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Politics as Religion

Perhaps the most popular heresy today among many Catholics is the substitution of Leftism for the Faith.  Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts, courtesy Mark Shea, gives us an example of this.  He begins by pondering what the Founding Fathers had that we often lack:

 

Among many other characteristics we lack, they had the ability to come together despite their differences.  And they had differences.  From how the country should function to such hot-button issues as slavery, the Founding Fathers were all over the place.  And yet they understood the complexities, and they got the bigger picture, one that they ultimately strove for, despite their different beliefs in how to get there.

Our modern Bolshevik Bumper Stick approach, where we want it fast and simple: We are the side of the angels, and they’re Hitler, is a travesty to all things good and common sense, is the antithesis of this.

As I’ve said, I think we spend so much time trashing the past because it helps us dodge the mess we’ve made of our present.  When pressed, we then turn everything wrong over on ‘them’. The other side is to blame.  Not us of course.  We’re awesome.  Remember?  We got trophies when we lost and were able to retake tests in school until we passed.  That proves we’re always awesome!

No, the rancor and vitriol isn’t so much the problem as the rank partisanship, and the growing tendency of many to abandon their principles, values and standards in order to keep up.  I’m not just thinking of Evangelicals who have suddenly made morals and character a bottom 200 issue in order to support Trump.  I’m also talking about those who seem to be swinging left, even if they won’t admit it, by downplaying, ignoring or even embracing that which they once called evil.

Hint.  Steve Schmidt, liberal GOPer who worked for anti-Republican McCain (who Mark once warned could jeopardize a person’s soul for voting for) and culturally liberal, quasi-Socialist Arnold Schwarzenegger, is hardly a gotcha voice to warn against the dreaded GOP.  That he advocates what once was considered sin among many Catholics seems to be no big deal.  Mark considers it his patriotic duty to attack only the GOP and ignore the sins of the Democratic Party which he now vocally cheers for and supports.

It’s that level of partisanship, willing to throw anything and everything out the window, willing to turn a blind eye not just to coming persecution, but the slow evangelization of Christians away from the faith (far more American Catholics embrace the sins of the Left than Right) that is the problem.  The GOP has its problems.  Trump is certainly problematic.  But they are in now way more of a threat than the emerging socialism and anti-traditionalism of the Democrats.

The Founding Fathers were a gift to America, and the world.  We have squandered them.  We let forces hostile to the Faith, the Country, and our values creep in and begin to erode what we inherited.  If you think the GOP alone is some threat to our democracy Mr. Schmidt, or Mark Shea, then you, in fact, are the ones who are the threats to our democracy.

Would that we would be gifted by the likes of the Founding Father again.

UPDATE:  It’s been brought to my attention that I missed a key problem in Mark’s post.  It isn’t that he’s obviously just using it to gin up support for the Democratic Party, for which he is now a vocal cheerleader and advocate.  It’s the fact that he contradicts himself.  He says that we should be worried about selling our soul, rather than any persecution.  But if we don’t care about persecution, why care about preserving our Democracy?  What Democracy does Mark envision saving that includes persecution?  Why is it fine to fight for Democracy, but not big deal when it comes to worrying about persecution? 

Of course, again, this is Mark, one of the loudest advocates for the Democratic Party in modern Catholicism.  Since attacking religious rights openly and through the courts is the tactic of the Democrats, it stands to reason he will downplay that.  But it also shows a contradiction in those Christians trying to align with or compromise with the Left.  Let’s dismiss Mark’s clear and obvious ignoring of those who have already been persecuted, and his denial that there exists anywhere a radical Left.  That’s stupid and shows a wanton cruelty when it comes to tolerating the suffering of our fellow believers merely because they are suffering under the Party he now supports.

Let’s look at this little trend at face value. I’ve seen many now say this sort of thing, including Russell Moore of the SBC.  Basically, it says we shouldn’t worry about being persecuted or even preserving our nation.  After all, we’ll always have heaven.  Countries come and go, persecution can be a badge of honor.  But it’s our spiritual destiny that is important.

So couldn’t we argue the same about Global Warming?  Couldn’t we argue the same about anything, like healthcare or Open Border immigration?  I mean, can’t we just say none of it matters, we’ll always have heaven?  They’ll have heaven?  Heaven trumps all? 

Obviously it’s a lame excuse, yet is popular among those trying to pound that square peg of historical Christianity into the round hole of the modern secular, Marxist inspired Left.  The lameness of it should set off bells and whistles.  Especially if it occurs in the same argument in which the advocate of not caring about anything but our souls suddenly aligns with caring about our precious Democracy that, apparently, can easily include persecution of Christians.

Go here to comment.  Unless one is willing to use limitless force and kill a great many people, politics in a democracy is always about compromise and understanding the distinction between the ideal and the politically possible.  Leftists increasingly in our country fail to support these basic political truisms and wish to impose their ideas on others by force.  They transfer from the religious realm an intolerance for heretics and view as damned those who do not completely share their views.  That some Catholics exchange the Faith for such rubbish would drive one to despair until it is recalled that Judas traded Our Savior for thirty pieces of silver.  Our job is not to give way to despair but to recall the distinction between politics and religion.  Failing to do so produces bloody politics and destroys religion.

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Frederick Douglass

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too-great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was “settIed” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final”; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.

Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852, The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

 

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King Obama

 

 

In Federalist 69 Alexander Hamilton responded to the criticism that the Presidency under the proposed Constitution established an elective monarchy which would be a perpetual threat to American liberties:

 

Hence it appears that, except as to the concurrent authority of the President in the article of treaties, it would be difficult to determine whether that magistrate would, in the aggregate, possess more or less power than the Governor of New York. And it appears yet more unequivocally, that there is no pretense for the parallel which has been attempted between him and the king of Great Britain. But to render the contrast in this respect still more striking, it may be of use to throw the principal circumstances of dissimilitude into a closer group.

 

The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for four years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and hereditary prince. The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable. The one would have a qualified negative upon the acts of the legislative body; the other has an absolute negative. The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that of declaring war, and of raising and regulating fleets and armies by his own authority. The one would have a concurrent power with a branch of the legislature in the formation of treaties; the other is the sole possessor of the power of making treaties. The one would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices; the other is the sole author of all appointments. The one can confer no privileges whatever; the other can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to corporate bodies. The one can prescribe no rules concerning the commerce or currency of the nation; the other is in several respects the arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can establish markets and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can lay embargoes for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or prohibit the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism.

 

One can only imagine what Mr. Hamilton and the other Founding Fathers would make of this:

According to a senior Democrat familiar with the plans, Obama will announce on Thursday that he is providing temporary protections to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. His orders will make up to 4 million undocumented immigrants eligible for temporary protective status and provide relief to another 1 million through other means. Continue Reading

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Freedom of the Press is for All of Us

Freedom of the Press Under Obama

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Thomas Jefferson

Hattip to Instapundit. Josh Stearns at Huffington Post reports on the fact that the media in the US isn’t quite as free as it used to be.

 

According to a new report from Reporters Without Borders, there was a profound erosion of press freedom in the United States in 2013.

After a year of attacks on whistleblowers and digital journalists and revelations about mass surveillance, the United States plunged 13 spots in the group’s global press freedom rankings to number 46.

Reporters Without Borders writes that the U.S. faced “one of the most significant declines” in the world last year. Even the United Kingdom, whose sustained campaign to criminalize the Guardian’s reporters and intimidate journalists has made headlines around the world, dropped only three spots, to number 33. The U.S. fell as many spots as Paraguay, where “the pressure on journalists to censor themselves keeps on mounting.”

Citing the Justice Department’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, including its secret seizure of Associated Press phone records, the authors write that “freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.”

The threats facing newsgathering in the U.S. are felt by both longstanding journalists like New York Times national security reporter James Risen, who may serve jail time for refusing to reveal a source, and non-traditional digital journalists like Barrett Brown.

Brown is a freelance journalist who has reported extensively on private intelligence firms and government contractors. He now faces more than 100 years in jail for linking to stolen documents as part of his reporting, even though he had no involvement in the actual theft. Continue Reading

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Gallup: 71% Think the Signers of the Declaration Would Be Disappointed

Signers Disappointed

Well, Duh!, is my initial reaction to this poll from Gallup:

 

Despite their widespread national pride, Americans evince a much more negative response when asked if the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be pleased or disappointed by the way the United States has turned out. Seventy-one percent of Americans say the signers would be disappointed, while 27% say they would be pleased.

Americans have become significantly less positive in response to this question, down from a high of 54% who said the signers would be pleased in 2001. Continue Reading

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An Administration at War With Our First Freedom

“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

James Madison, Federalist 10

The video above is from the Heritage Foundation and incisively sets forth how ObamaCare is at war with religious liberty.  The Founding Fathers made it clear that they viewed freedom of religion as being at the core of the framework of what they were seeking to accomplish:

 

“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart.  In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”

George Washington

 

 

 

“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

Patrick Henry

 

 

 

 

 

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

James Madison

 

 

 

“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

Charles Carroll of Carollton

 

 

Pope Benedict recognizes the threat to religious freedom that exists in our country:

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level. Continue Reading

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Alexander Hamilton and the National Debt

This country was blessed at its founding to have on the scene a member of the Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, who was a financial genius.  His idea to have the Federal government adopt the Revolutionary War debts of the states in order to establish the credit of the new Federal government was a policy of genius.  At a stroke he restored the credit of the country as a whole, made certain the debt would be paid, made America attractive to foreign investors and laid the basis of future American prosperity.  His ideas on the subject were set forth in his first report to Congress on  public credit, 1789, and which may be read here.

The final paragraph of the report is salient for the time in which we live: Continue Reading

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Happy Independence Day! (A Roundup)

Happy Independence Day, folks! — Here is a roundup of some choice reads as we commemorate the birth of our nation:

Following are two books which I heartily recommend for some engaging historical reading of the American Revolution and our founding fathers. Continue Reading

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Calling all Federalists!

The Federalists

The Cranky Conservative, Paul Zummo, is beginning a series on his blog on the Federalist Papers.  His comments on Federalist 1 are here. The Founding Fathers created a system of government which has endured for over two centuries.  That is a formidable achievement.  The Federalist Papers, written in the heat of the ratification battles over the Constitution, are the primary text for understanding what motivated those who sought “a more perfect union”, how they expected the new government to function and their arguments in response to the anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution.  It is easy to draw up schemes of government;  it is very difficult to make them function in reality.  In the Federalist Papers we see at the beginning the drive to create one nation out of the disparate states.  Paul has embarked upon an intellectual adventure in giving an exposition to these theoretical building blocks of our Republic and I urge you to join him for each installment.