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All Christians should be pure as doves. But in Politics, many are as dumb as dodos.
(Dove. Source: [broken link] biblia.com/spirit/. Dodo. Source)
A famous passage of the Bible says:
"Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and pure as doves" [Mt 10:16]
Sometimes, when I look at how Christians try to participate in Politics, I have the impression that we should talk about dodos, those famous birds known for their inability to fly and their stupidity.
Here is a small list of the many dumb things done by Christians. (Astute readers of this web site will have realized that these are just the consequences of Christian heterostupidity applied to Politics.)
Bad Christian voters can be divided into several categories:
2.1) Those with a hypocritical fear of damaging their political virginity. Many Christians pretend that they are "far too pure" to get involved with "such a dirty business" as Politics. Imagine the mental gymnastics required to avoid doing your duty, and yet feel hypocritically superior to all those who do! This is even worse for Catholics, given the Pope specifically condemns this attitude! See among others the opening quote of How should we participate in politics?
2.2) Those who are "Catholic" in name only. Also called "liberal" Catholics, which is an euphemism for heretic. They often vote for politicians who themselves claim they are Catholic, even though they are not (for example here in Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and in the USA, John Kerry). The political leaders elected by such voters drape themselves in noble words like "tolerance", "equality", "diversity", "freedom", etc. But in fact, these leaders systematically destroy the very foundations of society by promoting the murder of innocent children, the corruption of marriage, the elimination of religious freedoms for Christians, etc. See among others If Paul Martin Is A Catholic, Is The Pope The Antichrist?
2.3) Those who blindly vote for anybody who pretends to be against abortion. Is a candidate filthy rich, power-hungry, lazy, unintelligent, self-seeking, corrupt, manipulative, and fundamentally pro-abortion? No problem! All this bad candidate has to do is pretend to be pro-life, and many lazy and ignorant Christians will vote for him with their eyes closed. As you can imagine, not only do these candidates give an extremely bad name to the pro-life movement, but they don't even try to solve the basic social problems which practically force some women to get abortions. See among others Right-Wing Christians Against Bush's Sins, and Supporting Stephen Harper Is Encouraging Abortion.
2.4) Those who knowingly support pro-abortion parties and politicians. Those are, in my opinion, the worst. Indeed, they firmly believe one single mortal sin will earn them eternal damnation, and they are totally convinced that every direct abortion is murder. Despite this, they knowingly collaborate with pro-abortion politicians and pro-abortion political parties!
This last category is quite special. When I started to participate in Politics, I assumed all good Catholics would never knowingly collaborate with criminal politicians. Unfortunately, this category of dodos really does exist. Let's try to better understand it, by imagining a clearer situation.
What would it take for it to be impossible for a Christian to collaborate with a political party without going to Hell? Let's imagine the "Buddies Of The Bloody Dictatorship Party", in an apparently democratic country, where every day the Government would slaughter Armenian and Tutsi immigrants, as well as political prisoners.
What would you say if a Christian told you: "Yes, I'm a member of the Buddies Of The Bloody Dictatorship Party, but I'm against this massacre!" You'd surely tell him:
3.1) Your Party supports the relentless propaganda in favor of the massacre. Your Party constantly repeats, in all the newspapers, the radios and the TV programs, that the Supreme Court has "legalized" the massacre of Armenian and Tutsi immigrants, as well as political prisoners. Your Party gives a lot of money to the Department of Education, so that all youngsters in school will be indoctrinated in the idea that killing these people is quite acceptable, etc.
3.2) You cannot even educate people to denounce this massacre. Your Party won't let you hand out flyers bearing its logo to denounce this massacre! If you're a Member of Parliament (MP) for this Party, you can't even condemn this massacre on your official web site!
3.3) You can't even answer journalist's questions. If a journalist asks you to answer in writing: "Are you for or against the massacre of Armenian and Tutsi immigrants, as well as political prisoners?", you don't even have your Party's permission to answer!
3.4) You can't even propose a Bill against this massacre. Your Party prevents everybody from trying to change the current laws that permit this massacre. It's not even as if there weren't enough votes to stop the slaughter; you can't even propose a vote on this topic!
3.5) You never criticize your Party Leader. Where is your open letter to all newspapers, in which you clearly and strongly condemn your Party Leader? After all, he's the one who, by his sins of omission, lets this massacre continue every day!
3.6) The very fact of being a member of that Party constitutes a formal collaboration with evil. Just the fact of becoming a member of that Party is a gesture that speaks loudly, and that says: "Slaughtering innocents is just a detail, because it doesn't prevent good Christians from becoming members of this Party".
What can the expression "I'm against the massacre" mean, in the mouth of someone who freely decides to belong to such a political party?
I'm not a lawyer in Canon Law, but Canon 1374 as well as its explicitation in Quaesitum est seems to lead inevitably to the conclusion that the simple fact of being a member of such a party is a serious sin, "since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church".
As we speak, right here in Canada, there are many Catholics who are members (and even MP's and Ministers) in political parties that are just as criminal as our imaginary "Buddies Of The Bloody Dictatorship Party". Why? Certainly because some of them are ignorant or a bit slow-witted, but I know several who are very well informed and intelligent.
How can this collaboration be explained? It seems to me that at least three vices combine to produce "political blinders":
4.1) Pride. Many "hard-core" Catholics are faithful to the Pope in many ways, so they start to think that they cannot err, and that their political actions will be necessarily "holy", despite all clues to the contrary.
4.2) Cowardice. Defending ideas hated by the majority is not enjoyable. Ask Jesus, ridiculed, despised and beaten by the crowd. But you can also ask any psychologist, who will talk to you about "groupthink", of "peer pressure", of the "herd instinct", etc. Another way of arriving at the same conclusion is to observe the amount of courage required to be involved with a good little political parti which struggles against the crimes of the majority.
4.3) Craving for power. Old moralists call it libido dominandi, and monks even make a "vow of obedience" specifically to fight agains this vice. Obviously, if someone desires power in an inordinate way, his end risks "justifying" his means.
Catholics who wear these "political blinders" have great difficulty seeing the Devil's sophisms.
I wish I could uncover all the sophisms used by the Devil to entice Christians to collaborate with him. It's difficult, because there are so many, they mutate often like viruses, and on top of that, some of them are a truly diabolical mixture of truth and error. I'll at least try to list a few of them:
Sophism: "To change things, we have to accept to get our hands dirty"
False! "Doing evil in order to do good" is a proverb of the Devil. Basic Morality tells us that it's never permitted to do evil in order to obtain a good. The end doesn't justify the means. (I put this sophism first because it often reappears under different disguises in this list.)
Sophism: "An MP has no business being a moral leader; he's just there to
reflect what his constituents believe"
False! Honest, if this sophism was true, then the Buddies Of The Bloody Dictatorship Party would be an excellent party, as long as it obtained the majority of votes! This monstrous sophism is roughly the same one used by the Nazis during the Nürnberg Trials. No man, in any circumstances, can leave morality at the door, next to his rubber overshoes and umbrella. Acting while setting aside morality, is immoral, and no trade, whether physician, soldier or Member of Parliament, requires such a monstrosity.
Sophism: "Accepting the unacceptable today, will permit us to better
reject it tomorrow"
False! Who commits sin is a slave to sin. I have met people who were heavily involved with "pseudo pro-life" parties, and who told me substantially: "We will lie, cheat, do anything to get elected, and once we are in power, then we'll become virtuous and holy, and we'll stop the abortions". No. Once you are in power, you'll continue to prostitute yourselves.
Sophism: "Such a party is worse, therefore this one is acceptable"
False! "Two wrongs don't make a right". If two political parties are rotten, then we have to reject them both. People who swallow this sophism in the USA fall into the Partial Truth Deadlock. In Canada, these people will totally ignore pro-life political parties like the Christian Heritage Party of Canada. And in both the USA and Canada, these people will never try to start up a new political party, if the existing ones are inadequate.
Sophism: "Without power, we can do nothing"
Distinguo. Strictly speaking, Concedo, I agree, because the very definition of "power" means "that which lets us do something". But if you mean "If we don't get elected to form the Government, we can do nothing", then Nego, I do not agree. There are many kinds of political power. You can have some political power even though you are not elected. I even dare suggest that most political power is different from the power you have once you get elected.
A good politician is first and foremost an educator. See among others Surfing The Wave, Or Making One's Wave? Add to that the fact that in some extreme cases, the population can become very difficult to govern. In other words, we must already have a fairly large popular support, if we hope to enforce laws that protect innocent human life from conception to natural death. It's our duty to start changing minds now.
Sophism: "Such an MP is very pro-life, although he is in a pro-choice
Prove it! Outlandish assertions are cheap; what's hard is to prove them! How can you prove an MP is pro-life? Take Section 3 here below as the negative of a grocery list, and scrutinize this MP item by item.
And especially, don't tell me this person is pro-life in their private life! The worst political parties I know couldn't care less about the personal beliefs of their members. They don't care whether you are pro-life, or pro-paper diaper, or pro-vampire, or pro-rutabaga, as long as you keep that money and those votes coming in, and that your opinions toe the party line, or stay locked-up in your closet.
Sophism: "Such a pro-life party has no chance of being elected"
False! (This is another viral mutation caused by #4.2.) If all defeatists like you had voted for this pro-life party at the last elections, it would now form the Government! Stop making projections. The main obstacle isn't this pro-life party, it's people like you.
Sophism: "We cannot vote for such a pro-life party, because it's
filled with political dodos"
Maybe! In a way, choosing a political party is like buying a house. Some houses cannot be fixed (like the Buddies Of The Bloody Dictatorship House). Some could be fixed, but would require so much effort that it's easier to just tear them down and build a new one correctly. (In my opinion, an example would be the Christian Democracy Party of Quebec.) Some can be fixed, so you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Keep in mind that, as a Christian, you firmly believe that even the worst dodos can become eagles, and that some dude once died on a Cross for that purpose!
And don't forget to worry if you see dodos everywhere. Sertillanges once said: "The intelligent man sees intelligence everywhere, only the dolt projects on all walls the darkness of his narrow and listless forehead".
Sophism: "It don't have a choice, since there are no pro-life
candidates in my riding"
False! For over twenty years, I behaved like a dodo, and voted for pro-abortion politicians. Then during the last elections I had a brilliant idea: "Hey, maybe I could get off my fat derrière and actually do something for my country!" (Notice how quickly that flash of genius came to my mind!) So I became the only pro-life candidate in my riding. I didn't bleed, and I didn't lose a penny. What are you waiting for?
Sophism: "Voting for such a pro-life party will divide the vote"
False! A real good pro-life party will not only condemn abortion, but also condemn everything which is against life, like the destruction of our environment, or economic neoliberalism, etc. It will therefore "steal" as many votes from the right as from the left. Jesus didn't say: "If any man will come after me, let him take up his cross, unless he's politically to the right, in which case it will be a cakewalk!" [Mt 16:24]
Sophism: "Such a Pope said voting thus could be morally acceptable"
False! This sophism is particularly pernicious, since it corrupts an excellent teaching of the Catholic Church, and that as far as I know this error is taught by some Priests of the Opus Dei. First, here is what John Paul II actually said:
A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote
would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting
the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already
passed or ready to be voted on. [...] In a case like the one just mentioned,
when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law,
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 [...]. This does not
in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a
legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.
[Evangelium Vitae, #73]
This teaching speaks of the case of good Catholic who would get himself elected for a good pro-life party, and who would have to vote for or against a law which would reduce the number of abortions, without stopping them completely.
Except this teaching is perverted by applying it to a completely different case, that of voting for a pro-abortion political party, which systematically blocks all attempts to present a Bill to reduce the number of abortions!
Sophism: "Politicians can't speak loudly, because the Bishops are
False! If you notice a black woman and her kids being attacked by racists, will you try to rescue her, even if the police isn't doing anything? Of course! It's the same thing for Politics. Yes, normally, politicians shouldn't need to educate citizens about basic morality, but unfortunately many Catholic Bishops are not doing their job. Tough luck for us. That just means we have to work harder, to compensate for all those effeminate Bishops.
Sophism: "This apparently pro-abortion party is actually doing the
groundwork to stop abortions"
False! «Doing the groundwork» can only be done by educating citizens, and you can't educate with lies and skulduggeries. Let's first look at a more detailed version of this sophism:
In can happen that a society is so corrupt, that it doesn't recognize Natural Law anymore, and therefore that it can no longer vote for good laws. A government which would have the intention of fixing things would therefore need to do the groundwork, so that eventually the society is willing to accept the necessary legal reforms. In this sense, actions which could appear unrelated to abortion could in fact be related, and even be considered as "laws" or decisions which prepare a mitigation of current pro-abortion laws.
In theory, a political party could be very good, and simply be drawing a corrupt citizenry back to the Natural Law as quickly as possible (which could appear slow to someone politically incompetent yet morally upright). But this good political party would satisfy none of the criteria listed above for the Buddies Of The Bloody Dictatorship Party. Every time I've heard it, this argument was in fact a sophism used to prevent Category 4 Dodos from becoming smart, by transforming them into Category 3 Dodos.
Corrupt politicians, by definition, make political calculations: such a "pro-life noise" which doesn't commit them too much, in exchange for such an amount of Category 3 votes. By definition, a manipulative politician is good at making dodos believe he's on their side, and that they just need to "vote for him one more time", and to "avoid mentioning abortion".
Sophism: "For the good of the voters, we have to make them believe we
are pro-choice, in order to get ourselves elected, so we can then stop
False! If you consider that people are so stupid that they can't understand your pro-life arguments, then be honest and say you're against democracy! And if you're afraid of confronting yourself to public opinion because your arguments are almost as fragile as your backbone, don't come and tell me you're "forced to lie a little bit" to your constituents!
The idea that we have to work around the democratic system, supposedly in order to help our democracy, is an extremely dangerous idea.
Sophism: "How could it be immoral for a Christian to be a member
of a mainstream political party? Christians have a right to participate in
It depends! If "mainstream" is synonymous for the Buddies Of The Bloody Dictatorship Party, then this is just another mutation and hybridization of 5.1 and 5.7.
Sophism: "Jesus ate with sinners [Mt 9:11]. He never approved of their
sins, but He still ate with sinners! And Jesus remained totally sin-less
despite eating with sinners!"
Yes, but eating is not an intrinsically immoral act! We are not talking about stuffing potatoes and cabbage into our oral cavities, then chewing and swallowing a bolus, which then goes down the oesophagus to begin to be digested with peptic acid in the stomach.
In this article, we are talking about voting for pro-choice politicians, or giving them money, or giving them credibility (by joining their party), etc. If you want to talk about Jesus in politics, you could say that it would be morally acceptable, after a hard day's work multiplying bread and walking on water, for Jesus to play hockey with sinners. But not vote for them! And neither to become a member in good standing of the ASRAG (the "Assocation of Sinners Revolted Against God"!)
Sophism: "Being part of a fringe party is only nominally political!"
False! (This is yet another viral mutation caused by #4.2.) Quantity doesn't change the nature of a thing. For example, a tiny little baby with a tiny little heart and tiny little hands and feet, is still a baby. Yes, that baby can grow a lot, but its nature will not change with its size.
The word "fringe" in the expression "fringe political party" can either mean "bad", or "small", or "bad and small". Let's eliminate all references to "bad", since that's taken care of in Sophism 5.8. We are left with "small". If small political parties are "less political", then democracy doesn't exist! For democracy to exist, all citizens must be equal before the law, and each vote must be of equal worth. Why bother having a system which allows the appearance of new ideas and new orientations, if the appearance of such new ideas and orientations is by definition "less political"? Moreover, if small political parties are somehow "less political", then there is no hope for change if a majority of voters is wrong.
Sophism: "Talking about the Social Kingship of Christ is bad! We Catholics
should just become members of mainstream parties and promote human values!"
False! First, the Catholic Church clearly teaches that we must implement the Social Kingship of Christ, so this is another variation of lying to get elected. Second, good politicians don't have values. Third, "promoting human values" is the lingo of Atheists. No wonder, given who I heard this from first.
Sophism: "OK, lying to voters is bad, but there is
nothing wrong with mental reservation!"
Distinguo. Garrigou-Lagrange explains "mental reservation" as when the hearer doesn't have a right to the information he is trying to obtain. The examples he gives revolve around things like a priest who is asked something about a confession he heard, or a doctor who is asked about a patient he has examined, or a lawyer who is asked about what he discussed with his client. In other words, cases where there is a public contract of confidentiality (i.e., a contract that should be known by the hearer). If you define "mental reservation" correctly, then I agree with you.
But that is not usually the way such objectors define "mental reservation". They usually refer to cases where the hearer does have a right to the information he is requesting, and where he has no reason to doubt your answer is completely frank. Such "pseudo-mental reservation" often leads to catastrophic consequences. My favorite examples are several passages in the official documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (usually about "tough topics" like sodomy, Islam, Hell, the Social Kingship of Christ, Atheism, etc.) where no lie is told, but where the full truth is not plainly said. I claim such timidity has led to our current inability to deal with these serious problems.
What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God
to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?
In a way, it's appropriate that we've just mentioned the Opus Dei here above, since they have the solution to the problem. The Opus Dei teaches that man was created ut operaretur, so that he would work, and work well, carefully, by finishing his work down to the last details, and by taking courses all his life to improve himself professionally. Indeed, by his good work, man continues the work begun by God with Creation.
The Opus Dei applies this excellent lesson to trades like carpenter, or physician, or housewife, or lawyer, etc. But governing is also a trade, and in a democracy every citizen must learn to ply this trade well.
Even a bird-brain can understand that we Christians need to work harder to both purify ourselves, and become more politically competent!
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