Remember when Conservative Catholics Opposed the HHS on the Basis of Religious Conscience?

Remember when Conservative Catholics Opposed the HHS on the Basis of Religious Conscience? December 13, 2014

Rod Dreher reports:

Michael Peppard pulls something particularly horrifying out of the Senate torture report:

The Senate committee was supposed to believe that a cruelly tortured man had thanked his torturer for breaking his religious faith. It goes without saying that the Senate committee found, after scrutinizing over 6 million pages of documents, “no CIA records to support this testimony” (487 n. 2646).

During the same hearing, Sen. Nelson asked about Hayden’s plans, if he suspected al-Qa’ida was training people to resist such techniques. His answer is chilling.

DIRECTOR HAYDEN: “You recall the policy on which this is based, that we’re going to give him a burden that Allah says is too great for you to bear, so they can put the burden down.” (487)

The new report does not describe the many techniques of religiously-themed abuse that I compiled from ex-detainee memoirs and interviews in 2007-08, nor does it extend our knowledge from the 2009 report, which admitted techniques such as forced prostration before an idol shrine to generate “religious disgrace.”

But what Hayden’s comments do show is that using religion as a weapon in prolonged psychological warfare was an actual “policy” – not a result of agents gone rogue.

The goal was to create a burden so great that a person’s religious faith would be destroyed. Nothing could be further from our country’s founding principle.

Dear Torture Defender:  If you oppose the HHS mandate on the basis of conscience and religious liberty yet support the state torturing somebody out of their religion, do recall your filthy hypocrisy, when the day comes that Caesar shows up to torture you, your wife and your child out of your religion.

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  • Miguel

    Name me a time in the history of the United States in which it was not hostile to the Catholic Church or a time it fully embraced REAL teachings of Christ and historic Christianity. Maybe at the beginning when catholics couldn’t vote and Jefferson was supporting the French Revolution? Slavery, the natives, Mexico, the use of nuclear bombs (in places with highest population of catholics), eugenics, abortion, HHS mandate, drone polices? And we are surprised when we hear of torture?

    • antigon

      And ready to support that which will soon be turned on us?
      On the other hand, having rejected the teachings of the Faith, rejecting the Faith Herself perhaps won’t prove too difficult.
      And then you’ll be required – o glory! – to torture those who haven’t abandoned either the Faith or Her teaching & your loyalties, not to say equivalencies, will be perfected.

    • Dave G.

      I can’t believe the defenses for torture. It boggles the mind. What the hell are people thinking? To me it’s like arguing that traffic fatalities are a good thing. But here’s the thing. We’re not dealing with one bad issue among many good. And we’ve created a slew of problems in our country that go beyond this issue. You bring to mind one of them.

      When Obama spoke and said this does not represent America’s values, my sixteen year old, always my perceptive and witty one, quipped ‘that’s not what I’ve heard.’ For him, America is what you describe. All America is or has been is what you describe. It’s been that focus for most of my life as well. Only in the faintest memories do I recall a time when we were the nation that slaughters Indians, owns slaves, terrorizes minorities, nukes babies, fights unjust wars, etc.

      Something common sense says that if you raise a generation to believe they are in a torturing, slaughtering, imperialistic, racist, genocidal nation, at least on some levels you’re going to get a generation that simply assumes torturing, slaughtering, imperialism, racism and genocide. Remember the old photos of Guantanamo, the ones that started this all? Remember, the ones abusing prisoners weren’t moaning and groaning. They were laughing and enjoying it. Just like the Nazis, in old pictures showing them ready to execute prisoners and Jews. As often as not, they weren’t weeping. They were yucking it up. Having a jolly old time.

      There’s a balance, and I feel we’ve long ago overstepped that balance, which is part of the problem. We can’t have it both ways. If we’re as bad as many say, and as the modern narrative suggests, then why are we surprised or shocked or even disappointed? If we shouldn’t be, then our approach should be different than it is. But something has to give, of that I’m sure.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        So the problem is that you don’t whitewash history enough? Got it.

        • Dave G.

          No, the problem is that when I visit Jack Chick’s blog, I don’t see a man who loves and admires the Catholic Church except for a couple minor issues with which he respectfully disagrees. Same principle when applied to the country. Or anything else as common sense would dictate.

    • kirthigdon

      Miguel nails it, but the US is exceptional neither in its policies nor
      in its hypocrisy. It’s exceptional in its size and in the scope of its
      power, which is global to an extent never before seen in history. As
      the tag line for one of the godzilla movies went, “Size matters”. In
      addition to Miguel’s list of misdeeds, there is the “soft” side of
      American power, the economic and cultural. The former allows the US
      regime to dominate the rest of the world and buy off the poorer segments
      of its own population. The latter involves the export of the American
      contraceptive/abortive/porno culture to the rest of the world. It is
      that which makes the US in the long run more dangerous than Nazi Germany
      or the Soviet Union. A Catholic traddie commentator once wrote that
      the saving grace of Communism was that it was so oppressive that sooner
      or later even Communists got tired of it. In contrast, he said that
      western secular liberalism would be much harder to get rid of because it
      enslaves us by means of our own vices.

      Kirt Higdon

    • Marthe Lépine

      Here in this particular combox, it is not a matter of the US, or its government, fully embracing the real teachings of Christ and historic Christianity. What I find absolutely shocking and scandalous here is the matter of people who are supposed to be, or claim to be, Catholic, and sometimes even claim to be pro-life, seemingly hostile to what the Catholic Church clearly teaches, in the present case about torture. It seems to me that Catholics have the responsibility of working to embrace and to fully live the teachings of the Catholic Church, without trying to find loopholes to be exploited in order to better conform to the world.

      • etme

        Exactly. Having a government that would be “Catholic” or even “Christian” is a heresy, really. Because it assumes that, with just enough effort, or electing the right people, or imposing the right regime (Calvin, Savonarola) – “this time it’s gonna work”. It will not, shall not, can not. That is the status report for human condition – and politics – now and forever.

        Which does not stop Christians from always witnessing, through act and thought, in whatever position they are – keep calm and know you’ll never create utopia.

  • Tommy Boy

    How did Nazis capture the government?

    • Tommy Boy

      And, thank you Mark for standing up to them.

  • philip

    I’ve totally gone MarkShea on my fellow conservative friends since all this broke. Amazing to hear the silly fearful defenses and excuses. How did heads get so far implanted in asses? Fear. Fear. Fear

    • chezami

      And anger anger anger and. above all, pride pride pride. How could Real Catholics and Real Americans have been so wrong? It must be somebody else’s fault.

  • Sue Korlan

    This picture isn’t mine. I have no idea where it came from or why it seems to accompany my posts.

    If believing that no one is poorer than an unborn child and therefore the preferential option for the poor is to be extended first to the unborn makes a person a conservative, then I’m a conservative. If being a distributivist makes me a conservative, then I’m a conservative. My family considers me one.

    But let me say, I have been opposed to the torture of prisoners since we started doing it. It was one of the few areas where I agreed with candidate Obama in 2008. Torture is always wrong, and the information gained through it is usually a pack of lies. Why you should think that conservatives support this stuff is beyond me, at least if they are Catholic. The Catechism is very clear that such activity is always grave matter.

    • Dan F.

      Stick around a bit or go back through the archives. There are (sadly) hundreds, if not thousands, of comments and examples of (self-proclaimed) conservative Catholics defending the use of torture or playing with definitions (what is torture really anyway?, who can say, etc.). It’s maddening and sickening that we even have to have this conversation when like you say, there’s not really any gray area in the Catechism regarding torture.

    • Newp Ort

      And Obama failed to shut down Guantanamo. And doubled down on the use of surveillance of US citizens, the right of government to ignore the rights of citizens and even outright kill them for reasons known only to “law enforcement” and security agencies. The drone killings of a handful of supposed terrorists and many innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      I supported him on his supposed goals, but wasn’t terribly surprised to see him go the other way.

      And to some his greatest sins are healthcare, Bengazi, and amnesty.

      • Sue Korlan

        As someone who won’t violate my conscience in order to get health insurance, which I would otherwise have, I can’t help but agree about health care. I don’t understand why he refuses to allow Catholics to practice their faith. Perhaps he thinks none of us is willing to suffer the consequences of not having health care in order to avoid mortal sin.

        But it’s far better to suffer a physical death than a spiritual death, so that’s where I stand.

  • Evan

    The more I’ve thought about the response of self proclaimed conservative, pro-life Catholics who defend what the CIA did, the more I realize the wisdom of this mentality: of course *torture* is wrong, but who can say what constitutes torture anyway; it’s all so confusing.

    I think we should start applying that to other areas of morality as well. Of course abortion is wrong, but is taking plan B really the same as having an abortion? I mean it’s not like the woman is having her baby cut up and sucked out. She’s just taking a pill, which is totally non-violent, and if the fertilized egg can’t implant itself in her uterus, was it ever really alive anyway? So confusing.

    And consider euthanasia. If a patient is dying, how can anyone seriously say hastening their death is *suicide*. That’s so harsh and inconsiderate. People take drugs to manage their pain; how can it be euthanasia to take a prescription that happens to be lethal? That just sounds like ultimate pain management.

    Finally, what about pornography? What really constitutes *porn* anyway? Of course porn is always wrong, but looking at a lingerie catalog, even a really racy one, can hardly be considered pornographic. Heck, if I’m reading Playboy for the articles, what’s wrong if some of the models in the magazine are naked, as long as we’re not looking at people having sex? You can see just as much nudity in an art museum. It’s all soooo confusing.
    Since it’s the internet, I suppose I do have to say the above is all sarcasm.

    • petey

      “if I’m reading Playboy for the articles”

      < : D

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    I know this has been pointed out before, but in the interests of accuracy it needs to be pointed out again: the policy doesn’t seem to have been designed to destroy people’s faith, but to put them in a situation where their faith would allow them to cooperate. The policy is still evil, and makes it abundantly clear that what was being done was torture, but we need to be accurate in how we describe it.

  • Elmwood

    the nat’l cath. register newspaper loves to obsess about the hhs mandate and hobby lobby. i’m sure torture will not be getting the same amount of obsession because it will not fit the narrative of GOP=Catholicism.

    • Dave G.

      Stereotypes always amaze me. We all know the Conservative Evangelicals always know that Jesus votes Republican, right? And yet, I was attending an Evangelical Seminary, filled to the brim with self proclaiming conservatives, when the GOP stampeded the Democrats in 1994. And you know what happened the day after the election? They held a special praise and worship service thanking Jesus for guiding the election and seeing God’s will done in America!

      Well, no. That’s what you would think if you listened to the media. You know what most said? Most were only cautiously optimistic at best, skeptical most of the time. A friend who was a Presbyterian minister summed up most of the opinions I heard: Never forget that for many American conservatives and Republicans, the GOP sees the Faith as valuable insofar as it fits neatly on the Americana shelf between baseball and apple pie. Sure, there were a few waving flags and Bibles. But most were far more insightful. That was 1994.

      Sometimes I think discussions would work so well if we could learn to stop doing what we know never works when we see it done by other people in other times. I doubt most confuse the GOP and the Faith. Any more than those who proudly disdain belonging to tribes or teams or parties confuse Post-modern brand individualism with the Faith. With that said, by all means, continue to fight the fight against torture and those who are supporting it, no matter what the reason. However complex it might be.

      • Heather

        While the entire readership certainly doesn’t fall into that trap, reading the comboxes gives a pretty clear idea that it is not something that only an isolated few go in for.

        • IRVCath

          Yes, they are outraged that the Register isn’t the Republican puppet they thought ut would be.

        • Dave G.

          Of course. As I said, there were those who acted like the 94 elections were the second coming. But to obsess about it, or always default to such things, is a great way to avoid discussion and debate. And sometimes, to avoid an opportunity.

    • IRVCath

      Actually, in part thabks to our friend the poster here, it seems to be achieving this coverage. I have yet to see a Catholic presser that defends the acts outlined in the report.

  • pavel chichikov

    I live in a solidly Republican, mixed-rural-small town-small city, religious and conservative part of Pennsylvania. I’ll be darned if I’ll vote Democratic in ’16.

    Unless I don’t vote at all. But if I don’t vote I’m deciding I don’t care if you know who gets in.

    I may even work for the county Republican Committee. Even though the outgoing Republican governor was acknowledged to be a disaster even by Republicans.

    Kind of a dilemma, eh?

  • Jassuz8

    I am glad to see that you have qualified this to address only those who “defend torture,” rather than focusing solely on those who self identify as pro-life, but I disagree that such hypocrisy is limited to “conservatives.” Hypocrites come in all stripes, and are found regarding every pro-life issue and, for that matter, regarding every “moral” issue. Hypocrites can be liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, religious, atheist, and even vegan/vegetarian. I realize that you have a particular concern over the conservative Catholic pro-life folks …but you need to be careful…because there are other “hypocrites” out there who will be called out in response to, and as a result of, your desire to expose the people with whom you are angry (even though you accuse them as a general group of people). Throughout all of time, people who have committed the most grave sins – sometimes – are unaware of the sins they have committed. However, some are aware, and are truly terrible people. But there are still others who, for one reason or another, felt they had no choice in the decisions they made. “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” It’s important to epose the truth, as you are doing. But, all sinners should be treated with compassion and kindness…even though many of us struggle to achieve that.

    I hope you keep trying to raise awareness for this and all pro-life issues. But, I also hope that you transition to a more constructive, uplifting approach…now that you seem to have everyone’s attention. 🙂

    By the way…even some liberals are struggling with how to respond to the senate’s CIA report:

    • Jassuz8 – I’ve read a few of your comments on Mark’s blog and I want to thank you for saying so much that I’d liked to have said.

    • KungIsGreat

      Hypocrites? Nobody on the left is capable of hypocrisy. This issue is provides proof that conservatives are incapable of enriching humanity. Every
      conservative “catholic” should reject conservatism and embrace liberalism. We liberal catholics should condemn, alienate and ridicule conservative “catholics” until they either repent, shut up, or leave. Now, keep in mind, this technique is only for conservative “catholics”. We need to make a comfortable, loving, accepting, non-imposing, unaggressive, non-combative, seemingly indifferent environment for those confused liberal Catholics who’ve yet to understand abortion is mortally sinful. If we attack, attack, attack, we’ll get nowhere with them. This attack, attack, attack technique only works with the inhuman conservative “catholics”. I don’t know if they’ll respond well to it, but maybe they’ll just go away if we hate them enough.

      • Jassuz8

        God doesn’t feel that way about conservatives or liberals. He loves them both for their sincere faith, and the good work they do, no matter how imperfect they may be. Morally, conservatives and liberals *should* share the same goals…and Mark has successfully emphasized that very important point. But, it is a good thing that they approach solutions differently. Partisans like to accuse the other side of always being completely wrong…but most of the time both sides have legitimate concerns, and some good ideas. They need to bring those ideas to the table and work together.

      • chezami

        Please. Lefties are quite capable of hypocrisy, not least when they decry gross abuses of human dignity by conservatives while cheerleading for the slaughter of unborn children, or enrich themselves by incestuous relations with corporate America while it despoils and tramples the poor. Stop lying for partisan gain and act for the common good.

  • Todd Orbitz

    I am absolutely thrilled that the teachings of Islam were used against Islamist extremists.

    I would welcome the US government to use the teachings of Catholicism against Catholics. Oh, I forgot….. they have tried to do that and it doesn’t work.

  • Samuel D. Saad

    Obviously Pope Benedict said that torture is an intrinsic unjustifiable evil.

    However, this is precisely what happens in a relativistic society. All religions are deemed equal, thus the government becomes the new god who possesses all authority, judges what is good and what is evil, and interferes with religious freedom.

    The Catholic faith is superior (because it is the fullness of truth, not because of some racist supremacy whatsoever) and religions that promote terror ought to be restricted for the common good. You can’t force someone into abandoning his or her religion, but you must forbid proselytism and obviously their criminal acts.

  • Samuel D. Saad

    Torture is evil, and so is the HHS Mandate and contraception. This doesn’t deny the fact that the HHS Mandate violates religious freedom. Both are intrinsic evils.