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“Anti-Catholic bigotry”? No. It’s called separation of church and state


A remark my Senator, Dianne Feinstein, made caused a bit of a ruckus at Notre Dame, the Catholic university, and thence to the Wall Street Journal and National Review, two periodicals that often are apologists for Catholic causes. Feinstein’s offense? During hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Amy Barrett’s nomination by Trump to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Feinstein raised questions about whether Barrett, a conservative Catholic who teaches law at Notre Dame, could keep her religious ideology separate from her judicial opinions. Feinstein’s most controversial statement was, When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that dogma lives loudly within you.”

Well, National Review went nuts, accusing Feinstein, a Jew, of “anti-Catholic bigotry” and charging her with hypocrisy for being the first to decry prejudice and discrimination against other minorities,” such as gays, while allegedly encouraging it against Catholics.

The Wall Street Journal was predictably outraged. They ran a letter from Notre Dame’s president, John Jenkins, expressing his “deep concern” over Feinstein’s “chilling” remarks.  As for Feinstein’s “dogma lives loudly” statement, Jenkins was in solidarity with Barrett, declaring, “I am one in whose heart dogma lives loudly.” Rather than being a bad thing, he wrote, “dogma…is a condition we call faith.”

Then, in the same paper, came an op-ed excoriating “Democrats” for their objections to Barrett and calling several out by name—Dick Durbin, Feinstein, Sanders, Elizabeth Warren–for subjecting judicial nominees to “religious tests” and imposing a “threatening…dogmatism” on “countless Americans’ freedom.” Who was this op-ed piece written by? Not an objective scholar of American history and values, not a specialist in government ethics, but a theocrat named C.C. Pecknold, described as “an associate professor of theology at the Catholic University of America.”

I mean, come on! That’s like having David Duke write an editorial defending the KKK. If you want to talk about imposing “dogmatism” on “countless Americans,” a more accurate example is the Roman Catholic church’s imposing their medieval and murderous hatred of homosexuality on gay people, and consigning them to hell. (And we won’t even get into the horrors of Catholic priestly pedophilia!)

Barrett has made no secret of the fact that she fully accepts the Vatican’s edicts, not U.S. laws, when it comes to such matters as a woman’s right to choose and other reproductive rights, as well as marriage equality. She signed her name to a letter, in 2015, declaring that “We give witness that the Church’s teachings – on the dignity of the human person and the value of human life from conception to natural death; on the meaning of human sexuality, the significance of sexual difference and the complementarity of men and women; on openness to life and the gift of motherhood; and on marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman – provide a sure guide to the Christian life.”  Barrett has declared that abortion, which is legal in this country, “is always immoral.”

In a speech, she noted that “Republicans are heavily invested in getting judges who will overturn Roe.” She has called the contraception mandate of Obamacare “unacceptable,” and, in the opposite way from which History is marching, defined “marriage” as “the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”

I could cite dozens of instances of Barrett’s homophobia and her reactionary attitude toward women’s rights. Sen. Feinstein was absolutely correct to raise questions about Barrett. Jenkins, the Notre Dame president, can say that “dogma” and “faith” are the same thing, but ISIS also says that, as does every other religious fanatic, and that doesn’t make it right.

Look, I’m sick and tired of this constant, never-ending attempt by religious extremists to poke their noses into government and tell the rest of us how we can, and cannot, live. America is a secular country. We need to remain a secular country, if we’re to avoid religious wars such as devastated Europe for a thousand years, and are now tearing apart the Muslim world. I don’t give a hoot what religion Barrett or Jenkins or anyone else believes. But let them keep it to the privacy of their homes and places of worship. If we let judges drag their religious ideologies into their judicial decisions, where does it stop? What if we had judges who were Wiccans, or Whahabbists, or Dervishes, or Satanists, or NAMBLAites, or Lubavitch Jews, or Animists, or Mansonites, or whatever–would Barrett and Jenkins still feel it was all right for them to rule according to their dogma, in the name of faith? Of course not. It’s only their religion—Christianity—they want special treatment for.

It’s horrifying that the Republican Party, and their mouthpiece organs like the Wall Street Journal and National Review, don’t understand that religion and government must be kept strictly separate. Freedom-loving Americans need to band together and insist that the First Amendment and the Founders’ secular vision be honored.

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