Religious leaders’ electoral rush to Trump is a self-interested betrayal of trust

“Ecclesiastical establishments” James Madison wrote to his friend William Bradford Jr. in 1774, “tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.” If ever there was proof of Madison’s preternatural wisdom it was the role of organized religion in Donald Trump’s recent electoral victory. In fact, for those of us who take faith and politics seriously, the conduct of America’s major religious voting blocs—Catholics and evangelical Protestants—and, particularly their leaders is further evidence of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy that ought to disqualify them from further influence over the minds of reasonable Americans. Such people, even ...

Regarding Trump’s new pro-life stance: Catholics recognize a con man when they see one

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By now, I think we all know that Donald Trump would hock his kids’ kidneys to win this election. I’m probably being over fastidious, then, to note that I find his most recent attempt to exploit the painfully wrenching issue of abortion particularly offensive. I use the adjective wrenching, I suppose, because I’m a Catholic who personally opposes most therapeutic pregnancy terminations, but still supports the woman’s right to choose. I do so, in part, because the question of abortion’s morality hinges on a question to which we currently have no convincing scientific answer: At what point does life begin? Given our ...

Bernie Sanders is a dangerous combination of idealist and fantasist

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The problem Bernie Sanders poses for Democratic primary voters actually is an old one in public life: How are we to distinguish an idealist from a fantasist? Thursday night, in his Brooklyn Navy Yard debate with frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and Friday, when he addressed a Vatican conference marking the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s social encyclical Centesimus Annus, the crusty Vermont senator came across as a bit of both. This only increases the problem he poses for the party and, particularly for younger Democrats. It’s also true that, when it comes to his electoral survival, Sanders converts rather conveniently to realpolitik. ...

State statues against gays are just homophobia masquerading as religious liberty

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Late in one of the most remarkable of American lives, Thomas Jefferson wrote this to one of his many correspondents: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, ...

Why so little outrage over ISIS genocide against Christians?

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Easter Sunday’s terrorist attack on a Pakistani park that killed 72—25 of them children—and injured more than 300 was simply the latest incident in what ought to be recognized as an ongoing global pogrom against Christians. The park in Lahore, which is designed with play equipment for children, is a longtime favorite of the city’s Catholic and Protestant minority, who congregate there with picnic hampers following Easter services. According to the ISIS-affiliated faction of the Pakistani Taliban, which said it sent the suicide bomber wearing a ball-bearing filled explosive vest into the park, it was targeted because the terrorists wanted to ...

When it comes to the lesson of terrorism and fear, L.A. Times gets the example of Little Tokyo wrong

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In the moments that follow events like those in Brussels, or San Bernardino we look to our news media in the hopes of finding clarity and context—sobriety and a hard-headed humanity when the ugliest passions seethe through our politics. Sometimes we get what we need, but far too often what we find is soft-headed, ill-informed, harmful and just plain wrong. Take, for example a piece that appeared on the Los Angeles’ Times front page the day after the Brussels terror atrocities.  Matt Pearce, one of the paper’s national reporters and Sheldon Chad, a Canadian screenwriter and journalist reporting as a stringer ...

Election 2016: Is this the season of the angry white male?

On Monday, two of American Catholicism’s most prominent conservative  intellectuals—George Wiegel, John Paul II’s biographer, and Princeton law professor Robert P. George—posted an open letter on National Review Online urging Catholics not to vote for Donald Trump. Their appeal, addressed to “our fellow Catholics and all men and women of good will,” was joined by almost 40 coreligionists affiliated with academic institutions and non-profits. These folks are among the fiercest of culture warriors and for years have been trying to use the controversies over reproductive rights and marriage equality to pry Catholic voters out of the Democratic Party. They’ve promulgated the ...

Watching ‘Spotlight’, I was proud of my vocation and ashamed of my church

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Properly practiced, journalism is an honorable, but not a dignified vocation, and the cool, unsentimental way in which Spotlight captures that makes it one of best films ever made about newspaper work. The movie is up for six Academy Awards, and I hope it wins every one—though my friend Joe Morgenstern, the Wall Street Journal’s indispensable film critic, predicts it will get only one for best original screenplay, and he’s usually right about these things. If you’ve yet to see it—and you should see it—“Spotlight” recreates the investigation by the Boston Globe’s four-reporter team of that name that exposed not only widespread ...