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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.



4 Responses

  1. Frank, somehow I missed your previous article which is, like this one, a must read for more conservative Catholics who are thinking of voting for Perry, Bachman, or Palin–should she decide she would rather actually run for office rather than be a tea party evangelist.

    For the past decade I have been at my wits end to understand why any Catholic bishop would align themselves with the dominionist republican party. It seems to me they are willing to sacrifice not just our democracy, but Catholicism itself for the Republican bs about outlawing abortion. In the mean time, real live children and parents are circling the drain because well meaning people have been duped into believing the republican party actually cares about abortion—beyond the fact it generates votes. Unfortunately, those votes could destroy what’s left of our democracy by mindlessly electing people who don’t give a rats ass about American democracy. Well, except to use democratic principles to put themselves and their theocracy in power. It’s essentially Nazism dressed up to look like some sort of Christian theism. If the vast majority of Americans ignore this trend, they do it at their own peril.

    • Colleen,

      For a decade, I have been at my wits end to understand why any Catholic bishop would align himself with any political party. Both parties have adopted political positions that go against fundamental Catholic principles.

      I think that there is a growing tendency of Catholics to identify themselves with political parties as their representatives of Christ on earth. Thus, they label themselves and others as “conservative or liberal” Catholics. But, there is no such thing as “conservative” or “liberal” Catholic. Christians are either faithful to the gospel or not so faithful. And, aligning with today’s Caesar is mark of unfaithfulness. One cannot serve the Democratic or Republican party, and still serve God.

      I thought Douthat’s point was well-taken. It is long past time to ignore references to the extremists on both sides of the aisle as a justification for aligning oneself with one party or the other. Obama was crucified for being associated with pastor Wright. Few people realize that it was Wright who gave Obama his presidential theme of “The Audacity of Hope”. Fewer still probably realize that the term audacity of hope is firmly rooted in Wright’s faith.

  2. Good points David. You are quite correct that neither party truly represents a “Catholic” point of view. In my own case I pretty much gave up on both parties with the passage of the Patriot Act. Obama has been pretty much what I expected. He’s thrown a few well chewed bones out to his base and then utterly betrayed them by working hand in hand with corporate America. Hence we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, have no real environmental program, continue to import oil and drill as if oil is the only tomorrow, bailed out our corporate social parasites, and wound up with more poverty and unemployment than at any time since the great depression.

    I firmly believe the extremes of both parties are allowed to flourish so that we won’t see the fact that in reality both parties have the same corporate face.

    • Colleen,

      I think the common perception in America is that Catholic bishops have aligned themselves with the Republican party (see Frank’s post). I don’t think that perception holds true amongst politically conservative Catholics. On capital punishment, war, and social justice issues, the Church is to the left of the politically left. For whatever reason, Democrats have not courted this segment of the Catholic population. The only explanation that I have for this lack of alliance with the Catholic Church is intellectual smugness.

      I have told some of my friends that I believe that the two largest religions in America today are the Democratic party and the Republican Party. The main difference is this: for Democrats their religion is their politics; for Republicans, their politics is their religion. Both are dangerous.

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