Originally posted at Talk to Action.
In my last post I examined conservative criticism of Laudato Sii, (“Praised Be”), Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and poverty. Indeed, some of the loudest howls of disapproval have arisen from Catholic Right pundits and think tanks. But clearly, there are other sources as well.
Is some of this criticism being fossil–fueled by the Koch Brothers? Well, let’s follow the money!
Movement conservatives who have become accustomed to the pronouncements of recent pontiff s as fuel for their culture war diatribes now find themselves in the awkward position of being at odds with Church teachings on the environment. For the first time many movement conservative Catholics are now forced to choose between God and the mammon of their financial backers – and mammon seems to be winning the day. A lot that mammon comes from the Koch Brothers Family foundations as well as Koch allies.
One of the Catholic Right climate change skeptics challenging Francis on the new encyclical is Catholic League president Bill Donohue. Whether it be a coincidence or not, it is worth noting that Donohue is an adjunct scholar for the Heritage Foundation. The conservative think tank is heavily funded by Koch Brothers money.
Another Catholic Right climate change skeptic organization working overtime to blunt the effects of Laudato Sii is ultra-libertarian think tank the Acton Institute . As the website Source Watch noted :
The Acton Institute’s strong support for both Catholicism and free market economics has come under strain as Pope Francis has actively criticized global inequality and unfettered capitalism. In May 2014, the Pope’s Twitter account posted a tweet saying “Inequality is the root of all evil.” Joe Carter, a senior editor at Acton, tweeted in reply, “Seriously, though, what was up with that tweet by @Pontifex? Has he traded the writings of Peter and Paul for Piketty?”, referring to economist Thomas Piketty, author of the 2014 book Capital in the 21st Century, a critique of growing economic inequality.
Action features a page on its web site filled with blog posts critical to varying degrees of the pope’s stand on climate change.
Acton also receives significant funding from Koch Brothers foundations. According to Greenpeace, between1997 to 2011 the Kochs kicked-in about $423,750 to Father Sirico’s organization.
Friess is a born-again Christian who, along with his wife, Lynn, has given millions to conservative and Christian causes, including $1 million to Koch-brothers-related causes, as well as non-political charities, including raising money for children orphaned in the Haitian earthquake.
As I pointed out in my last piece, Santorum criticized Francis’s encyclical by complaining that the Pope is not competent enough to discuss matters of science.
But the t w o infamous libertarian siblings are funding those attacking the Pope ’s environmental ism from outside of Catholicism as well as from within. For example, there is the Chicago-based Heartland Institute. S ourcewatch describes Heartland as “ a nonprofit “think tank” that questions the reality and import of climate change, second-hand smoke health hazards, and a host of other issues that might seem to require government regulation. ” More importantly, the organization is strongly linked to and heavily funded by Charles and David Koch.
The Heartland Institute seems to be particularly threatened by the Pope’s stance on climate change. The organization has not only dedicated a page on its website to disputing Francis on global warming but even sent a contingent to protest the issuance of the encyclical .
Fred Koch, Charles and David’s father and founder of the Koch Family empire once did contract work in Stalin’s Soviet Union during the 1920s. Indeed, it was Stalin who sarcastically remarked in 1935, ” The pope! How many divisions has he got? ” A little more than a half a century later it would be another pope that would play a significant role in bringing down Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe.
Perhaps Charles and David Koch understand that when it comes to climate change they are now up against a force truly to be reckoned with. Here is a pope who can not only rally liberal and moderate Catholics but a significant number of religious conservatives too. Perhaps unlike Stalin they know not to underestimate his nontraditional source of power. And, they appear to be spending an awful lot of money to make sure that they do not repeat the Soviet mistake.
Filed under: Catholic Right, Catholic social teaching, Religion and Politics | Tagged: Acton Institute, Bill Donohue, Catholic Right, Charles Koch, climate change, climate change skeptics, David Koch, Foster Friess, GOP, Heartland Institute, Laudato Sii, Pope Francis, Rick Santorum |