The Pope, the God, and the GOP

The Pope, the God, and the GOP July 5, 2015

Lukovich ignoring the pope

The cartoon above by Mike Lukovich offers an amusing take on a famous painting. It nicely situates Big Oil as thinking of itself as God. One way of understanding it is that Big Oil as God is taking a bribe from the GOP (the Republican Party) to ignore the Pope. But that would represent a reversal of what really happens – the money passes from Big Oil to the politicians, and then they ignore the Pope in favor of their vested interests. So is that what we are meant to envisage going on here? Which way do you think the money is supposed to be flowing in the cartoon?

That is but one of several that explores the conservative reaction to the pope’s words about climate change. Below are some others, with my thoughts on them.

This next one could equally substitute a Bible for the Pope, to address how Protestant conservatives deal with their allegedly infallible source of authority. In both cases, they appeal to authority when it suits them, and ignore it when it suits them. And so Catholics and Protestants are not much different in this regard.

Conservatives and papal infallibility


This next one highlights the hypocrisy of conservative politicians who have consistently played the religion card, and then have responded to the Pope – who also has a background (a diploma but not a degree) in chemistry – that he should stay out of politics and out of science.

How dare you bring religion into it

And finally, we have Pope Francis depicted as a modern-day John the Baptist, crying out as a lone voice in the midst of a different sort of wilderness. Of course, we’ve actually done a great deal to address some of the issues of pollution that were even more common a few decades ago – our cities looked much more like the image in the cartoon in the 1970s than they do today, I think. But that doesn’t let us off the hook, and indeed, it is part of the Biblical tradition’s moral challenge that it does not merely say “You are doing terribly, stop!” but also “You are complacent because you are not doing terribly – but real, profound, meaningful change requires that you do more than you are currently.”

Pope Francis voice crying in wilderness

Are there other political cartoons focused on the Pope’s encyclical, and politicians’ responses to it, that I’ve missed and ought to have included here?



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  • The money’s obviously flowing the way it usually does.
    If the conservatives pictured claimed they believed everything the Pope says, you (and me) would be much more worried. I don’t want politicians to be more loyal to the Vatican than to America.

    • antimule

      > I don’t want politicians to be more loyal to the Vatican than to America.

      What makes think they are at all loyal to even America?

    • Mark

      But it’s OK for them to be more loyal to rich America than to the rest of us, right?

  • A well chosen set of cartoons. Thanks.

  • Just Sayin’

    Alas, there’s also lots of money flowing to “Big Green.”

    • Andrew Dowling

      LOL want to compare actual numbers? It’s not close to parity. Not even in the same universe

      • Just Sayin’

        Who claimed it was?

    • ccws

      Not nearly enough.

      • Just Sayin’

        It’s where it’s coming from that’s most significant, IMO.

  • We conservatives don’t like seeing the Pope make a fool of himself, trusting falsified data that liberals and President Obama claim all scientists agree with, as they use it in their own global warming narrative for political purposes.

    Here’s a short list of some green energy companies that billions and billions of our taxpayer dollars have been funneled to and have failed under Obama’s wisdom.

    Amonix Solar, Solar Trust of America, Bright Source, Solyndra, LSP Energy, Energy Conversion Devices, Abound Solar, SunPower, Beacon Power, Ecotality, A123 Solar, UniSolar, Azure Dynamics, Evergreen Solar and Ener1.

    The liberals don’t need to ask God for money, they just tax the people for it. And they can’t get things right. So maybe, it’s Thank God for Big Oil and the GOP. They can get things done.

    • Neko

      I know it’s hard work cutting and pasting agitprop from winger sites (and you’ve been at it for so long!), but try reading the papers once in a while.

      “U.S. Expects $5 Billion From Program That Funded Solyndra”
      (Bloomberg, Nov. 12, 2014)

      The U.S. government expects to earn $5 billion to $6 billion from the renewable-energy loan program that funded flops including Solyndra LLC, supporting President Barack Obama’s decision to back low-carbon technologies.


      You wrote:

      Thank God for Big Oil and the GOP. They can get things done.

      Have you been in a coma during the 21st century?

      • Wow, $6 billion windfall! And only $20 trillion in debt. Thanks to people who don’t read the papers, and ignorantly reelect disasters like Obama and Hillary, it will be the 22nd Century by the time the people of the United States pay off Obama’s debt. And by then, maybe cold fusion will be our dominant energy source for tomorrow.

        • Kubricks_Rube

          Way to deflect. Just admit you were wrong about the renewable-energy loan program. I won’t even ask you to take the next step and consider what other politically motivated narratives you might be misinformed about. For now acknowledging this one error will suffice.

        • Neko

          It costs nothing to borrow these days, and the deficit shrunk under Obama.

        • Andrew Dowling

          Wow I was completely wrong . . I know . . $20 trillion in debt! Benghazi! False flag! nomnomnomnom . .

  • Michael Wilson

    It definitely seems that it is big oil paying the GOP, that big oil is the GOP’s God. Arguably since the internal combustion engine big oil has done more of God’s work than the pope, that is if God likes people. She may prefer polar bears.

    It has been interesting to see how conservatives who always had such great things to say about the vatican when the pope talked about abortion, sexuality, and defeating totalitarianism change their tune when he endorses climate change politics and liberation theology, and the converse of leftist who reviled the institution over abortion, sex, and defeating totalitarianism now getting all gushy about the new pope. No word on when Catholic Venezuela and Brazil will do there part to save God’s environment by shutting off the oil pumps and telling their poor masses to suck it.

    The new pope has been a good choice though with Catholicism fading away in the northern hemisphere and his leftist views get him positive press from those who might otherwise want to talk about child abuse and church opposition to gay rights, female clergy, and abortion while right wingers still will support the church irregardless.

    • Andrew Dowling

      Oh please Michael. Doing something about climate change doesn’t mean suddenly “shutting off all of the oil pumps” . . it’s that kind of quasi apocalyptic “fighting climate change will put us back to the stone age/are you typing on a computer/drive a car” rhetoric that is the true climate alarmism.

      A carbon tax, increased investment in renewables, and agreements focusing on enforcing renewable/sustainable agricultural practices will go a long way. And they will not put anyone into poverty.

      • Michael Wilson

        I agree completely Andrew. That’s why I don’t fall for the Democrats and greens hysterics about the nessessity of their plans. If things were as dire as they claim the small changes propossed by mainstream liberals like the White House would not save us. For example if Obama’s EPA regulations aren’t implemented its hardly the end of the world, perhaps at this time they arent worth the cost. You’re right, we should be careful about pursuing environmental goals at the expense of the poor, so I accept allowing coal to continue being sold to burn. And I don’t think any one will take the pope’s message to seriously. Sure we all want a better environment, and we are already taking steps to improve it. As James pointed out, we have made improvements and we need to make more. But I think we have been doing a good job and don’t need the left/democrat prescriptions.

        • Andrew Dowling

          But we aren’t doing nearly enough . .there is unanimous opinion on that outside of the right wing. Coal? Coal is already a dying business and the regs are simply expediting it’s needed demise. And that doesn’t mean a net loss of jobs . .the jobs in the solar, wind, and natural gas industries have been booming. Sure, some places in Kentucky and West VA will suffer but that’s the nature of global economics. I don’t recall such hysterics over the demise of small town industries due to 1990s free trade agreements from the conservative camp.

          So yes, the small changes being proposed won’t save us, we need much bolder action. The costs of climate change, particularly on the global poor, far outweigh the costs of action against it, which would fall primarily on the richer consumer nations who can afford it.

          • Michael Wilson

            Andrew, there seems to me a disconnect between saying that we don’t need to do any thing drastic to curb climate change, but then if you agree it suddenly becomes we aren’t doing nearly enough. I don’t trust arguments of we can have our cake and eat it to. Drastic change will cost noticeably. Regarding the cost to the poor I think your calculation is one that assumes that world’s poor are only interested in being sustenance farmers and aren’t interested in being industrial producers. But India has been increasing its coal use considerably because its a cheap way to industrialize. China is backing off, but only after it made industrial gains with coal. Power cost are proportionately greater on the poor. Its the poor that worry most about the price of gas or their electric bill.

            I think its great that coal use is dropping, but much of that displacement has been due to the impact of natural gas, whose use also displeases the environmentalist, as does nuclear, who’s abandonment in Germany is spurring greater coal use. Hopefully though as more nations industrialize coal will be phased out, but until then I expect their will be a demand and denying it is a recipe for third world poverty and resentment.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Obama’s EPA rules are not “drastic” in the slightest and no environmentalists ever said so. And all carbon tax schemes involve rebates to poor families to help them cope with price increases.

            You are also assuming all industrial development projects in a place like India are a net benefit, which is very faulty logic. Industrial poverty is not any better than rural poverty. It’s economic diversification and political change that creates a middle class, not simply building a coal factory.

            Additionally, many environmentalists are pro nuclear. It’s no longer the 1980s . . .a mix of nat. gas, renewables, nuclear will go a long way in cutting emissions, along with declining birth rates (why birth control should be cheap and widespread) and living less wastefully, which the United States is number 1 in by far.

          • Michael Wilson

            I never said his regulations were drastic. And if we need drastic change I’m not sure why we should be so much more in favor of Obama’s little change over someone else’s little less change.

            I’m glad to hear more environmentalist are accepting nuclear energy. I dropped my membership in Greenpeace over their opposition to it. Hopefully German greens will reverse their stance and American greens will get on board with fracking.

            China seems to be a lot happier with its new industrial poverty over its old rural poverty. In fact I can’t think of any countries off the top if my head that decided to deindustrialize (ok Cambodia comes to mind). I admit that India could still move up without dirty fuel, but poor people are impatient and may not accept that another generstion of their children may have to live in thirdworld conditions so Americans and Europeans can sleep better at night.

            Personally I’m fine with a carbin tax. It seems fair. But I can understand why it was rejected in 2009, with the economy in such bad affairs any increased burdens seemed unwarranted. Maybe later.

          • Michael Wilson

            Andrew it seems my discussions of environmental policy here tend to devolve into what we have here, and hope to get past the impasse. I certainly think, as do many influential republican figures that climate change is real and a problem. However I’m confused by the popular liberal approach to this issue that seems to be that drastic change is needed but don’t take the Democratic party to task for paltry steps but vilify the Republicans for wanting to maintain the status quo or make small reverses. Sure their are environmentalist that do take Obama to task, but we have really politicised this issue to a degree that people aren’t discussing what needs to be done in a meaniful way, but simply that if Democrats are in power we will be fine for pennies a day and if Republicans are in power Miami will be under water by 2030 our whatever the doomsday scenario of the day is. I don’t think that is a fair assessment. I think it can be argued that right wing policies can in fact get better environmental results than left wing ones.

          • Andrew Dowling

            “However I’m confused by the popular liberal approach to this issue that seems to be that drastic change is needed but don’t take the Democratic party to task for paltry steps but vilify the Republicans for wanting to maintain the status quo or make small reverses.”

            Michael, for starters the environmental movement has continually held Democrats feet to the fire; Landrieu and Manchin despite being Democrats got not help from the green lobby as they are/were very pro fossil fuel.

            Secondly, clearly you can see the difference between a party conceding there is a problem and its proposed actions not being enough, and a party which DENIES THERE IS EVEN A PROBLEM to begin that, and to the contrary claims its all some vast conspiracy-that is literal crazy talk and yes the environmental movement and anyone with an interest in the future has and should hammer the GOP for being completely backwards on an important public policy matter.

            As for proposed policies, all of the proposals from the Democratic party on climate change have been what would’ve been considered “conservative” market-based strategies for dealing with the problem prior to the issue becoming politico non-grata after Obama was elected.

          • Michael Wilson

            Thanks for your response Andrew. First I want to address the idea that the GOP denies there is a problem. Polls show Republican voters are diveded about 50/50 on the issue with most believing there us a problem.
            Republicans are also divided on the idea of a carbon tax.
            The failure of the carbon tax going forward in 2009 was not only because of the vast majority of Republicans voting against but the Democrats that joined them. Were they only opposed because Obama was president? I think in the middle of such a large financial downturn any tax hikes would be a hard sell.

            Regarding environmentalist and Democrats, yes many take them to task for their policy, but it seems that opposition voices a very muted when it comes to criticising the insignificance of proposed Democratic fixes for the environment. I can understand they don’t have a lot if options, but inspiring complacency by cheering efforts far short of the drastic changes many of them feel are needed to stop a catastrophe seems irresponsible. My suspicion is many liberals that champion environmental protections don’t really take there rhetoric seriously and are more concerned with other short term liberal goals.

            For those Republicans that agree that there is climate change, for which many liberals are unaware of since left leaning press doesn’t discuss this much, but of which I follow since I follow media like National Review and Fox News along with other outlets, the position is a realization that the effects of climate change are hard to predict. If you disagree, could you let me know the consensus position on what will happen in the next 10, 25, 50, 100 years to weather patterns if the status quo continues and what measures will produce which changes. Without that sort of knowledge it is difficult to effectively plan drastic policy change which we know would hurt people economically. Further it is not just the U.S. that produces green house gas so legislation here may have minimal impact if other nations over whome we have little control continue to expand pollution. In any case it is very likely that regardless of our actions the problems of global warming or climate change will occur. To deal with them will require resources and those nations that sacrificed their wealth to slow pollution will be less equipped to respond to those changes. A belligerent nation like China that does not feel as threatened by climate change and ideologically does not worry about its negative impact on others will be in a stronger position. I think, and so do other Republican thinkers, that solving the problems of climate change is not a 4 or 8 year effort and will require global cooperation that means enforcing the rule of international law and humanitarian standard if decency globally. That requires a strong west. Furthermore many effects if climate change will occur regardless and the world must be prepared to stop them rather than focus all resources on stopping a little understood process.

        • Nick G

          The scientific evidence is quite clear that we need to do much more and much faster to avoid dangerous and potentially catastrophic climate change; many of those most worried are themselves climate scientists. And since the rich produce vastly more greenhouse gases than the poor, while the poor will suffer from the effects sooner and worse than the rich, “we can’t do more because the poor will suffer” is just a hypocritical right-wing pretense of concern for them.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Thank you

          • Michael Wilson

            Nick, I’ll have to get to your pdf later. But off hand, what decrease in fossil fuel use does it suggest will be needed to stave off what dangerous effect? Is their a figure to work with?

            The green house gas production of the rich provides for the poor. The transport of raw materials, production of tractors and finished goods which the poor don’t produce them selves, development of medicine etc, all produce green house gas. Any cost imposed on those gases is passed to the poor who trade labor and raw materials for finished goods. Any approach to reducing green house emissions must look at the cost it will impose and whether it will outweigh its benifits.

    • Neko

      There’s still plenty of chatter about RCC child abuse and church opposition to abortion, LGBT rights and women’s ordination. Not sure why you think otherwise.

      • Michael Wilson

        So you don’t think the press has been more favorable to the vatican since the new pope signed on? Whether or not you think there is still plenty of chatter is irrelevant, more if there headlines are positive, and in a big way. Compare CNN and huffpo articles on him, Ratteziger(sic[?]), and John Paul. I think otherwise because I’ve been reading the news 30 years now. You notice things.

        • Neko

          Excuse me? I didn’t say a thing about media coverage of Francis. Obviously it’s been favorable. And I don’t “think” there’s still plenty of chatter about controversial issues; it’s a fact. My point is that media love for Francis hasn’t silenced criticism of the RCC’s more controversial positions, either from progressive Catholics/Christians or mainstream outlets. In addition, your suggestion that with Laudato Si’ the pope is making a cynical bid to reenergize the North American Catholic Church is evidence you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          Yeah, I’ve been reading the news for decades as well; the press fawned over JP II. Benedict XVI not so much, because of gaffes early in his papacy, his reactionary tendencies, and his tenure during a mess of scandal.

          As for your ongoing spelling challenges, I suggest you use spellcheck.

          • Michael Wilson

            Neko, is there something on your computer that can help you read? You don’t seem to be addressing what I’m writing.

          • Neko

            I’ll waste no more time with you.

          • Michael Wilson


  • Gary

    Regardless of climate change arguments, I am all for government restrictions on industries’ pollution emissions. Proof. Lived in California pretty much all my life. I remember the constant smog alerts every day in LA. Driving through Long Beach with all the oil wells pumping, and smoke stacks of refineries, stink of the place, and fighting both smog and traffic in the 70’s going to school there…what a pain.
    Vast improvement now, with much more strict control of factories in California. Got the lead out of gas.

    Ok, down side… High gas prices in California because more expensive blends of gas. Lots of factories moved to other states with less stict requirements.

    But I don’t want the place I live to look like China, with unlimited emissions standards, and pollution up the kazoo in the lakes and streams.

    Gee, let’s put all our trust into the Koch Brothers, and we will look like China.