Are Patheos Catholic Writers Overwhelmingly “Liberal”?

Are Patheos Catholic Writers Overwhelmingly “Liberal”? April 2, 2017


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Fellow Patheos writer David Russell Mosley wrote in his thoughtful piece, “Is Patheos Catholic Liberal?” (4-1-17):  “Many of the authors who write about politics at Patheos Catholic do not come from a politically ‘conservative’ point of view.”

Precisely. The question is: what is their view? Is David saying that they are left-of-center or that their political views transcend the entire left-right schema for categorizing political views?

I’m certainly one of the more “conservative” bloggers here, but my own views by no means fit into the one-size fits-all caricatures of what conservatives or Republicans are supposed to be. For one thing, I’m a distributist.

I don’t see myself or my views at all in Mark Shea’s ubiquitous raving about conservatives and pro-lifers (he has started habitually putting the latter description in quotation marks, in derision): such as his gem yesterday [under David’s post]: “conservatives have lost their freaking minds.”

I would say that my impression (I’ve been a writer here since August 2015, and one of the persons mentioned in David’s list of Patheos bloggers in his post) is that the posts as a whole are far more devoted to political and/or socio-economic topics than they are to theology per se (not to deny that there is overlap; but a post about, say, transubstantiation, is generally not “political”).

That doesn’t necessarily reflect at all (one way or the other) upon the theological orthodoxy of the Patheos writers. Theological liberalism and political liberalism are two different things. One sort of liberal is not always the other, though there is significant correlation. Bottom line: it simply means that that is what Patheos writers tend to write about. I know this because I am regularly checking out the “Trending” posts.

I don’t know who (at Patheos) is theologically orthodox or not. I assume they are orthodox. I don’t judge. I’m too busy doing my own writing, anyway. I haven’t seen any particular evidence that I recall, indicating that someone is not, or is a rank heretic or whatever.

I would only note that conservatives are often criticized (here and elsewhere) as supposedly being “more Republican than Catholic.” Well, one way of verifying that is to look at what topics a writer devotes himself to. It seems to me that the more politically liberal writers here that I am aware of, spend far more time, proportionately, writing about traditionally “liberal” political topics or points of views or emphases (over against purely theological topics), than the conservatives spend writing about pro-life or traditionally “conservative” topics and emphases.

So what does that suggest? I think it largely overthrows the criticism towards those in my general “camp.” If we really were “more Republican than Catholic” then we would write far more about those political topics than about theology, or apologetics (my own field). But I don’t see that we are doing that.

I sure see Catholic political liberals, however, writing (or so it seems) far more about political and/or socio-economic topics than about theology and the faith per se. Thus, if the charge is to be made: “more Republican / Democrat / left / right than Catholic,” it fits the political liberals much more so, at least by this criterion. But I don’t make the charge myself. I’m merely engaging in a rhetorical turn-the-tables retort.

I have noted that I have on my blog exactly four posts that I wrote about President Obama during his eight-year term in office. Compare that with how often President Trump is written about and excoriated.

I would say also that we political conservatives have long observed that for many of the more committed, zealous political liberals, liberalism seems to be their religion. I think that viewpoint and outlook has crept into Catholic circles to a significant extent. Since liberalism in the larger culture is becoming more and more secular all the time, maintaining such a political stance (held by a Christian) carries the danger of being subject to a creeping secularism (often with the person being unaware of this happening).

Following up on that: quite often when I see Catholic liberals writing about political topics, I see relatively little to distinguish their argumentation from mainstream secular liberalism. To me, they seem to think in largely the same ways, so that, for example, the Catholic liberal pro-lifer, or “New Pro-Life” person (as they call themselves) often make arguments about abortion that are, in my mind, virtually identical to arguments routinely made by secular so-called “pro-choice” people.

As a specific example of that, we hear the constant drumbeat now of New Pro-Lifers claiming that us old pro-lifers (I was arrested five times in the Operation Rescue movement over 27 years ago) are insufficiently concerned about the plight of women with problem pregnancies or babies after they are born. I know this, as a veteran of the movement, to be absolutely untrue, but my present point is that, in so arguing, the New Pro-Lifer thinks and polemicizes in a way that is precisely identical to what pro-abortionist critics of pro-lifers have said since 1973.

That, in turn, is dangerously close to potentially being a “useful idiot” for the pro-abortion / Planned Parenthood movement, since it is the parroting of an untruth that they say about us.

For my part, I don’t judge the hearts or motivations of the New Pro-Lifers. I just think that, too often, they are excessively naive or know little (factually and/or philosophically) concerning what they are talking about. And their frequent criticism (in my opinion, mostly unjust and unfair criticism) of fellow pro-lifers, divides the flock and this important  socio-political group in ways that give solace only to the Enemy (i.e., Satan). I know that they don’t intend it that way but I believe that is the result. The old “divide and conquer” routine . . .

Anyway: just a few observations from a conservative, pro-life Catholic who writes mostly apologetics at Patheos, but who also delves into other topics on occasion.

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