Tumbling America and the Narrative Thrust UPDATED

America is in the process of tumbling: she has one party interested only in “remaking” America with or without the constitution’s guidance; it is a party become so expert at political maneuvering that it no longer believes it actually has to lead, build consensus or compromise — ever — and another party that can’t manage to stick a post into a hole and call it a goal. The Democrats and Republicans remind me of nothing so much as Jules and Brett in Pulp Fiction — the Democrats alternately sly and furious, charming then terrifying, and the doomed and pathetic GOP surrendering its Big Kahuna Burger and stuttering “what? What?” until it gets shot, and then shot again. From all sides. (Language warning for that link; you’re warned)

Washington is broken because the process is broken, and the process is broken because the idiots we keep sending to “represent” us are easily broken by power, rank, privilege and the lure of the lobbyists.

And the reason these idiots are easily broken by all of that is because spiritually, we are adrift, unmoored to the values and priorities that should keep us from falling into these worldly traps. And we don’t even rightly understand how we identify ourselves or each other, anymore; we are therefore supremely disoriented.

So here is Rusty Reno, today, at First Things, concluding that the so-called “liberals” have lost their liberality and fallen into narrow parochialism: (something we saw, I think, when Sarah Palin emerged in 2008 and some sneered that she “had never traveled out of the country” in such unison that you realized they were only talking to each other and had developed their own narrow view of what constituted wisdom.)

We’ve all experienced the liberal default to denunciation. Reservations about radical feminism? “Patriarchal.” Criticize multicultural lunacy? “Cultural imperialist.” Question affirmative action? “Racist.” Opposed to same-sex marriage? “Homophobic” or “heterosexist.” Worried that increased taxation will stifle economic growth? “Protecting the rich” and “indifferent to the poor.” The message is that anyone who questions liberal policies is either a bigot or out for himself, and probably both.

The decline of religiosity among liberal elites in recent decades has accentuated this parochialism. During the debates leading up to the revision of the general-education requirements at Harvard, some genuinely liberal faculty members proposed a required course on reason and faith, observing that students need to understand the religious ways in which the vast majority of human beings have and still think about First Things.

But it was not to be. Secular jihadist Steven Pinker insisted that faith “has no place in anything but a religious institution.” Concern for faith and its influential role in society “is an American anachronism,” and “the rest of the West is moving beyond it.” In other words, the Smart People who run the world needn’t waste their time with the beliefs that govern the lives of most of the folks who actually live in the world.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, and then perhaps consider it in light of this column by Chaput that First Things has just gone live with, where the bishop writes:

A new kind of America is emerging in the early 21st century, and it’s likely to be much less friendly to religious faith than anything in the nation’s past. That has implications for every aspect of Catholic social ministry. . . .communities, and especially religious communities, have a great deal of power in shaping attitudes and behavior. Churches are one of the mediating institutions, along with voluntary associations, fraternal organizations, and especially the family, that stand between the power of the state and the weakness of individuals. They’re crucial to the “ecology” of American life as we have traditionally understood it.

And that’s why, if you dislike religion or resent the Catholic Church, or just want to reshape American life into some new kind of experiment, you need to use the state to break the influence of the Church and her ministries.

In the years ahead, we’re going to see more and more attempts by civil authority to interfere in the life of believing communities. We’ll also see less and less unchallenged space for religious institutions to carry out their work in the public square.

I think this piece by Chaput will surprise many, particularly perhaps our more-progressive friends, by what commenter jkm referrerd to in another thread as his “extreme centrism”

Chaput’s piece actually fleshes out my meaning in my own piece at First Things, where I wrote:

Perhaps sometime in the not-too-distant future, as governments move against her, the Church will be forced into poverty and become subject to the oppression of her earlier days. We may even see martyrs in the Western Church, once more . . . The nation may tumble; nations always do, in the end, when America tumbles, the Roman Catholic Church may very well see itself superseded by a government-friendly “American Catholic Church” that marginalizes the Roman church and even sends it underground.

The nation is tumbling. The leadership vacuum is so profound that if ever there was an opportunity to talk third party, this might be it.

But don’t fool yourself; the risk is enormous — the Democrats still own the press, and the press still matters. To lose is to install Obamanomics in all its forms.

But to win, well — don’t fool yourself there, either; you’re still not going to get the America of your youth back; the narrative thrust is always relentlessly forward, and the attacks on the churches will not relent, they will move forward too.

It’s really just a question of speed.

Related: Bachmann, the Anti-Christ and the Political Theologian

Also: Are conservative churches going “radical”?

UPDATE: And from Jack Smith:

In his July 17 blog post, Deacon Keith Fournier of Catholic Online lamented the silence of the U.S. and other western governments about these abuses against human rights and religious freedom in China. “We should ask ourselves the following question; with our growing economic reliance and dependence upon the Regime in China: Are we sacrificing our fundamental obligation to defend human freedom and human rights because we depend on the economic assistance of a repressive regime?”

At one time we might have insisted that China’s desires to be accepted and welcomed as a partner with the West must be met by an insistence that it respects this fundamental human right of religious expression and organization. Now we must be careful that our need to come, hat in hand, to China in the economic sphere doesn’t require us to be silent about such significant restraints on human dignity.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • James

    (Anchoress said – “…. you’re still not going to get the America of your youth back; the narrative thrust is always relentlessly forward, and the attacks on the churches will not relent, they will move forward too.”)

    Here, let me put this in more accurate terms that transcends the pettiness of mere politics:

    (“…. you’re still not going to get the Roman Catholic Church of your youth back; the narrative thrust is always relentlessly forward, and the attacks from within the church will not relent, they will move forward too.”)

    And THAT my friends is the real issue here. Destroy the timeless Truths and precepts of Christ’s Church (the moral roadblocks and walls of a healthy society) and the nation as a whole will soon follow.

    The Devil always does his best work when his message is wrapped in the sweet candy-coating of “tolerance and compassion”.

    [Wow. I must really need a retreat. One comment and already, my button is feeling pushed. Please don't rewrite my words for me; I am pretty careful when I choose them. By all means, say what you want, and push your own ideas or interpretations, but don't "fix" it for me, okay? It's rude. -admin]

  • James

    *sigh*

    Okay Anchoress.

    I get it, you’re fragile right now and apparently you see threats from every corner. I guess the email attacks you’ve been getting require you to vent your frustrations onto someone. Go ahead Anchoress- I’ll be your whipping boy in here. I’ll take it with gratitude.

    [Oh. My. Gosh. No, I'm not fragile, I'm just in a bad mood. You're not my "whipping boy." You're just rude and I'm calling you on it. -admin]

  • vox borealis

    Anchoress, I think that you *are* being a little touchy with your admin comments @1. All James was saying—I think–is that the problem the US is facing is deeper than merely a right-left divide. Rather, it is profound spiritual crisis. In fact, Bishop Chaput makes the same point in First Things article that you link: “The trouble is that America’s religious soul—its Christian subtext—has been weakening for decades.”

    The threat to close comments seems to come quicker each day, and indeed the Deacon has closed his comments for the near future. I don’t know. It seems like a web portal such as Patheos naturally invites comments, and given the core topic (religion, across denominations), it is not surprising that the comments range widely in tone, content, stridency, lunacy, etc. I would have thought that sort of “comes with the territory. Maybe not.

    [I understand what James was saying. I just asked him not to "fix" my writing for me. He wanted to make a point about internal struggles in the church, and it's a valid point, but MY intention was to write about not only the Catholic church, but ALL of the churches, because they're all -- except for the PC ones -- going to be under attack. So, I don't think it "touchy" of me to object to James "clarifying" it for me. Capiche? admin]

  • James

    [Anchoress snapped - "Oh. My. Gosh. No, I'm not fragile, I'm just in a bad mood. You're not my "whipping boy." You're just rude and I'm calling you on it." -admin]

    Thank you, Anchoress.

    Do you feel better now?

    [The anchoress "snapped"? Really? You reallly don't understand why I'm beginning to find you a passive-aggressive game-player? You really don't see how rude you are? You realllly don't understand why you're annoying me? Really? Don't answer that. I suggest you refrain from responding to me -- or talking "about" me in my own threads, which is also incredibly rude and just stick to the topic of the post. I'm all for people talking about ideas, but -- as I said yesterday -- I won't stand for passive aggressive nonsense. -admin]

  • James

    Thank you vox borealis. You are spot-on on all counts.

  • Bertha

    James writes, “Destroy the timeless Truths and precepts of Christ’s Church…”

    I don’t think we can destroy Truth. We can ignore it, abuse it, and twist it to fit our own desires, but we cannot destroy it. The actual danger is that we destroy ourselves by perverting Truth.

    [That's very good. admin]

  • James

    (“The actual danger is that we destroy ourselves by perverting Truth.”)

    Destroying ourselves IS in essence destroying Truth. Are we not the embodiment of Christ’s ultimate Truth? Just because the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s Church is no guarantee that His Church will survive in this nation- or even this hemisphere.

  • SteveM

    Re: “The message is that anyone who questions liberal policies is either a bigot or out for himself, and probably both.”

    How about this in parallel?:

    The message is that anyone who questions the Cult of Military Exceptionalism and the Leviathan National Security State is either a traitor or out for himself, and probably both.

    Anchroress, there’s a lot of tumbling happening at both ends…

  • Joseph Marshall

    But to win, well — don’t fool yourself there, either; you’re still not going to get the America of your youth back; the narrative thrust is always relentlessly forward, and the attacks on the churches will not relent, they will move forward too.

    What will you “win” if there is a massive implosion in coverage in Medicare by the time you and your husband retire? What will you “win” if there is no alternative in Medicaid for the poor? What will you “win” if someone like myself on a $700 a month SS disability has to suddenly spend an extra $200 a month for food if Food Assistance disappears? And if Federal support for food banks [which I use every once in a while] vanishes? And what will you win if large numbers of the people who work in Government are suddenly dumped into the private sector to find work. Unemployment compensation? Really?

    What will you “win” if FEMA vanishes and people can no longer get federal disaster relief after floods, hurricanes, and tornados. What will you “win” if NWS and NOAA lose capacity to track tornados and give the public a few minutes warning to get to safety [other than the fact, of course, that there will be fewer people around to collect FEMA funds]. What will you “win” if the CDC can no longer give early warning of new contagious diseases and make no effort to forstall epidmics? What will you “win” if the FDA can no longer inspect food or do anything to contain everything from salmonella outbreaks to Mad Cow disease?

    What will you “win” if the Forest Service has to retrench from the business of controlling the constant forest fires out West? What will you “win” if there are no more student loans for college and a massive contraction of enrollment and tuition revenue occurs?

    What will you “win” if the United States goes into default merely to let people like Rupert Murdock, Grover Norquist, or the Koch brothers escape the inconvenience of some extra tax payments? And leaves all those who invest in Treasury Bills and other money market instruments as “safer” investments holding the bag?

    What will you “win” if everywhere is turned into some version or other of Three Mile Island, the Love Canal, or the Gulf Coast of Louisiana?

    Have you even read any information on the Ryan proposal? Do you know what it will do if it passes? Have you sat down and looked at the numbers of what it would actually take to curb spending significantly enough to slow the borrowing without an increase of the tax revenues?

    Don’t kid yourself. To truly make an significant impact on our debt total with only spending curbs would take every last change in the Federal Government that I have described above and more that I have not bothered to mention.

    Anything less is just political window dressing and grandstanding.

    Obamanomics? Give me a break.

    Now, as far as I can see, the so-called “attacks” on religion in this country are, first, perfectly legal responses of disagreement with what Christians have to say about the way the country should be run, even for non-Christians. Nobody with political opinions and no institution with explicit political agendas gets a free pass from criticism by those who disagree with them. If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen.

    Second, they are direct responses to real abuse and scandal in Christian institutions themselves. These responses may be wildly exaggerated, they may be intellectually unfair, but the abuses and scandal came first, and, without it, the responses wouldn’t exist at all.

    Perhaps sometime in the not-too-distant future, as governments move against her, the Church will be forced into poverty and become subject to the oppression of her earlier days. We may even see martyrs in the Western Church, once more

    All I can say is, don’t holler ’til your hurt; and study up on the places where there is real repression of religion so you can learn to tell the difference.

    [Joseph, I don't think we "win" with either party. That was my point. And I agree with you that "some" of the legislation that is forming against the church was precipitated by the scandals, but "some" of it is conveniently piggybacked upon it. And "some" of it is oppressing the church's right to be itself -- the Catholic church having to close down its adoption and social services operations, because they won't place kids with gay couples...that's a scandal we brought on ourselves? No, that's political opportunism stomping on a fundamental right in order to advance something that is not a right at all -admin]

  • James

    (Joseph Marshall said – “Second, they are direct responses to real abuse and scandal in Christian institutions themselves. These responses may be wildly exaggerated, they may be intellectually unfair, but the abuses and scandal came first, and, without it, the responses wouldn’t exist at all.’)

    Yes, like the overwhelming response to the rampant sexual abuse in the public school system, the magnitude of which dwarfs that of the Church scandal. But hey, priests are evil hypocrites who should be outlawed, and teachers by contrast are tireless public servants who simply buckle under the strain of their selfless service. Besides, they’re valuable members of the Democrat sub-party known as Teachers Unions. And ain’t tenure sweet?

  • James

    [The anchoress "snapped"? Really? You reallly don't understand why I'm beginning to find you a passive-aggressive game-player? You really don't see how rude you are? You realllly don't understand why you're annoying me? Really? Don't answer that. I suggest you refrain from responding to me -- or talking "about" me in my own threads, which is also incredibly rude and just stick to the topic of the post. I'm all for people talking about ideas, but -- as I said yesterday -- I won't stand for passive aggressive nonsense. -admin]

    *facepalm*

    [I knew you would not be able to not respond. But I suggest you try really, really hard from this point on, to stick to the subject at hand. -admin]

  • vox borealis

    @3 Anchoress, I understand what you are saying as well (I capisce…or rather, capisco). My point larger point is that the threat to close the comments seems to come fast and furious these days. If James’ comment, which on the whole was not particularly out of line even if it is conceded that it was rude, warrants particular admonition, maybe comments should be simply be closed down for good.

    [Can you tell me where I threatened to close comments today? Because I don't see it. -admin]

  • archangel

    Can we please have some historical perspective here? 21st century America is not going to look like 20th century, which didn’t look like 19th century, which didn’t look like 18th, 17th, 16th, etc. TIME PROGRESSES and to use the very old cliche (which happens to be true), the more things change… the more they stay the same. Society is no more “evil” today than it was back then. Its just more transparent. Of course the parties are ineffectual… MAN is ineffectual. The hand wringing is actually getting pretty nauseating. Where’s the HOPE? I mean the real HOPE. I’m sick to death of Christians (Catholics especially, given our 2000 year historical perspective) wallowing in the “woe is me” “our country is lost” BS!!!

    CHRISTIANITY transends politics. A little “white” martyrdom and everyone goes to pieces. The weeds will exist and it shouldn’t effect the wheat. Take it for the test that it is probably intended to be. Is the soil so shallow that the roots are whithering and dying? Has it ever occurred to anyone that this country, built on FREE WILL, is destined to experience EXACTLY the type fall that Adam and Eve exacted upon Eden and that we AS THE BODY OF CHRIST are destined to experience the results and ravages of that FALL?

    Where’s the COURAGE and FAITH? We are called to stand and witness to the TRUTHS just as Jesus did. How dod it work out for Him in this world? How dare anyone expect anything less!!!

    WAKE UP! sheesh!

    [Who said there was no courage, or no faith? I think it's going to take tremendous courage and faith to weather all of this. As I said elsewhere, where are the churches Paul wrote to in the scriptures? They're gone, as are the nations. The church grew somewhere else; nations grew somewhere else. This is not NEW. This is actually pretty old. But the Pope is visionary here: he sees the times and understands them. Yes, we will get smaller. And stronger. And then comes triumph. Not as the world understands it, though. The world says "defeatist" -- the church and scripture both say "triumph."- admin]

  • Barbara Peters

    James please cite me an example in the past ten years where a teacher who has been alleged to have abused a child is not put on leave immediatley? Are you familiar with the Project Save legislation in New York – do you know that schools in NY are required to immediatley report to law enformcement authorities reasonable suspicions of abuse? Please include a citation to support your assertion regarding “rampant sexual abuse in the public school system.” This may be off the point of the post and forgive me for going down this tangent, but such inflammatory and frightening statements without credible support cannot go unchallenged.
    l

  • vox borealis

    @12 Anchoress,

    You did not, today. But I have noticed what seems to me a “quicker trigger”, or “shorter fuse” when it comes to the comments. The quick admonition of James’ first comment—which still strikes me as not all that noteworthy—fits a broader pattern not only on this blog, but on the Deacon’s Bench and Mark Shea’s blog, and others: of admonishing comments, editing comments, deleting comments, and ultimately closing discussion threads.

  • vox borealis

    @15 That being said, this post was excellent, as were the several posts over the last couple of days on Chaput.

  • Laurel

    You are right on, Anchoress! I really, really enjoy your blogs and your links.

    I also agree with Bertha that truth can not be destroyed and further say that relativism is one thing that is poisoning the world. Truth is objective; God defines it. Destroying ourselves is simply destroying ourselves; truth is not dependent on us! God created us but He didn’t make us God.

    On the other hand, we can destroy our own ability to see the truth. We can worship ourselves and our opinions to the point of being blinded to anything else. I wonder if that is what has happened?

  • James

    (Barbara Peters said – “Please include a citation to support your assertion regarding “rampant sexual abuse in the public school system.” This may be off the point of the post and forgive me for going down this tangent, but such inflammatory and frightening statements without credible support cannot go unchallenged.”)

    Put on paid leave Barb? Wow, that’s strict.

    Submitted for your reading pleasure:

    AP: S&XUAL MISCONDUCT PLAGUES US SCHOOLS
    October 21, 2007

    -One report mandated by Congress estimated that as many as 4.5 million students, out of roughly 50 million in American schools, are subject to s&xual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade.

    -The AP investigation found efforts to stop individual offenders but, overall, a deeply entrenched resistance toward recognizing and fighting abuse. It starts in school hallways, where fellow teachers look away or feel powerless to help. School administrators make behind-the-scenes deals to avoid lawsuits and other trouble. And in state capitals and Congress, lawmakers shy from tough state punishments or any cohesive national policy for fear of disparaging a vital profession.

    -That only enables rogue teachers, and puts kids who aren’t likely to be believed in a tough spot.

    In case after case the AP examined, accusations of inappropriate behavior were dismissed. One girl in Mansfield, Ohio, complained about a s&xual assault by teacher Donald Coots and got expelled. It was only when a second girl, years later, brought a similar complaint against the same teacher that he was punished.

    And that second girl also was ostracized by the school community and ultimately left town.

    Unless there’s a videotape of a teacher involved with a child, everyone wants to believe the authority figure, says Wayne Promisel, a retired Virginia detective who has investigated many sex abuse cases.

    He and others who track the problem reiterated one point repeatedly during the AP investigation: Very few abusers get caught.

    They point to several academic studies estimating that only about one in 10 victimized children report s&xual abuse of any kind to someone who can do something about it.

    Teachers, administrators and even parents frequently don’t, or won’t, recognize the signs that a crime is taking place.

    Read it all here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144_4.html

  • archangel

    Elizabeth, lack of courage and lack of faith is not stated… its demonstrated by the hand wringing. Its not just yours in this post, its overall. This is not the first time the Catholic church has literally been attacked in this country and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Many of the laws being passed by states encroaching upon church teaching, IMO, will eventually be proven to be unconstitutional via the same constitutional arguments being used to remove the church from the public square. In fact, many of these actions are creating some very interesting alliances like in San Francisco where Muslims and Jews have united against the proposed ban on circumcisions. But I digress…

    I understand the concern, but given the proper historical perspective the cultural slide that everyone seems to notice is not so much as a slide, as it is a return to the norm. The WWII generation was an exceptional generation, who but for the Depression and the war itself… would very well have been the “boomer” generation with all of its excess. It was the DEPRESSION and WWII which tempered it. Prior to WWI, the American culture was very raw and course. Sophistication was hard to come by, just as it is today. There’s an arrogance now that probably didn’t exist on such a large scale but the “educated” classes of the past were just as prideful and anti-religion then as they are now.

    I agree the Pope sees the times. I know what you are referring to and I agree wholeheartedly. To paraphrase Peggy Noonan, I think we both know “what time it is.” But that’s all the more reason take a step back and evaluate things in that light. I for one say, bring it on. Society is going to bring it, regardless and we as a church need to realize it and instead wringing the hands over it… EMBRACE IT. Especially in this country, the church has evangelized every corner of this country, and pretty much the world. I think it can be safely said that the Gospel/Church has been spread to every corner of the globe. The time has come for the globe to choose… and that is what is currently occurring. The goats and the sheep are being seperated. The wheat is being seperated from the weeds/chaffe. The choices are being made. That’s why I said what I said.

    As people of faith, those in the church who are prone to societal hand wringing need to perhaps start wringing their hands for themselves and ask God for the strength, courage, and hope to endure what will be coming. Let the dead bury the dead.

    [I'm not handwringing -- I'm with you. Bring it on. admin]

  • Barbara Peters

    As for Elizabeth’s point that we do not win with either party, I think that there is good and bad in both political parties though at this point in my life and given all I have gone through to get here I find myself more and more in agreement with Mr. Marshall’s opinions (#9). I do not think it is our politics that influences our culture but our culture that influences our politics. I think the political climate is a symptom of the noisy world we live in that is “on” 24 hours a day seven days a week shouting messages to us all day that run counter to the message of the Gospels. Today more than ever we have to make an effort to hear God and when we don’t we lose our hold on the Kingdom. Those who believe need to live according to Sermon the Mount and stand as witnesses in this world to the Lord’s Way.

  • archangel

    You definitely got your Irish on, though. :)

  • Bertha

    Laurel, relativism is exactly what I was thinking of when I referred to perverted Truth.

    And I agree with you, Truth is not dependant on us. But we can sure screw things up so that it is difficult to know what it really is.

  • Andy

    I believe there is blame enough to go around for America taking a tumble. Neither group conservative or liberal can take solace in their behaviors. I would posit that neither group is talking to to each other – instead they are talking at each other, or perhaps yelling would be a better descriptor. Both groups are using a “purity test” to prove one’s bona fides and that creates anger and a “tribal” allegiance which precludes talking to the other tribe. .
    By many accounts, as a college professor, I might be considered a liberal, yet, for example, I am pro-life – against abortion, and the death penalty as well as euthanasia. I also believe though that the country must find ways to support those who are not at this time “making it”. So am I a conservative or a liberal or perhaps like most people a mixture, who struggle with understanding and living out our faith?
    I found Archb. Chaput’s comments :The trouble is that America’s religious soul—its Christian subtext—has been weakening for decades. We are watching the end of a very old social compact in American life: the mutual respect of civil and sacred authority, and the mutual autonomy of religion and state. And that’s dangerous.” most perceptive.
    The “tumbling” began many years ago. What I think is missing from his post is that it is not based only on lack of mutual respect of sacred/Catholic teaching, and civil authority, but a lack of respect for each other as well. I think that the Anchoress is reflecting that in her responses.
    It is not just a lack of civility, it is the denunciation of people we don;t agree with as “evil”‘ or whatever that is, for me, the root of the tumble. If we are to overcome the tumble we need to recognize that we are all Americans and that we all in our own way want what is best for our country and surprisingly I think for our Church.
    I do enjoy reading what you post Anchoress even when it makes my head hurt.

  • Barbara Peters

    James, The AP story is very vague on when these acts of aubse occured and the only specific dates in the article relating to an act of abuse are 1964,1994 and 2002. In fact, the AP story does admit that the states have enacted legislation that includes fingerprinting and mandatory reporting and that enforcement has increased as of 2005. As a critical reader I have to say that I think the AP “investigation” was based on old information. In any event, it does not support your statement that sexual abuse is “rampant” in public schools. Please provide me a support for your use of the word “rampant.”

  • James

    (Barbara said – “James, The AP story is very vague on when these acts of aubse occured and the only specific dates in the article relating to an act of abuse are 1964,1994 and 2002. In fact, the AP story does admit that the states have enacted legislation that includes fingerprinting and mandatory reporting and that enforcement has increased as of 2005. As a critical reader I have to say that I think the AP “investigation” was based on old information. In any event, it does not support your statement that sexual abuse is “rampant” in public schools. Please provide me a support for your use of the word “rampant.”)

    Are you serious?

    Did you NOT read this

    “He and others who track the problem reiterated one point repeatedly during the AP investigation: Very few abusers get caught.

    They point to several academic studies estimating that only about one in 10 victimized children report s&xual abuse of any kind to someone who can do something about it.

    Teachers, administrators and even parents frequently don’t, or won’t, recognize the signs that a crime is taking place.”
    ———————–

    And as far as the word “rampant”? Does the word PLAGUE not suffice?

    AP: SEXUAL MISCONDUCT PLAGUES US SCHOOLS

    PLAGUE: A widespread affliction or calamity, especially one seen as divine retribution. 2. A sudden destructive influx or injurious outbreak

    Now then Barb, let’s parse the what the meaning of the word “is” is, shall we?

  • Laurel

    Arcangel – it’s not hand wringing; it’s a wake up call. So many people are asleep to what is happening. They need to hear it but whether they listen is another story, just like in the past.

  • James

    Here Barbara. Feel free to track the predatory teachers state by state:

    http://www.teachercrime.com/index.html

  • archangel

    Laurel… my comments were generally addressed. Over the span of time, many (yeah I know… the “many” is the not-so-distant relative of “they”) tend bemoan the fall of America… I’m not one of them.

    Historically, I have always seen our country as a microcosm of the world if the world were allowed to operate under the rubrics of freedom as we know it. I see a period of time in this country when its not going to matter which Christian denomination a person is. I believe that the societal forces that anchoress and I alluded to are actually going to drive Christianity together… where an attack on one is going to be an attack on all. Throw into that mix, the Jewish community and even some Muslims and those societal forces are not really going to be able to withstand the pressure.

    Those people who you refer to, who are asleep… they are asleep because they don’t care. Let them sleep. Its their price for not being vigilant… ala the virgins with the lamp oil vs the virgins without. I think that is essentially the difference in how we view these things. Help those who seek our help. Wake those up who want to be woken up. Let the rest sleep. Again… let the dead bury the dead.

  • James

    Here’s some more Barb:

    Teacher Sex Cases In U. S. Public Schools Unreported, Unpunished (April 9 2010)

    Lack of media and official discussion

    A comparison of the attention given US public school cases to allegations involving Catholic priests reveals almost no equivalent official or media coverage, and a lack of public statements regarding the extent of the threat facing U. S. public school students.
    According to a report in The Tidings, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, when Shakeshaft looked into the problem, the first thing that came to her mind were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church.
    “[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?” she said. “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”
    So, in order to better protect children, did media outlets start hounding the worse menace of the school systems, with headlines about a “Nationwide Teacher Molestation Cover-up” and by asking “Are Ed Schools Producing Pedophiles?”

    No, they didn’t. That treatment was reserved for the Catholic Church, while the greater problem in the schools was ignored altogether.

    Read it all: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/290312

    ————————

    USATODAY:

    Thousands Of Teachers Cited For Sex Misconduct (October 2007)

    Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-10-20-teachermisconduct_N.htm

    ———————-

    And my personal favorite:

    http://badbadteacher.com/

    Do note Barb, that they have predators listed from just a few months ago.

  • Barbara Peters

    James – there are no dates in the report and no description of the “academic studies” (e.g., methodolgy) so I find the story of little worth. And the fact that there is an online reporting system that lets everyone track predators supports my position that the abuse that tragically does occur does get reported and gets addressed immediatley. I am not saying there is no abuse at all – unfortunatley sexual abuse is a plague in our society and we must always be on guard to protect our children — but to say abuse is rampant in public schools as if it is an epidemic among teachers is unfair to all the thousands and thousands of hard working, dedicated and committed teachers and administrators.

  • Barbara Peters

    just to correct my typos so that no one finds fault with my 16 years of Catholic education: immediately and unfortunately

  • Joseph Marshall

    And “some” of it is oppressing the church’s right to be itself — the Catholic church having to close down its adoption and social services operations, because they won’t place kids with gay couples…that’s a scandal we brought on ourselves? No, that’s political opportunism stomping on a fundamental right

    I would call your attention to the situation in the Irish Republic where the current proposal, at least as far as I understood it, is to force priests to break the seal of confession if the sins confessed are those of sexual abuse. And this is Ireland, mind you.

    This is a real attack on the “free exercise” of Catholic religion. It cuts to the core of what the Catholic Church does as a church that no other sort of institution does. And, logically, there is no reason why it could not be extended to any other criminal act.

    “Free exercise” is not a blanket exemption from civil and criminal law or unimpeachable protection of every custom that may be associated incidentally with religion. There is no reason, say, why the Church should, of necessity, be allowed to run bingo games. That is mere custom and falls under the domain of civil law. In the same way, restrictive zoning is not an abrogation of free exercise as long as land use permits the building of churches elsewhere within a city.

    Adoption, or indeed any sort of social work, is clearly under the legal purview of civil law, what institutions can do it, who can be licensed to hold the job of “social worker”, and what legal standard they must meet is a matter of state authority because of a clear and compelling public interest in the welfare of minors. The actions you describe may be unwise or unjust, and shaped by political hostility, but there is no interference in them of “free exercise”, because there is no inherent religious practice in running a social service agency. The mere fact that a church is doing it is not sufficient.

    In the same way, there is no “right” involved in adoptions by anyone, except for the question of “equal protection of the law” and its anti-discriminatory requirements. We are obviously in a state of civil change here, and have been for the last 50 years, but, as far as I know, extension of the privlidge of adoption, or the status of marriage is, in fact, a matter that has been one of legitimate statute law only, without reference to any guarantee of “equal protection of the law” for all citizens.

    The mere fact that political partisans may argue that such a “right” to adopt exists, does not make it so.

    Though this is sometimes hard for Christian partisans to understand, the fact that “free exercise” has been so carefully articulated and defined by the courts is one of the reasons why it is so secure. I would be willing to bet that the Constitution of the Irish Republic offers no such explicit guarantee with a history of case law buttressing it, for, among other reasons, the objection to it by the Irish Catholic Church when its political position in Ireland was in far better order.

  • James

    (Barb said – “James – there are no dates in the report and no description of the “academic studies” (e.g., methodolgy) so I find the story of little worth. And the fact that there is an online reporting system that lets everyone track predators supports my position that the abuse that tragically does occur does get reported and gets addressed immediatley. I am not saying there is no abuse at all – unfortunatley sexual abuse is a plague in our society and we must always be on guard to protect our children — but to say abuse is rampant in public schools as if it is an epidemic among teachers is unfair to all the thousands and thousands of hard working, dedicated and committed teachers and administrators.”)

    Oh right Barb. You forgot to add that you weren’t actually there to personally see the abuse, therefore- the claims are all suspect. And let’s just forget the AP investigation that verified what other research has found- that very few abusers get caught because the abuse goes largely unreported and that teachers, administrators and even parents frequently don’t, or won’t, recognize the signs that a crime is taking place. Let’s just forget that because AP didn’t list their methodology. Let’s just assume they are either wrong or they are lying. Yeah, let’s do that.

    And you say that sexual abuse is a plague in our society, but apparently it is NOT a “plague” (or “rampant”) in the sanctuary-like halls within the safe haven of the sacred public schools where teachers are veritable saints complete with well-polished halos.

    You’re right Barb, and all of the stats and all of the investigative journalists who covered these cases are simply wrong.

    I stand corrected Barb. well played Madam.

    Now about the meaning of the word “is”……

  • archangel

    BTW- I just noticed catching up on some other comments from previous threads, my quoting of Scripture… “let the dead bury the dead” has been used previously. Interesting coincidence.

    I use that phrase as I think it was intended. The “dead” in spirit or the “dead” in faith must be left to “bury” the others who are likewise “dead” in faith. In the context of this thread where we have a society, or at least social forces wishing there was no faith… I am simply applying this point the Christ Himself made. Just as the youngman wishing to follow Jesus was told what was required of him when he wished to bade his family farewell, we must be willing to ignore those parts of society. We should pray for society’s conversion, to be sure but ultimately it is that portion of society’s choice.

  • James

    (Barb said – “And the fact that there is an online reporting system that lets everyone track predators supports my position that the abuse that tragically does occur does get reported and gets addressed immediatley.”)

    Marvelous point Barb. And of course, that reverses the actual abuse and the trauma- right Barb? Oh wait.

    Well, that certainly is slowing the abuse down from 4.5 million a year to……what…. 4.47 million…4.4 million a year?

    Whew! Now we can all relax.

  • Rick

    Barbara: Here is a link to a scholarly study about the sexual abuse of students in public schools:

    http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf

    You mention that much of the information about abuse in public schools does not include dates or that the dates are from 10 to 15 years ago. Many of the charges against priests are from 25 -40 years ago.

    Like public schools, Catholic Churches and schools also do background checks, finger-printing and train staff and volunteers. Catholic school teachers and priests (outside of the confessional) are also mandated reporters.

    There’s still a lot to be done in every environment (not just the Catholic Church) to protect children. No one has done a very good job.

  • kenneth

    How did martyrdom become redefined as having to share the civic space with others and having to actually obey some of the laws of the nation you live in?

  • Rick

    Barbara, here’s a link about how schools in Conn. are failing to address the abuse of students.

    http://www.ctmirror.org/story/6709/report-schools-failing-report-abuse-and-neglect

    I hesitate to post these links. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying, “non-Catholics abuse kids too–so why does it matter if we do?”

    This not just a Catholic problem, but even if no one recognizes and addresses similar problems in the larger society the Church needs to address its sins.

  • archangel

    Elizabeth, in the context of past threads and the comments therein, I see this current post not so much as hand wringing by you personally. At first blush it seemed so to me. However, my points still stand in general.

    If I may interject one thing. These “orthodoxy” vs “not-enough-orthodoxy” battle-royalles are also getting nauseatingly old. I almost said something during the “Heresy” thread but thought better of it. I consider myself a rather orthodox Catholic. I appreciate the old Trinitine liturgy yet also very much appreciate a reverently done New Mass. I personally can not wait for “new” old English translation to come into effect. What I would caution my uber-ultra-orthodox bretheren and sisteren (if that’s a word) on is JUDGING others. We as the flock are NOT in position to judge anyone’s faithfulness. This is not to say we can not point out true error. But this constant badgering that people are not “Catholic” enough is not for you to decide, let alone judge. YOU will be judged by the same standard. There are at least 4 different liturgies within the Roman church that are valid… Eastern, Roman (including the Trinitine and the New Mass), and now the Anglican Rite. Each are nuanced, different, and VALID. There are way too many uber-orthodox types who seem to put themselves ABOVE the Magisterium in the name of being PURE CATHOLICS. In some ways they are more dangerous than the societal forces mentioned in this thread. They essentially are the “non-schismatic” schismatics. They are so dedicated to the church that they would almost be willing to break her apart in the name of purity, if you get my drift. What they lack is charity.

    I have to say for as much as I appreciate the orthodox position, I can do without the Pharasaic judging. Its very off putting and rather un-Christian. There’s plenty of beams in everyone’s eyes that need to be taken out by their respective owners.

    Chin up, Elizabeth.

  • archangel

    Kenneth… if the law is unjust, we are not required to obey it. White martyrdom can be seen in the subtle ways the state attempts to thwart or force the church to act immorally. Two examples (not debating):

    1) Gay “Marriage”… I can see a future where the state will require the church “marry” gay couples because it will be considered against their civil rights NOT to be married in a church.

    2) Abortion in Catholic hospitals. This is already coming to play. Catholic hospitals, in order to get state certification would be required to perform abortions.

    White martyrdom becomes the norm in that case. The state would then start “legally” persecuting through fines or simply shutting down entities within the church (not killing… ie red martyrdom) as it performs its normal functions. This not a debateable point with me, so don’t engage. You asked the question… I answered it.

  • Barbara Peters

    Please provide me information regarding the studies that Carol Shakeshaft conducted, including the methodology and the basis of her statement. Anyway, her point is that the media is allegedly not covering abuse in the schools not that are not reporting it. As I said in NY, if there is a reasonable suspicion that child abuse has occurred in an eductional setting, the school must report it. I believe that failure to report a reasonable suspicion is a crime.

  • Barbara Peters

    Rick – thank you for the link. I agree that more needs to be done to protect children whether in school or in Church and that we probalbe can never do enough. But thankfully in the past ten years or saw laws have been adopted and put in place that require reporting and fingerprinting for public school teachers and administrators. It is not a perfect system and even one failure in the system is tragic and unacceptable but hopefully with education and training failure to report and failure to follow up will become a thing of the past. In NY not only does child abuse have to be reported in school and other mandatory reporters, but i believe that incidents of corporal punishment must also be reported to the education department. I just objected to a statement that made it sound like the public schools are a hotbed of child abuse and seemed to insult so many hard working teachers and administrators I know that go to work every day committed to their work and dedicated to the welfare of the children in their care.

  • kenneth

    [Joseph, I don't think we "win" with either party. That was my point. And I agree with you that "some" of the legislation that is forming against the church was precipitated by the scandals, but "some" of it is conveniently piggybacked upon it. And "some" of it is oppressing the church's right to be itself -- the Catholic church having to close down its adoption and social services operations, because they won't place kids with gay couples...that's a scandal we brought on ourselves? No, that's political opportunism stomping on a fundamental right in order to advance something that is not a right at all -admin]

    By what possible stretch of the imagination has running an adoption agency on one’s own terms become redefined as a “fundamental right?” How did we get to this point where the act of working as a government contractor has been converted to a core religious sacramental activity which is entitled to a blanket and perpetual exemption from the laws of the land? Asserting a right to government money with no strings is welfare or socialism. It’s even beyond that. Welfare and socialism come with all sorts of strings. It’s more akin to the “rights” asserted by the kleptocracies that run the former Soviet Republics.

    This is no different a scenario than a cop or building inspector who decides they’re not going to follow or enforce certain laws because it doesn’t sit well with their religious beliefs. I went through 12 years of Catholic education and I studied it well enough to know that running an adoption agency is not one of the key sacraments or parts of the liturgy or a form of holy orders. It is not in any way a core or indispensible part of Catholic identity or worship. It is one of many forms of the Church’s mission in the world, and one that has been highly regulated by secular authorities for many years.

    Having to follow the state’s laws when acting as its agent and getting paid for it is not oppression. It’s not some sinister move “piggybacked” onto resentment for its handling of abuse etc. It’s what grownups do in countries where the rule of law mean something. The Church was given the choice to follow the law or to quit its government job. It bowed out to live by its principles, and bully for them. They’re still the Church in every way that counts.

    There IS persecution against Christians in the world, and this ain’t it. The constant persecution complex I see in conservative Christians these days is wearing thin. It’s like the little kids who cry “abuse” anytime they have to play by the rules and then threaten to hold their breath till they die or get their way. No one (of any consequence) in the West wants your blood or to “drive you underground.” We want our freedome to do our thing and your freedom to do your thing in our respective lives, and for our government to show no favoritism based on belief or lack therof. That’s been the social compact more or less since the Enlightenment, so this isn’t some new thing.

  • kenneth

    “Kenneth… if the law is unjust, we are not required to obey it. White martyrdom can be seen in the subtle ways the state attempts to thwart or force the church to act immorally. Two examples (not debating):

    1) Gay “Marriage”… I can see a future where the state will require the church “marry” gay couples because it will be considered against their civil rights NOT to be married in a church.

    2) Abortion in Catholic hospitals. This is already coming to play. Catholic hospitals, in order to get state certification would be required to perform abortions.

    White martyrdom becomes the norm in that case. The state would then start “legally” persecuting through fines or simply shutting down entities within the church (not killing… ie red martyrdom) as it performs its normal functions. This not a debateable point with me, so don’t engage. You asked the question… I answered it.”

    Just a hint: making unsupported statements and then declaring it “not debatable” doesn’t do much for credibility with thinking people.

    You may well “see a future” in which the Church is forced to perform gay marriage as a sacrament. Lots of people in this paranoid camp we call America these days seem to agree with you. None of them have ever been able to articulate a rational basis for that fear, and until they do, it deserves no consideration whatever in serious public policy debates. No one has ever been able to cite any case law or precedents in which any court ever showed an interest in forcing changes in internal doctrine or practice of a religious group in this country. The fact that you attribute evil intent to gay people or their advocates is not evidence of any sort.

    I would also be very interested to see the law, or proposed law, that would force a Catholic hospital to perform abortions as a condition of its licensure. Alas, the subject is “not debatable” and therefore must have been handed down in person by God to Moses on the mountain, so I’ll just have to take that one face value.

  • archangel

    Kenneth, the law of the Roman Empire at the time of the early Church was to acknowledge the Roman Emperor as a god. The Christian persecutions of that era occurred precisely because Christians broke “the law”. The Apostle’s Creed and by extension the Nicene Creed we say at Mass just before the Eucharistic liturgy is essentially a “Pledge of Allegiance” to Christ. This simple act is what got Christians executed. In some countries, this is still the case. RED MARTYRDOM

    Here, the state is more subtle. Catholics worship by doing. For 2000 years we have cared for the sick, the homeless, the orphaned, and the hungry. That is what the Church is CALLED TO DO. Some gov’ts would dislike the church for that very reason. So what they have done is put up barriers to thwart the church in this calling. This is called WHITE MARTYRDOM. No blood involved yet still the same effect.

    The church is literally punished for doing exactly what it is called to do. The church can not service orphans because the state will not certify them to operate adoptions agencies unless the church immorally places children with gay parents. The church will never do that. Catholic hospitals who service the poorer communities and/or the general population get decertified because they won’t perform abortions.

    If you can not see this fact, then you are either blind or willfully trying ignore the facts.

  • archangel

    Kenneth, I wrangled with you before and your very good at twisting things. You may very well like to see the church FORCED to do things that are considered immoral. No evil intent was implied by me regarding gay “marriage”. Since a gay couple can not procreate, there can be no sacramental marriage. As for Catholic abortions… really? The Catholic view that life begins at conception will never change, therefore the willful killing of the child will be considered murder.

    Based on your answer, you again proved that discussing things with you is a waste of time.

    Enjoy the “empire” while you have it.

  • archangel

    BTW- Kenneth, YOUR evil intent regarding the church is plain as day.

  • kenneth

    How can I be “willfully ignoring the facts”? You have yet to present any. I’m also not sure how my insistence on logic and evidence makes me good at “twisting things.” It’s no more nefarious than the stuff we used to see on Perry Mason or in high school debate teams.

    I don’t want to see the church “forced” to do anything beyond following the law to the same extent the rest of us do. I guess we’re all “white martyrs” when we file our tax returns in April. If following the law makes one a martyr, the Church can suck it up with the rest of us, and they won’t get any special sympathy, (nor animosity) from me. If getting out of the government run business of adoption is truly thawarting the Church’s mission in the world, they need to re-read some of their source documents. According to your New Testament, Jesus found a lot of suffering people in the world and a lot of ways to minister to them. To my recollection, he never once placed any for adoption nor took a government job for Caesar to do so.

  • Joseph Marshall

    @Archangel

    I can see a future where the state will require the church “marry” gay couples because it will be considered against their civil rights NOT to be married in a church.

    This is no more likely to be the case than that the Church will be forced to marry Hindus and Muslims, or even Protestants.

    There are two things that are misunderstood here. The mere fact that clerics can be allowed to administer marriage vows does not mean that they can be forced to administer them. Their legal status is that of a private individual acting as agent for the state to perform civil marriage, which is the only “marriage” that the state recognizes.

    They are not employed by the State to do so, they are merely permitted to do so, just like you are permitted to drive a car by your license, but the state cannot force you to own a car and drive it.

    The second is the commonplace misunderstanding of what “civil rights” are and where they come from. The laws of Mass. and NY do not constitute a “civil right” to marry. Nobody has such a thing anywhere. They are also exactly like a driver’s license. Gays have legalpermission to marry there and not a right to do so.

    Moreover, the obligation of the states to afford civil rights comes from one place and one place only, the 14th Amendment “equal protection of law” clause, which the courts have ruled obligates the states to follow some [but not all] of the Bill of Rights, as well as correct more specific failures of equal protection. The state can regulate the marriage contract very broadly, but it cannot force anyone to administer and attest to the vows.

  • Greta

    Despite many links, Barbara can’t seem to get the simple fact that public school abouse has over 4 million incidents compared to around 10,000 in the Catholic Church. What this shows is a desire to protect the school personnel at the expense of kids. Those that support the school personnel for budget breaking salaries, benefits, and pensions also show little regard for the kids or their fellow citizens struggling in a tough economy.

    Kenneth simple hates the Catholic Church and everything for which it stands on the truth. He I am sure hates the fact that America clearly states all rights come from our Creator and that we are supposed to be one nation UNDER GOD. Despite the ongoing attacks of the kenny’s of this country, the vast majority of people still support that belief in one nation UNDER God.

    Why gay behavior choice should get special rights, no one has been able to explain. A few posts back, this topic came up with Kenneth again and when challenged on why the legal basis used for this special rights would not legalize incest and poligamy and potentially beastiality, he took a weak stab at beastiality and did not take on the other clear threats to the long held status of marriage being between one man and one woman. Remove the threat in incest for any possible genetic issues as say the sister or mom being beyond child bearing age or sterile, and the same legal basis used for gay marriage should also allow incest marriage and the poligamy.

    This post by the Anchoress was very good as was the article by the new head of Philly, Archbishop Chaput.

    To get back our faith and to return America to its foundation that all our rights come from our Creator, we would need to get the far left liberals off the courts who want to legislate from the bench. Roe has to be reversed as soon as possible. All legal cases where the judges did not follow the text of the Constitution need to be changed. The federal government should go back to about the size it was in 1960 prior to the LBJ era and all that followed. Federal employees need to find new work in very large numbers. What the political hacks did to healthcare from 1950 on needs to be gutted as much as possible and real reform of healthcare needs to happen with common sense actions mostly accomplished by the private sector. Federal regulations need to be cut and streamlined to allow our companies to be competitive and the capital gains taxes need to be lowered dramatically. In other words, the Democratic Party of slavery, black lynching, civil rights denial, killing babies in the womb, special rights for behavior choices, and massive government with high taxes needs to become history. It took us over 60 years to get into this mess so it will take time to back us out of it. What is good should stay, but the things that started to take us away from common sense and from our core religious faiths and freedoms needs to go. Until we are no longer a culture of death, we will continue to descend into evil.


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