Beck Wants Pelosi, Biden Excommunicated

Glenn Beck, who is Mormon, hosted a tele-townhall meeting for and proceeded to tell them that they should excommunicate Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden because they don’t agree with every doctrine of the church. More than 140,000 people heard him say this:

Don’t tolerate someone who is not teaching Catholic doctrine. Go to your Bishop, go to your Cardinal, go to whoever will listen to you, but don’t tolerate it!

I don’t understand how, for instance, Nancy Pelosi can say she’s a Catholic or Joe Biden can say he’s a Catholic but he stands against what the Pope is saying. I’ve got news for you, if the Pope is telling you this is the doctrine of the church; if you disagree with it, go find another one and be who you really are!

I hate to say this, but I agree with Beck here. The Catholic Church should immediately throw out everyone who does not agree with every church position on every issue. They can start with every Republican politician who supports the death penalty and opposes universal access to health care. And then they should throw out every member of the church who has used birth control. And then the church will have a few thousand members left. Sounds great to me!

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • greg1466

    Absolutely. The only thing that would be better is if all of those same people left the Church voluntarily.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    It doesn’t matter. They’ll all be baptised as Mormon after they die.

  • Mr Ed

    The Catholic Church has always held to the primacy of conscience and taught that individuals must follow their consciences even when they are wrong. (Vatican II, On Religious Liberty (1965), §2)

  • blf

    Seems like special pleading. Should apply to all cults, throw out everyone who doesn’t agree with absolutely everything in today‘s beliefs / position. Repeat again tomorrow, using whatever happens to be that day’s beliefs / position. Repeat ad infinitum

    Unless, of course, they pay a sufficiently large tithe. And send their children for “intensive training”…

  • grumpyoldfart

    People are talking about Glenn Beck – mission accomplished.

  • Larry

    Plus, if they excommunicate all the boy-buggering priests instead of transferring them to some backwater parish, they won’t have any one to hand out crackers on Sunday.

  • Neil Rickert

    Beck has it backward. It is the pope who should be excommunicated.

  • ibbica

    Erm… Hold on a sec. So a Mormon is saying to a bunch of Catholics “Don’t tolerate someone who is not teaching Catholic doctrine…!”

    What is this I don’t even…

  • Chiroptera

    Actually, Beck has a point. If an astroturf demands that Pelosi and Biden be exommunicated, and the hierarchy does this, they will have accomplished two things:

    They will show that they will punish people for acting against the Church on the only two issues that really matters to the RCC hierarchy (gays and reproductive health care).

    And they can claim that they are responsive to the people of the pew.

  • slc1

    Why pick on Pelosi and Biden? New York Governor Cuomo and Maryland Governor O’Malley supported and signed same sex marriage legalization bills in opposition to the Catholic prelates in their respective states.

  • Abby Normal

    Perhaps this is similar to how abusive people are often themselves the victims of abuse. There have been a few unsuccessful attempts to have Beck excommunicated from the LDS over the years for his vile, hateful, dishonest rhetoric and general lack of character.

  • ibbica

    OK I think I may have just discovered exactly why Beck made the comment he did…

    Harry Reid: Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism

    “He said that Romney has sullied the religion that he, Prince and Romney share,” Reid said. “And he’s so disappointed that in his words, ‘It’s a good religion and he’s hiding from it.’”

    Um… zing?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    ibbica #12: “He said that Romney has sullied the religion that he, Prince and Romney share,”

    You had me going for a moment there. But the article clarifies:

    Gregory A. Prince, co-author of “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism.”

    Prince, the egotistical musician, is a Jehovah’s Witness, not a Mormon.

  • Sastra

    Mr. Ed #3 wrote:

    The Catholic Church has always held to the primacy of conscience and taught that individuals must follow their consciences even when they are wrong. (Vatican II, On Religious Liberty (1965), §2)

    Yeah — but are these individuals still “Catholic?”

    This statement is so vague that it’s either saying something very important, something of no consequence at all — or something which can easily be twisted into meaning what the Church wants it to mean at the time. I opt for that last one.

    In other words, it’s a deepity. The extraordinary interpretation is that a Catholic can and will still be counted as a Catholic by the Church even if they endorse heresies — as long as they do so sincerely. They really think birth control, abortion, the death penalty, and universal health care fit firmly inside of Catholic doctrine properly understood. Or … they think such things stand outside what the Church can rule on. Or, perhaps, they think the Church is only authorized by God to make suggestions about such matters, and the Holy Ghost in the form of individual conscience overrides these helpful hints on a regular basis.

    Even more extraordinary would be interpreting this statement to include heresies of administration and Biblical exegesis, such as female priests, married priests, rejecting the eucharist, denying the Trinity, or redefining God as “another word for ‘Nature.'” My guess is that most Catholics expect their Church to come down like a rock on these matters. But my guess could be wrong: maybe a good number of them actually think the Conscience Clause mandates a democratic system all the way down ..and all the way up.

    The trivial interpretation of the quote from Vatican II would of course be a little sop thrown to heartfelt conviction but hey, you’re now no longer a real Catholic don’t kid yourself.

    Like so many aspects of religion, it’s probably pretty damn weak and flexible in practice, but looks so firm and smooth on the surface. Follow your conscience — even when you’re wrong. Let us rule on that last part, though, okay?

  • UnknownEric

    Prince, the egotistical musician, is a Jehovah’s Witness, not a Mormon.

    Yeah, that’s sadly why there’s no longer any Controversy, since he doesn’t have a Dirty Mind anymore.

  • dingojack


    You mean a Mormon* is lecturing Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witness is lecturing Mormons on the correct interpretation of doctrines they consider heretical and/or blasphemous?




    * Mr Bek is, as I have heard it, an apostate and breaker of the first commandment (among others) – just the person to lecture Catholic Christians about morality…

  • TCC

    The Catholic Church has always held to the primacy of conscience and taught that individuals must follow their consciences even when they are wrong. (Vatican II, On Religious Liberty (1965), §2)

    I was intensely curious about this, given that the bishop covering my area of Illinois is the one who said that voting Democrat could put one’s soul “in grave jeopardy,” and I have some problems with it:

    1. There doesn’t seem to be any document called “On Religious Liberty”; this is likely a reference to Dignitatis Humanae. If you look at point 2, there doesn’t seem to be anything that says that the individual should follow their conscience if it leads them to incorrect (read: against church doctrine) conclusions. It only says that people should be free from coercion to seek the truth (and that people have a moral obligation to do so). (The quote itself seems to come from this site [edited to bypass moderation]:

    2. There are excerpts of that same document which contradict the spirit of the quote, such as this portion of §14:

    In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church.(35) For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself.

    So conscience does not appear to have primary to the Church; indeed, they require that conscience be conformed to the Church. (Sort of defeats the purpose of conscience, if you ask me.)

    It’s a nice idea, but I don’t think it’s accurate, unfortunately.

  • cptdoom

    @TCC #17, You may be right about Catholics’ consciences and their own behavior, but one of the key points that I was taught in Catholic school about these statements (which arise from the work of the Second Vatican Council) is that they also mean we as Catholics cannot force others into our belief systems. In that regard both Pelosi and Biden are acting as good Catholics, in that they are making decisions that impact millions of non-Catholics, who must be allowed to follow their own consciences.

    That being said, the modern Church as all but abandoned the liberalization that resulted from Vatican II, and the current Church leader, Mr. Joseph Ratzinger, has made it clear he wants the Church to return to the more doctrinaire time prior to John XXIII.

    Of course, I also have to point out the bitter irony that Beck, in demanding that Catholics conform to their Church, is tell Catholics not to vote for the heretical Mormon running for President. Obama may not be a Catholic, but he is at least a Christian.

  • TCC

    cptdoom: I was only addressing that limited claim about Catholics and conscience. You’re correct to note that (at least with Vatican II) religious freedom does necessitate that people must be free to seek the truth (even though they think that they are the arbiters of it).

  • abb3w

    @14, sastra:

    Yeah — but are these individuals still “Catholic?”

    They may be Catholic, confirmed in the church; but yet stand excommunicate with Rome.

    Or in other words: yes, but in about as bad standing as you can get without taking a pot shot at the pope.

    @17, TCC:

    There doesn’t seem to be any document called “On Religious Liberty”; this is likely a reference to Dignitatis Humanae.

    For the last two millenia, the definitive canonical expressions are the Latin; the full title is “Declaratio de libertate religiosa, Dignitatis Humanae” — the first part translating to “declaration on religious liberty” in English, or alternately “on religious freedom”. Since the cite adds Vatican II, that must be it. Both phrasings are reasonable translations from the Latin, so both are in use.

    Looking through, I’d say that the parts on liberty of conscience refer to civil coercion — governments can’t demand conformity religious positions against conscience, using threat of penalty of bodily torture, imprisonment, execution, fines, et cetera. However, as an ecclesiastical coercion, excommunication would appear within the realm of the permissible, especially as in the United States it has no civil significance.

    The Veritas Splendor encyclical elaborates some on the role of the conscience. The conscience is not (and, per above cannot) be required to conform to the Church. Rather, Christians have a great help for the formation of conscience in the Church and her Magisterium. The tricky bit is the Church has never admitted being in error on any moral teaching whatsoever. That is, the Church is always correct on morals; a person will follow their own conscience, but if there is a conflict between conscience and teaching of hte church’s magisterium, it is always because of the flaw in the conscience.

    The closest the Church has come to admission of an error of moral teaching would seem to be Pope JP2’s addressing the Galileo fiasco, noting most theologians (thus, of the Church) failed to distinguish between Scripture and their interpretation thereof.

  • fifthdentist

    I want Glenn Beck’s clubhouse privileges revoked on Planet Kolob.

  • Olav

    Grumpyoldfart, #5:

    People are talking about Glenn Beck – mission accomplished.


  • hunter

    It would be really nice to be surprised by anything Glenn Beck says, but those days are long past. But look at this one: Here’s a media personality telling Catholics to demand the excommunication of holders of elected office, who perforce must represent their entire constituency, for not enforcing sectarian doctrine on the entirety of said constituency.

    Do you suppose Beck understands what the Establishment Clause means? Or more likely, do you think he cares? And do you think his audience is smart enough to figure it out?

  • busterggi

    “Don’t tolerate someone who is not teaching Catholic doctrine.”

    They should have stoned him to death as soon as he said that.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    @Neil Rickert #7 –

    Beck has it backward. It is the pope who should be excommunicated.

    Actually, he is: in 1048, Pope Leo IX in Rome and Patriarch Michael Cerularius of Constantinople had a bit of a tiff when Leo demanded obedience as the Successor of Peter and Cerularius said, “Stick it in your ear, I’m with the Emperor.” The Pope’s legate to Constantinople, Humbert of Silva Candida, excommunicated Cerularius to show him who was the boss. Upon hearing of this, Cerularius immediately excommuncated Pope Leo.

    Now, the way excommunication worked in those days (and, in theory, still works) is that any and all “true Christians” must turn away from the excommunicant. If they do not, the excommunication extends automatically to include them. An excommunicant is denied the sacraments and, if he dies while excommuncated, goes directly to Hell, does not pass Purgatory, does not collect $200. The only way to get out of being excommunicated is to repent and get the ban lifted.

    Neither Leo nor Cerularius repented. Their excommunications were never lifted and, therefore anyone who has adhered to the teachings and leadership of the excommunicated patriarchs is themself automatically excommunicated. So except for most Protestant denominations, a few ancient non-Orthodox Eastern traditions and (arguably) the Mormons, Christians go to Hell when they die because they are technically all excommunicants.

  • matty1

    @25 Nice try but in 1965″ the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople issued a joint statement that

    They likewise regret and remove both from memory and from the midst of the Church the sentences of excommunication which followed these events, the memory of which has influenced actions up to our day and has hindered closer relations in charity; and they commit these excommunications to oblivion.

    So I’d say the excomunications were lifted and the Pope will have to go to hell for other reasons, I’m sure we can think of some.

  • Michael Heath

    hunter writes:

    Do you suppose Beck understands what the Establishment Clause means?

    No, he’s an idiot and a delusional one at that.

  • Childermass


    Do you suppose Beck understands what the Establishment Clause means? Or more likely, do you think he cares? And do you think his audience is smart enough to figure it out?

    From previous evidence, either Beck does not know what it means or he is willing to mislead his flock.


    Unless I am misreading what you wrote, and I apologize in advance if I am, you might have misunderstanding yourself. The establishment clause does not in any way prevent the Catholic Church from doing anything. The First Amendment is binding on the federal government (and via the 14th Amendment to the states as well). The First Amendment clearly allows the Church to excommunicate anyone it darn well wants. The church can also via the First Amendment petition government officials.

    Unless you consider the excommunications to be a political endorsement of their opponents (which the courts probably will not) then there is nothing the government can do. And that would just be a loss of tax-exempt status which has nothing to do with the First Amendment but to the law, which applies to sectarian and secular organizations alike. Not endorsing candidates a requirement of having a tax-exempt status.