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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.

.

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.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan Wins the Third Annual Coughie Award!

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Well, it’s that most wonderful time of the year when this column presents out its annual Coughlin Award to someone who best exemplifies an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith. The award is named for Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today’s Religious Right radio and television evangelists and other conservative media personalities.

This year’s field of finalists included, Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix, notable for excommunicating and disciplining Sister Margaret McBride, a hospital administrator who allowed an abortion in order to save the life of a critically ill pregnant woman. Until this very weekend our panel was leaning towards presenting the award to a a group of orthodox Catholic bloggers who seek to stifle progressive dissent in the Church. And there was of course perennial favorite, Catholic League President Bill Donohue — who may very well have an award named for him someday.

Although Donohue lost again this year — he nevertheless had a hand in the winning performance by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. The newly elected President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops nosed-out his fellow Coughie finalist by imploring: “Keep at it, Bill! We need you!”

But before we discuss Archbishop Dolan’s stunning last minute victory, a few words about the award’s namesake.

The Coughlin Award (aka “the Coughie”) is named after the infamous 1930s radio priest and noted anti-Semite, Rev. Charles Coughlin whose media diatribes against FDR and Judaism were openly sympathetic to the racist policies of Adolph Hitler made him. Such advocacy was clearly antithetical the very definition of the word “catholic,” which, according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary means:

Catholic Cath”o*lic\ (k[a^]th”[-o]*[i^]k), a. [L. catholicus, Gr. kaqoliko`s, universal, general; kata` down, wholly + “o`los whole, probably akin to E. solid: cf. F. catholique.]

1. Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.

Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war. –Southey.

Note: This epithet, which is applicable to the whole Christian church, or its faith, is claimed by Roman Catholics to belong especially to their church, and in popular usage is so limited.

*Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.

*Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.

So in order to win a Coughie, a candidate must do something that makes the faith less inclusive; furthers the culture wars with some incendiary behavior, and thereby ultimately embarrass the Church. This year’s winner has risen to the challenge by completing all three tasks with breathtaking simplicity, snatching the victory from a determined field of tough competitors.

Archbishop Dolan is a rising star of the culture wars. When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops elected him as president, they signaled their intention to escalate the culture wars at the expense of economic justice, and push strident orthodoxy over inclusiveness.

In October 2009 Dolan went after two New York Times” reporters for their examination of Church obstruction in cases of sexual abuse. Taking a page from Bill Donohue’s playbook, Dolan equated any critical discussion of Church affairs as anti-Catholic bigotry — while ignoring acts of real anti-Catholicism by the likes of movement conservative-friendly John Hagee and the New Apostolic Reformation.

Yes indeed, those were deeds that made the archbishop a contender. But what clinched the Coughie for Dolan was his brilliant last minute praise for Donohue’s demagogic attack upon the Smithsonian Institution for displaying a work by David Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS in 1992. At issue was a short film that portrays a crucifix with ants on it. In the context of the film, it appears to be a commentary on human suffering, — including that of Christ.

But this very same image caused Donohue to bluster that the piece was a “vile display” and accused the Smithsonian of using federal money “to bash Christians.” Misinterpretation of art is, of course, nothing new.

As NJ.com recently observed:

Salvador Dali believed ants represented corruption, and painted them frequently; his many crucifixions, like the “Corpus Hypercubus” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have nonetheless won acceptance from many of the faithful over time.

Besides, though crucifixions have changed throughout history, the trend has actually been toward a more graphic depiction of corruption and degradation.

At the beginning of the Christian era, for example, Christ was usually shown clothed on the cross, even wearing fine robes and a crown, to emphasize his triumph over death.

Representations of Christ’s naked and tortured body, meant to convey divine sympathy with human suffering, only became common in the 10th century. From time to time over subsequent eras, particularly in the German and Spanish traditions, gruesome and quite disturbing images of hideous wounds and appalling humiliations of Christ’s flesh, rendered in realistic detail, have been popular and won Church approval.

And of course, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” which showed crucifixion as a gory and some thought masochistic display, was hugely popular with devout conservatives in 2004.

As well as:

The difference here is that “A Fire in My Belly” is clearly about the corruption AIDS has brought to Wojnarowicz’s body, and the crucifix is meant to express sympathy not just for humankind’s generalized suffering but for the horror and loss caused by the epidemic.

Wojnarowicz’s life story — abandoned as a toddler, shifted from home to home, becoming a gay prostitute and then an AIDS activist and world-famous artist – is inimical to many conservatives, but he did attend a Catholic grade school, and his frequent use of Catholic imagery is in that sense entirely legitimate. Even historically accurate.

But of course misinterpretation of art has long been a tool in the culture war arsenal of the Religious Right. For Archbishop Dolan, it is an easy and inexpensive way stoking misplaced anger and misdirecting attention of among rank-and-file Catholics, from the misdeeds of the hierarchy itself — especially from the astounding costs of settlements in the sex abuse scandals. And that is why Dolan’s cheer leading for Howlin’ Bill Donohue put him over the top.

Catholics United perhaps put it best:

In order to understand why Dolan’s comments are so unfortunate, one should consider why Donohue is simply bad for Catholicism. Donohue personifies that white older male constantly at odds with the changing world around him. He’s like the Catholic version of Archie Bunker, only with fax machine and a $350,000 salary. But the worst part of Donohue’s shtick is that his message has no semblance to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who spent his time forgiving sinners and healing lepers, not complaining about art.

Enter Timothy Dolan, the newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan was elected to lead the bishops in an age of the New Evangelization, an effort to rekindle Catholicism in an increasingly secular world. By defending Donohue’s latest charade, Dolan is showing us what his preferred method of evangelization looks like. And that doesn’t portend well for the next four years of his leadership of the conference.

CU then explains why Dolan’s shout-out for Donohue is so misplaced within our current economic climate:

Our nation is in the worst economic recession of my lifetime. More than nine percent of our workforce is unemployed. Millions of households are dealing with foreclosure or underwater mortgages. And in this Advent season, we have families that can’t afford a full tank of gas, let alone gifts for the Christmas tree.

This is why Dolan’s attitude is so disappointing. By defending a manufactured controversy during a time of great suffering, he trivializes the meaning of Jesus’ birth: to bring good news to the poor. And the worst consequence of this behavior is that it is driving young Catholics away from the church. So as Dolan and the bishops get to work on their evangelization strategy, I suggest they spend less time following in the footsteps of Bill Donohue and focus more on Jesus.

Archbishop Dolan’s eleventh hour victory was no small feat. To out-do the master of making mountains out of non-existent anti-Catholic molehills takes skill and determination. And for this, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, deserves our hearty acknowledgment of his remarkable achievement.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue AWOL on Anti-Catholicism — Again.

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Rachel Tabachnick’s recent discussion of conspiracy narratives in her two part series about God TV host Wendy Alec’s series of novels Chronicle of Brothers (Part One, Part Two raises issues of anti-Catholicism that have gone either undetected, or more likely ignored, by Bill Donohue’s Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Like the Left Behind series Chronicle of Brothers is set in the end times. Also like the Left Behind series and related video game (set in post-Rapture New York City, Roman Catholics are among those “left behind”), you don’t need to be Catholic to recognize the inherent anti-Catholicism: Chronicle of Brothers portrays the 9/11 terrorist attacks as having been coordinated by a council of Illuminati led by a Jesuit priest.

But first, what is God TV and who exactly is Wendy Alec? Rachel explains:

God TV was founded in the U.K. in 1995 by Rory and Wendy Alec, a couple from South Africa. The network is broadcast in North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, claiming a “divine mandate to win one billion souls.” Many Religious Right events are now broadcast on God TV including: Lou Engle’s The Call, an “Election Special” in 2008 which featured James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, and John Hagee, along with Apostles Cindy Jacobs and Lou Engle, the May Day Prayer Rally, and more. Right Wing Watch has done an excellent job following these broadcasts, but unfortunately the video posted has been removed from YouTube at the request of God TV.

God TV network regularly features Dispensational evangelists and authors like John Hagee and Tim LaHaye who teach that believers will be Raptured or snatched from the earth before the horrors of the end times. However, God TV is the network of choice for the “apostles and prophets” who have rejected the pre-Tribulation Rapture of Dispensationalism and are training youth to be “end times warriors” with a mandate to purge the earth of evil themselves in preparation for Jesus’ return.

When Dan Brown’s books The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons were made into films, Bill Donohue attacked both films as anti-Catholic.

But when movement conservatives may be viewed as anti-Catholic Bill Donohue turns a blind eye. Which is what he did in response to the vile hatred of the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces. He also gave John Hagee a quick absolution after Hagee’s characterization of the Catholic Church as the “whore of Babylon” threatened to cause problems for 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

Donohue also defended New Apostolic Reformation Bishop Thomas Muthee for his 2005 blessing of Sarah Palin in which Muthee prayed that the future GOP veep nominee would be “…free from ‘every form of witchcraft.” In fact, NAR’s anti-Catholic demagoguery is open and notorious and Donohue remains silent.

Donohue’s silence about Chronicle of Brothers is but the latest instance in which the self-appointed defender of all things Catholic goes AWOL when anti-Catholicism comes from movement conservatives.

Bill Donohue: Defender of Glenn Beck.

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Glenn Beck’s recent admonition that people who attend a church that teaches social justice should leave — was anti-Catholicism. This was obvious from a wide range of perspectives –from a Jesuit scholar to a liberal newspaper columnist and a neoconservative evangelical blogger.

Yet perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this tawdry episode was that stepping forward to defend Glenn Beck was none other than Bill Donohue leader of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

But before we get too deeply into the scandal, let’s recap: On the March 2, 2010 Fox News TV show that started it all, Glenn Beck said:

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

James Martin, S.J., writing in the Jesuit journal America, observed:

“Of course this means that you would have to leave the Catholic Church, which has long championed that particular aspect of the Gospel.”

Martin elaborated on the thinly veiled anti-Catholic vitriol of Beck’s pronouncement:

The term “social justice” originated way back in the 1800s (and probably predates even that) and has been continually underlined by the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the church) and popes since Leo XIII, who began the modern tradition of Catholic social teaching with his encyclical on capital and labor, Rerum Novarum in 1891.  Subsequent popes have built on Leo’s work, continuing the church’s meditation on a variety of social justice issues, in such landmark documents as Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on “the reconstruction of the social order,” Quadregismo Anno (1931), Paul VI’s encyclical “on the development of peoples,” Populorum Progressio (1967), and John Paul II’s encyclical “on the social concerns of the church” Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987).  Social justice also undergirds much of Catholic social teaching on peace.  “If you want peace,” said Pope Paul VI, “work for justice.”

On his March 11, 2010 radio program, Beck went even lower, conflating real Catholic social justice with the bigoted Rev. Charles Coughlin, which was a thinly veiled effort to equate the social justice teaching of the Church with fascism.  But it as with most such coarse demagoguery, what is left out is as misleading as what is actually said.

Washington Post op-ed writer Harold Meyerson helped correct the historical record.

The most celebrated and notorious Catholic of the New Deal era was radio priest Charles Coughlin, the Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly of his day. On his weekly nationwide radio broadcast, the Detroit-based Coughlin was a staunch FDR supporter during the initial years of Roosevelt’s presidency. He approved of the first phase of the New Deal, the National Recovery Act, which rejected laissez-faire capitalism and endeavored to replace it with a managed economy that balanced opposing social interests — echoing Catholic economic doctrines propounded by Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum and by Pius XI in his 1931 Quadragesimo Anno. By 1935, however, Coughlin had split with Roosevelt over the issue of America’s recognition of the World Court (the very kind of issue that today’s talk-show fascisti also love to demagogue). The cosmopolitanism of the New Deal and the new CIO was increasingly unbearable to the anti-Semitic Coughlin, and by 1936 he was attacking “Franklin Double-Crossing Roosevelt” in every broadcast.

Initially Roosevelt sought to keep Coughlin in the fold, sending such prominent New Deal Catholics as Joseph P. Kennedy and Frank Murphy, who’d recently been mayor of Detroit and was soon to become governor of Michigan, to try to rein him in. But Coughlin had made up his mind, and as the 1936 election drew near, he was calling FDR a “liar” and a “communist.”

Then Meyerson compared Coughlin with Monsignor John Ryan and other Catholic economic liberals:

But Roosevelt also had allies within the Catholic hierarchy, and he made sure to showcase them whenever possible. Foremost among these was Monsignor John A. Ryan, a professor of political science and moral theology at Catholic University and the longtime director of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Council. Inspired by Rerum Novarum, Ryan helped create a distinctly Catholic brand of American economic progressivism. (His dissertation, completed in 1906, was titled “A Living Wage.”) In 1936, in an address he called “Roosevelt Safeguards America,” Ryan took to the airwaves to denounce Coughlin’s attacks on the president. Ryan also delivered the invocation at FDR’s 1937 and 1945 inaugurals.

Ryan’s labor Catholicism probably claimed the allegiance of several million adherents during the New Deal years. Among the most prominent were New York Senator Robert Wagner, who authored both the National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act, and Philip Murray, the first president of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and the second president of the CIO.

Coughlin was a renegade who, like Beck has moved from any semblance of mainstream political philosophy, to embrace one that is increasingly conspiratorial and radical.

Also criticizing Beck was Baptist neocon Joe Carter. Writing in First Things the journal founded by John Richard Neuhaus  Carter asked: “Could Beck’s claim be construed as “anti-Catholic?” Yes and no. I think if anyone else had made the remark it would have been hard to dismiss the anti-Catholic undertones.”

Carter went on to say:

“But Beck is a special case: He is too prone to say any dumb thing that pops into his head and too ignorant about history and religion to truly understand the implications of his statement. This doesn’t excuse him, of course, but it certainly is reason not to be too shocked when a self-professed “rodeo clown” advises people to leave their churches over Catholic “code words” like social justice.”

Carter closed his piece by wondering, “Still, I’m curious to see how Beck’s loyal defenders will excuse his latest outrageous remarks.”

Joe Carter, say hello to Catholic League President Bill Donohue!

In a March 12, 2010 Catholic League press release Donohue declared:

Many are hammering Beck for saying, “Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!” A closer read of what he said shows he followed that quip with, “If I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish.”

Beck didn’t say Christians should abandon their religion. He recommended shopping around to find a more conservative parish if one is dissatisfied with hearing left-wing sermons. Nothing new about that. In the Catholic Church, there are priests who are stridently left-wing and stridently right-wing; many parishioners shop accordingly. Protestants shop by leaving one denomination for another. And so on.

See? Glenn wasn’t trying to strip Catholicism of a central tenet; he just wants us to go shopping!

Then Donohue tried to deflect attention away from Beck’s anti-Catholicism. But nowhere does he make any effort to explain the meaning of Catholic notions of social justice:

Some of those who have criticized Beck have done so in a sincere way. Others are just phonies. Just yesterday, we dealt with an issue which is far more serious than a sarcastic remark-we called out a radical feminist leader for branding pro-life Catholic congressman Bart Stupak “un-American.” And the day before we protested news stories accusing the bishops of “polluting” the health care debate. But we heard nothing from the social justice crowd about these matters. Wonder why.

Donohue does not in any way rebuke Beck, let alone defend Catholoic notions of Social Justice or such leaders as  Monsignor Ryan, Robert Wagner, Sr. and Dorothy Day.

But this is nothing new.  I’ve written before that for Donohue, movement conservatism always takes precedence over addressing ant-Catholicism.  

Glenn Beck not only launched a frontal assault on Catholic theology, but provided an opportunity for Donohue’s Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights to carry out its stated mission.  That the League deflected for Beck rather than standing up for the social justice teaching of the Church ought to be a singularly illuminating moment for American Catholicism.