Archive for the ‘Catholic Demagogues’ Category


Passage of contraceptives law in Philippines shows times have changed for Catholic church

Article by HRVOJE HRANJSKI , Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-six years after Roman Catholic leaders helped his mother marshal millions of Filipinos in an uprising that ousted a dictator, President Benigno Aquino III picked a fight with the church over contraceptives and won a victory that bared the bishops’ worst nightmare: They no longer sway the masses.

Aquino last month signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 quietly and without customary handshakes and photographs to avoid controversy. The law that provides state funding for contraceptives for the poor pitted the dominant Catholic Church in an epic battle against the popular Aquino and his followers.

A couple with links to the church filed a motion Wednesday to stop implementation of the law, and more petitions are expected. Still, there is no denying that Aquino’s approval of the legislation has chipped away at the clout the church has held over Filipinos, and marked the passing of an era in which it was taboo to defy the church and priests.

Catholic leaders consider the law an attack on the church’s core values — the sanctity of life — saying that contraceptives promote promiscuity and destroy life. Aquino and his allies see the legislation as a way to address how the poor — roughly a third of the country’s 94 million people — manage the number of children they have and provide for them. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unwanted, according to the U.N. Population Fund, and a third of those end up aborted in a country where abortion remains illegal.

Rampant poverty, overcrowded slums, and rising homelessness and crime are main concerns that neither the church nor Aquino’s predecessors have successfully tackled.

“If the church can provide milk, diapers and rice, then go ahead, let’s make more babies,” said Giselle Labadan, a 30-year-old roadside vendor. “But there are just too many people now, too many homeless people, and the church doesn’t help to feed them.”

Labadan said she grew up in a God-fearing family but has defied the church’s position against contraceptives for more than a decade because her five children, age 2 to 12, were already far too many for her meager income. Her husband, a former army soldier, is jobless.

She said that even though she has used most types of contraceptives, she still considers herself among the faithful. “I still go to church and pray. It’s a part of my life,” Labadan said.

“I have prayed before not to have another child, but the condom worked better,” she said.

The law now faces a legal challenge in the Supreme Court after the couple filed the motion, which seems to cover more ideological than legal grounds. One of the authors of the law, Rep. Edcel Lagman, said Thursday that he was not worried by the petition and expected more to follow.

“We are prepared for this,” he said. “We are certain that the law is completely constitutional and will surmount any attack on or test of its constitutionality.”

Over the decades, moral and political authority of the church in the Philippines is perceived to have waned with the passing of one its icons, Cardinal Jaime Sin. He shaped the role of the church during the country’s darkest hours after dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law starting in 1972 by championing the cause of civil advocacy, human rights and freedoms. Sin’s action mirrored that of his strong backer, Pope John Paul II, who himself challenged communist rulers in Eastern Europe.

Three years after Aquino’s father, Benigno Aquino Sr., a senator opposing Marcos, was gunned down on the Manila airport tarmac in 1983, Sin persuaded Aquino’s widow, Corazon, to run for president. When massive election cheating by Marcos was exposed, Sin went on Catholic-run Radio Veritas in February 1986 to summon millions of people to support military defectors and the Aquino-led opposition. Marcos fled and Aquino, a deeply religious woman, was sworn in as president.

Democracy was restored, but the country remained chaotic and mired in nearly a dozen coup attempts. The economy stalled, poverty persisted and the jobless were leaving in droves for better-paying jobs abroad as maids, teachers, nurses and engineers. After Aquino stepped down, the country elected its first and only Protestant president, Fidel Ramos. He, too, opposed the church on contraceptives and released state funds for family planning methods.

Catholic bishops pulled out all the stops in campaigning against Ramos’ successor, popular movie actor Joseph Estrada, a hero of the impoverished masses who made little attempt to keep down his reputation for womanizing, drinking and gambling.

But few heeded the church’s advice. Estrada was elected with the largest victory margin in Philippine history. Halfway through his six-year presidency, in January 2001, he was confronted with another “people power” revolt, backed by political opponents and the military, and was forced to resign.

His successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, styled herself as a devout Catholic and sought to placate the church by abolishing the death penalty and putting brakes on the contraceptives law, which languished in Congress during her nine years in power.

It mattered little. Arroyo’s mismanagement and corruption scandals set the stage for Aquino’s election on a promise to rid the Philippines of graft, fix the economy and lift millions out of poverty. The scion of the country’s democracy icon took power several years after Sin’s death, but it was a different era in which the church was battered by scandals of sexual misconduct of priests and declining family values.

The latest defeat of the church “can further weaken its moral authority at a time when this is most badly needed in many areas, including defense of a whole range of family values,” said the Rev. John J. Carroll, founding chairman of the Jesuit-run John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues. He said he wondered how many Catholics have been “turned off” by incessant sermons and prayers led by the church against the contraceptives law, and how much it contributed to rising anticlericalism and the erosion of church authority.

“People today are more practical,” said Labadan, the street vendor. “In the old days, people feared that if you defy the church, it will be the end of the world.”

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report.


The Catholicization of the American Right

Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In the past two decades, the American religious Right has become increasingly Catholic. I mean that both literally and metaphorically. Literally, Catholic writers have emerged as intellectual leaders of the religious right in universities, the punditocracy, the press, and the courts, promoting an agenda that at its most theoretical involves a reclamation of the natural law tradition of Thomas Aquinas and at its most practical involves appeals to the kind of common-sense, “everybody knows,” or “it just is” arguments that have characterized opposition to same-sex marriage. There is nothing new about Catholic conservative intellectuals — think John Neuhaus, William F. Buckley, Jr. What is new is the prominence that these Catholic thinkers and leaders have come to have within the domains of American politics that are dominated by evangelical Protestants. Catholic intellectuals have become to the American Right what Jewish intellectuals once were to the American Left. In the academy, on the Court, Catholic intellectuals provide the theoretical discourse that shapes conservative arguments across a whole range of issues. Often these arguments have identifiable Thomistic or Jesuitical sources, but most of the time they enter the mainstream of political dialogue as simply “conservative.”

Meanwhile, in the realm of actual politics, Catholic politicians have emerged as leading figures in the religious conservative movement. Again, there is nothing new about Catholic political leaders nor Catholic politicians, although from Al Smith through John Kennedy they were more often Democrats than Republicans (Pat Buchanan is an exception). What is new is the ability of self-identified Catholic politicians to attract broad support from the among the evangelical Protestant religious right.

Rick Santorum is a case in point. Santorum’s is a specifically Catholic form of faith. The recent flap over contraception is only an example of a much deeper phenomenon. As observers have noted, he talks frequently about natural law, but rarely quotes the Bible directly — his arguments draw on a theologically informed view of the nature of the world, not a personal relationship with the text.

Indeed, in the past Santorum has been quite forthright about the fact that he does not look to the Bible for guidance, he relies quite properly on the guidance of the Church. There is obviously nothing wrong with that … but it sits very curiously with traditional Evangelical Protestant attitudes.

It is important not to overstate the significance of Santorum’s success. For all Santorum’s recent ascendancy, here is the breakdown of actual Republican votes cast thus far: Romney, 1,121,685; Gingrich, 838,825; Santorum, 431,926; Paul, 307,975. The count of awarded delegates produces a somewhat different result: Romney, 99; Santorum, 47; Gingrich, 32; Paul, 20 (The difference among those numbers reflects what political scientists call “malapportionment.”)  But two facts remain: one, with 1,144 delegates required for the nomination this thing is nowhere close to a resolution, and will not be even after Arizona, Michigan, and Super Tuesday; and, two, thus far in the Republican primary campaign, a majority of the votes cast have been for Catholic candidates. It’s not just Santorum; before him it was Gingrich, after all. At the national level, Catholic politicians have emerged as leading figures in the GOP… and  evangelical Protestants are flocking to follow their lead. Why?

The answer is not that evangelicals have become any less Protestant.  In a 2011 American Values Survey, 93% of white evangelicals say it is important for a candidate to have strong religious beliefs, versus 69% for Catholics saying the same thing. And 36% of white evangelical voters said they would be uncomfortable voting for a candidate who had strong religious beliefs that were different from their own, up from 29% in 2010, a change that may reflect the effects of a prominent Mormon candidate in the mix. In other words, evangelical voters care a great deal that a candidate’s religion accord with their own… and they are supporting Catholic candidates.  So what is going on?

To understand what is going on, we need to move from the role of Catholic individuals to a broader, more metaphorical idea of a Catholic style of political reasoning. “Catholic” in this exercise means responding to leadership; focusing on outcomes (think “doctrine of works”); and a Manichean view of the world in which the Church — as opposed to mere churches — stands as a bulwark against equally great opposing forces, so that outside the Church there can be only chaos. In this sense a Catholic Republican voter would be someone looking for a commanding general to lead Christian soldiers on a crusade, would care about a candidate’s policies rather than his soul, and respond to a call to view the Republican Party as the last bastion of civilisation in a howling wilderness.  Extending the metaphor, a “Protestant” conservative should reject the idea of leaders in favour of grass roots communalism; local self-direction in the congregationalist model; care about character and personal values more than specific stances or doctrines; and see the world as a mass of sinners who are to be judged  individually by the quality of their soul rather than by their enlistment in one party or the other.

In this metaphorical sense, the “Catholic” political style is strongest among evangelical Protestant voters, not actual Catholics. The eagerness of Catholic bishops to jump into a fight over contraception, for example, does not reflect that attitudes of their parishoners, but it gets strong support from evangelicals. Similarly, in one recent poll more than two-thirds of Catholic voters supported some sort of legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships, with 44% favoring same-sex marriage; in very sharp contrast, an outright majority of evangelical voters said there should be no legal recognition of a same-sex relationship.

In political terms, the evangelical Protestant Right has become Catholicized. They do not see Catholicism as a religion very different from their own because it leads to the same positions on the battlefield, call it Fortress GOP. It is a political worldview that is singularly well suited to negative politics. Who cares whether your guy is actually a bit of a nut-case or has some sleaze in his history if he will defeat the forces of darkness? Liberals tolerate venality in their candidates if they believe they will do good; “Catholic” conservatives tolerate venality if they believe their candidates will defeat evil.  (Ironically, all of this has moved the American religious Right in the direction of becoming more and more like a traditional European right-wing political movement, rather than a populist movement in the American Jacksonian tradition.)

In this metaphorical sense, the one person who did the most to push the Catholicization of conservative politics was Newt Gingrich back in the 1990s, long before his personal religious conversion. The most obvious illustration was the infamous GOPAC memorandum entitled “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” that instructed Republican candidates to describe their Democratic opponents using words like “destructive,” “sick,” “pathetic,” “they/them,” “betray” and ” traitors” (relying on the research of the almost incomprehensibly amoral Frank Lutz). That kind of rhetoric and the scorched earth, anyone-who-is-not-with-must-be-destroyed tactics that go with it has been the defining style of Gingrich’s brand of politics ever since. And who Gingrich’s man in the Senate in those heady days of unabashed viciousness? Rick Santorum. And not just as an ally — Santorum was Gingrich’s hatchet man, the one who did the “dirty work” as one Republican congressman put it. Or in the words of a Republican staffer at the time, “[Santorum] is a Stepford wife to Gingrich… If you took the key out of his back, I’m not sure his lips would keep moving.” (These quotations appear in a 1995 Philadelphia Magazine article — you can find a link to the pdf file here

Can this carry Santorum to the nomination? Probably not. There are already signs that Santorum is slipping, as the extremity of his religious dogmatism becomes evident to voters, which may eventually force evangelicals to recognize the differences between the tenets of his faith and their own. The fit with Tea Party conservatives is even more tenuous, as that movement is an expression of a deeply “Protestant” brand of politics that sit uneasily with the rhetoric and worldview of “Catholic” conservatism. And Santorum has yet to be called out for his role in the 1990s; if people really want to vote for Gingrich’s old pet attack dog, why not simply vote for the owner? With time, Romney’s claim to be the only electable candidate (and adult) in the field may regain its traction. Meanwhile, Gingrich is looking ahead to the South, and possibly even as far as Texas and California. It has been a campaign of suddenly arising candidates who flamed out just as quickly, and Santorum shows signs of being the latest in that line — as I said, even after Super Tuesday there is going to be a long way to go.

There is the potential for deep divisions appearing in the GOP along an axis of “Protestant” versus “Catholic” religious conservatism. But regardless of what happens next, the rise of first Gingrich and now Santorum as the candidate of choice for the Religious Right is a profound sign of how Catholic the American religious right has become.


Rick Santorum: ‘Science Should Get Out of Politics’
Rick Santorum is infamous as one of the most determined religious fanatics in US politics, an activist who believes Christian [he’s Catholic] creationism should be taught to all American children in science classes, and a persistent Republican advocate for injecting fundamentalist Christian religion into the political process at every level.

Speaking at the University of Northern Iowa today, Santorum uncorked a real howler, with no apparent recognition of its intense irony. Santorum said the problem with American politics is too much science.

Discussing controversial classroom subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum said he has suggested that “science should get out of politics” and he is opposed to teaching that provides a “politically correct perspective.”

Topped off with a helping of homophobic hatred masked as religious victimhood:

Regarding education and the legalization of same-sex marriage, Santorum said he is concerned that schools will be forced to teach that all forms of sexual activity are normal, healthy and good behavior. He said that would be “counter to the belief structure of many people who have students attending those schools” and they would have little grounds to object.

 


Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011 11:59 ET

At U.K. terror inquiry, Rep. King defends I.R.A. terror

At a parliamentary hearing on Muslim radicalization, the New York Republican condones Irish radicalization

[Is Catholic commissar Peter King the new Joseph (Catholic fascist) McCarthy and fueling a new Inquisition?]

AP
Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) stood by his past support for Irish terrorism during an appearance today before a British parliamentary inquiry into the roots of Muslim terrorism.

King, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, came under fire as a hypocrite earlier this year when he launched his own hearings into “domestic radicalization” in the American Muslim community. Critics, including a civilian survivor of a 1990 Irish Republican Army bombing in London, called out King for being an unrepentant supporter of the I.R.A. King built his career in the Irish Catholic community of Nassau County as a pro-I.R.A. firebrand in the 1980s, and was even involved with a fundraising organization suspected of providing the militant group with money and weapons.

So it was a bit of surprise when the Home Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons invited King to testify in its “Roots of violent radicalisation” inquiry. Inevitably, King’s I.R.A.-supporting past came up.

It was the longtime Labour MP David Winnick, who was first elected to the House of Commons in 1966, who confronted King.

“There’s been some surprise in the United States but also in Britain that you have a job looking into and investigating into terrorism,” said Winnick. King, the MP added, “seems to be an apologist for terrorism.”

Winnick cited a King quote from 1982:

We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.

And another from 1985:

If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.

“Do you stand by that?” Winnick asked King.

“I stand by it in the context of when it was said,” King responded, without hesitation.

He later added that those quotes were designed to “put [the conflict] in a perspective” for an American audience that was too often exposed to anti-I.R.A. points of view.

He then offered this lengthy defense of the role he played during the conflict in Ireland. Conspicuously missing from it is any denunciation of, or expression of regret for, I.R.A. terrorism.

I stand by it in the context of when it was said. … I can cite you Tony Blair, as recently as March of this year, put out a long statement defending my record both in the 1980s and throughout the Irish peace process. I was just out in the hallway and Baroness Kennedy came up to me to thank me for the work I did in the Irish peace process. Paul Murphy came by last evening.

What I was saying — and I stand by it — is that the situation in northern Ireland — there were loyalist paramilitaries and obviously Republican paramilitaries — and I believe that, I had gotten to know Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. And I was very confident that if the Republican movement could get to the table, you would see a peace process. And I believe the United States had a very significant role to play as an honest mediator, as an honest broker. And I worked very closely with Bill Clinton, I was very much involved in the Good Friday agreements, I was very involved in getting Gerry Adams’ visa, but also involved in getting loyalists into the United States. I felt that when it was on the table, that Adams and McGuinness would be able to, if you will, control the republican movement. And it’s worked. Tony Blair said I made invaluable contribution to peace, Bill Clinton has cited me in his memoirs as a person who was very much involved.

It was never my position as an Irish-American, whether or not Ireland was united, to me there were injustices in the north. There were good people on both sides. I spent a lot of time meeting with the loyalist community, the unionist community, at the same time, and I came away from that convinced that there was a role for the U.S. to play. What I was saying with those quotes, I was also trying to put in perspective. All of the quotes were anti-I.R.A. in the United States, no mention [ever] made of the UVF or the UDA or the Red Hand Commandos or whatever. I was trying to put it in a perspective to show that there were people — that this is not just the terrorist mayhem it was made out to be — that there were significant leaders on the Republican side.

It’s also worth noting here that this year King defended his support for the I.R.A. to the New York Times by claiming that the group had “never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States.” He did not repeat that explanation to the parliamentary committee.

Winnick followed up on the exchange by asking about British use of torture against the I.R.A. being used as a recruiting tool, and whether there is a parallel to post-9/11 U.S. torture policies. King said he did not believe there was.

Watch the exchange, beginning at the 10:18:50 mark.

http://salon.com/a/svEMfAA

  • Justin Elliott is a Salon reporter. Reach him by email at jelliott@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin More: Justin Elliott

Bill O’Reilly Stumped by Tides: ‘Unexplainable’ by Science
By Alex Moore

Tread lightly—this video is truly depressing.


Yo, God, it’s me, Bill. Can you explain how the tides work?”

Today David Silverstein, president of the American Atheist Group went on the Bill O’Reilly show to debate whether god is real and whether religion is valid. O’Reilly gave him a golden hail-mary opportunity to absolutely blow his argument off the map and wipe that smug look off his face, and Silverstein blew it.

Explaining that his religious faith springs from the mysteries of nature that are unexplainable by modern science, O’Reilly said: ““I’ll tell you why [religion is] not a scam, in my opinion. Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.”

Even more amazing than Bill O’Reilly not knowing that the tides are caused by the moon’s orbit is the fact that the atheist guy didn’t know it either! Silverstein was left to retort, “It doesn’t matter if I can’t explain it—that doesn’t mean that an invisible magic man in the sky is doing it,” his high school science (or was it middle school?) apparently failing him.

The moon, dude. The moon. Nothing so frustrating as seeing Bill O’Reilly so close to getting eviscerated, and without a rational human being in sight to put him in his place.

I guess it wasn’t meant to be this time—like the 1986 Red Sox. Just wait, O’Reilly—we rationalists will get you one of these days.

Interview here:-

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/transcript/o039reilly-debates-atheist-group-president-over-religions-are-039scams039-billboard