Monday, June 29, 2009

Climate Change: Science, or Loss of Subsidiarity?

June 29, 2009

New York Times, op. ed.

Paul Krugman:

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy. As a recent authoritative U.S. government report points out, by the end of this century New Hampshire may well have the climate of North Carolina today, Illinois may have the climate of East Texas, and across the country extreme, deadly heat waves — the kind that traditionally occur only once in a generation — may become annual or biannual events.

In other words, we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

Well, sometimes even the most authoritative analyses get things wrong. And if dissenting opinion-makers and politicians based their dissent on hard work and hard thinking — if they had carefully studied the issue, consulted with experts and concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus was misguided — they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.

But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

Given this contempt for hard science, I’m almost reluctant to mention the deniers’ dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill’s economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.

Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?

Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Climate Change?

By Cardinal George Pell

“The drought this year has been particularly cruel in the country. Not simply because this is the seventh year and most farmers are broke, but because there were good early rains. Hopes were high, but nothing followed.

“The climate has changed, but Australia has long known terrible droughts. I suspect it was not only distance that precluded a large population before European settlement, when only a few hundred thousand aborigines had the skill to survive our harsh environment.

“But is human industrial activity making the weather worse? Are we on the brink of a man-made catastrophe? Could we do anything to change global weather patterns, even in the unlikely eventuality that the Great Powers agreed and society could afford it? These are big and different questions.

“I am a believer in the Catholic understanding of faith and morals. I reserve my leaps of faith for religion e.g. the Incarnation and Redemption. I am certainly skeptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes, because the evidence is insufficient.

“Scientific debate is not decided by any changing consensus, even if it is endorsed by public opinion. Climate change has always been occurring.

“Science is a process of experimentation, debate, and respect for all the evidence. Often it is dealing with uncertainties rather than certainties, and so its forecasts and predictions can be spectacularly wrong.

“In the 1970s some scientists were predicting a new ice age because of global cooling. Today other scientists are predicting an apocalypse because of global warming. It is no disrespect to science or scientists to take these latest claims with a grain of salt.

“Uncertainties on climate change abound. Temperatures in Greenland were higher in the 1940s than they are today, and the Kangerlussuaq glacier there is not shrinking but growing in size.

“The journal ‘American Scientist’ has recently published a study on the melting glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro. The study confirms that air temperature around the glacier continues to be below freezing, so it is not melting because of global warming. Instead, the melt pattern of the glacier is consistent with the effect of direct radiant heat from the sun. Human activity can’t be blamed for that.

“The day before Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the English High Court ruled that DVDs of this documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ cannot be shown in schools without teachers providing additional material to correct 9 ‘significant error’ in the film.

“Among them were claims that Pacific atolls are being evacuated because of rising sea levels and that polar bears are drowning because they have to swim up to 60 miles to find ice. The court found there is ‘no evidence’ to support either claim.

“Some allege preachers raise their voice when they have a weak point. It has never worked for me and it doesn’t work in science and politics.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Wall Street Journal

JUNE 29, 2009

The Climate Change Climate Change

The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere.


Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation.

If you haven't heard of this politician, it's because he's a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country's carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming.

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as "deniers." The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In theCzech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)

The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Credit for Australia's own era of renewed enlightenment goes to Dr. Ian Plimer, a well-known Australian geologist. Earlier this year he published "Heaven and Earth," a damning critique of the "evidence" underpinning man-made global warming. The book is already in its fifth printing. So compelling is it that Paul Sheehan, a noted Australian columnist -- and ardent global warming believer -- in April humbly pronounced it "an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." Australian polls have shown a sharp uptick in public skepticism; the press is back to questioning scientific dogma; blogs are having a field day.

The rise in skepticism also came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, was attempting his own emissions-reduction scheme. His administration was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia's House. The Senate was not so easily swayed.

Mr. Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute's annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn't.

This week Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science." The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.

Republicans in the U.S. have, in recent years, turned ever more to the cost arguments against climate legislation. That's made sense in light of the economic crisis. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi fails to push through her bill, it will be because rural and Blue Dog Democrats fret about the economic ramifications. Yet if the rest of the world is any indication, now might be the time for U.S. politicians to re-engage on the science. One thing for sure: They won't be alone.

* *

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Homily of Bishop Finn, June 26, 2009

June 26, 2009 – Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish

Most Reverend Robert W. Finn

Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Dear Friends,

We are quickly approaching the conclusion of the year of Saint Paul. It has been a time of spiritual reflection on the power of the proclaimed Word of God, the apostolic and missionary work of the Church, and the necessity of personal conversion after the example of this great apostle Paul.

Now Pope Benedict has called us observe with intense prayer the Year of the Priest. He has begun this observance by welcoming the reliquary of Saint Jean Marie Vianney to the Vatican Basilica. How fitting that the Church begins this Year by honoring the Patron of all parish priests: the Cure of Ars, a man who spent hour upon hour in the Confessional, and doing so much good for souls, both in France and throughout Europe; a man who preached the Gospel courageously from the pulpit, changing many lives as a result. People would come back to the Church after many years when they just watched him celebrate Mass and witnessed the love and piety with which he gave himself to this highest priestly act.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, who simply wanted to be a faithful priest all of his life, heroically brought the sacraments to the sick and the dying in the first months of the Spanish Civil War. At great risk to his own life, when priests and nuns were being killed on the streets, and Churches burned, he wore his priestly garb until it was no longer possible for him to do so. He heard confessions and celebrated Mass in the most difficult circumstances – on one occasion giving absolution to a man in an attic even while the Red militia soldiers were hunting for him on the floor below.

He taught all of his sons who became priests, and who were incardinated in the apostolates of Opus Dei, to have a great love for their calling as priests of Jesus Christ. They should give willing and generous service not only to the members of Opus Dei, but to everyone. How grateful we are for the constant fatherly service and example we all enjoy from the priests of the Prelature.

In its declarations announcing the Year of the Priest the Church has urged that it be “a period of intense appreciation of the priestly identity, of the theology of Catholic priesthood, and of the extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and in society” A priest should not let himself be swayed by a social or temporal view of priesthood, or simply to consider it some kind of career, but must always keep in mind the Good Shepherd whom he is imitating, and who came “not to be served, but to serve.” (cf. Mt 20:28)

Let us pray for priests with special love this year. Let us recall that preparing young men for priesthood is not only the task of priests or bishops, but of all the Catholic faithful. By going to Mass frequently, and begging the Lord of the Harvest, we can obtain more vocations, as has been seen in so many dioceses throughout the country. Pray also, dear friends, for the perseverance of priests and the unity of our presbyterates.

At the same time I would like to reflect a bit on a special insight that Saint Josemaría had: namely, that all the faithful have priestly souls. One does not have to be ordained or consecrated to have a priestly soul. Remember the words of St. Peter in his First Letter: “You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may proclaim the perfections of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9). While there is an essential difference between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood (and not just a difference in degree) as the Second Vatican Council teaches (Lumen Gentium, 10), it is also true that all of the faithful, both men and women, possess a priestly soul.

This priestly soul is given in the sacrament of Baptism, which configures the new Christian to Christ the King, Prophet, and Priest. It is animated by supernatural grace, in such way that the lay faithful have the capacity – when they are in the state of sanctifying grace - to connect the free offering of their lives with that of Christ the High Priest, and offer to God the pleasing sacrifice of their prayer, their work, and their sufferings---in union with Jesus on the altar and on Calvary. When the baptiz ed live with Christ’s life and act out of a motive of love for Christ their actions are ‘meritorious’ – helpful to their salvation and that of others. They are –amazing as it may seem – true participants in the very work of redemption.

And this holy participation is effected without the need to go into the sanctuary or do services at the altar. Indeed, in their daily life the lay faithful are called to a spirit of contemplation and reparation. They are called for nothing less than the transformation of the world in Jesus Christ. They are not only called but given the capacity to offer their work for the redemption of the world, as true co-redeemerswith Christ for the salvation of the world. In the words of Saint Josemaría, “I talk about the interior life of ordinary Christians who habitually find themselves in the hubbub of the city, in the light of day, in the street, at work, with their families or simply relaxing; they are centered on Jesus all day long. And what is this except a life of continuous prayer?” (In Christ is Passing By, n.8, second paragraph)

These are all aspects of the priestly soul that the lay faithful should have, Saint Josemaria taught, without losing their lay mentality - since they are ordinary citizens working in the world, and living with their families, with all the responsibilities that this entails. In addition to a life of prayer and sacrifice, they are also called to be the light=2 0of the world (cf. Mt 5:14), by bearing witness to the truth revealed by Christ about human life, sexual morality, care for others, honesty, and so many other truths which are crucial to our society today. Oh how we need such engaged faithful dedicated to the holy work of changing the culture from the inside out!

Perhaps one of the greatest manifestations of the call of the faithful to become saints is the call to sanctify their marriages. Saint Josemaria was one of the few persons in the early part of the twentieth century - perhaps the only one before the Council - to remind the faithful and the entire Church that marriage is also a divine vocation. “For a Christian marriage,” he writes, “is not just a social institution, much less a mere remedy for human weakness. It is a real supernatural calling…..Husband and wife are called to sanctify their married life and to sanctify themselves in it. It would be a serious mistake if they were to exclude family life from their spiritual development.” (In Christ is Passing By, n.23). This sanctification takes place both in their mutual faith and prayer, as well as their love and communication with one another, thus helping each other to find God. It also takes place in their mutual responsibility of raising and educating their children to be good human beings, and faithful members of the Church.

As many of you know, we soon we hope to have – in Easter Missouri – the Cedar Lake Shrine and Family Center as a facility that will offer spiritual support to families. Let us pray fervently and work together generously for the fruition of this important apostolic initiative.

As a model for married life and the raising of children, parents have the example of the Holy Family itself---Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. By teaching their children the Faith, and instructing them with good moral training, parents can help their children to avoid the relativism and materialism that is rampant in society today, and actually give them the tools to transform this society for God. In the words of Saint Josemaria in a homily on marriage: “Parents teach their children mainly through their own conduct. What a son or daughter looks for in a father or mother is not simply a certain amount of knowledge or some more or less effective advice, but primarily something more important: a proof of the value and meaning of life…..” (Christ is Passing By, n.28)

Year of the Priest, prayer and action for vocations, the priestly soul of the lay faithful, the sanctification of the home: All these are related in the great gift of the Eucharist where Christ draws us, married and single, priests and laymen into his Sacred Heart? And are they not all related in some way to Our Lady, Mother in the home of Nazareth, who draws us all into her Immaculate Heart? We can be sure that both of those hearts are united always in praying for priests and all Christian homes. Let us join our hearts als o, in prayer and work, with love, to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

St. Josemaria, pray for us!

Following is a prayer for the intercession of St. Josemaria from the U.S. website of Opus Dei:

O God, through the mediation of Mary our Mother, you granted your priest St. Josemaría countless graces, choosing him as a most faithful instrument to found Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the Christian's ordinary duties. Grant that I too may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into occasions of loving You and serving the Church, the Pope and all souls with joy and simplicity, lighting up the pathways of this earth with faith and love. Deign to grant me, through the intercession of St. Josemaría, the favor of ... (make y our request). Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The End of Procedural Subsidiarity

On the House floor

By: David Freddoso
Commentary Staff Writer
06/26/09 4:48 PM EDT

By all appearances, the House is about to vote on a very long bill of which it has no completed official copy.

Texas Republican Reps. Joe Barton and Louie Gohmert have just asked the chair whether there exists a complete, updated copy of the Waxman-Markey carbon-cap bill.

"If a bill for which there is no copy were to actually pass this body," Barton asked, "could the bill
without a copy be sent to the Senate for its consideration?"

Through a series of parliamentary inquiries, the Republicans learned that the 300-plus page managers' amendment, added to the bill last night in the House Rules Committee, has not even been been integrated with the official copy of the 1,090-page bill at the House Clerk's desk, let alone in any other location. The two documents are side-by-side at the desk as the clerk reads through the instructions in the 300 page document for altering the 1,090 page document.

But they cannot be simply combined, because the amendment contains 300 pages of items like this: "Page 15, beginning line 8, strike paragraph (11)..." How many members of Congress do you suppose have gone through it all to see how it changes the bill?

Global Warming is apparently so urgent that we can't even wait until members of Congress know what they're voting on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Most Insightful Comment on Obama and Team Re: Notre Dame, Georgetown, etc.

Mailed by Les at

I would expect Fr. Jenkins now to be in damage control mode, because there are significant alumni contribuions at stake. That is not a personal indictment, merely part of his job.
As you point out Father, he doesn't seem yet to understand the magnitude of the scandal, or even that there really was a scandal.

I think Fr. Jenkins has been used and doesn't realize it, still talking about engaging the debate. Obama is long gone and I doubt now he would even take a call from Fr. Jenkins. Obama and/or his political team are very shrewd. They understand that if even a majority of Catholics were to vote according to Church teaching it would change the political landscape dramatically. So they set out on a program of seduction of high-profile Catholics and saw to it that Obama hit the major Catholic institutions with speeches, etc. Fr. Jenkins was only one on a list of people that were seduced and now has served his purpose. Obama does not want debate on abortion in the public square, but a debate(or better yet, a battle) in the Catholic Church about abortion is just fine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Post-Obama Letter by Fr. Jenkins to Notre Dame "Family"

The Jenkins letter is a study in how Catholic truth is co-opted into ideology-in-conflict:

Fr. Jenkins writes:

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Family,

In my four years as president of Notre Dame, I have been tremendously thankful for the genuine and heartfelt interest that members of this community express for the mission, work, and aspirations of the University. I am humbled and energized by the strength of your feelings for Notre Dame.

This was most certainly the case this spring, as my decision to invite President Obama to address the graduating class and receive an honorary degree resulted in a passionate discussion within the Notre Dame community and on the national and international stage. The events surrounding Commencement generated a significant volume of correspondence, making it all but impossible to answer each phone call, letter, and email personally.

I hope you will oblige me, then, in taking this opportunity to thank all those who shared their thoughts with me and with others at the University. I have the deepest respect for those whose faith-filled convictions compelled them to voice their opinions. I am also very grateful that, whether they agreed or disagreed with my decision, the overwhelming majority of our students, alumni, parents, benefactors, faculty, staff, and friends were thoughtful, reasoned, and respectful in their responses.

Commencement was only the beginning of what I hope will be a vital engagement with the issues highlighted by this event. Over the next several weeks, I will be considering possible next steps that will allow the Notre Dame family to engage in a prayerful and meaningful way with these issues. In doing so, I will continue to listen to and value your voices.

Thank you, once more, for your candor, insight, and commitment to Notre Dame. I look forward to advancing this conversation, and I pray daily that Notre Dame remains a place of which you can be proud.

Yours in Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.


Perhaps we could take the paragraph that says: “I have the deepest respect for those whose faith-filled convictions compelled them to voice their opinions. I am also very grateful that, whether they agreed or disagreed with my decision, the overwhelming majority of our students, alumni, parents, benefactors, faculty, staff, and friends were thoughtful, reasoned, and respectful in their responses.”

* * * * * * * * *

In his own speech at Notre Dame, Obama said: I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that - when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do - that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

“That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

“So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women."

“Understand - I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it - indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory - the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature."

* * * * * * * * *

My comment: Obama deploys here the Alinsky method to advance relativism: Applaud the pro-life position and encourage their steadfastness, while opposing that position with the reasonableness of the quality of life –“freedom” - for the woman. Confess both positions as reasonable and unresolvable. Lubricate the presentation with humor and relevant language (“don’t fudge it”).

* * * * * * * * *

Fr. Jenkins continues:

“Commencement was only the beginning of what I hope will be a vital engagement with the issues highlighted by this event. Over the next several weeks, I will be considering possible next steps that will allow the Notre Dame family to engage in a prayerful and meaningful way with these issues. In doing so, I will continue to listen to and value your voices.”

* * * * * * * * *

Let me offer the opening gambit by Saul Alinsky in his “Rules for Radicals”[1] who is a major source of Obama’s intellectual formation:

“In this book we are concerned with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people; to realize the democratic dream of equality, justice, peace, cooperation, equal and full opportunities for education, full and useful employment, health, and the creation of those circumstances in which man can have the chance to live by values that give meaning to life. We are talking about a mass power organization which will change the world into a place where all men and women walk erect, in the spirit of that credo of the Spanish Civil War, ‘Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.’ This means revolution…. In this book I propose certain general observations, propositions, and concepts of the mechanics of mass movements and the various stages of the cycle of action and reaction in revolution. This is not an ideological book except insofar as argument for change, rather than for the status quo, can be called an ideology… This book will not contain any panacea or dogma; I detest and fear dogma. I know that all revolutions must have ideologies to spur them on. That in the heat of conflict these ideologies tend to be of the truth, and the keys to paradise, is tragic. Dogma is the enemy of human freedom. Dogma must be watched for and apprehended at every turn and twist of the revolutionary movement. The human spirit glows from that small inner light of doubt whether we are right, while those who believe with complete certainty that they possess the right are dark inside and darken the world outside with cruelty, pain, and injustice…. To diminish the danger that ideology will deteriorate into dogma, and to protect the free, open, questing, and creative mind of man, as well as to allow for change, no ideology should be more specific than that of America’s founding fathers: ‘For the general welfare.”

[It should be kept in mind that the central axis of the American Revolution was the “self-evident truth” to the Americans of that time of the dignity of the human person. This was absolute and dogma of the American experience and the very meaning of “freedom of self-determination.” As Adams wrote: “But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”]

My purpose here is to suggest that the Catholic mind of Fr. Jenkins has been subtly co-opted by the Alinsky methodology that permits no absolutes, and, therefore, no truth, and this because everything is true. It is the exchange of the true freedom of the absolute that is the human person who masters self, for the ersatz disguise of ideologies-in-dialogue masquerading as “freedom.”

[1] Saul Alinsky, “Rules for Radicals” Vintage Books (1989) 3.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christ in St. Paul According to St. Gregory of Nyssa

“No one has known Christ better than Paul, nor surpassed him in the careful example he gave of what anyone should be who bears Christ’s name. So precisely did he mirror his Master that he became his very image. By a painstaking imitation, he was transformed into his model and it seemed to be no longer Paul who lived and spoke, but Christ himself. He shows his keen awareness of this grace when he refers to the Corinthians’ desire for proof that Christ was speaking in him; as he says: It is no longer I who live: it is Christ who lives in me.

“Paul teaches us the power of Christ’s name when he calls him the power and wisdom of God, our peace, the unapproachable light where God dwells, our expiation and redemption, our great high priest, our paschal sacrifice, our propitiation; when he declares him to be the radiance of God’s glory, the very pattern of his nature, the creator of all ages, our spiritual food and drink, the rock and the water, the bedrock of our faith, the cornerstone, the visible image of the invisible God. He goes on to speak of him as the mighty God, the head of his body, the Church, the firstborn of the new creation, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the firstborn of the dead, the eldest of many brothers; he tells us that Christ is the mediator between God and man, the only-begotten Son crowned with glory and honor, the Lord of glory, the beginning of all things, the king of justice and of peace, the king of the whole universe, ruling a realm that has no limits.

“Paul calls Christ by many other titles too numerous to recall here. Their cumulative force will give some conception of the marvelous content of the name ‘Christ,’ revealing to us his inexpressible majesty, insofar as our minds and thoughts can comprehend it. Since, by the goodness of God, we who are called ‘Christians’ have been granted the honor of sharing this name, the greatest, the highest, the most sublime of all names, it follows that each of the titles that express its meaning should be clearly reflected in us. If we are not to lie when we call ourselves ‘Christians,’ we must bear witness to it by our way of living” [Office of Readings, Monday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time]

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Search of a Christian Cultural Education - the Small University/College

Not to Notre Madame

by Anthony Esolen


In the last several years I've been invited to a few dozen colleges and churches around the country, usually to speak about Dante. It's no surprise, I guess, that a translator of the Divine Comedy should receive such invitations. What is surprising, though, and what confounds the secularist who derives his news from Mother Times and similarly reliable sources, is the happy variety of such schools, and their deep and unfashionable commitment to teaching the classics of western learning.

I'd like, besides, to declare up front that most of them have one need in common, a need that I encourage all Catholics and Christians who love our heritage to help to meet. They need money; and it is a cruel irony that in a recession largely fueled by government mismanagement of the money market, such small private and faithfully Christian schools as Thomas More College in New Hampshire, or Patrick Henry College near the nation's capital, or Christendom College in the Shenandoah Mountains, will be first to feel the tightening noose. So now -- I'll not wait to the end of the essay -- I call upon all Catholics disgusted by Notre Madame's flirtations with the culture of death, or by Georgetown's apostatic concealment of the name of Jesus, to scatter their seed in better soil. Those well-established Catholic schools need no more money from us, but others do, and desperately.

To lend my plea some additional force, behold here a few things I've found that my small Dante-loving schools have in common.

First, and most important: They are colleges. I don't mean that they are merely institutions of higher larnin'. I mean that they enjoy an enviable collegiality among the students, and between the students and the faculty. Many of the schools, like Christendom or Thomas Aquinas College, are small enough20that everyone knows everyone else -- and their families, too. It is hard to imagine how dynamic and attractive and downright comical a community of smart and generally clean-living young people can be. I got no sleep at all the first night I stayed at Thomas Aquinas, because the boys in the nearby dorm were out on the patio, singing, fencing with wooden swords, and -- one of them -- taking a partly clothed bath in a metal basin in the open air. They weren't rowdy; they were only young, and having innocent fun.

When I had lunch at Christendom College, I was amazed to see everyone, faculty and staff and students, in one big room, eating the same food from the cafeteria, and listening to the same school announcements -- as if (and I know I am going out on a limb here) they really were members of the same Church engaged in a common intellectual and personal exercise, and not members of separate species going each his own way to a white-collar job and the grave. I had thought, visiting Christendom, that I'd see what a genuinely faithful Catholic college looked like. I did see that; and also saw, for the first time in my life, what a college of any sort looked like.

It's no exaggeration; I could multiply instances of this sort of warm and intellectually stimulating collegiality. At Biola University -- an evangelical college, literally the Bible Institute of Los Angeles -- the Torrey Honors Institute's students plumb the depths of classical Latin and Greek, patristics, and the theology and poetry of the Middle Ages. So I was invited to speak about Dante, and to lead a class; but my invitation came not from the director of the Honors program. It came from the students themselves. The students arranged for a flight for me and my son. The students put us up in a home on campus. The students booked a rental car for us. The students printed out our itineraries. The students found for us the directions to points of interest nearby, and to the local Catholic church. The students took us from and to the airport, and saw that my expenses were reimbursed. And why not? It's their program, after all.

The second thing I've noticed is the intellectual fire among the young people. How could it be otherwise, when talented minds are confronted with Dante, Shakespeare, Aquinas, Dostoyevsky? The first time I spoke at Patrick Henry College -- on a medieval Catholic Corpus Christi play -- half the student body turned out (the other half were rehearsing for a play). Those young men and women kept me and my wife in the lecture room until near midnight, politely but eagerly asking questions of a caliber that one would not expect from the faculties at Soak-your-equity U. "Dr. Esolen, what you say about the role of popular celebration in reestablishing a Christian culture -- can you connect it with the theology of Aleksandr Schmemann?" "Dr. Esolen, have you read De Caussade's Abandonment to Divine Providence? Isn't Josef Pieper coming out of that same tradition?" Those questions -- about an Eastern Orthodox theologian, and a French Catholic priest of the 18th century -- were typical for the evening, and came from Protestants all, and all of them more truly daring than any cramped secularist can ever be.

It's no isolated occurrence, that. At Thomas Aquinas, one young man -- well known to every student in the school as the most passionate lover of the Divine Comedy among them -- sat in the front row, waiting to ask the question about Beatrice, a question that brought the house down, because everyone knew it was coming. That fellow went on to write a publishable thesis on the relationship between eros and "the Love that moves the sun and the other stars," and I became one of the readers of the thesis, 3,000 miles away. At Faulkner University -- another Protestant college whose students are reading more of ancient and medieval Catholic literature than will those at nominally Catholic schools like Georgetown -- students are graded daily by the quality of the questions they submit for discussion in their free-wheeling seminars.

In the heavily philo-Catholic honors program at nominally Baptist Baylor, students take part in what I can only call a storm of charity and soldiership: charity toward all true Christians fighting with them the good fight against the default nihilism of our time. You may doubt whether students at Villanova or Gonzaga could tell you exactly why such village atheists as Richard Dawkins should read their Summa Contra Gentiles, but the young men and women who took me and my son to breakfast at Baylor would give you an earful. Indeed, the provost of Baylor's honors college, Catholic philosopher Thomas Hibbs, said to me that during his tenure there he had hired 167 committedly Christian professors. I doubt you could find that many at the five oldest Catholic colleges in the country put together.

One last thing I'll mention, common to such schools and programs. The students understand that they are not like other students. They are the new counterculture; or rather I'd say they are the vanguard of the restoration of a lost culture, among the ruins. Grove City College, a Protestant school, will take no money from the federal government (nor will Christendom College). So Grove City has a great measure of -- what did people use to call it? Ah yes, freedom. The school sets aside exactly the same number of places for young men as for young women, filling their dormitories to capacity (and earning for themselves the accusation that they therefore discriminate). Chapel attendance, at least some of the time, is required, and perhaps not coincidentally, the school enjoys many -- what is it, then, when young men and women flirt innocently and then fall in love? -- ah yes, marriages. The same is true of Christendom College, and more: One in ten of their graduates discerns a vocation to the priesthood. At Patrick Henry, I asked one of the students -- for students there do the grounds keeping and the cooking (as at Thomas Aquinas) and serve as the security officers -- what would happen if someone brought a keg of beer onto campus. They looked at one another quizzically. "We don't know!" they said. "Nobody has ever tried it!"

At Princeton, of all places, students inspired by Rev. C. J. McCloskey and the redoubtable Catholic philosopher Robert George established the Anscombe Society, with membership 200 strong, for the promotion of traditional sexual morality. When I visited the University of Dallas, I was among a packed house to watch, not the latest dreary body-part monologues, but a roaring comedy by Chesterton. In a space of two days I spoke, along with several other professors, on Chestertonian challenges to the modern view of the family; but what I most clearly remember was a bright young lady, knitting, rebuking me for going along with the consensus that Dora in David Copperfield was a foolish woman. That young lady understood Dickens's intents better than I did, because she had firmly set herself against the asexual clichés of our time. She understood forthright femininity better than I did, too.

What I want to say, to sum up the matter of an article that could be much longer, is this. The cracks in the blacktop are showing, and green shoots are poking up through them -- but not where we found them perhaps a hundred years ago. The tree that seemed dead is sprouting buds -- but not on the old limbs. It is time, alumni of the old limbs, to consider pruning. To whom do we owe our allegiance at last? Is it to our almae matres, or to Holy Mother, the Church? If to the latter, then I think we know what we should do. The small and doggedly faithful Catholic schools need our support. Notre Madame will be with us a century from now. Let us make sure that Christendom College, Thomas More College, Thomas Aquinas College, and all the other faithful shoots of the true vine will be with us, too.

Anthony Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College and a senior editor for Touchstone magazine. His latest book is The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery).

Anonymous comment:

While Mount Saint Mary's University had some rough sledding as it danced with the Land O'Lakes crowd during the turmult of the 70's through the early 90's, the Mount has made great strides over the last few years to reclaim its Catholic identity and heritage. I would venture to say that you would find a significant number of committed Christians teaching the undergraduate students there. I am hopeful that those teaching in the Seminary would be above suspicion in this regard.

Catholic Doctrine and Natural Law as "Hate Crimes"

It is astounding to see the total reversal of the natural order of things such that the Catholic Church be accused of “hate crimes” because of its adherence to the Scriptural teaching of St. Paul and the natural law on homosexual union.

The foundation of religious freedom – and of all freedoms – is the power of self-determination of the human person. We are not cosmically driven by natural causes such as hunger, sex, laziness, vanity, etc. because we have the ability to master ourselves. This anthropological power is in its turn rooted in the revealed structure of Jesus Christ as God-man, as prototype of every human person. Christ proclaims: “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn. 6, 38).

Joseph Ratzinger comments: “Here the divine Logos is speaking, and speaking of the human will of Jesus in the mode by which he calls his will the will of the Logos. With this exegesis of John 6, 38, the Council proves the unity of the subject: in Jesus there are not two ‘I,’ but only one. The Logos speaks of the will and human thought of Jesus using the ‘I;’ this has become his ‘I,’ has been assumed into his ‘I,’ because the human will has become fully one with the will of the Logos, and with it has become pure assent to the will of the Father.”[1]

On this basis, we read in the document “Dignitatis Humanae:” “The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power sot that , within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance wit his convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with others.” It goes on to restate that of above: "The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and oby reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.”

And then, it clarifies that this right is based on the obligation to seek the truth. The Declaration continues: “It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons, that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore beariang personal responsibility, are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth. But mencannot satisfy this obligation in a way that is in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy both psychological freedom and immunity from external coercion. There the right to religious freedom has it foundation not in the subject attitude of the individual but in his very nature.”[2]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’[3] They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

It should be noted that the statement refers to “homosexual acts,” not to persons with a homosexual orientation. That statement is considered a “hate crime.”

I copy the following:

Hate crimes’ laws are a key part of a long-term strategy by homosexual activists to use ‘sexual orientation’-based policies and laws to suppress dissent, radically redefine marriage, and, ultimately, to criminalize biblical morality.



If hate crimes laws are passed, we’re going to see the wholesale erosion of

our freedoms as has never been seen in the history of this nation.


When two employees of the city of Oakland, California,

posted a flyer asking if any of their colleagues were interested in joining an informal

group centered around the natural family, marriage, and family values, they never expected to be accused of hate speech. Here is the text of the flyer in its entirety:

Preserve Our Workplace With Integrity

Good News Employee Association is a forum for people of faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day.With respect for the natural family, marriage,

and family values.

If you would like to be a part of preserving integrity in the workplace, call Regina Rederford or Robin Christy. Rederford and Christy are both Christians.They created the

Good News Employee Association “in response to Bible bashing by ranking city officials and to the free rein given to radical leftwing groups over the city’s e-mail and bulletin board systems.”

They were sick of the manner in which their office’s Gay-Straight Employee Alliance was allowed to attack the Bible through widespread e-mails on the city’s system. The alliance often derided Christian values as “antiquated” and referred to Christians as “hateful.”

The day the Good News Employee Association flyer was posted, Joyce Hicks, the city’s deputy director of the Community and Economic Development Agency, had it taken down. Shortly after, Hicks wrote a memo announcing a new antidiscrimination

policy. In that memo, Hicks noted that some employees had been guilty of “inappropriately posting materials.”

“Specifically,” she wrote, “flyers were placed in public view that contained statements of a homophobic nature and were determined to promote sexual orientation-based harassment.” Hicks warned that employees who posted such material could be fired.

Rederford and Christy sued Hicks and Oakland city manager Robert C. Bobb. The lawsuit argued that the policy of antidiscrimination as practiced was unconstitutional. As Scott Lively, Esq., of the Pro-Family Law Center argues, the announcement that Rederford and Christy had posted was “a completely affirmative and positive statement about a Christian value system centered on the natural family. For the city of Oakland to have interpreted that to mean an attack on homosexuality was really taking liberties.”

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R.Walker ruled that Oakland had a right to prevent the Good News Employee Association from posting the flyer. The judge found that the city of Oakland’s “legitimate administrative interests” outweighed the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech. How can the terms “natural family,” “marriage,” and “family values” be considered disruptive to the efficient operation of the workplace? Because one lesbian

employee objected to those words and labeled them “hate speech.”

In his appeal on behalf of Rederford and Christy, Richard D. Ackerman of the Pro-Family Law Center argued that if Judge Walker’s ruling were taken to its logical extreme, employees could be prohibited from announcing the birth of a child, or

even from mentioning the fact that they were married, for fear of offending a co-worker. This argument is not far-fetched. As we have seen before, diversity counselors are already telling corporate America to avoid using words like “husband” and “wife.”

And some employees have been told that they can’t have family photos in their workspaces for fear of offending their homosexual colleagues.

As bad as that sounds, however, there is something even more insidious in this case. Note that Deputy Director Hicks, the city of Oakland official who ordered the Good News announcement to be taken down, asserted that the poster had been “determined

to promote sexual orientation-based harassment.” Sexual harassment is against the law. It is usually dealt with as a civil matter, but it can also rise to the level of a crime. In effect, the new policy asserted that the group’s announcement was promoting an illegal

activity, possibly of a criminal nature.

This is a very serious matter. Laws equating the expression of Christian principles with promoting an illegal act put a terrible weapon in the hands of secularists who want to silence Christians. That’s why we at the AFA have been working very hard to

fight so-called “hate crimes” legislation. Hate crimes legislation can be made to sound like a good idea. But just as with antidiscrimination laws, hate crimes laws that include sexual orientation or gender identity will give liberal activists, judges, and prosecutors

another tool to drive us from the public square. Hate crimes laws increase penalties to include a criminal sentence when the defendant is convicted of having a “hateful intent”

toward the victim based on the victim’s membership in a protected group. First passed to protect African Americans and other minorities against racial violence, these laws are now being expanded to include sexual orientation as an identifying characteristic. That

means adopting into law the principle that crimes committed against homosexuals should be punished more severely than crimes committed against other people, say, heterosexual Christians.

The Rhetoric of Motive

The usual argument for these laws is that they are necessary to stop gay bashing, a supposed epidemic of violence against homosexuals. If it were true that there was an epidemic of such violence, and if it were true that hate crimes laws would reduce such

attacks, and if that were the primary effect and goal of hate crimes laws, then such laws might be justified. (Even then, if harsher punishments deter violent crimes, then why shouldn’t we have harsher punishments for all assaults, regardless of the victim’s

sexual orientation?)

The problem is that there is little or no evidence for any of these assertions, especially the last one. Let me explain. In chapter seven (“The New Persecutors”) we told the story of the “Philadelphia 11,” the Christians who were arrested and jailed overnight for singing and preaching in a Philadelphia public park at a homosexual street festival. Five of them, including a seventeen- year-old girl, were bound over and charged with five

felonies and three misdemeanors, meaning the defendants faced possible forty-seven-year prison sentences. I think anyone would agree that felony charges, and a possible punishment of forty-seven years in prison is rather extreme, even if the Philadelphia 11 were guilty of something. I was not there, but suppose they were guilty of, oh, trespassing, or disturbing the peace. There is a long tradition of protest and civil disobedience in this country. It is not uncommon for protestors to violate the law in minor ways and to be appropriately punished if they do. But no one was hurt, no damage to property occurred, and when the police told the Philadelphia 11 to leave the event and head over to the place where they were to be arrested, they did so. And why the extraordinary aggression on the part of prosecutors?

Simple. Pennsylvania at the time had a hate crimes law on the books. (It has since been rescinded.) That law made a crime more serious if the motive was hostility toward people because of their sexual orientation. Both the letter and the spirit of the law made the Philadelphia 11 “more guilty” because they were Christians protesting against sodomy. Meanwhile, as we pointed out, homosexual protestors behaving in truly vile and even sacrilegious ways, not outside on public property but inside churches and private

meeting places, are often not punished at all.

See what I mean about these laws being a new tool for the homosecularists? With hate crimes laws in their toolbox, their campaign to make Christian speech illegal becomes much easier. Of course, the secular liberals claim that they do not mean to do

any such thing since hate crimes laws, in their view, aren’t directed against speech. (In a way that’s true, they’re directed against thought!) But that’s what homosecularists always claim—before they obtain whatever new power they want to use against us.

The most dangerous threat to Christians is a federal hate crimes law. There have been several attempts to get hate crimes laws passed through Congress. And though the wording differs, most such proposals would give the federal government the

power to intervene in almost any criminal case normally prosecuted by a state if the U.S. Justice Department decided that the outcome (guilty or innocent) or the sentence was not sufficient to discourage crimes of bias or of bigotry. Normally, the federal government does not get involved in local crimes, like mugging or burglary or car theft or trespassing. The federal criminal code is almost all about white-collar crime, with some exceptions like kidnapping or certain bank robberies. But under a federal hate crimes law, the U.S. attorney general could decide to prosecute any such crimes if he decided that the defendants were motivated by either bias or bigotry.

The state’s charges against the Philadelphia 11 were dropped after several months. Under a federal hate crimes statute, the federal government could have stepped in and charged them again. All the resources of the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department could have been brought to bear against those eleven Christians, including one seventeen-year-old girl.

OK, let’s say that happens. The full investigative powers of the federal government have been unleashed. What will they look for? What will count as evidence? Remember, under hate crimes laws it is not the crime, but the motive that matters. Now you might think, well, the police often look for motive. That’s true in the sense that motive can help establish that someone suspected of a crime had a reason to commit it, giving the jury better reason to believe that the suspect is guilty. But that’s not how motive is meant here. In the case of hate crimes law, the motive is the crime.

Let’s say there is a special law against “greed crimes” that punishes criminals especially harshly for crimes motivated by greed. And let’s say the police catch a bank robber red-handed, so there won’t be any need to look for a motive as evidence in the usual

sense. Under a greed-crime law, even though the police already know that the bank robber is guilty of bank robbery, they will begin looking for evidence that the suspect robbed the bank because he is greedy. They will proceed to interview people who

know the robber, read his personal papers and diary, even look at the types of books and magazines he reads. If they find evidence proving that the robber is indeed a greedy person, he will then be guilty of a “greed crime” and will therefore be more harshly

punished. The motive is the crime.

So to repeat, what would the FBI look for if it were to investigate the Philadelphia 11 under hate crimes laws? Simple. The agency would look at what the defendants read, whom they listen to or associate with—as in where they attend church—and what

they talk about with their friends and neighbors. In other words, the FBI would look for evidence of how the defendants think. And mark my words, evidence that the Philadelphia 11 had the same beliefs that Christians who read the Bible and who support

traditional Christian teachings about sex and marriage would surely be used as evidence that the “11” were also full of hatred for homosexuals.

After all, isn’t that what the city of Oakland ruled when it forbade the Good News Employee Association from posting a flyer that never mentioned homosexuals but simply affirmed traditional family values? According to the city, that simple flyer was

“determined to promote sexual orientation-based harassment.” If affirming Christian values is harassment or hate speech, any evidence that someone holds such values can be used to prove someone guilty of a hate crime.

In 2005, a hate crimes bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives but failed in the Senate. That bill would have authorized federal intervention into any alleged crime under two conditions.

The first condition was that the crime would have to be one that “interferes with commercial or other economic activity in which the victim is engaged at the time of the conduct” or “otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce.” Translation: just about any crime at all would meet the first condition.

The second condition was “[t]he verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to state charges left demonstratively un-vindicated the federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence.” In other words, whenever a local jury or judge didn’t hand out a conviction or a sentence that U.S. prosecutors thought would help discourage violence against a protected group, they could bring federal charges. That’s just an invitation for homosexual advocates to pressure the federal government to help suppress their

enemies. As Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America commented at the time, “One can hardly imagine a more vague or broad invitation for federal prosecutors than ‘unvindicated’ and ‘federal interest.’” The law would give “the U.S. attorney general the discretion to enter any case he or she wants and will politicize criminal prosecution. Special interests will lobby to have their cases treated more seriously than other crime victims’ and local authorities will be hapless to object.”

In 2007, liberals in Congress tried, again unsuccessfully, to push through a hate crimes law. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy who has called discrimination against homosexuality “an insidious aspect of American life.” And he wants to make it into a crime. For a long time, the ACLU opposed hate crimes legislation on the grounds that it would punish a belief, not an act. In 2007, the ACLU finally surrendered and endorsed Kennedy’s bill, claiming that it would punish the act of discrimination, not the thought that motivated it. The only way to prove discrimination, however, would be to establish motive by examining expression or association. The law in general and criminal law in particular is properly concerned with actions. When the law attempts to first identify and then punish certain thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, the law becomes a force for tyranny. Under hate crimes laws, our personal expressions, the books we read, and the friends we have would all become potential evidence against us. The search for such evidence would allow law enforcement to investigate and to interpret forms of expression and association that had previously enjoyed protection under the

First Amendment. Even if there is no prosecution, such investigations can have a chilling effect” on free speech.The government does not have to jail or fine citizens to intimidate them from speaking their minds. Under state hate crimes laws and “human

rights commissions,” it’s already happening. Traverse City, Michigan, placed pro-homosexual rainbow stickers with the slogan “We are Traverse City” on all municipal

vehicles. While the campaign was meant to counteract hate crimes, it only exacerbated tensions between traditional-minded citizens and the homosexual community. When David Leach, a thirty-year veteran of the Traverse City Police Department, organized

local opposition to the stickers and made public comments against them, the city’s human rights commission launched an investigation against him.

After the tragic murder of a young homosexual man, Matthew Shepard, homosexual activists publicly blamed Christian leaders like Dr. James Dobson for his death. This blurring of causality is the result of a moral confusion. First, the distinction between criticism and incitement to hatred is erased. Then, actual physical harm is inferred. As a result, any criticism is taken as a threat, and each threat is seen as violent.

In order to silence criticism of their own behavior, homosexual activists seek to make criticism against them a crime. Sometimes their rhetoric is more hateful than that which they seek to suppress. But Christians are supposed to be accepting because homosexuals’

legal and social statuses as victims justify their hatred. The leaders of America’s anti-gay industry are directly responsible for the continuing surge in hate violence against

lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. . . . [C]hurch pews have been awash in ugly, anti-gay rhetoric, and fear mongering. Matt Foreman, executive director,

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Federal hate crimes proposals typically include monetary bonuses to local and state governments for prosecuting such crimes. Paying police departments and prosecutors to focus on certain crimes over others has huge potential for abuse. There is no persuasive evidence that crimes against homosexuals do not receive the same amount of attention and resources as other crimes. Any honest look at crime statistics would find that assaults by young African Americans against other young African Americans have the lowest clearance and conviction rates. If any group

of crime victims has a claim to not receiving enough attention from the criminal justice officials, it is young African American men. Homosexuals take advantage of their elite status and support in the media to divert resources from America’s real crime


Federal hate crimes legislation would make homosexual activists’ claims of an epidemic of gay bashing into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whenever the federal government pays state and local governments to focus on a particular problem, that problem suddenly

seems to become more prevalent. Statistics “follow the money.” When the federal government began paying school systems huge bonuses for educating students with learning disabilities, schools began labeling kids “learning disabled” by the boatful. The same thing would happen with hate crimes. One federal bill in consideration would establish federal grants of up to $100,000 for state and local officials both to investigate

and prosecute hate crimes. This would create a powerful incentive for local law enforcement to find hate crimes, to categorize ordinary crimes as hate crimes, and to focus on these types of infractions rather than on others. When California enacted

a similar law, hate crimes went up from a total of 75 to 2,052 in just four years.

Did Californians become that much more violent against homosexuals in such a short time? Of course not. The “surge” in hate crimes claimed by homosexual activists is clearly driven by programs that pay, or pressure, local governments to declare ordinary

crimes hate crimes.

But what about all those high profile, headline-making incidents of gay bashing that we hear about? Well, they do happen. But, and I hesitate to say this because I don’t want to give anyone an excuse to downplay real crimes against homosexuals or anyone else, it turns out that a shocking number of these headline cases are actually frauds. Concerned Women for America has compiled a partial list:

• At the University of Georgia, a homosexual resident-assistant reported that he had been victimized in nine hate crimes, including three supposed incidents of arson. When police questioned him, he admitted to committing the acts himself.

• A homosexual student at the College of New Jersey allegedly received death threats as did the homosexual student group in which he had served as treasurer. A large student rally was held, complete with faculty support, pro-gay T-shirts, and buttons. Pink arm badges were handed out in “solidarity.” Later the student admitted to police that he had sent the threats himself.

• A lesbian student at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota slashed her own face and falsely claimed that two men shouted anti-gay remarks at her and assaulted her. Students

raised almost $12,000 as a reward for any information about her attackers.

• At Eastern New Mexico University, a lesbian student claimed that she had been attacked after her name was posted on an anti-gay “hit list” at a local laundromat. Police arrested her after a surveillance camera showed her posting the list.

• A lesbian in South Carolina was charged with giving false information to a police officer claiming that she had been beaten. Police said that she had hired a man to beat her so that she could report it as a hate crime.

• In Manchester, England, a homosexual minister faked a story about being raped. The staged attack prompted an intensive police investigation.

• In Mill Valley, California, a seventeen-year-old female wrestler at a local high school claimed that anti-gay epithets had been written on her car and on her school locker, and she had been pelted with eggs. The teenager, who was the leader of her school’s gay-straight alliance, later admitted to authorities that she had perpetrated all of the incidents.

Advocates of hate crimes legislation like to focus on dramatic cases of violent crime. That’s not surprising. As I say, if the point of hate crimes legislation really were to prevent murder and serious assault, I might be tempted to jump on the bandwagon.

What the hate crimes advocates don’t tell you is that even under current law, many, perhaps even most, hate crimes don’t involve violence. They involve speech. As Robert H. Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, pointed out during the 2005 debate on same-sex marriage held at Kent State University between himself and Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, “More than half of the so-called ‘hate crimes’ in the last U.S. Justice Department report were categorized as ‘intimidation’ or ‘simple assault,’ which do not necessarily involve anything more than words. In terms of the proposed national hate crimes bill, this makes name-calling literally a federal case.” If groups like the ACLU would simply let the gears of justice turn without their political sabotage, then our society would have less crime, and people would feel more confident about the system.

Instead, we’re heading down a road where our thoughts, motivations, and deeply held convictions may be turned against us. Under hate crimes statutes, Bibles, scriptural quotations, even book covers, and T-shirts that express religious beliefs have been

labeled “hate speech.” This means that an inspirational poster you have in your workspace or even a bumper sticker on your car can become a crime. Not only carrying a Bible into a public place but also printing and selling Bibles can be regarded as hate crimes.

The Web of Hate

The real threat of hate crimes laws can be understood only as part of an overall strategy, a “toolbox” as I call it, to silence Christians. A good carpenter or plumber does not carry just one tool; he has an entire toolbox. Some tools work in some situations and not in others. Some work together. Antidiscrimination laws create a legal and social environment conducive to the passage of hate crimes legislation because antidiscrimination laws effectively make criticism of the homosexual lifestyle an act of

bigotry and thus illegal. Antibullying, diversity, and sex-education curricula prepare future generations to accept homosexuality as normal and to question their parents’ moral authority. The Fairness Doctrine, or similar controls over broadcasting content,

would restrict the debate over these important issues. And the threat to the tax-exempt status of religious organizations silences potential opponents.

Hate crimes legislation is another tool for homosecularists to use where others have failed. Rev. Rob Schenck, a pro-life minister, was sitting in the courtroom during the U.S. Supreme Court arguments in the Dale v. Boy Scouts of America case. Seated next to Schenck was the Clinton White House liaison for gay and lesbian issues. The official must have thought that Schenck was a fellow liberal because she whispered to him, “We’re not going to win this case, but that’s OK. Once we get ‘hate crimes’

laws on the books, we’re going to go after the Scouts and all the other bigots.”

As Christians, we understand that the First Amendment protects speech that we find offensive and even blasphemous. We accept that. After all, it was because Christians, and Christian pastors especially, demanded constitutional protection for freedom of religion that we have a First Amendment in the first place. But having insisted on inserting the First Amendment in the Constitution to protect all Americans, we certainly insist on its protections for ourselves. The government does not have the right to bind our consciences or prohibit us from expressing our beliefs. The government has no right to decide nor even influence the doctrine of any church or of any citizen. Christians do not seek official victim status. Acts of persecution against Christians can be remedied under existing laws.

There are already laws against vandalism, assault, and harassment. At the same time, we must be realistic about the threat we face. Hate crimes laws have very little to do with hate or with crime. The primary goal of these laws is to silence Christians who object morally to sodomy and who object politically to the attempt of the secularist elite to dominate our culture and to subject our children to their own beliefs and to their own desires. We have no intention to be silenced.

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987) 89-90.

[2] Vatican II, “Dignitatis Humanae,” #2.

[3] Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Persona humana 8.