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Ross Douthat Turns a Blind Eye To Perry’s Anti-Catholic Pals

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat is a convert to Catholicism. But he is apparently unconcerned that Texas governor (and current GOP presidential frontrunner) Rick Perry embraces (as I recently and previously reported) Dominionist preachers of the New Apostolic Reformation who are openly hostile to his adopted faith.
In his column on August 29th, Douthat skirted the issue by making false equivalencies and ignoring the obvious:

… journalists should avoid double standards. If you roll your eyes when conservatives trumpet Barack Obama’s links to Chicago socialists and academic radicals, you probably shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that Bachmann’s more outré law school influences prove she’s a budding Torquemada. If you didn’t spend the Jeremiah Wright controversy searching works of black liberation theology for inflammatory evidence of what Obama “really” believed, you probably shouldn’t obsess over the supposed links between Rick Perry and R. J. Rushdoony, the Christian Reconstructionist guru.

But doesn’t Bachmann still claim law professor and Christian Reconstructionist John Eidsmoe as a great inspiration? Still, the Minnesota congresswoman’s relationship with Eidsmoe is probably a molehill of concern compared with the mountain of issues concerning the Texas governor.

Douthat’s piece is part of the second volley in recent years seeking to downplay dominionism in the Repubican Party. Douthat was joined this time by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson who contributed by mowing down a series of straw-men, notably: “Pluralism is defined as the silencing of religious people.” He also framed critics of dominionism in false equivalencies, such as, “Thin charges of Dominionism are just another attempt to discredit opponents rather than answer them — in the same tradition as thin charges of Kenyan anti-colonialism.”

Gerson’s deflections are understandable since he has a controversial religious affiliation of his own. He is a member of a Virginia Episcopal parish that broke away from the American Episcopal Church to in order to affiliate with the militantly anti-gay Archbishop Peter Akinola’s Anglican Church of Nigeria.

Douthat and Gerson both try to equate President Obama’s past affiliation with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his volatile remarks on race. (For the record, I also registered my criticism of Wright). But regardless of how one feels about Wright, Obama distanced himself from the source of controversy while Perry has not.

Perry chose to move closer to Cindy Jacobs and C. Peter Wagner even after NAR’s agenda and anti-Catholicism became an issue. Many of the apostles who shared the stage with Governor Perry on August 6th at Houston’s Regent Stadium, are in the network organized by Wagner, who has declared that the Roman Catholic Church is under the sway of a great demon he calls the “Queen of Heaven” and promotes spiritual warfare against Catholicism.

Perry might consider the example of Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who backed away from John Hagee after his sordid views on Catholicism came to light.

Conservatives of the faith have an abysmal record when it comes to anti-Catholicism. They tend to be like Bill Donohue who finds the flimsiest excuses to give religious bigotry a pass — or who, like Ross Douthat, simply ignore it.

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Do Three GOP Presidential Contenders Embrace Anti-Catholicism?

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

PhotobucketOne wouldn’t think that seventy years after FDR declared his belief in freedom of conscience that three prospective candidates for president would openly associate with a religious movement that calls for their beliefs to be the supreme law of the land. But if one thought that, one would be wrong.

“Whoever seeks to set one religion against another,” FDR once keenly observed, “seeks to destroy all religion.” Such cynical actions stand in opposition to one of his “Four Freedoms” – “[The] …freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.” By extension (and as enumerated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group).

Over the past few weeks Rachel Tabachnick has shown that NAR seeks to eradicate various Christian denominations while creating “a unified church that will be victorious against evil in the end times.” And as she more ominously notes, “…they teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of Charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or “Kingdom” on earth

Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin are each involved with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) — a charismatic evangelical movement several leaders of which have made expressed profound religious hostility towards, among others, Catholics, as we shall see below. This leads to two obvious questions: How deep do these associations run? And do these candidates for the nation’s highest office share any the anti-Catholic views of these NAR leaders?

Palin and Perry

The involvement of senior pols, like these, cause problems for advocacy groups. For example, during the 2008 presidential election the conservative Catholic group Fidelis pronounced Sarah Palin “a natural choice” for Catholic voters. But Palin maintained close ties to NAR Bishop Thomas Muthee, who anointed her in a now famous ceremony. I wrote at the time that Muthee also maintains a hostile view of Catholicism:

On one of these occasions, the anointing was conducted by none other than Thomas Muthee, the internationally known star of the Transformation I video and numerous books and other materials on the methods of spiritual warfare – which generally refers to the expulsion of “territorial demons and generational curses.” There are many published photos and videos of Palin that feature pastors and churches associated with the NAR. We can reasonably ask, whether Muthee’s anointing involved the transference of anti-demonic powers, and whether those powers might be seen as necessary to combat Catholicism.

One of the goals of the kind of spiritual warfare in which Muthee engages — is to de-Catholicize communities and nations (“Brazil is occupied by Catholics,” declared Muthee in a militant sermon he gave on March 14, 2004 at a United Kingdom church, “but people are being saved anyway!”). C. Peter Wagner, of Fuller Theological Seminary, the top figure in the movement, says that the Roman Catholic Church is under the sway of a great demon he calls the “Queen of Heaven.” Top NAR leaders go on spiritual warfare expeditions to try to decrease the power of this demon. For example, following a 1997 expedition to the Himalayas Prophetess Ana Mendez said that she believed that their efforts might have cause the death of Mother Theresa. In another case, NAR took credit for an earthquake that damaged the Basilica at St Francis’s hometown of Assisi, Italy.

Diane Buker is a member of Wagner’s International Board of Apostles and a Member of the Apostolic Board, U.S. Strategic Prayer Network, as well as a Florida state prayer network leader. She is also the proprietress or the Battle Axe Brigade web site which condemns the Catholic Church as a “corrupt religion”– along with at least Mormonism, Scientology and Freemasonry.

C. Peter Wagner and his beliefs should also be of concern considering his relationship to Texas governor Rick Perry. Fresh off of The Response, his August 6th prayer event at Houston’s Regent Stadium, Perry made no apologies for sharing the stage with Wagner. As Bruce Wilson observed about Wagner in 2008:

Although Wagner and the New Apostolics characterize traditional mainline Protestant denominations as archaic, hidebound holdouts of pro-forma faith and vilify mainline churches, still holding to their traditional forms of worship, as ‘dead churches’, the New Apostolics typically reserve their harshest criticisms, of traditional Christianity, for the Catholic Church.

In Freedom From The Religious Spirit, Wagner claims that the Catholic Church in Latin America has historically prevented the spread of the Gospel:

“The spirit of religion in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries linked with the political spirit in Latin America and effectively prevented the spread of the Gospel. Once this was broken, evangelical churches began to mushroom.” [Freedom From The Religious Spirit, Regal Books, page 22]

Also appearing at the event was Wagner’s associate Cindy Jacobs who like her boss, endorses the destruction of Catholic symbols and cities populated thereof.

The above-mentioned Catholic political group Fidelis, now called CatholicVote.org, is now sending positive signals about Texas Governor Rick Perry. But just a few months ago the group ran a piece entitled, “Rick Perry’s Catholic problem.”

Did CatholicVote.org raise concerns about the Texas governor’s NAR ties? Not even close. Their “problem” was that Perry signed an executive order requiring that all 6th grade girls in Texas receive the Gardasil vaccine (Gardasil prevents the human papillomavirus (HPV), a commonly transmitted sexual disease that can lead to cervical cancer). In fact, the piece even giddily hinted that a Perry candidacy would garner a Palin endorsement.

Bachmann

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s ties to NAR Dominionism have also been recently been documented by both Ryan Lizza and Michele Goldberg. And while there does not appear to be any direct links to the previously mentioned anti-Catholic preachers, she does credit Dominionist John Eidsmoe as influential in shaping her worldview.

Eidsmoe believes that secular law should be based upon his particular understanding of Biblical Law. Would Eidsmoe’s Christian Reconstructionist ideas influence a President Bachmann to act against what is some view as “Catholic idolatry”? If so, would it be seen as a capital crime?

Do these GOP hopefuls share or tolerate the religious bigotry held be several NAR leaders? Its a fair question, and the kind of question we are likely to hear more of, as Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times has proposed. He recently wrote that he wants to know:

“…if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.” I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.

And I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed

Indeed. Keller has hit the right note for Catholics and for all Americans. We need to know if any of these candidates were to attain the presidency if they would set one faith against another. As FDR understood, to impede an individual’s freedom of conscience is to impede that right for all of us.

“Out of the Shadows, Into the Light”:Blessed John Henry Newman, Soho “Gay” Masses

Last Sunday I went up to London for one of the regular LGBT – oriented “Soho Masses”. Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict had conducted the beatification service for Cardinal John Henry Newman. Cardinal Newman is now officially Blessed John Henry – and so the liturgy used our Mass was, quite appropriately, the newly minted liturgy for his festal day.

Portrait of Cardinal Newman by John Millais

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Civil Partnerships: Irish Bishops’ Humpty Dumpty Language.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you
can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
“They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

“When I use a word”, said Humpty Dumpty, “It means what I want it to mean”

In Ireland, the Catholic bishops are concerned about the imminent passing of legislation to allow civil partnerships.  In voicing their opposition, they are using an argument used before in Washingto DC, and in Bolder Colorado. This time, though, the application of the argument is so breathtaking it would do Humpty Dumpty proud:

In a statement, Why Marriage Matters , released by the bishops yesterday, they describe provisions in the Civil Partnership Bill as “an extraordinary and far-reaching attack on freedom of conscience and the free practices of religion – which are guaranteed to every citizen under the Constitution”.

Now correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that freedom of religion and of conscience meant allowing those who disagree with you, to act in accordance with their own conscience, and not force them to comply with your own.  The proposed bill is about civil partnerships, not religious marriage, and imply no obligations whatever on the actions or religious beliefs of anyone who does not wish to participate.  I would have thought that permitting civil partnerships for those who disagree with the Church’s teaching on same sex marriage was a way of implementing, not restricting religious freedom.

But then, I use words as Alice does – not as Humpty Dumpty does.

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