posting.

    It will take a little while since Millenium Promise‘s handbooks have this burried in over 200 pages of “nuance”.

    Christopher Blosser,

    You continue to ignore my statement that Fr. Jenkins gives cause for scandal. [ed.-off topic]

  • e.,

    I use El Greco’s ‘Conde Ordaz’ picture.

    I’m not sure what Black Adder use’s but it’s not what I use.

  • Tito:

    Personally, I believe the charitable thing to do at this point is for you to retract your accusation.

    Although I can see your point concerning how the opinion of the mob does not automatically render theirs correct (argumentum ad populum); still, I can’t see how the accusation you’ve made against Jenkins can seriously be considered as anything but baseless at this point.

    While Jenkin’s own actions during the past months may appear downright reprehensible, I don’t think that faithful Catholics such as yourself should sink so low to the point of what appears to be calumny.

    As I’ve attempted to explain before, I don’t quite think that Jenkins simply being a board member automatically renders him guilty of personally perpetrating the very crime of which you seem to have prematurely prosecuted him for, no more than I would deem you — for simply being a tax-paying U.S. citizen — guilty of supporting national programs for abortion being that such programs are prominently financed by taxpayers’ monies.

  • Christopher,

    Until you actually provide evidence to substantiate your accusation, the claim that Fr. Jenkins personally support condom use is groundless.

    with respect, where exactly does Tito make the claim you are claiming he did? It is your own accusation which is groundless. Tito only claimed that Fr. Jenkins SEEMS to support condom use since he’s on a board of an organization, that despite suggestions to the contrary DISTRIBUTES CONDOMS and PROVIDES ABORTIONS.

    That you preface your claim with “it seems” indicates your own uncertainty in making the accusation.

    No, it’s a statement about APPEARANCE, in being on the board of an organization it APPEARS or SEEMS one is in support of their activities.

    Being on the board of an organization which spreads evil is clearly scandalous, if not outright material cooperation with evil, even if one does not personally support those evils.

  • Matt,

    “Being on the board of an organization which spreads evil is clearly scandalous, if not outright material cooperation with evil, even if one does not personally support those evils.”

    Are you quite serious about this?

    Do you also apply this same sort of logic to executive-level, middle management or even ordinary employees of companies, too? To even citizens of countries that happen to provide such monstrous support for abortion that they themselves do not personally advocate?

  • While we’re at it. Until the Church declares the particular techniques defended by some to be torture, it is completely uncharitable to refer to refer to those who defend them as “torture defenders”. The argument is clearly about the definition of torture, not whether or not we should be using torture, which, we should not, and most everyone in the debate agrees.

  • In regard to Mike Petrik there is no firmer pro-lifer.

    In regard to accusations, there should be evidence presented. As to Jenkins I think in order to claim that he supports condom use we need more than he is present on the board of Millenium Promise. I do agree with Tito that it strikes me as a fairly dubious organization.

  • I want to make an addendum that so many of you insist I make. I want to add that Fr. John Jenkins seems to support abortion as well as condom usage. I have added this to the original post as an addendum.

    Millenium Promise, the organization that Fr. John Jenkins is a board member of clearly states on their very own website the following:

    (http://www.millenniumpromise.org/site/DocServer/Millennium_Development_Goals_Report_2008.pdf?docID=1841)

    Which can be found on the main webpage of Millenium Promise. Emphasis mine.:

    Page 84 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

    Budget and Procurement. The budget for the HIV/AIDS response depends on a number of factors. On the treatment side, the major budgetary concern is the provision of ARV drugs to those in need. Beyond ARV costs, other costs include staffing, other medication, CD4 counts, prevention programming, condom provision, nutritional supplementation, and VHW support.

    Page 85 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

    Communication for Preventing Disease and Changing Behavior: Behavior change communication plays a key role in preventing the spread of HIV and must be seen as a central element in any response to HIV/AIDS. This core intervention includes education, awareness building, advocacy, condom distribution, and education (both male and female), rights building, and voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) promotion among other activities.

    Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

    Contraception and family planning: Family planning and contraception services are critical to allow women to choose family size and birth spacing, to combat sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and contribute to the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality. Services include: (1) Counseling; (2) Male and female condoms; (3) Pharmacologic contraceptives including oral, transdermal, intramuscular, and implanted methods; and (4) IUDs

    Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on abortion:

    Abortion services: In countries where abortion is legal, safe abortion services in controlled settings by skilled practitioners should be established. In villages with a nearby district center with sound surgical capacity, these services can be referred. However, in instances where no district center or alternate post for safe abortion practices is accessible, abortion services can be offered at the village level, provided that sufficient surgical capacity exists.]

  • Tito, look at it this way. From another thread:

    The way Fr. Z links homosexuality with “rats” and the “devil” is scandalous and inappropriate for a priest of Jesus Christ.

    To which was replied:

    This is what Father Z wrote:

    “While it is true that the laborers in the Lord’s vinyard should be perfect enough in their spirit of dedication never to have to need any praise or thanks, they remain human beings. Furthermore, they are also under constant attack by the enemy of the soul.

    It takes but small crack for a rat to slip into a house. It takes hardly anything at all for the devil to insinuate his venom into a man’s daily reflections.”

    Would you agree that it was incorrect and wrong for the first person to say what he did? I think so. If you do, then please step back and see how what you’re saying about Fr Jenkins is similar (and I’m not sying Fr Jenkins isn’t wrong on a number of issues, but justice is justice).

  • e.,


    Matt said: being on the board of an organization which spreads evil is clearly scandalous, if not outright material cooperation with evil, even if one does not personally support those evils.”

    e. said: Are you quite serious about this?

    Absolutely. To clarify, I’m not talking about mundane evil, but the profound evils of abortion and contraception.

    Do you also apply this same sort of logic to executive-level

    Most probably yes.

    , middle management or even ordinary employees of companies, too?

    To a lesser extent, but yes in those cases too. This can be excused if there’s no direct involvement, and the individual has no choice to make a living for their family but to be employed at the organization. It would also depend on the amount of evil being spread. Let’s say Coca-Cola on the lower level, Proctor & Gamble in the middle, and Planned Parenthood at the highest. This group seems to be somewhere between P&G and PP in it’s promotion of evil.

    To even citizens of countries that happen to provide such monstrous support for abortion that they themselves do not personally advocate?

    Not to a substantial extent because citizenship is not a voluntary assocation. If the evil activity becomes so substantial that the nation is wholly corrupt, and there are alternatives we should leave, but in our current circumstances, I don’t see that as the case. There is still a “Culture War” going on, and really no safe haven elsewhere, we have no choice but to stay and fight.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    RE: Mike Petrik, I agree.

    RE: Tito’s suspicion about the organization, I agree.

    RE: Jenkin’s purportedly supporting those particular measures as detailed therein; that remains to be seen.

    Personally, even seeming to act on behalf of Jenkin’s is the last thing I’d ever countenance; however, given the subtle workings of certain boards I happen to be acquainted with, given its own “political” workup and their various agendas which not all unanimously agree to, this very detail would leave me initially skeptical.

  • Fr. Jenkins is on the board of a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization of Millennium Promises which at minimum gives scandal.

    I have not accused Fr. Jenkins of being personally for condom usage (or abortion). But I have said he seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization.

    Notwithstanding all the evidence that I have provided that many of you have chosen to ignore.

  • It would seem that self-described “pro-life Democrats”, by virtue of their being Democrats, are actually pro-abortion.

  • Tito:

    “But I have said he seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization.”

    Respectfully, the very same can be said almost about any one of us.

    If a person can automatically be condemned as being somebody who “seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization”, then a person who simply works for a corporation who also happens to do the same can likewise be condemned as such.

    Now, to be fair, Jenkins may well be guilty of having actually supported those very measures detailed in the handbook; however, as it stands, there is yet to be convincing evidence of the sort that would actually corroborate such a claim — even a claim as tentatively articulated as “he seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization”.

  • e.,

    Yes, I see your reasoning.

    The difference is that Fr. Jenkins is a Catholic priest. One who is the president of a world-renowned Catholic university. One that can be argued made a mistake of offering an honorary degree and an invitation to speak to Notre Dame’s graduates. He is now under the microscope because of his questionable actions. One can rightly say “is this a pattern of behavior?” Someone who goes contrary to Church teachings?

    It is only fair to ask if his example is giving scandal to others. His mere association with Millenium Promise gives credence that it’s ok to abort and use condoms since such a prominent Catholic is on a board of a UN NGO!

  • Just so we’re clear, my point was that Krauthammer says that if we have “the slightest belief” that torture will save “an innocent”, then this kid should, by Krauthammer’s own logic, be tortured. Obviously, the Feds have “the slightest belief” that his alleged bomb threats have some sort of substance to them or they wouldn’t still be holding him. So by Krauthammer’s logic it is a “moral obligation” to torture the kid, lest by some oversight he or his compatriots actually kill innocents. The post isn’t really about the Patriot Act: it’s about the logic of the rhetoric that is being put forward by major pundits and representatives of allegedly “conservative” thought. By Krauthammer’s standards, the Feds were actually neglectful of their moral obligations when they didn’t instantly start torturing him. Suppose the threat had been real!

  • With all due respect… (That being the general precursor to rhetorically laying into someone.)

    Obviously, the Feds have “the slightest belief” that his alleged bomb threats have some sort of substance to them or they wouldn’t still be holding him.

    Actually, that’s not clear at all. Calling in bomb threats is illegal even if they’re known to be false. From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty clear that he’s being prosecuted for making fake bomb threats, not on the suspicion that he was really going to bomb anything.

    it’s about the logic of the rhetoric that is being put forward by major pundits and representatives of allegedly “conservative” thought. By Krauthammer’s standards, the Feds were actually neglectful of their moral obligations when they didn’t instantly start torturing him. Suppose the threat had been real!

    I’m not really clear that his is put forward by “major pundits” or “representative of allegedly ‘conservative’ thought” either. Sometime along these lines was said by Krauthammer (a quirky sort of fellow himself, politically) once. I strongly doubt that, if ask, he would give the interpretation to his words that you are giving. And if one went around the country asking pundits and ordinary citizens the number (even among Fox News watchers) who would assert that the government has a moral obligation to torture anyone it has the least suspicion of being about to bomb innocent people is pretty clearly vanishingly small.

    I don’t think that your admirable witness against consequentialist arguments for torture is helped by assembling what amounts to a fairly preposterous straw man. Your arguments themselves are better than that.

  • Once again the clown Mark Shea has bombed. Certainly even now he’s scouring online archives, Krauthammer’s rubbish bin, Halliburton dumps, anything at all in a desperate attempt at uncovering some comeback lines. In this valiant Hamburger Hill like effort at misdirection he’ll be well advised to decline any offer of relief from Mr Comerford, the Walter Mitty of the blogosphere.

  • Ivan,

    Without the rudeness please?

  • Ditto Ivan’s remarks.

    Shea has sunk so low, he has himself become a self-parody; simply allow the guy to dig his own grave and he will… eventually.

  • Shea is no clown and needs no defense from the likes of e. and Ivan. They are best ignored.

  • Mark, Darwin Catholic

    I apologise for writing “the clown…”. I regretted that once it was posted.

  • “I apologise for writing ‘the clown'”

    Yeah, ‘Bozo’ would’ve been more apt where Shea is concerned!

    (apologies, Darwin Catholic — only messin’).

  • Christopher,

    Christopher Blosser Says:
    Wednesday, May 13, 2009 A.D. at 2:27 pm

    It would seem that self-described “pro-life Democrats”, by virtue of their being Democrats, are actually pro-abortion.

    You know that’s not what I or Tito said, so it’s simply a strawman.

    Since you asked though, membership in the Democrat party is material cooperation with evil and may be scandalous. Whether this is sinful or not would depend on a number of factors. Particularly to the degree one avoids apparent or actual support of the platform or pro-abortion candidates.

    Now, simple membership in a party is not the same thing as being on the board of an organization, which is done specifically to lend credibility to the cause and/or as a reward for faithful support. I have not heard Fr. Jenkins actively rejecting the approach of the group he is on the board of, and it’s likely that he would not be on that board if he was. As a prominent Catholic priest lending credibility to an organization which substantially spreads evil, he is giving scandal.

  • Matt,

    If Tito had expressed concern about Fr. Jenkin’s presence “lending credibility” to an organization that promotes condom use, I would be in complete agreement with him.

    In fact, I don’t think you would find a number of his colleagues voicing their dissent as happened on this post.

    But you and I both know he didn’t frame the argument in that manner.

    Rather, he publicly speculated that “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    One is an expression of charitable concern, voiced in a respectful manner.

    The other is a deliberate misrepresentation and an unsubstantiated charge.

  • Christopher Blosser,

    If Tito had expressed concern about Fr. Jenkin’s presence “lending credibility” to an organization that promotes condom use, I would be in complete agreement with him.

    That’s good.

    In fact, I don’t think you would find a number of his colleagues voicing their dissent as happened on this post.

    But you and I both know he didn’t frame the argument in that manner.

    Rather, he publicly speculated that “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    Chris, that is one of the most aggregious attempts at changing the substance of a persons statement by quoting out of context I’ve seen in awhile. All you had to do to present your Christian brother’s statement in a more reasonable light is to quote the WHOLE sentence, instead of slicing it up for your own purposes.

    What Tito actually said:
    It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    seem
    ??/sim/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [seem]

    –verb (used without object)
    1. to appear to be, feel, do, etc.: She seems better this morning.
    2. to appear to one’s own senses, mind, observation, judgment, etc.: It seems to me that someone is calling.
    3. to appear to exist: There seems no need to go now.
    4. to appear to be true, probable, or evident: It seems likely to rain.
    5. to give the outward appearance of being or to pretend to be: He only seems friendly because he wants you to like him.

    There is an appearance of support.

    One is an expression of charitable concern, voiced in a respectful manner.

    And that is what Tito was trying to do, regardless of whether or not he expressed it exactly as you wanted.

    The other is a deliberate misrepresentation and an unsubstantiated charge.

    And that is what CHRISTOPHER BLOSSER did by misquoting Tito’s statement.

  • Christopher,

    “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    I said “seems”, not “believes”.

    I believe you misquoted me. Or it seems you misquoted me. See the difference?

    Which changes the entire context of what I wrote.

  • Tito,

    I thank you and Matt for proving my point.

    Let’s examine your sentence as a whole:

    “It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    We can see from this:

    1) Tito is uncertain that Fr. John Jenkins actually BELIEVES in the promotion of condom use.

    2) He qualifies it with “it seems”

    3) But in the simple fact of doing so, he plants the thought in the public realm and casts aspersion on Fr. Jenkins.

    Again, if Tito had framed the argument in such a manner as:

    1) Fr. Jenkins is a member of the board of an organization that endorses the Millenium Goals
    2) Said organization has been known to advocate contraception in the fulfillment of the “goal”
    3) Fr. Jenkins lends the appearance of advocacy to this by his being on the board

    I would have little objection, because rather than rumor-mongering, you instead extend the invitation to Fr. Jenkins for clarification, and treat him with Christian charity such as every Catholic deserves.

  • Christopher Blosser,


    I think you and Matt for proving my point.

    Let’s take your sentence as a whole:

    “It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    We can see from this:

    1) Tito is uncertain that Fr. John Jenkins actually BELIEVES in the promotion of condom use.

    2) He qualifies it with “it seems”

    3) But in the simple fact of doing so, he plants the thought in the public realm and casts an unsubstantiated charge against Fr. Jenkins.

    Are we clear on why I object to this?.

    Tito didn’t plant the thought in the public realm, Fr. Jenkins did by being ON THE BOARD OF A PRO-CONDOM, PRO-ABORTION ORGANIZATION, which is a further complication of his support for honoring a rabidly pro-abortion politician and rejecting the correction of his own bishop. Tito brought it up for discussion on the blog, it was always in the public realm. Tito revealed nothing.

    Are you HONESTLY denying that Fr. Jenkins position on that board implies support for it’s operations in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary, especially in light of his decision to reject the instruction of his bishop and honor a pro-abortion/condom politician?

  • Christopher,

    We are splitting hairs at this point.

    For me I take people at their word and I believe what you are saying is sincere. I take your fraternal actions to heart, but we’ve exhausted this debate well enough.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Matt,

    I’ve stated my case. I’m done with this.

  • It “seems” that Tito does not fully understand the concept of material cooperation, but pontificates on it with great confidence anyway.
    It “seems” that Tito has no idea how United Ways are organized or governed, but pontificates on them with great confidence anyway.
    It “seems” that Tito feels he can reach factual conclusions with great confidence simply by taking bizarre inferential liberties.
    It “seems” that Tito thinks that he is entitled to make all manner of unfair accusations, most especially if he qualifies them with “seems.”

  • Mike,

    I’ll concede that you aren’t in material cooperation, but in remote material cooperation with abortion.

  • I’ll concede that you aren’t in material cooperation, but in remote material cooperation with abortion.

    No more than any of us who live in this society.

    Tito, are ad hominem attacks wrong? If so, how does “It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS” differ from what Mike said? Best I can tell, the only difference is that while Mike slipped in “it seems”, his observations can actually be connected to your own words, whereas there is much less to go on regarding Fr. Jenkins.

  • As far as the rest of your ad hominem attacks, you need to think twice before you post or you will be banned.

    Tito: You really need to relax. You have now generated into ad hominem and ridiculous charges against someone who is merely pointing out the spuriousness of your charges. If you feel like lashing out against and banning Mike and anyone else who shows even the slightest hint of disagreeing with you, then frankly I have no use in visiting this site anymore myself.

  • Rick,

    If you want to delve into moral relativism, be my guest.

    It is scandalous that a prominent Catholic priest is a board member of an organization that actively promotes condom usage and abortion.

    But if you want to mock me and what I wrote I am fine with it. You can attack the messenger, but the fact remains that Fr. John Jenkins is a board member, not a volunteer on a Sunday morning passing out flyers, but a board member that has the authority to debate the direction of an organization that actively promotes moral evils contrary to Catholic teaching.

    Go ahead and attack me, but you won’t distract from this very fact.

  • Everyone,

    We all need to cool down about this (me included).

    So I am closing down the comments for this thread.

    We all need to think twice before posting comments and remember that we are all children of Christ. It would behoove all of us to be more charitable in how we treat each other.

    I appreciate fraternal correction, but that can’t be used as a weapon to bludgeon someone you disagree with.

    Pax!

  • Pingback: Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-20-2009 « The American Catholic

On Liberalism, Equality and Positive Freedom

Tuesday, May 12, AD 2009

Listening to this week’s EconTalk interview with Alan Wolfe, author of the recently released The Future of Liberalism, I was struck by the following quote from the book, “Modern liberalism promises equality through what [Isaiah] Berlin calls a positive conception of liberty. It is not sufficient for me merely to be left alone [which is negative liberty]. I must also have the capacity to realize the goals that I choose for myself. If this requires an active role for government, then modern liberals are prepared to accept state intervention into the economy in order to give large numbers of people the sense of mastery that free market capitalism gives only to the few.”

In discussion with host Russell Roberts, himself quite libertarian, Wolfe says that liberals do and should concede that at times empirical evidence will show that such government intervention actually reduces personal autonomy, in which case he advocates changing one’s position. He cites school choice and welfare reform as to examples of traditionally conservative positions he has adopted because he considers that these were both cases of alleviating dependence created by government programs.

But the examples that Wolfe provided of intervention to assure positive freedom struck me as interesting, and provided me with some insight into how thoughtful liberals view the world.

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29 Responses to On Liberalism, Equality and Positive Freedom

  • There is modern positive liberty like Wolfe’s, which is materialistic, and there is classical positive liberty – classical republicanism, and of course, Catholicism.

    The Catholic conception of liberty has always been positive. Freedom is the freedom to do good, freedom from sin. True liberty is not found in license but in virtue.

    It was the point of my last entry here. And according to the social teaching of the Church, there is much that can be done to promote positive liberty.

  • I would agree that the Catholic understanding of freedom has always been a positive one in that freedom is ordered towards the end of doing good, and it only good to the extent it is thus used.

    However, I’d question whether anything other than negative liberty is necessarily implementable politically. The law can leave me free to do the good, but if it forces me to do the good, then I am no longer free to do the good but rather acting under compulsion.

    Indeed, isn’t law generally much better at negatives than positives? For example: It’s fairly straight forward to punish child abuse, but next to impossible to successfully force all parents to be good parents.

  • DC,

    you nailed it there.

  • Darwin,

    Why does the word “force” have to make an appearance?

    There seems to be a knee-jerk assumption, sometimes, that positive liberty necessarily entails the use of force.

    I’ve always seen positive incentives as a way to promote positive liberty. And a measure of social equality is necessary for the survival of political democracy and republican institutions.

    I wrote more about this at VN today, in fact. Pius XI wrote, for instance,

    “First and foremost, the State and every good citizen ought to look to and strive toward this end: that the conflict between the hostile classes be abolished and harmonious cooperation of the Industries and Professions be encouraged and promoted.”

  • Why does the word “force” have to make an appearance?

    Heh. Well, what can I say, Joe. You are talking to an fairly old fashioned conservative, and as such I’d tend to say that one of the distinguishing marks of a state is that it has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

    I would agree with you that positive incentives are a way to promote positive liberty. (And I’d also agree that a measure of social equality is necessary to maintain political democracy — though I think it’s once again getting hard to maintain, as if it were ever easy.) But even so, that can only “promote” positive liberty, not assure it.

    I do think that we can promote positive liberty, but the only liberty we can assure is negative liberty. And if we’re to have liberty at all, we invariably end up leaving some room for it to be misused rather than used rightly.

    (I saw the VN piece, but I didn’t have the chance to read it yet because I was in the middle of writing this one. I’ll finish tomorrow, I promise.)

  • All of politics is the use of “force” in a sense. The state exists to get people to do what they otherwise might not.

    On the topic of the role of government: I haven’t listened to Wolfe’s interview, but I’d say that there isn’t a simple “algorithm” for determining which activities are best left free and which need to be done by the state. One place to start — at least with economic policy — is to look at technical questions of market failure and public goods. That’s the easy stuff. Of course there are moral considerations and considerations of incentives. There’s also the law of unintended consequences and the reality that even the best-intentioned policies have a way of creating perverse outcomes. Sometimes doing nothing is better than all the alternatives.

  • I want to add that the libertarians who argue for nearly total negative liberty on moral grounds are obviously misguided from the Catholic point of view. We are social animals, not autonomous consumer-individualists, and there is such a thing as the common good if you’re intellectually honest about it.

    But the conservative in me is wary of “overdefining” that common good, developing it too broadly, so that the compulsion of the state is behind every good deed. There is truly something damaging to charity when that happens. This is what the give and take of politics is about: the community defining what is acceptable to relinquish to state power. Right now, Americans seem to be demanding ever more goods and services from government, all the while cursing high taxes. It will be interesting, to say the least, when the unstoppable force and unmoveable object collide.

  • Given the way things have been going in this country, with the Patriot Act and all, I don’t believe negative liberty can be ensured either.

    America has just been lucky. Two oceans separated it from both the wars and the ideologies that started them that devastated so much of the world in the 20th century. And yet, even then, we had COINTELPRO in the 1960s. I won’t even include things like Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus or the internment of the Japanese.

    On civil liberties – leaving out economic theory – I am a libertarian, though I am quite disappointed with the ACLU’s secular bias against Christian communities. Anyway, it is hard for me to take conservatives seriously, unless they are consistent paleocons or libertarian-ish (i.e. Buchanan or Ron Paul), who go on about ‘the size of government’.

    So many of them supported the Bush administration’s erosion of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, trading liberty for security in a war without any clear objectives, a war against a concept, a war against a particular military strategy (which is what ‘terrorism’ is) a war that by definition cannot be won.

    So many of them cheered as riot police employed violence against anti-war protesters and other left-wing dissident movements.

    So many of them are willing to see the boarder and entire states militarized to keep out future immigrants and deport or punish the ones that are already here – all 12-20 million of them. Such an operation will require nothing less than an Orwellian police state.

    In short, so many of them are willing to make a Faustian bargain with the powers that be, assuming that they will never be the targets of government repression. Get the Muslims, get the commie leftists, get the illegals – and then they’ll come for the home schooled kids, the outspoken priests and ministers, the gun owners. We all have a horse in this race on both sides of the spectrum.

  • Joe, it is necessary to win wars so that we bloggers can be left to bloviate in peace. I have absolutely no problem with the government taking stern measures against those who give aid and comfort to enemies pursuing the defeat of my nation. That Lincoln’s administration, for example, tossed quite a few people into jail during the Civil War I find infinitely preferable to having the nation split into two countries. I do have a great deal of a problem with the government taking any action against groups who are not giving aid and comfort to our enemies and who are not engaging in domestic terrorism.

    As for freedom, my views on that subject are nicely set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist papers, Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and Lincoln’s writings.

  • Donald,

    The bottom line is, I don’t trust the government with the powers it has granted itself to fight ‘the war on terror’.

    The Civil War had a clear end in sight. The so called war on an emotion/military tactic has no end. Terrorism will always be possible, from now until the end of human civilization. To say that powers must be expanded and liberties curtailed to fight
    ‘terrorism’ is to say they ought to be so forever.

    It is absolutely tyrannical that the government can now imprison anyone without charges at any time, for virtually any reason. Our fourth and fifth amendment rights have been effectively nullified. Protest is still legal per the first amendment but the police are finding new ways to attack, intimidate, and arrest as many people as possible.

    Cop worship on the right, and gun control fanaticism on the left, are two currents that will rip the liberty right out of our hands if they aren’t checked.

  • So many of them supported the Bush administration’s erosion of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, trading liberty for security in a war without any clear objectives, a war against a concept, a war against a particular military strategy (which is what ‘terrorism’ is) a war that by definition cannot be won.

    So many of them cheered as riot police employed violence against anti-war protesters and other left-wing dissident movements.

    This diatribe would be better suited if it was based on fact. I keep hearing about this supposed erosion of civil liberties, but I have yet to see any evidence that there has been any such substantive erosion. As for this little fantasy about the police coming in and clobbering on all the ole peaceful protesters, can you document one incident in the past 8 years when the police came in and arrested protesters who were not, in fact, breaking the law. Considering I live in the DC area and have seen my fair share of protests, I have a hard time buying this exaggeration.

    Get the Muslims, get the commie leftists, get the illegals –

    If it feels better to caricature those you disagree with, knock yourself out Joe.

  • It is absolutely tyrannical that the government can now imprison anyone without charges at any time, for virtually any reason.

    Joe, this is not even remotely true. What alternate reality are you living in where you can be arrested without charge or habeas corpus? This is not 1862.

    Again, it would help your argument out tremendously if you were decrying things that were actually taking place.

    Protest is still legal per the first amendment but the police are finding new ways to attack, intimidate, and arrest as many people as possible.

    Again, do you have any actual evidence for this, or is this all just supposition?

  • I’m not caricaturing everyone I disagree with, Paul.

    Maybe you’ve never met people who believe these things. I have.

    And as for fact, I mean, I don’t want to be rude but can you use a search engine? There are dozens of documented incidents, people rounded up by the hundreds at lawful protests after being charged by the police.

    I’ve seen video footage of riot cops paying off agent provocateurs, footage of them laughing and calling protesters ‘cockroaches’. You think they respect your first amendment rights? They’re only interested in preserving ‘order’.

    Finally, even if there wasn’t a single documented instance of power being abused, we have a duty to resist infringements on the Bill of Rights, which is precisely what the Patriot Act and related legislation are.

  • And NY got lucky with this one:

    “The New York State Court of Appeals yesterday disagreed with Wisconsin’s second-highest court in ruling that police may not use Global Position System (GPS) tracking devices without a warrant.”

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/27/2775.asp

    I’m relieved that the police were put in their place, at least in NY – poor Wisconsin. I’m unnerved in the certainty that they will continue to push the limits of the law until they get what they want, nation wide.

  • I could post these all day.

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/25/2537.asp

    It’s a whole world of information out there. For now.

  • Joe:

    “Use a search engine” is not a particularly compelling form of documentation. The onus is on you, the person making the argument, to prove your point. I’m not your r.a. That said, I will follow your links.

  • Joe:

    First of all, I will give you credit for actually attempting to prove your arguments through documentation. That’s more than can be said for some people.

    That said, I don’t believe what you’ve offered is compelling proof for the widespread accusations that you’ve made. They point to either single abuses, or are concerned with at best debatable uses of technology. For example, I am not necessarily comfortable with the use of cameras, but I’m not going to make a leap here that it indicates we are living in a police state. I would probably oppose the use of technology described in the last article linked to, and as someone who just received a fairly bogus camera ticket, I’m inclined to oppose all traffic cameras on general principle (I keed, I keed).

    You made a couple of very specific allegations which you haven’t come close to backing up. First of all, you indicated widespread abuse of first amendment rights with cops arresting people without cause. I’m willing to concede that cops can get carried away, and that they have certainly made improper arrests. I am not an apologist for the police, nor do I think they are incapable of abusing the system. At the same time, I’m not exactly just going to accept your say-so that the police regularly have unjustly arrested scores of protesters. It is possible to have a lawful protest, but for someone to engage in unlawful conduct during the protest. The first amendment is not a license to do whatever one wants. So, yes, the burden of proof is on you as the one making the allegation.

    Second, you made the far flung claim that all of us can pretty much be arrested for anything at any time, something for which you did not back up save with what looks to be a pretty bad case in a local community, and even that doesn’t follow from the example. So again, you’re going to have to do better.

  • Joe’s links are lame. While I disfavor the use of photo ticket cameras, this is a prudential judgement call. Just not a big deal, unless you are a criminal I suppose. The passion with which people worry about such things is akin to the 1950s and flouridization and the 1990s and black helocopters. And the story about the boy is also less than disturbing. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,519570,00.html

  • Thanks, Mike. As usual, I assumed there was another side to that story.

  • I do agree with Joe on the Patriot Act. Even though the Bush administration used it benignly to root out terrorists in our midst, President Obama is now using it as a club against alleged death threats as Joe pointed out in the Patriot Act abuse.

    That brought a chill down my spine. That is not what the Patriot Act was made for.

  • OK, I just did some quick research and it seems that the story of the kid being arrested because of the Patriot Act is unsubstantiated.

    I retract part of my previous statement, but the potential for abuse is out there.

  • Paul,

    There are literally hundreds of links to follow, though. You say you aren’t my “ra” – as if I need to do the research myself, lol. All you have to do is google something like “abuse of patriot act”, you’ll get dozens of links to mainstream news stories. Am I supposed to do all that, here?

    Also, there is the matter of looking for relevant information. For instance, in that camera article, the real point is that they want to do here what they have in Britain – the modern surveillance state. Not only are there cameras everywhere – there are people behind the cameras who speak to you through mounted speakers. If you litter, for instance, a polite British chap will tell you through the speaker, identifying you by your clothes or other characteristics, to please pick up the trash.

    And the GPS tracking – that doesn’t bother you either? It doesn’t bother you that they want to know where you are, 24/7, without a warrant, if they just suspect you of something?

    If you guys don’t see it as a portent of something far more dangerous, that’s your prerogative, I guess. Some people say, “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about”.

    When it comes to the defense of civil liberties, history, common sense, and morality tell me to be vigilant. Nothing bothers me more than the flippant skeptic unwilling to take historical patterns seriously. Bringing up previous examples as if they are invalid because they didn’t lead directly to a police state is hardly convincing.

    By what logic are they excluded as links in a chain? Or if they really are absurd claims, by what logic are they associated with valid, documented claims? It’s guilt by association.

    As for the arrest of anti-war protesters, you have to read the stories. There are too many to count.

  • As for the arrest of anti-war protesters, you have to read the stories. There are too many to count.

    Yes, you’ve said that multiple times, as though repeating something simply makes it true. Sorry Joe, you still have not produced evidence. If there are so many stories, then you will kindly produce them. You see, I have a life and a job and I don’t feel like hunting around google all day looking for the stories that are supposed to convince me that, hey, Joe was right all along.

  • Oh, and Joe, you still haven’t even come close to justifying this whopper:

    It is absolutely tyrannical that the government can now imprison anyone without charges at any time, for virtually any reason.

  • Well, when you have time, check it out. You think I don’t have a life?

    I may not be around to do it anyway – my computer has viruses and I think it’s finally time to get a new one. Might be a few days. Surely you’ve got 2 minutes to do a google search and just look at the headlines… if you had time to write that last post, you have time to do that.

  • On a side note, I’d submit that the reason for the Orwellianly named “Global War on Terror” is that no one wanted the very un-PC but more accurate title, “Global war against a rag tag network of Islamic extremests who want to destroy US assets and kill US citizens”. There were a number of conservatives who pointed this out at the time — though sometimes because they wanted to use a term with more “fight” such as “Global War on Islamic Fascism”. (Itself a poor term, I think, since the terrorists aren’t really fascists and if some Islamic countries are fascist, that’s not necessarily our problem.)

    I’m somewhat split on issues such as the Partiot Act. On the one hand, so far as I can tell it’s not nearly as nefarious as many people think. On the other hand, I think that we often kid ourselves as to how much ability we have to protect our citizens. All this foolishness in the airports with taking our shoes off and confiscating eyedrops is not keeping anyone any safer, it’s just an extended kubuki show so that if there is another massive attack on US soil we can all tell ourselves we did everything we could. I’m in favor of giving law enforcement legitimate tools to combat terrorist organizations — that’s what our leaders have a responsibility to do — but we do want to make sure we don’t give them too much power in the process. Europe is already far more spied upon and locked down than we, and we can see from their example that it’s still quite possible for people to carry our terrorist attacks in the UK and on the continent.

    Going back to the general point, it sounds like we probably have a fair amount of agreement on how the state should give negative liberty — and probably a good deal more than it currently does. I would imagine that we might differ a fair amount on how successfully the state can encourage the positive use of freedom, and how successfully it can shape equality, which allows greater positive freedom.

  • Bah. The idea that the War on Terror (such as it’s named) is taking away our civil liberties is in my mind a slippery slope argument akin to the cry that Obama is going to take away our guns. Lots of smoke, but very little fire. Nations can take reasonable steps to protect their citizens, just as they can take reasonable steps to ensure economic justice.

    If I were to worry about a slippery slope erosion of liberty, I’d be much more concerned about “rightthink” when it comes to gay marriage, abortion, and religion in general. People losing jobs and being threatened for their opinions on these matters is already happening… *cough*MissCalifornia*cough*

    And you can Google *that* stuff, too. : )

  • The US is geographically larger than Sweden. Using the same math, Bill Gates controls 20% of the GDP of Washington state. These are meaningless shock stats. Well, maybe not. I find it a great indictment of US economic policy that despite a single family controlling 1/3 of the GDP of Sweden, the US still has greater income inequality!

Pro-Life Movement: Democrats Need Not Apply

Monday, May 11, AD 2009

First of all let me say that I intend for the title of this piece to be polemical. I hope it is not the case, in all circumstances, that pro-life organizations and major players in the movement, are unfairly excluding, or consciously undermining budding pro-life Democratic candidates and causes. But my own experience is worth sharing and considering- just in case.

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93 Responses to Pro-Life Movement: Democrats Need Not Apply

  • I can’t speak to your race Tim, but in my experience the pro-life movement is eager for pro-life Democrats. Bob Casey, Senior was a hero to many of us for example. However too often a Democrat who is touted as pro-life turns out, upon closer examination, not to be. Bob Casey, Junior is a prime example of this.

    http://newledger.com/2009/02/the-excommunication-of-bob-casey-jr/

    I have voted for pro-life Democrats in the past and will in the future, alhough as a partisan Republican it seems quite unnatural for me when I do so! There are a lot of votes for Democrats available when they run uncompromising foes of abortion, and I hope we will see more such candidates in the future.

  • Had a similar feeling last week. I am on the Governor’s committee for early childhood issues in my state. A Republican state rep came to our committee to discuss finding ways to define early school readiness to empower stay-at-home mom’s to better educated their young children. Part of his proposal was to give reimbursements to moms who stay home. After the Rep. left you should have felt the hate(I use that word reservedly)from the almost completely Democratic committee members. There were a variety of reasons but certainly they were not consistent with Catholic social teaching which encourages mothers to stay home and the state to find ways to compensate their work in the home.

  • Let me preface this by saying that I think the pro-life movement MUST become bipartisan if our efforts are to succeed. As long as abortion is seen as a partisan issue, it will be almost impossible to effect lasting change.

    That said, the blame for your predicament rests squarely on your fellow Democrats.

    First, and foremost, you have chosen to associate yourself with a party that sees “a woman’s right to choose” as sacrosanct. Don’t blame pro-lifers if they are reluctant to back candidates who choose to do business with that party.

    Second, you should probably blame the pro-life Democrats who have gone before you. We often hear about how Republicans only pay lip service to the pro-life cause, which, in many respects, is absolutely true. But how much moreso have pro-life Democrats paid lip service to the pro-life cause only to get to the statehouse or to Capitol Hill and either vote party line with their pro-choice leadership or, worse, “grow” in office and become pro-choice in order to get key committee appointments and/or to continue to get re-elected by Democrat voters.

    The facts are that pro-lifers have been burned by BOTH parties, but have been burned far too often by pro-life Democrats who say one thing at home and then vote with the party’s leadership. I think what we need to see are some pro-life Democrats who will CONSISTENTLY buck their party leadership on key votes (and maybe even vote against people like Nancy Pelosi for leadership positions). What we need to see LESS of is Sen. Casey voting against reinstating the Mexico City Policy.

    In short, pro-life Democrats need to EARN the trust of pro-life voters and pro-life organizations. It’s there for the earning, in part, because the Republicans have done much to lose that trust. I hope and pray, for the sake of the unborn, that pro-life Democrats (as well as pro-life Republicans) will do what needs to be done to earn that trust.

  • So basically, it’s pro-life Republican’s fault that
    I’m wondering Tim. Where you known to the people you contacted? Did you have a history of participating with them and supporting them?

    Pro-life Democrats are not successful in getting elected by pro-life Democrats? And it’s the fault of pro-life Republicans?

    You need to understand that you won’t further the cause of pro-life by bringing pro-life Republicans over to your side, you will further the cause of pro-life by converting your fellow Democrats back to the pro-life cause, that means voting for a pro-life candidate REGARDLESS of party affiliation. That means not supporting ANY leader or legislation which is in opposition to life, etc.

    This point is probably the biggest hurdle that Dems for Life faces. Their candidates often compromise (Casey Jr. for example), and they tend to support the Democrat leadership regardless of their opposition to life (Pelosi and Reid). Until they can be seen as solid champions of life, they will continue to be doubted by pro-life Republicans.

    In any event, pro-life groups should foster the pro-life cause in all arenas including the Democrat party, and so should seek to offer what support they can. I know our group would give an opportunity for pro-life democrats candidates, but there are none to my knowledge in Harris county.

    We simply need to get to work organizing in these communities- not to try to make them into Republicans, but to empower them to reform the Democratic Party for Life.

    I agree with this 100%!

    We need pro-life Obama-like candidates to compete for the hearts and minds of the next generation.

    Obama-like in what way exactly?

  • The facts are that pro-lifers have been burned by BOTH parties

    Totally correct, it’s deeply frustrating for us when even staunch pro-lifers compromise (such as supporting Arlen Spector, or giving Sebelius the nod for HHS). When the Rep. party toyed with the idea of electing a pro-abortion presidential candidate, it caused a huge stir, probably the reason that the most soldily pro-life but marginal candidate Huckabee surged up from the bottom of the pack as he did.

    The worst part of this is that ending abortion is completely within the grasp of the Catholic voters. If no Catholic voted for a pro-abortion candidate, there would be virtually no pro-abortion candidates. We represent around 25% of the electorate in almost every district, and frankly, where we don’t, it’s usually pro-life protestant strongholds. Neither party could survive without reasonable split among the Catholics.

  • Republicans (and others) like to make a lot of noise about wanting to promote meritocracies all around- my complaint is that when I presented myself to as many pro-lifers as possible, as a candidate promising on paper and in person, to pursue all the things I mention in my article- and as well- saying “look, if you don’t want to go with me then just make sure you go to your prefered Republican candidate and have him promise to match my promises- then you can hold him accountable”- When even this didn’t stir anything up- I became indignant.

    You can say that the blame rests all over the map- past Democrats and all- but in a meritocracy I should be able to be judged as an individual based upon the merits of my own efforts- why do some of you want to give free passes to those who failed to take up my challenge? I was willing to buck my party on several fronts because my conscience demanded it- on Life issues, Marriage, Education, and even nuclear energy- I think it is obvious that partisanship is a huge problem- the Compendium of Social Doctrine warns us away from being uncritical supporters of political parties- I think I have adequately proven that I am willing to criticize and challenge my party of choice- are Republicans really going to claim their party is near-perfect on Life issues and all else? Come on- wake up. Don’t excuse lazy prejudice- I spoke to my own experience and this is what led to me posting this article.

  • I’m not a Republican, and I don’t need to “wake up”. No one claim that Republicans are “near-perfect on Life issues”, and, in fact, I said just the opposite. I even said that they’ve done much to lose the trust of pro-lifers, thereby giving an opportunity for pro-life Democrats to earn that trust.

    That’s the point. Trust needs to be earned (and it can be lost, as the Republicans have recently shown). Don’t just expect to walk in to the local pro-life org’s headquarters and say “I’m a pro-life Democrat and – given the history of past “pro-life” Democrats – expect everyone in the local pro-life organization to uncritically support you.

  • But Tim, if the pro-lifers in your district had abandoned the Republican and supported you, would you not have been knocked out in the 2008 Democrat primary by the pro-abort Democrats, so that you could be replaced in an open general with a solid pro-abort?

    Why would the pro-lifers want to risk their position, poor as it was, on someone who didn’t even have the backing of his own party?

  • What Jay said.

    Get in the trenches with these guys, go to the marches, donate to the crisis pregnancy centers, volunteer, etc. I doubt they will turn you away once you’ve shown them not told them.

    Frankly, I am suspicious of pro-life Democrats because of what they might have done to advance within a party who’s platform includes abortion on demand. How do you become a prominent pro-life democrat? By not endorsing most of their candidates? By not donating to the party funds? By protesting against their activities? By raising the pro-life message every chance you get?

    Let’s be clear that by “pro-life message” we are talking about justice for the unborn, not just “reduced abortion rates”.

  • “We need pro-life Obama-like candidates…” This is where I think Catholic Democrats get taken up in their ideology. Catholic social teaching is very nuanced and open to interpretation. It is not the Democratic Party platform.

  • While I can understand the reaction of the pro-life advocates (who were also partisan Republicans) for the reasons that Matt, Jay and others have mentioned — I do think it sounds like they were going about things the wrong way with you.

    Regardless of what one thinks of the politics involved, our model for how to be a successful single issue advocacy organization should probably be how the NRA has successfully opposed gun control over the last 20 years. They have a set of ratings based on questions they ask candidates and the actual votes of legislators, and they happily provide positive ratings to Democrats when the Democrats earn them.

    The difficulty with the abortion issue (and life/family issues more generally) is that over the last 30 years many pro-lifers have been trained by circumstances to see electing Republicans as invariably more advantageous to them. (And often it is.) However, that allows the issue to be a clear party split and makes it harder to achieve the kind of general victory which in many ways the NRA has now achieved in regards to guns. (25 years ago it was a very split issue, but many major Democrats endorse gun rights as well as a matter of political survival. The NRA has successfully moved the goalposts.)

    It seems to me that the pro-life movement should have two clear electoral strategies:

    1) Provide primary support in the form of volunteer work and money to any candidate (Democrat or Republican) who professes to be (or in the case of those with a track record, has shown by votes to be) pro-life.

    2) In the general election, provide some sort of approval to all pro-life candidates, and only throw themselves in hard if one candidate is significantly better than the other.

    In this case, that would have meant helping you get on the ballot for the Democrats, and then standing back during the general election.

    In the short term, this might mean giving less support than some in the GOP would like, but in the long term I think it would mean stronger success. In order to be a successful single issue organization, you need to be truly _single issue_ in your focus and not allow party loyalty to keep you from taking over sections of the other party.

    While NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood are certainly huge opponents (with more money than anti-gun forces ever had, since they have ways of making money off abortion directly) we as pro-lifers need to learn to play both sides of the aisle better — especially in the conservative Southern states where if a Democrat manages to get in, we want to make sure that doesn’t mean ceding a pro-life vote. Pro-life Democrats should be able to win down here, and it’s better to have that if the GOP fouls up in an election than have pro-choice Democrats get in.

  • This is a story that shows the importance of the SCOTUS nomination for the pro-life movement.

    Right now, the pro-life movement is powerless-except for the pro-life Dems in the Senate. They are they only ones who could help lobby for a pro-life nomination?

    If they don’t, then I think the Democrats will have lost a significant opportunity, maybe even their last one, to impress pro-lifers that they have a home and their pro-life candidates are legitimate.

    However, I agree with Shipe that the association with the GOP has hurt the pro-life movement in the sense that they seem to be less pro-life on other issues (war, death penalty, etc). This could be equally true for Democrats, but having a less partisan pro-life movement would do wonders for the pro-life witness & credibility.

  • I just wonder who the “leaders” were you contacted? I mean, it’s blatantly obvious that NRLC is nothing more than a Republican PAC. I have a friend who worked for them a while at their DC headquarters and left convinced that NRLC has no intention of ever outlawing abortion (evidence: their main issue on their website is still partial birth abortion). She, btw, supported Ron Paul in the primary and Chuck Baldwin in the general election, and refuses to vote for any candidate who’s involved with the Council on Foreign Relations.

    It works both ways. I know a lot of people who claim to be “pro-life” Democrat voters, who still fail to support pro-life Democrats when they present themselves. Meanwhile, pro-lifers have learned not to trust Democrats.

    Let me present a different case. Last year in South Carolina, we had a candidate, Bob Conley, a Latin-Mass attending Catholic, win the Democratic Primary mostly due to technicality. He’s a Ron Paul supporter, and ran as a pro-life “blue dog” Democrat: he was opposing “Leaping Lindsey” for his positions on Immigration, funding of Planned Parenthood and compromising on judicial appointments. But he took Democrat positions on several issues, such as the War (which supposedly is so important to Democrats) and the environment. He got *no* support from the Democrat Party, who described the election as “Republican versus Republican.”

    Setting the immigration issue aside, I’ve never understood why anyone thinks that Catholic social teaching leads to support for the Democratic Party.

    I’ve read the encyclicals, and I just don’t see it. Subsidiarity precludes doing most of what the Democrats want at the federal level (state is another story). Federal involvement in education violates subsidiarity and parents’ rights, and public education at such has *always* been an explicitly anti-Catholic institution. The Church says workers should have ownership of their work: this certainly doesn’t happen in socialism.

    Plus, the encyclicals *always* say we have freedom to make up our own minds about social issues *so long as we’re taking subsidiarity and the common good into account*. As far as political stances taken by a certain bureaucracy in Washington DC that has no real authority under Canon Law and represents the opinions of its lay staffers more than it necessarily represents the “bishops.” . . .

  • I think the Pro-Life movements as to poltics needs to be very much like the NRA. They at times will not give endorsements of one over the other if the two have similar psotions. That has helped

    That being said I have seen pro-lifers wupport Democrats in my State. In fact after redistricting the black majority Congressional District might be won by a very African American pro-lifer that is currently State Senate pro-tempe

    In other races I have seen support fot botht he dem and the Republican when their views were similar.

    SO I guess it is where you are at.

  • Tim,

    I appreciate you standing up and fighting that fight, and here’s hoping that the Democrats become much more open to candidates like you. I’m afraid though, that Jay is correct: the “right” to abortion is as close to a “non-neg” position as one can get in that party. Shame.

  • DC,

    I think a lot of what you say is being done by
    “National Right To Life”, and by others. They are pretty non-partisan as far as I can tell. I agree with this approach, and we do need to learn a lesson from the NRA on this.

    It seems to me though, that opposition to gun control doesn’t cross the orthodoxy line in for the Democrat base the same way that true pro-life positions do.

  • Johnathon

    I think the key is to make the Dems pro-life from the bottom up

    State legislators and others are ones that often will be picked to go for the the congressional and Senate Seats.

    We have seen success in this on the local level.

    The problem I see is this. There is a lot of criticism of the two parties. Maybe a good bit justifyed. THe problem is that critcism of the parties often leads to people not being involved in the parties on a local level. THis is where a lot of the action happens. SO there fore the partyumachinary is often run by people that don’t have pro-life viewpoints. Espcially in the democrat party. This has all sort of implications

  • I agree with Darwin on the NRA model. And, as I stated right off the bat in my first comment, the pro-life movement MUST become bipartisan for our efforts to succeed.

    The main point I’m trying to make is that pro-lifers need to see solid concrete examples of pro-life Democrats standing up to and bucking the pro-choice leadership of their party on a consistent basis. Over and over again. Just like pro-gun Democrats do.

    During the past election, Democrats made much of the contention that pro-life support for Republicans has garnered little in the way of results. True. Pro-lifers have not been able to achieve their objectives by hitching their wagons to the Republican Party. But supporting pro-life Democrats has achieved even less over the years … apart from sell-outs.

    What would the NRA do if Democrat candidates talked the 2nd Amendment talk at home but voted with the party’s leadership on gun control measures when they got to DC? The NRA certainly wouldn’t be so open to supporting those candidates in the future. That’s the predicament pro-lifers are in. All I’m saying is that the onus is on the pro-life Dems to prove themselves worthy of pro-life support; the onus is NOT on pro-life voters and pro-life orgs to suddenly give them unquestioning support.

  • To Follow-up: First of all I don’t respond to anyone directly, I try to keep on the topic without getting into all the “I said nothing of the sort” type of lame back n’forths- my criticism in the commentary is directed at either something someone mentioned, or is an attempt to broaden the argument to address something that some – might- be implying- but I don’t want to get into a load of personal attack back n’ forths- it is unholy and it brings out my own beast within- so I have none of it.

    Now something I didn’t bring out earlier which is relevant- first- I am pretty well known in local pro-life circles, I am there for the rallies, and I host a pro-life club on the high school campus where I teach, and I am very well known among the students for having an extremely strong pro-life and orthodox Catholic point-of-view.

    Part of my strategy in trying to attract pro-life community support was to openly say- ” Look if you are pro-life, and with all things being equal on the Life issues, then you are going to vote your party- no doubt about it”. But I was looking for support for pro-lifers just to get my name on the ballot as a Democrat for the second run- I told pro-lifers that if they didn’t help me get on the ballot, then a pro-choice Dem would probably get on the ballot- but they wouldn’t if I was there because I paid my dues, I ran when no other Dem would run, I had some name recognition- it wouldn’t fly for a pro-choicer to challenge me. But I had to prove that I could get enough support to at least get the petitions in to qualify- and this is where I really felt let down by the pro-lifers and the Catholic community in general.

    You can say- well you can’t expect Republican pro-lifers to vote for any Democrat- although I would argue for the merit system, if I promise to do more for the cause of Life, then I should get the nod from those who claim that the Life issue is THE issue, and as such there can be no proportionality complexities. But for arguments sake- ok- if Republican pro-lifers don’t trust any Democrat’s pro-life credentials- then so be it- don’t vote for me. But the second layer of my claim was that pro-lifers should support me to the extent of getting my name on the ballot as a Democrat, because at the very least I would be the probable lone pro-lifer in the Democratic Party primary, and wouldn’t want to have two pro-lifers competing for the office come November? Now at this point I don’t see any wiggle room- I wasn’t asking for total support all the way from the pro-lifers, I was asking for that of course, but I wasn’t saying it was all or nothing. I said- just help me get on the ballot, help me secure my spot in the Democratic field because I can represent pro-life in the internal Democratic primary- and if I can show I have a lot of pro-life and Catholic help, then maybe I can scare off some Democratic pro-choicers from challenging me. At least help me to get to the general election and compete for pro-life votes in the general election- whether you would vote for me over a Republican or not- I asked only for the opportunity to make my challenge.

    And this is where things broke down- the volunteers never came- I even put an ad in the local paper for area pro-lifers to help get a pro-life candidate on the ballot- nothing. I have concluded that many- I am not calling out anyone here on this blog- I’m sure you are all perfect saints- but many non-blogger Republicans or anti-Democrats, are blindly prejudiced in the way they respond to even genuine pro-life Democrats like myself- in fact- I think many just shut down automatically- The Democratic Party is the Party of Evil so no new thinking is necessary- the assumption is made that no matter who the Democrat is, they are not legit, or they are representing an evil political party, so we shouldn’t be empowered to even compete on the one issue that is supposed to bond together the pro-life community- abortion.

    Maybe things are different in other parts of the country- I want to find out- which is why I wrote this article- I really don’t enjoy rehashing what is past- I am continuing to do pro-life work outside of being a candidate, I really didn’t want to become a politician, but I was willing to step up- now that I’ve been shot down I am just continuing to fight in different arenas. I would like to help inspire those- particularly in the minority and religious communities, who are already Democrats for the many reasons that cause people to find the traditional Dem Party to be the one that has had a better philosophical orientation to the proper role of government- and one that defends the weak from the wolves. For those who see abortion in particular as a great failing for Democrats, and are willing to stand up and work for reform within, and to challenge the Republicans on Life and other essential fronts in the political wars- these are the folks I aim to spend the majority of my time with- the young and charismatic, the old and faithful volunteers, to work for Life within the Democratic Party the same way those who hijacked the Party worked to move the Party away from the Right to Life for the unborn.

    Having cleared up some loose ends here- like why I wasn’t just mad because Republican pro-lifers didn’t up and vote for me- but my upset was more to do with the fact that pro-lifers didn’t even help me to get on the Dem ballot to make sure there was going to be two pro-lifers competing. And two, I wasn’t an unknown to the pro-life community, and like I said the Republican I was challenging was not one who was front and center out there promoting pro-life legislation and education- so I didn’t have to be the most visible guy to be able to make a challenge. I did have other problems associated with my campaign- first being, it was my first run for public office, and I had not lived in the area for more than 3 years when I first started running- that was definitely to my down-side for sure- I acknowledge that- but still thought that my ability to communicate and commit to specifics should have warranted more support from those claiming that Life or being Catholic was #1 for them as voters. I wanted to put those people to the test- and I even circulated flyers- I’ll post them here sometime if anyone is curious- that based issue positions on Catholic social teachings and Scripture. You know the push against slavery and for civil rights drew so much support from churches and church people, I just don’t understand the fears we have as religious folk to get very specific about where our motivations come from in the political fight on various issues.

  • …if I promise to do more for the cause of Life, then I should get the nod from those who claim that the Life issue is THE issue…

    You sound like someone who, if you had run last year against my GOP pro-abort state rep., I would have cheerfully voted for you, and possibly even worked for you.

  • Thanks Paul- you know part of the reason I had an even tougher time drawing some help than the reasons I gave above- the area I live in here in Florida is pretty apolitical compared to other places I have lived- like Columbus, Ohio, my hometown. In Ohio,the friend of mine who first led me to the Catholic faith, he used to run for Congress, not just state house, and the rules set up in Ohio were much easier for folks to get on the ballot. He ran and won a couple of primaries, with maybe two or three Dem opponents. When I moved to Florida and settled in, I thought maybe I could pick up where he left off down here, but it requires a lot more to get on the ballot here. I understand that you don’t want a hundred candidates, but in Ohio, it didn’t play out that way, and here like I said in my article- I was the only one in Brevard County to even challenge a state rep in the 2006 election cycle- I suppose you could blame the rules, blame voter and candidate apathy, maybe it is the Florida heat and beaches?? We are pretty laid-back here, with lots of sunshine and warmth year round you kind of get into that vacation mindset and stay there. Problem is I don’t want to move for all kinds of family and work reasons, but I want to be part of something dynamic politically- internet has helped to provide some outlets.

  • Tim,

    I am sympathetic with your plight to an extent. However, here’s where we part ways.

    What indication did the pro-lifers of your district have that your ability to influence your party would extend anywhere beyond your district, should you happen to win? What guarantees would any pro-life group have that you would not become another in a long line of starry-eyed idealists who would bow before the power brokers in the legislature (who happen to be pro-abortion) soon after arriving in Washington? And wile I don’t question your “street-cred” among those who *know* you, how would someone not in your circle of influence know whether you really meant what you said, and whether you could actually effect the change needed.

    For me, the easier task than converting the Democratic Party from inside would seem to be converting the *Republican* party from inside! I would much rather have seen you run as an Orthodox Catholic Republican, who fought the Party on its approach toward foreign policy, its approach to the preferential option for the poor, and all of the other giants of Catholic Social Teaching. Frankly, I believe you’d have an easier task (and run MUCH less risk of being cast out of the Party) in the Republican party (the lesser of two evils). As long as access to abortion appears to have sacramental significance to most of the Democratic Party, it will be impossible for me to support *any* Democratic candidate (including you); you are stained by association with such a pro-abortion Party, and that keeps many of us form being able to support you.

    Heck, run as an independent; I’ll come work blocks for ya!

  • Given the history of the Dem party, unless you had some MAJOR history as pro-life, I wouldn’t be willing to risk it, either. Especially if the person you were running against was at least friendly to pro-lifers.

  • Thanks for the feedback- If I was just starting out in my adult life, I would probably be an Independent, since I really have fundamental issues with both major parties- but my political formation began back when I was 13 years young, and I was inspired to go volunteer for the Carter campaign of 1976- now this was a strange thing because neither of my parents were Democrats, and I didn’t have an inspiring teacher coax or assign anything that would have forcibly drawn me into Democratic politics. The ideal of what I perceived at that time has stuck with me- Democrats were for the little guys- and this was before I had any inkling of pro-life or the religious life at all- I wasn’t brought up with religious instruction or church attendance.

    As a twenty-something I became pretty much a by-the-numbers liberal- now some things I still agree with- like American foreign policies- really bad stuff- though I did sign up for the National Guard for 6 years- I found that I am able to be patriotic and self-critical of my nation’s leadership simultaneously.

    But as a Catholic convert- with a big big help from the social encyclicals- I came to see things from a Catholic teachings point-of-view- and so I find common areas of agreement with both liberals and conservatives, but neither place is my home when it comes to politics- my favorite read over the past couple of years has been the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- so that should tell you all you need to know about where I will come down on most major political topics.

    The fact is that while I retain my status as a Democrat, because I believe that it is possible that God gifted me with something way back when- when I stand up before an audience of Democrats, I am not some outsider, some infiltrator, I am one who can expose the traitors to the Democratic past, and tradition, I don’t publicly support any pro-choice candidates, I spread my votes around- I liked Ron Paul more than the rest this time around- but I don’t agree with libertarianism in general, I just thought he was the most genuine in his pursuit of justice- especially with respect to the global community and the unborn- though I disagree with the state’s rights approach on abortion- not strong enough for me.

    For now, I am still going to fight things out as a Democrat, but not as a candidate- I honestly tried, but failed, it has been humbling, but I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I am looking to help build up the Dems for Life movement- it may be part of my life;s work- I am patient- I may have to be! Pray for me

  • Hey Tim,

    You mentioned,

    “my upset was more to do with the fact that pro-lifers didn’t even help me to get on the Dem ballot to make sure there was going to be two pro-lifers competing.”

    Why would they want to do that? We have to face it – for all of the hard talk, most pro-lifers are GOP on most other issues as well. Of course we Catholics have a social teaching we can appeal to, but not that many Catholics read it. Evangelicals have none but what they make for themselves.

    Anyway, I think your strategy is a viable one, because the Democratic Party, like all parties in time, faces demographic changes that can only mean ideological changes. The boomers will be retiring soon, and it is the white liberal boomers that had the biggest emotional investment in abortion. If you throw in strong support for the second amendment, as I believe Catholics ought, I think working class, religious voters without a strong party affiliation will swing your way.

  • I am an old man and have been active in the pro-life movement since its inception immediately after passing Roe Vs Wade in 1973. Until very recently I attended just about all the Right to Life Marches in DC starting with the very first. I remember that one very well, it was 70 degrees in January. Think God was saying something? I wish to commend Tim for challenging we pro lifers and I am very heartened by the very mature responses of so many of you. I am a life time pro lifer who happens to be also a Democrat though I am an independently voting Democrat and will continue to be. I almost left the Democratic Party but after much prayer and reflection felt that God wanted me to stay just where I was at. Don’t misunderstand I am not saying that God supports one party over another. I believe He is asking each of us to serve him in the party where we can best serve Him. For me it is the Democratic Party, for others it is the Republican Party. All of us on both sides of the aisle need to work at making our party more principled centered and support candidates on either side of the aisle who are most principled centered. In my pro life work I have gotten to know Mr. Tim Shipe very well in the past 4 years or so. He is the real McCoy! He is the most principled centered person and political leader I have ever known. I so wished he was in my county, for he would most certainly have my vote. You know what, if he were running for president, he would have my vote as well. He is presidential material through his integrity, intelligence, and willingness to never compromise his values which are in complete alignment with principles (i.e. natural law or law of human interaction). He is the personification of the “pro-life Obama-like candidates”. Tim, yes you lost twice, but you must still run again and again. As for many of you who participated in this blog, regardless of your party affiliations, imitate Tim and run as well. We saw how the country voted on both sides of the political spectrum. They are hungry for principled centered leaders. We all know that the rights of the unborn is a front and central principle/right….a right to life. When I go home to Heaven, you can be assured God will still have me working for His unborn and those, like Tim who supports this cause. God bless all of you.

  • There it is again “Obama-like candidate”. Could someone explain exactly the qualities, background and/or principles this man possesses which make him such an ideal?

  • I agree with Matt. There is no such thing as an “Obama-like candidate”. He violates the principal of subsidiarity by wanting to impose socialism.

  • Tito,

    to that I could add… empty suit, teleprompter addict, liar, hater of the unborn, oppressor of the true faith…

  • Let’s not digress into bashing OBama- till then this is a very good exchange.

    One commented they felt better time spent reforming the Republican party from the “inside”. Good idea!! I hope you’ll find it easier that reforming the Democratic party from the inside. As vocal Pro-Life Democrats, we historically have not been accepted by the Democrats or the Pro-Life movement. In my experience, the people involved in the Pro-Life movement assume you are a Republican and that you want to join them in bashing Democrats. It is evident in the emails I receive from many Catholics from my parish, Cursillo and Prayer meeting communties. Most of these emails have nothing to do with the Pro-Life issues and are simply character attacks and attempts to be funny.

    I agree, the only way to reform the parties are from the inside. The problem with the Democratic party is that the people setting the policies don’t reflect the general party membership. There are alot of Democrats that could futher the pro-life movement, if we could get them off the sidelines. As someone commented earlier, get involved at the local level.

    There have been some recent gains for Pro-Life Democrats and it is encouraging. While simply reducing abortions is not the end goal, it is a worthy goal and a much needed step to educating people.

    However, if you doubt the general topic- Pro-Life movement, Democrats need not apply- keep an eye on your in box. It’s not just the NRTL and other organizations- it is the whole pro-life movement.

    I do appreciate many of the comments as to why pro-life Democrats are not currently accepted as candidates. One big issue that I have is that being a Democratic member is often not accepted in the Pro-life movement.

  • Matt and Tito,
    Obama is smart and charismatic. He has personal approval ratings over 70% and policy approval ratings over 60%, despite his “socialism.” He’s also very good at politics. I didn’t vote for him and I am quite worried about some aspects of his presidency, but I wonder how trapped in the Fox-newsecho chamber you have to be not to understand why a pro-life candidate with his appeal would be good. And seriously – 16 of the past 24 years had Republicans in the White House. 12 of the last 24 had Republicans in control of Congress. How well has that worked out for pro-life Catholics. Maybe a strategy of encouraging pro-life Democrats is worth considering, in spite of the national party’s flaws.

  • Zak,
    Obama is smart and charismatic.

    So what? I can name numerous examples of smart charismatic leaders who I would not glorify.

    Gene,

    There have been some recent gains for Pro-Life Democrats

    What gains are those? Defeating a pro-abortion policy, leader, or nominee?

    Let’s: Nancy Pelosi, nope. Harry Reid, nope. Funding of abortion and abortion advocacy, nope. Funding of embryonic stem-cell research, nope. Sebelius, nope. Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, not bloody likely.

  • I’m all for converting the Democratic Party to being pro-life, but that really has to be responsibility of pro-life Democrats, doesn’t it? And I’ve heard very little (more than none, but very little) in the way of efforts by pro-life Democrats (and ostensibly pro-life Obama supporters in particular) at persuading pro-choice Democrats to oppose abortion.

    It’s not as though Republicans are so much smarter than Democrats at recognizing the humanity and right to life of the unborn that the GOP platform calls for a life amendment to the Constitution while the Dems’ platform defends abortion as a right.

    The GOP’s performance on life issues, imperfect as it is, is far and away better than the Democrats’. And that’s to the credit of Republican pro-lifers.

  • He has personal approval ratings over 70% and policy approval ratings over 60%,

    This is incorrect, but also irrelevant. George W. Bush had much higher ratings than this well into 2003, but shall we say events transpired to bring those numbers down. As for his personality, well, I think Colour wrote an apt song about that.

    but I wonder how trapped in the Fox-newsecho chamber

    Goodness, people are still repeating this tired mantra? And they expect to be taken seriously?

  • Whhops, I meant to say that “Living Colour wrote an apt song about that.”

  • There is a lot of personal taste stuff going around posing as serious commentary. Back in 2000 I personally “liked” both George W. and John McCain, better than Al Gore- it was a gut personality thing- not really linked too specifically to the issues. But my feelings changed on both Bush and McCain, I’ve come to really dislike them on the personality front and the issue front.

    I read Obama’s book “Audacity of Hope”, I liked his personal narrative, I like his personality. I don’t like his stand on abortion, gay rights, and other important issues, but he has personal qualities that many people- like myself- really connect with- more so than others in the public political arena. I did not publicly support Obama, or any other candidate, I did openly praise Ron Paul for various things, including the fact that I personally “liked” him- again based upon my reading his book and watching him in interviews and debates.

    The fact that my comment, that Democrats need an Obama-like pro-life candidate, should not be surprising given his success at the ballot box, and his obvious personal appeal- look at the facts- he came from no where- his daddy wasn’t a well-connected figure, his name is contrary to prior assumptions of major presidential candidates- so how can anyone claim that obama is a completely hateful personality?

    You can make the claim that you personally despise- not only some important policies he represents- but the man himself- his personality, his intellect, his manner of speech and so forth- ok- no problem- I can grant that- it is your gut feelings- I like myself, but you might decide I am a horrible, nasty guy for reasons that my wife may disagree with- but you feel what you feel. And this has become a “feelings” piece, because some here cannot stand the fact that I have recognized the broad appeal of President Obama- he doesn’t just appeal to pro-abort liberals on the personal level- I recognize that reality, and I say that cultivating pro-life Obama-like candidates within the Democratic ranks is a worthy endeavor. Obviously for die-hard anti-Obama, anti-Democratic party across-the-board types, my comment is not popular. If you “hate” obama, I doubt it is just because he is pro-choice for many- I doubt it is just about political beliefs for many- and I’m NOT claiming that it is racist to “hate” obama- I am saying that some people we like and some we don’t- just because someone is Catholic and has very similar beliefs to mine, is no guarantee that I will “like” them or even want to spend a minute of my time being around them. But their wives may beg to differ- such is the subjective stuff of life- I expressed a subjective opinion- that we Dems for Life should help cultivate pro-life obama-like candidates, and some bloggers just won’t accept that many people seem to personally like the actual Obama- even as they may disagree with him on many fronts.

    I suggest we move beyond the subjective feelings- and focus on the meat of my article- which had precious little to do with liking the Obama brand- and much more to do with how the pro-life movement would benefit from taking an honest Two-Party strategy instead of ignoring or demonizing all Democrats- pro-life or not.

  • Tim, Thank you for your wonderful contribution. As I read your blog and the responses that follows I become more and more aware of an amazing blindness with regards to the attempt to turn the Catholic faith and all its great tradition into a partisan political tool.

    I was once a member of the Young Republicans (in college) but I left for two reasons, Their Market Fundamentalist policies challenged my Catholic faith and their pro-life and family agenda seemed highly superficial. I had a political conversion when I meditated at the FDR memorial in DC and found a political vision for America that I could support in conscience. I personally feel that the foundational values of the Republican (neo-conservative) is primarily an individualistic meritocracy and this ultimately contradicts any authentic desire to promote the common good or address issues such as abortion. The Democratic Party has opened its tent somewhat to those of us with a pro-life agenda but if it can actually adopt a more visible pro-life position then we could move forward with the Catholic social agenda. In truth I do feel that the Democrats have more openness on this issue then the Republican have on the rest of Catholic Social tradition. So I have parted ways from the staunch Republican ideals towards a tent that at present anyway seems open to reform and dialogue.

    Catholic Social Teaching offers us a rich heritage of social principles. Subsidiarity is certainly an important value of our Catholic Tradition, but to elevated it from the its place in the hierarchy of social values is a disservice to what it contributes to the Catholic Social Tradition. Their is indeed a hierarchy, Life and Dignity of the Human Person is preeminent, none of us, I suspect, would challenge that. Rights and Responsibilities are next as they flow from the first value. Our faith honors the full rights that are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Encyclical Pacem in Terris is a testament to that. This includes the negative rights that are enshrined in our own Bill of Rights under the Constitution and the first 17 articles of UDHR. However the Catholic Church also supports the Positive rights that exist in articles 18-27 in the UDHR and although they currently are not defended by the Constitution they are the vision of the four freedoms and the second Bill of Rights which remains as one of FDR’s unfinished works. Our faith tells us that we (as civil society and government) have a moral responsibility to education, healthcare, standard of living and labor rights. And yes, along with subsidiarity our social tradition tells us over and over again about the principle known as the Preferential Option for the Poor, as Pacem in Terris tells us:

    “The very nature of the common good requires that all members of the state be entitled to share in it, although in different ways according to each one’s tasks, merits and circumstances. For this reason, every civil authority must take pains to promote the common good of all, without preference for any single citizen or civic group. …Considerations of justice and equity, however, can at times demand that those involved in civil government give more attention to the less fortunate members of the community, since they are less able to defend their rights and to assert their legitimate claims.” -Pacem in Terris #56

    No Party can ever claim a hold on Catholic Tradition because our tradition comes not from mere political ideology but from the Divine Word of God. We serve our faith well in working with the coalitions that make up both parties and the independent movement as well. Ultimately the Democrats and Republicans both hold legitimate values that our enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. The Republicans uphold individual liberty while the Democrats uphold the communal pursuit of happiness. These parties both have a place for American Catholics. We should both be aware of the limitations we will have by virtue of working in coalition with others. But at no point should either of us claim to monopolize the aspects of our faith and tradition. Like Tim I will do my part to influence that good American values of the Democrats with the Social wisdom of our Catholic faith. I would hope that those who continue to be Republicans Catholics will see that their Catholic identity is much more sacred then their Republican ideals.

  • Tim,

    suggest we move beyond the subjective feelings-

    you’re accusing others of what only you have done. The claims I made are:

    empty suit, teleprompter addict, liar, hater of the unborn, oppressor of the true faith…

    All of those points can be demonstrated to be reasonable. I don’t object to the claim of “smart”, and “charismatic”. I just don’t see those as being particularly rare.

    His father? His real fathers are Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

    Don’t even talk about “humble”, Obama went to the finest school in Hawaii and on to the Ivy League.

    Obama is an “engineered” candidate, 7 years at state legislature, 2 years into the senate term (a seat he stole from his democrat opponent) and he’s on to the presidency, can’t even talk without a teleprompter… empty suit.

  • Matt,

    I am sorry but I do not find any rational legitimacy in your last comment. To say that he is an empty suit that requires a teleprompter is to simply be in absolute denial of his amazing speaking ability and charismatic style. The testament to this is the impact he is having on world affairs and the delicate cooperation he is getting for the Global economic crisis.

    And to still tie him into a close relationship that he never had with Bill Ayers or Saul Alinsky is another attempt to grasp for straws in hopes of scarring us into thinking that he is a violent socialist which he has proven himself not to be. For whatever reason your recent comments are subjective to a fault. I suggest you free yourself from the fear mongering of Fox news and allow yourself to be challenged in seeing why Obama is making a positive global impact.

  • absolute denial of his amazing speaking ability and charismatic style. The testament to this is the impact he is having on world affairs and the delicate cooperation he is getting for the Global economic crisis.

    Talk about finding no rational legitimacy in a comment. What impact is he having on the global economic crisis? Unemployment is getting worse, not better, and other economic indicators are a decidedly mixed bag. As for his speaking style, I’ll simply agree to disagree. I find him to be a dull, torturous, monotonous speaker, and that’s when he’s got the teleprompter. Otherwise he, uh, is, uh, decidedly, uh, not the, uh, dynamo he is, uh, often described as, uh, being.

    For whatever reason your recent comments are subjective to a fault. I suggest you free yourself from the fear mongering of Fox news

    And there is nothing subjective in your analysis? And really, the Fox news bit is old and tiring. Pick a new line of argumentation.

  • I don’t see the Democrats turning pro-life, or at least tolerant to pro-lifers, until the leadership does. To be frank: the efforts of failed candidates will not make the Democrats pro-life, no matter how many there are.

    I think that a well known national leader needs to make a public break, that will force the rest of the party to either accept him or not. And I’m not talking about some nominal pro-lifer like Senator Harry Reid, who votes for pro-abortion judges and pro-abortion administrators. I mean a national leader who says, “I can’t vote for Obama’s judge because he is dedicated to abortion, which is unconscionable. I cannot in good faith support the lie of Roe v. Wade any longer.”

    Let the Democrats deal with a national leader who turns on them on this issue. If they let him keep his seniority, his chairmanships, and his leadership positions, then I believe that will go a long way towards breaking the monopoly that NARAL has over the Democrats.

    Small-time failed candidates are not going to have any influence in turning the party pro-life. I just don’t see it happening.

  • John,

    I am sorry but I do not find any rational legitimacy in your last comment. To say that he is an empty suit that requires a teleprompter is to simply be in absolute denial of his amazing speaking ability and charismatic style. The testament to this is the impact he is having on world affairs and the delicate cooperation he is getting for the Global economic crisis.

    Are you denyng that he NEEDS the telepromptor in order to engage his “amazing speaking ability” and “charismatic style”? Furthermore, that is the very definition of an “empty suit”, looks good but no substance. He even uses the teleprompter at press briefings, something that none of his predecessors needed.

    Obama is a pure political animal, he’d throw his grandmother under the bus. Wait… he already did that. He’d throw his own pastor under the bus… wait, he did that too… let’s see, who will throw under the bus next?

    And to still tie him into a close relationship that he never had with Bill Ayers or Saul Alinsky is another attempt to grasp for straws in hopes of scarring us into thinking that he is a violent socialist which he has proven himself not to be. For whatever reason your recent comments are subjective to a fault. I suggest you free yourself from the fear mongering of Fox news and allow yourself to be challenged in seeing why Obama is making a positive global impact.

    Wow, where to begin.

    1. Obama had a long association with Bill Ayers, Ayers mentored Obama and brought him in to “community organize” for his foundation and sit on it’s board. He kicked off his political career at a fundraiser at Bill Ayers home. It seems likely that one of Obama’s books either borrows heavily from, or more likely was ghost written by Ayers.

    2. Obama has demonstrated that he is an Alinksyite to a tee. The “community organizing” groups use “Rules for Radicals” as a bible, it’s clear Obama follows him.

    3. Notice you failed to mention Wright, no doubt there that he is a “father” to Obama, glad you are not completely blind.

    4. I never said he was violent (except to the unborn).

    5. Making a positive global impact… really? Where? DPRK is launching missiles over Japan, Russia is not backing down from Georgia, Iran still pursuing nuclear weapons, pirates are attacking our ships with near impunity, US funds now being diverted to the spread of legal murder of the unborn, China still abusing human rights (now with US blessing)…. what is the positive?

  • I’ve got to agree– Obama off the teleprompter is nothing to brag about; if he’d talked like that in my high school English classes, he’d have barely passed public speaking.

    On the teleprompter, even the Brits found him long-winded and kind of dull.

    For the Bill Ayers thing… shoot, if you’ll ignore the masses of evidence for that, no repeating of it will get through to you.

    Can we please get to details instead of pointing and yelling “you’re not objective enough”?

    I’d be delighted if the Dems could get a pro-life movement going in their party– it would cut a lot of grief in the Republican party, since most of the folks pushing a dem-lite agenda tend to boil down to “basically Democrat but don’t believe in killing babies.”

    Now would be the time to get a pro-life Dem group together, but it must be done by Democrats. If it’s done by X or Y pro-life group, it will be attacked as a front for religion by the media. (this will probably happen anyways, but it’s not a bad idea to lower how much ammo you give them.)

    Frankly, the amount the use of the “Fox news” bogyman, coupled with references to how much international cooperation Obama’s brought us– where? They made nice noises at G-20, but didn’t talk them into doing their own “stimulus” packages– and your mind reading of folks’ reasons for saying or doing things… you do sound a whole lot like the “pro-life until challenged” politicians I’ve met before.
    I don’t believe you are that, because I don’t have lovely mind-reading powers– but the indicators show enough risk that I still wouldn’t support you.

  • Make no mistake, the idea of turning the Democrat Party to a Pro-life party is daunting and incredibly challenging. I am by no means sure that it can even happen, but I certainly do believe it is worth a try. The possibility lies in creating a link to the social vision that the Democrats already have with regards to family social services and develop a consistent argument for abortion to be seen as an individualistic choice that does damages that family and local community. This is going to be a hard sell however and I have yet to gauge the strength of the Pro-Choice group.

    With regards to Fox, that is a bit of media humor that just doesn’t get old. Consider Robert Kaufman’s who was publicly defending the Bush administration when he mentioned that the Republican need to acquire another Television station besides Fox. Here check out this link:

    So much for Fair and Balanced.

  • Foxfier,

    you do sound a whole lot like the “pro-life until challenged” politicians I’ve met before.

    I don’t think that’s a fair thing to say, we should take Tim at his word.

    I’ll criticize him for blaning Republican Pro-lifers for “keeping him down”, but that’s out of line.

  • A good opportunity for Pro-Life Democrats would be to rally opposition to Obama’s Supreme Court nominee if the nominee is in favor of Roe. He may nominate Diane Wood and she is especially atrocious on the abortion issue.

    http://forthegreaterglory.blogspot.com/2009/05/great-potential-nominee-for-scotus.html

  • John,

    Make no mistake, the idea of turning the Democrat Party to a Pro-life party is daunting and incredibly challenging. I am by no means sure that it can even happen, but I certainly do believe it is worth a try. The possibility lies in creating a link to the social vision that the Democrats already have with regards to family social services and develop a consistent argument for abortion to be seen as an individualistic choice that does damages that family and local community. This is going to be a hard sell however and I have yet to gauge the strength of the Pro-Choice group.

    Absolutely! The black pastors may be a key to this, if they can be rally their people and open eyes to the racist slaughter of abortion. The political powers bow to their constituency, if a pro-life constituency can assert itself, their will be change.

  • Matt McDonald-
    if you read the rest of the post you’ll see that I specifically stated that I don’t think he is one of that sort. A bit less nicely that I might, but I tend to get annoyed when folks try to say what someone else’s motivation is, rather than respond to what’s said.

    I’m pointing out that the similarity is high enough that, without some very strong reasons to overcome the similarities, folks will assume that he is; it’s not nice, and it’s not kind, but it is how folks’ minds tend to work.
    For a strained metaphor: what has a bill like a duck, and webbed feet like a duck, swims and lays eggs? Could be a duck or a platypus, but the former will be assumed before the latter, unless you can set up a big section that says “PLATYPUS FARM”. (told you it was strained)

    That’s why I say there needs to be a Democrat movement that’s pro-life– it has to be strongly Dem first, and show from those principals to pro-life, if they’re going to get any kind of a decent movement going.

    If it’s from pro-life groups, they’ll be accused of mixing religion and politics, or of being Repub plants (probably with this very post as evidence!).

    If it’s from a Repub group, then it’ll be accused of being a front, a stalking-horse, a fraud.

    If from a Dem source, then it will be accused of mixing religion, but if it’s political theory first that won’t stick as well; there will be accusations of trying to siphon votes off of the Repubs— which, fairly, is pretty true by definition, but not the primary point.

    It has to be solid enough, philosophically, to get to people and to stand on its own.
    There’s the right urges in the Dem party– for crying out loud, my aunt the nurse is a pro-life Dem pissed as heck that she couldn’t vote for Obama because of his horrific abortion voting record.

    If I were trying to form a Dems for Life group, I’d probably start with the Nazi doctors’ “work” on small children, have a solid base in basic biology of what is a human, and see if that movie about clone farming for spare parts from a few years back was any good–probably use Horton Hears A Who as well.
    Have to get an emotional hook that at least as strong as “look at these poor women, suddenly having to pay for all the expenses of a baby, and it keeps them from being able to live their lives!”
    (Making it easier to adopt might help with this– a row of couples with their arms open, asking for the children they can’t give birth do, is a big impact; has the downside of being utilitarian, and might bring in the homosexual issue, which is too much added grief.)

    Shoot, there’s a bunch of ladies that tour the nation talking for pro-life events– because they are survivors of abortion attempts. This is *totally* up the alley of usual Dem tactics!

    If the OP wants help in the form of suggestions of what to do, that’s free– there’s no risk in unofficially sharing ideas, and as the TLDR read section above shows, there’s a LOT to be had. Might be worth what you pay for it, but it’s food for thought.

    The problem comes when he wants folks to risk it all on, this time, it really being true– to throw in and support him, when the only way he’ll get far is if he’s lying. (as someone pointed out above– pro-life Dems tend to be attacked by the established Dem party, and don’t get invited to the supportive stuff. Have to have enough grass-root support to overcome this– enough people they don’t want to piss off.)

  • Foxfier,

    I did, and I agree largely with your post, I object to this statement even if you qualify it:

    you do sound a whole lot like the “pro-life until challenged” politicians I’ve met before.

  • I’m sorry you feel that way; liars lie, they say what someone who would be a good choice would say; if it happens enough, folks don’t trust the good guys anymore.

    Seems like a pretty simple fact to me– liars have to say what the good guys would say.

    Politicians have a big tendency to say what they think will get them elected, no matter what they actually think or want to do– that’s why so few folks trust what they say, even if there’s not a long history of similar situation folks lying on the specific topic like there is for this.
    (Even if I like folks, I try to make sure to go over what they’ve done and check it against what they say– talk vs walk. The bigger advantage they’d get if I believed them and it wasn’t so, the more evidence I want to support that it is so.)

    It’s kind of like “causing scandal”– it doesn’t matter if that young man and woman are “doing it”, it’s that they look like they are, because they’re living together. Enough folks have done wrong that even those who haven’t need to make it clear they’re not.

  • Hey Guys- let’s not put aside my central beef- not that Republican Pro-Lifers in general didn’t support my candidacy- but rather that the leaders of pro-life groups and organizations were not helpful in my attempt to gain traction as a pro-life Democrat. My thesis is that these organizations must be truly non-partisan and it is in the interest of the pro-life cause in general to cultivate a Two- or more- Party strategy. And my particular case in point was my run for office, where I put forth the notion that pro-lifers in general should support the man, not the party- if I could establish myself as a credible person who was making assertions to do specific things as a legislator for the pro-life cause, then I should have been given serious consideration. As a Catholic high school religion teacher, a Knight of Columbus who wrote a monthly pro-life column in the Knights Bulletin, and one who stood up for Life in hostile environments such as Democratic Party Executive Committee Meetings, and Democratic Women’s Club candidate forums, I thought that I had earned some significant credibility. I feel that there is no meritocracy in place in places where there shouldn’t be blind partisan bias- like pro-life organizations. That’s my beef in short.

  • There is a pro-life organization in the Democratic Party and it is called Democrats for Life of America (http://www.democratsforlife.org/). Tim Shipe is a member and has been just voted Vice President of the Florida Chapter of the Democrats for Life of America (http://www.floridadfla.org/). Tim Shipe and Freda Stevens were voted in as Vice President and President respectively to lead the Florida Chapter and our state Democratic Party to best support the rights of the unborn. We Catholics need to work in our respective parties to bring these parties more aligned with the social teachings of our Holy Catholic Church which are totally aligned with Principles and Laws of Human Interaction. Remember all of us are united regardless of party affiliations because of our Catholic heritage given us by the blood of martyrs. We are united by our desire to defend the rights of the unborn. There is more that unite us than divide us. We need to diligently work within our respective parishes in assuring good God fearing Catholics choosing to enter the political arena get the proper exposures. This is called “Catholic Action” in the truest sense of the word. We need to make our Catholic Voice heard. We MUST live our faith!!!!

  • The links I gave above to the democratic prolife organizations did not work. Let’s try again:

    http://www.democratsforlife.org/

    http://www.floridadfla.org/

    These should work now!!!

  • And I think that your basic beef has merit, Tim.

    If someone trying to get onto the Democratic ticket at any level is willing to eschew the all-too-available pro-choice money available to them and brand themselves as pro-life, I think that pro-life organizations should give them the benefit of any doubt and help them win.

    Given the center of gravity of the pro-life movement, it wouldn’t be any surprise if they then sat out the general election and let you and the GOP candidate fight it out on the merits, but it is unquestionaby better to stack both sides with pro-lifers wherever possible.

    That this was not done by your local pro-life organizations in this case was, I think, a failing — however understandable to many of us.

  • Tim Shipe-
    I understand what you’re saying, I just don’t agree.

    There is a cost in supporting folks; historically, it’s wasted on pro-life Dems because if they’re honest, they don’t get far–party won’t let them; if they’re not, then it’s a double-cost because you just advanced someone who is counter to your cause.

    If you could establish a strong pro-life record, and enough of a Dem support base to overcome the party resistance that even you mention, then yes– you’d be a good investment of time and political capital.

    Basically, I think you’re going at it backwards– you want the pro-life groups to help you build a Dem base; they want you to show you’re serious by building Dem base that they can support.
    Saying that the reason they won’t help you is because they’re too bound to Repubs probably won’t really help issues, especially since most of the pro-life folks I know that fit your implied views are Independents.

  • I did mention some improvements made in the main pro-life organization from the time of my first run and then the second- I had some good conversations with leadership at the beginning of the second run, and did receive an official endorsement for the Democratic Primary from that organization- the problem was in getting some actual help in getting access to volunteers to help me get on the ballot- around 1000 signed petitions from my district were needed. As I stated in my original piece- my wife had were blessed with a third child in between elections, and the timing was difficult for me to get out and bang on doors in the evenings. This is one reason I am hoping to locate younger men and women, who don’t have families yet, but have the values necessary to become solid moral leaders, it is tough having a young family and a career outside of law, and trying to run as a first time candidate- or anytime candidate.

    I will publish soon, something I circulated around a while ago in Catholic circles- some ideas I have for helping to promote the Catholic social doctrine in our American political system- here is a quote from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church which should hit all of us, as Catholics, no matter what our party orientation is: #573

    “It is difficult for the concerns of the Christian faith to be adequately met in one sole political entity; to claim that one party or political coalition responds completely to the demands of faith or of Christian life would give rise to dangerous errors. Christians cannot find one party that fully corresponds to the ethical demands arising from faith and from membership in the Church. Their adherence to a political alliance will never be ideological but always critical; in this way the party and its political platform will be prompted to be ever more conscientious in attaining the true common good, including the spiritual end of the human person[1201].”

  • At the sites that Jim mentioned you can find information about the gains made by the pro-Life Democrats. Currently, the Pro-Life Democrats were mentioned by the Bishop in a statement for the Pregnant Women Support Act, which is championed by the Dems for Life.

    Also, there should soon be a Pro-Life Democrat named as the ambassador to the Vatican. Granted, that is because the church has turned down 3 Pro-Choice candidates proposed by the present administration.

    More information is available about the increasing number of Pro-Life Democrats in office. Although, regrettably there have been minimal gains in Florida.

    As Pro-Life Democrats, we are committed to facilitating change within the party. Their is definitely a PR campaign to be waged in order to change the party. Recognition from the Bishops and Pro-Life organizations can go a long way. It should be noted that Priest for Life have also recognize the Dems for Life at various times.

    Of course, to get the Pro-Life organizations recognition, there will need to be a successful PR campaign within the Pro-Life movement. The traditional strength of the African-American churches in the Democratic party can be a strong voice for change- as noted in an earlier post. Tim has actively spoken to African-American churches. Alot of our state organization is white Catholic men. The new president of our state chapter has been a candidate for office, active within the party at local levels, and knowledgeable about the workings of the party. We are Blessed that she also happens to be evangical African-American woman.

    The fight to change the parties from within, will IMHO not be won by a Senator splitting from the party over the supreme court nominee. It will be won at a grass roots level- and with plenty of prayer.

  • Tim, I have a question:

    To set up, I will shortly be announcing my own candidacy for State Representative as a Republican, to seek to unseat a Republican pro-choice incumbent. I’m facing a fight in the primary, and then in the general, both against pro-aborts. I’m doing this specifically because my State Rep. is a pro-abort Republican.

    My question: Does Democrats for Life try to recruit pro-life Democratic candidates to oppose pro-choice Democratic incumbents?

    My perception has been that they do not; instead, they mostly support ostensibly pro-life Democrats against strongly pro-life Republicans (I’m thinking of Casey Jr. vs. Santorum, for example).

    I’d be interested on your comments on this point.

  • The fight to change the parties from within, will IMHO not be won by a Senator splitting from the party over the supreme court nominee. It will be won at a grass roots level- and with plenty of prayer.

    I think this is true of both parties. Both need to be re-invigorated with some new, if not necessarily youthful, blood. Neither party is exactly behaving like the responsible party model envisioned by those eggheaded political scientists years ago – you know, guys like myself. 🙂

    The thread hit a bump in the road earlier, but that shouldn’t detract from Tim’s points. I’d echo some of the cautionary notes from upthread, and add one of my own. Tim’s case is somewhat different in that, if I read his post correctly, he was running for a state legislative seat. But if I saw a Tim Shipe-like character running for Congress, I’d still have a hard time voting for him because, in the end, he’d be voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and organizing the House along very far-left lines. It may not be fair, but there are going to have to be a lot more Tim Shipes and Gene Dickeys before the party has changed substantially. Baby steps, I suppose. That said, I’d trade my Rep (Van Hollen) for Tim Shipe in a heartbeat.

  • Tim and all,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for having such an intelligent and christian sharing of ideas. It is so refreshing to see.

    God Bless you Tim for being such a brave and loving Christian, advocate for the unborn and political activist. What a breath of fresh air in a stagnant pool of partisan rhetoric and language of hate and intolerance.

    Jesus wants us to love one another. The readings for this Sunday really drive this home. We CAN be good Christians, pro-life advocates and also find our role in changing the world. I don’t have to be Democrat or Republican. I stand firmly in the center with Christ. I choose to love both sides, especially when they are wrong.

    Thank you again. All of you.

    Dianne Phillips

  • *dryly* It’s possible that comparisons to cesspools or saying folks sound “intolerant” and “hateful” aren’t the way to get folks to work hard for your goals– if nothing else, the irony is rather strong.

  • On the other hand, foxfier, there seems to be little to gain in trying to placate people who have no intention of helping you anyway 🙂

  • Ah, the famous Christian value of utilitarianism! How could I forget that we should only refrain from going out of our way to insult those who might be of use to us….

  • Foxfier,

    Well done!

  • I have long believed that restoring a pro-life presence to the Democratic Party should be a VERY high long-term priority for the pro-life movement, equal in importance to getting the “right” justices on the Supreme Court. (Of course the Republican Party also needs a pro-life presence as well, but that’s another story)

    I am a firm believer that a movement as critical as pro-life should NOT have put all its political eggs in one basket (the GOP); the result is the dire situation we have now.

    Here’s my cautionary tale. In Illinois in 1998, we had a real, live, pro-life, downstate Democrat, Glenn Poshard (then a Congressman), running for governor against Republican George Ryan, also (ostensibly) pro-life. I was tempted to vote for Poshard, but in the end, voted for Ryan believing that as a Republican he would be more reliable when it came to pro-life and other issues.

    Well, if I had a time machine I would give anything to go back and reverse that vote. Ryan turned out to be crooked as a dog’s hind leg, and he didn’t even accomplish anything in the pro-life arena (outside of his famed death penalty moratorium, if you count that as a pro-life issue). Not only that, but Ryan’s corruption pretty much discredited and destroyed the Illinois GOP and paved the way for the election of the even more infamous Blago, who posed as a reformer. Today the entire state is firmly in the control of pro-abort Democrats.

    If Poshard had been elected, we might have avoided much of the disgrace of the last 10 years. Of course, because he was pro-life (as well as pro-2nd-Amendment) he didn’t get the backing of the Chicago Democrats, and that hurt him as well.

  • Paul- Dems for Life is a very loose coalition- there are no marching orders from the national office to direct us to find candidates to challenge only Republican pro-lifers- our state chapter has a range of folks doing mostly their own thing- there is not even agreement as to what the best strategy is to end abortion as we know it- there are those who are focused on the reduction track, and making more and more legal restrictions, making abortion rare by making abortion providers legally accountable for the bad effects of abortions on women, making sure they have full disclosure of all the potential ills before they can proceed with an abortion.

    I am a pro-life maximalist, I believe abortion must become illegal- not for the mothers, but for the providers, and not just given back to the state legislatures, but based on natural law and drawing upon the 5th and 14th Amendments, abortion must end in all of America. I also stand up for the social programs and economic assistance that can take away the root causes of abortions for the many women who claim that economics and lack of assistance are the top reasons for their choice for abortion. And I believe in fighting the spiritual battles, in the culture, I have started a Facebook cause- “Dads Protecting Daughters” trying to find small and large ways to push back against the dominant hedonistic culture. I will take up any cause that will save some lives of children, I don’t want women seeking illegal abortions, I try to have compassion for everyone in the mix of such tragic choices- I believe like Fr.Corapi says, this is a genocide against unborn, unwanted children, my heart breaks for the young women and men who blindly support and procure abortions- forgive them Father for they know not what they do- if I can help persuade by working on the laws, working with the youth as a teacher, working the political fronts on the many interrelated issues that make up our society’s common good- then this is what I can do, along with prayer. I asked my pro-life club to join me everyday after school to offer a prayer for President Obama to have a St.Paul like conversion on the issue of life for the unborn, and my wife and I keep the president and the unborn in our nightly rosary intentions. I am open to doing whatever I can, and I had thought that running for office may be something that took my participation to the next level of personal responsibility. I encourage more of you to consider making the plunge to experience the process for yourselves- I learned so much, and I want to use the experience to help reform some institutional weaknesses in the pro-life movement- as I perceive them anyway.

  • Elaine- funny you should use the phrase- “Putting all the eggs into one basket” that was my line all the time with pro-life organizations- I reasoned that since the majority of Americans are not voting primarily with abortion in mind, there will be a pretty consistent shifting of power between the two major parties- given that both parties have critical weaknesses and cannot sustain popularity as a result. For the pro-life movement to try to build up their base in only one major Party, this will only result in the one party taking them for granted, and the other party completely hating them. The best approach is one that I believe the major Pro-Life leaders like Fr. Pavone, have already concluded- there has to be more outreach from the movement to build up pro-life Democrats- I lobbied Fr. Pavone and Fr. West strongly in person when I met up with them after speaking to my school. Father West of priests for life has been very encouraging to me personally, and I think Fr. Pavone understood and obviously saw things similarly in what I heard from him after the elections.

    I can work with pro-life Republicans, I don’t have any grudges, in fact the Republican who defeated me openly praised me in our campaign because it was one devoted exclusively to the issues, no personal attacks, I spoke with him after candidate forums, and there was no bad blood- I just happened to believe that on Life issues and more I would be a stronger leader. Nothing personal, it was professional. We need civility in our political process, we must be able to strongly express the truth on issues, but we should not focus so much on the personal attacks, we can love our enemies by granting them our prayers and openly pursue the idea that the other fellow may just have as good of intentions as I do- we just disagree and it may come to a non-violent confrontation in illuminating debate and perhaps in a democratic vote. The pope has not called for us to take up arms to defend the unborn, so we are compelled to work through the non-violent channels of persuasion and political action. Let’s do so with grace, humility, intelligence and holy passion!

  • Fox,

    Was Jesus being a utilitarian in Matthew 7:6?

    How unChristian of Jesus!

  • Joe-
    Might want to read 7:1.

  • Way to change the subject. Clearly we are not obligated to extend unlimited patience to people who are manifestly hostile to truth and goodness. It doesn’t mean we have to ‘judge’ them per 7:1 – if walking away is a judgment, anything and everything is.

  • Clearly we are not obligated to extend unlimited patience to people who are manifestly hostile to truth and goodness.

    Glad you hold your fellow pro-lifers in such high reguard.

  • That “Elf” is one lucky fella!

  • Fox,

    Ok, whats the objective here?

    Argument for the sake of argument? Argument for fun? Seriously insisting that we shouldn’t prioritize our limited time and resources so that they are most effectively used, in favor of some vague alternative?

    It isn’t about “them” – though I don’t hold anyone in high regard who can’t put aside their ideological psychosis long enough to support a candidate like Tim. It’s about what we do with the time and resources we have.

    You want to make a serious argument against that, go ahead. If all you have is a snarky quip, I’m done.

  • Zak,

    I am all for a pro-life Democrat. I myself have not voted for Obama, but I have given money to the Democratic Party and none to the GOP. I don’t watch FoxNews and for that matter I don’t even have cable.

    You can’t characterize people that are pro-life as automatically Fox News viewing GOPers.

    I would not hesitate to vote for a pro-life Democrat, unless of course the GOP candidate was even more pro-life than him/her.

    I agree that we need someone with the stage presence and charisma of Obama. Just please be specific about that when mentioning an Obama-like candidate.

    Pax.

  • Tito,

    “I have given money to the Democratic Party”

    Even given the vicious pro-abort platform upon which the entire party virtually rests?

    I am greatly disappointed.

  • e.,

    To my hometown (where I grew up in Hawaii) local Democratic Party which is very pro-life.

  • You know, sometimes I think it would be better if both parties — actually ALL parties, including Greens, Libertarians, etc. — based their official platforms on economic and foreign policy issues only, and took no stand at all on social/moral issues like abortion or gay marriage. Not because those issues aren’t important, but because they are TOO important to be used as political footballs or to become the exclusive “property” of a particular party.

    It would be the responsibility of each individual candidate to decide how he or she stood on those issues, and of each individual voter to take those stands into consideration when voting. I would think that under a system like this, pro-lifers would eventually exist in every party and pro-life voters would be free to vote for them without worrying about endorsing an officially “pro-death” organization.

    Which brings me to another point brought up by another political blogger of my acquaintance. A political party is not a church, and therefore need not act as if it were one.

    The Church teaches divinely revealed, unchanging truths necessary for one’s eternal salvation, while political parties teach humanly created truths which can change as circumstances change and are intended simply to make one’s temporal life easier or more secure. A political party need not, and should not, take its “doctrines” as seriously as the Church does its doctrines, and a political party can tolerate dissent to a greater degree than a religious body.

    While I think pro-lifers as individuals have a duty to support pro-life candidates (provided that they are reasonably competent and honest — electing corrupt or incompetent pro-lifers only serves to discredit the cause and make it harder to elect similar people in the future) I do not think that political parties AS A WHOLE should necessarily be beholden to one side or the other.

  • The problem being Elaine is that abortion, like slavery in the nineteenth century, is not only a moral issue but also a political issue. The issue has transformed both the Republican and the Democrat parties. Like slavery it presents us with stark choices for the future of our country. As a pro-life Republican I am dedicated to keeping the Republican party on the pro-life side of the issue and I will fight, and have fought, any faction within the party that wishes to change that. It is impossible to have parties simply ignore this issue, and any party that attempted to do so would never have my vote.

  • The problem with the “putting eggs in one basket” argument is that, in my (possibly mistaken) perception, it wasn’t the pro-life movement that abandoned the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party that purged itself of pro-life leaders.

    I don’t anyone who wouldn’t like to see the Democratic Party become a pro-life party, but as I said, I really think that goal is for Democrats to achieve.

  • It is one thing to say that making the Democratic Party a pro-life party is a goal for Democrats only to work on achieving- but my point is that we should have support in that mission from pro-life organizations who are supposed to be in theory and legally, non-partisan. If the pro-life organizational leaders are themselves too tied to a Republican-only approach to fighting legal abortion, then they are doing a disservice to the unborn. If leaders of the pro-life movement are going to be joining Republican Executive Committees and taking vows to never support any non-Republican candidates in any way- I think that is a problem because pro-lifers should support the candidate “the man” and not just automatically support someone because of party affiliation. Democrats for life need at least the chance to compete for pro-life votes, and pro-life organizations should not be standing in their way by protecting the Republican Party from any pro-life competition. That’s my central thesis here- I hope many out there aren’t missing the forest for the trees in reading all the comments here.

  • Absolutely Tim.

    I read this article a long while ago. I think it captures many points essential to this debate.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3798/is_200307/ai_n9282019/

  • Pingback: Partisan Pro-Lifers « Vox Nova
  • Sorry if this type of comment has been made above (don’t have time to read this many). I agree with your premise – that pro-life organizations should get behind anti-abortion candidates of both parties. Here in Indiana, many local Democrats are pro-life (such as our representative Joe Donnelly). They’ve been embraced by pro-lifers for years. Your experience may be based on particularities of Florida, not pro-lifers across the board.

  • I’m late to the conversation, but I want to congratulate Tim Shipe on his 40 percent showing in his first race.

    I also want to focus on Foxfier’s comment: “you want the pro-life groups to help you build a Dem base; they want you to show you’re serious by building Dem base that they can support.”

    May I ask what Shipe offered to the teachers’ union, labor, and other Democratic interest groups in Florida?

    One basic task of a politician is to deliver goods to his supporters. If he can’t do that, he won’t win support.

    Without pro-lifers or other allies in leadership positions among these interest groups, Shipe would be dropped the moment a more party-line Democrat comes along.

    Somebody else pointed out that Shipe’s stand likely puts a ceiling on his political career. People will be less inclined to back someone unlikely to secure key committee positions or big donor and patronage networks. Which means he must be a better politician than others to overcome his principled handicap.

    And of course, what did Shipe offer his constituents besides a laudable pro-life stand and an alternative to the Republican? Moral stands are good, but people will also want someone who can deliver on other issues. Given his past as a teacher, I assume education was a point of Shipe’s expertise.

    Anything else?

  • One more thing: the donors for these pro-life groups tend to be Republican. Given a choice between alienating a big supporter and supporting a candidate the donor dislikes, the group will be very conservative, in the bad sense.

    I think pro-life groups merit a friendly but critical audit. While they’re often working hard with minimal financial resources, it seems like some political pro-life groups don’t do much besides issue unread (sometimes unreadable) press releases, organize a once-a-year March for Life event, and ask for more money.

  • The pro-life movement is making a serious error in shunning dedicated right-to-life Democrats like Tim Shipe. Most pro-life groups are so closely aligned with the Republican Party that any Democratic candidate, life affirming or not, is seen as harmful to the cause. Such thinking is rooted in the unrealistic expectations that many pro-lifers have about the short-term prospects for substantial restrictions on abortion in this country. A ban on abortion in the vast majority of states is not just a Supreme Court decision away.

    Furthermore, Republicans have made cynical use of pro-lifers to win elections but have produced little in results. We have experienced Republican control of Congress during this decade. Symbolic votes were taken on constitutional amendments to ban flag burning and gay marriage but never on protecting the unborn. A majority vote of Congress could remove abortion from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. At the very least, such a vote would have been a strong symbolic statement but the vote was never taken. Republicans use social conservatives for votes and deliver the results to those with economic agendas like the Club for Growth. This approach enables Republican to indefinitely “cage” the votes of pro-lifers while risking little political capital.

    Pro-lifers who agree with the Republican Party on other issues should continue to work within the GOP but it makes sense to have a pro-life presence within the Democratic Party.

    The pro-life movement got its first taste of political influence as part of the Reagan coalition. Almost 30 years later, the Reagan coalition has fallen apart just as FDR’s New Deal coalition eventually collapsed with the passage of time. Being tied to the declining Republican brand is like a millstone around the neck of the pro-life movement. The largest potential growth constituencies for pro-lifers all come from predominately Democratic segments of the population – African American, Hispanic and young voters. A smart strategy would be to target these groups to move the Democratic Party in a more pro-life direction. Otherwise, pro-lifers are left with only a shrinking rural white Republican base and possibly doomed to political irrevelance.

    With some backing from the pro-life movement, candidates like Time Shipe could be a force in the Democratic Party. Lacking such support, a pro-life Democratic candidate such as Shipe (unless they are wealthy and able to fund their own media blitz) has to build their own local army of supporters since their is no automatic base of support. A pro-life Democrat doesn’t get help from the right to life committees and religious right forces or your typical progressive groups. The pro-life movement needs to open a second front within the Democratic Party.

  • The problem at its heart isn’t that Democrats aren’t welcome in the pro-life movement so much as that pro-lifers aren’t really welcome in the Democratic party. Sure, they’ll tolerate them at the local level, maybe even small potatoes state level, but when push comes to shove the party leadership will expect to be able to whip everyone, big or small, in favor of Planned Parenthood and the whole lot.

  • Tim interesting article and ongoing discussion. I remember when you ran. I thought a Pro-life Democrat?? Go Don Quixote, go.
    After the November election my family and I left OLOG and went to St. Joe. If you want a pro-life community, start go to St. Joe.
    Father L. and Father B. at OLOG believe pro-life means only anti-death penalty. How many times has Father L. gone on a death penalty protest? Answer, dozens of times. How many times has he gone on a anti-abortion protest? Answer, ZERO.
    OLOG was so far into the Obama camp OLOG was the newest member of the DNC.
    Being a member of KofC at OLOG I know many Knights who profess to be pro-life but voted for Obama.
    Any Catholic who voted for Obama is part of the problem and should be excommunicated.
    Abortion is an Intrinsically Evil Act. In the Orlando Diocese’s Faithful Citizenship Workshop, it clearly states, “As Catholics we are not single-issue voter. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an Intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” Listed as Intrinsically Evil Acts:

    1. Abortion
    2. Euthanasia
    3. Human Cloning
    4. Destructive Embryo Research
    5. Genocide
    6. Torture
    7. Racism
    8. Terrorism

    If I’m not mistaken, Obama supports 4 of the 8 listed Intrinsically Evil Acts (Abortion, Euthanasia, Human Cloning, and Destructive Embryo Research). The Faithful Citizenship workshop also states that “all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.”
    Notice that Death Penalty is not listed as an Intrinsically Evil Act.
    Personally I am Pro-Innocent Life. I have no problem with the death penalty. A court of law found these people to be guilty and passed a sentence of death.
    Anti-death penalty people want people to have “Life Sentences”. One problem. Life sentences never are life sentences. Getting out after 20 years is not a life sentence. For a life sentence to be real the prisoner gets out only in a pine box. The unborn have no say. No voice. No court case. Hence Pro-Innocent Life.
    After reading your article I noticed you got no support from Pro-life groups. The reason the (D) at the end of your name. The reason for no support from OLOG was stated above.
    Run again, this times as a Republican you’ll do better.

  • RD, I could not agree with you more. Someday all of us are going to stand before our Maker and render an accounting on how we defended the unborn and the defenders of the unborn whom he gave as a gift to the pro-life cause, His cause. I know Tim personally and see his goodness 1st hand. He is as pure and principled centered as they come. I personally believe His vocation to defend the unborn and run for political office comes from our Creator and to Tim’s credit he has responded admirably to that call even though that response meant significant suffering on his part and rejection from a large portion of the pro-life which should welcome him with open arms. Tim heroically answered God’s call, but what about the rest of us. Are we really responding to God’s call of defending His unborn in the best way possible. There will come a time where we must render an accounting for our actions in this most essential of causes.

  • Hello you it´s just I absolutely enjoy your great blog, I would feel very special if you allow me to write a review about your amazing webblog on my small iPod Newssite http://www.concretecost.org would you say yes? Yours,

  • Gregory- of course you can review my blog piece- for good or ill I share my experience for public consumption!

  • Tim, I think that’s spam that slipped through the net.

  • Joe- thanks I did try to click on the contact web address and it went into something spam-like- oh well

What's Empathy Got To Do With It?

Friday, May 8, AD 2009

Doug Kmiec has a rather bizarre article up at America entitled The Case For Empathy: Why a Much-Maligned Value Is a Crucial Qualification for the Supreme Court. If the article is any indication, I suppose we should be thankful Obama didn’t make any off-hand remarks suggesting ‘creativity’ or ‘imagination’ were traits he would look for in a potential Supreme Court justice, if only because it might have lead to more essays like this one. After some preliminary gushing about, you guessed it, empathy, Kmiec explains what an empathetic justice would accomplish:

To do this, it is possible that [Obama] will mine for legal talent in unusual places, but it is more likely he will attempt to find a nominee with appellate court experience whose skill set also shows the capability of challenging methods of interpretation that otherwise wouldn’t give empathy the time of day. If Obama succeeds even with this more limited challenge,he will have exploded the notion  that swapping out a Souter for a new, most likely younger and intellectually energetic, justice is without effect.

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11 Responses to What's Empathy Got To Do With It?

  • Nice job dismantling what is just a mess of a column. Kmiec manages to somehow sink further and further. It’s truly remarkable.

  • I assume that Kmiec believes all of this intellectual prostitution he is currently engaging in, repudiating wholesale intellectual positions he held throughout his adult life, will ultimately gain him a federal judgeship or some other plumb from the current administration. Trading self-respect for advancement is always a poor, not to say pathetic, bargain.

  • I think it’s time we simply stop paying attention to Mr. Kmiec. To call him a hack would be generous. Far too many words have been wasted on him already.

  • Don,

    I am not sure what Kmiec’s purpose is, and I would like to think he is not just angling for a spot on the federal bench. People do change their minds, and sometimes those changes are dramatic.

    That said, based on my (admittedly limited) observations of legal academia, Kmiec’s arguments are an embarrassment to the profession. I can’t imagine any of the professors I’ve had over the past three years writing this type of nonsense, regardless of their political persuasion. Kmiec should be extended some sympathy given that he is writing for a non-specialist audience, but even that is no excuse for the type of misstatements and shoddy argumentation on display here, particularly since these views are diametrically opposed to views he held less than two years ago.

  • Until he starts making the barest acknowledgment that he’s done a 180 on principles and views held until the Adventus Obamus, he’s not entitled to the benefit of any doubts.

    And I agree, John: this essay is absolute pablum. The principle of “empathy” is entirely situational and subjective. Take Heller: “Well, you know, Doug, I empathize with people who don’t have efficient police protection and private security forces guarding their gated suburban communities. Whose empathy is entitled to more weight in the law?”

    Oh, and I love how he refers to Obama’s record as a law professor without giving any examples to bolster his point. This essay is embarrassingly empty propaganda for Obama. Which is probably why America was so eager to publish it.

  • Where is all his talk of Natural Law!!! DO people recall in many of his Catholic Online articles and other places Kmiec would always put in several paragraphs that he believs the law should the Natural Law as seein the Declaration of Independence and esp Right to Life as being inaleiable

    Where is that here? Now it was nonsense to think that Obam would give us a Natural law judge in the first place and Kmiec never explined how it would happen

    But looking through this entire article where is the natural law theme.

    In fact as to SOuter , who was a huge postivist and did his thesis on Justice Holmes) there is no mention of that.

  • In reading through comments on another blog, I learned that Prof. Kmiec has Parkinson’s disease. Here is a link and some excerpts to an article he recently wrote about Parkinson’s and embryonic stem cell research:

    http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=32655

    Over time, however, all Parkinson’s patients know that after a short span the medication fails and we also know what that means. We have uncomfortably witnessed our future in the lives of longer suffering brothers and sisters…So you would think that when President Obama, for whom it was my privilege to campaign, gives permission for embryonic stem cell research that some say holds a Parkinson’s cure that I would be grateful and encouraged. Yet, I am not. While I believe the President’s desire to separate science and politics is well considered, there can be no separation from ethics,

    To avoid cooperating with an intrinsic evil, this trembling hand is not to take hold of any medicine or participate in any medical treatment advanced by research involving the destruction of a human embryo. Easier said than done – or by me, even written down. But then, in this Easter time we are reminded that we belong to a Church where the very son of God allowed himself to be put to death so that others might live.

    The article contains, naturally, some defenses of the Obama administration, but I think perhaps I will make a conscious effort to display more sympathy for Prof. Kmiec (if not for some of his arguments) in the future. Anyone with such a difficult and debilitating illness is in need of prayers for their physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. Our Lady of Sorrows, ora pro nobis.

  • “Empathy” [Einfuehlung] is one of those German make- believe emotions; an attempt to displace the more obvious and traditional word “sympathy”.

    It’s a faker’s word. As in Mr. Clinton’s “I feel your pain”.

  • This analysis makes vastly more sense than Kmiec’s article, and you didn’t even get to the part where he explained how lacking in “meaning or lasting effect”–not to mention empathy–is “coerced morality” of the sort some villainous people propose as a solution to the problem of abortion in America. It’s too bad your analysis can’t also be printed in America, but it seems they only accept submissions from prominent pro-life Catholics like Douglas Kmiec.

  • Isn’t justice supposed to be blind anyway???

  • Pingback: How Long in the Wilderness? « The American Catholic

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-8-2009

Friday, May 8, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC made some extraordinary claims of how to manage dissenting Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi.  His Excellency believes that Canon 915 does not apply in advancing the salvific mission of the Church which is basically a losing argument because there are no exemptions for Nancy Pelosi in regards to Canon 915.  Archbishop Wuerl is mistaken if he can escape from his episcopal duty to apply Canon 915 to the pro-abortion representative from California.

Dr. Ed Peters responds to Archbishop Wuerls misapplication of Canon 915 here.

To learn what Canon 915 is click here.

2.  Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison continues with his house cleaning of heterodoxy in his diocese.  It was reported earlier this week that dissident ‘Catholic’ Ruth Kolpack was removed from her position of pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.  In addition:

“Kolpack will be barred from all leadership roles in the parish, paid or volunteer.”

The diocese has not said explicitly why she was fired but strongly suggested that it may have had something to do with her opposition to church doctrine in her capacity as a Catholic teacher.  The tide is continueing to turn as more American bishops evanglize boldly as St. Paul and act strongly as St. AmbroseDeo gratias!

For the story click here.

3.  There is more than meets the eye from the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper that showed an article giving a glowing review of President Obama’s presidency thus far.  Apparently anything labeled from “The Vatican” carries magisterial weight, especially if it’s contra the Church’s position.  Let’s get something straight first, a janitor walking out of St. Peter’s Basilica can give an interview and that can be called news from “The Vatican”.  Second, there were glaring mistakes in said article and it was plainly obvious that Giuseppe Fiorentino, who wrote the article, did not know what he was talking about concerning embryo destruction and abortion.  Mr. Fiorentino has fallen under President Obama’s rhetorical spell, just as many dissenting Catholics have, of falling for style over substance.

Austin Ruse of The Catholic Thing breaks it all down for you here.

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13 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-8-2009

  • Archbishop Wuerl is an exemplary teacher, pastor and leader. God bless him and his sanity.

  • Mark D.

    that’s absurd. Why not post a response instead of a bumper sticker?

  • The Miami priest and his girlfriend evidently take his last name, “Cutie, ” much more seriously then they do the inconvienent title which precedes it.

  • In regard to L’Osservatore Romano, the author has been a fan of Obama since at least the election:

    “The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, was published Nov. 5 with an opinion piece headlined “A choice that unites.”

    “In the end, change occurred. The slogan that accompanied Barack Obama’s whole electoral campaign found its expression” in the results of the Nov. 4 election, said the article by Giuseppe Fiorentino.

    “As the president-elect underlined in his victory speech in Chicago, America really is the country where anything can happen,” a country “able to overcome fractures and divisions that not long ago seemed impossible to heal,” it said.

    But, the article said, the vote for Obama was “very pragmatic” because he was the “more convincing” candidate for “an electorate needing new hope, especially for a quick economic recovery.”

    The newspaper said Obama and his supporters know “not everything is roses and flowers,” because of the “huge political, social, economic and moral challenges” the United States is facing.

    Obama must unite the nation, a process L’Osservatore said will be helped by the concession speech of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who referred to Obama as “my president.”

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0805616.htm

    I’d say the article says a lot about the opinion of Giuseppe Fiorentino and little about the opinion of Pope Benedict.

  • Kolpack fired because of a paper she wrote in college. Unbelievable!

  • Michael,

    The article says specifically the paper itself was not the reason she was fired:

    The diocese later said that a college thesis, by itself, would not be a reason to fire someone.

    If you wish to criticize the Bishop, it would be better for you to extend the courtesy of not misrepresenting him.

  • Archbishop Wuerl is a superb catechist–that is not open to question. And, to his credit, he said he will honor the ban on communion for Kathleen Sebelius imposed by the bishops of Kansas. He’d be a much better pastor if he left denial of communion an open question. Conceding without a fight weakens his voice.

  • If you wish to criticize the Bishop, it would be better for you to extend the courtesy of not misrepresenting him.

    I’m not misrepresenting him at all. I didn’t say “The bishop said he fired he because of a paper she wrote in college.” All the diocese said was that was not the ONLY reason. It was certainly a reason.

    And I find it utterly hilarious that this bishop asked her to recant the views she stated in a freaking thesis. Does he think he’s dealing with Roger Haight? Totally lame.

  • It’s not hard to see why Michael “the Church is heterosexist” Iafrate would be nervous about Church institutions taking an interest in whether people expressed heretical positions while a student.

  • It seems like conservative Catholics are not the only ones who take umbrage at vile screeds against Israel:

    Sheikh attacks Israel, pope walks out

  • It’s not hard to see why Michael “the Church is heterosexist” Iafrate would be nervous about Church institutions taking an interest in whether people expressed heretical positions while a student.

    S.B., you should stop lying about what I, in fact, said. “Anon” is not fooling anyone.

  • I challenge you to show me where I said “The Church is heterosexist.” You are a liar.

    [ed. Permission to defend yourself granted, Michael; but comments may be edited]

  • Pingback: Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-13-2009 « The American Catholic

Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel and the Holy Land

Thursday, May 7, AD 2009

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Israel and the Holy Land will begin tomorrow, May 8-15, 2009.

I’ve set up a special blog devoted to the Papal Pilgrimage as a vehicle for rounding up news, coverage and commentary, and where I’ll be posting from now until the duration of the Holy Father’s journey (upon which time I’ll resume blogging here at American Catholic).

Following are some interviews and links which will set the tone for the papal journey:

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One Response to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel and the Holy Land

Conservative Catholicism And Liberal Islam

Wednesday, May 6, AD 2009

I just finished reading Thomas F. Madden’s Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World, and I’m planning to write a couple posts shortly reviewing the book and the ideas it presents. As a prelude of sorts, however, I’d like to revisit some thinking I did a while back:

A month or so ago I finally had the chance to read Steven Vincent’s account of life outside the green zone in post-war Iraq: In The Red Zone. It’s a very fair book, and worth a read whether you support the war in Iraq or not. The author, since then killed in Iraq by militants, was a New York art reporter who watched the attacks on 9-11 and supported the Iraq war. Having supported the war, he felt like he should go over and see what was really happening over there. The book has the advantage of being writing from a culture writer’s point of view rather than a political writer’s. And although Vincent starts out as an enthusiastic supporter of the project, he ends unsure whether it’s possible for democracy to flourish in Iraq. (I’d be curious to read later work by him and see what he thought of the elections and the provisional constitution, both of which post date his book.)

This reminded me of my long held intention to read more about Islam, so I pull off the shelf the copy of Living Islam(now apparently out of print) by Ahbar S Ahmed which I’d bought on remainder some nine years ago and had been meaning to read ever since. Living Islam is half cultural history, half apologia (think a very, very light weight version of Letters To A Young Catholic with lots of pictures and basic intro information.)

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32 Responses to Conservative Catholicism And Liberal Islam

  • Great post, and it gets to the heart of what has puzzled me as well. For instance, in reading Mark Steyn’s America Alone, I certainly agreed with his analysis about the dim prospect of Europe’s future based on the influx of (for lack of a better term) radical Muslims. Yet at the same time we’re trying to instill a democracy in a Muslim state that would be dominated by those very forces. (Of course we can get into all sorts of side debates about whether the war in Iraq was useful in other respects, and whether or not democratization ought to be a goal of our foreign policy, etc. Hopefully this thread will remain on point and not delve into those issues for now).

    Similarly, I often see Muslim “dissidents” on the likes of O”Reilly and other conservative talk shows. I forget the most prominent one, but I’m sure you all know I am talking about – she’s a Muslim female that’s written several books critical of Islam. But I can’t help thinking that I’d be pretty annoyed if Richard McBrien was on a talk show in Saudi Arabia peddling the same talking points, only in support of moderating Catholicism. Like Darwin, I tend to favor the more orthodox members of any religious group, but there’s a tension in trying to promote Islamic orthodoxy while also hoping for a freer and more democratic climate in such places.

  • Good post Darwin.

    Islam may simply be incompatiable with our Western institutions. Bruce Bawer and Spengler are worth a look here.

    http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_pim-fortuyn.html

    http://www.firstthings.com/spengler/?p=76

  • It’s a thorny issue. On the one hand, I don’t care at all about whether Muslims are more ‘orthodox,’ if being ‘orthodox’ means denying human rights. In that case, the more unorthodox the better from my perspective. But I hope this isn’t the case. The world would be a better place if, as in Christianity and Judaism, orthodox Islam was compatible with respect for human rights, or required it.

  • It’s a tough question, and I don’t know that there is a solution, apart from clear-eyed pragmatism. Essentially, work with the various forms of Islam where it advances the common good (as understood in Catholic terms) and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. I agree that holding up, say, an Irshad Manji as an exemplar of Islamic thought won’t get you any traction in the greater Islamic world, never mind her qualities as a thinker or writer. It’s of a par with my reading of some well-meaning ignoramus’ suggestion in the immediate post-9/11 aftermath that the works of Mustapha Kemal be translated into Arabic as part of a reform effort. Um, no.

    We don’t have much say with if or how Islam will make the necessary adjustments to modernity, much less put our imprimatur on a particular approach (I know that’s not what you’re suggesting). That’s really up to them, and all we can do is react to it.

  • Darwin,
    I think there’s another category of Muslim beyond the secular ones lauded by Fox News and the conservatives who don’t really accept human rights. I would argue Islam doesn’t need Luther of Spong, it needs to replace fundamentalism with Resourcement and aggiornamento, and there are scholars, some more liberal, some more conservative, engaged in that. Tariq Ramadan, in Switzerland, is probably the most prominent, although he still doesn’t move far enough to the “individual human rights and dignity” model we’d like to see take hold in Islam. Khaled Abou el-Fadl at UCLA seems to be on a similar project and more amenable to thoughtful Western religious conservatives.

    The French scholar Olivier Roy, in his book The Globalization of Islam argues that most of the currents we see in Islam, from the Salafism of bin Laden to the modern Islam of Ramadan, are the result of Islam taking on a more Western model. Rather than being a religion primarily about communal norms and practices, at it was traditionally, it has absorbed the Western focus on the individual achieving salvation. For the Salafists, that means individuals trying to live according to strict imitation of Muhammad and his early followers. For others, it’s developing new habits of prayer, scriptural study, moral casuistry (like the modern phenomenon of Islamic banking), evangelization. I’ve heard Roy originally wanted to call his work “The Christianization of Islam” but that was too controversial. It seems to me that this focus on individual salvation may prepare Islam for a personalism grounded in its tradition and scripture, although I don’t know enough about either to ascertain how certain that is. If it is possible, it would mean Christianity (particularly the Catholic Church) needs to engage with Muslims in the West to encourage this possibility, and both need to make more connections with institutions in the Muslim world to encourage it. One way to start would be for Western Muslims like Abou el Fadl to have a greater role training the Ulama, Islam’s authorities on Sharia. Until there’s someone like John Courtney Murray in a majority-Muslim country, and he’s accepted rather than persecuted, ostracized, or silenced, I don’t know when that might be possible though.

    Also, some of the sufi groups, in Turkey particularly but also in W. Africa and maybe South and Central Asia, seem to have a model for Islam that may be open to a humanist or personalist outlook.

  • Islam has never developed the concept of Mosque and State. Islam is the state. The Church, spending the initial three centuries usually in opposition to the Roman Empire, has often allied herself with the state, but the division between Church and State has always been a fact of life in the West. All states in Muslim areas are illegitimate to the extent that they deviate from the rule that Islam is the state. Kemal Ataturk in Turkey accomplished a miracle by defying this. Whether this miracle will prove viable long term over centuries is very much in doubt. I hope, for our own security, that we will see more regimes like Turkey and now Iraq, but based upon the history of Islam I am pessimistic.

  • Darwin,

    Excellent post.

    In my opinion it will be nearly impossible to find a form or strand of Islam that would be able to engage the world in a positive manner and share the same views on human rights as Jews, Christians, and Buddhists view them.

    In Islam God is absolutely transcendent which leaves no room at all for the individual. The identity of the individual emanates from God, hence the individual is an instrument rather than having any autonomy whatsoever in the Judeo-Christian sense. The individual in Islam has a reality, but it is contingent upon God.

    Hence the notion of human rights in the West never came to fruition in Islam. An excellent example is the radical notion of a nation-state which is completely absent in Islam. Not until the 20th century has this notion taken hold in Islam. The Ottoman Empire is a continuation of Mohammad’s empire that united the Arabian peninsula. Ask any Muslim in most countries, especially in a Muslim dominated country, and their answer is they are Muslim first, Turk, Persian, Arab second.

    A faulty parallel in the west would be communism or fascism, where the state supersedes the individual. So it is in Islamic theology that God supersedes absolutely every detail of life. Hence why the other notion of ‘Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar, render unto God that which is God’s’ never existed in Islam. The notion of separation of Mosque and State is alien to Muslims. To think politically is identical to as to think theologically. Not even the ‘model Muslim’ country of Turkey is immune. They declare a purely secular state, yet the government funds the building of mosques and the training of preachers.

    So this leaves us the conundrum of what model in Islam can we engage that will benefit both societies? Sadly, there is no model.

    Though there is hope. The Sufi form of Islam is quite engaging and more humanistic than what the Sunni’s, Shiite’s, and Salafists have to offer.

    There is no Bishop Spong, no Martin Luther, but possibly an aggiornamento in the likes of Khaled Abou el-Fadl at UCLA as Zach pointed out. Though it’s going to be a slow process that may take decades if not centuries for a more humanistic form of Islam to emerge.

  • May peace be upon you.
    I am a Muslim and let me explain certain things about Islam that you westerners don’t quite get along with.

    First of all, what basic human right that Islam doesn’t encourage?We are talking about education, the right to inherit, free speech, and such. I gotta tell ya, it’s al inscripted inside the very words of the Quran.

    Alright let me tell you some thing, in case you don’t know, the first revelation of the Holy Quran is about learning. It goes ,

    “Read, in the name of the God who created”

    The first word is about learning. So it is clear that Islam promotes learning to all mankind. Not just to men, but also unto women. In fact, Prophet Muhammad once said that learning is compulsory upon Muslim (men) and Muslimah (women). There is no restriction for women to learn, to gain knowledge. They have just the same right as men does.

    I guess for you to find a true scholar from an Islamic country to get to know what is it all about with Islam. And dont get mixed up traditional rights and cultural views. Coz most of your misunderstanding and misconception derives from the very misleading cultural rites that doesn’t belong to Islam.

    I am a Malaysian. I am a Muslim. And in Malaysia we don’t really had any major argument with the people of other faiths especially the Christians.They respect our religion as well as we respect theirs.

    In Islam, we need to believe in the earlier prophets before Muhammad (peace be upon him).And that includes our Prophet Jesus Christ (Isa Al-Masih ibn Maryam) and Prophet Moses (Musa).If we don’t believe in any one of these Prophets, our Faith in Islam wouldn’t be whole.

    Also, we have to believe in the earlier Books which are the Bible (Injeel) revealed upon Jesus Christ the Prophet and Torah (Taurat) revealed unto Moses.

    Islam encourages its follower to speak up their mind. But also, in Islam we have our own guidance of doing so.We cannot say something that is not truth as in lying, and spreading rumours. It is forbidden in Islam. Islam is all about saying the truth.

    And when you say that Islam doesn’t allow its followers to choose the way they want to lead their lives as in what to wear, to drink, to socialize etc, that is because in Islam, if you were to live in te Faith, then you have to follow every rites and rules.You cannot choose what to follow and what not to follow.if you are a Muslim, you have to follow every single thing.That’s why we don’t recognize any form of “LIberal Islam” because there is no such thing! It is either you choose to be a Muslim or not.AND once you already a Muslim, you cannot simply quitting the religion just like that. Muslims are very adhere to their religion. Someone who chooses freely to quit from being a Muslim is a major sinner!Thus he should be killed. And as a non- Muslim, you cannot argue about this because it is not your religion.To us Muslims, it is revealed by God himself, so we have to adhere.Just as you are with your religion right?

    Believe me, in Islam, every single rules and rites has its own explaination and benefits. See, I am not a pious man, I am not an Ulama or Imam, but I strongly believe and have faith in my religion that is Islam and I am proud with it.

    It is not fair for you westerners to judge our religion as you are not a part of it. If you really are looking for the truth, you should be honest with yourself and be fair.try to confer to any world renowned Ulamas or Imams.

    I take it that you too have strong and firm believe in your faith.so you shouldn’t be scared if the truth is all you are looking for.

    You sure know about our politician Anwar Ibrahim right?He is an example of a well-rounded Muslim. He lives by his faith in the religion and is a successful figure in the world.

    We Malaysians are not blessed with oil wealth like most Islamic countries especially the Arabs.But we do well with our economic models and social interaction with our fellow non – Muslims Malaysians. How do we suppose to do that if our religion is so intolerants and barbaric as you westerners portray?

    Again, I suggest you to have a dialog, or conference with Muslim leaders in the world, who can give you detailed explaination about this religion of our own.
    We used to have Benazir Bhutto,and we still have our own Anwar Ibrahim and Hasanal Bolkiah (Sultan of Brunei). If you come to Malaysia, you’ll get alot of informations and figures to confer so that you can have an extended knowledge about Islam.

    Again, I suggest for you to be fair and just when you are commenting about other people’s religion.

    Thanks for your time and space.

    May peace be upon you.

  • I agree with Mr Tito.
    Thus the conclusion is, just leave us with our own religion as we do unto yours.
    We never argue about yoru religion. We never comment what you are doing in the Churces.
    Why should you ever be so jealous with our state of religious believe?
    Islam is Islam. Christianity is Christianity.
    There shoudn’t be any argument from both sides of the world.

  • Kamarul,

    Thanks for joining us. One question I have. How do you seen Islam and Christianity working together where the two religions exist side by side? How do we resolve conflicts between the two?

  • Mr. Kamarul Azhar,

    Thank you for participating in this discussion. I share some of your views from a Christian point of view.

    I believe we as Christians (most of us anyway) do not want to change Islam. What we would like, as Phillip noted, how do we work together in order to be able to live side by side in peace and harmony? How do we resolve conflicts when they arise?

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    First, I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to provide us with such a lengthy explanation. I think it’s always fruitful when believers are able to explain their religious beliefs to each other without in the process compromising or watering-down their faiths.

    In Catholicism we use a Latin phrase meaning “peace be upon you” which is, “Pax vobiscum”. The response to this is, “Et cum spiritu tuo” or “And with your spirit”. So if I may respond thus to your kind greeting:

    Et cum spiritu tuo

    As I hope I expressed clearly, being someone who believes strongly in the importance of the true interpretation of Christianity, I naturally sympathize with those who take their own faiths seriously within other faiths. Yet at the same time, I as a Catholic and you as a Muslim hold different beliefs about what is God’s will. So for instance, when you say:

    It is either you choose to be a Muslim or not.AND once you already a Muslim, you cannot simply quitting the religion just like that. Muslims are very adhere to their religion. Someone who chooses freely to quit from being a Muslim is a major sinner!Thus he should be killed. And as a non- Muslim, you cannot argue about this because it is not your religion.To us Muslims, it is revealed by God himself, so we have to adhere.Just as you are with your religion right?

    I find myself in disagreement, because as a Catholic I of course believe that it would be a good thing if a Muslim did indeed quit being a Muslim and became a Catholic. Just as, I am sure, you would believe it would be a good thing if I quit being a Catholic and became a Muslim; and in that sense if Catholics held that someone who quit being a Catholic should be killed, you would think that was a bad thing — because as a good Muslim you would see a Catholic becoming a Muslim to be a good thing, not a sin, and thus clearly not worthy of death.

    So I think it is in these kind of areas where we run into tensions. Clearly, as a Catholic, I can’t see it as good if Muslims were to execute a Muslim man who became Catholic, and in that sense I’d see it as a good thing if Muslims took a more “liberal” approach to that law. Not as a matter of offense to Muslims, but because with our different faiths we have different beliefs as to what God’s will is.

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Paul,
    I’m guessing you’re thinking of Ayan Hirsi Ali, though she’s by no means the only female Muslim dissenter out there.

  • Yeah, cminor, she’s the one I was thinking of.

  • Salam Aalay Kum Warahmatu-Lah,

    There is no way a truthful Muslim would compromise his religion just to conform with modernity.
    And by modernity means, something that is created out of logical thinking. Yes, to be logic, one shoudn’t be killed just because he chooses to quit from his original religion.This is logic, and this is what modern thinking is.

    But to us Muslims, what we human create is not for eternity. It will not be relevant in another hundred years. But what God sent to us, what God has revealed upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), will always be relevant and beneficial to all humankind, not just Muslims, till the Judgment Day.

    And for a Muslim, if he or she commit sins, it is favourable for them to be punished here according to Islamic Crime Law (Hudud)rather than to be punished later in the Judgment Day by God Himself because the punishment would be unbearable.So you see in most conservative Islamic country such as in Saudi, Iran and Afghanistan where they practice this Hudud Law, their crime rate is very low compared to other secular country.This can eventually discipline the people of the country.

    But if we take it logically, we would say, are they insane???to whip an adulterer 100 times?to amputate a thieve?this is barbaric!!!this is against human rights, we would say.

    but again, if human rights we are fighting for, we shouldn’t be unfair. we have to cater to all kind of human rights.some people would say it is a woman’s right not to wear hijab (covering their hair and most part of their body), but what about a man’s right not to look at those parts?are we willing to sacrifice any of these rights?i wouldn’t say so.

    In Islam, it is the right for men to lead a congregation prayer like Friday prayer.
    It is the right for women to take care of the house and the children.
    You, as logical thinking westerners might look at this as somewhat discriminating, but to us Muslims, it is not. It is our right!

    In Islam, a mother who constantly has to bear the hotness of the stove just because she is preparing meals for the family is guaranteed a place in the heaven.
    In Islam, a wife who willingly let her husband to marry another woman is guaranteed a golden umbrella and a throne during the Judgment Day where everybody would be assembled at an Assembly Field named Mahsyar in a very hot weather that the Sun is like only one inch from the heads.
    In Islam, the blessing of Allah (God) lies on the Blessing of the parents. And the status of a Mother is three times higher than the father.
    These are the rights in Islam. Basic human rights that we are talkiing about.

    Islam doesn’t cater to only human rights on this world of the day. Islam also caters to human rights in the Day After.This is what Islam is all about, to gain happiness and peace in this world, and in the world after.

    but we wont force these believe upon other people of other religions.so why shouldnt other people of other religions want to force their believe on us?

    In the Quran there’s a Phrase (Surah) which tells that the Non-Believers will always force their religion on Us the Muslims. and to them we shall say,

    “O ye non-believers!I don’t worship what you worship!
    ANd you also not worship what I worship!ANd I (again) don’t worship what you worship!And you (again) not worship what I worship!For you your religion, and for me mine!”

    May Peace be Upon You

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    You describe a number of ways in which Islam challenges the human rights notions of the West, but when you say, to Muslims, this is the way, or Muslims believe this, I must ask, according to who? Which school of jurisprudence (Madhab) should Muslims rely on? The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, who belongs to the Shafi’i school which is the most priminent Madhab in Malaysia, has argued that it is not permissible to execute a Muslim who converts to Christianity (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7355515.stm). It is only certain Hadith, and not the Quran, which says apostasy should be punished with death, and the Quran says that “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:257). So I don’t understand the basis on which you can assert clearly that Islam says that someone who leaves Islam to become Christian must be killed.

  • I think Zak makes an important point, but even assuming it to be the case that Islam clearly states that apostates must be executed and theives must have their hands cut off, the disconnect here is that Catholics and Muslims have very different ideas of what God’s will is in regards to these matters.

    Clearly, if a Muslim believes that is God’s will that someone who leaves Islam and becomes Christian be killed, and if as a Catholic I believe that it is God’s will that that Muslim become Christian, then from my point of view if I did not attempt to twart that Islamic justice I would be violating God’s will. I’m not sure if perhaps this is different in Islam, but from my point of view as a Catholic God’s will applies to all people, not just members of one religion. So the fact that something is according to the tenets of Islam does not put it beyond the realm of critique. (I would assume that it is the same for you, that if as a Catholic I wanted to do something you believed was contrary to God’s will you’d see it as best to stop me.)

    And since I’m not really in a position to say what Islam should say from an internal perspective, I’m likely to look most kindly on those interpretations of Islam which clash least with my own understanding of God’s will.

    I don’t necessarily see an easy way around these difficulties, as we have very different ideas about God’s revelation to humanity. However it’s unquestionably a very good thing that we are able to discuss these things calmly and with charity towards each others beliefs.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Dear friends, People of the Book,

    I think in trying to get the ultimate decision on how do we built that bridge which can link both the world of Islam and the Western Institution is by respecting each others rights and believes.

    We certainly never force our believe to the people who are not of the same faith. Thus, we expect others to treat us the same as well.

    About the differences of Mazhab (jurisprudence), they are different in interpretation of the Quran and the Hadith only. The fundamental beliefs are still the same. The situation is just the same like in Christianity, where you have Catholics, Methodist, Protestants, Seventh Day Adventist and such. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Islam does not against any religions. In fact, during the reign of the Caliphate Al Rashidun, to the Abbasids, Umaiyyads, Fatimids, and the Ottomans, other religions are still flourished and secured, even when they were ruled by an Islamic Caliphate.In fact, even when we are labeled to be anti-Semitic, the Jewish people were treated accordingly under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate.It is not the Muslims, who initiate Hollocaust, if there were any.

    Yes, in the Quran, it is stated that there is no compulsion in religion.I beg you not to take this out of context because it means that if the people doesn’t want to accept Islamic teaching, then it is ok. Just as I said earlier, we have never force our religious belief unto other people of other religions.

    And for your information, what the Mufti of Egypt was saying is about the People of the Book. Which means the original believers of the faith that was brought by Prophet Moses and Jesus Christ.These people are considered to be believers of the same faith as Islam.
    I am sorry if my words would hurt you but in our point of view, the religion of Judaism and Christianity nowadays have been corrupted by some people with certain interests. Again, I apologize for that matter.

    Again, I would like to express here that Islam are not against any other religions. I have stated earlier that “For you your religion, and for me mine”.Thus, we expect with high gratitude that people of other religion would respect us, as much as we do respect them.

    The problem we face nowadays between the Islamic world and the Western cultures would not arise if both parties respect and embrace each others opinions and beliefs.We should not take that any of our ides as greater, or supreme than the other one. We should not see it from only one side of perspectives.

    To be honest. we Muslims despise the hedonist culture brought by Western Cultures. But we never condemn them as to attack any of these Western countries just because what they believe (total free speech and free will).

    And I would like to disassociate Islam with terrorism, which has been promoted by the Western media upon us.
    Islam is not Al-Qaeda. Islam is not Abu Sufyan.
    Islam is peace.Yes, Allah allows us to fight our enemies, and to be in war with our enemies, but there are actually guide lines to doing so. If we are in a war, we are not suppose to kill children, women, old folks, religious people in any home of worships,surrendered people, people without arms, livestocks, trees, animals and such. We are not allowed to ruin places of worship, regardless of any religion they are belong to.We are just required to fight those people who would not surrender, who fought us ( the armies). We are not suppose to harm civilians.

    We are not Al-Qaeda. We are not Abu Sufyan. We are not the Talibans.

    But we certainly support those people who fights because of protecting their home, their land, their country.In Islam, it is a major sin if we fled the battlefield while fighting for our home and country.
    Patriotism is highly regarded in Islam.

    But I should warn the West not to put us under pressure. We are peace loving people, but as peaceful as we are, we certainly would retaliate if we were attacked!Just as any civil society would do if their home and country being attacked for whatever reasons!

    Thus, I call for all people to unite regardless of what religion you belong to, because the bottom is we are all humans. And humanity should be upheld in whatever conditions.

    Salam Aalay Kum.
    Peace Be Upon You.

  • Kamarul Azhar: Thank you for joining in this conversation. I would like to know how Islam honors Mary, the mother of Jesus, who as you probably know is also very important to Catholics. It is my understanding that Mary is mentioned in the Quran, and that the Prophet himself said she was one of the most blessed women in Paradise.

    Many years ago I was told that devotion to Mary was something Catholics and Muslims had in common and might help bring about peace between the two faiths. Do you, as a Muslim, believe this is possible?

    Thank you, and peace be upon you!

  • Dear Ms Krewer,

    Yes, we do honor Mary (Maryam) as one of the most blessed women in history, and she is guaranteed a throne in the highest of all Heavens (Jannatul Firdausi), along with most Prophets, from Adam until Mohammad (peace be upon them).

    Mary was an “abid”. In those years, our Faith allows people to be highly devoted to only praying for the God.Mary is one of them.When she was conceived by her mother, initially her mother wanted a Son, so that he could be an “abid”.But after she gave birth to a daughter, her mother was praying so hard to God, and eventually God sent a revelation, saying that the baby girl (Mary), worth more than thounsands of Sons.

    So, Mary was raised by a Prophet, Zechariah.She was made an abid, and believed to be the most “sacred” of all Virgins.This is because as an abid, she had few interactions with anyone, let alone a Man.So, she is “pure” of all sins.

    Then, one day a Man came to her. She was terrified. Later, the Man told her that He wasn’t any Man. In fact, He was the Angel Gabriel.The Archangel. He told Mary that he got good tidings for her, that she was about to conceive a baby, whom one day would become a great man. Mary was confused, because she had never being touched by a Man before, then how could she possibly be pregnant?Then the Angel told her that it was God’s will that she got pregnant, not by any Men.

    But in Islam, we believe that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God. In fact, he was created by God, just as Adam was made, not begotten by God Himself. This is the different between Islam and Christianity beliefs.

    In Islam, God is one. God is Eternal. God has no Parents nor Children.

    Thank you.
    Salam Aalay Kum.

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    Thank you for sharing that bit on the Blessed Virgin. Many Christian prelates believe we can share in our devotion of Mary as a bridge towards peaceful coexistence and dialogue. Many Marian shrines across the world are visited by Muslims in great numbers to show their respects for her. It is a fascinating subject and one that can be fleshed out more among leading theologians from both the Christian and Islamic worlds.

    We also agree that God is one with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God since all time. We do have differences of approach, but Christians are monotheists as with our older brothers the Jews and with Muslims.

    Pax vobiscum,

    Tito

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    Selamat datang. Saya tidak bisa berbicara dalam Bahasa Melayu, tapi saya tinggal di Indonesia selama beberapa bulan. Berbicara dalam Bahasa Indonesia sedikit. Yang itu agak serupa, ya?

    Terima kasih karena berkunjung. (Ma’af untuk kesalahan saya!)

  • Oh: Tito benar. Agama katolik menyatakan satu Tuhan. Doktrin Trinity tidak menunjukkan tiga tuhan!

  • Mr.J Christian,

    Sudah semestinya saya bisa memahami Bahasa Indonesia. Lagian, kitakan serumpun Bangsa. Akan tetapi, adalah lebih elok jika kita hanya berbicara dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Kan lebih mudah difahami oleh semuanya.

    Thus, from all of our discussions earlier I can conclude that we Muslims and Christians has a lot in common. So why don’t we share these commonness to bring our two worlds closer so that more ties and relations can be fostered.

    We shouldn’t see one beliefs as greater than the other. I say, stick to our own beliefs, but never question others beliefs. If we are very devoted and have good faith in our religions, thus we shoudn’t be scared or tempted by other faiths.

    I have explained the position of Jesus Christ in Islam. And that is my belief. You may either accept it or not.

    But, i would like to know what is the position of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) in this sacred religion of Catholicism? I have had some discussions wth my Catholics friend in Malaysia, and they said there is someone mentioned in the Bible as “the comforter”. They said, he could be Prophet Muhammad.

    It could be because in the Quran, Allah has mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad is to bring Good News to all mankind. So He could be this “comforter” mentioned in the Bible.

    Is it true?Maybe anyone can clarify this?

    Salam Aalay Kum.

  • Kamarul has very eloquently and respectfully highlighted the difficulty that Christians must recognize in finding a path to peace with Islam.

    The crux of the problem is this: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Sura 2: 256). Until all of Islam reconciles with that statement of the Koran, there will be no peace for those in and around Islamic states. Until this sura applies to those who wish to leave the religion, women who wish to be educated, or drive a car, or have coffee at a “co-ed” Starbucks, then there is no peace. Until many people don’t have to die as a result of a cartoon or the pope alluding to a violent nature in Islam, there is no peace.

  • Dear Matt,

    You seem to be urging the Muslim community to conformed with the Western norms. Until no party have to be doing what you just did, there will be no reconciliation between the Muslim world and the West.

    Again, I beg all of you, not to misinterpret the Quran. Misinterpretation of the Quran and the history of Islam such as by the Pope Himself has been known to spark hatred and anger among Muslims and non-Muslims.

    The Quran says, Let there be no compulsion in religion, only to those non-Muslims who has been given explaination and preachings about Islam, yet they don’t want to convert to Islam, then there is no compulsion upon them. This does not apply to Muslims, who already are Muslims, who were born Muslims, and yet they want to renounce the religion!I hope I have had this issue clarified.

    Of course women can be educated!I also have stated earlier in my many comments here about the compulsion of learning!The first revelation by God to The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) is about learning.And it applies to all Muslims and Muslimah.
    “Read!By the name of thy God who creathed”
    The issue here is because some institution of learning, especially in the West, they don’t allow the Muslimah students to be wearing hijab, or simply head-scarfs to cover their heads!This is the main discrimination by the West upon Islam. To observe one aurat (areas to be covered by Muslims and Muslimah) is compulsory in Islam!Please understand our religion more before you made any commentary, sir!

    Of course women are allowed to drive a car!As long as she observes her aurat, and the intention of the journey is pure, and allowed by her mahram (care taker), than it is OK!You might refer to some jurisdiction like in Saudi Arabia where women are prohibited to drive, that is because in Saudi, the situation is rough. There are highway robbers like everywhere. Thus, in order to protect these women from any harm, and from any evil-intentions, they prohibit their women from driving alone.

    Please, not every community is the same like the Western community. We have to understand the culture, and sensitivity of the people of that particular place.Yet, we should always observe revelations by God as the utmost sacred rules and guidance.
    Like in Malaysia, our women enjoy the same privilege with their men counterparts. It is not because of Western modernization, mind you, but it is because of the mind set and the pure intentions of our founding fathers, who successfully interpret and adapt the teaching of Islam into our daily modern day.

    You don’t simply put the case of the Cartoon which portrays our beloved Prophet Muhammad as “just mere cartoons”!In Islam, we are prohibited to paint the image of the Prophets, angels, and God.The painting itself is an insult to us, let alone the false accusations made by the author upon Prophet Muhammad!
    What would you feel if someone insults Jesus Christ?You surely would retaliate right?

    Please, do not take Quran out of context, and please be more undrstanding towards Islam. And if you couldn’t, just don’t comment, because it is not your place to say anything that you know nothing of.

    Salam Aalay Kum.
    Peace be upon you.

  • Kamarul,

    you further highlight my point. While Catholics can agree that everyone must follow their religious obligations, we do not believe that anyone can be physically harmed by rape, beatings, or beheaded for straying or leaving their faith.

    the history of Islam such as by the Pope Himself has been known to spark hatred and anger among Muslims and non-Muslims.

    The pope implies their is a nature of violence within Islam results in massive violence by Muslims, and you say that the pope makes an error of history?

    What would you feel if someone insults Jesus Christ?You surely would retaliate right?

    Christ set the example in this case when he turned the other cheek to the Roman soldier who slapped him. While attacks on Christ are offensive to us, violence is not the appropriate response.

    I do recognize that not all Islamic nations apply sharia uniformly, but as you said, Muslims agree that it is acceptable to physically punish men and especially women who stray from the religious observance.

    I understand all I need to about Islam. THere will be no peace with Islam until Islam accepts that there is NO compulsion in religion, and that includes compulsion against “infidels”, those who stray or those who wish to depart the religion.

  • Matt,

    “The pope implies their is a nature of violence within Islam results in massive violence by Muslims, and you say that the pope makes an error of history?”

    I thought the same thing when that happened… as if they were saying, “we’re going to show you how wrong you are about Islam being a religion of violence by having a violent protest!”

  • Thank you, Mr. Azhar, for sharing your thoughts on Mary. You confirmed something I had heard but wasn’t quite sure was true — that Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus even though they regard Jesus as a prophet and not the Son of God.

    It is also my understanding that in the early centuries of Islam, from about 1000 to 1300 A.D. or so, Muslims (Moors) in Spain lived pretty much in peace with Christians and Jews, and developed a thriving intellectual and artistic culture. Muslim/Arab scholars made great strides in medicine and other sciences and invented the numbering system we use today (Arabic numerals). Imagine trying to do algebra (itself another Arabic term!) with Roman numerals — “if Train I travels CXL miles at LX miles per hour and Train II travels CXC miles at LXX miles per hour, which train will arrive first?”.

    So my next question is: what happened to the Muslim intellectual culture? Does it still exist anywhere today? Why did it seemingly disappear, and can anything be done to bring it back?

  • Elaine,

    The peace that existed in Spain at the period you mentioned is arguable. If there was peace it was one-way where Muslims lived in peace and Christians were 2nd class citizens.

    The numbering system was actually invented in India where the numbering system and algebra were invented by Hindus living under Islamic rule. It was transmitted via the Islamic caliphate to Spain where Christians were unaware of their origins so they attributed this to the Arabs incorrectly.

    As far as the disappearance of Muslim intellectual culture is concerned, some of it can be attributed to the finality of the Koran. The Koran is the final word of God and nothing else is needed because God gave final instruction in the Koran. This is mostly along the lines of Sunni thought and varies to degree in parts of the Muslim world where Sunni’s live.

  • Spanish History is one of my passions. 1100-1300 witnessed Spain in turmoil with the Almoravides and Almohades invasions from North Arica and the ongoing Christian reconquista. Some Christian kingdoms and Moorish kingdoms in Spain would sometimes be in temporary peace or temporary alliances, but overall this was a time of war.

  • One must also be reminded how exactly Islam “surged” from the Arabian peninsula to take over the Byzantine Empire, ultimately to Spain, Southern Italy and the Balkans. It was not the way that Christianity spread I assure you.

    Reading the Koran in context means understanding that the earlier sura’s were written while Muhammad did not possess power, while the later ones which under Islamic theology override, he had political and military power. The later sura’s describe the treatment of infidels who refuse to submit (dhimmitude) under Islamic rule, and the strategy of making tactical treaties with non-Islamic rule, but strictly temporary ones to allow time to consolidate power.

The Hebrew Catholics Of Israel

Tuesday, May 5, AD 2009

With the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel there are many stories that come to the surface that I find especially intriguing.  For example, I came a cross an interesting article on the small community of Hebrew Catholics living in Israel.  They consist of:

Christians married to Jews, monks and nuns who live in Israel out of solidarity, Christians who immigrated from the former Soviet Union and Jews who converted.

There are approximately 4000 in all of Israel today.  They are in full communion with the Catholic Church.  Probably the only difference between them and Latin Rite Catholics is that their liturgy uses Hebrew and they celebrate the Jewish holidays as well as those contained in the Catholic liturgical calendar. 

I’d like to point out some historical nuances with certain Hebrew words that are used in their unique liturgy.  For instance certain words are updated to remove the negative connotations that the Jews themselves had attributed to Catholic terms and names.  An example is the name of Jesus:

Linguists say the modern Hebrew word for Jesus, Yeshu, is derived from the word, Yeshua or Yehoshua, which was given by rabbis in the Middle Ages and which is in fact an acronym of the expression “may his name and memory be obliterated.”

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One Response to The Hebrew Catholics Of Israel

Evidence That The Tide Is Turning

Tuesday, May 5, AD 2009

A refreshing news story from the mainstream media that portrays the Catholic Church in a positive light.  A ‘min-comeback’ is the thread of the story, though I disagree with the main reasons for this being the distance from the priest sex abuse scandals combined with the U.S. recession. 

This video exhibits more evidence that the tide is turning towards Catholicism.

(Biretta Tip: Creative Minority Report)

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2 Responses to Evidence That The Tide Is Turning

  • The real reason for the ‘mini-comeback’ IMHO:

    The coarsening of our culture – ugly entertainment, ugly politicians, ugly language. A respite to the divine and beautiful is what most sane people crave.

  • Daledog,

    That’s one of my opinions as well. The more America slouches towards Gomorrah (as Robert Bork wrote in his book of the same title), the more alluring is the Catholic Church with her celebrated eternal truths.

Law, Free Will, Choice and… Guns

Monday, May 4, AD 2009

In my mis-spent youth, I used to listen to NPR’s Morning Edition every morning while doing my math (yes, that’s the kind of thing we wacky homeschoolers get away with). One morning (this was probably around ’93) they were covering a “guns for toys” program, where people were being encouraged to bring real or toy guns down to their local police station and pick up stuffed animals in exchange.

How warm and fuzzy can you get? (And seriously, how many hardened criminals did the people staging this imagine would repent and come get a teddy in return for their gat?) They interviewed a few kids who dutifully said that they knew it was better to play with animals than with their toy guys they’d turned in. Then they interviewed an eighty-year-old woman who’d just turned in the police revolver that her grandfather used to carry in the 1870s and 1880s. “I’ve never shot it,” she said. “But I’d kept it all these years as a piece of family history. But you know, things aren’t the same anymore. I heard about this exchange and I thought: It’s not the wild west anymore. I’d better go turn this in to the police where it belongs. I think we’d all be a lot safer without so many guns around.”

Maybe in some abstract sense we would — but I’m not sure we got any safer when that old lady turned in her piece of family history.

However as I was thinking the other day about the enthusiasm for gun control (or just outright banning guns) on the left, this clicked into place as half of the puzzle. Here’s the other half:

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12 Responses to Law, Free Will, Choice and… Guns

  • A good set of reflections on this issue, Darwin. Enjoyable reading!

    I will say, however, that not everyone on the left is in favor of a total ban on guns. Most are simply for “more gun control”. While to those of us who support the second amendment, it looks bad no matter what, there is a difference between the two positions.

    In my experience the most hysterical opponents of guns have been liberal moms. And the reason they are afraid of them is that they don’t know how they work, really. Some of them act like a gun could magically go off on its own. Even some guys I have known – the sight of a gun makes them terrified.

    It is one of those Hobbesian policy pursuits driven by terror and fear of other individuals that leads a lot of people to want to transfer the right to bear arms to special forces like police and military units, and out of the hands of all citizens.

    All we can do is reassert our rights as responsible citizens. It isn’t even as much about the guns themselves as it is, like you said, about our free will.

  • Elegant analogy. One wonders, though, why there is no movement to ban kitchen knives or any of a number of toxins as well. They can have my Henkel’s parers when they pry them…

  • The biggest thing I see with guns is that they are most used to kill people;
    For example, some swords are generally outlawed (well in some places) because their only and sole intention is for murder (more or less).
    But butter knives, on the other hand, are very rarely used to kill someone, so to me it is more of a justification based on the fact that if something is used to kill, it should not be allowed.
    Coat hangers are useful for something other than killing; hanging up clothes, but if a coat hanger came out saying that it was specifically designed to kill, it would surely be immoral (and most likely outlawed).
    Just presenting a point.

  • The biggest thing I see with guns is that they are most used to kill people;

    This is probably because you don’t have much experience with guns. They are, in fact, very rarely used to kill people.

  • I think the gun control/AIDS prevention topic is interesting. Generally, people who support “safe sex” don’t support “safe gun ownership”. They’d rather you not have a gun at all. But they don’t believe it’s reasonable to expect people to voluntarily abstain from extramarital sex.

  • The biggest thing I see with guns is that they are most used to kill people

    My father carried a gun every day for 30 years (he was a police officer), and never killed or even injured anyone with it. Same with 97% of his colleagues. The utility of firearms goes beyond the point at which they’re fired; carrying one as a peace officer or even a legally authorized citizen can act as a deterrent to crime and actually de-escalate the violence. And no, this is not an argument to expand concealed carry laws and spread Wild West justice.

    We’re enamored of our data points, so we like to wring our hands about the stats on gun violence, but there are no data kept on the threat of lawful and morally licit force used as a deterrent to violence. It’s very common in policy analysis to over-emphasize the costs of a policy and diminish its benefits.

  • “To others its just a scary and evil hunk of metal which is liable to get up and make someone kill someone else.”

    Frankly, it’s this visceral “ick” factor which drives a lot of the anti-firearms advocacy. It certainly has driven legislative policy, namely the “assault weapons” ban, which has everything to do with how the gun looks and nothing with how it functions, given the far more dangerous weaponry it leaves untouched.

  • Well, the FBI lists guns in the upper 60 percentile of all murder/negligent homicide weapons, but cuts and stabbing come in second at 13%. (See Census 2000 site.)Maybe we oughtta round up those cleavers!

    Guns do have their legitimate uses. Around my neck of the woods, they are very widely used for deer huntin’, turkey huntin’ quail huntin’, etc.

  • I recall seeing a local story on a gun exchange and plenty of well meaning people were turning in “grandpa’s old gun” there were plenty of Word War era 1911’s, as well as some (probably rather valuable) 19th century and early 20th century revolvers. It was all getting melted down/destroyed/etc. It was like burning money.

    Some of those guns could have sold for thousands and the gov’t paid somone to destroy them.

  • Catholic teaching is very clear on obligation defend our families. Knowing that many, many criminals can only be stopped from bringing serious harm to them without the use of a firearm, it is completely moral for us to be armed in the event that such an incident should occur, while praying daily that it all may be at peace.

    It seems to me odd that most on the left seek to “control” access to guns for those who are law-abiding, a very odd strategy to reduce gun crime by criminals. A tactic which has never proven effective in the US or any similar situation.

    It should be noted that these recent mass murderers almost universally are committed in places in which it is illegal for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves from mass murderers. They seek out places where they can do the most damage. The left would see the whole country in the same state.

  • pardon the bad grammar.

  • This story from WBS Atlanta is a very good example of legitimate self -defence (and defense of others):

    COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — A group of college students said they are lucky to be alive and they’re thanking the quick-thinking of one of their own. Police said a fellow student shot and killed one of two masked me who burst into an apartment.

    Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Jones met with one of the students to talk about the incident.

    “Apparently, his intent was to rape and murder us all,” said student Charles Bailey.

    TOM JONES: College Student Shoots, Kills Home Invader

    Bailey said he thought it was the end of his life and the lives of the 10 people inside his apartment for a birthday party after two masked men with guns burst in through a patio door.

    “They just came in and separated the men from the women and said, ‘Give me your wallets and cell phones,’” said George Williams of the College Park Police Department.

    Bailey said the gunmen started counting bullets. “The other guy asked how many (bullets) he had. He said he had enough,” said Bailey.

    That’s when one student grabbed a gun out of a backpack and shot at the invader who was watching the men. The gunman ran out of the apartment.

    The student then ran to the room where the second gunman, identified by police as 23-year-old Calvin Lavant, was holding the women.

    “Apparently the guy was getting ready to rape his girlfriend. So he told the girls to get down and he started shooting. The guy jumped out of the window,” said Bailey.

    A neighbor heard the shots and heard someone running nearby.

    “And I heard someone say, ‘Someone help me. Call the police. Somebody call the police,’” said a neighbor.

    The neighbor said she believes it was Lavant, who was found dead near his apartment, only one building away.

    Bailey said he is just thankful one student risked his life to keep others alive.

    “I think all of us are really cognizant of the fact that we could have all been killed,” said Bailey.

    One female student was shot several times during the crossfire. She is expected to make a full recovery.

    Police said they are close to making the arrest of the second suspect.

    Imagine being the parent of one of the students there. Would you not be thankful that your child escaped being raped and killed due to the actions of a friend?

Capital Punishment And Abortion, An Argument From Doubt

Sunday, May 3, AD 2009

I think we all have, if we are fortunate, a few good friends with religious and political viewpoints very different from our own with whom we regularly hold long discussions. For me, one of these is an uncle of mine. My mom is the oldest of seven, so this uncle is actually only fifteen years older than I am. He’s a long lapsed Catholic (he describes himself as believing in God but having no religion), a comic book and movie buff, an independent rocker, and someone who thinks a lot about the meaning of life, though he does so from a very different perspective than I do.

A few months back, my uncle was telling me about how he’d recently become pro-life (or anti-abortion, for those who ride the hobby horse of not being willing to accept the common use of the term.) His reason, he said, was basically the same as the reason he’d come to oppose capital punishment a few years before.

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24 Responses to Capital Punishment And Abortion, An Argument From Doubt

  • This is a particularly useful approach for Protestants who believe scripture is silent on abortion and euthanasia. As capital-punishment-lover President Bush said “government should err on the side of life.”

  • The only good argument as far as I am concerned against the death penalty is the risk of wrongful conviction. I am all too aware that courts and juries are quite capable of making dreadful mistakes. I agree with your uncle on this point. Having said that, I am still in favor of the death penalty for heinous crimes. It is, however, not a hot-button issue for me. If a state wishes to abolish the death penalty it will not raise a protest from me. My concern in regard to abortion is the protection of innocent human life, but if the polity wishes to extend this protection to convicted murderers, I may regard this as soft-headed, but I can understand the desire to protect all human life.

    I can understand someone who is pro-abortion also being in favor of the death penalty. If the right to life of a child in the womb means nothing, how much less the claim to life possessed by a convicted murderer.

    What I cannot understand are the huge number of people who simultaneously believe that the life of the child in the womb is worth nothing, if the mother desires to end that life, while simultaneously holding sacred the life of those convicted of heinous crimes.

  • As someone who was anti-capital-punishment before I became anti-abortion, I can personally attest that it’s very difficult to hold that combination of views without major cognitive dissonance. Something had to give eventually, and I’m glad that it did.

    Rather than discredit, attack, or mock people who are anti-capital-punishment but pro-abortion, I think the best approach is to praise them for the instinct of mercy, and just suggest — suggest — that the unborn deserve that mercy, too. I think there’s a great potential for a seed to be planted. Even if you are yourself not against capital punishment, I hope that an instinct to err on the side of mercy is something that you can praise, and use to gently suggest that we should also err on the side of mercy toward the unborn.

  • I tend to agree with Bearing. I’m curious though, Mr. McClarey, if you don’t see the possibility of conversion – of giving a criminal the full opportunity of repentance – as being perhaps a worthy motive in avoiding the use of capital punishment when possible.

    For my part, I think that the only things that should be immediately eligible for capital punishment are those crimes the continuous commission of which would undermine the stability of society. For example, the intentional killing of a police officer is, in my view (and subject to certain requisite determinations), a crime that would automatically invoke execution as a punishment. I can think of others, but not that fit my premise as well (by which I mean they do not compel me to demand the death penalty as stridently as does cop-killing).

  • Yes, DW. I should add by the way that I continue to be anti-capital-punishment in the United States. I’ve always acknowledged that it’s not inherently evil and that it’s appropriate and even necessary in certain circumstances, but (a) I don’t think those circumstances exist in the US and (b) I think that mercy is a greater witness to the sacredness of life than is retribution. And I think we could use more witnesses to the sacredness of life.

    Personally, I am very frustrated by the power of the argument “you people love death when it comes to criminals, how pro-life can you be?” I wish that more pro-lifers agreed with me, because (whether WE like it or not) that argument is very convincing to people for whom the humanity of the unborn is not obvious. Since few people argue that guilty criminals are not human, it means that pro-death-penalty, anti-abortion people appear to be supporting the death of clearly-human beings while claiming moral high ground for supporting only “maybe”-human beings at great cost to other clearly human beings.

    Darwin, I’m just curious. How does being anti-abortion correlate with being anti-death-penalty? Do you know?

  • I oppose capital punishment, but I have always thought the “repentance and conversion” argument was one of the weaker points in opposition to the death penalty. In fact, I think the imminence of one’s death probably focuses the mind on the hereafter and thus serves as a catalyst toward repentance.

    Bearing describes my reasons for opposing the death penalty in the second paragraph of his second comment.

  • Not to be overly pedantic, but St. Thomas Aquinas has addressed this issue of conversion of the convicted murderer, and here’s his thought:

    The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.

    We see this routinely in actual practice, where lifers continue to kill and maim in prison, escape and do harm, or are pardoned or paroled by a new governor. We also routinely see condemned men reconciling with God at their execution. Sr. Prejean, the anti-death penalty activist, has personally witnessed this happen and written about it.

    At any rate, in this country, where we have probably the most searching and exacting rule of law in human history, and very restrictive capital statutes, it doesn’t seem to be a realistic risk that any innocent person will be executed. There has in fact been not one indisputable case of this, despite the exhaustive efforts for over 30 years of many lobbying groups to find that one “poster” case.

    On the other hand we have hundreds of examples of life imprisonment failing to protect innocent people. If we can’t effectively render these offenders harmless, the state has a right, and probably a duty, to execute them.

  • I oppose the death penalty in the US, at least generally, and have for many years, even though I concede that prison murders or murders ordered from prison may present special cases. That said, I question the appropriateness of applying the “instinct of mercy” to abortion. While mercy may be a fair description of what Christ calls us to do in our treatment of a convicted murderer, it is not what is owed to the unborn. What is owed to the unborn is simple justice. The innocents have done nothing to warrant mercy. The all too common conflation of mercy, charity, and justice makes thinking clearly about these very different virtues more difficult.

  • I believe there is some confusion about the morality of abortion as against the morality of the death penalty. That confusion arises from the failure to distinguish about the doer of the deed.
    It is not the state which commits the abortion; it a [nowadays] a doctor commissioned by the mother. Both are equally guilty of the sin as are participators such as Unplanned Parenthood. These are personal choices.

    The death penalty is a difficult matter; it may be an error but it is not a sin. A state cannot sin.

  • You are correct, Mike, but remember I am trying to meet pro-abortion people where they are. It’s common rhetoric to classify the unborn as a “parasite,” “invader,” or “aggressor,” or to identify children conceived in rape with the aggressor who begat them. When people feel as if the unborn is an aggressor, even when they feel that incorrectly, mercy is indeed the instinct that needs to be awakened.

    Gabriel, the state cannot sin, but *if* the death penalty is wrong, then a prosecutor sins in asking for it, a jury sins in applying it, a governor sins in withholding clemency, and executioners (and all involved in the process) sin in carrying out the execution.

  • bearing,
    As to your first point, as disgusting as it is, I agree. The notion that holy innocents should be regarded as “parasites” is beyond my understanding, but I appreciate your point nonetheless.
    As to your second point, I’m not so sure. I think that the responsiblity rests largely with the legislators who design the “rules of engagement” that prosecutors, juries, and governors must apply. The prudential decision as to whether the state can “effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it” is a charism and responsiblilty assigned primarily to legislators, not judges, juries, and governors who must abide by the legal standards promulgated by such lawmakers. Under ordinary circumstances I would think that such parties have a right to assume that the legislators have exercised their prudential responsibilities appropriately. I certainly do not think that one can presume “sin” absence special circumstances.

  • The notion that there are large numbers of “pro-abortion” campaigners is a misleading one. Such identity politics dehumanizes the opposition and pretends that there is only one possible moral stance involved. As the Catholic Church itself did not declare authoritatively that ensouled life began at conception until the 19th century, it is evident that not everyone will share this view.

    Most “pro-choice” people would not regard abortion as a good option, and would wish to see its incidence drastically reduced. The question is, how is this desirable outcome to be achieved?

    Whether abortion is legal or illegal appears to make little or no difference to the incidence of abortion. This can be seen from the US before WW2 — contemporary estimates put the rate far, far higher during the Depression than today’s rate — and from countries where the law has changed recently.

    It only makes a difference to the number of legal abortions, and to the circumstances under which the procedure occurs. I do not think any of us would want to see a return to backstreet abortions, or to self-induced abortions. The death rate would be appalling. We surely need to address the desperate demand for any kind of abortion, no matter how dangerous, rather than trying to make the supply of safe abortion illegal.

    So, what would actually reduce the incidence of abortion? Here, we can contrast the low rates seen in most of Western Europe and the astonishingly high rates seen in Eastern Europe.

    What makes the difference? Education; social attitudes towards illegitimacy; the financial and medical circumstances of young mothers.

    Most of the women who have abortions in the US already have children. Indeed, if my memory serves, most are married. When asked, what do they say is the reason for having an abortion? It’s their inability to feed and clothe their children. Much the same applies to young mothers.

    This society may bewail the resort to abortion, usually an agonizing choice for the pregnant woman, but it does nothing much to make the life of a woman who gives birth any easier. Indeed, by comparison with most developed countries, the United States punishes mothers, as soon as they have given birth.

    Where is their paid leave? Where are their benefit payments? Where is their free medical care? How do they buy diapers if they are surviving on food stamps?

    Where is the public transport for them to visit their doctor? A Mississippi Delta mother on Medicaid may be faced with a 60-mile round trip.

    Most of the measures needed to reduce the incidence of abortion could be supported both by secular liberals and by all but the most savagely punitive Catholics and evangelicals. We need to get past this debate if we are going to find some common ground about policies upon which all well-intentioned people can agree.

    Changing the law is not one of them. Believing that it is the only measure required is a magical view that just gratifies the self-righteousness of people who do little or nothing to ease the situation of mothers and children, and especially poor families. Indeed, there are many prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier.

    We need a pro-children movement, a pro-mothers movement, a pro-poor movement. That would begin to reduce the incidence of abortion, as the politics of gesture would not.

  • @ Mike:

    I’ll confess, I find the suggestion that our legal system prevents the execution of innocents (or at least mitigates it) un-compelling. I’ve read far too many cases regarding criminal constitutional law to believe anything other than Justice Holmes’ aphoristic observation that he sat in a court of law, not of justice – drawing a thick line of demarcation between the two.

    I should also warn you that I put a lot less stock in Aquinas than I did when I was younger. I’m far more Platonic in my theology, and I think that his observations regarding the repentance of condemned criminals might have carried more weight when they were facing death by boiling in oil. When I think of modern executions, I think of Timothy McVeigh.

    As to the fact that lifers are violent, I think that the problem is less with the punishment as much as it is with the system. We quite frankly have created a penal Frankenstein that turns inmates into tribalists.

    Would you rather just execute all the lifetime prisoners?

  • Der Wolfanwalt,

    I am mostly at a loss as to how to respond since though your post is addressed to me it is not germane to anything I wrote.

    I would add though that while our prison system is certainly imperfect, my nephew the prison guard would find your thesis blaming bad prisoner behavior on our penal system both naive and amusing.

  • David Harley,

    While the notion that there are large numbers of “pro-abortion” campaigners may be inaccurate, the notion that there are none is even more inaccurate. Reading a good dose of 60s through 90s feminist literature makes it clear there are a number of people who think abortion is just swell, and they happen to be some of the same people running NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood.

    On your international abortion stats argument, your argument does little to account for the fact that abortion laws are in fact much more restrictive in Europe than in the US, and reached even their current levels of liberatity much later than in the US. Because abortion was totally legalized in a very spectacular way only a decade after birth control became mainstream, the US developed a highly abortive culture (like Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union) while Western Europe which legalized gradually and with more restrictions developed a highly contraceptive culture.

    Also, note that contries that have near total bans in Europe (Ireland and Poland) do indeed have _much_ lower abortion rates than the rest of Europe. Clearly the law _does_ make a big difference.

    This is not to say that there’s no value in programs to help single and poor mothers (your stat on the majority of abortions being procured by married women is wrong) but the legal and medical availability of abortion is clearly one of the largest determining factors.

  • Bearing writes:
    “Gabriel, the state cannot sin, but *if* the death penalty is wrong, then a prosecutor sins in asking for it, a jury sins in applying it, a governor sins in withholding clemency, and executioners (and all involved in the process) sin in carrying out the execution”.

    The matter revolves around “if the death penalty is wrong” [i.e., sinful]. Alas, the numerous instances in the Bible indicate that it may not be sinful.

    There are two prongs to this discussion:
    1. Death sends the executed to his final judgment. It is not the end of his existence. Nor is killing the worst of sins.
    2. It is difficult to decide what, in effect, is a matter of prudence. The Holy Father has written that while the death penalty is not sinful, there seem to be few [or no] occasions for its application.

  • David Harley Says:
    Monday, May 4, 2009

    A large number of weary undocumentable cliches, especially the number of abortions before the Supreme Court legalized abortion.
    One has but to consider the large number of employees at Planned Unparenthood to recognise the error in the statement that there are no large number of pro-abortion advocates. That’s how they make their living.
    Plus such of the feminist groups as NOW, and the like.

    The statistics from Europe are easily misleading [although 200,000 abortions in Britain cannot be called minor]. That country has ended with a large number of women no longer fertile.

    The undocumentable fiction of back-street abortions is yet another cliche.

    But most vicious is the suggestion that pro-life people do little for the unwed mothers, or the unplanned pregnancies [how do you get pregnant without a partner?]

    “As the Catholic Church itself did not declare authoritatively that ensouled life began at conception until the 19th century, it is evident that not everyone will share this view”.

    Where did you come up with this bit of unhistorical nonsense? The Church has condemned abortion from the very beginning.

    “the self-righteousness of people who do little or nothing to ease the situation of mothers and children, and especially poor families. Indeed, there are many prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier.
    “We need a pro-children movement, a pro-mothers movement, a pro-poor movement. That would begin to reduce the incidence of abortion, as the politics of gesture would not”.

    I do not know any prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier. Perhaps you could give some references.

    All of your suggestions – pro-children, pro-mothers, pro-poor – have been the standards of the Church since the beginning. Why else should the Church be running orphanages, hospitals, clinics to a far greater number than any other organization?

  • If I antagonized posters, I did not mean to do so, and I apologize. As I wrote spontaneously, rather than as an expert, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of all my remarks, and should withdraw or qualify some, on reflection, and so I accept most of the criticisms above.

    I will try to limit myself to statements that rest on well-documented research, or which can be checked from the academic literature. I apologize for being prolix.

    On American abortions in earlier times.
    Frederick Taussig’s estimates of the death rates from criminal abortions have been much challenged, and I do not want to debate them. The court cases I have seen from states such as Nebraska and Oklahoma indicate that it was doctors and midwives who performed the abortions, and that was the case in Eastern cities in the 19th century, during the Madam Restell scandal. One would not expect many to be botched to a fatal extent.

    As I recall, however, he estimated an incidence rate of 1 abortion per 2.5 pregnancies in cities and 1 per 5 in rural areas. Statisticians in the 1950s came up with figures ranging from 200,000 per year to 1,200,000 per year.

    To some extent, the impact of Roe v. Wade was to publicize the availability of abortion, which would increase demand. In like manner, publicity about contraception increased demand even before the arrival of the pill. The key issue, as in earlier times was family limitation strategies.

    If one believes that families should continue to increase in size until menopause, as the Quiverful movement does, one would have no sympathy for this desire to limit families. However, Catholic women use all the available methods, other than the few who try rhythm, as frequently as other American women.

    The so-called Sexual Revolution did increase the level of pre-marital sex, but age at marriage also increased, and it seems that couples who had sex before marriage have been more stable than those that did not. This appears evident from the divorce rates among Southern Baptists.

    I may well have misspoken, through carelessness or ignorance, about aspects of the US situation. Perhaps I should focus instead on international comparisons, at this time rather than across periods for which statistics are hard to come by.

    The situation abroad
    About 3 out of every 4 abortions worldwide occur in countries where abortion is illegal, as far as can be estimated from obviously problematic statistics. However, it does seem reasonably certain that about 1,500,000 women die as a result of unplanned pregnancies.

    There are countries where abortion is illegal or very severely restricted, but the incidence is higher than in the US. Examples include Chile, Nigeria, Peru and the Philippines. In Guatemala, abortion is legal only to save the mother’s life, yet the rate is higher than in the US, and a third of the women are hospitalized as a result of complications. This devours a tenth of the entire budget of hospitals and a third of the budget allocated for maternity. The rate for Guatemala is comparable to that for the rest of Central America, and the higher rate of the cities is comparable to that of Latin America as a whole.

    Some of the lowest rates are found in continental Western Europe, where abortion is legal and covered by national health systems, but sex education is comprehensive and the rate of unintended pregnancy is very low.

    The current US situation
    About a quarter of pregnancies end in abortion, involving 2% of women of childbearing age. At present rates, about a third of all US women will have had an abortion at some time in their lives.

    During the last couple of decades, abortion rates were falling, but this fall has ceased during the present decade. Although rates are still falling among the educated and those of average or above-average incoming, rises have been detected among the under-educated, the poor and low-income groups.

    About a third of all American women of childbearing age are eligible for publicly funded contraception, because of their low incomes. Proper financial support and publicity is estimated to be able to prevent 1,300,000 unwanted pregnancies per year, half of which would end in abortion.

    Over half of those seeking abortions were using contraception of some sort, but were ill-informed on its use. Nevertheless, whether properly used or used in more typical manner, the most commonly used methods were substantially more effective than any of the periodic abstinence methods.

    Those using abstinence properly were about ten times more likely to become pregnant in any given year than users of the commonest methods — except the male condom and withdrawal — and a quarter of those who used abstinence in a more typical manner became pregnant. This is markedly better than those using no method — 85% — but it would, over time, give women larger families than most in the US would want, and periodic abstinence is not something that could be exported or imposed on poor countries.

    It is surely unintended pregnancies that need to be addressed, unless one believes that having a child every year is a woman’s duty. We need to focus on the well-being of mothers and children who are already with us, as well as those yet to be born. Legal abortion may be ten times safer than childbirth for the pregnant woman, but it obviously isn’t safer for the life she carries within. And the psychological effects, largely brought about by the conflict between morality and desperation, are insufficiently addressed by health systems.

    The Best Intentions: Unintended Pregnancy and the Well-Being of Children and Families (National Academies, 1995)
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=4903&page=R1

    Catholics and the debate
    As for the Catholic Church, it did not take a strong position on abortion until the long argument about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was finally settled. At that point, ensoulment at conception became a necessary belief. Indeed, that had been a major issue during the centuries of debate. To say that the Catholic Church had always condemned abortion is true, but abortion was defined differently, for church and state, before the 19th century. Abortion was a category that was applied after 16 weeks of pregnancy. This distinction is ignored by much of the literature.

    However, condemnation and active opposition are not the same thing. Before the Second World War, the Catholic Church in the US was not active in opposition to abortion, partly because it was a largely unseen practice after the Comstock Act. 19th-century anti-abortionists were relatively isolated figures, drawn from across the spectrum of political and religious views. It was the 1950s debate about abortion for medical reasons that began to rouse the sleeping forces of Mother Church. Before that, the main group involved had been those demographers who advocated zero population growth.

    As for pro-life campaigners and pro-choice campaigners taking care of young mothers and newborns, I don’t myself see a lot of Catholics and pro-life Protestants or pro-choice Christians and non-Christians getting personally involved, by adopting or mentoring or financially supporting individual mothers and children. However, I live in a relatively pro-life community, so I may have a skewed perspective. At a broader social level, I would say that both groups do a certain amount but nothing like what is now needed, let alone what would be needed if abortion were suddenly to cease.

    Above all, I don’t see the political will to change the level of support for pre-natal and post-natal care, and for financial support. Both Democrats and Republicans have been all too willing to cut back on programs, partly as a result of the “Welfare Queen” stereotype. I do not see a groundswell of opinion among any group involved in this debate to change matters, and the terrible divisions created in the country have made a consensus about social programs almost impossible to achieve.

    That is why I said we need a pro-child and pro-mother movement. Indeed, an anti-poverty movement. I do not see politicians of any stripe putting their reputations on the line for this. It would be political suicide for many conservatives.

    I don’t need to list all the Catholic neo-cons who have deserted doctrines of social justice, but how central to lay thinking is the pastoral letter of the bishops, “A Place at the Table,” or their statements on political responsibility? Is there a single good word ever said by the Rev. John McCloskey in favour of social justice? Does Michael Novak think that the poor need anything more than moral admonitions and tax cuts for the rich? Senator Santorum thought they needed charity and marriage.

    On listening
    The sneer at Planned Parenthood and NOW needing abortion is an unworthy caricature. It may be that some radicals feel obliged to pretend that abortion is inherently good, but that is hardly the case with mainstream groups. This is like taking Randall Terry as the voice of the pro-life movement. Now he certainly does need abortion.

    Caricaturing one another is one of the main ways to prevent listening. It buttresses the aim of imposing moral absolutism. Pro-choice campaigners accuse the pro-life movement of having no concern for the rights of the mother, and pro-life campaigners do the same with the rights of the unborn. This is a dialogue of the deaf.

    Planned Parenthood is a non-profit group, relying on donations, which provides a wide range of health services for men and women that are not adequately covered otherwise. We may deplore their involvement in abortion, but it is far from being the only focus of their attention or their reason for existing. So too with NOW, which has a host of other issues on which it campaigns.

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
    http://www.now.org/issues/

    It is often forgotten, among both Catholics and feminists, just how many of the founders of the present feminism, including NOW itself, and campaigners for what came to be called reproductive rights were Catholic religious. One might mention Sister Mary Joel Read, Sister Mary Austin Doherty, Sister Mary Aloysious Schaldenbrand, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the National Coalition of American Nuns.

    Both younger feminists and increasingly conservative Catholics gradually shut out such voices. The days of the civil rights and anti-war movements had gone. It is surely time now to get back to a position where abortion is one of the issues about which faithful Catholics care deeply, rather than apparently being the only one. How often have I seen Sister Helen Prejean attacked for spending her time on anything other than abortion?

  • Isn’t this just a regurgitation of the CFFC talking points? What exactly is the poster proposing here?

  • David,

    When you throw up that must stuff in one comment (very little of it sourced) it’s hard to respond in any systematic manner. However, the stats involved are something that I’ve done a fair amount of work with, and I’m pretty confident that you’re wrong on most fronts.

    A few major items:

    – Basically all reputable analyses agree that abortion rates went up after Roe, peaking in 1980 and going down since then. It’s not just pro-life analysts who say this, some of the major pro-choice arguments (such as the eliminating-unwanted-children argument from Freakonomics) are based on the understanding that abortion went up quite a bit after Roe.

    – Your international numbers are way off. Check Guttmacher’s stats here. The solid majority of the world’s abortions are performed in a small number of countries in which abortion is legal and to a great extent encouraged: China, Russia, Vietnam, the United States, and India.

    – There’s little evidence that putting more money into making birth control available to people in the US reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies. We’re already awash in free birth control, and yet the incidence of unplanned pregnancy creeps downward only rather slowly.

    – No one is saying that Catholics should care only about abortion, but too often the claim that “we shouldn’t care only about abortion” is made by people who would basically like permission to care nothing about abortion. During the 50s through the 70s it was certainly not required to care only about civil rights, but if one repeatedly insisted on voting for strict segregationists people might start to suspect that one didn’t care about them.

  • David Harley:
    Monday, May 11, 2009 A.D. at 2:00 pm

    Recommended a Planned UnParenthood site for information. My librarain’s soul went and looked.
    There is nothing about diapers, formulas, pediatrics, and the like. Which is to say, nothing about caring for babies, except warnings against “fake clinics which are anti-abortion”.

    Among the interesting bits of information are:
    “# our biological sex — male, female, or intersex
    “# our gender — being a girl, boy, woman, man, or transgender.

    Intersex? Transgender?

    Where is the neuter gender?

  • In the end the decision of abortion must be left to the individual. Only a pregnant woman can make the decision to have or not to have a child.
    For society to mandate that she give birth to a child she can not afford or does not wish to raise is nothing but another government enforced unfunded mandate that Conservatives are so quick to condemn.
    Better for everyone to make their own decision on this matter.
    We do, after all, live in a democracy.

  • “In the end the decision of abortion must be left to the individual.”

    There are two individuals involved in any abortion, and the individual whose life is at stake doesn’t get to decide anything.