Tuesday Ear Tickler: Obama Surrogate Michael Sean Winters Smears the US Bishops

clock December 18, 2012 01:09 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Michael Sean Winters, a critic of many of the Church’s teachings. Winters writes for the National Catholic Reporter, which officially endorsed women priests and called the Church’s teachings on the matter an “injustice”. This week, he has accused the US Bishops of playing politics and accosting them for standing up for religious liberty and against some of the nefarious initiatives of the President and his administration. (Winters’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The President should fix the HHS mandate exemptions because doing so would be good politics for the Democrats, as I argued yesterday. Today, it is necessary, sad but necessary, to consider why President Obama may have a different political calculation and why the U.S. bishops need to look in the mirror when asking how they found themselves in this mess.

The President should fix the HHS mandate because it is a direct violation of our religious freedom. Who cares about politics? If Winters thinks that politics is the primary reason to remove the draconian mandate, he has his heart in the wrong place. This isn’t about strategy, this is about serving God. If you are forced to sin, you are left with either violation of the law or violation of your faith. The bishops found themselves in this mess because 40 years of poor catechesis left 50% of the American Catholic populate with so little understanding of their faith that they voted for a man that stands directly opposed to every major moral stance of the Church.

But, ignore [the achievement of electing the first black President] the bishops did. They greeted the incoming president with a postcard campaign about…..drumroll…the Freedom of Choice Act or FOCA. It mattered little that FOCA had never passed a committee vote in any Congress since it was first devised in the early 1980s as a fundraising device. It mattered little that it was clear the incoming President had bigger fish to fry. No, the bishops wanted to set down a marker and they did. This presidency would be viewed through one lens and one lens only, the pro-life lens. It didn’t matter that in forty-five years since Roe v. Wade, the Republicans had done precious little on abortion and the pro-life movement had become a cheap date for the GOP. Obama was the enemy.

They greeted him with a postcard campaign about the Freedom of Choice Act because he promised that passing it would be his first act in office. Removing all restrictions on abortion is an enormous assault on the morality of the nation. Winters should realize this, but he is more concerned about politics is seems. The pro-life lens is the most important lens. Our society has devolved into moral decay. There are so many fronts that could be opened in the war being waged for souls, but the battle for life is the most important and the most telling of our society. If we insist on allowing the slaughter of our own children, what does that say about our nation? The Republicans have not delivered on the life issue. That we can agree on. The problem, however arises when a candidate like Obama promises to expand the killing by removing restrictions on it. The life issue is not the only issue, but it is the most important. We cannot shift focus away from it until it has been resolved.

This was followed by the bishops’ decision not to support the Affordable Care Act. There were – and are – problems with the ACA. The concern most prominently voiced by the bishops, that the ACA would provide federal funding of abortions, required a very expansive reading of the text. Mind you, sometimes judges do render expansive readings of legislative texts. But, a court in Ohio has ruled that, on its face, the ACA does not permit federal funding of abortion. The bishops were more on target, as we have since learned, in their concern about the lack of statutory conscience exemptions in the law. And, they were undoubtedly correct that the failure to include undocumented immigrants in the law’s provisions was a serious lack. Nonetheless, the bishops seemed shrill and hysterical in their opposition to the ACA.

If Winters’ view is that the bishops are “shrill and hysterical”, what does that say about him and his newspaper whining about women’s ordination? The bishops were standing their ground on religious freedom and the right to life. The NCR was railing against the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. The NCR prints shrill editorials from Obama surrogates castigating the Church for its stance on contraception. Coincidence? This article by Winters only solidifies my view that the NCR is simply a front for the Obama administration to influence wish-washy Catholics. Winters issues light criticism of the President, but like so many other Democratic apologists, he bends over backwards to minimize those criticisms and emphasize Obama’s concern for the poor and equality, even though Obama has stood by while poverty has risen and has stirred the pot of division on nearly every large politically divisive issue. Winters is losing any credibility he had left, as is the NCR. He knows why the Bishops have come out against Obama’s policies. It isn’t because he is a Democrat. It is because his policies are direct attacks on the Catholic Church. If a Republican proposed such evil policies, the Bishops would oppose them too.

The NCR has already been asked by the late Bishop of Kansas City to stop calling itself “Catholic”. They in their self-righteous arrogance have refused. They are a lie at best, and an agent for moral confusion. If you subscribe to the National Catholic Reporter, stop now. You are funding a campaign against the Catholic Church.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for December 18, 2012 to Michael Sean Winters.

Ear Tickler Award - Michael Sean Winters


Bishop Morlino Rebukes New Age Nuns

clock December 11, 2012 16:15 by author John |

Sinsinawa Dominican Nun working as an abortion clinic escortTwo Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, Lynn Lisbeth and Maureen McDonnell have wondered off the path a bit too far it seems. The bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, Robert Morlino sent a letter to priests in the diocese advising of his “grave concerns” over the work of the two nuns. He cited their views which stem from New Ageism and “indifferentism”. They “may not share an authentic view of the Catholic Church's approach to interreligious dialogue“, according to the letter. The sisters work with a group called “Wisdom’s Well”, and 2 other women connected with the group have been banned also.

Sisters Maureen McDonnell and Lynn Lisbeth, both Sinsinawa Dominicans, have diverged too far from Catholic teaching, according to a confidential memo sent Nov. 27 to priests on behalf of Morlino. A copy of the memo was leaked to the State Journal. Two other women connected to the interfaith center, called Wisdom's Well, also have been banned as part of the same action.

The memo says Morlino has "grave concerns" about the women's teachings, specifically that they "espouse certain views" flowing from such movements as "New Ageism" and "indifferentism." The latter, according to the memo, is "the belief that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another." The women "may not share an authentic view of the Catholic Church's approach to interreligious dialogue," the memo said.

The memo sent to priests says the four women "are not to be invited or allowed to preach, catechize, lead spiritual or prayer instructions or exercises, or to provide spiritual direction or guidance at churches, oratories or chapels within the Diocese of Madison." No publicity materials from Wisdom's Well are to be allowed inside parishes.

In response to this news, the Sinsinawa congregation released a statement saying that the nuns in question are "respected and valued members" of the order, and that both women "have been dedicated to religious life and preaching and teaching Gospel values for nearly 50 years." The Sinsinawa Dominicans "wholeheartedly support our sisters and hold them in prayer as we continue our mission of participating in the building of a holy and just church and society," the statement said.
 
The Sinsinawa Dominicans are the same group that produced the nun who worked as an abortion clinic escort, Sister Donna Quinn. My advice: parents, don’t let your daughters grow up to be Sinsinawa Dominicans. It seems like the group is hanging to their Catholicism by the skin of their teeth.

If you are a young woman interested in joining a good Dominican community, check out the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, headquartered in Nashville, TN.

Go here to learn about the faithful Dominicans in Nashville.

Go here to read the article about the wayward Dominicans of Sinsinawa.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Nathaniel Frank Distorts Scripture to Fit His Homosexual Agenda

clock December 11, 2012 02:02 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4: 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Nathaniel Frank (absolutely no relation to the keeper of this blog), who is a gay rights pusher and apparently, a Bible distorter. He tries to claim that homosexual activity is a social taboo and that it is only wrong in so far as it is not a customary thing for the culture at the time, naming his article, “Is Homosexuality a Sin?” His article is quite long and filled with error, so bear with me as I take it apart piece by piece. It takes many words to correct the many errors in his work. (Mr. Frank’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

When Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said last week that his faith teaches that homosexuality is a sin, he was clearly speaking to social conservatives. But with the 2016 election in mind, he was simultaneously moderating his rhetoric, so he also said that while his faith "informs" him "as a policy maker," he would never use it "to pass judgment on people."

It's a logically dubious position. If a set of judgments about people informs you as a policy maker, then how can you avoid judging people, and equally importantly, why should you? Casting further doubt on his sincerity, Rubio has indeed judged gay people as unworthy of equal protection under the law, opposing letting them marry, adopt or serve openly in the military.

Rubio’s point, which is aligned with Catholic teaching is that judgment is passed on concrete acts. For example, arson is wrong. There could be factors involved with the arsonist’s decision-making process that lessen his culpability for the arson, such as mental illness (pyromania) or societal acceptance or promotion of arson that causes the arsonist to believe that the arson is morally neutral or even desirable. These circumstances prevent a person from judging the reasons behind the arson, but it is still possible to clearly identify certain actions that are wrong without condemning the actor. Frank’s argument is based on emotion, as is generally the case with moral relativists, and seems to conclude that a person cannot separate the act of identifying evil behavior from the act of condemning the actor. This is perhaps the case with a great many people in our society, but it should not be, and indeed, many people are able to make this distinction.

Rubio, who has called for Republicans to appeal more to minorities and immigrants, was trying to soften his moralizing as part of a new brand of Republican thinking after the Party's White House bid failed decisively last month. The brand takes the one page from the George W. Bush playbook that the GOP still finds useful: the so-called "compassionate conservatism" embodied by the principle of "hate the sin, love the sinner." As Rubio put it, "there isn't a person in this room that isn't guilty of sin."

This is small consolation for gays (and their proliferating supporters), who shouldn't have to feel that expressing their love sexually is a shameful transgression that's tolerated merely because other evil things are, too. But Rubio was trying to walk a fine line that's increasingly tough for Republicans to pull off: salvaging their coalition of evangelicals and more moderate conservatives by moralizing and not moralizing at the same time.

Rather than evaluate the truth and wisdom of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, Frank is more concerned with the way homosexuals “feel”. If an action is evil, and society has embraced it, that society turns on the messenger that has denounced it, claiming that they are insensitive, old-fashioned, outdated, or too legalistic. We see in these statements that Frank, like many in the gay rights movement have moved beyond simply trying to convince society to tolerate moral depravity. These statements are a direct assault on the sacred right of Christians to proclaim their faith and its moral teachings. This is pure moral relativism at its worst. These statements are a prime example of why Pope Benedict (while still Cardinal Ratzinger) called out the “dictatorship of relativism” in April of 2005:

Having a clear Faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and "swept along by every wind of teaching", looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.

 

The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, actually contains two different kinds of sin. One is an act considered morally wrong because it's hurtful or dangerous. This includes obvious violations of the social contract, such as murder and theft, as well as sentiments that are discouraged because they can lead to unfairness or harm: greed, envy, idleness and arrogance. It also includes violations of more minor rules that can seem like mere rituals but which evolved to keep a population safe or healthy from perceived dangers, such as rules about diet and sanitation.

The second kind of sin is a violation against social conventions. This is where the word "moral" comes from, as in "social mores." These refer to practices and beliefs widely shared by your community, but which are not intrinsically beneficial or harmful. These mores exist as a way to bind the community together, often in opposition to another group.

Which kind of sin is homosexuality, according to the Bible? Certainly in an era of tribal rivalries and high infant mortality, procreative sex was encouraged as necessary to population growth, making alternatives potentially harmful to group survival. This, at least, is a popular explanation of how both masturbation and homosexuality became taboo in biblical times and would place them in the moral category of intrinsic harm.

Yet this explanation for the origin of anti-gay sentiment is unconvincing. Only in recent times has homosexuality become such a distinct identity that it implies forgoing procreative sex, and scholars believe that, as in many non-Western cultures today, those who engaged in same-sex behavior in the ancient world often married and slept with members of the opposite sex, too.

Instead, what becomes clear from actually reading the Bible on homosexuality is that the anti-gay taboo is, above all, a badge of team membership -- of a piece with opposition to outsiders and nonbelievers. Leviticus appears to condemn same-sex desire unequivocally, forbidding "lying with a man" as an "abomination." But the word normally translated as "abomination" is more properly understood as simply "taboo" -- something forbidden by custom, largely because it's associated with other groups. Indeed, the literal meaning of "taboo" is "set apart."

This explanation is complete balderdash.  In many passages in the Bible, the word “abomination” is used and it applies to all varieties of sin from the most serious, such as idolatry: “Cursed be the man who makes a graven or molten image, an abomination to the LORD” (Deut 27:15) and murder all the way down to arrogance and deceit: “There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19). There is no distinction between sins which are an abomination and those that are not. All sin is an abomination to the Lord.

Furthermore, we know that the most serious sins are punished by death in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 20: 13, God commands that “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” Not only is homosexuality punished by death in this chapter of Leviticus, but also anyone who “gives his child to Moloch” (v 2), “turns to mediums and wizards” (v 6), “curses his father or his mother” (v 9), “commits adultery” (v 10), or commits any other sexually immoral act (v 11-21), will be put to death, “cut off from his people”, or “die childless”, all of which are generally considered to be the most severe punishments.

The Old Testament taboo against homosexuality appears in a passage that's all about the duty of Jews to honor and obey God, meant to set them apart from pagans. It begins with God telling the Israelites to worship only him and follow only his rules and not those of the whacky Egyptians and Canaanites just because they may pass through their lands. In other words, when in Rome, do not as the Romans do, or you'll mark yourself as a member of the wrong team. The so-called "abomination" really denotes a non-Israelite cultic practice, like the worship of foreign idols. It's an act that the Israelites were forbidden from doing because others did it, not because it was intrinsically bad.

I’m not sure if Frank is deliberately misleading his readers or if this is an oversight, but he claims that the taboo against homosexuality appears in “a passage that’s all about the duty of Jews to honor and obey God, meant to set them apart from pagans.” This is true – of one instance of the prohibition against homosexuality. There are a multitude of other passages, such as the one I quoted above from Leviticus 20, which forbid homosexual depravity and lumps it together with other offenses punishable by death – the most serious offenses. He gives the impression that it is only forbidden in one passage. That is patently false.

Like the Hebrew scriptures, the New Testament appears to condemn homosexuality in no uncertain terms, most notably in Paul's letter to the Romans, which bemoans men who relinquish their natural function and "burn in their lust" for each other. But it turns out that this desire is not so much the cause of harm but the punishment for a much greater violation: denying God. "Even though they knew God, they did not honor him," writes Paul. "Therefore, God gave them over" to such desires -- along with a long list of others. Like the Jews, Christians threw homosexuality into a bucket of no-nos (along with gossip, insolence and apostasy) to solidify their team membership against nonbelievers and outsiders.

Sometimes things are exactly how they appear. I’m not sure how he claims that homosexuality was not a sin, but merely a punishment for denying God. Clearly something that is “shameful” and “indecent” is sinful. They “received the due penalty for their perversion”, which indicates that they were punished additionally for the acts they committed which “God gave them over to”. God allowed them to fall into other sins because they rejected the graces He gave them. Here is the full quote from Romans 1:26-27:

Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.

We know that without God’s grace, we fall further and deeper into sin. One sin leads to another. A man cannot maintain a particular level of evil. He always looks for the next and greater evil unless he returns to God, in which case he opens himself to God’s graces.

Looked at in proper context, the biblical taboo against same-sex desire was a product of one key fact: that foreigners and apostates practiced it. That fact, above all else, appears to be what made it unacceptable, more than anything intrinsic to same-sex acts, such as their association with depopulation.

This conclusion is based on false assumptions, therefore, it cannot be maintained. Homosexual acts were clearly forbidden in both the Old and New Testaments and included with the most grave sins.

What a Christian ought to say when asked if homosexuality is a sin is whatever he says when asked if an atheist is sinning by denying God or failing to attend Church on Sunday, which is also how an observant Jew or Muslim should answer if asked if it's morally wrong to eat pork. Homosexuality is only condemned in scripture for adherents of Judaism and Christianity (and it's actually debatable whether condemnation is the only interpretation of those texts -- increasingly, people of faith are showing strong support for LGBT dignity and equality).

This also is a false conclusion based on bad logic. Homosexuality is a violation of the natural law, like murder. It was punished by God among the “foreign people” as well as the Jews to whom the law was given. God destroyed the entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sins of homosexuality in the book of Genesis. It was not simply a cultural guideline that only the Jews should follow, otherwise the heathens in Sodom and Gomorrah wouldn’t have been scorched to death with holy fire.

The distinction between moral rules designed to prevent harm and moral rules meant solely to mark team membership is critical, and blurring it -- as the religious right has done for decades -- is itself a moral transgression that creates more harm than it prevents, and not only for those who are wrongly judged but for politicians like Rubio who continue to think they must square a circle instead of reexamining the shape altogether.

The laws of God require no “reexamination”. They are the eternal Truth. They have lasted throughout the history of man and will continue to endure long after Frank and other moral relativists have been brushed aside like every other heretic in the history of the Church. The blurring is done by liberals who feast on confusion and moral equivocation, sowing doubt and dissent among the faithful.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, December 11, 2012 to Nathaniel Frank, who is again, no relation to the author of this blog.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: National Catholic Reporter Adopts Official Heterodox Position on Ordination of Women

clock December 3, 2012 21:14 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…
 
Today’s winner is the National Catholic Reporter editorial staff. No longer pretending to be Roman Catholic, NCR has appointed themselves Pope and dispensed with the truth in favor of popular opinion. Roman Catholics follow the teachings of the Church, as guided by the Magisterium in Rome. You might recall that last week, John McCarthy from the same beleaguered organization called for the overturning of the Church's infallible teaching on contraception. This week, another liberal favorite is championed - Women's ordination. Rather than quietly undermine the dogmas of the Church in their usual nuanced manner, NCR this week has decided to officially and loudly endorse a heterodox position and call the Church's actions "unjust". (NCR’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The story from NCR makes use of over 1200 words to convey what can easily be expressed in 5 words: “We are no longer Catholic.” While most of the faithful Roman Catholic community has known the heterodox positions of this offensive publication for a long time, rarely have they been so vociferous as this article. I will pull out a few paragraphs to highlight the erroneous garbage in this article, but I will leave the majority of the piece be because it is rather redundant…

The call to the priesthood is a gift from God. It is rooted in baptism and is called forth and affirmed by the community because it is authentic and evident in the person as a charism. Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand.

The call to the priesthood is rooted in the call Jesus made to His 12 disciples – all of whom were men. Jesus had several female followers. Many of them were very close and provided great aid to Christ in His mission. They were not chosen as His priests, however. This is how Jesus saw fit to establish His earthly Church. To assume that the role Jesus gave to women is inferior or an “injustice” is an arrogant position that smacks of the magisterium of “me”, rather than the submission to the Divine Will that the saints throughout the centuries exhibited in following His example.

What do they intend to express by using the phrase “Cannot be allowed to stand”? It shows how the NCR feels it has the authority to rebuke the Catholic Church in the same manner that heretics throughout the history of the Church have done. The Church has a pretty high winning percentage against heretics. In fact, it is undefeated. Guided by the Holy Spirit, as Christ promised in giving Peter the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” and assuring him that “The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Let's review the history of Rome's response to the call of the faithful to ordain women:

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate." In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ's original intentions.

In Inter Insigniores (dated Oct. 15, 1976, but released the following January), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said: "The Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." That declaration, published with the approval of Pope Paul VI, was a relatively modest "does not consider herself authorized."

Pope John Paul II upped the ante considerably in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (May 22, 1994): "We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." John Paul had wanted to describe the ban as "irreformable," a much stronger stance than "definitively held." This met substantial resistance from high-ranking bishops who gathered at a special Vatican meeting in March 1995 to discuss the document, NCR reported at the time. Even then, bishops attuned to the pastoral needs of the church had won a concession to the possibility of changing the teaching.

Despite the certainty with which Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the responsum were issued they did not answer all the questions on the issue.

Many have pointed out that to say that the teaching is "founded on the written Word of God" completely ignored the 1976 findings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Others have noted that the doctrinal congregation did not make a claim of papal infallibility -- it said what the pope taught in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was that which "has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium." This too, however, has been called into question because at the time there were many bishops around the world who had serious reservations about the teaching, though few voiced them in public.


So what? The opinion of a handful of the bishops has never been a reliable guide in matters of the faith. Some of the most notorious heretics in history have been bishops. At the First Council of Nicaea twenty-two bishops, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia, came as supporters of the heresiarch Arius.

Our message is that we believe the sensus fidelium is that the exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale; therefore, women should be ordained. We have heard the faithful assent to this in countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings. It has been studied and prayed over individually and in groups. The brave witness of the Women's Ordination Conference, as one example, gives us assurance that the faithful have come to this conclusion after prayerful consideration and study -- yes, even study of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

NCR joins its voice with Roy Bourgeois and calls for the Catholic church to correct this unjust teaching.

Ignoring the priesthood as established by Jesus Christ and the first members of it does not provide for a sound argument. Throughout the Old Testament and the New, every priest has been male. Jesus’ example is “strong” enough evidence for faithful Catholics. Calling the dogmas of the Church unjust while still professing to be a member of it is hypocritical. I call on NCR to remove the word “Catholic” from their title.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 to the Nation Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff.

Ear Tickler Award for the National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff



Tuesday Ear Tickler – John McCarthy Spills Liberal Tripe Across the Page at the National Catholic Reporter

clock November 27, 2012 03:05 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is John McCarthy, an Obama surrogate and member of the oxymoronic group, “Catholics for Obama”. This week, McCarthy came out swinging against the bishops for defending the freedom of religion and against the magisterium as a whole for upholding the sanctity of the marital act. Leading off with the title, “Can Birth Control be Pro-Life?”, he conveys his lack of exposure to both science and the Catholic faith. Apparently, campaigning for Obama leaves little time for reading authentic Catholic teaching such as the “Theology of the Body”. (McCarthy’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released numbers that said abortion rates have dropped 5 percent between 2008 and 2009 -- an all-time low. For so many of us in the faith community, we have to ask: Why the decrease?

I'd love to say that the answer was because of our swift economic recovery and that women finally have the resources they need to bring children into the world. Unfortunately, this isn't yet the reality. The Washington Post finds an important correlation: "At the same time the abortion rate took a big drop, use of more effective contraceptives had recently increased."

Let’s make this clear since McCarthy doesn’t get it. Surgical abortions decreased because chemical abortions increased. The numbers he quotes look only at surgical abortions. They cannot however track abortions caused by the “more effective” birth control methods which cause implantation abortions. I’m going to chalk this up to ignorance, but that is an assumption on my part. I like to presume the best of people, and therefore I will not assume that he prefers one type of abortion over another.

The bishops aren't going to be moving anytime soon on the relationship between abortions and birth control -- probably because they're still fighting for religious freedom or something -- but the laity needs to start thinking more seriously about the issue.

Here we see a rather childish dig at the bishops of this country who courageously defend our religious liberty from the blatant frontal assault launched by the president and his administration. McCarthy feigns ignorance on the subject, with his “or something” remark, but the joke is on him. Clearly he doesn’t understand the issue, the rights and freedoms involved, or the enormity of the suffering inflicted on the Church and its members throughout the course of history by wicked governments. McCarthy, working for Obama of course would side with the President rather than the Catholic Church. The fact that a newspaper purportedly serving that Church would publish his liberal tripe is offensive and telling of the mentality that exists at the Reporter.

Is it more moral for a woman to use birth control than have an abortion? I certainly think most members of the laity (about 97 percent of who use birth control) would resoundingly agree. If it lowers the rate of abortions, should the church more actively advocate for prayerful use of birth control in family planning?

While these are certainly just a series of questions, the new information is important for the laity to consider as we tackle these larger issues. What are your thoughts?

Well, since he asked, I have a few thoughts on the matter. The first is that the end does not justify the means. This is not a matter of simply choosing the lesser of two evils as if one or the other of them is unavoidable. Surely McCarthy is not a moral theologian, but he should have been informed on this subject at some point by some faithful Catholic in his life. With his logic, we could simply forcibly sterilize everyone. Abortions would completely cease if that was the case. Is it more moral to sterilize than to abort? The Church is not concerned with the abortion rate. The Church is concerned with the salvation of souls. Abortion is murder. It is gravely sinful and destroys the light of Christ in the soul of the abortionist, the mother, and anyone who willingly cooperates with the abortion.

Here is the third option that liberals like McCarthy do not even acknowledge: self-control. Rather than throwing up our hands and assuming that people are unable to control their sexual impulses like rabbits, the Church in her wisdom preaches self-control. The will is not subordinate to the urges. There is a method of family planning that is both effective and moral: NFP. It requires self-control for a few days each month. Are we that devoid of willpower that we cannot control ourselves for a few days a month? Is it better that we violate the dignity of marriage and chemically abort children than we practice a little self-control?

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday November 27, 2012 to John McCarthy.

Ear Tickler Award for John McCarthy



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Terence Clarke Pens an Arrogant Hit Piece on the Catholic Church

clock November 20, 2012 01:02 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Terence Clarke, who contributed a vapid and vitriolic piece over at the Huffington Post entitled “Women vs. the Drowned Hulk”. It is incredible how poorly catechized Clarke is (or was before he left the Church). His article is very repetitive and serves no other purpose than to bash the Church, yet conveys his ignorance of the topic he writes about, namely the Catholic Church. (Clarke’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

Seventy-seven percent of the Irish population is in favor of allowing women to become priests. Democratic ideals, though, are not quite what the Church has in mind in its dealings with its flock. Indeed, the flock has no authority at all. So those Irish will just have to live with the continuing top-down male rigidity with which Catholics world-wide have had to contend for the last 2,000 years.

Like so many liberals, Clarke seems to think that truth is contingent upon the approval of the majority. He is right to recognize that “what the Church has in mind” is not a democracy. He is missing the actual objective of the Church, which is the salvation of souls. Confusing the teaching of the Church’s shepherds, who are speaking the truth taught by Christ Himself for “male rigidity”, he exposes both his ignorance of the Catholic faith and his malicious objective with this hit piece on Catholicism.

Archbishop Brown, who is an American, is no doubt aware of a similar upsurge in support for women in the priesthood in his own country. He is, one would imagine, as recalcitrant on the matter on the Lower East Side, where he was born, as he is in Dublin.

I’m not sure where he finds the “upsurge in support for women in the priesthood” in the United States. There were a handful of nuns riding around on a bus with an abundance of empty seats campaigning for Obama and a couple of women who simulated ordinations in the same manner that children simulate playing pirates or cops and robbers. Pretending to be a priest doesn’t make you one, and pretending to know what is best for the Church doesn’t make it so. Clarke pretends to understand the needs of the Church better than Christ and the successors to the apostles.

Traditions change, and faith changes, as has been made abundantly clear over the many centuries of The Church's history. The priesthood may not approve, but large social changes and important thinking have brought about tectonic shifts over the centuries, which the Church has resisted at almost every turn. Galileo, for example. Christopher Columbus. Science. Voltaire. Non-religious art (and in some case, religious art that, for whatever reason, the Church thinks comes from the devil in disguise). The French Revolution. Democratically elected governments. The Pill. Just to name a few. In response, an undemocratic bureaucracy elected by no one, with no accountability to the vast majority of the members of the organization, renders iron-clad restrictions that are based on centuries-old received wisdom and unexamined assumptions about what tradition calls for and faith would require.

Clarke apparently was reading the comment section on any one of the other articles at Huffington Post about the Catholic faith in order to find material for this poor excuse for an article. If he holds up the French Revolution as a positive movement, he will have an uphill go of it. He apparently is in favor of the looting of Churches, the forcible stripping of God from society, and the execution of priests. Nice guy, this Clarke. Don’t worry; he doesn’t give any explanation for his madness.

I will spare you the tedious whining of the rest of his hit piece, but I assure you that it is equally as bad as his drivel that I have dissected here. Clarke at least had the honesty to leave the Church that he so disagrees with. The problem is that that Church he left is not the Catholic Church. He left the Church of his imagination. His lack of understanding of the basic teachings of the Church is a clear sign that he didn’t take the time to actually learn the faith. As the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen famously said,

There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church. Which is, of course, quite a different thing.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, November 20, 2012 to Terence Clarke.



Tuesday Ear Tickler Award: Catholics For Obama Confusing Consciences

clock November 6, 2012 01:02 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is a group known as “Catholics for Obama”, comprised of several politicians and shills for Obama who have either an improperly formed conscience or are outright sellouts for a quick political buck. That group’s oxymoronic title is akin to slogans such as “Vegans for Meat”, “Hamsters for Housecats”, or “Dentists for Coca Cola”. I have outlined several of the licentious claims and moral equivocation found on the website, which was designed primarily to allow people to violate their conscience in supporting the “First Gay President” as Newsweek crowned him.

Let’s get the obvious facts down first. Obama stands for unlimited abortion rights, including taxpayer funded abortion, abortion up to the last day of pregnancy, partial birth abortion, and abortifacient contraception. He is in support of homosexual marriage, which the Bible calls an “abomination”. He is also the president who has forced the Catholic Church to pay for contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacients in violation of their consciences. If a Catholic votes for Obama in accordance with their conscience, it would appear to me that they have an improperly formed conscience. If a person murdered 5 people, but gave money to 20 homeless people, would you consider them a good person? I wouldn’t. It follow then, that a person who advocates for the right to kill 1.3 million people each year could not be called a good candidate for president, no matter how much his social safety nets help people.

Caroline Kennedy of Catholics for Obama

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. I believe I have found the man who could be that president – not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans”. - Caroline Kennedy

I hate to break it to you Carline, but inspiration is empty if it is devoid of goodness and grace. As a Catholic, you should know that inspiration to the good is honorable and virtuous. Inspiration is evil if it promotes evil. Barack Obama promotes the culture of death. He is eyeball deep in the blood of unborn children. Shame on you Caroline Kennedy for promoting evil.

Marcy Kaptur of Catholics for Obama

“From his time as a community organizer in eight Chicago parishes, Senator Obama has demonstrated his appreciation for the Catholic Social Tradition and its focus on the common good.” – Marcy Kaptur

Marcy Kaptur sounds so shallow. Does she really not understand that the primary social justice issue is abortion? Does she really not know that abortion is murder or is she simply ignoring the fact in order to achieve a prestigious appointment in the Obama administration and reap campaign money from Planned Parenthood? Shame on you Marcy Kaptur for abandoning your conscience whether though malformation or disregard.

Senator Bob Casey of Catholics for Obama

“He has appealed, as Abraham Lincoln asked us to do many years ago, to the better angels of our nature” – Bob Casey

Bob Casey claims that Obama has “appealed… to the better angels of our nature.” If by better angels, you mean the angel of death, then yes, I believe Senator Casey is correct. Barack Obama is the most unapologetic abortion-minded president in the history of our country. If you support that man, I find it hard to believe that you are truly “Pro-Life” as Casey claims to be. Shame on you Bob Casey for muddying the waters, confusing Catholics and promoting the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-Catholic Obama.

Douglas Kmiec of Catholics for Obama

“One of the things I kept discovering was that Obama was sounding more Catholic than most Catholics I know.” – Douglas Kmiec

Well, I can’t argue with that statement because I don’t know how many Catholics Kmiec knows. Perhaps that is an indictment of the people Kmiec associates with. Perhaps Kmiec doesn’t get out much. Perhaps Kmiec is being disingenuous. Regardless, that kind of moral equivocation is disgraceful. Kmiec received a comfy ambassador assignment as his 30 pieces of silver after providing cover for Obama-supporting Catholics in 2008. A man of his education should have a better-formed conscience than that. Shame on Douglas Kmiec for confusing the consciences of countless Catholics.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award to Caroline Kennedy, Marcy Kaptur, Bob Casey, Douglas Kmiec, and the rest of the disgraceful “Catholics for Obama” group.

 



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Bryan Cones' Promotion of the Culture of Death through Bad Theology

clock October 30, 2012 01:08 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…


Today’s winner is Bryan Cones, who showcases his bad theology in his article, “How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?”. Cones presents some typical liberal talking points while bring some of his belief into light which are very troubling.  (Cones’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?

While pundits and Democrats can't make enough political fodder of GOP Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comment that pregnancy as a result of rape is "something God intended," I have to wonder why there aren't more theologians and pastors roundly denouncing the theology behind it. I wonder if it isn't because many people hold this understanding of the way God's power works in the world, a variant of God "writing straight with crooked lines." It's just that no one wants to admit it when it comes to something as horrific as rape.

The pundits and Democrats that Cones speaks of are not quoting Mourdock word for word. They are making straw man arguments because the statement Mourdock made is not actually that shocking. Mourdock stated that every child is a gift from God regardless of how they were conceived. The reason there are not more theologians and pastors denouncing Mourdock is because what he said is in line with traditional Christian values.

Frankly, it's a big problem with the way we people of faith deal with evil: We want to insist God is in complete control--which perhaps makes our suffering a bit easier--but then we're forced to say that God has some ultimate good in mind when God "permits" terrible things to happen--think the Holocaust. But we wouldn't sanction immoral means to achieve a good end for human beings, so why would we absolve God for doing it?

Here’s the problem with Cones’ argument. What he said would be true if God were the one committing the evil action. We know that God does not commit evil actions; he only allows them as a consequence of our free will. Cones’ lack of understanding of basic Christian beliefs is rather astounding.

It seems to me sufficient to say that the rules of God's creation have made it so that, in the right conditions, when a human sperm and egg join in the right place and at the right time, human life is possible. Unfortunately, that can happen through an act of violence, which is also possible through the rules of God's creation expressed in human freedom. But to say God directly "intends" the creation of that life through such a profound perversion of human freedom is a theological step too far, and we people of faith should call out this kind of blasphemy--because that's what it is--especially when it comes from the mouth of another Christian.

If you want to get emotional, which is what Cones’ is doing here; we can take his argument to the logical conclusion. We can then say that the person created as a result of that act of violence is a person that God did not intend to exist. That of course is ridiculous because God loves us all as His children. He does not despise or regret anyone’s existence simply due to the mean by which they were conceived. Surely Cones’ is not insinuating that Mourdock thinks rape is something God intends. That would be dishonest.

That still leaves us with what Catholic tradition calls "the mystery of evil"; there is simply no good answer for the fact that something fundamentally good--human life--can result from an act of such diabolical evil--rape--which is finally why the issue of abortion in the case of rape is so fraught with moral difficulty. Some argue--and this would be most consistent with church teaching--that the objective good of the developing human life is sacrosanct, while others would respond that the pregnancy is a continuation of the objectively immoral assault on the woman who has been raped, and so an abortion in this instance would be morally permissible.

The issue of abortion in the case of rape is only fraught with moral difficulty because people like Mourdock have muddied the waters. Either an unborn child is a person or not. If abortion is not desirable for conventional pregnancies, then it cannot be desirable in cases of rape. This is essentially a failure of logic or a failure of honesty. You cannot have it any other way. So is Cones in favor of the view of the “others” who do not hold the view of the Church? Cones is basically saying that doing evil is OK as long as you have faulty logic. That is a severely morally-depraved conviction.

Those fine points of moral theology never get fair coverage in the press--we can hardly expect them to. But what Christians simply cannot allow, however, is permitting a frankly childish theological answer such as Mourdock's to stand without response.

We also cannot allow a childish rebuttal of a fundamentally sound theological statement to stand without response. I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler award for Tuesday, October 30 to Bryan Cones.



The Myth of the One-Issue Voter (The Catholic Take)

clock October 27, 2012 03:18 by author John |

VotingIn the heat of the political season, you often hear the term, “single-issue voter” being bandied about, mostly from the left-of-center crowd. They use it to describe anyone that uses their faith as a reason to vote for or against a certain candidate. I propose we stop using that term. It has no real meaning.

Frequently, a person who is pro-life is described as a “single-issue voter”. While it is true that the pro-life stance can be summarized by a single phrase, it is disingenuous to assume that a person only cares about 1 issue, and is concurrently misrepresentative to equate those opposed to induced abortion with a pro-life view. A pro-life view includes advocating for life in all cases. This means standing against euthanasia, abortion, infanticide, homicide, suicide, and every other means of ending human life. It also means standing against contraception, sterilization, homosexual marriage, infidelity, adultery, promiscuity, inappropriate sex education, pornography, and in-vitro fertilization. These issues all attack the natural and proper origins of human life.

If a pro-life person can be called a single-issue voter, then by the same token, a person who advocates for the poor, “women’s rights”, peace, and entitlements can be called a single-issue social justice voter. It is all about terms. There are many aspects to the pro-life view, just as there are many aspects to the social justice view.

It is also disingenuous to assume that a person is a single-issue voter just because they believe one issue is more important than the others. A person who is pro-life doesn’t necessarily advocate for the starvation of the poor, but you would never know that by listening to the common rhetoric of the day. It seems if you take a pro-life stance, then you are labeled as “anti-poor”. Give me a break! This is nonsense, and I can’t imagine anyone with half a brain would believe it. Let’s just agree to stop labeling people as single-issue voters.

As a pro-life voter, I would be more actively involved in advocating for the poor if there wasn’t an even greater need to advocate for the unborn. I am not a single-issue voter. I just have a list of issues with life occupying the top spot.

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Tuesday Ear Tickler: Eric Miller Hails Obama as a "Pro-Life Hero"

clock October 22, 2012 21:52 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Eric C. Miller, who makes the specious claim that Barack Obama is a “Pro-Life Hero”. Sorry, I should have warned you to put that hot coffee down before I conveyed Miller’s ridiculous canonization of the pro-abortion President. Any claims of personal injury as a result of that statement should be directed toward Mr. Miller. Anyway, without further delay, let’s get down to taking apart his argument and exposing the shallow thinking it espouses. (Miller’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

On October 3rd researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine published a study with profound implications for policymaking in the United States. According to Dr. Jeffery Peipert, the study’s lead author, abortion rates can be expected to decline significantly—perhaps up to 75 percent—when contraceptives are made available to women free of charge. Declaring himself “very surprised” at the results, Peipert requested expedient publication of the study, noting its relevance to the upcoming election.

First, we should assert that when this study mentions abortion, it fails to consider chemical abortions caused by pills/hormones that cause an “implantation abortion”, where the child is conceived, but cannot implant or dies shortly after implantation. Peipert asked for expedient publication because it had positive political connotations for the Obama campaign. If the results had been the opposite (which I now doubt could be in the realm of possibility given Peipert’s jubilant “expedient publication) I wonder if they would have been published at all.

As most observers surely know, the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) requires insurance coverage for birth control, a provision staunchly opposed by most of the same religious conservatives who oppose legalized abortion. If Peipert is correct, however, the ACA may prove the single most effective piece of “pro-life” legislation in the past forty years.

Wrong! If being “pro-life” means that surgical abortions decrease while chemical abortions increase, then perhaps this statement could be true. The same reasoning could be used to call a fielding error by the shortstop a nice hit by the batter, or a doctor who cheated on his final exams in medical school a valedictorian and top-ranked surgeon. If you want to change definitions, then you can make any statement true.

Encouraging as these results are from both a women’s health and, ostensibly, pro-life perspective, they become even more so in light of their economic benefits. Author Brian Alexander notes that, according to a 2011 study from the Guttmacher Institute, “unplanned pregnancies cost the United States a conservatively estimated $11 billion per year,” money that may be saved simply by covering the cost of birth control.

Working from a false assumption allows you to claim that contraceptives are “pro-life”. If contraceptives are so powerful and positive in their societal impact, then we would have seen great decreases in unplanned pregnancies, STDs, and abortion since their widespread incorporation into society decades ago. The opposite has happened. As contraceptives have become more widely used, these societal scourges have likewise increased. One statistic that you will not hear mentioned by the likes of Miller or other culture of death apologists is the fact that the higher the devout Catholic population of a country, the less abortion, STDs and unplanned pregnancies that country has.

Peipert himself touted this benefit. “The way I look at it as a gynecologist with an interest in women’s health and public health and family planning, is that this saves money,” he said. “When you provide no-cost contraception, and you remove that barrier, you finally reduce unintended pregnancy rates. It doesn’t matter what side one is on politically, that’s a good thing.” Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the data “an amazing improvement,” adding, “I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.”

Peipert has identified himself as a contraceptive pusher. Do you think that the “lead author” of a study’s personal bias would translate into skewed results? Pardon the pun, but that is surely a “conceivable” possibility. Hey I’m not the only one using lame puns. Peipert started it with his blatant reference to “removing the barrier” around contraceptives. While we are at this, if Dr. Breeden thinks that simply reducing abortions would make someone in favor of a morally corrupt way of achieving that end, then why not simply sterilize all the poor people? That would also reduce abortions. Both are morally unacceptable. That’s why. Repeat after me, “The end cannot and does not justify the means”.

But it remains the case that, by and large, those most opposed to abortion are not “100 percent for” contraception access. In fact, Peipert’s study comes at a time when more than thirty federal lawsuits have been filed by social conservatives bent on overturning the ACA’s contraception mandate. In many cases, these suits are “religious freedom” complaints, arguing that requiring religiously affiliated organizations to include contraception in their health care plans violates their rights of conscience. These claims are, in most cases, dubious given that the ACA offers a religious “accommodation” whereby the onus of contraceptive coverage is placed on insurance companies rather than organizations.

Notice the inflammatory language about conservatives? “Bent” Those federal lawsuits were filed because the Obama administration trampled on the right of conscience for Christians. How clueless do you have to be if you fail to grasp the reason that over 100 institutions are suing the Obama administration? This is the most insidious violation of religious freedom in recent memory. The dubious claims are found in the phony “accommodation” given by the administration, which basically states that religious organizations will still fund contraception and abortion-causing drugs, but the administration will pretend that isn’t the case and expect Churches to follow the lead. In a word, the policy is arrogant.

Such efforts by social conservatives to oppose the ACA betray both an unseemly partisanship and a nervous insecurity. It seems entirely plausible that, in the contraception mandate, leaders of these groups see not a violation of their own freedom so much as a weakening of their ability to dictate the terms by which their members live.

Miller claims the “social conservatives” are exhibiting an “unseemly partisanship” and “nervous insecurity”. There are two problems with that assertion. First, it is judgmental, assuming that the religious groups and private businesses have a political agenda when they are fighting for their most basic right – the right to honor God. Second, it would seem a “nervous insecurity” is warranted given the boot the President has firmly placed on the neck of the Church. Miller shows his utter ignorance of Church teaching by claiming that the Church dictates the terms by which their members live. The Church doesn’t do that, Mr. Miller. God does. The Church doesn’t want to pay for sin. It is a pretty simple concept, yet one that Miller cannot grasp.

But by addressing the problem of unintended pregnancy—rather than the politically fraught problem of abortion—“Obamacare” addresses the issue at its root. Though abortion has served as the central locus of the “culture war” for nearly forty years, it has always been a secondary concern—a problematic solution to a deeper and less sensational problem. By insisting on mere illegality, pro-life forces have turned a blind eye to the troublesome side-effects of illegal abortion even as they dedicated themselves to a largely symbolic political victory. And since the political divisions accompanying the debate have become so intractable, hope for a deliberative resolution has long ceased to exist.

Wrong! The root of the problem is immorality. If people didn’t devalue sex, we wouldn’t have unintended pregnancies. Liberals have promoted free and indiscriminate sex. The effects are plaguing our society. Illegalizing abortion will reduce abortions. Less abortion means less innocent children killed. It is a very straightforward principle. Saving lives isn’t symbolic. It is heroic. Shame on Miller for suggesting otherwise.

I am not so naïve as to believe that this conclusion is likely to be reached soon, or without further contest. Nor do I anticipate that Tom Minnery or Bryan Fischer will embrace President Obama as a pro-life hero. But it seems to me that, if conservatives really believe in the evil of abortion, they are morally obligated to embrace a policy that stands to limit it so impressively.

If Miller wasn’t so naïve, he would understand that the only force which morally obliges us is God. Shallow logic, hollow rhetoric, and empty insults do not constitute a moral obligation. Miller is ignorant of Church teaching, which precludes him from speaking intelligently about conscience, morality and religious freedom. He fills this hole in his argument with judgmental, condescending accusations devoid of merit. Miller is tickling ears and leading souls away from Christ.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, October 23, 2012 to Eric C. Miller.