Archbishop Chaput Defends the Right-Wing

I previously discussed an article from the Vatican attacking right-wing politicians and their Catholic supporters (Vatican Attacks Trump and Right-Wing Catholics). Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia counter-attacked (here). While Michael Winter of NCR (National Catholic Reporter) has addressed Chaput’s reply (here), I would like to add a few comments of my own.

Archbishop Chaput begins his reply by claiming the Vatican’s article was “an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/Evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.” I can assure you that the Archbishop does not often accuse the Vatican of “dumbing down” and misrepresenting issues.

He then says, “The divide between Catholic and other faith communities has often run deep. Only real and present danger could draw them together.” Only a true crisis could cause good Catholics like the Archbishop to join forces with right-wing evangelicals. Here he is taking a page from his heroes. “Clear and present danger” was a favorite phrase of demagogues like Senator Joseph McCarthy, who roused the rabble about the dangers of the worldwide Communist conspiracy. "Clear and present danger" was used as an excuse for censorship and the violation of civil rights. While McCarthy was Catholic, he had ecumenical support from Billy Graham, as well as the young Richard Nixon (a Quaker, believe it or not).

Chaput is outraged by the Vatican’s accusation of an “ecumenism of hate” and a “narrative of fear.” He says it is “willfully ignorant.” Again, the Archbishop is not known for calling his superiors “willfully ignorant.” What are those clear and present dangers that so alarm him?

“To punish those who oppose the LGBT cultural agenda,” said Archbishop Chaput, is “an almost perfect inversion of what we once meant by right and wrong.” Gay marriage is threatening the world!!! Curiously, he says nothing about gay pederasty, since he has spent much of his professional life sheltering gay pederasts from the law, while helping the Church avoid accountability for it. (Mr. Winter also avoided this subject.) While the Archbishop is remarkably tolerant of gay pederasty, he considers gay marriage a clear and present danger.

He claims that gay marriage violates his “religious freedom,” and that by recognizing the civil rights of homosexuals, we injure all good Christians. This is the kind of hate-mongering the Vatican attacked. Note that we are only talking about secular marriage. Had the government declared that these secular marriages must also be considered sacramental marriages, that would indeed impinge on religious freedom. But that was never at issue.

In fact, the government of the United States quite intentionally denied Mormons' religious freedom when it passed laws prohibiting polygamy. But the Archbishop and his fellow evangelical warriors have no desire to protect religious freedom by voiding such laws. They are quite happy to violate freedoms, religious or otherwise, on behalf of their theology.

This brings up another ecumenical religious practice that the government has forbidden. Both the Catholic Church and major Protestant denominations have the tradition of burning witches and warlocks alive, citing biblical mandates. The Archbishop has not spoken out on this subject. But the Catholic Church, in the context of exorcism, claims that untold thousands of people are possessed by the devil. Surely many of these could equally well be regarded as witches and warlocks, and subject to the traditional rite of burning. Are we violating his religious liberty by forbidding it?

Strangely, he omits another major area of right-wing ecumenism, namely the campaign to prohibit abortion, even though this is an area he has frequently spoken and written about. In his recent book, Strangers in a Strange Land, he calls it murder and has a lengthy rant about it, willfully misrepresenting the nature of abortions.

Nor does the Archbishop mention another of those “clear and present dangers” he and his evangelical colleagues fight against in the name of religion – saving America and the world from the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and electing godly Republicans like Donald Trump. Both Archbishop Chaput and many evangelicals confuse Jesus and Mammon. This issue often arises with evangelicals and other right-wing Christians. A couple of news items highlight the problem, and I'll try to discuss them.