Category Archives: Politics and religion

Kim Davis is a Hero!

As most of you now know, Mrs. Kimberly Jean Bailey Davis was elected County Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky, back in 2014. I’m sure that was a great and momentous day for Mrs. Davis, but that’s not what made national news. The nation was introduced to Mrs. Davis when she refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex “couples” who applied to be married in Rowan County following Obergefell vs. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015 ruling effectively “legalizing” same-sex unions while at the same time overturning the prior SCOTUS decision, Baker vs. Nelson, that dismissed a similar attempt to recognize a “right” to same-sex “marriage.”

And remember: issuing these licenses included Mrs. Davis, as County Clerk, signing her name on the documents. This, in her mind, would be giving tacit approval of something that is intrinsically immoral. That she was not prepared to do.

Mrs. Davis, who by her own admission was married four times in the past, and did not lead a morally upright life back then, had converted to Christ in an “apostolic Pentecostal” community back in 2011 and reformed her life. It would be her faith in Christ and commitment to follow the Bible’s teachings that would lead her to declare she could not issue these licenses to same-sex couples. At least, that would be her main reason. She and her attorney have given two central reasons for her decision, the first of which I will mention here has nothing to do with her new-found faith.

First, her attorney argued SCOTUS did not, and does not make the law; it interprets the law. Because SCOTUS gave an opinion in Obergefell that action in and of itself did not either create or change any existing laws—the creation of laws is the job of legislatures, not SCOTUS. Thus, Mrs. Davis would, in effect, be breaking her oath to faithfully follow the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky by signing marriage licenses that have no foundation in any law permitting such a license, regardless of the opinion of SCOTUS.

In other words, the Kentucky governor and legislature would have to present Mrs. Davis with an actual law stating homosexual marriages are valid before she could even consider issuing a marriage license accordingly.

And I must say, there is merit to what Mrs. Davis and her attorney said here. But, I would argue, the real reason for her refusal, and the main point I want to emphasize in this post is the second reason she gave why she would not sign the licenses (and I’m not giving them in the order Mrs. Davis and her attorney brought them forth, mind you): her faith in Jesus Christ that brings with it an obligation to obey God’s law before the laws of men.

Even though, in reality, this issue is not a purely “religious” matter at all, it has certainly become that inasmuch as it has become another in a growing number of cases where the U.S. government has become increasingly hostile to Christians. Marriage as a natural institution was created before there were any formal religions in existence—before there were any nations in existence. At its core, and on a natural level, it is really a truth of natural law that binds all humanity regardless of religion.

But having said that, I could not agree with Mrs. Davis more because homosexual “marriage” has also become a matter of religious liberty. God has also revealed the truth concerning marriage in Sacred Scripture so that all can know its truth simply and without admixture of error. And beyond Christianity, other world religions also teach homosexual “marriages” to be immoral. Thus, this matter has truly become a point of contact for the persecution of more than just Christians, though there is little doubt as to the main target here.

The Catholic Christian Faith also teaches Christ elevated this natural institution to the level of a sacrament. Thus, this matter is especially grave to Catholics.

So let’s make this clear: Jesus Christ definitively teaches:

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one”… So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder (Matt. 19:5-6).

Marriage can only be validly confected between one man and one woman. Period. Moreover, homosexual acts are clearly taught in the New Testament (as well as in the Old Testament) to be gravely immoral, and not only for those who practice these sins, but also for those who “approve those who practice them” (Romans 1:26-32; cf. I Tim. 1:10; I Cor. 6:9-11).   So, here again, Mrs. Davis is absolutely correct. As a Christian, she is bound by the teachings of Christ and the New Testament. St. Peter says it all in Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men.”

Here’s Where the Real Story Begins

Things predictably heated up when just last month (August of 2015) the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Justice David L. Bunning presiding, ordered Mrs. Davis to issue licenses as, the judge claimed, is “required by law.” Davis understandably “lawyered up,” as they say, and attempted an emergency application with the Supreme Court seeking a stay of this order while she pursued an appeal.

It was denied.

Mrs. Davis then found herself in a quandary that, I would suggest, thousands of Christians are now facing, or will face in the near future, now that the Court has basically dictated to the entire nation re-defining what marriage is in its essence. In reality, the court has no power to do this; it has acted outside its legitimate boundaries, but there you have it.

The good news is this: Mrs. Davis took a stand. God bless her! She continued to hold her ground and refused to sign. But Judge Bunning would have none of this. Not only did he order her to be taken into custody, but he said she would remain in custody “until she agrees to issue the licenses.”

Wow!

But Mrs. Davis would not bow. As it stands now, Judge Bunning back peddled, ordering her release on the condition that she not “interfere” with any of the clerks under her in issuing marriage licenses for same-sex “couples.” I personally think he caved under the pressure of the ensuing protests. But Mrs. Davis continues to vow to follow her conscience informed by the teachings of the Bible.

This isn’t over by any means, folks. There’s more to come. Much more!

A Shocking Response… Sort of…

The responses in the “liberal” media and from government officials were predictable. Mrs. Davis has been lambasted every which way but loose. She’s been called everything in the book up to and including “a b_ _ _ _” and “a monster” by the newest member of the television daytime news commentary show, The View, Michelle Collins.

But what has been surprising has been the response from some so-called “conservative” circles and from Christians… even Catholics. I heard one anchor at Fox News call Mrs. Davis “a hater,” and one Catholic Christian commentator say Kim Davis “is no hero;” she is guilty of “dereliction of duty.”

Really? For standing up for moral and biblical principles?

So what is a Catholic response to all of this? There are six points, I argue, we need to understand and consider in evaluating this situation.

1. Mrs. Davis has no obligation whatsoever to sign a document that, in her mind, would be to give tacit approval to homosexual “marriage” that is actually not marriage at all. And she is in no sense derelict in her duties in so refusing to sign, nor is she “a hater.” She is a woman of conscience. As Pope St. John Paul II declared, in his great Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae, 72-73: quoting St. Thomas Aquinas:

“…human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence”…

There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection… From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

2. Though the above reference from Pope St. John Paul II was specifically dealing with the sins of abortion and euthanasia, he expanded the principle of the “obligation” of “conscientious objection” to include all laws that are contrary to the eternal law, or natural law, which is, by definition, human beings’ rational participation in the eternal law of God. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, however, issued a document specific to the situation we are dealing with now in its prophetic 2003 document titled: “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons:”

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.

There is a distinction made here between “formal cooperation” in either the “enactment or application” of these types of unjust laws, and “material” cooperation. Formal cooperation means a person actually takes part in the immoral action of another with the intention of cooperating in that evil act. The formal cooperator is always as guilty as is the one with whom he is cooperating.

This would not apply in the case of Mrs. Davis. However, her cooperation in signing these licenses would involve “material cooperation” in the sin of attempting a homosexual “union.” Material cooperation can be either “proximate” or “remote.” “Proximate” material cooperation means a person is opposed to the sinful act being performed, but is immediately involved in the act. This kind of cooperation is generally understood to be sinful though there are exceptions, such as the case of a hostage being forced to act against his will in, say, a bank robbery. Or, one could argue, in cases where there could be grave consequences if a person were not to materially cooperate, like the loss of livelihood, the inability to care for one’s family, or something akin to this. A deeper discussion than this goes beyond what I can do here, but in short, there must be proportionate reason for there to be proximate material cooperation in an act that is intrinsically evil.

For our purposes here, Mrs. Davis’ case is one of remote material cooperation. This means her action is far enough removed from the actual sinful act that it can possibly be licit. But notice, the Church encourages conscientious objection where possible even when it comes to remote material cooperation with this grave sin of homosexual “unions.” Unlike the case of formal cooperation, the document uses the qualifier, “as far as is possible,” when it comes to material cooperation, but the emphasis is clearly on urging all of us to conscientiously object.

Moreover, and again, very important to the issue at hand, the Church clearly teaches, “In this area” of material cooperation “everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.” Thus, I need to emphasize, conscientious objection is in no way dereliction of duty. It is a noble action and a right.

3. I am not arguing that Mrs. Davis has an obligation, from a Catholic and moral perspective (I realize Mrs. Davis is not Catholic, but again, Catholics are now facing the same dilemma as I said above), to refuse to sign. In fact, she had and has at least three options I can think of here, according to Catholic teaching. If there is a proportionate reason, and if Mrs. Davis, or one in her situation, makes it clear that she is opposed to homosexual unions, but is acting merely as an arm of the state in a perfunctory way, without ever giving any indication that she is in agreement with the final end of a homosexual “union,” she could, licitly, sign the document. But again, there would have to be proportionate reason. If, for example, her job, ability to care for her family, etc. is involved, this may well be licit.

She could also resign rather than attach her name in any way to this unjust “law.”

But she also has the right, according to Catholic teaching, to do precisely what she is doing in conscientiously objecting to this unjust “law.” In fact, as a Catholic, and as we have already read from the Magisterium of the Church, she would be encouraged to conscientiously object. This is a legitimate and even praiseworthy act on her part.

4. What about those who argue this: “If she refuses to sign these documents, she is guilty of the ‘injustice’ of receiving a paycheck that includes her obligation to sign these ‘marriage licenses.’ She is both refusing to do her job and taking money under false pretenses.”

The answer is: she is doing her job, as well as keeping her obligations to her God. In Mrs. Davis’ case, she was elected to, among other things, uphold the laws and statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States of America. And she is doing exactly that. A state, a “commonwealth,” a nation, etc. does not have the authority to force its employees to do absolutely anything under the guise of a “law.” The “law” she is being asked to act in accordance with is not a law at all. It is an act of violence that must be opposed using every licit means available.

Granted, she is breaking what the United States of America considers to be a law. And she needs to understand that in so doing she will have to face the consequences. And in her case, Mrs. Davis has truly “counted the cost.” But folks, we have a long history in this country of heroes a la Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. who have been icons of conscientious objection. And we have a much longer list among our Catholic patrimony of martyrs, confessors, and great saints who have also given up to and including the ultimate sacrifice while “obey[ing] God rather than men.”

Moreover, her act of civil disobedience is also a witness to her employer and to the world of the injustice that is homosexual “marriage.” Not only is she just in receiving her paycheck even though she is refusing to perform what she perceives to be an immoral act required by her superiors, but she should get a raise for being a prophetic voice crying in the wilderness! Though, somehow, I don’t think that will happen…

5. What about those who say: “She is an elected official who was elected to uphold all of the laws of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, not just the ones she likes.”

This takes us back to the definition of what a “law” is. But consider this as well. I will grant that there are cases where conscientious objection is not allowable. Marines in the heat of battle are not at liberty to take up picket signs on the battle field, endangering the lives of their brothers-at-arms. The common good must always be considered when considering both the law and our obedience to the law. In this case, those Marines could legitimately be arrested and charged with treason in wartime. But the onus is on the state to demonstrate that the common good is at stake and that conscientious objection would result in grave danger to the common good.

This case doesn’t even come close. The government could very easily make accommodations for Christians or people of good will who understand the truth of the moral law in this matter.

Generally speaking, an elected official does not give up his or her conscience and obligations to God when elected to office.

6A Final Thought

In reading through tons of responses to the actions of this courageous Christian woman in the small town of Rowan, Kentucky, one of the first things that came to my mind was this: “Could this be our ‘Rosa Parks’?”

My gut tells me no. It’s no because in our case, we have the White House against us, the United States government in general, the Supreme Court in particular, the media, the popular culture, and more. Let’s face it. Christianity—and Catholicism in particular—is hated in the United States, and is under attack by the powers that be.

Don’t get me wrong, there are good people in high places as well. But they are quickly becoming the Bishop Fishers and Thomas Mores of history in comparison to the masses who will sell their souls for a mess of pottage.

What we need today are a few thousand Kim Davises. We need people who will take the hoses, the dogs, imprisonment, and more, if necessary, in order to stand up for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the truth of the moral law.

God bless Kim Davis. In my book, she’s a hero! May she inspire heroics in all of us!

The Evil that is Planned Parenthood

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse… it did. In an earlier blog post, I told you about how Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, casually speaks of how she and other “doctors” have been carefully murdering babies in the womb, protecting certain desired body parts, so that they can be sold as if they were pieces of chicken. And she was caught red-handed talking about it… on video. To say this is disgusting and an outrage is an understatement. In fact, there is hardly a way to overstate the gravity of what we are talking about here.

Turns out, there are a dozen or so more of these videos, one of which I will post for you here. But I warn you: you are about to view graphic pictures of murdered babies and a level of callousness from the monsters, I mean doctors, who kill them on a daily basis, that you simply will not believe.

The truth is: our culture has fallen so far due to the proliferation of sin that the media hardly bats an eye at these monstrosities, and our President (Obama) and justice system are so steeped in the fog of sin that there is little to no response.

What is amazing to me is how the lapdog media–lapdog to Planned Parenthood and the entire industry of death so often sold under the guise of “women’s health providers”–is shown in the clip interviewing Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood, denying what we see with our own eyes. Unbelievable! This time, it’s Melissa Farrell, Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, not only admitting in word of the routine sale of body parts at Planned Parenthood, but giving us a gruesome tour…

Well, you watch if you haven’t yet, but again, be warned. This is extremely graphic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egGUEvY7CEg

The real question is: how long are we going to stand for this? Tens of millions of our brothers and sisters–real human beings–have been ripped apart in the sanctuary of their mother’s wombs since 1973, where murder was legalized in this country. And now, these innocent human beings’ body parts are up for sale? You watch the video and then you tell me what we should do.

As for me, I am going to begin by speaking out in every way I can. I am going to use every platform I possess to speak for these little ones who are being abused and murdered every single day across this country. And now, Planned Parenthood is saying to us these little babies are no different than a blob of tissue that can be bought and sold with impunity.

God help us!

As I said in my previous post on this topic, if you want to equip yourself with knowledge to combat this culture of death in which we live, click here. And remember: “greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). And, “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).

We can, we must, and we will stop this unthinkable evil, with God’s help!

The Truth About Islam and Jihad (Pt. IV in Series)

Islamic attitudes toward non-Muslims are determined by many factors of which two are most necessary to consider. The first is Jihad or Holy War. The second is the concept of Dar Al Harb (Arabic for “House of War”) and Dar Al Islam (“House of Submission”) in Islamic tradition. “House of War” refers to any territory or people who are not living in submission to Islam. “House of Submission,” or Dar Al Islam, refers to any territory or people living in submission to the message of Muhammad.

The concept of Jihad (Arabic for Struggle) has been given two interpretations, which I argue, are actually not mutually exclusive. Some Muslims interpret “Jihad” as referring to “Holy War,” while others will say it refers to the spiritual “struggle” to live the Faith of Islam. Ayatollah Khomeini, one of the great Muslim leaders of our times said:

The Jihad means the conquest of non-Muslim territory. The domination of Koranic Law from one end of the earth to the other is… the final goal… of this war of conquest” (Jihad, Paul Fregosi, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1998, p.20).

It is important for we in the West to understand that for 100′s of millions of Muslims, the Jihad is considered to be a religious obligation. In fact, for some it is considered a sixth obligation for all able-bodied Muslims. Many of us have heard of the famous “five pillars” of belief for Muslims, but there are actually “five pillars” of both belief and action that are required for all able-bodied Muslims. And, again, for some, there are six “pillars:”

ACTION:                                                  BELIEF:

  1. Confession                                         1. God
  2. Prayer                                                  2. The Prophets
  3. Fasting                                                 3. The Scriptures
  4. Almsgiving                                         4. Angels
  5. Pilgrimage                                         5. The Last Day (Judgment)
  6. Jihad                                                    6. Qadar (predestination)

“Qadar” is especially important for Sunni Muslims who believe in a strict predestination akin to the beliefs of Calvinists among Christians. Shi’ites tend more toward free will in their theology. But Sunni make up about 85% of Muslims world-wide. ”Jihad,” on the other hand, is a concept that spans the spectrum of Muslims, both Shi’ite and Sunni. Muslims also, more universally, view the expansion of Islam as the predestined will of God that cannot be thwarted; therefore, it is a natural historical development and a duty for individual Muslims to participate in. The destiny for Islam is seen as the conquest of the whole world. All must submit to Koranic Law, whether they are believers or not!

Jihad has had over 1300 years of history and has engulfed and affected many nations in Asia, Africa, and Europe. In Europe, Muslim armies of conquest have been to Tours in France, sacked the City of Rome in Italy, conquered South Eastern Europe up to the Danube, laid siege to Vienna twice, controlled the Ukraine of Russia and invaded more than once the Iberian peninsula. In Africa, all of North Africa has been conquered and converted by centuries of Islamic domination, except for the Egyptian Coptics who have suffered tremendous persecution over the centuries, and are experiencing a brutality today that we have a hard times even attempting to comprehend in the West. You will also find a smattering of Christians, also persecuted to greater or lesser degrees around North Africa. I personally encountered a few of these when I went on an undercover missions trip to Morocco many years ago.

West and Eastern Africa have been terrorized by Islamic Slave raids and armies of conquest for centuries even down to our time where Boko Haram, and various other Muslim groups continue to brutalize, kill, and enslave Christians and all who do not accept their radical views. In Asia, wherever there is a majority of Muslims, non-Muslim minorities suffer discrimination and grave injustice to their basic human rights in our time. While Western, Central and Southern Asia have had centuries of wars of Muslim conquest.

We are being asked to believe today that all of this represents just a relatively few “extremists” who have hijacked true Islam.

Really?

In reality, there are approximately 120, conservatively speaking, verses in the Koran which deal with killing and fighting for Islam and these verses are favorable to this aggression if done to advance the cause of Islam.

In the nine-volume translation of “the Hadiths” of Dr.Muhammad Muhsin Khan, titled “The Translation of the Meaning of Sahih Al-Bukhari” (Kazi Publications, Lahore, Pakistan, 1979), there is clear witness of the importance and priority of Jihad in Islamic thought that represents more than just a struggle to overcome evil in one’s own heart. In Volume 1, no. 25, it declares:

Allah’s apostle was asked, “What is the best deed?” He replied, “To believe in Allah and his Apostle.” The questioner then asked, “What is the next [in goodness]?” He replied, “To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s cause.”  

 In a previous post, we have already seen from Muhammad’s own life what he thought of Jihad. But let’s look at his Koran.

I should note here that while the Koran does say “there shall be no compulsion in religion,” it also, shall we say, “nuances” itself as to what “compulsion” means in ordering religious military conquests in which the newly conquered are offered Death, conversion to Islam, or extreme taxation which reduces them to semi-servile status or even slavery as their options. One cannot deny that these options are certainly strong extrinsic compulsions to convert to Islam. But again, let’s examine the Koran itself:

There shall be no compulsion in religion. True guidance is now distinct from error. He that renounces idol-worship and puts his faith in God shall grasp a firm handle that will never break. God hears all and knows all (Sura 2:256).

Believers: do not make friends with those who are enemies of Mine and yours. Would you show them kindness, when they have denied the truth that has been revealed to you and driven out the Apostle and yourselves, because you believe in God, your Lord (Sura 60:1).

Believers: do not befriend your fathers or your brothers if they choose unbelief in preference to faith. Wrongdoers are those that befriend them (Sura 9:23).

Prophet: rouse the faithful to arms. If there are twenty steadfast men among you, they shall vanquish two hundred; and if there are a hundred, they shall rout a thousand unbelievers, for they are devoid of understanding (Sura 8:65).

Whether unarmed or ill-equipped, march on and fight for the cause of God, with your wealth and with your persons. This will be best for you if you but knew it (Sura 9:41).

Believers make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous (Sura 9:123).

Proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers, except to these idolaters who have honored their treaties with you in every detail and added none against you. With these keep faith, until their treaties have run their term. God loves the righteous. When the sacred months (Referrring to Shawwal, Dhul-Qu’adah, Dhul-Hajjah, and Muharram) are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful….12 But if, after coming to terms with you, they break their oaths and revile your faith, make war on the leaders of unbelief – for no oaths are binding with them -  so that they may desist (Sura 9:4-5, 12).

Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love the aggressors. Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed. But do not fight them within precinct of the Holy Mosque unless they attack you there; if they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded; but if they desist, God is forgiving. Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers (Sura 2:190-193).

Believers! Shall I point out to you a profitable course that will save you from a woeful scourge? Have faith in God and His Apostle, and fight for God’s cause with your wealth and your persons. That would be best for you, if you but knew it. He will forgive you your sins and admit you to gardens watered by running streams; He will lodge in pleasant mansions in the gardens of Eden. That is the supreme triumph (Sura 61:19-12).

Those that make war against God and his apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or banished from the country (Sura 5:33).

And people really wonder why we see Muslims “crucifying” Christians today?

If anyone thinks that God will not give victory to His apostle in this world and in the world to come, let him tie a rope to the ceiling of his house and hang himself. Then let him ponder if his cunning has done away with that which has enraged him (Sura 22:15-16).

Who Are the “Enemies of God” or, Those Who “Attack” Islam?

Many who defend Islam will be quick to point out that all of these verses in the Koran that talk about killing, crucifying, etc. only refer to aggressors who first “attack” Islam. But the truth is: Even though we do see the prophet speak against the idea of “attacking first,” and only kill those who “attack you,” the problem is the definition of “attack.”  According to the Koran, anyone who does not submit to Islam, or anyone who would dare to teach contrary to the Koran (like Christians and Jews!), is attacking Islam and needs to be vanquished in battle. Let me give you an example of what I mean from the Koran:

Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and his Apostle have forbidden, and do not embrace the True Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued (Sura 9:29).

Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., pointed out to me in a conversation I had with him on this issue that the English translations of the Koran are often watered down to obscure the truth about what the Koran teaches. He is fluent in Arabic and showed me where the word translated as “Fight against” in Sura 9:29, actually means “kill.” “Kill them!” Kill who? All who do not embrace Islam until they are “utterly subdued,” and obey Koranic, or “Shariah” law.

Need I say more?

While I appreciate any “moderate” Muslim who attempts to “spiritualize” all of the troubling texts of the Koran, the truth is, the problem is not just with “radical Muslims,” though I must say that the killing, beheading, crucifying, of innocent children is nowhere to be found in the Koran. What these radical ISIS members, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other radicals are doing in killing innocent children, is definitely not sanctioned in the Koran. However, the problem is: the killing of those who do not embrace Islam is taught in the Koran.

Ibn Warraq in his book, Why I am not a Muslim, p. 11-12, footnote #33, quotes the famous Ayatollah Khomeini responding to Western apologists for Islam, and Muslim “moderates” concerning this matter:

Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world…Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless.

Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]?

Islam says: Kill them [the non-muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non- Muslims] overcome us?

Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender to the enemy?

Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword. People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet I spoke of above] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.

As Christians, we are always peacemakers first, but there is a time for war as Ecclesiastes 3:3,8 tells us. We pray for the conversion of all of these radical Muslims, and for Muslims in general. But, in the end, the only thing radical Islam seems to respond to universally is the point of a sword. Unfortunately, it is time for you and I to let our Congressmen and President know that we cannot allow our brothers and sisters in Christ, our Jewish brothers and sisters, and “moderate” Muslims as well, to be slaughtered as they are being slaughtered even as I write this. It must stop. And military intervention is the only way it will be stopped in our time, in my opinion.

But for now, we must educate ourselves and our families as to the threat we face, and be prepared to give a defense of our Faith and to evangelize our Muslim friends. There is much beauty and truth in Islam, as I said in an earlier post, but ultimately, these are a people who are in desperate need of their savior, Jesus Christ, as we all are! In my next and final post on Islam in this series, I will share some ideas on how we can, indeed, share the good news about Jesus Christ with our Muslim friends.

If you like this post and want to learn more, click here.

Politics and Religion Pt. 2 – The Question of Voting

There are many matters involving both faith and morals where there is room for legitimate differences of opinion among Catholics. As an apologist, I often get this question, especially during election cycles: “What about the death penalty? What about War? Shouldn’t Catholics be against War? What about the right to health and education?” In fact, whenever these issues come up in dialogue it always reminds me of an encounter I had some years ago.

I was giving a parish mission and it was going quite well. One afternoon, I was at lunch with the pastor of the parish and we began to talk about the then up-coming elections. When I voiced my strong concern that Catholics only vote for pro-life and pro-family candidates, Father responded: “Tim, I don’t think this is as black and white as you say it is.” When he said this, I must say I was shocked! He brought up the very issues I mentioned above. “What about the death penalty, war, healthcare, education, etc.” I attempted to explain that there are certain issues that are non-negotiable that Catholics are not at liberty to debate. Abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and so-called homosexual “marriage” are intrinsic evils that must be opposed by all Catholics at the polls (religious liberty was not in play politically back then as it is now).

When Father attempted to use the war in Iraq, the death penalty and other lesser issues to justify voting for pro-abortion and pro-homosexual “marriage” candidates, I attempted to reason with him. I explained:

1. For Catholics, our “just war doctrine” is found in paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And notice, the Church does not say “just war theory.” It says, “just war doctrine.” The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can be debated among Catholics as to whether or not they were just in our given situation. But the fact that war can be justified in certain situations is Catholic doctrine. The Catholic Church is NOT pacifist! In other words, war is not intrinsically unjust. As Ecclesiastes 3:8 says: “There is a time for war and a time for peace.” Therefore, it is not one of the “non-negotiables” or “intrinsically unjust law[s]” that Catholics are bound to oppose.

2. Similarly, the death penalty has always been upheld as a legitimate and potentially just punishment in Catholic Tradition as well as in Scripture. Genesis 9:6 says, “He who sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God created man in his own image.” In CCC 2267, the Magisterium of the Church tells us the Church has always held to the legitimacy of recourse to the death penalty, and that has not changed, though, according to the Catechism, examples today of the necessity of using it are, “rare, if not practically non-existent.” Now, this latter statement in the Catechism that actually quotes Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter, “Evangelium Vitae,” paragraph 56, is not making a dogmatic statement; rather, it is a matter of prudential judgment. Catholics are free to debate the issue of when the death penalty should or should not be employed. In fact, then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, when he was Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, in a document called, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles, 3:”

Not all moral issues have the same weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father (John Paul II) on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

So again, the key here, I said to Father, is to understand that capital punishment and the death penalty are not “non-negotiable” matters. They must not be considered as one of the “non-negotiables” for Catholics.

3. When it comes to education and healthcare, the Church does speak of these as being “rights,” among others, for example, in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World—Gaudium et Spes 26—as well as in Pope John Paul II’s 1988 Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, 38.

I know this upsets some conservatives when I use this language. But they are rights nonetheless. However, because they are “rights” does not mean they must be free, folks! Nor does it mean they have to be or even should be provided by the government. This is a matter of debate, at the very least. In fact, the principle of subsidiarity and the Church’s condemnation of socialism must be taken into account here, but that is matter for another blog post.

But in order to bring clarity to this matter, think about this: I have a right to food and drink, but that does not mean under ordinary circumstances I can just plunder grocery stores at will and expect everyone else to pay for it! In other words, just how these “rights” to education and healthcare are to be protected and realized in the lives of people is a matter of debate. I always say to Catholic folks who believe healthcare should be provided for free by the government because health care is a “right,” are they willing to make Catholic education free across the board as well? After all, education is listed as a “right” by the same documents that list “healthcare” as a right.  Would our bishops be ready to pay for every Catholic who wills it to go to Notre Dame, or any other Catholic university? I think not!

The bottom line here is this: All of the rights the Church lists as such is not the question. The real debate is over the best way these rights can be protected and promulgated. And this is a matter of legitimate debate. And thus, these too — the right to healthcare and education — are not “non-negotiables.”

Unfortunately, I must say that my arguments didn’t seem to be getting anywhere until I had had about enough. My response became perhaps a bit too impassioned, but I remember saying to the good Padre, “You have the liberty of saying these issues are not black and white because they are not coming to cut your head off. But I guarantee you, Father, if the candidate you are voting for were to say—’On the day I am elected, my first order of business is that I am going over to Father Smith’s house and I am going to cut his head off’—I bet you would vote for the other guy! The fact is, they are coming to cut off the heads of millions more little pre-born babies in the sanctuary of their mother’s wombs, if we do not stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and vote accordingly!”

Father’s response was: “You make a good point, Tim.”

But this is not about “making a good point,” is it? This, my friends, is literally a matter of life and death.

THE BOTTOM LINE

And I suppose this is the real heart of the matter. It seems to me that one of the most important messages we can send to Catholics today, is that when we speak of these five “Non-Negotiables,” (six now with the advent of the Obama Administrations assault on religious liberty) we are speaking about human lives and human souls being on the line. It seems too many Catholics have too often grown cold and indifferent with regard to what it is we are talking about when we talk about voting and when we talk about the “non-negotiables” that should inform the decision-making process of all Catholics.  When we are talking about the non-negotiables, the old saying applies, “But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

To the Heart of the Matter

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that it is “morally obligatory” for we who live in free societies with various representative forms of governments to vote in CCC 2240. And when it comes to laws in favor of homosexual so-called “marriage,” euthanasia, abortion, cloning or fetal stem cell research, and the assault on religious liberty, Pope St. John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, 73.1-73.2, has declared that each and every one of us has a “grave and clear obligation to oppose [these laws] by conscientious objection.” In fact, St. John Paul the Great also said, “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law…it is never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law or vote for it.’” And notice here that even though the Pope was referencing abortion in particular, he does not limit himself to abortion. He teaches us the same applies to any intrinsically unjust law. We as Catholics need to understand that we are speaking of a “grave obligation” here! And we need to understand the seriousness of this matter more so than most because we are the ones who believe that what we do in grave matters will effect where we spend eternity!

According to our Holy Father Pope St. John Paul II, we have a “grave obligation” not to vote for any of these “non-negotiables.” Now, some may say at this point: “I’m not voting for abortion, I am only voting for a candidate who votes for it!” Sorry, folks, you’re not off the hook so easy. Because we live in a representative form of democracy, we are voting for abortion indirectly if we vote for politicians who are pro-abortion. This is out of the question for Catholics!

Is There a Loophole Here?

But what about this statement from then Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 letter that we quoted before, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles,” paragraph 6:

A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.

The key here is “proportionate reasons.” There are two issues we need to address here: First, in the case of voting for a pro-abortion candidate, one can only do so if, as Pope St. John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae 73, you have a case analogous to this:

An elected official whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.

In the same way, if a Catholic voter finds himself in a situation where both candidates are pro-abortion, a Catholic may vote for the candidate that will best limit the harm being done to the innocent, or if you have a case where both candidates are so pro-death that the Catholic cannot bring himself to vote for either candidate, he can choose not to vote at all. That is a legitimate option.

In the case of voting for the candidate who “limits the harm done” more so than the other, this is not a vote for abortion, even though the candidate one votes for may be pro-abortion; In this case one is voting for the good of limiting the amount of harm being done in the best way available. As an example, let’s say you are faced with both candidates in an election being pro-abortion, but one candidate is in favor of limiting late-term abortions and the other is not. Obviously, curtailing late-term abortions would necessarily save innocent human life. That’s a good thing and certainly worth voting for.

Now, in the case of voting for a pro-abortion candidate when there is a pro-life candidate available, that is where the “proportionate reasons” of which Cardinal Ratzinger wrote would come in. That means voting for a pro-abortion candidate even though there is a pro-life candidate available because of other positions held by the pro-life candidate that are proportionally more grave than abortion. And this is a possibility. However, we should note here that there simply is no case today, at least not in the United States, where one could reasonably do so because there is nothing else in play politically in this country that would be proportionate to the horror of abortion.

Is there an example where there would be “proportionate reasons” to vote for a pro-abortion candidate over a pro-life candidate? Yes! If, for example, we had an Osama Bin Laden-like character running for office against a pro-abortion candidate from one of our two parties here in the United States.

Now by an “Osama Bin Laden-like character,” I mean he would be against abortion while simultaneously being in favor of the genocide of whole peoples and religions (like all Jews and Christians!). One could safely say this would be a case where there would be proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, assuming of course that the other candidate is against this genocide. Why? Well, with abortion, as horrid as it is, we are talking about the murder of ca. 1.2-1.5 million innocent human beings per year in the United States alone. In this scenario we’d be talking about slaughtering 100’s of millions of people! But other than that scenario, or one similar, there is simply no proportionate reason I can envision where one could reasonably vote for a pro-abortion candidate over a pro-life candidate.

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