When I criticize Live Action for lying to Planned Parenthood, I can typically be guaranteed that I will hear that I am a) secretly supportive of Planned Parenthood because I am criticizing Catholic Folk Heros who have saved more lives with a single video than I have in my whole worthless life and/or b) I am, as one reader told me, “about one step removed from the Pharisees who were angry at the disciples for plucking the grains of wheat on the Sabbath”. The notion, of course, is that I am majoring in minors, straining at gnats and swallowing camels, fretting about trivial fibs while children are being slaughtered, etc. The implicit accusation that immediately comes up is that to oppose Live Actions lies for Jesus is to be in the exact same moral category as the kind of moral idiot who would rat out the Jews in the cellar to the Gestapo in order to keep one’s precious morality pure. And besides, the complaint goes, it’s not *really* lying. As my reader said, “Calling every falsehood “lying” is like calling every killing “murder.”

Ahem. Last things first. Let’s stop with the euphemisms and with the attempt to pretend that show up at somebody’s door with a fake name and a fake purpose is anything but lying. Trying to euphemize it by some other name is exactly like trying to euphemize torture as “enhanced interrogation” or abortion as “tissue extraction”. When even the *defenders* of Live Action call it lying (as my friend Peter Kreeft did), it’s lying.

That said, let’s make another distinction: plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath is not intrinsically evil. Lying is. I’m perfectly aware of what the intention is: stopping abortion. And I applaud the intention. But lying is still lying. Now, I am perfectly aware that lying, while intrinsically immoral, is not always a grave sin. All sorts of things enter in. There are lies that are fibs. There is the matter of freedom and understanding and culpability. I get all that. And I get that the goal is a noble: hasten the day when salt is sowed on the ground where the last Planned Parenthood clinic has been razed and abortion is a thing of the past. I fully support that goal and praise Live Action for desiring to achieve it.

But here’s the problem: All sin consists of the attempt to achieve some good end by disordered means: and attempting to establish truth by lying is profoundly disordered and will only end in mischief and damage to the faith to the prolife cause.

So I think that before the discussion get too abstract it’s important to ask what real good is even being accomplished by Live Action’s lies. People immediately rush to the Nazis at the Door Scenario and fall into the delusion that lives are being saved by Live Action lies to Planned Parenthood employees.

Understand this: not one. single. life has been saved by Live Action’s lies. Not a single abortion has been prevented. All that happened is that PP is temporarily embarrassed and prolifers get a thrill for a day or two.

After that, PP fights back and says “Those videos were edited and LA is lying.” And right there is the problem: because Live Action has openly acknowledged that they *were* lying about their identity and purpose. So Planned Parenthood then appeals to people on the fence about abortion and says, “Why should you trust self-confessed liars?” And their supporters, who might include some future Bernard Nathanson or other troubled conscience, look at the spectacle and join the herd in the comboxes denouncing Christians as liars–a hard point to argue when they are in fact lying. Indeed, while Christians desperately want to tell themselves that Live Action’s “stings” have been devastating to Planned Parenthood, the reality is that flagscows of the Left like the Nation are *exulting* in Live Action’s tactics and celebrating “the genius of Cecile Richards” for taking this gold-engraved opportunity to shout “Look! Christianist liars are persecuting Planned Parenthood!” and driving donations way up.

More than that, though, you have the *deeply* corrupting reality that defenders of Live Action–Christian defenders!–spend massive amounts of energy, not asking “How can we act with integrity?” but “How can we justify lying? How can we figure out some way to tempt a Planned Parenthood clerk to commit a mortal sin?”

Saying “They were going to do it anyway” is morally insane. Saying “We must do evil that good may come of it” is morally insane. Indeed, even arguing that good has come of it is morally insane. Because at the end of the day, all we really have is some video footage which is being argued about by two groups of people who are documentably liars–and in this particular case, only one of those group specifically confessed to lying in order to make the video. People who think this is going to persuade fence sitter or persuade anybody outside the zealously prolife camp have simply lost touch with reality. People who think that a Christian message about the gospel as the Truth can be founded on lies are insane.

And that’s the most insane part of this: in the end, this tactic leaves the Christian community burning itself up in the insane pursuit of justification for lying and tempting people to grave sin that produced not *one* good outcome (unless prolife schadenfreude over a minor PP embarrassment is now Priority One for the prolife movement), while Planned Parenthood is enjoying increased funding from donors by sending out fundraising letters saying, “Christianist Prolifers are Lying about Us”.

This is why I say consequentialism such as Lying for Jesus is a Faustian Bargain. You lose your soul and get *nothing* in return. Sorry, but Augustine, Aquinas and the Catechism are right. Lying is intrinsically immoral and fundamentally corrupting of human relationships. And before you try, yet again, to euphemize these lies as “acting” or “role playing” or “fiction”: no, this is not “acting” or “role playing” or “fiction”. Those speech acts involve the fundamental reality that the the audience is willingly and knowingly suspending disbelief and knows the actors are acting and the writer is telling a tale. This. was. *lying*. Christians are bloody fools to defend it.

And, by the way, they would be fools to defende it even *if* it had worked. But that they are wasting breath defending it when it is not just wrong but destructive of the prolife cause is double folly.

I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of acting in worldly fashion. For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:2-5

For those people who were wringing their hands last month, wondering how on earth a big, evil, and powerful organization like Planned Parenthood could ever be stopped if Live Action was not permitted to lie to them, I have good news. An exciting new prolife organization has successfully conducted a humiliating sting operation which conclusively showed that, you guessed it, Planned Parenthood was lying through their teeth when they claimed the needed fed funding for their vital mammogram program.

The name of this new prolife organization?: Live Action.

Turns out they just called a bunch of PP centers and asked about mammograms, only to be told they don’t do mammograms. Whaddaya know? PP lied! Way to go, Live Action! More non-lying stings. Go! Fight! Win!

A reader writes:

I’m a regular reader, occasional commenter. I really appreciate the work you’ve been doing on the Live Action issue. Here in the trenches, I can’t tell you how important is the moral integrity of the pro-life movement. So often when we talk to legislators, they throw back at us every offense ever committed by pro-lifers. In the old days it was acts of violence, but now it’s lies. For example, we’re fighting a bill in NYC that accuses crisis pregnancy centers of deceptive practices, and the legislators eagerly fall upon every possible instance of lying or deception by any pro-lifer to prove their point. It’s very discouraging when we’re trying to influence the law, but we’re undermined by the misguided tactics of our own side. The heroes who advocate lying never have to sit at a table and have the lies thrown in their faces, and then used as an excuse for dismissing all our arguments.

On another point, I blogged today on the Archdiocese website about the President’s decision to surrender his duty on the Defense of Marriage Act:

Yep. Lying for Jesus is disastrous, not only because it is just one more piece of soul-corroding consequentialism, but because you sell your soul and get *nothing* in return. You hand the enemies of life a nice shiny sword with “Liar” inscribed on it and they run you through with it.

As to the DOMA business, I saw that and cheer the Archdiocese for trying to talk sanity. The Prez’s cowardly and unconstitutional choice to simply ignore the law is a direct violation of his oath. But this amateur has made it clear that his conception of the office is only tangentially related to the concept of law.

in which I discuss Faustian Bargains, argue with people whose sandals I am not worthy to untie, and plead for calm in the factional world of St. Blogs. I would urge those who love babies, Jesus and the Faith to remember that this includes everybody on both sides the debate and to pray for each other and for peace, love and truth to prevail.

Still grinding away and am on deadline this week, so still not much blogging. However, the argument at the Register should keep everybody content for days with grist for conversation.

Back in 2011 the issue of the Noble Lie really came to a head when prolife Christians lost their minds and decided that it was a brilliant idea to become Liars for Jesus.

I warned at the time that this was both sinful and stupid and that the Church taught that lying is, by it very nature, sinful.

But prolife Christians convinced themselves that this was all a great idea, that just a *little* moral methamphetamine would really up their game and that it was all for the Greater Good.

So here we are now in 2017 and the prolife movement is now the passionate defender of a sex predator eager to damn his 16 victims as liars, as well as now being absolutely In The Tank for Roy Moore, a visible-from-space child molester.  More than this, conservative Christianity in the US, both Catholic and Protestant, has in large measure morphed into Christianism, a false gospel which uses the forms and images of Christian culture in the service of a cult of personality centered around the worship of Donald Trump and his cult of lies, money, ego, power, violence, misogyny, and racism.  One of its curious habits is to use accusation as a form of confession.

Exhibit A: James O’Keefe, the architect of Lying for Jesus, who just got busted again doing exactly what he tried to frame the Washington Post for doing.

The WaPo has done some extremely good investigative reporting using what we call “facts” and “evidence” from multiple victims and roughly 30 supporting witnesses.

People with brains and the ability to process facts and evidence using reason can see that this man is in no way worthy of office.

People in the 37% of the American electorate who still support a massively documented liar known as Donald Trump (the enormous bulk of whom self-identify as “prolife conservative Christians”) still strongly support Roy Moore, child molester.  They don’t like fact, evidence or thinking.  They like conspiracy theories and the belief that anything which suggests they and their Christianist cult might be wrong is “fake news” told by evil liars in the mainstream media.

One of them is that great conservative Catholic culture war hero, James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas. O’Keefe will be one of the featured speakers along with an Absolute Feast of Lies from the finest grifters, adulterers, wife beaters, propagandists, deadbeat dads, white supremacists, traitors, Nazi sympathizers and seducers of the young and the faithful in the US:

O’Keefe is one of the many figures in the freak show that is now the Party of Trump bent on demonstrating a principle that is one of the hallmarks the Christianist heresy:  that accusation is, for these people, always a form of confession.

What did O’Keefe do? Convinced that the WaPo are liars who will tell any lie in order to nail their culture war enemies, O’Keefe sent a woman to them with a salacious but false story about Roy Moore.

In other words, she lied to the Post about Roy Moore in order to discredit the Post — and by extension support Moore — by enticing them to print a false story converging with their previous coverage of Moore. Unfortunately, this massive act of project by the liars at Project Veritas failed because the Post practices something called “journalism” and checked the woman’s story to make sure it was legit.  It wasn’t.  She (and O’Keefe and Project Veritas) were exposed as the frauds they are.

Now you would think that people claiming the name of Christ, who is the truth, would look at something like this and say, “Yikes!  O’Keefe is a liar!  I won’t trust him again!”  But the mark of a Christianist (as distinct from a Christian) is that the content of Christianity does not matter, only the forms and images.  So a failed lie means only that more cunning will be needed next time, not that lying must be renounced and repented.

For the Christianist is, in his massive pride, full of certitude that the ends justify the means.  And because of his pride, he ceaselessly projects on his enemies the vices he himself holds dear.  So he lies to prove that honest journalists are liars.

And in a few weeks he will be hailed as a hero at that conference.

If your faith can only be maintained by lies, it is not the Gospel.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Th 2:7–12).

Ezra Klein remarks on this piece about the sheer bullshit that flows in an endless stream from the mouth of Donald Trump and from the pack of professional liars who work for him and for the Right Wing Noise Machine:

Trump’s tactics, in a different context, would be understood as typical authoritarian propaganda — regimes make aides and supporters propound nonsense as a test of loyalty. The United States isn’t the kind of place where that can work. There’s a free and vibrant press and political debate operating wholly outside the world of Trump’s bullshit.

But by filling the heads of his fans — and the media outlets they consume — with a steady diet of bullshit, and by forcing his aides to echo his bullshit in order to win his favor, Trump is nonetheless succeeding in endlessly reinscribing polarization in American politics, corroding America’s governing institutions, and poisoning civic life.

The narrative that worked for years (and that I, to my shame, bought) was the notion of the Truth-Telling Reg’lar Folk of Common Sense vs. The Media Elite.  It’s the BS that Trump and his fanbois who blather about Fake News still parrot.  But the massive lies that Trump and his toadies at FOX, Breitbart, Infowars and other “conservative” sites tell have begun, at long last, to be seen through and trust is eroding with everyone but the most deeply deluded ideologues (who frighteningly still comprise about 33% of the electorate).  

With the departures of Ailes, and O’Reilly and the defections of people like Megyn Kelly and other victims of the predatory creeps who lied for the Sex Predator-in-Chief (and the looming doom of Sean Hannity, the biggest remaining Lie Vendor at FOX) the tottering ruin of conservative media seem to be falling on hard times.  Breitbart is cratering (falling from 45th to 281st on Alexa), FOX has fallen behind CNN and MSNBC in ratings and even old warhorses like National Review are taking hits:

Other conservative media sites have also experienced declines in traffic in recent months, but none as pronounced as Breitbart’s. According to Alexa data, National Review Online, Infowars.com, The Daily Caller, and Drudge Report all saw slumps in their rankings. Over the last week, as Trump was engulfed in the Comey scandal, Fox News’s viewership dropped to third place behind CNN and MSNBC for the first time in 17 years.

Consequently, people who do not turn to media simply and solely to lie to them and tell them what their itching ears want to hear are ceasing to be fooled by the use of the Genetic Fallacy (“What? News from outside my Epistemological Bubble? That site you quote is ritually impure! I’m not listening! LALALALALALA!!!!”) and are willing to get their information from a wider assortment of sources and not merely Tribally-Approved apparatchiks. People who get sick of lies want somebody who will not lie through their teeth at them and if that somebody is telling the truth on a ritually impure site then so be it. Cuz Trump and his minions sure as hell are lying:

The problem always has been the lies for me.  It has been since “prolife” Christians went whole hog for the lie that “noble lies” are good and that Christians should passionately embrace lying for Jesus.  And the passionate embrace of a pathological liar by Real Christians[TM] has been the reason for my heartbreak and anger. Lies. Not “different points of view”. Out and out lies.

One of the biggest lies is that anybody who questions Trump is a “liberal” and that any “liberal” who rejects the “alternative facts” of Trump’s funhouse versions of reality are “elitists”. Yes, yes, I get that liberals can be annoying elitists. Indeed, one of their more endearing traits is that they anguish about their own elitism while the Right is now in a state where any self-reflection or self-criticism is a contemptible sign of weakness.

And that’s the thing: Lefties are at least capable of self-criticism. The Predator-in-Chief and the liars who assist him have not demonstrated the slightest capacity for self-criticism. They have all kinds of things to say about “libtards” (that charmingly cruel term that is oh-so-prolife and keenly aware of the dignity of the mentally disabled). But rare indeed is the occurrence of self-criticism on the Right and absolutely non-existent from the Narcissist-in-Chief.

So Kathy Griffin is heaped with chastisement from both left and right for her vile stunt. But when Ted Nugent repeatedl suggests killing Obama and Hillary, there is applause and laughter from the Right and the reward of a White House visit from Trump while the Right only gloats about how it “makes liberal snowflakes cry.” That’s the pattern, and it is set by Trump. Catholic Trump supporters who mouth the penitential rite about self-examination and humility for sin gleefully cheer his refusal to admit sin. The closest he ever came to an apology–saying that his confession of sexual assault was mere “locker room talk” was a total lie. It was not talk: it was a confession of sexual assault and it was followed by an assault on every woman who confirmed it. If that reminds you of Bill Clinton that’s because it’s identical to him. And it is what the Party of God and Personal Responsibility now stand for.

Those on the right who have attempted to warn the True Believers about what a conscience-free sociopath Trump is are routinely shouted down. Just read the comboxes of David French. Or watch the spectacle of the violent bullies in Mona Charen’s comboxes when she speaks out against beating up reporters.

The three principal weapons used by the Trump supporter (and nowhere more prominently than by Professional Catholic liars like Kellyanne Conway) never ever consist of the truth. Rather, they are consistently the Genetic Fallacy, the Tu Quoque (NO! THEM!), or the Ad Baculam (Might makes Right).

It is the contempt for truth that is the thing that fills my heart with cold fear for a subculture that boasts its God-given mandate to rule while serving the Father of Lies. And it is a lie that elitism and not love of the truth that animates opponents of Trump– a lie that makes it impossible for me to take seriously the constant tu quoque and moral equivalency lies told to defend his lies.

The core lie embraced and promoted by Trump’s defenders–and most especially his Christian defenders–is “Everybody lies and at least we lie for a good cause.” This is the language of the Father of Lies. It comes from hell and is directly opposed to the gospel. The gospel (remember that?) says to measure our actions, not against our culture war enemies, but against the standard of Christ the Truth.

The warning of the Tradition is Corruptio Optimi Pessima: the corruption of the best is the worst. The Religious Right that once claimed to uphold the truth now cynically and frankly lies while claiming to do it in a good cause. Its sole excuse is “They do it too” as though that suffice to justify it instead of making them just like their enemies.

No thanks. You’ve made yourselves worse than you enemies, O Trump defenders. You win. Hope you’re happy with the reward you will receive for it.

Takes apart “Nebraskans for the Death Penalty” after they rip some of his words bleeding from their context and lie through their teeth to suggest he supports the death penalty.

This kind of stuff is Exhibit A illustrating my complaint against anti-abortion-but-prolife Catholics who *claim* that stopping abortion and euthanasia is their “core non-negotiable”, but who in fact devote their time and energy to battling the Church on their favorite culture of death issue such the death penalty (aka “state-enforced euthanasia”).

The ringleader of this push to overturn the democratic process and reintroduce the death penalty after Nebraska lawfully abolished it is Nebraska’s Catholic governor, Peter Ricketts, who has personally donated $300,000 to the death penalty group, making him one of the campaign’s largest personal donors.

Bishop Conley’s spokesman has responded to this duplicity graciously:

“Governor Ricketts is a man of integrity, a great Catholic, and a friend to the Church,” Flynn said. “I don’t think he’d appreciate the disrespect and duplicity of ‘Nebraskans for the Death Penalty.’ I’m sure that as he becomes aware of the situation, he’ll encourage the group to stop using the face of Bishop Conley, a consistent opponent of the death penalty, in order to confuse Catholics before the election.”

Me, I’m not so gracious.  This kind of stuff is commonplace with the anti-abortion-but-not-prolife Right.  And the straightup Lying for Jesus stuff that tries to make the bishop a supporter of the death penalty is in keeping with the increasingly Machiavellian embrace of consequentialism by the increasingly cynical “prolife” right that uses the unborn as human shields to attack the Church.  For, of course, Governor Ricketts, while laboring to kill prisoners in the teeth of the Church clear teaching about the death penalty, proudly announces himself “prolife.”

Suggestion: Be more prolife, not less.  Stop spending your time, energy and $300,o0o to kill people and just devote it to what you *claim* is your #1 priority, the defense of the unborn.  Is that so hard?

Bravo Bp. Conley!

She catfished Catholic Twitter and he got hurt as collateral damage along the way. Chase’s first-hand account is here.

I had something like this done to me once, also on line, in a chat group. There was none of the relationship dimension that Chase had to endure. Just a person who deceived everybody about her identity. But when somebody lies to you about their identity and you believe them, you don’t have to have romantic feelings about them to feel deeply betrayed. It’s given me a bit of a radar (no idea how accurate) about this kind of thing. So I feel nothing but sadness and empathy for Chase and the others snookered by her and pity for the poor disturbed woman who did this. It’s such a betrayal of trust and it takes you a while to regain your ability to trust others. There’s so little we actually *know* about people we “know” online.

I wonder why people do such things. It sort of *feels* like this person just… needed to re-invent themselves. She seems to have gotten nothing monetarily out of it.

I remember in the Lying for Jesus debates a few years ago, one of the arguments briefly put forward was “Well, *actors* give a false name and invented identity and we have no objections!” Right. Because we know when we walk into the theatre that Elijah Wood isn’t *really* Frodo Baggins, but we willingly suspend our disbelief. In the same way, when I pick up a novel, I know that Bridget ban and Mearana don’t actually exist and that the Michael Flynn (who you really should read) is inventing the tale of the Spiral Arm for my amusement, not lying to me about anything.

I suspect something of the attraction of acting, or role-playing games, or writing fiction is in it when people concoct these elaborate cons. ThisCatholicGirl didn’t seem to be in it for money as, for instance, Fr. Corapi was with his elaborate fabulisms. She seems to have just gotten something satisfying about being this invented girl and having the friends and virtual relationships this fake person had created. Only the key element of “willing suspension of disbelief” among the audience members was ignored and people became unwilling participants in a lie. That’s the difference between the social contract that is fiction and lying.

Mysterious. And disturbing.

Anyway, prayers for the victims of this con game.

Ross Douthat relates a grisly tale of a time a truck spilled aborted babies on the road (and the compulsion of urbane abortion supporter to Not See it) to the current story of the Center for Medical Progress’ exposure of the gruesome lunchtime chat of PP reps about the “crunchiness” of the babies they gaily slaughter:

It’s a very specific disgust, informed by reason and experience — the reasoning that notes that it’s precisely a fetus’s humanity that makes its organs valuable, and the experience of recognizing one’s own children, on the ultrasound monitor and after, as something more than just “products of conception” or tissue for the knife. That’s why Planned Parenthood’s apologists have fallen back on complaints about “deceptive editing” (though full videos were released in both cases), or else simply asked people to look away. And it’s why many of my colleagues in the press seem uncomfortable reporting on the actual content of the videos.

Indeed, what the videos do is confront us with both the humanity of the victims and the inhumanity of the butchers. And Planned Parenthood knows this. That’s why they are spending so much time on the twin strategy of talking about the “tone” of the people discussing this and then hurrying on to calling the Center for Medical Progress “deceptive”.

What chatter about “tone” means is “We regret that our reps got caught saying clearly and without euphemism what it is we actually do–which is crushing the skulls of children and then gutting them for parts. Our whole livelihood depends on not speaking clearly of these things and so we are royally pissed at these idiot employees for bringing into the light of day the truth of what we do. We are taking steps to make sure that plain English will never be used again.”

After this non-apology, Planned Parenthood and its fellow travelers then begin the real work of denial and disinformation, which is to get our minds and churning stomachs off the camel of ghastly inhumanity we have just swallowed and to focus our attention on the gnat of legality. To that end, the very first move is for PP to call in a draconian judge to play a bit of smashmouth and crush the free speech right of the Center for Medical Progress by ordering them to release no further videos.    I hope CMP tells the Court to go to hell and uses the interwebz to make the videos available from an off shore site a la Wikileaks, but we’ll see how that goes.  Meanwhile, as they attempt to silence CMP, PP offers grotesque arguments are made that crushing the skulls of babies and gutting them for parts is just like donating blood.  Coupled with this is the media blackout, which former PP member Camille Paglia has great fun shredding to bits.  Because the main goal is that we NOT SEE.

More than this, the focus becomes white hot on the fact that the videos, alas, do not in fact document what they purport to document: that PP is turning, or even trying to turn, a profit off of this grisly work.  On this point, it appears they are correct.

Here’s the deal: PP is not required to operate at a loss. They can recoup their costs for equipment, storage, transportation, etc. And, as even Abby Johnson has pointed out, that appears to be exactly what the videos actually show. Indeed, the only people pushing–and pushing hard–for PP to raise their prices are the CMP people themselves.  Some people have argued that the third video succeeds where the other two have failed in establishing a felony but, if so, I’m not seeing it.  Certainly, Stem Express is making a killing in more ways than one. (The most disturbing part of her story is this bit:

O’Donnell said she fainted the first time she was part of this process and was told by someone in the room, “some of us don’t ever get over it.”

But, again, apart from the horrifying nature of the monstrous work (all of which is legal in These United States) StemExpress appears to be a for profit company and not in violation of the law (though I could be wrong).  Meanwhile, it appears that there is still no evidence that PP is turning a profit off their monstrous work–which was the point of the video.

Result: if that analysis is accurate, then PP has grist for claiming these videos–especially when CMP is urging them to charge more–are an entrapment sting and that, yes, the makers of the video are being dishonest. So, with brazen chutzpah, Pelosi tells the Go Big or Go Home lie that there *is* no controversy about baby part trafficking. Elsewhere, PP pulls out some good old-fashioned smashmouth threats to media to not so much as air the videos.

Further result: Instead of distancing themselves from PP, Dems are already starting to use the videos in order to fundraise on behalf of themselves and PP with the perfectly predictable claim–verified by the makers of the videos themselves–that the makers of the videos are liars and, that the videos do not at all establish the commission of felony. Left unmentioned, of course, is what they do establish: the grisly inhumanity of PP reps calloused souls and the crushing and rending of human beings they commit so casually.

The good news is that some real damage has been done to PP–for the moment. A measure of their panic and desperation is the flat out naked lies Cecile Richards is telling, claiming that murderers and abortion clinic bombers are making the videos. They’ve also hired a crisis-management PR firm, another indication of panic.   Those who can stomach listening to this chatter cannot but be horrified. The bad news is that it is far from clear that the videos will have a good long-term effect. Congressional investigations will in all likelihood be emotionally satisfying political theatre for prolifers that will yield nothing in terms of actual punishment for PP for the very good reason that there is nothing illegal being documented here. Meanwhile, in the midst of the best political environment for defunding PP we’ve seen in years, the USCCB has called for defunding PP.  After the GOP performed its customary feat of stabbing prolifers in the back and refusing to act, it then began making noises about fast-tracking  a defunding bill. We’ll see.  Long experience has taught that talk without action is the GOP game plan.

And, on the downside, the alacrity with which PP and the Dems are turning lemons into lemonade and using the video to raise money for themselves–just as they did in 2011 when they generated $650,000 dollars in donations and a big fat atonement gift of $7.5 million from Susan G. Komen for the sin of chickening out under pressure–is worrying.  Likewise, MoveOn.org is thrilled and delighted at the fundraising opportunity handed them on a silver platter by geniuses who decided that hacking PP was a great idea.  The Obama administration, likewise, appears delighted by the opportunity to use the sledgehammer of the law to go after people who appear to be acting illegally.  Who could have predicted it? (By the way, a word about the prolife media’s horse race to provide reliably unreliable coverage of all this. Unfortunately, I have been burned so many times trusting the word of prolife media that I routinely have to verify their claims and headlines–another reason I think Lying for Jesus is such a corrosive and disastrous policy. So, for instance, we were breathlessly informed “Coca-Cola, Ford and Xerox: We No Longer Donate to Planned Parenthood Abortion Business” and likewise “American Express and American Cancer Society: We No Longer Donate to Planned Parenthood“. Both of these immediately got circulated around to me with notes to the effect of “So, Mr. Puritan! Still say that lying is always bad? Look at the awesome effect these videos are having!” Yeah. About that. Turns out these businesses either never funded PP or have not funded PP for years. Yet the headlines are worded in order to give the impression that they were eager contributors to PP till the videos came out. In short, there’s no There there. But this will continue to circulate like a bad penny–and provide more grist for the perfectly accurate PP charge that prolifers trade in lies and dishonesty. If PP are smart–and they are–they could easily parlay all this into yet another win for themselves as they did in 2011. I prefer that PP lose, not win. So I continue to urge prolife Catholics to fight with the weapons of the Spirit and not the weapons of this world. For my troubles, I am routinely charged with disloyalty and being a secret pro-abort. Whaddayagonnadoo?) Meanwhile, Fr. Robert Barron reflects on the death of God and the corresponding loss of human dignity on display in the recent videos of PP reps chatting casually over fava beans and a nice chianti of the crushing of baby skull and the gutting of children:

For the past two hundred years, atheists have been loudly asserting that the dismissal of God will lead to human liberation. I would strenuously argue precisely the contrary. Once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested. In the measure that people still speak of the irreducible dignity of the individual, they are, whether they know it or not, standing upon Biblical foundations. When those foundations are shaken—as they increasingly are today—a culture of death will follow just as surely as night follows day. If there is no God, then human beings are dispensable—so why not trade the organs of infants for a nice Lamborghini?

Ultimately, it is going to have to be here, and not on nine day wonder PR flaps that the battle must be fought. Revealing the horrors of an abortion culture and counting on turning stomachs to win only works if the majority of the culture is not innured to horrors. I see very little indication we are, as a culture, moving toward greater sensitivity to the suffering of the inconvenient. So I will not be terribly surprised if the footage that is currently making prolifers gasp in horror and pro-aborts squirm with discomfort is not used as grist for comedy in a year or two. Fallen man has an amazing capacity to numb himself to horrors he cannot  bring himself to oppose.  And 80% of Americans cannot bring themselves to oppose this.  20% are fanatically in favor or it and 60% dislike it, wish it would go away, and keep supporting it.

This kind does not come out but by prayer and fasting.  We need to get serious.

A reader writes:

Hi Mark, I hope all is well. In light of the perennial issue of whether it is ok to sometimes lie (well, I agree with you that Church teaching is clear on this, but you know what I mean), I thought you might be interested in this documentary.

I have not seen it, but according to the review, it seems to demonstrate that white lies, or “good” lies, frequently leads to bigger and worse lies, as people continue to rationalize their behavior. It also sounds like there’s some interesting material on the desire for confession, the act of “swearing on a bible,” and the idea that often the people telling the lies aren’t evil horrible monsters but ordinary people who screw up.

It sounds like they have their head screwed on straight, which is not something I can say for the Lying for Jesus crowd.

And I would agree with C.S. Lewis that lies are typically the refuge of the powerless. Children lie because it’s their only defense from forces they can’t control. So I agree with Thomas that most lying is venial and of the “Responses to ‘Does this dress make me look fat?’ variety”. But when Christians–Christians!–start making wilful apologetics for lying and painting it as noble–even blaspheming by saying Jesus was a noble liar–I just want to take a two by four to somebody’s skull and knock sense into them. What part of “God cannot lie” is unclear? So yeah, the embrace of the little lie is the gateway drug to the Big Lies and the native language of hell. We can reduce the culpability for an awful lot of lying to near zero, particularly in high stress cases. But the moment we move from saying somebody is not culpable for lying in a high stress situation to devoting increasing amounts of energy to thinking up rationalization for regarding ourselves as heroes for lying? That’s the moment we have lost our minds.

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