Opus Dei Priest's Secessionist Roadmap to Theocracy
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 02:28:34 PM EST
Fr. C.J. ("John") McCloskey is in many ways the  American face of the secretive Catholic organization, Opus Dei.  He is a former Wall Streeter, who is well-connected on the Catholic Right and among the political and media elite of Washington, DC. There, he fosters his message of traditional Catholicism and supply-side economics framed with a reactionary view of the American people as being either "Bible Christians and faithful Catholics" or a "...culture of death."

McCloskey recently raised the stakes of his geo-political vision in an essay in which he considers secession in response to  and the continuation of Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land, which he sees as epitomizing the "tyrannical regime" that is the government of the United States.

John McCloskey
Then there is another possibility course of action, which, while ranking low in probability with the bookmakers, should not be ruled out: secession. I wrote about this elsewhere some years ago and stirred up no small amount of controversy. The red state/blue state dichotomy could--perhaps sooner than we might think--result in states opting to pull out of the union. My guess is that if that were to happen, the armed forces of the United States (who tend to be more conservative and religious than the general population) would be reluctant to exercise military force to stop seceding states. In addition, perhaps paradoxically, the generalized modern sense that we should not dictate personal lifestyle choices for others (although it coexists in many liberal minds with intolerance of traditional morality) may make blue states reluctant to impose continued membership in the United States on red states that choose to secede. On the other hand, given the United States' status as a major superpower for the past century, for strategic reasons there may be more official resistance to secession than we might think. We pray the secession option does not happen, but ultimately the protection of innocent life trumps any tyrannical regime that cannot protect even the smallest of its future citizens.

As startling as these assertions may be, they are not new for McCloskey.  As I observed in a post in 2013, the Opus Dei prelate is linked to Catholic neo-Confederate activist Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Indeed, McCloskey is no stranger to the concept of secession:

It is therefore no surprise that among Woods' admirers is the influential Opus Dei priest C. John McCloskey. The former Ivy League-Wall Street laissez-faire apostle-turned-prelate has himself ruminated on the appeal of secession to achieve theocracy. In his infamous futuristic dystopian essay 2030: Looking Backwards he gleefully imagines a violent separation from the United States:

The tens of thousands of martyrs and confessors for the Faith in North America were indeed the "seed of the Church" as they were in pre-Edict of Milan Christianity. The final short and relatively bloodless conflict produced our Regional States of North America. The outcome was by no means an ideal solution but it does allow Christians to live in states that recognize the natural law and divine Revelation, the right of free practice of religion, and laws on marriage, family, and life that reflect the primacy of our Faith. With time and the reality of the ever-decreasing population of the states that worship at the altar of "the culture of death," perhaps we will be able to reunite and fulfill the Founding Fathers of the old United States dream to be "a shining city on a hill."

McCloskey's key phrase is this: "...and laws on marriage, family, and life that reflect the primacy of our Faith." such a statement cannot be mistaken for anything but the intention is to create a theocracy through secession.

The Ghost of John Calhoun

Secessionism has its roots in the philosophy of 19th century South Carolina Senator John Calhoun (1782-1850). Distrustful of democracy, Calhoun was a firebrand who, unlike other Southern politicians who not only described slavery as "a necessary evil," openly proclaimed the peculiar institution to be a positive good, not only for African-Americans (of whom he paternalistically described as, "a people unfit for it [liberty]") but as a means of driving away poor whites he viewed as "shiftless."

Unlike his contemporaries Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln, Calhoun did not believe Americans were a people; instead, only individuals and groups of people who took their identities by their home state or by their particular section of United States. Disdaining numerical democracy, he believed that minorities had to be protected - albeit, certain elite minorities: the slaveholder but not the slave. To that end, Calhoun developed the concept of "concurrent majorities."

Calhoun knew that the northern urban centers had the numbers to politically prevail over the agrarian south. So in place of numerical expressions of a national will Calhoun substituted the idea that votes would not merely be counted but weighed pursuant to sectional interests and prejudices.

(This view is consistent with what conservative icon Russell Kirk observed to be one of Calhoun's fundamental beliefs: complete equality is incompatible with liberty.)

In any case, Calhoun's notion of weighted sectional interests would serve as justification for individual states to nullify Federal statues locally determined to be unconstitutional. And according to Thomas E. Woods, if nullification is not widely supported a state has another remedy:

In Calhoun's conception, when a state officially nullified a federal law on the grounds of its dubious constitutionality, the law must be regarded as suspended. Thus could the "concurrent majority" of a state be protected by the unconstitutional actions of a numerical majority of the entire country. But there are limits to what the concurrent majority could do. Should the three-fourths of the states, by means of the amendment process, choose to grant the federal government the disputed power, then the nullifying state would have to decide whether it going with the decision of its fellow states or whether it would be better to secede from the Union.

Therein lies the excuse for secession. Upon closer inspection, it is a flimsy excuse to avoid a common minimum standard of basic rights. For all his concern about minority rights, Calhoun was downright hypocritical.

A close review of "concurrent majorities" reveals that the concept is not only ignores the prevailing will of a national consensus it also does not protect the rights of all minorities. Instead, the real life application of concurrent majorities would really mean local self-selected minorities rule. In other words, what would be a national minority in terms of sectionalism would then become that section's prevailing majority.

We need look no further for a good example than the American South on the eve of the Civil War. In 1860 there were 9 million individuals living in Dixie; of those 4 million were African-American slaves with no rights whatsoever. Under this scheme not all individuals share the same minimum standard of rights. At the same time, the white land owning classes fully enjoyed the right to vote, to serve on juries and engage in other civil functions. The notion of concurrent majorities is nothing but a sham; an excuse to cast oppression as a liberty interest.

Neither Woods nor McCloskey advocates the restoration of the institution of slavery. However, they do seek a different system of oppression: theocracy. Ideas such as nullification, secession and concurrent majorities can be used interchangeably to bring about theocracy as they were once used attempting to make permanent human slavery. And just as African-Americans were once denied a minimum standard of natural rights so too would those not practicing a traditionalist Catholic or fundamentalist Christian religious belief. Personal decisions regarding birth control, reproductive rights the marriage equality would be limited by the dictates of ultra-orthodox Christian Applications to secular law, not by the collective will of the nation.

Over the course of more than two centuries as an American people the general movements has to make basic rights more inclusive. This includes the freedom to believe or not to believe as we see fit. Americans have given their lives in the struggle against those who would diminish those rights.  It appears that McCloskey has no qualms about entertaining discredited and treasonous ideas and actions in order to accomplish what cannot be accomplished through the democratic process.

It is disconcerting enough that zombie concepts such as nullification and secession are currently being casually bandied about in the public discourse. It is even more disconcerting when a priest who has the ear of the rich and powerful does so as well.

He's seriously out of step, but I don't see even Pope Francis moving against Opus Dei. Zombie concepts about says it all about where they are coming from politically.

by khughes1963 on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 10:03:33 PM EST

What happens to any nuclear weapons within a state that successfully secedes?

by Frank Cocozzelli on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 08:11:45 AM EST
McCloskey's article is available at Human Life International's (HLI) "Truth and Charity Forum." The title is rather ironic because the site is neither truthful or charitable. In addition, HLI has an extremist background and positions that it shares with American Life League (ALL.) Both groups have theocratic tendencies.

by khughes1963 on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 08:42:36 AM EST

As a former intelligence analyst, I can tell you with certainty that other powers with nuclear weapons--Britain, France, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan--but especially Russia and China, would be extremely concerned about the command-and-control of the nuclear weapons based on land and sea. In the case of a non-violent dissolution, concern may be high but without fear of a nuclear strike occurring. The leadership can reassure other countries that nothing has changed and the new leaders can assure the world that the weapons will not be used. That was essentially the case with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons in Ukraine and Kazakhstan were going to be deactivated. However, in the case of the United States, especially with a high potential for violence, the command-and-control of our nuclear weapons will be of utmost concern to Russia and China, and the rest of the world. Any foreign intelligence service would have to be worried about the Christian Right's control of nuclear weapons, particularly a political-religious elite thinking they were in the End Times and fighting the Anti-Christ's New World Order. And, they would also be concerned about the spread of such Christian Right thinking into the military, especially the Air Force Academy and the officers who control the land-based missiles who believe their commander-in-chief is the supernatural Jesus (or their pastor) rather than the President. And, here we can touch upon the most dangerous aspect of all regarding "birtherism." That pernicious conspiracy theory, at its root, is a claim that President Obama is not the legitimate president and that he does not represent legitimate command authority. Well, if Obama is not the legitimate commander-in-chief at the top of the National Command Authority, then who will they obey???

by James Estrada Scaminaci on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 12:07:54 PM EST

I could see neo-Confederates use them first.

by khughes1963 on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 08:34:38 AM EST

Frank, excellent article--again. I don't get tired of writing that. You only touched upon the subject. McCloskey wants people to fantasize that only a few thousand would be killed as "martyrs." That is patent nonsense. Our own Civil War proves that. But, so does recent history. Elites who advocate secession--whatever their motivation or policy objective--should be held accountable for the almost inevitable genocide that will occur. Tens of millions of persons who were "Americans" one day will suddenly find themselves to be in a country/state that is no longer part of America. The Christian Right, the neo-Confederates, and the white supremacists (all three overlap to some extent) have the same broad enemies list: liberals, Democrats, non-whites, Jews, Muslims, non-traditional Catholics, non-fundamentalist Protestants, Mormons, scientists and free thinkers, feminist women, reproductive rights advocates and providers, and the LGBT community. In the case of the former Yugoslavia, claims to territory which had a three-way ethnic mixture inevitably led to a political-military strategy and policy of "ethnic cleansing" based on religious beliefs, primarily directed against Muslims and Catholics, with the latter two also producing purges against each other. Given the violent rhetoric of the Christian Right, their high degree of a persecution complex coupled to a superiority complex, their language of cosmic warfare against all agents of the Devil, their utter disdain for constitutional and human rights, and their belief in harem warfare of the Bible (killing every many, woman and child)--genocide on a massive scale is in the logical outcome of secession. No one advocating secession should be allowed to fail to address this issue.

by James Estrada Scaminaci on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 12:20:47 PM EST
including the bulk of those serving in the military. I am not worried about civil war. I believe that we as a people are more sensible than that, at least at this moment. I AM worried about Oklahoma City-like bombing, abortion provider assassinations, and other domestic terrorism.

by NancyP on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 06:52:29 PM EST

To us it is dystopian in that. People forget that every dystopian to us is utopian to the rulers. Whether it is IngSoc or Republic of Gilead or those "Free Christian States" of McCloskey's hoped for future.

I wonder how a Protestant version would sit with him? There are extreme right wing elements in Protestantism and Catholicism that seem to find common ground against us. what I am afraid of is that the the Neo-Confederates, Dominionists, Reconstructionists, Neo-Nazis et al have so much in common. So many over lapping agreements they will put aside any differences to get the golden fruit of absolute control over the most dangerous empire on the planet that have ever existed. Only time will tell and we are at their mercy.

by Nightgaunt on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 09:08:28 PM EST

It is a strange situation when religious interests intersect. When they come together over issues of politics, power, and control using their influence to dominate others society suffers under their selfish rule. When faiths (often with serious theological differences) find ways to work together to serve - finding that there is agreement on issues of love, mercy, service to the poor and protection of the earth and its resources, the result is often positive. The community benefits, the groups benefit, and many times both groups discover agreement in areas where their language is used differently, but attempts to describe common goals. The present cooperation politically between some very independent right wing evangelical groups, and a conservative politically active Catholic community to gain political power is doomed to disaster both for the communities where they are active and to the religious communities which they represent. While they gain numbers on issues like abortion/sex ed/birth control/gay marriage or the catch phrase family values - they are manipulated by money interests which leverage their votes into programs which actually destroy family - drive people from churches - and perhaps even more important take their focus away from their own care for families, children in need and the sharing of their basic faith. True discipleship is always about service, not being a "strong man for God" but rather a faithful man service a strong God. Our omnipotent God has entirely to many defenders (of which he has no need) and far to few faithful servants where humility, mercy and acceptance becomes avenues of his grace and power.

by chaplain on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 01:26:43 PM EST
It's time to recover the principles of the Social Gospel.

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