If Douthat’s Critics Disagree with Him, They Should Say Why, Not Try to Get Him Fired

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Torrenegra https://www.flickr.com/photos/alextorrenegra/

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Torrenegra https://www.flickr.com/photos/alextorrenegra/

Ross Douthat write op-ed posts for the New York Times. He recently wrote a post that contained opinions that inflamed certain members of the administration and faculties of more than one prominent Catholic university.

Instead of making their own case for what they believed, these folks sent a letter to the New York Times that certainly sounds as if they want the newspaper to fire Mr Douthat for his wrong thinking.

I wrote a post about this nonsense for the National Catholic Register. 

Here’s part of what I said:

I didn’t know who Ross Douthat was until a few days ago. I realize that reveals me for the rube I am to all the whole wide world, but so be it.

My life the past couple of weeks has been an exercise in maintaining an even strain. I don’t feel like describing the details. It makes me tired to think about it, much less write it down. I’ll just toss you a couple of hints. My days have been taken up with ugly encounters with the family drug addict, troubles with my 90-year-old Mama with dementia, and a brush with the existential realities concerning my own health.

I’m still standing, but I feel used up with the effort.

Given all that, Ross Douthat, whose name set off a ping of vague recognition when I heard it, but whose identity was otherwise unknown to me, barely tapped my consciousness when he wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times last week. I’ve since learned that Douthat writes opinion pieces about the Catholic Church for the New York Times on a regular basis.

I saw a link to this particular opinion piece on a discussion board I frequent. It kind of entered my awareness that there was a bit of flapping and squawking about whatever he’d said. But I was slogging through a tough patch of real life. I didn’t care about what Douthat had said, and I also didn’t care about the squawking and flapping his opinions elicited.

That’s pretty much what the internet is about: squawking and flapping, huffing and puffing, hissing and spitting. I assumed that Douthat’s opinion piece shared his opinion about something or other, and the subsequent carrying on was just a matter of other people giving counter opinions. That’s not exactly dialogue. But it is fair play.

Then, today, while I was reeling from more bizarre stuff in my personal life, I saw an article about a group of Big Names in the Catholic academic u-verse who had signed a letter which appears to be an attempt to get the New York Times to either instruct Douthat about his opinions or fire him. They tried to dress it up with fancy talk, but their reason was that they didn’t agree with what he had written.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/if-douthats-critics-rely-on-censorship-maybe-theres-a-problem-with-their-id/#ixzz3pyxbJz9a

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Persecution, not Divorced and Remarrieds, is the Most Serious Issue Facing Christianity Today

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

My colleague Kate O’Hare interviewed Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mar Bahai Soro about the holocaust of Christians that is taking place in the Middle East. 

To be honest, reading this interview put the hijinks of the Synod on the Family in perspective. It made the whole thing seem a little bit like an exercise in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It would have been better to hold a Synod on Christian persecution in much of the world, coupled as it is by increasing harassment, bashing and legal attacks on the rights of Christians in the so-called Christian West.

Christianity is under attack as it has not been since the Muslim wars of conquest in the Middle Ages. Today’s line of attack is even more aggressive because it has not one, not even two, but several fronts. Christians are being subjected to genocide in their ancient homelands. Christians endure violent persecution in places like North Korea and certain parts of India. Christians are subjected to government control and abuse in places such as China, and Christians are under social and legal attack in an attempt to drive them from public forums and banish their ministries in much of the West, including the United States.

That is the most serious issue facing Christianity today.

From Angelus:

Many, if not most, of the Christians will be forced to leave Iraq forever, but some are determined to stay and see that Christianity maintains a living presence in some of the places that first heard the message of the Apostles.

In America, there are those determined to help. They can’t work a miracle, but you have to start somewhere.

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mar Bawai Soro resides at the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle in El Cajon, in San Diego County. It serves approximately 60,000 Catholics in several western states who are part of the Chaldean or Assyrian Rite. Many are immigrants from the Middle East, especially Iraq and Iran.

Bishop Soro was formerly a bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East. A longtime advocate of the primacy of the Apostolic See of Rome — he proudly displays thick albums of photos of the times he has met Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis — Bishop Soro was received into the Catholic Church in January 2008.

He recently joined forces with Kingdom Special Operations, a Las Vegas-based private security company. Staffed by former intelligence officers and military Special Forces members, it goes on assignments worldwide for the U.S. government and other entities.

But the CEO of Kingdom, Orange County native Roger Flores, is a Catholic and a Knight of Columbus, and he has always maintained that part of Kingdom’s mission is to help his fellow Christians.

 

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Dying to Keep a Job … Freedom of Conscience and Abortion, Euthanasia

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Do you support forcing doctors and nurses to violate their consciences by killing their patients with abortion and euthanasia?

How does this overall concept apply to the questions raised by the jailing of Kim Davis?

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Tyndale Publishers Awarded Permanent Injunction Against HHS Mandate

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

We won one.

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has granted a permanent injunction against the United States government in the matter of its attempt to force Tyndale Publishers to abide by the HHS Mandate. In other words, the court ruled that attempts to force Tyndale to abide by the HHS Mandate had previously been ruled Unconstitutional in the Hobby Lobby decision.

The reason for this is that Tyndale is a for-profit corporation, as opposed to the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is a non-profit. The Hobby Lobby decision addressed for-profits.

This allowed the Obama Administration to issue a new set of guidelines, forcing the nuns to abide by the HHS Mandate. It also forces the Little Sisters to take their case to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, I wonder why, given the Hobby Lobby case, the government didn’t just drop its case against Tyndale. Why was the publisher forced to seek this injunction? The Obama administration seems determined to try to force Christian employers to violate their faiths, up to and including forcing them to take their individual cases to court to claim their rights.

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10th Circuit Rules First Amendment Protections Don’t Apply to Little Sisters of the Poor

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/112363286@N08/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/112363286@N08/

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor are not affiliated with a specific church and they are a non-profit, so the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them.

Ditto for the Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, the Catholic organization through which the Little Sisters buy their insurance.

While that may sound a bit off-the cuff, it’s the gist of the ruling.

This is how the on-going war against people of faith is played out. It rides in on the back of the legal sophistry that the First Amendment only applies to recognized churches and then only to what is done within the aegis of that recognized church. The verbiage is to limit “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” This kind of limitation effectively destroys our most cherished freedoms, including freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion.

The 10th Circuit has bought into this fiction big time, because … well … because they are idiots. Or rather, because they are ideologues. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I repeat myself.

There is a growing — and I mean rapidly growing — opinion in this country that We the People should begin to ignore the courts. That is a dangerous notion that I will write about at length later. But the public attitude underlying it has its roots in this kind of absurd ruling. This is a re-writing and abrogation of the First Amendment that damages the freedoms and liberties of every American citizen today and into future generations.

The people who support this are throwing away their own freedoms for no other reason than a desire to get at someone whose opinion and beliefs they do not share. The courts are playing fool to this because — and this seems obvious — at least a number of members of the judiciary are ideologues with only a narrow understanding of their responsibilities to our country.

This particular move is a result of the HHS Mandate which is a result of the hubris of a president who seems addicted to an imperial view of himself and his office. How many times has President Obama made statements that he can enact policy without Congress? How many times has Congress answered him in the affirmative?

Congress has always had the power to rescind the HHS Mandate. They did not have to let it go into effect in the first place. They have not used this power in any way except as a campaign tool to win elections. If campaign promises were Congressional action, this would be an entirely different country. It would be a country in which We the People would have some hope of making a difference when we vote.

As it is, most of us have figured out that, no matter who we elect, they end up lying to us, ignoring us and doing things that hurt us. Why should we be surprised when the judges these folks appoint behave in the same way?

The 10th Circuit does not necessarily have the last say on this issue. The Supreme Court can chose to hear the case and overturn this ruling. The question is, will they?

As for the Little Sisters of the Poor, they intend to continue in their ministry and stay faithful to their faith. This is the challenge and the example for each and every one of us.

From CNA Daily News here at Patheos:

Disappointment follows ruling against Little Sisters in mandate case

Denver, Colo., Jul 14, 2015 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Little Sisters of the Poor have reiterated their commitment to following their conscience as they care for the poor and dying, following a federal appeals court ruling that they must obey the federal contraception mandate.

“As Little Sisters of the Poor, we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith,” said Mother Provincial Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire.

“And we should not have to make that choice, because it violates our nation’s commitment to ensuring that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. For over 175 years, we have served the neediest in society with love and dignity. All we ask is to be able to continue our religious vocation free from government intrusion.”

Sr. Maguire responded to a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Little Sisters of the Poor on July 14.

The sisters are among several hundred plaintiffs that have challenged the federal contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties. In the case of the Little Sisters, the fines could amount to around $2.5 million a year, or about 40 percent of the $6 million the Sisters beg for annually to run their ministry.

Met with a wave of protest, the contraception mandate has undergone a number of revisions. However, the sisters say that it still requires them to violate their beliefs.

 

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Celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom 2015

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

I’ve overlooked the Fortnight for Freedom this year because of the rush events ranging from Pope Francis’ encyclical to the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage.

Let’s take today this weekend to meditate and pray over what it means to have the immense privilege of being a Christian who is also an American.

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The Supreme Court’s War on Government Of, By and For the People

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by david_jones https://www.flickr.com/photos/cloudsoup/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by david_jones https://www.flickr.com/photos/cloudsoup/

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

 

Can the Republic survive a federal government and a Supreme Court that is both corporatist and nihilist?

That is the question.

The United States Supreme Court has been waging a successful war on government of, by and for the people for several decades now. Roe v Wade and Obergefell v Hodges bookend an almost 50-year-old judicial bypass of democracy and the democratic process.

In both instances, the Supreme Court jumped into an arena where the democratic process was working very well. The Court slashed through the democratic process, ending it abruptly and disastrously. The democratic process was dealing with the question of legal abortion in the always-messy, always-effective way that is democracy in action. One state would legalize abortion in certain circumstances, another state would tighten abortion restrictions. The first state would revise its abortion laws again, and a third state would decide to legalize.

It would have taken time, but the democratic process was working this out according to the will of the people. There is no doubt that, if the Court had allowed the process to work, it would have worked. What we would have ended up with would have been a much more just and — this is crucial — culturally-agreed-upon solution. Our laws would have reflected the will of the people, and for that reason, they would have stood. There would have been a lot of electioneering and speechifying, but there would have been no destructive culture war and the resulting breakdown of the body politic which we have seen since Roe.

The Court, by injecting itself into a healthy, working democratic process, and arbitrarily ending that process by the use of the brute force of fictional “findings” in the Constitution, created an on-going Constitutional crisis such as this country had not seen since the Civil War. Flash forward 50 years, and we arrive at Obergefell v Hodges.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was another slam-dunk of the democratic process on an issue that was being debated and legislated over time. There is no doubt that the democratic process would have resolved this issue had the courts stayed out of it. It would have taken time, and again, it would have been messy. But the end result would have been a solution that We the People accepted and that would not have damaged this country.

The DOMA decision of two years ago set the lower courts on their domino effect overturning of state statutes pertaining to the definition of marriage. That allowed the Supreme Court to do exactly what it intended when it overturned DOMA, which was to issue a draconian ruling. Yesterday’s decision was a judicial one-two punch. Anyone with half a brain could see that the issue had been decided when the Court set up the DOMA decision in the first place.

I suppose the lessons of Roe are why they decided to take this backdoor route to legislating from the bench. That, and the opinion polls which gave them the entirely false notion that they were acting in a manner that the public would accept.

Roe and Obergefell bookend tragic overstepping by the Supreme Court that have done and will do incalculable damage to the Republic. Roe shoved into the Constitution the legal fiction that some human beings are not in fact human and their lives have no value under the law. Obergefell destroys marriage as a legal construct. It enshrines cultural nihilism in the 14th Amendment and sets the Constitution on a collision course with itself.

Obergefell inevitably places the Supreme Court in the position of legislative arbiter on the limits and allowances of all manner of American freedoms which we have held dear and fought wars to preserve since this nation’s founding. We are going to see the Court’s ham-handed fine-tunings of the Bill of Rights on a plethora of challenges that will come from yesterday’s ruling. Each one of these subsequent rulings will do damage to American freedoms. Every ruling will limit the rights of We the People and will strengthen the Court’s power as a legislative body with dictatorial powers and no checks and balances.

Notice that I said that the yesterday’s ruling places the Supreme Court as the legislative arbiter. Obergefell is so destructive to the democratic process that it will inevitably remove whole areas of the law from the democratic process and place them entirely in the hands of the Court. The ruling is so nihilistic that it creates an arbitrary legal option for nihilism in future proceedings.

The Supreme Court has set aside democracy.

I mentioned corporatism a few paragraphs back. I am aware that my concern about corporatism confuses many Public Catholic readers. But corporatism, as practiced in America, is government, working entirely for multinational corporations who are like parasites draining every bit of economic vitality out of this country. Corporatism is not only a grave evil, it is the absolute enemy of the Republic.

These twin evils — corporatism and nihilism — are the underlying principles behind many of the Supreme Courts decisions in the past 10 years. The Supreme Court has become anti-democracy and subservient to corporatism.

The Court is not the only institution which serves corporatism and nihilism. Our legislative process is also poisoned by these twin evils, which are, at their root, very similar. Corporatists and nihilists share an absolute contempt for the will of the people. They are bedfellows in their parallel goal of side-stepping and annihilating the democratic process.

Their best friend in this is the United States Supreme Court.

The Court destroyed marriage as a legal entity yesterday. It also created a plethora of avenues by which basic American freedoms can be destroyed.

Advocates of gay marriage may themselves come to rue this decision. It will take time before that happens. A lot of tragedy and excess will have to play out before things get so ripe that everyone can smell the rot. But to the extent that gay marriage advocates value marriage and were simply trying to acquire the good of it for themselves, they have failed. Instead of buying the house, they burned it down.

The question before us is a relatively straightforward one, and the answer, at least to me, is equally straightforward. Can the Republic survive a Supreme Court that is both corporatist and nihilist?

The answer is no.

America may, as Rome did, go on as a great military power long after the Republic is dead. But democracy cannot survive if its own government turns on it and shuts it down. Corporatism, if we do not stop it, will be the death of democracy.

Nihilism, on the other hand, is such an unworkable social construct that it cannot govern at all. No society can survive as a nihilistic society. America will not go on as a great military power shorn of its democracy if nihilism prevails. America will fail horribly and fall into a debacle of ruin if it is governed by the forces of nihilism.

Nihilism and corporatism are very similar. Corporatism, is, at its root profoundly amoral. Nihilism is, at its root, profoundly anti-human.

American civilization was so strong that it has taken these blows and kept on walking. But the Republic cannot operate forever under the governance of corporatism and nihilism. America can be destroyed, not from without, but by the corruption of its institutions.

That is exactly what we are facing with our corporatist/nihilist Supreme Court and its ugly war on government, of, by and for the people.

 

 

For other thoughts on Obergefell v Hodges, read what Kathy Schiffer, Simcha Fischer, Pia de SolenniJane the ActuaryFather Michael Duffy, Frank Weathers, the Anchoress and Deacon Greg have to say.

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Christians in the Muslim World: Egypt

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gigi Ibrahim https://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiibrahim/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gigi Ibrahim https://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiibrahim/

This is a bit long, but I think it’s well worth watching.

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Breaking: Federal Court Forces Notre Dame to Follow HHS Mandate

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Scott Gulbransen https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdunlvrebel/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Scott Gulbransen https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdunlvrebel/

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the University of Notre Dame’s appeal against the HHS Mandate today.

In a brazen disregard for the First Amendment, the Court argued that the “burden” on the government to re-write the HHS Mandate to allow the Catholic University of Notre Dame to follow the dictates of its faith was too high. The court also said that the “burden” on Notre Dame of being forced to violate its faith and abandon the free exercise of religion which is the guarantee of every American was just not all that important.

They didn’t put it in those words, and I am deliberately writing it in purple prose. But that is the essential meaning.

The court ruled that an agency rule written by a back-room committee of abortion industry insiders trumps the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion. It based this ruling on the bizarre opinion that abiding by the Constitution of the United States placed an undue burden on the government of the United States.

Here is what they said, without my interpretation and in their own little words:

“The very word ‘accommodation’ implies a balance of competing interests,” the court noted.

“And when we compare the burden on the government or third parties of having to establish some entirely new method of providing contraceptive coverage with the burden on Notre Dame of simply notifying the government that the ball is now in the government’s court, we cannot conclude that Notre Dame has yet established its right to the injunctive relief that it is seeking before trial,” the court said.

 

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HHS Mandate Loses Another Round with the Supremes

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. By Ed Uthman. https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. By Ed Uthman. https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

The United States Supreme Court issued an order yesterday that will block the federal government from enforcing the HHS Mandate against a whole range of religious organizations. This follows similar injunctions granted to the Little Sister of the Poor, Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College and Notre Dame.

It is important to remember that this is not a Supreme Court ruling. It is a court order. It requires the government to file a brief with the court defending its position that these organization should be forced to obey the Mandate.

The Obama administration has taken the idiotic position that Catholic Charities and the Little Sisters of the Poor are not “religious employers.” This is a clear attempt to restrict First Amendment Protections to clergy and behind church sanctuary doors. It is in line with the thinking of atheists and militant secularists who have stated that their purpose is to destroy religious influence and religious voices in the larger culture.

I believe that the HHS Mandate could very well become the legacy of the Obama Administration. Whatever else he does, he will always be remembered as the president who waged war on religious freedom.

From LifeNews.com:

The Supreme Court issued an order today preventing the Obama administration from forcing religious groups in Pennsylvania to obey the HHS mandate that requires them to pay for abortion-causing drugs for their employees. This is the fifth time the Supreme Court has rebuked the Obama administration and prevented it from making such a mandate.

In an order issued last night, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito prevented the federal government from enforcing its contraceptive mandate against a range of Pennsylvania-based religious organizations including Catholic Charities and other Catholic schools and social service organizations connected with the Diocese of Erie and the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The Supreme Court has previously protected the Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, and the University of Notre Dame.

According to the Becket Fund,  Justice Alito’s order is similar to the preliminary order Justice Sotomayor provided to the Little Sisters of the Poor on New Year’s Eve in 2013. The group said order requires the government to brief the Supreme Court next week on why it should be allowed to fine these organizations for refusing to distribute abortion-inducing drugs and devices and other contraceptives.

Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told LifeNews: “How many times must the government lose in court before it gets the message? For years now the government has been claiming that places like Catholic Charities and the Little Sisters of the Poor are not “religious employers” worthy of an exemption.”

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