This was The New York Times‘ Ross Douthat, yesterday, commenting on the “end of a Catholic moment”:
The collapse in the church’s reputation has coincided with a substantial loss of Catholic influence in American political debates. Whereas eight years ago, a Catholic view of economics and culture represented a center that both parties hoped to claim, today’s Republicans are more likely to channel Ayn Rand than Thomas Aquinas, and a strident social liberalism holds the whip hand in the Democratic Party.
Indeed, between Mitt Romney’s comments about the mooching 47 percent and the White House’s cynical decision to energize its base by picking fights over abortion and contraception, both parties spent 2012 effectively running against Catholic ideas about the common good.
But the reason for this shift — a wonderful shift, in my opinion — has less to do with, as Douthat suggests, the fall of Catholic leaders and the weakening of “institutional Christianity” than it does the rising power of the Internet and the war against bullshit.
It’s very hard to claim the Pope deserves respect, and a wafer is really Jesus, and the Church is a force for good when all the evidence around us — quickly spread to others via Twitter and Facebook — says the exact opposite. When the truth is staring at you right out of your computer screen, it’s hard to believe anything a clergyman says.
The White House isn’t “picking fights over abortion and contraception” — they’re fighting for liberty against Catholics who want to push their silly religious beliefs onto the rest of society (because it’s not enough that they abstain from those things). It’s a fight that we’re going to win because the Church has no secular argument to make against condoms and birth control and a woman’s right over her own body.
Sure, the sex scandals and lazy theology and religion-merging-with-politics helps our cause — but atheists and liberals and those who have fought back against the intellectually/morally corrupt nature of the Church deserve a good deal of the credit, too.
The Catholic Moment is indeed ending in America.