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Religious Illiteracy At WaPo (Again!)


In this free country of ours, everyone is permitted to be as literate about religion as they wish, and they are entitled to remain in complete and utter darkness about religious doctrines. But, you would think that a religion writer for one of America's leading newspapers might be at least a little familiar with one of the central intellectual issues facing religion in the modern age, how believers do and do not grapple with science, and specifically, the theory of evolution.
But, you would think wrong. Julia Duin at the Washington Post reduces all religion to a fundamentalist caricature. Mark Silk at BeliefNet provides the takedown.
I have a question for the editors at the Post. Would they permit such shoddy reporting on any other topic? Could a science reporter know so little about her field? Or a sports reporter? We have come a long way since Dayton, Tennessee, but Duin's caricatures of religion are little different from those offered by Mencken back then. At least Mencken was funny. Duin's column is merely pathetic.

InsideCatholic Goes Crazy


Earlier this morning, I noted that conservatives like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have become even more unhinged than usual over events in the Mideast, warning of the return of the Caliphate and the imposition of Sharia worldwide.

Well, over at InsideCatholic, John Zmirak one ups the Fox News duo with a screed that has something stupid, offensive, repugnant or evil in almost every paragraph. In his attempt to link Pat Buchanan's "pitchfork brigades" with today's Tea Party, be brings together a host of rightwing phobias, often in the same sentence even though they derive from different decades, e.g., when he warns of "tens of millions more freshly minted affirmative action recipients and future Democrats flooding across the border." I seem to recall Ronald Reagan signing a relatively pro-immigration measure in the 1980s, and I do not recall John McCain denouncing affirmative action in 2008.

Rand Paul vs. the Evangelicals


According to a report at Politico, Sen. Rand Paul has been flooded with calls from evangelicals protesting his suggestion that U.S. aid to Israel be cut. I am no fan of John Hagee - whose views of Catholicism are somewhat eccentric also - and I am quite sure he and I support Israel for different reasons, but he is right to call out Sen. Paul whose neo-isolationism is as repugnant today as the original was when it was spouted by Charles Lindbergh in the 1930s.

Democracy: Yes, But Not Enough


Back in the early 1980s, when I was first studying politics here at the Catholic University of America, I recall the bafflement that attended some of my first encounters with Marxist thought. There was something unreal about the way Marxist analysis and ideas were presented. Marxist ideas were defended in articles and books in purely theoretical terms, as if it was somehow impolite to ask the simple question by which all political ideas should be judged: How do people live in countries where these ideas dominate? By the early 1980s, the verdict was in on Marxism. It was a failure and the people who lived under it lived miserable lives. I had a hard time giving much credence to ideas that yielded such misery in practice.

CREW Calls For Prayer Breakfast Boycott


The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has called upon the President and congressional leaders to boycott the National Prayer Breakfast scheduled for tomorrow. In an open letter to the leading politicians, CREW notes that the Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by a "shadowy religious association" known alternately as "The Family" or "The Fellowship." The group, among other things, runs a rooming house for members of Congress, some of whom have found themselves the focus of ethics investigations. As well, a prominent member of "The Family" helped lead the effort in Uganda to pass a law that would make homosexuality a capital crime. In the wake of the recent murder of a gay rights activist in Uganda, the organization's reputation is especially in tatters at the moment, better to say, more in tatters.
Here is a copy of the letter.

Orrin Hatch & the Tea Party Minefield


Politico has a great article about veteran Sen. Orrin Hatch and how he is trying to navigate the minefield laid down by the Tea Party. You can bet his friendship with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, to say nothing of their co-authorship of legislation to deliver health insurance to children, will be the focus of the Tea Party attack on Hatch. You can also bet that the usually reasonable Hatch will become increasingly unreasonable on issues like immigration. A few years back, he co-sponsored the DREAM Act, but those days are gone.

Gingrich Barred From Catholic Colleges


No, of course, former Speaker, and new Catholic, Newt Gingrich has not been barred from speaking at Catholic colleges or universities, and I am not holding my breathe that he will be. Nor, do I think he should be. But, he spent much of last night debating immigration reform in a way that "wounds the unity" of the Church on this important moral issue. He has "gone behind the back" of the bishops. He has been "disloyal" to the bishops' on this issue, in danger of setting up a "parallel magisterium." Not bad for someone who was a Baptist five minutes ago.
Of course, Mr. Gingrich's way of being a Catholic is different from mine. And, he is completely and thoroughly wrong on immigration. But, he has every right to hold the views he does and no Catholic college wounds its Catholic identity by having this dissenter on its campus.

Catholic Identity: Real & Imagined


The release of letters between Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, and Sister Carol Keehan, DC, CEO of the Catholic Health Association, shows how these two Church leaders grapple with the issue of Catholic Identity in the setting of a hospital and the issues that Catholic health care entail. The recent speech by Bishop Gerald Kicanas to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities also deals with the subject of Catholic Identity, there in the context of higher education. Last week, at the inauguration of Catholic University’s new president, the conversations all circled around the students’ and faculty’s excitement to see how a layman would extend and further the restructures Catholic identity of the place, achieved by his predecessor Bishop David O’Connell. Everyone it seems is talking about Catholic Identity it seems.

Fr. Thomas Euteneur Gives TMI (Or Not Enough)


I suppose there must have been rumors swirling, although I had not heard them, about the departure of Father Thomas Euteneur from Human Life International that he felt it necessary to issue this statement explaining that he engaged in some kind of inappropriate behavior with "an adult female." He assures us that he did not engage in the sexual act.

Mercifully, he did not indulge a discussion of what the definition of "is" is, but otherwise his statement sounds suspiciously like the statements Bill Clinton made during Monicagate, the frankness of his admission offset by endless assurances of what he did not do. He might have added that he did not perpatrate the Holocaust nor did he drop an atom bomb on anyone.


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September 25-October 8, 2015


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