A Reader Asks about Michael Voris’ Fusillade Against Pat Robertson

A Reader Asks about Michael Voris’ Fusillade Against Pat Robertson August 12, 2013

He writes:

I just finished watching the following video by Michael Voris that I’ve seen posted by a few friends in various venues:


I was interested in your reaction to it.

I think there’s much that’s true in what Voris says in this video; however, like some of his other presentations, I found it unnecessarily antagonistic/combative as well as being skewed factually in some ways. For example, early in the video, Voris said, “Robertson, in typical Protestant fashion – meaning an answer made up out of thin air based on nothing other than his own feelings and opinions and misreading of Sacred Scripture…”.

Well, wait a minute.  Sure, where Protestants differ from the teaching of the Catholic Church, they’re wrong and they ultimately are left appealing to their own personal (and non-authoritative) interpretation of Scripture.  In the specific case at hand, Robertson is wrong on contraception. But, does that justify disparaging their entire approach to searching for the truth as making things up out of thin air based on nothing other than feelings and opinions and misreading Sacred Scripture?  In general, Evangelicals have far more *right* than wrong.  To broad-brush Evangelicals like this in such a disparaging way seems designed to merely provoke and incite rather than to edify and persuade.

Also, laying central blame for the societal acceptance of contraception today at the feet of Protestants seems, at the least, unfair.  After all, it was John Rock, a Catholic, who led the invention of the birth control pill. (Ironically, his intention was reportedly to comply with Church teaching, but he was still wrong.) He campaigned for Catholic approval of the pill. He published a book, “The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor’s Proposals to End the Battle over Birth Control”, and was featured by Time and Newsweek. He also gave numerous interviews with the networks.  “The pill” was critical to the so-called “sexual revolution.”

Catholic priests and theologians effectively defected from the faith over this issue and treated Humanae Vitae as DOA. The bishops didn’t have the knowledge or fortitude to stand. Now Catholics use birth control just as much as pagans, Buddhists, Jews and Protestants. And, as many have pointed out, that’s a good part of the reason we’re facing the immoral HHS mandate now.

Catholics led the way on “the pill” and when presented with “Peter’s” teaching, rejected it. That’s not the fault of Protestants who do not have Peter. If anything, I would say that Catholics are most to blame for society embracing contraception. We should have known better. We had the teaching. We had Peter. We had the Sacraments.  We had the One True Church to which Voris refers in his video. We didn’t care.

I think Voris would have been better served by taking an approach more like Protestant Charles Provan in his book, “The Bible and Birth Control.”  Provan does good job demonstrating for Protestants that they had always been – and should have remained – opposed to birth control. He presents historical examples and Scripture in a compelling but non-polemical way.

I’ve used him numerous times and to good effect with Protestant friends and family.  In my personal experience, I’ve found that Evangelical Protestants are largely open to hearing us on the issue of contraception.  In fact, “life issues” like this have played an important role in leading some Evangelicals home to the fullness of the faith in the Catholic Church.

I think approaching them with a hammer like this is unnecessary and wrong-headed.  I get the “hard truth” thing, but the “hard truth” at least needs to be “the truth” as well as being fair.  Being tough and unfair doesn’t typically persuade anyone that isn’t already in the choir. Clanging gongs and all that.

I like some of Voris’s work and he clearly seems to mean well.  But I think he missed the mark on this one.  Your thoughts?

I hold no brief to Pat Robertson’s frequent crazy commentary (most recently he was accusing video gamers of being guilty of “virtual murder” for blowing up stuff in games).  I’ve commented in this space several times that the guy needs to be taken out of media rolodexes and his daffy ramblings taken as seriously as Grandpa Abe Simpson’s.

That said, I agree with my reader that Voris manages to pull defeat from the jaw of victory with his absurd triumphalist commentary on Robertson’s dumb remarks.  All this video serves to do is tell Catholics in the bunker “You are awesome and the Protestants outside Fortress Katolicus are bad.”  That’s more or less what Voris’ schtick is.  It’s not interested in evangelism.  It is, in fact, hostile to it.  It’s interested in telling the denizens of Fortress Katolicus that they must at all costs defend the Fortress from the unclean hosts besieging it–and keep a wary eye on those in their ranks who may betray some sign that they too are not pure enough to be allowed inside. Those beseiging hosts, in addition to all Protestants indiscriminately, include such dangerous people as the bishop who investigated Fr. Corapi, the Knights of Columbus, Catholic news agencies that look into Michael Voris’ non-profit status, people who like “Amazing Grace”, the Knights of Columbus and anybody else who is pre-emptively declared to be a liar whose falsehoods are to be “trapped and exposed”.

It goes without saying that when Michael Voris teaches that Judaism is a false, manmade religion in the teeth of Nostra Aetate or when he declares that Catholic monarchy is the form of government Real Catholics[TM] should endorse, he’s not just “making things up out of thin air based on nothing other than feelings and opinions and misreading Sacred Scripture”.

Dave Armstrong does a more thorough autopsy on this particular video here.

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  • johnnyc

    Some of his shows are really good like One True Faith and Right Reason.

  • Yes to this. I’ve been reading Instrumentum Laboris, the document of the synod of bishops on the “New Evangelization”, and it seems to me that the gist of the New Evangelization is that Christendom is dead.

    For some time it’s been unclear whether we were fighting for a strengthening and a renewal of the church’s political project of the last 1500 years or starting something new. Pope John Paul II effectively clarified that we were starting something new. It seems to me that Voris doesn’t realize this. He still thinks that Christendom is savable.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      That’s a very astute observation. Very well put.
      If we define Christendom as the basis for law, culture, and civiliation being inherently Christian, then yes, Christendom is certainly dead in the West. It’s been dead in the United States for a few generations. It’s been dead in Europe for 100 years, but they still enjoy dancing on its grave.

  • Half Heathen

    Criticizing Pat Robertson is often like shooting fish in a barrel. Same for criticizing Michael Voris.

    • chezami

      The thing is nobody takes Robertson seriously, but there are a ton of discernment-free Catholics who think Voris is a prophet.

      • Stu

        Any man with his own TV network is taken seriously. For better or worse.

      • Let us rather say, nobody takes Robertson seriously in our circles.

      • somnipod

        Voris is a good man. Not a prophet but exposes issues other’s are to afraid of that have adversely affected the Church for years… see Catholic vote and Obama

        • chezami

          Voris is a demagogue and his fans suffer from a massive lack of discernment.

      • Half Heathen

        “A ton”? I have not checked his numbers but any is too many. It is altogether too seductive to be inflamed in anger over foolishness or deviousness, however accurately described, or not. (Believe me when I say I know what I am talking about.) It distracts from the real business at hand – knowing, loving and serving God. I wonder if Voris talks or writes directly to any of those he criticizes. I sure wish I had more time to do something like that.

  • Having said that, the 2nd video did highlight the often anti-poor attitude of pro-birthers.

  • Ethan Edwards

    Take some of the time that’s spent listening to Pat Robertson, Michael Voris and Mark Shea and use it to read and prayerfully reflect upon the scriptures.

    • chezami

      Sound advice.

  • What’s really sad is that when you get past the red meat throwing (and man oh man is there a lot of it!), Voris has some REALLY good stuff. He has a far better understanding of how to use media properly than the majority of Catholic commentators, is really good speaking (he doesn’t need a lot of takes to get it right), etc.
    Yet sometimes reality is different. Catholic Answers used to be notorious for presenting every Protestant apologist as a Jack Chick wannabe….. until the likes of James White showed up and demonstrated that Protestants can make reasoned (albeit wrong) arguments and can actually be really good debaters. This mentality did a lot of damage, and later apologetics (including many who worked at Catholic Answers) had to refine their arguments and begin to take Protestants more seriously.
    Most Protestants aren’t as dumb as Robertson, butt even if they are, we actually have to get out there and get their attention so they can come to where they belong. Firing up your base by saying how bad the mouthbreathers on the other side are does a lot for generating interest (and fundraising!) but little for progress.
    Hey, it’s almost like using the word radtra…….

    • somnipod

      If voris brings some zeal back into the men of the church militant, God bless him. Its better than the feminized modernist pro obama Catholics

    • F M

      I think you’ve made some fair points.

      But you also write, “He has a far better understanding of how to use media properly than the majority of Catholic commentators.”

      I think that’s true, as far as it goes. But I think as a traditionalist Catholic, he’s making a mistake by playing into the entertainment culture mindset. There’s something dissonant about it, something not entirely consonant with an authentic, Catholic presentation of the profound truths found in the Church. It reminds me a bit of Masses where the priest feels the need to enlist a rock and roll band to keep the people’s attention. It just encourages a wrong approach to the Mass. It also reminds me a bit of Christian heavy metal music – the form just doesn’t harmonize very well with the weight of the message.

      Presenting the truth in this kind of shoot from the hip, “infotainment” manner can cheapen the truth, cheapen the Gospel as just another thing being sold. I suppose I can “get” that coming from Novus Ordo mindset that takes the tack of reaching out to people where they are. But I don’t think it fits very well for someone like Voris who is supposed to be Mr. Orthodox Traditionalist, Mr. All or Nothing.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Honestly, I think Robertson’s age is showing. He’s always been a little off in his theology, even by Protestant standars, but many of his comments over the past 2 years are downright loopy.

  • Lorenz

    If you read G.K. Chesterton’s writings you will find him saying that Protestantism is the doorstep to atheism. Hilaire Belloc called Protestantism doctrinely dead, called protestants Bible worshippers, said that H.G. Wells was as Protestant as they come.
    No doubt many Protestants are fine moral people but I agree that it is a heresy that denies that puts individual as his own pope and authority. As Hilaire Belloc said many Protestants can be very similar to Catholics but they are all unified in their belief that Christians cannot be unified under a common teaching authority.
    Not pointing this out does no favour to protestants and leaves them in their errors. That contraception is the root of much of societies ills (abortion, fatherless families, fornication, homosexuality, pornography, STDs, etc.) it is good to call Pat Robertson on his errors.
    That celebrated authors such as G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and others have expressed the same views towards protestantism but are quoted on this blog while Michael Voris is villified suggests that this blogger has some personal vendetta against Michael Voris.

  • F M

    Voris concerns me because he sets himself up as the final arbiter of the truth. He answers to no one and his most devout followers seem to accept whatever he says without question. He’s done some good work, but when you set yourself up in the way he has, I don’t see how this doesn’t eventually end badly for both him and his most devout followers. It almost has a Protestant flavor to it.

    I also think it’s odd how his most devout followers are such fans of his “hard-hitting” style and shooting from the hip, yet when he’s criticized for errors of fact or lack of charity, so many of them suddenly become so sensitive and reflexively protective of him. For them, I guess it all depends on whose ox is being gored.