• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • To my Republican Friends July 6, 2020
      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
      Obie Holmen
    • Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist May 4, 2020
      The Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) recently named Wormwood and Gall as one of three finalists for a Midwest Book Award in the Religion/Philosophy category. The awards program, which is organized by MIPA, recognizes quality in independent publishing in the Midwest. The post Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist first appeared on S […]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Photo of the Day December 6, 2022
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Autumn Remnant• Afternoon Light• Photo of the Day – December 2, 2022• Brigit Anna McNeill on Hearing the Wild and Natural Call to Go Inwards• Brigit Anna McNeill on “Winter’s Way”• Photo of the Day – December 3, 2021• Photo of the Day – November 13, 2021• Winter . . . Within and Beyond (2020)• Winter . . . Within and B […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Quote of the Day December 6, 2022
      Your teachers are striking. Your nurses are striking. Your railway workers are about to strike. “Nobody wants to work anymore” is deliberately obstuse. What nobody wants anymore is to work in understaffed, overburdened, underpaid positions so two dozen people can get rich.– Medic Kimvia FacebookDecember 5, 2022Related Off-site Links:Biden Signs Law Thwarting […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

    • So the Former US President and Current GOP Candidate for the Presidency Calls for a Coup and the End of US Democracy — And? December 5, 2022
      President Donald J. Trump 2 March 2019, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD; official White House photo by Tia Dufour, at Wikimedia CommonsHeather Cox Richardson, "Letters from an American: December 3, 2002":The leader of the Republican Party has just called fo […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • I'm Now on Mastodon — Please Feel Free to Connect December 2, 2022
      I've now succeeded in setting up an account on Mastodon.My handle there is @wdlindsy@toad.socialPlease feel free to connect to me there if you wish. I'm hoping to reconnect via Mastodon to as many of the friends and conversation partners I had on Twitter, with whom I've lost touch after I left Twitter when Musk acquired it. I'm a total no […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
       A saint for the millenials: the young Italian teen, Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 of galloping Leukemia, will be beatified today in Assisi by Pope Francis (last step before being officially declared a saint). Carlo came from a luke warm Catholic family, but at the age of 7, when he received his first 'Holy Communion', he displayed an astonishing […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
    • Ronan Park and Jack Vidgen: The Travails of Gay Pop Stars October 28, 2019
      (Jack Vidgen)Quite by accident, through a comment from a performance arts colleague of mine, I stumbled across the recent bios of two boy teen singing sensations, both of whom made a big splash worldwide 8 years ago. The first, Jack Vidgen, won Australia's Got Talent Contest in 2011 at the age of 14, primarily for his powerful renditions of Whitney Hust […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Warnock wins December 7, 2022
      Yay!
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Opus Dei Priest’s Secessionist Roadmap to Theocracy

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Fr. C.J. (“John”) McCloskey is in many ways the American face of the secretive Catholic organization, Opus Dei. He is a former Wall Streeter, who is well-connected on the Catholic Right and among the political and media elite of Washington, DC. There, he fosters his message of traditional Catholicism and supply-side economics framed with a reactionary view of the American people as being either “Bible Christians and faithful Catholics” or a “…culture of death.”

McCloskey recently raised the stakes of his geo-political vision in an essay in which he considers secession in response to and the continuation of Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land, which he sees as epitomizing the “tyrannical regime” that is the government of the United States.

John McCloskey

Then there is another possibility course of action, which, while ranking low in probability with the bookmakers, should not be ruled out: secession. I wrote about this elsewhere some years ago and stirred up no small amount of controversy. The red state/blue state dichotomy could—perhaps sooner than we might think—result in states opting to pull out of the union. My guess is that if that were to happen, the armed forces of the United States (who tend to be more conservative and religious than the general population) would be reluctant to exercise military force to stop seceding states. In addition, perhaps paradoxically, the generalized modern sense that we should not dictate personal lifestyle choices for others (although it coexists in many liberal minds with intolerance of traditional morality) may make blue states reluctant to impose continued membership in the United States on red states that choose to secede. On the other hand, given the United States’ status as a major superpower for the past century, for strategic reasons there may be more official resistance to secession than we might think. We pray the secession option does not happen, but ultimately the protection of innocent life trumps any tyrannical regime that cannot protect even the smallest of its future citizens.

As startling as these assertions may be, they are not new for McCloskey. As I observed in a post in 2013, the Opus Dei prelate is linked to Catholic neo-Confederate activist Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Indeed, McCloskey is no stranger to the concept of secession:

It is therefore no surprise that among Woods’ admirers is the influential Opus Dei priest C. John McCloskey. The former Ivy League-Wall Street laissez-faire apostle-turned-prelate has himself ruminated on the appeal of secession to achieve theocracy. In his infamous futuristic dystopian essay 2030: Looking Backwards he gleefully imagines a violent separation from the United States:

The tens of thousands of martyrs and confessors for the Faith in North America were indeed the “seed of the Church” as they were in pre-Edict of Milan Christianity. The final short and relatively bloodless conflict produced our Regional States of North America. The outcome was by no means an ideal solution but it does allow Christians to live in states that recognize the natural law and divine Revelation, the right of free practice of religion, and laws on marriage, family, and life that reflect the primacy of our Faith. With time and the reality of the ever-decreasing population of the states that worship at the altar of “the culture of death,” perhaps we will be able to reunite and fulfill the Founding Fathers of the old United States dream to be “a shining city on a hill.”

McCloskey’s key phrase is this: “…and laws on marriage, family, and life that reflect the primacy of our Faith.” such a statement cannot be mistaken for anything but the intention is to create a theocracy through secession.

The Ghost of John Calhoun

Secessionism has its roots in the philosophy of 19th century South Carolina Senator John Calhoun (1782-1850). Distrustful of democracy, Calhoun was a firebrand who, unlike other Southern politicians who not only described slavery as “a necessary evil,” openly proclaimed the peculiar institution to be a positive good, not only for African-Americans (of whom he paternalistically described as, “a people unfit for it [liberty]”) but as a means of driving away poor whites he viewed as “shiftless.”

Unlike his contemporaries Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln, Calhoun did not believe Americans were a people; instead, only individuals and groups of people who took their identities by their home state or by their particular section of United States. Disdaining numerical democracy, he believed that minorities had to be protected – albeit, certain elite minorities: the slaveholder but not the slave. To that end, Calhoun developed the concept of “concurrent majorities.”

Calhoun knew that the northern urban centers had the numbers to politically prevail over the agrarian south. So in place of numerical expressions of a national will Calhoun substituted the idea that votes would not merely be counted but weighed pursuant to sectional interests and prejudices.

(This view is consistent with what conservative icon Russell Kirk observed to be one of Calhoun’s fundamental beliefs: complete equality is incompatible with liberty)

In any case, Calhoun’s notion of weighted sectional interests would serve as justification for individual states to nullify Federal statues locally determined to be unconstitutional. And according to Thomas E. Woods, if nullification is not widely supported a state has another remedy:

In Calhoun’s conception, when a state officially nullified a federal law on the grounds of its dubious constitutionality, the law must be regarded as suspended. Thus could the “concurrent majority” of a state be protected by the unconstitutional actions of a numerical majority of the entire country. But there are limits to what the concurrent majority could do. Should the three-fourths of the states, by means of the amendment process, choose to grant the federal government the disputed power, then the nullifying state would have to decide whether it going with the decision of its fellow states or whether it would be better to secede from the Union.

Therein lies the excuse for secession. Upon closer inspection, it is a flimsy excuse to avoid a common minimum standard of basic rights. For all his concern about minority rights, Calhoun was downright hypocritical.

A close review of “concurrent majorities” reveals that the concept is not only ignores the prevailing will of a national consensus it also does not protect the rights of all minorities. Instead, the real life application of concurrent majorities would really mean local self-selected minorities rule. In other words, what would be a national minority in terms of sectionalism would then become that section’s prevailing majority.

We need look no further for a good example than the American South on the eve of the Civil War. In 1860 there were 9 million individuals living in Dixie; of those 4 million were African-American slaves with no rights whatsoever. Under this scheme not all individuals share the same minimum standard of rights. At the same time, the white land owning classes fully enjoyed the right to vote, to serve on juries and engage in other civil functions. The notion of concurrent majorities is nothing but a sham; an excuse to cast oppression as a liberty interest.

Neither Woods nor McCloskey advocates the restoration of the institution of slavery. However, they do seek a different system of oppression: theocracy. Ideas such as nullification, secession and concurrent majorities can be used interchangeably to bring about theocracy as they were once used attempting to make permanent human slavery. And just as African-Americans were once denied a minimum standard of natural rights so too would those not practicing a traditionalist Catholic or fundamentalist Christian religious belief. Personal decisions regarding birth control, reproductive rights the marriage equality would be limited by the dictates of ultra-orthodox Christian Applications to secular law, not by the collective will of the nation.

Over the course of more than two centuries as an American people the general movements has to make basic rights more inclusive. This includes the freedom to believe or not to believe as we see fit. Americans have given their lives in the struggle against those who would diminish those rights. It appears that McCloskey has no qualms about entertaining discredited and treasonous ideas and actions in order to accomplish what cannot be accomplished through the democratic process.

It is disconcerting enough that zombie concepts such as nullification and secession are currently being casually bandied about in the public discourse. It is even more disconcerting when a priest who has the ear of the rich and powerful does so as well.

Advertisement

Refuting Nullification, Part Two

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

In this series we have been discussing the emerging influence of Thomas J. Woods and other Catholic Right neo-Confederates, who are advocating that states nullify federal statutes and court rulings with which they disagree. Some are calling for outright secession.  The next installment explained why nullification matters and how it can lead to localized tyranny and theocracy. Then we discussed the historical argument against nullification and by extension, secession.

Now we are taking the obvious next step:  The Constitutional arguments against nullification.

At the forefront of the Catholic Right’s nullification/secessionist movement is Thomas J. Woods.  His writings and speeches are frequently cited by a budding alliance of Catholic social conservatives and secessionists that extends to the likes of Opus Dei evangelist C. John McCloskey and politico Alan Keyes.  They claim that their ideas are constitutionally viable — but they are not, and here is why.

Woods justifies nullification via “the compact theory” of government – that the United States of America government was formed by a compact agreed upon by all the states, whereby making the federal government a creation of the states. In Woods’ view this give individual states the power to “nullify” laws or federal court rulings they see as unconstitutional.

But as we explored in the very last post, it is a theory with little or no basis in historical fact. If states did indeed precede the federal government, then what of states such as Alaska, California, Hawaii and Louisiana that were carved out of federal procurements of war seizure or purchase by treaty?  Both of these powers are specifically reserved to the federal government in the Constitution. Beyond that, it is a theory that ignores our nation’s founding as a people.

The Foundational Argument

Inspired by Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln understood the inherent weakness of the compact theory upon which Woods rests his theory. Lincoln also understood that there is no legal justification for either nullification or secession. Consider this passage from his First Inaugural Address:

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it–break it, so to speak–but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Putting aside the fact that even among the original framers there was a divergence of opinion over its intent, Woods and other advocates of nullification punt on the obvious conclusion; that if it were the intent of the Founders to allow for secession of a given state of mechanism, would have been inserted into the constitution. Woods’ weak response is “The mere fact that a state’s reserved right to obstruct the enforcement of an unconstitutional law is not expressly stated in the Constitution does not mean the right does not exist.” Directly preceding this comment, he argues, “This is an odd complaint, coming as it usually does from those who in any other circumstance do not seem especially concerned to find express constitutional sanction for particular government policies.”

Woods seems to be alluding to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that overturned a state law banning the sale of birth control on the grounds that it violated the “right to marital privacy” (It is not surprising that Woods, as a traditionalist Catholic, Woods would derisively hone in on this decision). In his dissent, Justice Hugo Black then found no general “right of privacy.”  Nevertheless, majorities in Griswold  (and later in Roe v. Wade) did find support for the right to privacy in the Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, and this is now a matter of settled law.  However, no one has been able to reasonably infer a right to either nullification or secession in the Constitution.

While Article IV of the Constitution provides for the admission of new states, there is no provision for secession (Lincoln touched upon this in his First Inaugural Address:  “Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.”).

We can say the same about the nullification of federal legislation. Lincoln knew that neither secession nor nullification were not to be confused with the Right of Revolution as stated in the Declaration of Independence (“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], the people have a right to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness”).

More importantly, the concept of any state nullifying any federal law without the proper court challenge was contemplated and rejected by the Framers in Article IV of the Constitution. More broadly in the Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause” is unambiguous. The Constitution and laws made by the Congress are “the supreme law of the land.”  And it doesn’t give or suggest any override authority to the state governors and legislatures:  

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The Rub

Indeed, the radical ambiguity of Woods and his cohorts about how one determines what is and is not Constitutional — is a recipe for arbitrary and capricious behavior.  We have the Supreme Court to make those calls. And while Article III does not specifically assign that power was, as evidenced by Alexander Hamilton, one clearly intended by its proponents.

Simply put, the Woods’ formulation has the potential for radical breaks with the supreme law of the land, for example on matters of matters of birth control, reproductive rights, and even the establishment of an official state religion. In sum, the denial of some of the most basic rights guaranteed to individuals by the U.S. Constitution opens the door not to a more perfect union, but to a confederation of little theocracies.

Indeed, James Madison, writing in Federalist No. 44 observed regarding the supremacy clause of the Constitution:  “Without the substance of this power, the whole Constitution would be a dead letter.” He then presciently warned:  

“The question, therefore, whether this amount of power shall be granted or not, resolves itself into another question, whether or not a government commensurate to the exigencies of the Union shall be established; or, in other words, whether the Union itself shall be preserved.”

That is indeed still the question.

Why Nullification Matters

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

In the first post in this series, I discussed the push for secession and nullification now being made by Catholic Right Neo-Confederates, notably Thomas J. Woods, Jr. Now, almost a century and a half after that approach was soundly defeated, some Catholic social conservatives are resorting to these pernicious ideas, apparently in order to prevail on such issues such as reproductive rights and gun control.

While the battles of the culture wars rage, it is far from clear to the Catholic Right that they can prevail across the board. While abortion rights are under attack in many of the “red” states, Roe vs. Wade still stands, marriage equality is becoming increasingly accepted, and the neo-conservatism that epitomized the Bush era, is on the ropes. What’s more, Pope Francis, clearly has no use for their brand of laissez-faire brand of economics of the likes of George Weigel and Robert P. George. Thus the Catholic Right appears to be in a state of orderly, tactical retreat; regrouping and waiting to strike on the ground of their own choosing. And when they do their weapons of choice may be secession and nullification.

At the forefront of this reorganization is Thomas Woods. His writings and speeches are constantly cited by a budding alliance of Catholic social conservatives and secessionist apologists. While pundits periodically write off the Religious Right, this trend has been evident for some time. I noted here and here in 2010 that Catholic GOP operative Deal Hudson has trying to get such a movement going for some time. Even Robert P. George has been endearing himself to Tea Party folks by embracing the gleaming libertarian notion of goldbuggery.

The Tenth Amendment Center

Many of the shorter works of Thomas Woods can be found at or linked to from the web site for the Tenth Amendment Center, (TAC) an organization that describes itself as “… a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism… [and] … as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has reported on the group and its leaders:

For the past several years, [executive director Michael] Boldin has crisscrossed the country, taking the TAC’s nullification message to supporters known as “Tenthers.” Its “Nullify Now!” conferences have been held in cities including Austin, Texas, Jacksonville and Orlando, Fla., and Manchester, N.H.

As well as:

Thomas E. Woods, a former member of the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South and the author of Nullification: How to Resist Tyranny in the 21st Century, is another constant on the “Nullify Now!” tour.

Importantly, SPLC further noted:

The TAC’s partner in this endeavor is the Foundation for a Free Society, which espouses the libertarian free-market theories of Murray Rothbard and the Austrian School of Economics. Foundation leader Jason Rink has described the federal government as the primary threat to liberty.

The Foundation for a Free Society’s web site features exhortations for nullification — including a film “Nullification: The Rightful Remedy.” The stars of the film include Boldin, Woods and Rink, as well as Art Thompson, the Executive Director of the John Birch Society.

TAC serves as vehicle for dissemination of the nullification and secession message to the Religious – specifically, Catholic – Right. TAC’s founder and executive director, Michael Boldin, writes a regular column for Renew America‘s the web site; an organization was originally created to support for Conservative Catholic Alan Keyes’ short-lived cable news show now dedicated to advocating for limited government but with strong theocratic overtones. Other Catholic Right contributors at Renew America, in addition to Keyes himself, are Matt C. Abbott (discussed in an earlier post) and Marielena Montesino de Stuart — who is no fan of Vatican II nor of Catholic notions of Social Justice.

Nullification

Part of TAC’s strategy is to provide model legislation. Recently Governor and
(Opus Dei convert) Sam Brownback (R-KS) signed into law legislation designed to nullify any federal gun control regulations concerning any weapons manufactured in Kansas for use in Kansas. The bill was taken from the TAC model bill template. A GOP-controlled Missouri legislature recently sent an almost identical piece of legislation to its Democratic governor.

TAC provides other model nullification laws that cover an array of libertarian causes from voiding Obamacare, to withholding National Guard units, to allowing banks in individual states to begin offering and accepting gold and silver as legal tender.

But as a nation, we have been down this road before, and know from bitter experience that nullification – and by extension, its not-so-distant-kinfolk, secession, can destroy any semblance of the United States as a governable nation. When individual states believe they can ignore a gun law or a health care law they can ignore any law, including those that guarantee religious freedom via the prohibition of the establishment of a state religion. This was indeed the case recently in North Carolina where a group of Republican legislators introduced a bill that would allow an official state religion, essentially declaring the Tar-Heel state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings on Church-State separation.

And therein lies the hypocrisy of nullification. The theory relies upon the false premise that only the federal government is capable of tyranny; it blindly ignores that individual states can be tyrannical. As the history of Jim Crow demonstrates, that is more than a mere valid concern; it is a reality. Doctors involved with reproductive rights and embryonic stem cell research would be the potentially oppressed, as would be their patients. Nullification could well serve as the mid-wife to local theocracy.

And this point of departure will lead into the next post: The historical argument against nullification and secession.

Rick Santorum’s Opus Dei Catholicism

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

In a recent post I explored the influence of the teachings of  Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer on GOP Presidential contender Rick Santorum. I warned that circumstantial evidence and the candidate’s own past statements suggested a strong identification with the secretive, ultra-traditionalist sect, Opus Dei, which Escriva founded.

The Washington Post now confirms much – and a great deal more – of what many of us have suspected all along.

I recently posted about Santorum’s connection to Opus Dei and some of Escriva’s teachings.  He is apparently not a member, but a “cooperator” — a designation for someone who supports the secretive organization’s goals of a more theocratic society built upon a foundation of ultra-orthodox Catholic notions of morality.  I wondered, how far does Santorum’s admiration for Opus Dei’s founder extend to his vision for America?

The Post suggests that the answer is very far indeed. The paper reported, for example, that Opus Dei paid for Santorum’s 2002 trip to Rome for a celebration of Escriva’s 100th birthday. He was accompanied by none other than Opus Dei evangelist, Rev. C. John McCloskey.  The future presidential contender used the occasion to launch his first attack on JFK’s 1960 campaign speech on the separation of church and state.

The Post also surfaces other important aspects of McCloskey’s relationship with the ambitious pol.  For example, “McCloskey enlisted Santorum’s help in converting then-Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to Catholicism.”   The relationship has continued, as Santorum also met with McCloskey the day before last week’s Illinois presidential primary.

In a previous post (here and in The Public Eye , I’ve discussed McCloskey’s divisive nature. He pines for a Church that has eliminated moderate and liberal faithful, who would be replaced by former conservative protestant converts. He further envisions a United States torn asunder by a secessionist movement bent on creating a separate theocracy.

The Post portrays a man who is deeply influenced by the Opus Dei founder:

During Senate debates about abortion, Santorum told the audience in Rome, he hears Escriva telling him that “it is not true that there is opposition between being a good Catholic and serving civil society faithfully.” In his public fight to uphold “absolute truths,” Santorum said, “blessed Josemaria guides my way.”

“‘As long as you are making straight for your goal, head and heart intoxicated with God, why worry… ?'” Santorum said, quoting Escriva, according to a transcript of the speech.

In my last post on this subject, I reviewed several of Escriva’s more troubling teachings – his condescending view of public education; his distrust of liberty and his call for his followers to be secretive about their dealings with Opus Dei.  Perhaps of greatest concern was his admonition that his followers should “Get rid of those scruples that deprive you of peace” – especially in light of Santorum’s gross mischaracterizations of President Obama’s call for Americans to pursue some form of higher education. And then there are Santorum’s repeated attempts to disingenuously paint JFK as a president who had no tolerance for people of faith in the public square.

Santorum is not stupid. He had to have known that president wasn’t being “a snob” about higher education or that the first Catholic president did want to exclude religious principles from public debate.

These are acts of demagoguery, perhaps  made in accordance with Escriva’s admonition to “put aside those scruples.”

Now the Good News

The New York Times reports that Santorum is losing the Republican Catholic vote to the more ideologically amorphous Mitt Romney.

Mr. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, has trailed Mr. Romney among Catholics in 10 of the 12 states in which Edison Research conducted exit polls that asked about religion.

With two exceptions, he has lost the Catholic vote by a minimum of 7 percentage points (in Michigan, where Mr. Romney grew up) and by as much as 53 percentage points in Massachusetts, where Mr. Romney was governor. He has even lost among Catholics in the South, although he was nearly tied with Mr. Romney among Catholics in Tennessee and won decisively among Catholics in Louisiana.

Why is that? I suspect that even many socially conservative Catholics are put off by Santorum’s often-strident tone. As one Maryland primary voter told Times  reporter Katherine Seelye, “I feel Governor Romney is more willing to tolerate different views and values, and the president of the United States has to accept and respect the right of every American to believe as they will.”  Perhaps some are put off by Santorum’s rejection of certain Catholic principles. Santorum embraces, for example,  the evangelical notion of creationism, a teaching that the Vatican rejects in favor of evolution.

But while Santorum’s path to the Republican presidential nomination is questionable, he may gain enough support to land a spot on the GOP ticket, or play a role in a Romney administration.

It is, therefore, more than reasonable for voters to ask themselves if they want an Opus Dei cooperator to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Apparently, most Republican Catholic voters, the Catholics who know Santorum and Opus Dei best, have already answered that question for themselves. How the conservative evangelical element of the electorate answers the question, may be different.

Broadcaster Calls For Catholic Dictatorship

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

The conservative French philosopher, Joseph deMaistre declared that King Louis XVI of France deserved execution not for his excesses, but for having committed the unpardonable sin (in his eyes) of being too soft on those demanding reform. DeMaistre disdained the Enlightenment and democracy and advocated Catholic monarchies that deferred to the Vatican.

Such ideas did not die with the end of the French monarchy. Meet a young Catholic monarchist and veteran TV broadcaster, Michael Voris.

His official biography tells us that Voris received a degree in communications from Notre Dame in 1983, followed by “… a number of years working as a CBS affiliate anchor, producer and reporter, in various markets, winning multiple Emmys for his work in broadcast news. ” And then:

On May 8, 2006, Voris opened St. Michael’s Media, a new state-of-the-art digital television studio, dedicated to the archangel who Scripture promises will lead the victorious battle against Satan at the end of time (Rev 12:07). Located in Ferndale, MI, it is the production center of broadcast quality Catholic programs, designed to educate a generation of Catholics largely ignorant of Church teaching and to save souls from eternal damnation.

In the video (above) released on a subsidiary of the network he founded, RealCatholicTV.com, for August 18, 2010 Voris declares: “Hello everyone and welcome to the Vortex where lies and falsehoods are trapped and exposed. I’m Michael Voris. There is an inherent problem with democracy. Actually, it’s definitional; it’s this: Everyone gets to vote. That’s right. EVERYONE gets to vote. Consider for a moment…”

It quickly went downhill from there. Voris says that “ignorant” people vote for candidates who support abortion, gay rights and taxation for government services — as if excessive taxation was never the hallmark of despotic of absolute monarchs – as indeed it was.

Voris denounces democracy because people who are not “faithful Catholics” and therefore are “ignorant” and likely to be “societal parasites” get to vote. Of course, when he says Catholic, he means über-orthodox traditionalist Catholic only. (He does not explain how even this kind of voting would work under the “benevolent dictatorship” of a “Catholic monarch” he also calls for.)

The Diocese of Scranton — usually no beacon of Catholic progressivism — recently banned Voris from speaking at Catholic institutions in the diocese.

The Diocese of Scranton has determined that Mr. Voris will not be allowed to speak in a Diocesan or parish facility. After these engagements were scheduled, the Diocese became aware of concerns about this individual’s views regarding other religious groups. In videos posted on the Internet, Mr. Voris makes comments that certainly can be interpreted as being insensitive to people of other faiths. The Catholic Church teaches us to respect all people, regardless of their faith tradition.
Although the Diocese shares Mr. Voris’ support of efforts to protect human life, his extreme positions on other faiths are not appropriate and therefore the Diocese cannot host him.

What the Scranton Diocese might have seen was the video below wherein Voris slandered Rabbinical Judaism as breaking the Covenant of Abraham and then extended the denigration to apply to Protestants. Just take a look:

But just how far out of Catholic Right thought is Voris? Patrick Buchanan remarked of deMaistre that he was “a great conservative” There is little that separates the eighteenth century French reactionary from Voris, the modern media reactionary. And he is clearly part of a wider movement of conservative Catholics. The web site Renew America has links to Voris’s Saint Michael’s Media. He has also been a featured speaker for traditionalist Catholic organizations.

Religious crackpots have been around forever. And yet we should be concerned about Voris. Long-discredited far right ideas have been regaining currency — secession, the gold standard and state nullification of federal law, to name a few. And talented, educated young demagogues leading anti-democratic factions are exactly the kind of people the framers of the constitution were concerned about.

We also have to wonder whether Voris is simply articulating what others on the Right are thinking. Obviously there are differences between Voris and the likes of Michael Novak, Robert P. George and George Weigel. These neo-cons would, for example, not be as openly critical of Judaism or their fundamentalist Protestant allies as Voris. But perhaps they have laid the ground world for the next stage in a long term campaign to restore Catholic monarchism when the last lights of the Enlightenment currently under assault, go dark.

Of course, whether Voris finds an audience longing for a government based upon orthodox Catholic morality and authority, and sufficiently large to contribute to the destablization of constitutional democracy, remains to be seen.

Kathy Hughes contributed to this piece.

The Rise of Religious Fascism and the Cool Pragmatism of Generation Jones: Three Perspectives on the Current Political Scene

Three recent articles catch my eye as as valuable contributions to dialogue about matters religious and political. I’m mentioning them in a single posting because, in key respects, their themes overlap.  The articles complement each other.    Since the first article in the list is Chris Hedges’ recent impassioned argument that we need to pay close attention to the inroads of the Christian right in American politics, this article is a follow-up to Jayden Cameron’s recent posting of the Hedges article at Open Tabernacle.

Hedges warns us that we dismiss and ridicule this movement at our peril.  Its goal is a theocratic takeover of American government.  And it could easily effect that takeover soon, Hedges thinks.  Because his thesis is deliberately provocative (and, for some readers, overstated), Hedges’ article will provoke much-needed discussion of the intersection of religion and politics in American culture, and of our obligation to keep monitoring the intrusion of theocratically-motivated religious groups into the public square. Continue reading