From Neuhaus to Our House (The Catholic Right, Thirty-six in a Series).
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 11, 2007 at 02:08:43 PM EST
Without neo-orthodox control of American Catholicism the Religious Right will be unable to transform American society sufficiently to their liking. This alliance is based upon a sufficiently common philosophy as well as the compelling logic of sheer numbers and institutional organization. And that is why Richard John Neuhaus has been building neo-orthodox alliances within the Catholic Church and beyond for decades.
But as we look for opportunities to stand up to both the Catholic and Protestant wings of the religious right, and in the case of Catholicism, also seek to make the church our home again, it is worth considering the role of Rev. Richard John Neuhaus.

Born in Canada in May 1936 he was sent by his Lutheran minister father to study in the United States while still a teenager. As with many now in the neoconservative movement, he did not start out as a mainstream liberal but from a more radicalized position on the Left. Active in the anti-Vietnam war movement, the then-Lutheran minister was a pastor in Brooklyn's predominately African-American Bedford-Stuyvesant.  Always politically active, one of Neuhaus's calling card -then as is now-is a flirtation with violent overthrow when his agenda stalls by peaceful means. As Right Web pointed out:

In 1970, [Peter] Berger(i)  and Neuhaus published Movement and Revolution, a collection of essays on the progressive movement. Included in the volume was an essay entitled "The Thorough Revolutionary" written by Neuhaus. "A revolution of consciousness, no doubt," wrote Neuhaus in his defense of "the Movement." "A cultural revolution, certainly. A non-violent revolution, perhaps. An armed overthrow of the existing order, it may be necessary. Revolution for the hell of it or revolution for a new world, but revolution, Yes" ( The Neoconservative Mind: Politics, Culture, and the War of Ideology, p. 282).

Neuhaus began drifting rightward in the early 1970s.  Many who have studied him mark the Roe vs. Wade decision as the turning point in his political life. Damon Linker,, who worked with Neuhaus in putting out his magazine First Things, observed that even as a Lutheran minister Neuhaus always wanted an American society devoted to Judeo-Christian morality, one where faith would greatly influence the greater secular society. As Linker noted, by the early 1970s Neuhaus saw the counterculture of the 1960s as no longer being the vehicle for the change he envisioned. Linker also noted how Neuhaus was revolted when many of his fellow activists refused to sign a petition condemning Hanoi for political persecutions it undertook after the fall of South Vietnam. He believed it reflected a sense of anti-Americanism among the "elites" of the anti-war Left.

The evolving Neuhaus concluded that the more revolutionary part of the anti-war movement never enjoyed popular support among ordinary Americans. He embraced the darker side of American politics: paranoid populism. He claimed that America was being ruined by unnamed "elitists."

But Neuhaus may not have considered that most people didn't see it as he did, and that most people who opposed the Vietnam War were not interested in revolution but simply in ending an unjust war and creating a more just society within the frameworks that already existed.  Neuhaus seemed to want a revolution and if he could not get it from the Left, then he would try it from the Right -- and in the increasingly socially conservative Republican Party. The once progressive minister began embracing positions on economics and American foreign policy he once would have denounced as unjust. Neuhaus was on his neoconservative road to Damascus with many others of the harder Left with whom he had also eschewed tolerance and compromise.

His journey took him across the religious as well as the political spectrum; converting to strident form of Catholicism in the early 90s and soon thereafter, became a priest who embraced the faith in its most neo-orthodox form. The former rigid radical Left man of the cloth had now become the equally rigid radical Right man of the cloth, throwing out bombastic statements to his new co-religionists such as "I think the barbarity of the English language currently used in the liturgy is cause enough for sorrow without further fiddling in terms of feminist inclusiveness."

In his book The Theocons, author Damon Linker explained Neuhaus's personal "Catholic Moment":

"...Neuhaus believed that the promise of uniting the theoconservative movement with the Catholic Church was so great that the effort had to be attempted. Catholics were, first of all, the single largest religious group in the country, making it exceedingly difficult if not impossible to launch a successful program for political and religious reform in the country without significant support from within the ranks of the Catholic faithful.  Then there was the church's long history of theological and political reflection, which made Catholics far more competent than evangelicals and other Protestants to take the lead in pressing religiously based moral arguments in the nation's political life."

In two passages, a little further on, Linker hits the nail on the head:

But most promising of all was the Vatican's robust defense of ecclesiastical authority. Unlike the Protestant mainline, whose leadership had come to preach unorthodox, antitraditionalist views, the heads of the Catholic Church in Rome (Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger) refused to compromise with or capitulate to blatant theological deviancy.

And then:

Gazing across the Atlantic to St. Peter's Basilica, then, Neuhaus believed he spied enormously powerful allies in his struggle against secularism in the modern world -- Christian intellectuals who had undertaken their own theoconservative project within the church who longed to engage the enemies of Christian truth wherever they were found, including in the political realm.(i)

Neuhaus's rise to power within reactionary Catholic circles was spectacular. In twenty years he went from being an anti-war Lutheran pastor to being the point man for neo-orthodox Catholicism in America; the de facto Vatican liasion to president Bush. His role has been further enhanced under the traditionalist-friendly Pope Benedict XVI.

But Benedict's Vatican, has accomplished the very thing it accuses its liberal adherents of doing: compromising Catholic teaching, by extending such power to Neuhaus. For example, the current pontiff is on record in condemning the current U.S, involvement in Iraq. Yet, as Right Web again points out:

On March 10, 2003, just prior to the Iraq invasion, Neuhaus gave his blessing to the preventive war. Invoking the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Neuhaus said that the planned invasion would be a "just war" because "war is sometimes a moral duty in order to overturn injustice and protect the innocent." After elaborating the theological foundations that he said makes preventive war "justified and necessary," Neuhaus gave his imprimatur to the Bush administration's attacks on the credibility and value of the United Nations, while taking antiwar Catholics to task for unduly backing the flawed multilateral institution. "In view of the UN's frequent hostility to the Church on family policy, population, the sacredness of human life, and related matters," advised Neuhaus, "some Catholic leaders may come to regret their exaggerated and, I believe, ill-considered statements about the moral authority of the UN" (ZENIT, March 10, 2003, cited in First Things, October 2005).

Apparently, the former Cardinal Ratzinger will ignore American Catholic leaders who endorse an unwise and unjustified war -- as long they also condemn those who oppose the imposition of orthodox Catholic principles on reproductive rights, stem cell research and marriage.

As I said in Part Thirty-Four of this series, the neo-orthodox hierarchy and their newly minted converts, are not numerous enough to control the Catholic Church, especially here in America. Nefarious actors such Rev. Richard John Neuhaus can be stopped. Even Vatican hypocrisy in deeding this man so much power and influence can be negated.  It will take hard work and the courage to speak up, even right within our parishes. And we know it can be done because it has been done by many who have come before us.

Back in 1936 another Canadian-born Catholic priest, Charles Coughlin was attacking liberalism and its then standard-bearer, Franklin Delano Roosevelt on his nationally syndicated radio show.  But Monsignor John A. Ryan refuted the powerful and demagogic Coughlin in a nationally broadcast radio speech entitled, "Roosevelt Safeguards America." Ryan confronted Coughlin's vile anti-Semitism, his radical conspiracy theories and his paranoia-infested brand of populism. Even more courageously, Ryan pointed out how when the Catholic Church became too friendly to the forces of greed she herself became the cause of the apostasy her own members.

Monsignor Ryan proved that a more reasonable Catholic voice can be extremely effective in neutralizing even a strident and powerful fellow Catholic priest. And while Neuhaus does not share Coughlin's anti-Semitism he does preach a religious supremacism that is profoundly at odds with the democratic pluralism at the heart of constitutional democracy.

The question is simple: Do independent-minded American Catholics have the courage to be latter-day Monsignor Ryans?  If we do, then I think we have the ability stop the Religious Right in its tracks.

Endnotes:

(i) A former sociology professor at Brooklyn College while Neuhaus was a pastor I Brooklyn, like Neuhaus, later became a neocon ideologue.

(ii) Linker, Damon; The Theocons; pages 68-69.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli : Part One  Part Two  Part Three  Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one   Part Twenty-two   Part Twenty-three   Part Twenty-four   Part Twenty-five   Part Twenty-six   Part Twenty-seven   Part Twenty-eight   Part Twenty-nine   Part Thirty   Part Thirty-one   Part Thirty-two   Part Thirty-three   Part Thirty-four   Part Thirty-five




Display:
And the parting on the left,
are now parting on the right.
And the beards have all grown longer overnight...

Meet the new boss...Same as the old boss!

With Neuhaus it might be a different revolution, but it's still the same strident radical.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Aug 11, 2007 at 02:16:48 PM EST


This ties in with Damon Linker's The Theocons. Unfortunately, I don't believe the Theocons has received the attention it deserves. It also shows up a similar aspect of David Horowitz's behavior in moving from left to right. As a leftist, Horowitz was always a provocateur and on the sidelines urging protest, but somehow he was never around when the billy clubs came swinging. Horowitz behaves the same way as a rightist, and his contempt for democracy has remained consistent. It seems that Neuhaus, in his search for religious purity, has given up on the American democratic experiment and wants to impose his beliefs by force.

I would also recommend reading David Neiwert's and Sara Robinson's Friday commentaries at Orcinus. It seems that somehow the Christian Right, in both its Catholic and Protestant manifestations, has given up on the American experiment and wants to impose its beliefs by force and undermining the American consensus. This should scare anyone.

Kathy

by khughes1963 on Sun Aug 12, 2007 at 10:21:56 AM EST

Many of these neo/theocons strike me as wannabe movement founders in search of a revolution. While I'm sure many of them deep down believe in what they preach I sense their need in them to tell others how to live as a sign of personal insecurity.

As for Dave Neiwert's Ornicus, he is one of my favorites!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Aug 12, 2007 at 01:31:15 PM EST
Parent




WWW Talk To Action


Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (5 comments)
`Just Go Somewhere Else!': A Cavalier Dismissal Of A Serious Concern
A few years ago, I took part in a panel discussion on church-state issues at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Takoma Park, Md. During......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
John Dorhauer Puts Christian Right on Notice
Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer was a front pager here at Talk to Action years before he was elected General Minister and President of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Father Of Falsehoods: Why Ted Cruz's Dad Is Wrong About Prayer In Schools
Many misconceptions abound about the issue of prayer in schools, and some people persist in believing a lot of myths. One of the most......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
A Texas Size Conspiracy
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has recently been indicted by a grand jury for an illegal investment scheme.  He faces felony charges. Word has......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Are the Anti-Planned Parenthood Smear Videos... Investigative Journalism?
I have been glad to see journalism catching up with the anti-Planned Parenthood scam videos. From The Huffington Post to the New England Journal......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Liberty's Latest Ploy: What's Up With The Sanders Invite?
The announcement that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will speak at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Sept. 14 has left a lot of people......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Creeping Christian Rightism in the Democratic Party
The executive director of a DC group with deep roots in the Democratic faith outreach schemes of a decade ago, has a regular column......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Ghosts Over Mississippi
     Clinton, Mississippi is home to historic Mississippi College.  The Southern Baptist school is owned by the state Baptist convention in the Magnolia......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
The Cardinal's Gasbag: Catholic League Leader Rushes To Defend Dolan From AU Criticism
There is a thing called Godwin's Law on the internet. It holds that if an online argument goes on long enough, someone will drag......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Theocratic Politics of Raphael Cruz
"There's a relationship there that's unlike any in American history to my knowledge. We've just never seen anything remotely like this...   I believe......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
An Assassin's Motivation?
On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof quietly sat in the prayer meeting at African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina before he shot......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Christian Right Turns to Nullification to Counter Marriage Equality
Last year in The Public Eye magazine, Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli warned of the trend on the religious and political Right toward......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Historian Gerald Horne on Charleston, Church, & Slave Resistance
Professor Gerald Horne of the University of Houston notes the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was at the center of Black resistance to slavery......
By Chip Berlet (1 comment)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (4 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (1 comment)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.