Midwest Conservative Journal
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, brings us this story that highlights one of the problems that the Church has these days with precious snowflakes who think they are heroic rebels:
Northwestern University student Kathleen Ferraro was RAISED CATHOLIC!! and thinks that it’s extremely important for all of you people to understand that fact:
My name is Kathleen and I am a little Catholic schoolgirl. I wore a sweater vest and knee-highs and a skirt that could be no more than two inches above my knees. Rogue nuns wandered the halls of my high school. We “left room for Jesus” at school dances, all of which were supervised by a resident priest. I come from a devoutly Roman Catholic family from a primarily Catholic community largely dominated by Catholic institutions, schools, values and beliefs.
Yet young Katie doesn’t consider herself Catholic any more.
And yet against all odds, I don’t fit into Catholicism. My Catholic upbringing and education seemed the perfect formula for a perfect Catholic. Nonetheless, I’ve developed values and beliefs that significantly diverge from this foundation.
Gee. Wonder what those might be.
Whenever I think about this question, I always resort to my list-making ways, crafting an inventory of the reasons that Catholicism has not worked for me. Old-fashioned values and traditions, hesitation towards accepting the LGBTQ community and inherent political undertones of church leadership leave me feeling conflicted and uneasy. I will never understand why dressing up in a modest J.Crew dress and sitting in the first pew at church trumps participating in a climate march, or why accepting doctrine on faith alone beats independent thinking, questioning and customizing one’s religious life. For me, religion has been more a culture of privilege than of prayer, a competition of piety rather than a humble quest of personal growth and spiritual connection. These are all examples from my experience with religion that motivate me to reject Catholicism, but as I think about it, are these also reasons that Catholicism rejects me?
No, because that’s just stupid.
I believe it is. Speaking only for the Catholic institutions I come from, I do not fit the prototype of what a Catholic is supposed to be–the by the book churchgoer who accepts Catholicism because that is what is true.
I am pro-choice, don’t go to church on Sundays, don’t put stock in the Bible or doctrine, challenge traditional ideas of religion and spirituality and care infinitely more about trying to be a kind, humble person than actively worshipping.
In other words, an Episcopalian.
On one hand, this rejection validates my personal beliefs and their deliberate divergence from Catholicism. On the other hand, this rejection leaves me unfulfilled. I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers: the very exclusivity that prompts me to reject Catholicism in the first place. Its a perplexing paradox – my beliefs exclude me and define me as an independent. And because my beliefs disqualify me from active participation, I am consequently excluded from a community that I want to engage with, though not necessarily be a part of. I would say “its not you, its me,” but I think “its not me, its you” is equally appropriate.
I’m not saying that my beliefs are right,
You are so.
but I am saying that I want to be heard, not just listened to.
Every Anglican in the world knows that means that we keep yammering until the Roman Catholic Church realizes that it’s wrong and I’m right.
For me, this conversation is not about stylizing religion to suit the tastes of young adults;
HAW, HAW HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW!!
it’s about aligning all voices with the process of organized religion and earnestly engaging in different conceptualizations of faith.
Whatever that means. Katie? I’d like to tell you a little bit about my mom.
Over and over again, I’m amazed at what a visionary my mother was. Mom was also RAISED CATHOLIC!! but had some sort of major conflict with the Catholic Church in the 40′s, the nature of which she never disclosed to any of us.
I suspect what it might have been but I don’t know for certain so I’m not going to speculate. But to those of you whose parents are still with you, a word of warning; you find out quite a bit after they shuffle off this mortal coil.
Mom was always a little bit of a rebel. She was born and raised in New York City and when she was in college at Adelphi, she vocally stood up for the Jews. She’d married in the late 30′s, early 40′s, somewhere in there, and had a daughter shortly after that. Her husband was killed during the war and after it, she was a single mom with a little girl to raise and she didn’t have any money coming in.
So Mom found herself a job. In Montana. She left New York City and never again entertained the idea of ever going back.
Anyway, Mom’s got this problem with the Roman Catholic Church. Know what she did about it, Katie?
She left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopalians. My mom loved the Episcopal Church until the end of her life. And as far as I know, she was the only one in her family who ever did anything like that. Her brother, my Uncle Howard, remained Catholic until the end of his life.
Kid? The Catholic Church is almost 2,000 years old; you’re not. Your idea that the Catholic Church needs to conform itself to the
bumper stickers beliefs of the Young PeopleTM is too absurd for any intelligent person to even begin to entertain. So emulate my mother, grow a freaking spine and drop into one of Chicagoland’s many fine Episcopal parishes next Sunday. You’ll be glad you did. Continue reading
Charlton Heston never played Jesus in a film, to the best of my knowledge, but he famously was Moses and also played John the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told. I so much wanted to hear him say, “You can have this sword when you pry it from my Cold. Dead. Hands!”
Deacon Michael D. Harmon
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, takes a verbal axe at Midwest Conservative Journal to the latest bizarre explanation of why Christ was condemned by Pilate:
Premise: a Christian event that happened over 2,000 years ago has been pondered, studied and debated from the moment it occurred until the present day and general agreement about the significance of that event has been reached. You, on the other hand, with the able assistance of “Christian scholarship,” have come up with a Radically New InterpretationTM of the meaning of that event:
Jesus may have been crucified because his followers were carrying weapons, according to a scholarly analysis of New Testament books.
Dale Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale University, says that this aspect of stories about Jesus, as told in the gospels, has received too little attention, but could alone explain Jesus’s execution and also show that the man from Nazareth was not the pacifist he’s usually made out to be.
The biblical books of Mark and Luke both state that at least one (and probably two or more) of Jesus’s followers was carrying a sword when Jesus was arrested shortly after the Last Supper, at the time of the Jewish festival of Passover. One disciple, Simon Peter, even used his sword to cut off the ear of one of those arresting Jesus, according to the Gospel of John.
This militant behavior almost certainly wouldn’t have been tolerated by the Romans, led by the prefect Pontius Pilate, Martin tells Newsweek. For example, historical documents show that it was illegal at the time to walk about armed in Rome and in some other Roman cities. Although no legal records survive from Jerusalem, it stands to reason, based on a knowledge of Roman history, that the region’s rulers would have frowned upon the carrying of swords, and especially wouldn’t have tolerated an armed band of Jews roaming the city during Passover, an often turbulent festival, Martin says.
“Just as you could be arrested in Rome for even having a dagger, if Jesus’s followers were armed, that would be reason enough to crucify him,” says Martin, whose analysis was published this month in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament.
Conclusion: you’re not only wrong but you’re dumber than a bag of hammers.
Paula Fredriksen, a historian of ancient Christianity at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says Martin’s paper has several holes “that you could drive trucks through.”
For one, she doesn’t think it’s legitimate to assume that since carrying arms was illegal in the city of Rome, the same laws necessarily applied in Jerusalem. Control of the city wasn’t too tight, she argues, and the Roman prefect visited only during Passover, to help keep the peace. And during this time it probably would’ve been impossible to police the thousands of Jews that spilled into Jerusalem.
“I can’t even imagine what a mess it was,” she says.
Furthermore, she says, the Greek word used in the Gospels that Martin interprets as sword really means something more akin to knife. And these could be easily concealed, she adds. “Only professionals,” like soldiers, “carried swords,” she says.
While we’re on the subject of weapons, people didn’t carry staffs back then only because they needed help navigating the terrain. Staffs also offered [limited] protection against wild animals. Or wild people, whatever the case may have been.
Dear Newsweek or the Daily Beast or the Daily Tina Brown’s Ego or whatever you’re calling yourselves this week. Stop writing about the Christian religion. Just stop. You people have no idea how stupid you’re making yourselves look. Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic, demonstrates yet again why I long ago designated him Defender of the Faith:
A continuing series
Thank you for your interest in writing for the National Catholic Reporter. Although we welcome your submissions at any time, we hope that these occasional posts help you to become exactly the sort of writer NCR is looking for. The following piece by Robert McClory illustrates two key abilities every great NCR writer needs to learn how to perform well. The first of these is how to:
Play dumber than a bag of hammers – Commenting on a recent column by Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago in which George said this:
Now, George says, “society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered ‘sinful.’ Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The ‘ruling class,’ those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone.”
I don’t understand what George is saying. If many states pass, for example, approval of gay marriage, aren’t Catholics free to oppose it in keeping with official church teaching, just as they are free to oppose the sale of contraceptives in drug stores? If the government requires insurance policies to cover the purchase of contraceptives, are not Catholics free to object, as George has done for months? But I don’t see how any of this amounts to a “ruling class” imposing “its own form of morality on everyone.”
The simple fact of that matter is that, unless he is too stupid to be allowed outside without supervision, McClory knows perfectly well what George means. But McClory has to pretend that he doesn’t; otherwise, he must explain why being governmentally coerced into committing a sin is fine as long as you’re free to feel bad about it as well as why being governmentally coerced into sin isn’t “imposing morality.”
The second ability any good NCR writer needs to know particularly well is how to:
Duck the question – Cardinal George continues.
“It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith,” [George] says, “will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.”
One assumes that McClory knows that George’s last sentence has already happened several times since several private businesses have been driven into bankruptcy by the legal assaults of homosexuals. One also assumes that McClory remembers the Chick-Fil-A controversy of a while back in which the homosexual community as well as several prominent politicians publicly execrated Chick-Fil-A and wished for its destruction simply because its CEO opposed the concept of homosexual “marriage.”
Assuming that McClory knows all this, how does he respond? Like any great National Catholic Reporter writer would.
I hope some of George’s clearer-thinking colleagues would gather around their partner and urge him to consider a more positive, optimistic future for Catholicism. Is not the Holy Spirit still among us? Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, over at his Midwest Conservative Journal takes a look at the cold call imbroglio:
A new Roman Catholic Doctrinal FirestormTM has recently erupted:
Did Pope Francis tell a divorced and remarried woman that it was okay to take Communion even though her parish priest denied her the host?
That’s the latest kerfuffle created by the “cold-call” pope who on Monday, the day after Easter, called an Argentine woman who had written to him about whether she should receive communion at Mass even though she was divorced and remarried.
“There are priests who are more papist than the pope,” the pope himself reportedly told Jacquelina Lisbona.
Kudos to CNN, which UPDATES the story with reporting from three continents (literally): CNN has a Vatican spokesman confirming that the call did indeed take place, but the Rev. Thomas Rosica provided no details.
“It’s between the Pope and the woman,” said Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office.
“To draw any conclusions about this particular situation, that the Pope may be setting an agenda, is incorrect,” Rosica told the network. “The Pope is first and foremost an esteemed pastor, and dealing with a human situation is always complex.”
That’s good to keep in mind, though if the contents of the pope’s conversation with Lisbona are true, then this is a big deal, at least in terms of the example Francis is setting rather than the doctrine that he is not changing.
Here’s the woman’s account of the phone call.
“The phone rang and my husband answered. It was Fr. Bergoglio calling. The father asked to speak to me and my husband asked: ‘Who’s calling?’, to which the voice replied ‘Fr. Bergoglio.’ I asked him if it was really him, the pope, and he said it was and that he was calling in response to my letter dated September.
“Then he told me there are some priests who are more papist that the pope. He was completely normal with me on the phone and I tried to speak to him with the utmost respect. Now I am overwhelmed by the enormous effect this story has had and I feel moved by the fact that I spoke to Francis. I told him I would write to him again when I take Communion again.”
Was this call actually made? It seems to have been.
Yes, the pope called Jacquelina Lisbona. The real question regards the content of the conversation. If indeed he said those things this would be a big deal because she is still in what the church would call an “irregular” marriage. Her husband is divorced, and they have not been married in the church.
In any case, Francis once again has set an example for the rest of the hierarchy even without changing church law, and it’s in keeping with the pope’s character — Francis has frequently shown little patience with priests who are “little monsters” (his words) who cite “small-minded” rules rather than ministering mercy to people.
Damian Thompson has posts on this story up here and here. This site’s Catholic readership can hash this out in the comments (in fact, I hope you guys do) but I am, for the most part, going to adhere to MCJ policy about controversial Roman Catholic news stories, hold off for a few days and wait to see how this thing plays out.
But somebody is going to have to remind Francis of the difference between a parish priest and the leader of a great Christian church as well as the reigning sovereign of the world’s oldest, continuous monarchy. Parish priests have a certain rhetorical latitude that popes do not, indeed cannot, have. Continue reading
You will find that a good many Christian political writers think that Christianity began going wrong in departing from the doctrine of its founder at a very early stage. Now this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a “historical Jesus” to be found by clearing away later “accretions and perversions,” and then to be contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a “historical Jesus” on liberal and humanitarian lines. We are now putting forward a new “historical Jesus” on Marxian, catastrophic and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold. In the first place they all tend to direct man’s devotion to something which does not exist. Because each “historical Jesus” is unhistorical, the documents say what they say and they cannot be added to. Each new “historical Jesus” has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another point. And by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts in every publisher’s autumn list. . . . The “historical Jesus,” then, however dangerous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged.
CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters
Bart Ehrman, the New Testament scholar who transitioned from teenage evangelical, to liberal Christian, to agnostic, desperately wants to remake Christ in his own faithless image and therefore is popular with atheists and agnostics. He has a very old act, as the argument that he makes, that the Resurrection never happened and that Christ was but a man, has been made by anti-Christians since the Crucifixion. He puts old wine into a shiny new wineskin. He isn’t really very good at it, as Stephen Colbert, of all people, demonstrated several years ago. Go here to Creative Minority Report to view that.
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, turns his attention to Ehrman:
All sorts and conditions of men turn up at this site from time to time. Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians regularly comment here, disagree with one another’s theology now and then but do it, for the most part, respectfully.
That’s because of most of you, not me. You guys set the tone for this joint a long time ago. But if I do see what I consider to be disrespect in the comments, which happens, I’ll quietly edit the comment or remove it entirely. And if things get too intense in a comment thread, which sometimes happens, I won’t hesitate to shut that thread down.
I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing atheists comment here a lot more often than they do. I’m not talking about some douchebag whose default position is, “Christians are brain-dead morons” or who claims to collapse on his or her fainting couch at the mere sight of a Bible verse, a Christian Cross or any other Christian image.
I refer to that rare breed of atheist who doesn’t believe there’s a God but is comfortable with the fact that some people disagree and who doesn’t feel the need to insult or belittle religious believers. I can respect and even be friends with a person like that.
What I can’t and, indeed, refuse to respect are those atheists who still pretend to be Christians but who think that they’ve finally discovered What Actually Happened Two Thousand Years Ago And What It All Means. Guys like Bart Ehrman, say:
Jesus was a lower-class preacher from Galilee, who, in good apocalyptic fashion, proclaimed that the end of history as he knew it was going to come to a crashing end, within his own generation. God was soon to intervene in the course of worldly affairs to overthrow the forces of evil and set up a utopian kingdom on earth. And he would be the king.
Insert “but” here.
It didn’t happen. Instead of being involved with the destruction of God’s enemies, Jesus was unceremoniously crushed by them: arrested, tried, humiliated, tortured, and publicly executed.
Which is why Jesus’ influence ended right then and there and is also why absolutely no one anywhere, with the exception of obscure Middle Eastern scholars, has any idea who Jesus of Nazareth was. But for this bizarre reason, that’s not what actually happened. Stop Bart if you’ve heard this one.
The followers of Jesus came to think he had been raised because some of them (probably not all of them) had visions of him afterwards. Both Christian and non-Christian historians can agree that it was visions of Jesus that made some of Jesus’ followers convinced that he was no longer dead. Christians would say that the disciples had these visions because Jesus really appeared to them. Non-Christians would say that (several of ) the disciples had hallucinations. Hallucinations happen all the time. Especially of deceased loved ones (your grandmother who turns up in your bedroom) and of significant religious figures (the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appears regularly in extraordinarily well-documented events). Jesus was both a lost loved one and an important religious leader. As bereaved, heartbroken, and guilt-ridden followers, the disciples were prime candidates for such visionary experiences.
Once the disciples claimed Jesus was alive again but was (obviously) no longer here with them, they came to think that he had been taken up to heaven (where else could he be?). In ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish thinking, a person exalted to the heavenly realm was divinized – himself made divine. That’s what the earliest Christians thought about Jesus. After that a set of evolutionary forces took over, in which the followers of Jesus began saying more and more exalted things about him – that he had been made the son of God at his resurrection; no, it was at his baptism; no, it was at his birth; no, it was before he came into the world; no – he had never been made the son of God, he had always been the Son of God; in fact, he had always been God; more than that, he had created the world; and yet more, he was an eternal being equal with God Almighty.
That Kierkegaard quote’s on the top of this page for a reason. That an alleged “scholar” can seriously advance a view so fundamentally unscholarly, so absolutely unsupported by anything remotely resembling actual evidence, convinces me that a great deal of “Christian scholarship” is, as the Great Dane observed, as monumental an intellectual scam as the world has ever known.
Where to begin? Say what you want about him but Mohammed’s followers thought he was a prophet of God. No doubt, the Buddha’s disciples intensely revered him. Yet none of the followers of these two men, or any other great religious leader in world history, for that matter, ever invented a resurrection from the dead for their particular “prophet” and made that “resurrection” the basis of their religion.
Only the Christians did.
It seems to me that if you and all your associates somehow convince yourselves that you’ve seen the risen Jesus when you haven’t, you are, at some point, going to come down from your mass hallucinations. At which point, you can either admit to yourself that you were wrong or continue with the charade and maybe get yourselves executed at an early age for something that you know deep down is a lie.
And did any of you happen to notice who Ehrman leaves out here? I’ll give you a few hints. A devout Jew, he was not only not connected to the Apostles and Christ’s early believers in any way, he was, by his own admission, actively hostile to the new movement, imprisoning many of Christ’s followers and having others killed.
He received authorization to travel to Damascus in order to do more of this sort of thing. On the way there, he claimed that he saw a vision of the risen Christ, a claim from which he refused to back down to the end of his days, and began to preach Christ and Him crucified almost immediately. When they heard of it, the Apostles and most of the disciples initially and quite understandably didn’t trust him.
The man’s claim compelled him to plant Christian churches all over the eastern Mediterranean and to write letters to many of these churches, encouraging and/or upbraiding their members as the need arose. And this man’s claim about what he saw on that road to Damascus ended up prematurely costing him his Earthly life.
I’m pretty sure that the guy had a short name. Don’t hold me to this but I think that it began with a P. It’s right on the tip of my tongue.
I don’t know about you, Ehrman, but I can’t make myself die for an illusion. Continue reading
Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, takes a look at how NBC refers to Communism, an ideology that has a murder total of one hundred million and counting:
Last evening, NBC opened its Olympic coverage from Russia with the following montage:
The towering presence, the empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint. The revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures. As a more reliable right to their collective heart. What they build in aspirations lifted by imagination. What they craft, through the wonder of every last detail. How magical the fusion of sound and movement can be. How much a glass of distilled perfection and an overflowing table can matter. Discover the Russian people through these indelible signatures. Discover what we share with them through the games that open here tonight.
Watch the video. As the highlighted words above are spoken, take careful note of the image that appears on the screen. And then thank God that Germany isn’t scheduled to host an Olympics any time soon. Continue reading
GK Chesterton once opined that “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives us a perfect example:
The other day, Bob Wright, Georgia’s Episcopal pointy hat, opened a speech before some “interfaith” complete waste of time or other in this fashion:
Good afternoon. Greetings to you in the name of Yahweh the Almighty, in the name of Allah the beneficent and merciful. Greetings to you in the name of the Eternal One who gave the Buddha his great enlightenment, and in the name of the Hindus’ Supreme Being that orders the cosmos.
I guess I could thoroughly document all the ways that that’s not only wrong but actually kind of insulting to many more people than Christians. But do you know how to tell when you’re just about finished with the Episcopalians? When you read something like that and the only reaction you can come up with is to say to yourself, “Whatever, Bob. And why do you hate Zoroastrians, bigot?”
Go here to read the comments. The mindset of Mr. Wright infests many who call themselves Christians today, even within the Church. It is hard for me to convey not only how mistaken this is, but how truly evil it is. Christ and the Jews who did not follow Him gave us an example of what I mean:
 The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.  They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
John 8: 57-59
Jesus in this passage stated that He is God, the great I AM that revealed Himself to Moses. The Jews who did not believe Him were ready to stone Him for this blasphemy. Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels in defense of the Church so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has a memorable fisk at his blog Midwest Conservative Journal of Jamie Stiehm’s anti-Catholic rant, that I fisked here. Here is Christopher’s fisk:
In a case involving the Little Sisters of the Poor, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor recently issued a temporary stay against the implementation of that DemocraticPartyCare provision that forces religious entities that consider it to be a grave sin to pay for their employees’ birth control or to facilitate such payment.
I’m not a lawyer but I imagine that Supreme Court justices issue these sorts of stays all the time against quite a few laws for a variety of procedural reasons. These justices may eventually find that these laws are entirely constitutional while nevertheless insisting that everything be done decently and in good legal order.
But that’s not how Jamie Stiehm saw it in Useless News & World Distort. According to Stiehm, Sonia Sotamayor is not a leftist “wise Latina” but a Vatican Trojan horse:
Et tu, Justice Sonia Sotomayor? Really, we can’t trust you on women’s health and human rights? The lady from the Bronx just dropped the ball on American women and girls as surely as she did the sparkling ball at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Or maybe she’s just a good Catholic girl.
And we’re off. Get yourselves something good to drink, folks, because this is going to be a wild ride.
The Supreme Court is now best understood as the Extreme Court. One big reason why is that six out of nine Justices are Catholic.
What should Obama do about it? Declare war on the Papal States or something?
Let’s be forthright about that. (The other three are Jewish.) Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama, is a Catholic who put her religion ahead of her jurisprudence. What a surprise, but that is no small thing.
A hundy says Jamie’s an Episcopalian. That issue-a-result-I-don’t-like-and-you’ve-put-your-religion-ahead-of-your-jurisprudence take is a dead giveaway.
In a stay order applying to an appeal by a Colorado nunnery, the Little Sisters of the Poor,
Kind of like saying that St. Peter’s is just another Roman parish church but do go on.
Justice Sotomayor undermined the new Affordable Care Act’s sensible policy on contraception. She blocked the most simple of rules – lenient rules – that required the Little Sisters to affirm their religious beliefs against making contraception available to its members. They objected to filling out a one-page form. What could be easier than nuns claiming they don’t believe in contraception?
Might that have something to do with the fact that most people figured out a long time ago that the United States government has absolutely no business whatsofreakingever issuing ANY rules about religious doctrine to any religious groups at all because of that First Amendment doohickey, you simple-minded bucket of spit?
Sotomayor’s blow brings us to confront an uncomfortable reality. More than WASPS, Methodists, Jews, Quakers or Baptists, Catholics often try to impose their beliefs on you, me, public discourse and institutions. Especially if “you” are female.
This explains why capital punishment in this country is rare to non-existent these days and why this country’s had universal health care for decades now.
This is not true of all Catholics – just look at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
An EWDKIY (an Episcopalian Who Doesn’t Know It Yet). Then there’s the fact that Sotomayor’s a sex traitor.
But right now, the climate is so cold when it comes to defending our settled legal ground that Sotomayor’s stay is tantamount to selling out the sisterhood. And sisterhood is not as powerful as it used to be, ladies.
At the rate she’s going, Stiehm should break out “greaser” real soon.
Catholics in high places of power have the most trouble, I’ve noticed, practicing the separation of church and state. The pugnacious Catholic Justice, Antonin Scalia, is the most aggressive offender on the Court, but not the only one. Of course, we can’t know for sure what Sotomayor was thinking, but it seems she has joined the ranks of the five Republican Catholic men on the John Roberts Court in showing a clear religious bias when it comes to women’s rights and liberties. We can no longer be silent about this. Thomas Jefferson, the principal champion of the separation between state and church, was thinking particularly of pernicious Rome in his writings. He deeply distrusted the narrowness of Vatican hegemony.
It says up at the top of the link that Jamie’s “a weekly Creators Syndicate columnist.” And it’s facts like that one and paragraphs like the previous one that make me wonder about God sometimes. Why should someone that bonecrushingly stupid have a syndicated column while I have to blow through my father’s inheritance just to pay rent, put food on the table and keep the heat going?
Here’s a historical question for you, Jamie. Do you know what group basically motivated all of Jefferson’s various proposals for religious liberty, against official church establishment, for the seperation of church and state and all the rest of it?
I’ll give you a hint; amazingly, it wasn’t the Roman Catholics. There weren’t that many of them around here back then. It was the Anglicans, the ancestors of that pseudo-spiritual entity that’s currently run by a woman and that’s suing people out of their meeting houses because of what they believe. Starts with an E, I think.
The seemingly innocent Little Sisters likely were likely not acting alone in their trouble-making.
Their big brothers, the meddlesome American Roman Catholic Archbishops are bound to be involved. They seek and wield tremendous power and influence in the political sphere.
Yeah, sure they do. There should be a “Whore of Babylon” along any second now.
Big city mayors know their penchant for control all too well. Their principal target for years on end has been squelching women and girls – even when they should have focused on their own men and boys.
You do realize what you’re implying there, don’t you, Jamie?
In one stroke with ominous implications, there’s no such thing as Catholic justice or mercy for women on the Supreme Court, not even from a woman. The rock of Rome refuses to budge on women’s reproductive rights and the Supreme Court is getting good and ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, which became the law of the land 40 years ago.
Really? I’ll take your word for it. But exactly how a Supreme Court decision can become the “law of the land,” since the Supreme Court doesn’t pass laws but only rules on their constitutionality, completely escapes me.
Unless a major news story involving the Pope develops, PopeWatch plans in future that Saturday installments of PopeWatch will normally be lighthearted, however this installment is somewhat darkly humored indeed. Catholics can often rightly feel that there is much amiss in the Church. Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who often has taken up the cudgels to defend the Church, reminds us in a current post at Midwest Conservative Journal that the problems of Catholics might seem trivial to Christians in various sects:
This one’s all yours, partner. Just keep it clean:
The bookmakers were right. Today it was announced that the Church of Sweden’s new archbishop is Antje Jackelén. But who is the church’s new top leader, who has chosen part of the Muslim prayer call as her motto?
Many have been taken aback by the theological opinions Jackelén revealed during a questioning in Uppsala on October 1. The candidates for the highest position in the Swedish church were asked if they thought Jesus presented a truer picture of God than Muhammed. With her evasive answer Jackelén suddenly emerged as the bishop who couldn’t choose between Jesus and Muhammed. This provoked strong reactions on some editorial pages.
Kyrkans Tidning thought that the bishop’s answer might indicate that Christ is being relegated to the margins of the Church of Sweden and Dagens Nyheter encouraged the candidates to show some theological backbone. The editorial writer at the newspaper Dagen wrote that it is time to accept the idea of a split within the church – between Christians and those who think all religions are equally good.
The bishop of Lund’s preference for Allah has prompted one of the church’s most preeminent theologians, professor Eva Hamberg, to leave her post as a member of the church’s theological council in protest against bishop Antje Jackelén’s failure to stand behind the Church of Sweden’s profession of faith. As a reaction to what she calls ”the inner secularization of the Church of Sweden”, she has also renounced her position as priest and her membership of the church.
In a number of interviews Hamberg has expressed her disappointment that not even the top leader of the church will clearly profess a Christian faith but wavers between Jesus and Muhammed.
It is not only Jackelén’s motto and her unwillingness to put Jesus ahead of Muhammed that has evoked strong feelings among many committed Christians. During her questioning in Uppsala, the new archbishop also said that the Church of Sweden has more in common with other religions than with other Christian churches, that the Virgin Birth must be understood metaphorically, that hell doesn’t exist and that the Biblical texts should not be taken as truth. Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels in defense of Catholicism so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, explains why liberal Protestantism deserves a place on the endangered species list:
Liberal Protestantism is dying. Rod Dreher says so in a recent column in The American Conservative, and the statistics back him up: for decades, liberal and mainline Protestantism has been on the decline in the US, with some denominations (such as the United Church of Christ) losing adherents so quickly that their future is in peril. Meanwhile, more conservative and evangelical denominations have generally held their own, or even experienced growth (see graph below). But liberal Protestantism in many ways exemplifies the best of what religion could be: it’s tolerant of differences, non-judgmental, open to scientific knowledge. Good stuff, right? So why is it that the open-minded liberal churches are dying out?
Golly gee willickers, it has to be painful to be this clueless. “Liberal Protestantism in many ways exemplifies the best of what religion could be,” only to someone who has absolutely no idea what religion actually is.
I guess I’m going to have to try to dumb this down even further and for the sake of brevity, I’m going to stick with the monotheistic religions but these principles apply to all religions. So here goes not much of anything.
Once they accept that, they’re kind of forced to accept three more concepts. Even if they never figure out what it is, there’s a reason why they’re here; after all, if you’re talented enough to speak existence into existence, why would Christopher Johnsons ever just sort of randomly turn up?
So if you’re here for a reason, even if you never ever understand what that reason is until you die, if then, does that not imply that the God who deliberately made you exist feels that your existence is important? And if your existence is important, does that not rather obligate you to try to live the way the God who made you exist wants you to live?
You can’t do that as well as you want to, of course. God, in His mercy, understands that and has provided vehicles of escape, the most sensible and efficacious being, according to this Christian, that vehicle provided by the Christian religion. That fellow on the Cross.
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, explains at Midwest Conservative Journal why the Left is so obsessed with race and finding racists, if not under every bed, certainly within every white skin:
Never let it be said that Naughton’s joint serves no useful purpose because I found this there. If you’re wondering why all the Episcopal Organization reactions to the George Zimmerman verdict read pretty much the same way, some chick named Mia McKenzie explains it all for you, illustrating why national “conversations” about race are worse than worthless because they’ll go somewhere only when white people admit that they’re wrong now, they’ve always been wrong and they always will be wrong:
Racism is, in reality, a huge, systemic, deeply-rooted plague that exists everywhere and affects everything, that degrades and starves and rapes and murders people without losing its breath. It is built on hundreds of years of oppression and genocide. It is in our government, in our entertainment, in our literature, in our corporations, in our language. This entire country was built on it. It is everywhere, and it is insidious and subtle just as often as it is open and obvious.
It is not that crazy dude over there.
I see the appeal to white folks in thinking about racism this way. The “whack job” approach allows people to separate racist thinking and behavior from themselves. It’s that crazy screaming dude over there who’s racist. It’s your drunk uncles. It’s your he-was-so-quiet-and-seemed-so-normal-before-he-walked-into-the-mall-and-started-shooting-people neighbors. All of whom you can shake your heads at with furrowed brows while proclaiming that you’re “not like that.”
But you are.
White people, you need to get this: you are racist. The first step is admitting that you are part of the problem.
I am not going to tell you why or how you are racist. I’m not here for your education.
A question and a comment. What is the difference between Miss McKenzie declaring and the Episcopal Organization tacitly agreeing the concept that every Caucasian becomes a “racist” the moment his or her umbilical cord is cut and some old National Socialist concentration camp guard somewhere claiming that we had to gas all those Jewish children because of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? And before you mindlessly invoke Godwin’s Law, at least take a run at answering my question.
You and I both know certain facts about certain countries in the world and certain cities in the United States. But I’m not going to mention any of them right now for the same reason why, when I drove an orange Pinto several decades back, I refused, much to the consternation of a mentally-challenged friend of mine to put a Confederate flag on my car’s roof (my man was a huge Dukes of Hazard fan back in the day). I saw no reason to needlessly offend anyone over something that eventually wouldn’t matter anyway.
But keep up this “guilty until proven innocent” line and I’ll stop caring about your feelings and mention these facts that everyone knows. I own two Confederate flags, a Second and a Third National, that I bought from the Museum of the Confederacy. I obviously have no pole to raise either of them on but I do have several walls. If by some miracle, I ever let you in my place, you should happen to see one and wonder why it’s there, I’ll tell you it’s because of my pride in my Southron heritage.
If you happen to get mad at me, I’ll happen to not give a crap. Because the result of attitudes like Miss McKenzie’s and the Episocopal Organization’s can never be racial understanding and certainly won’t be increased racial hostility. It’ll be something far worse for the liberals than either of those two outcmes.
Put simply, the left needs “racism” and needs it desperately. Take that crutch away and large numbers of leftists are going to be forced to do pretty much the most difficult thing in the entire world. Look in the mirror. Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, has a barnburner of a column over at his blog Midwest Conservative Journal:
Gay conservative Kevin DuJan lets the cat out of the bag:
John Nolte at Breitbart.com just published a hard-hitting piece that’s worth your very valuable time…exposing Barack Obama’s commitment to the institutional Left’s Alinskyite objective of “dismantling, undermining, and toxifying the Catholic Church”; this article’s one of those that I’ll probably quote from for years to come, because I’ve never seen this articulated so succinctly before. Dismantle. Undermine. Toxify. That is precisely what Leftists have been attempting in their decades-long war against the Catholic Church. Kudos to Nolte for precisely encapsulating so much evil into three small words…which I hope you’ll join me in making everyday vocabulary from this point forward.
What John Nolte probably doesn’t know firsthand, though, is that the Left’s weapon of choice against Catholics is normally gays…who serve as a Gaystapo goon squad that is revved up into frenzies of hatred against Christians in general (but Catholics quite specifically). If you observe the institutional Left’s strategic moves long enough, you’ll see it’s almost always gays who are bused in to block the entrances to cathedrals or churches and scream expletives at parishioners heading into mass; this is, of course, the toxification aspect of the Leftists’ agenda…since they are attempting to make going to Catholic mass so unpleasant an experience for believers that they’ll potentially start staying home, just to avoid being screamed at by obnoxious gays out on the street (most of whom, in the video above at least, are actually members of the Chicago Teachers’ Union…more on that later).
The Left uses the Gaystapo against the Church (with gays screaming “Bigots!”) in much the same way that Democrats trot blacks (led, of course, by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Henry Gates) in front of cameras to accuse conservative businesses, Republican politicians, or any of the Democrats’ other perceived “enemies” of being “Ray Ciss”. This is stage crafting coordinated by the DNC, with gays and blacks serving as useful idiots and foot solders for the institutional Left.
It’s a long article and there’s lots of video at the link.
Is this what Catholics have to look forward to? Sure, if this country’s gays are titanically stupid. For my part, nothing would get me into the Catholic parish directly across the street from where I live faster than hearing that I would be greeted by wild-eyed hordes of marauding gays as I walked in the door.
Of course, the Archdiocese here would probably discourage me from coming quite strongly, what with the fact that as I walked in, I would point and laugh at the assembled homosexuals, perhaps drop an F-bomb or two, physically react to any physical assaults on my person and break out an Anglican apology (I’m sorry if you were offended…) later if anyone called me on it.
You get the idea.
John Nolte, in the Breitbart.com post DuJan linked to above, overstates the case a bit. Would the left really like to “demystify, undermine and toxify” the Roman Catholic Church? Undoubtedly.
Why? Because at the present time, the Roman Catholic Church is the single largest and most influential worldwide organization standing in the way of the leftist agenda. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that strong opposition to the left does not also exist in Protestantism or Orthodoxy; it most certainly does. But Protestantism is too fragmented and Orthodoxy still too exotic and foreign to put up the kind of fight that only the Catholics can currently wage.
I’m not making a judgment, I’m simply stating a fact. Think of it like this; once you take Helm’s Deep, all you have left to do is to quietly wait for the rest of Middle Earth to fall into your hands. Continue reading
Sally Quinn at the Washington Post has a column in which she calls for those darn Catholics to cease to be Catholic basically, and begins it all when she recalls the humiliation she felt during her salad days, presumably sometime after dinosaurs ruled the earth, when she was turned away from the Vatican because her skirt was too short. Unfortunately for her, her column attracted the attention of Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith:
Yeah, here’s the thing. We Protestants obviously don’t have a dog in this hunt, as they say, but lots of us would really appreciate it if you mackeral snappers would pick the damned pace up and elect a new pope yesterday. Then we wouldn’t have to have read about how Sally Quinn visited the Vatican right around the time that William Howard Taft, AKA ”Fatso,” was US President:
The first time I visited the Vatican as an adult I was in my 20s. I was so excited. My boyfriend and I dressed up as if it were Easter Sunday. He wore a coat and tie. I wore a long sleeved black dress with pearls and little ballet flats. We were turned away. It seems my skirt was a half inch too short. I was crushed. I felt ashamed and humiliated. I certainly had not set out to offend anyone, much less God.
Two things, Sal. They’re called “travel guides” and just about everybody publishes them. So ignorance of the law and all that. And if I’m wearing a Motörhead T-shirt and I haven’t shaved or bathed in three days, give or take, I don’t have anything to complain about if Vatican border guards tell me, “Not so much, no.” Quinnsie, on the other hand, went back to the Vatican some time during the Coolidge Administration.
The last time I visited was five years ago, after the child sexual abuse scandal. Not long before, I had spent a weekend at Williamsburg, and I remember thinking that perhaps one day the Vatican would be like that same historic village. There would be actors dressed as priests and nuns and one actor playing the pope in flowing robes waving from the balcony, remembering an institution as it once existed.
And anybody with a brain would be Episcopalian by now. A few days later, Sally’s little “On Faith” thing ran some advice to the Roman Catholic Church from a Jewish atheist.
[A whole lot of stupid-ass liberal bumper stickers omitted.]
So, Rome? We’re going to need you to hurry things along, all right? Really. Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, the non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for Mother Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, points to an editorial of The Washington Post that hopes the next Pope will not be so Catholic:
Roman Catholics? You have my deepest sympathies. You guys are going to have a LOT of crap to put up with over the next month and a half:
The hallmark of Pope Benedict’s tenure, for better or for worse, was fierce resistance to those changes. He rejected calls by Catholic progressives for reconsideration of doctrines such as celibacy and the ban on women in the priesthood; at a time when acceptance of the rights of gays and lesbians is rapidly spreading across the world, he was outspoken in condemning homosexuality as “unnatural” and unacceptable. With sectarian tension growing in Europe as well as the Middle East, he eschewed dialogue with Muslims and infuriated many by quoting a condemnation of Islamic theology as “evil and inhuman.”
Some of Pope Benedict’s most important achievements came in response to the backlash triggered by his reactionary acts. Pilloried for having suggested before a tour of AIDS-stricken Africa that the use of condoms “increases the problem,” he later suggested that the use of a condom by an HIV-infected person to avoid infecting a partner could be a positive step. After angering Jews by rehabilitating a bishop known as a Holocaust denier, the pope prayed at Auschwitz and published a book exonerating the Jewish people for the death of Jesus.
Pope Benedict will leave behind a church facing the same debilitating problems that loomed after the death of Pope John Paul II — above all, how to remain relevant to an increasingly secular world and to its own changing membership. This pope’s response was to insist that only uncompromising adherence to past doctrine could preserve the faith. Catholics who seek a different answer will have to hope that a college of cardinals dominated by the pope’s appointees will choose a more progressive successor.
Christopher Johnson at The Midwest Conservative is at it again. He is a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so ofen in defense of the Faith that I have designated him Defender of the Faith. He enters the lists now on behalf of the most unjustly maligned man of the last century, Pope Pius XII:
Pius XII has long been vilified as “Hitler’s pope”, accused of failing publicly to condemn the genocide of Europe’s Jews. Now a British author has unearthed extensive material that Vatican insiders believe will restore his reputation, revealing the part that he played in saving lives and opposing nazism. Gordon Thomas,
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Who is this guy, some trad Catholic? Dude, that’s special pleading, that’s not genuine research, you blithering idiot.
was given access to previously unpublished Vatican documents and tracked down victims, priests and others who had not told their stories before.
The Pope’s Jews, which will be published next month, details how Pius gave his blessing to the establishment of safe houses in the Vatican and Europe’s convents and monasteries. He oversaw a secret operation with code names and fake documents for priests who risked their lives to shelter Jews, some of whom were even made Vatican subjects.
Thomas shows, for example, that priests were instructed to issue baptism certificates to hundreds of Jews hidden in Genoa, Rome and elsewhere in Italy. More than 2,000 Jews in Hungary were given fabricated Vatican documents identifying them as Catholics and a network saved German Jews by bringing them to Rome. The pope appointed a priest with extensive funds with which to provide food, clothing and medicine. More than 4,000 Jews were hidden in convents and monasteries across Italy.
During and immediately after the war, the pope was considered a Jewish saviour. Jewish leaders – such as Jerusalem’s chief rabbi in 1944 – said the people of Israel would never forget what he and his delegates “are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters at the most tragic hour”. Jewish newspapers in Britain and America echoed that praise, and Hitler branded him “a Jew lover”. Continue reading
Would that all pro-aborts were as forthright as the abortionist in the above video. Instead, most of them hide behind an endless torrent of evasions and euphemisms to conceal a very simple truth: abortion is the killing of the innocent. Alison Taylor, first Anglican Bishopess in Australia, is typical in her lame defense of an unspeakable crime. Unfortunately for her, her effort receives a fisking to remember from Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so often in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith:
Alison Taylor, the new Anglican Bishop of Queensland and the first female Anglican bishop in Australia, riffs on abortion:
The Bible speaks of a world which God has created and which he loves beyond measure, in which all life is to be embraced as a gift from Him. However, it is a world which is fallen, and which longs for the full redemption in Jesus Christ which is to come. Sin and suffering abound in a human condition of great complexity, and at times immensely difficult decisions need to be made.
Like whether or not Allie actually meant what she just said.
What the Bible does not teach, and which has never been a part of Christian doctrine – contrary to the assertion in this month’s TMA letter – is that ‘all human life has absolute moral value’. The latter view is unbiblical because it would be untenable for Christians in situations where complex moral choices must be made, in diverse circumstances ranging from military defence and self-defence to the sometimes conflicting rights of mother and unborn child.
Let’s see. National defense. Protecting yourself from someone who wants to physically harm you. Fileting the kid because you don’t want to have to take a pay cut right now. Morally, they’re all pretty much the same. And on the ludicrously small chance that you missed Allie’s lame “theology,” she repeats it here.
Nowhere in the Bible is a foetus accorded the full moral status of a human person. On the contrary, in the sole biblical text on induced abortion, Exodus 21.22-23, an abortion caused by injury to a pregnant woman is regarded seriously but considerably less than murder. Other than what might be inferred from this text, the Bible is silent on the issue of the moral status to be accorded to foetal death, as it is on the question of when an embryo might be said to have a soul that survives death. These two issues, which preoccupy the abortion debate today, could probably not even have been conceptualised by writers living in the Biblical era.
I think it was Andy Warhol who once said, “In the future, everybody will be an Anglican bishop for fifteen minutes.” It’s not like you have to know any actual Christian theology or anything, like Catholics, Orthodox and serious Protestants do, or be versed in some kind of Christian tradition.
Just memorize a few handy cliches that are useful for just about any occasion and you’re in like Bishop Flynn. Allie uses two here. The Scripture writers, who were mere men who had absolutely no assistance whatsoever in writing down the Word of the Living God but it wouldn’t have mattered if they had since they were all blithering idiots who couldn’t find their heads with both hands.
Then there’s the ever-popular “The Bible never said anything about _________” argument, probably the most useful Anglican dodge of all. If, of course, you overlook the uncomfortable fact that the Bible also doesn’t teach that racism, sexism, “homophobia” and voting against Barack Obama are sins. But did Allie happen to mention what absolute morons the Scripture writers were?
The Bible was written millennia before an adequate understanding of human reproduction was possible, let alone the possibilities of IVF, embryonic stem cell research or prenatal foetal tests, and the difficult moral dilemmas involved in each of them. In summary, an absolutist antiabortion stance simply cannot lay claim to Biblical warrant.
So what say Allie bottom-lines it for you? It’s a human being when and if I want it to be and NOT BEFORE, bitches. Continue reading
Eric Posner, a University of Chicago law professor, and son of Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, one of President Reagan’s less wise judicial appointments, writing in Slate thinks that perhaps it is time that Americans stop making a fetish of freedom of speech as embodied in the First Amendment. Christopher Johnson, a Protestant who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, gives Posner a fisking to remember:
University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner thinks that this country really needs to dial down its obsession with free speech:
The universal response in the United States to the uproar over the anti-Muslim video is that the Muslim world will just have to get used to freedom of expression. President Obama said so himself in a speech at the United Nations today, which included both a strong defense of the First Amendment and (“in the alternative,” as lawyers say) and a plea that the United States is helpless anyway when it comes to controlling information. In a world linked by YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, countless videos attacking people’s religions, produced by provocateurs, rabble-rousers, and lunatics, will spread to every corner of the world, as fast as the Internet can blast them, and beyond the power of governments to stop them. Muslims need to grow a thick skin, the thinking goes, as believers in the West have done over the centuries. Perhaps they will even learn what it means to live in a free society, and adopt something like the First Amendment in their own countries.
Maybe that’s right. But actually, America needs to get with the international program.
But there is another possible response. This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.
Look at it this way. At least the trains will run on time and everyone will be able to read the “No Food Today” signs. Posner points out that it was the left which first turned the First Amendment into an weapon.
The First Amendment earned its sacred status only in the 1960s, and then only among liberals and the left, who cheered when the courts ruled that government could not suppress the speech of dissenters, critics, scandalous artistic types, and even pornographers. Conservatives objected that these rulings helped America’s enemies while undermining public order and morality at home, but their complaints fell on deaf ears.
Shogi, the Japanese version of chess, has a unique characteristic. Because of the way the pieces are shaped, no piece is ever completely out of the game. Any of your pieces that I happen to take can be turned around and employed by my army.
A totem that is sacred to one religion can become an object of devotion in another, even as the two theologies vest it with different meanings. That is what happened with the First Amendment. In the last few decades, conservatives have discovered in its uncompromising text— “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”—support for their own causes. These include unregulated campaign speech, unregulated commercial speech, and limited government. Most of all, conservatives have invoked the First Amendment to oppose efforts to make everyone, in universities and elsewhere, speak “civilly” about women and minorities. I’m talking of course about the “political correctness” movement beginning in the 1980s, which often merged into attempts to enforce a leftist position on race relations and gender politics.
Posner wants Americans to remember two things. The First Amendment is strictly an American idea whose inspiration is not shared by anybody else in the world and which cannot force people stop thinking bad thoughts.
We have to remember that our First Amendment values are not universal; they emerged contingently from our own political history, a set of cobbled-together compromises among political and ideological factions responding to localized events. As often happens, what starts out as a grudging political settlement has become, when challenged from abroad, a dogmatic principle to be imposed universally. Suddenly, the disparagement of other people and their beliefs is not an unfortunate fact but a positive good. It contributes to the “marketplace of ideas,” as though we would seriously admit that Nazis or terrorist fanatics might turn out to be right after all. Salman Rushdie recently claimed that bad ideas, “like vampires … die in the sunlight” rather than persist in a glamorized underground existence. But bad ideas never die: They are zombies, not vampires. Bad ideas like fascism, Communism, and white supremacy have roamed the countryside of many an open society.
In the past, American “values” have made this country look bad to the rest of the world.
Americans have not always been so paralyzed by constitutional symbolism. During the Cold War, the U.S. foreign policy establishment urged civil rights reform in order to counter Soviet propagandists’ gleeful reports that Americans fire-hosed black protesters and state police arrested African diplomats who violated Jim Crow laws. Rather than tell the rest of the world to respect states’ rights—an ideal as sacred in its day as free speech is now—the national government assured foreigners that it sought to correct a serious but deeply entrenched problem. It is useful if discomfiting to consider that many people around the world may see America’s official indifference to Muslim (or any religious) sensibilities as similar to its indifference to racial discrimination before the civil rights era.
It says in another part of the First Amendment that the US government is supposed to be indifferent to the sensibilities of all religions. That’s what we were always told whenever some governmental entity allowed the display of the Cross or the Ten Commandments anyway. So it’s unclear why the United States government should care one way or the other about the feelings of Muslims.
But according to Eric Posner, they apparently should care deeply whenever Islamic feelings are hurt. Not only that, this American law professor thinks that the fact that Washington was unable to legally force Google to take that film down is a scandal.
The final irony is that while the White House did no more than timidly plead with Google to check if the anti-Muslim video violates its policies (appeasement! shout the critics), Google itself approached the controversy in the spirit of prudence. The company declined to remove the video from YouTube because the video did not attack a group (Muslims) but only attacked a religion (Islam). Yet it also cut off access to the video in countries such as Libya and Egypt where it caused violence or violated domestic law. This may have been a sensible middle ground, or perhaps Google should have done more. What is peculiar it that while reasonable people can disagree about whether a government should be able to curtail speech in order to safeguard its relations with foreign countries, the Google compromise is not one that the U.S. government could have directed. That’s because the First Amendment protects verbal attacks on groups as well as speech that causes violence (except direct incitement: the old cry of “Fire!” in a crowded theater). And so combining the liberal view that government should not interfere with political discourse, and the conservative view that government should not interfere with commerce, we end up with the bizarre principle that U.S. foreign policy interests cannot justify any restrictions on speech whatsoever. Instead, only the profit-maximizing interests of a private American corporation can. Try explaining that to the protesters in Cairo or Islamabad.
I’ve got a better idea, Professor. Try explaining to the protestors in Cairo and Islamabad that ANYTHING that happens inside this country is none of their damned business.
The mendacity and dishonesty of this piece is easily ascertained by asking yourself a simple question. If some form of artistic expression had insulted Jesus or villified Christianity, would Posner still have written it?
If some museum displays an egregiously blasphemous painting of Jesus or Mary, if a particularly blasphemous movie was made, if another TV show or play debuted which ridiculed Christians or if Bill Maher opened his pie hole, would Posner think it regrettable that the US government was unable to legally prevent these things from happening?
Of course he wouldn’t. The question wouldn’t even come up. And the reason why the question wouldn’t come up is simple. Christians don’t kill people and destroy property when they are insulted and villified or their Lord is blasphemed.
A faculty sinecure at the University of Chicago Law School would seem to suggest a certain level of intelligence. So it’s hard for me to figure out why Eric Posner thinks that restricting American rights simply to avoid offending Muslims is a good idea. Continue reading