William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Strangers In A Strange Land: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput 2014 Erasmus Lecture

chaput

Just as did the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. CAP., Archbishop of Philadelphia, I am addressing my comments to the remnant. All are welcome to listen, but there will be much I won’t explain.

Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered the First Things Erasmus lecture last night, at the stately Union League Club on Park Avenue. Your intrepid reporter was there. I’m delighted that jack and tie were required; jeans were forbidden. The speech is on line, so instead of relating what his excellency said, what follows is a discussion of his main points.

The title, chosen for its topical relevance and because Chaput is a science fiction fan (I wonder if he knows our Mike Flynn?), describes us. In the world, but not of the world. I can’t quite agree. To me, it feels rather like barbarians have stormed the gates, which were left unlocked and unguarded. It’s our fault they’re here. Well, it used to be a free country. I only wish our guests would be better behaved.

Part of Chaput’s family hails from Quebec, which in 1950 saw 90% of the population attending weekly mass. Now it’s 6%. Sacré bleu no more. Now preaching that homosexual acts are a sin is a hate crime. Hate? Progressives hate being told they’re wrong. They won’t stand for it and they will punish you. No creature on earth has a thinner skin.

Anti-Catholic prejudice in these once United States historically ranged from virulent to mild to practically nonexistent. Chaput predicts its return. Chaput sets the “tipping point” as this past 6 October, when the Supreme Court punted on same sex “marriage”, a non-event which was

the dismemberment of privileged voice that Biblical faith once had in public square…The most disturbing thing about the debate around gay marriage is the destruction of public reason that it has accomplished. Emotion and sloganeering drove the argument. And the hatred that infected the conversation came far less from the so-called homophobes than from the many gay-issue activists themselves. People who uphold a traditional moral architecture for sexuality—marriage and sexuality—have gone in the space of just twenty years from mainstream conviction to the media equivalent or racists and bigots. Now this is impressive. It’s also profoundly dishonest. And evil.”

Remember when stores used to have signs which read “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”?

You bigot. Now even some of those who call themselves libertarian insist no one has that right. Not when the customer is a member of an officially designated victim group. Christian bakers must bake cakes for same-sex “weddings”, and must even attend reeducation camps for having the temerity to believe their religious convictions trump the “right” of people to pastry on demand.

Remember when we were told that nobody would ever force Christian ministers to perform a same sex “marriage”?

You fool. Two ministers have been threatened with jail for refusing to perform same sex “weddings”. Read about the Secular Inquisition here and here and here. Remember Brandon Eich (here and here)?

It’s always fun to put to progressives questions like, “So if the local KKK went to a black sign maker asking that business to print anti-black messages, then that owner does not have the right to refuse? Or if the Westboro Baptist Church sauntered into a restaurant in San Francisco’s Castro district, a restaurant run by LBGT owners and which often rents itself out to private groups, and demanded to hold their annual anti-homosexual meeting there, those owners have no right to refuse?”

It’s fun because you will find suddenly that the libertarian or progressive has an appointment he can’t miss; or you will hear the Distraction Fallacy. “Priests abused kids!” Like Chaput said. Emotion and sloganeering. Reasoned argument no longer has a place.

We need a better word for the enemies of Christianity. I suggest the old standby pagan. Chaput himself called the fallen Catholics of Canada “baptized pagans.” It is an apt word. It describes the coming world well. A self-infatuated oligarchy lording over a mass of self-infatuated people who eschew religion but embrace “spirituality”. Yoga, anyone? “Religion,” Chaput said, “is [now] just another form of self medicating.”

Democracy guarantees this outcome (this is me, not Chaput). This isn’t the place for a complete explanation, but here is a sketch. When the populace more-or-less agreed on Christian fundamentals, voting made sense; consensus was possible. But now that Christianity is ebbing, it must be replaced by something else. People do not vote based on nothing. We’re split now, a Civil Culture War, but the pagans will surely win.

What these earnest intolerant people don’t understand is that many of their notions are still Christian. As Chaput said, it was only twenty years ago that most pagans held the traditional Christian view of sexuality. That’s gone. But the pagans still hold the Christian view of the sanctity of life—for those who escape the womb—and of the family, and they have yet an instinctive respect for learning, ideas, and reasonable disputes. These are going.

Emotion and sensuality (Chaput’s word) will rule individuals. The intelligent, which increasingly means the rich, know how to manipulate emotions. People will vote cheerfully for their own demise and enslavement. The only possible escape I see is some crisis in which the classic Strong Man emerges, and either dictatorship or kingship arises.

Chaput’s solution? Well, what’s our goal? You already know. Thus prayer and joy and hope. Worship. Eliminate clericalism in clerics and the laity. Eliminate laziness in the laity and their instructors. We all also already know the principles by which we should live. Live them and don’t try and fit in.

As Tiny Tim said, God bless us, everyone!

Update We’ve heard from some of our non-Christian (but post-Christian) friends, but none so far have chosen to answer the KKK-Westboro hypotheticals. Of course, it’s a better question to put to progressives.

Update Chip convinced me about some libertarians, so I’ve modified above to “some”.

56 Comments

  1. How about we call the enemies of Christianity “bigoted haters”. It fits their definition of the words?

    Yes, we will fall into paganism, those who supported and embraced the idea will then find that pagans always need a target of hate and after they drive religion out, then a new target must be found. One that the supporters embrace, since that’s all that’s left. It is amazing to me that people do not see that “emotional rule” means you always need an enemy and it matters not who it is. You are the government’s friend today and worst enemy tomorrow when the government declares one of your behaviours taboo and you become their target. There is no other possible outcome. There must be a target of hate. Yet, there’s always shock when it happens.

    It’s very true that people will cheerfully vote for their own demise. When I had first read “1984” and “Brave New World” I wondered how these could come about. Now I no longer ask–it’s quite obvious that people run willingly into the ideals and enslave themselves with abandon. Remarkable when you think about it.

    What do we do? Yes, we don’t fit in. We keep telling people what is happening, even when they don’t listen. Because when the “utopias” these people signed up for devour them and they realize what they have actually created, there will have to be enough people left to teach others how to once again think for themselves and return to freedom. Then the cycle repeats.

  2. Briggs, “Now even those who call themselves libertarian insist no one has that right.” Do you have a reference for this as it is not the impression that I get? Also why are you lumping them in with progressives?

    “Chaput is a science fiction fan”. I never saw SF as friendly to religion, especially RC. There are a few exceptions, I suppose.

    “Anti-Catholic prejudice in these once United States historically ranged from virulent to mild to practically nonexistent.” This is certainly true as described in detail by that great libertarian Murray Rothbard in his book “Conceived in Liberty”. It might help if RC stopped condemning non-RC to eternal damnation although they are not the only church to do this. Calling opponents pagans may not help either; how about heathens?

    “Eliminate clericalism in clerics and the laity.” May I suggest that the church (all of them) also eliminate the current addiction to the green kool aide and to reevaluate the long term addiction to socialism. Maybe a course in Austrian economics should be added to the seminary. This would require a reinterpretation of parts of the New Testament but I leave that up to the Magisterium.

    Otherwise I agree with much of what you say. 😉

  3. Lost in spam again. I’m beginning to think that you don’t like me. 🙁

  4. Briggs

    October 21, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Scotian,

    Akismet has been throwing errors lately. I managed to rescue your comment.

    To answer.

    It isn’t the Church that condemns people to eternal damnation, of course. Everybody is free to ignore the message. Maybe it’ll even be illegal to give it. Who knows?

    Quite right about the socialism. Chaput did say that the Church does not, and should not, seek power for its own sake and that it isn’t dependent, and shouldn’t see, any particular political system. Except to ask of all systems for religious freedom. Still, it is to be wished that some Church leaders understand that coercive taxation is not the same as charity. Chaput also reminded us that if we do not care for the poor, “we go to hell.”

  5. Sander van der Wal

    October 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    With Europe being much more Pagan in the sense described here, and with the Europeans *importing* the American stance, I am afraid this is an American habit, and not a Pagan one.

    And one that has very good public relations. The European Left used to hate the guts of everything American but nowadays they are so utterly lost for ideas they are importing the stuff without even pretending to put a proper Left gloss on it.

  6. I had posited that since “by power vested in me” included God and state, the state would likely try to trump anything God had to say.

    My idea (probably anathematic), IF a minister found that the state decided to hold veto power over God, the minister could relinquish his/her state license to marry.

    The thought experiment I posited was that IF a minister did so:

    A. Would people get married by the minister alone? (relinquishing whatever benefits accorded by the state?)
    B. Would they get married by state approved methods not religious at all (for purposes of my thought experiment all churches relinquish, unless it’s the Church of GLBTetc.)?
    C. Would they get married by both.

    Extra Thought Experiment Credit: What if (all) churches forbade state sponsored marriage?

    When I first posited, a GLBT supporter said ministers would NOT be forced to go against their church tradition – (I left it at that)

  7. We need a better word for the enemies of Christianity. I suggest the old standby pagan. Chaput himself called the fallen Catholics of Canada “baptized pagans.” It is an apt word. It describes the coming world well.

    Couldn’t disagree more with this designation and line of thought. Pagan ought refer to the highest and best that man can attain with natural reason. Christianity absorbed paganism into itself. Liberal Christianity is almost precisely the opposite of pagan. Liberal Christianity begins with an iconoclastic attempt to rid itself of its pagan nature (banning festivals, bells, smells, and popery, de-sacramentalizing marriage and holy orders, etc.).

    Guess what you get when you expunge Christianity of its pagan half. Well… what’s left? That’s right, Judaism.

    Chaput is wrong to call them “baptized pagans”. Protestant (or Judaized, same difference) Catholics is much closer to the reality.

    Progressivism is memetic retrovirus that attaches itself to the germ DNA of successful memeplexes, permanently altering their memetic (qua genetic) code. This it has done, uniquely and (I believe) contingently, to Christianity. Progressivism did not, would not, and probably cannot attach itself to paganism, for the simple fact that paganism tends to be anti-universal and anti-ideological. Progressivism is energized by Christian teaching—deracinated, deformed, but uniquely and identifiably Christian teaching. This is not a pagan problem. It is a Christian (memetically so to speak) problem.

  8. Briggs, “It isn’t the Church that condemns people to eternal damnation, of course.” In answer I will quote a great man who said: “I tell my students that kind of answer is (technical term coming) a dodge.”

    All the churches (not quite all) give the same answer. Maybe they should spend less time condemning each other and more time doing useful work. They are like those competing popes who excommunicated each other.

    “Everybody is free to ignore the message.” They were not always free to ignore the message. Maybe this is where the progressives got the idea from.

    “Chaput also reminded us that if we do not care for the poor, “we go to hell.”” A fire and brimstone preacher is he? Maybe you can remind me how this is less coercive than taxation. The best method to care for the poor is not the method most often suggested in the NT, i.e. giving all personal wealth to the poor and wearing the sack cloth. If universally adopted this would lead to the barest of subsistence living for all. The Puritan settlers almost starved, actually many did, when they first applied the NT inspired method of share and share alike. They only prospered when they, in desperation, switched to a free market system. The OT understood this where Joseph advises the Pharaoh to store grain in good years for use of famine years to come. One of the parables of the NT condemns the same behaviour as greed. What is a good Christian to do?

  9. I see Sander van der Wal is calling it American. This is very close to my viewpoint when we conceive of “American” as uniquely and aggressively protestant (which it is always has been, never less than today).

    Scotian suggests “heathen”. Well that is better than “pagan”, but I think it ignores the uniquely (yet deformed) Christian roots of this problem. Unbaptized heathens remain among the most resistant peoples to <Insert Perversion>-identity normalization.

  10. Briggs

    October 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Nick,

    Oh, we agree that Progressivism is a mutated and misguided form of Christianity—say, ultra-Calvinist or something like that—a Christianity where God has been replaced by a combination of State and Self. That’s at the top. Of course, the leaders don’t see themselves as that, so to call them any term which has Christian in it won’t get their attention.

    Anyway, I meant “pagan” merely in the old-fashioned usage, as that which came before Christianity. And it’s apt to describe the gods of environmentalism (Nature) and various “spiritualities”, which are found mainly in the middle class.

    But I’m open for a better word. Simply “progressives”?

    Update I see the “heathen” comment. Don’t love it. Too judgmental. (Kidding, I’m kidding.)

    Scotian,

    Dodge? But it isn’t the Church’s, you know. It’s Jesus’s. The Church is merely passing on the information. Is there a place, though, in the West where people aren’t free to ignore message? Where?

    Plus a pope hasn’t excommunicated another pope in years!

  11. Sander van der Wal

    October 21, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Post-Progressive Christianity maybe. Over here, the staunch Calvinists, a people not known for being Progressive, want none of it.

  12. Perhaps he’s not a scifi fan. Perhaps he’s just read Exodus. (The Bible book not the novel).

  13. Briggs,
    “But it isn’t the Church’s, you know. It’s Jesus’s. The Church is merely passing on the information.” This is why I claim that the RC Church is more into literalism than most of the Protestant ones. I wonder though, does anyone really understand his own faith? In any case you are missing my main point, which is the strange spectacle of Catholics pouting that no one will play with them while at the same time claiming (for whatever reason) that all the other kids in the playground are damned.

    “Is there a place, though, in the West where people aren’t free to ignore the message?”: If they are now free it is because of the very secularism that you are condemning. This wasn’t a freedom willing conceded by, at least, the Catholic Church. This freedom is what led to the proliferation of churches in the New England colonies to begin with, although not without a great deal of resistance by more established churches.

  14. Sheri,
    Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is a better allegory for the willing surrender of freedom.

    “We need a better word for the enemies of Christianity. ” Jesus used an inclusive term when warning his disciples about inevitable opposition — “the world.”

  15. Heinlein had rather strong views about religion:

    http://atheism.about.com/library/quotes/bl_q_RHeinlein.htm

    Stranger In a Strange Land also inspired the formation of a “church” called “The Church of All Worlds”. (Doesn’t quite jibe with the book’s version because, analogous to the Koran, the CAW scripture can only be truly understood in Martian.)

  16. Gary—I haven’t read Animal Farm, so I don’t know. I guess the two I mentioned seemed to really look like society today. I’ll have to trust your judgement on this one.

    I like your choice of terms—”the world” is perfect.

  17. Matt,

    Maybe you ought to have a look at this from Ilya Shapiro of (the libertarian) Cato Institute:

    “On Thursday, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in Elane Photography v. Willcock that the First Amendment doesn’t protect a photographer’s right to decline to take pictures of a same-sex wedding against the requirements of the state’s Human Rights Act, which forbids discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation. This is a terrible result, for the freedom of speech and association, and for religious liberty. As I’ve argued before, even supporters of marriage equality (and equality generally) should not be blind to other violations of fundamental rights.”

    http://www.cato.org/blog/new-mexico-court-wrong-government-must-treat-people-equally-individuals-should-have-liberty

    -Chip

  18. The Federal courts have all held that the 13th amendment that abolished slavery also prohibits all forced labor. The courts have ruled that you can’t force someone to work for you or penalize them if they refuse to work for you. If I were the baker I’d be filing a suite in Federal court for a violation of my constitutional rights .

  19. Interesting point, Ray. I do wonder how that would work out.

  20. Oops! That darned spell checker screwed up again. Change “baker” to “photographer”.

  21. Nullius in Verba

    October 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    “I do wonder how that would work out.”

    It won’t work. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees all people the right to “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” There are various state laws that broaden it to other classes, such as sexual orientation. It was basically introduced to end segregation.

    A “public accommodation” means any business that may be considered to be open to the general public, such as shops and service providers. Nobody can make you work against your will, but if you do offer to work in a business open to the public, you can’t pick and choose who to serve.

    Yes, it’s illiberal. No, libertarians don’t agree with it. Libertarians don’t like bigotry, but would defend the rights of bigots to be bigots, and to choose who to do business with, so long as doing so conforms to the ‘harm principle’. Likewise, we’d support the right of people to refuse to do business with Christians or other religions, atheists, men, women, blacks, whites, rich, poor, blondes, brunettes, tall people, short ones, people with tattoos, wearing socks with sandals, people with little yappy dogs on the end of a long bit of string, or people who like bagpipe music. We would consider such prejudices to be foolish, but there ought to be no law against being a fool.

    Sadly, libertarians don’t get to write the laws (as the great American public don’t generally vote for libertarian politicians), so you’re stuck with it being illegal. And frankly, there’s worse things to worry about. You’re just selling a service – you’re not responsible for what people do with it. If it’s a sin, that’s their problem.

  22. Briggs

    October 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Chip,

    Would there were more like Shapiro—both public and, I assume, private supporters of religious liberty.

    Thanks.

  23. Nick Steves, as a convert from (secular) Judaism to Catholicism, I’d say you know very little about Jewish ceremony. When I first attended Mass I was amazed at how much of the liturgy stemmed from Jewish practice. And there are references to this. See “The Jewish Roots of the Mass”
    http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/eucharist/upload/catsun-2011-doc-pitre-roots.pdf
    or Google “Jewish roots of the Mass” for many other references.
    A little anti-semitism goes a long way in these comments.

  24. Sheri, do read Animal Farm. It’s simplicity makes the evil it portrays so much sharper. Even children can understand it easily. It should be required reading in middle school as inoculation against the totalitarian tendency.

  25. “Strangers in a Strange Land” – title of a 1961 science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein. This is taken from Exodus 2:22 and 1 Peter 2:11-12.

  26. George Orwell wasn’t predicting the future in his novel “1984”. He was writing a satire on what things would be like if the intellectuals took over, something Orwell believed would never happen. He wrote the book in 1948 and simply switched 48 for 84 for the title. Nevertheless, it seems much of what he wrote has come true.
    For an insightful comparison of “1984” and Huxley’s vision in “Brave New World”, google the Forward of Neil Postman’s seminal work “Amusing Ourselves to Death”. It can be read in a few minutes.

  27. Fiction writers generally are not trying to prophetic, as far as I know. There’s also Ayn Rand, who in some aspects was very accurate about where we are now. “1984” and “Brave New World” were also accurate in some ways. I’m sure there are a ton of fiction books that we never have nor ever will approximate. It’s just that we notice the ones that seem to have foreseen the future. It’s what makes psychics rich and statisticians cringe! 🙂

    (I will check out your suggest reading. As for Animal Farm, no promises. I’m not good with such obvious fiction, but maybe.)

  28. @ Nullius in Verba
    How can legislation overturn the constitution and Federal court rulings?

  29. “The theologian considers sin mainly as an offense against God; the moral philosopher as contrary to reasonableness.” Sadly, we are devoid of all reasonableness.

  30. Heinlein was a professional puttings words on paper so as to make a lot of money. As a person, he was pretty much a dick head.

  31. In a wedding, isn’t it the couple who does the marrying with the priest as witness? If the Church got out of the business of supplying the civil witness it might head off at the pass troubles down the road for priests who refuse to witness gay “marriages” the state says they are legally bound to witness?

  32. More Cato/libertarian support of religious (and personal) freedom, re: Coeur d’Alene case:

    http://overlawyered.com/2014/10/idaho-hitching-post-case/

    -Chip

  33. Yes, it’s illiberal. No, libertarians don’t agree with it. Libertarians don’t like bigotry, but would defend the rights of bigots to be bigots, and to choose who to do business with, so long as doing so conforms to the ‘harm principle’. Likewise, we’d support the right of people to refuse to do business with Christians or other religions, atheists, men, women, blacks, whites, rich, poor, blondes, brunettes, tall people, short ones, people with tattoos, wearing socks with sandals, people with little yappy dogs on the end of a long bit of string, or people who like bagpipe music. We would consider such prejudices to be foolish, but there ought to be no law against being a fool.

    This is a serious problem with some libertarians; the incapacity or unwillingness to distinguish between justified and unjustified discrimination.

  34. Maybe the libertarians don’t distinquish is because it’s purely subjective what is justified and what is not. It’s also cultural and religious. Seems like they recognize the whole idea for what it is—trying to control other people’s behaviour.

  35. Nullius in Verba

    October 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    “How can legislation overturn the constitution and Federal court rulings?”

    It doesn’t. As I explained, nobody can force you to work, but if you do choose to work in a public enterprise, you can’t pick and choose which members of the public to work for. It’s all or none.

    “George Orwell wasn’t predicting the future in his novel “1984”. He was writing a satire on what things would be like if the intellectuals took over, something Orwell believed would never happen.”

    Almost all future fiction is about the present, transplanted into an unfamiliar setting so that the stuff we normally don’t notice because it’s so familiar can be highlighted. Nineteen Eighty Four was actually about society in 1948, all the stuff he talked about already existed back then, and had done for centuries. The details change but the principles stay the same.

    Specifically, it was written as a result of Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish civil war, where he and a lot of other leftists first came across the Communist International, and saw how they operated and what they had planned for Europe. Orwell thought there was a serious danger that the authoritarianism of Eastern Europe would spread west, with many sympathizers already working to twist Western societies from within.

    he Ministry of Truth was partly based on his time working for the BBC and the Ministry of Information. The use of war and external threat as a way to unify society and quell dissent is a common totalitarian tactic. His ‘prolefeed’ is a throwback back to Juvenal’s ‘bread and circuses’. The distortion of the language to change the accepted meaning of words is a standard propaganda technique. The names of government ministries to mean the twisted opposite of what the ministry actually does applied back then, too. And so on.

    He was really writing about how the totalitarian aspects in human society work. It was as relevant in his day as it is today.

    Similarly, Atlas Shrugged was really about Ayn Rand’s childhood living in Russia through the Communist revolution, and what this revealed about how Socialism really works. It’s only prophetic because people haven’t changed, and haven’t learned.

  36. Maybe the libertarians don’t distinquish is because it’s purely subjective what is justified and what is not. It’s also cultural and religious. Seems like they recognize the whole idea for what it is—trying to control other people’s behaviour.

    Are all judgments/ discriminations purely subjective? Even the claim itself? That would be self-defeating. And, how, considering the examples of the celebrants, bakers, etc. are their discrimination’s, whether or not they are justified, “attempts to control other people’s behaviour”? They’re not.

  37. We would consider such prejudices to be foolish, but there ought to be no law against being a fool.

    This doesn’t follow. Preferences cannot be foolish or immoral within a liberatarian framework, at least one that is a form of preference utilitarianism. A preference is just that, a preference.

  38. Scotian:

    The claim that all those who lack visible membership in the Catholic Church are damned is called Feeneyism. Pius XII condemned it as heretical.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/scriptur/feeney.txt

  39. Nullius in Verba

    October 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    “This is a serious problem with some libertarians; the incapacity or unwillingness to distinguish between justified and unjustified discrimination.”

    All forms of discrimination are justified according to the person doing the discriminating.

    From a libertarian point of view, the distinction is based on the Harm Principle.

    “The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

    “And, how, considering the examples of the celebrants, bakers, etc. are their discrimination’s, whether or not they are justified, “attempts to control other people’s behaviour”?”

    I already said – a libertarian would argue that a baker ought to be able to serve or not serve whoever he wants, for any reason, so long as it does no harm to others. (And since the customer can easily go elsewhere and get the service they want, no harm is done.) Conversely, the customer forcing the baker to serve them is contrary to the principle, and a libertarian would oppose it.

    But like I said, the problem is that libertarians are not voted into government by the public, so the laws are not required to be liberal. As the law is written, the customer was in the right, and it doesn’t violate the letter of the constitution.

  40. dover_beach: Of course they are trying to control someone else’s behaviour or they would have just gone elsewhere. I’m pretty certain there’s more than one baker in town. Going to court and suing for discrimination is nothing more than an attempt to gain the upper hand–king of the mountain game to prove who’s bigger and tougher. It’s flat out mean and nasty. No other way to look at it. Just isn’t. (Nellius covered much of this, I’m just reiterating.)

    There is absolutely no way to argue that the homosexuals are not the one’s trying to damage the baker. They did so out of mean spiritedness and the desire to force everyone to say their immorality is moral. They harmed the baker most definitely and they meant to. Who’s to say they did not deliberately go to said baker just to attack him for not calling their behaviour moral? Attacking someone who disagrees with you and trying to ruin them is what you’re championing? The baker did not call around and tell all bakers not to serve these two. He is the one attacked and damaged. Pure and simple. It’s bullying at its best.

  41. Brian,
    I am familiar with the position presented in your link and I see it as supporting my claim and not yours. It boils down to these two exceptions to full RC membership. Ignorance of the existence of RC doctrine can be forgiven if you are virtuous enough. This mostly applies to BC, the very young, or people living in places untouched by the modern world. This exception does not relate to any claim of mine. The second exception is for people who despite their attendence in a non-RC religious institute nevertheless follow all the RC procedures that they have studied in their spare time and thus secretly reject the beliefs of the religion they nominally belong to, can be considered for salvation. However if you take that Protestant religion (for example) of yours seriously, you are damned. This is consistent with the claims that I have made. Here, as a good christian, I must control myself and not say what I might wish to say.

  42. Scotian:
    Let my brother not grow impatient with me if I go on.

    Perhaps I mistook your meaning. Your comments above gave me the impression that you claim the Catholic Church teaches that anyone not in visible communion with her is condemned to hell.

    I pointed out that this belief is the heresy of Feeneyism, which the Catholic Magisterium has condemned.

    Now you add the qualification that people ignorant of, or giving secret intellectual assent to, Catholic doctrine are excluded from your claim.

    Very well. You’ve defined your terms. Let’s proceed according to them.

    Since you stated the Catholic position as, “However if you take that Protestant religion (for example) of yours seriously, you are damned,” I’ll continue in light of Protestants who take their religion seriously.

    First, the exceptions made for those who have never had the chance to hear the Gospel do show the possibility of salvation for people lacking visible communion with the Church. We can thus deduce the principle that God is not bound by the sacraments. He can save whomever He wants.

    Second, though the EWTN link only quotes Lunmen Gentium 16, which refers only to the above case, LG 15 says of Protestants:

    “The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter…Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit….”

    Bear in mind that the preceding appears in the context of hope for salvation.

    Finally, the Holy Office’s letter condemning Feeney states that invincible ignorance can excuse a man from explicitly desiring visible membership in the Catholic Church. Living in a culture hostile to Catholic teachings and/or being scandalized by corrupt bishops are good ways to become impervious to the Church’s arguments.

    P.S. your admirable restraint testifies to the Spirit of Charity at work within you!

  43. Two questions:
    The meaning of ‘Church’, as used in the current conversation, needs clarification. Does it refer only to the Catholic Church or in its broader sense, does ‘Church’ refer to the society of believers in Jesus Christ?

    Is it possible that a fetus or an infant who dies unbaptized can communicate on some level during his transition from earthly life to his judgment before God his desire to accept Christ and thus enter heaven?

  44. Ed: Why would the fetus or infant need to? Is this a Catholic thing (I’m guessing it is) since no protestant church I’ve been to or studied would even ask the question. It is assumed that children, especially infants, are not culpable until a certain age. God allows a learning curve, sort of. Sins of the father?

  45. NiV:

    All forms of discrimination are justified according to the person doing the discriminating.

    Sure, but whether or not they are in fact justified is a different question. And the Harm Principle is no great help either because it depends on a particularly narrow view of harm, among other things.

    Sheri, I’m not sure why you think I’m suggesting that the celebrants are the one’s attempting to control anyone’s behavior here.

  46. Dover: I don’t think you are suggesting that the “celebrants” are the ones attempting to control another’s behaviour—that is my claim.

  47. Nullius in Verba

    October 23, 2014 at 11:04 am

    “And the Harm Principle is no great help either because it depends on a particularly narrow view of harm, among other things.”

    It’s as broad as I want to make it.

    If you let it go broader, you eventually wind up with people classifying cake-baking discrimination against homosexuals as ‘harmful’, among other things.

  48. Brian, from reading your earlier link it would appear that most of the past popes and many of the current priests and bishops are guilty of the heresy of Feeney.

    “We can thus deduce the principle that God is not bound by the sacraments. He can save whomever He wants.” This makes it sound as if the RC Church is turning to Calvinism.

    “Living in a culture hostile to Catholic teachings and/or being scandalized by corrupt bishops are good ways to become impervious to the Church’s arguments.” I am not sure what you are getting at here. But at a guess, it seems to express the well known contempt the RC Church has for all things Protestant coupled with a feeble attempt to soften the position less the Church make even more enemies than it has already. It is not enough. I say this even though there are many things that I admire about the Catholic Church. I like the daily mass posted on You Tube from St. Basil’s Church in Toronto. Not all but many.

  49. Sheri,
    Here’s the dilemma. The Catholic Church teaches that Baptism and a clean soul are required to enter heaven. While a fetus and an unbaptized infant may not be guilty of any grave sins, if they lack Baptism they are out of luck getting into heaven. Which means they end up in hell. Sounds unfair, no? For a while the Church tried Limbo on for size, sort of a watered down heaven, to resolve this predicament. It never sat well and was dumped. Still the problem remained. I offered for discussion the possibility that a fetus/infant who dies without baptism (hell bound) but free from all sin (heaven bound) has the opportunity in the moments before his death to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior (baptism of desire) and thus enter heaven.

  50. Sheri,
    Here’s the dilemma. Baptism and a clean would are required to enter heaven. Fetuses have clean souls but lack baptism. This would seem to disqualify them from heaven which leaves hell as the final destination. But is this fair? What to do? Limbo, sort of a watered down was bandied about but it never sat right with most folks. I’m suggesting that before the moment of death/judgment fetuses have the opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and thus gain heaven.

  51. Correction to typo:
    ….Baptism and a clean soul…,, not …Baptism and a clean would…
    What’ a would?

  52. Ed: That’s kind of what I thought. The entire idea makes little sense to me–that infants somehow are required to have parents who baptize them or else they can’t get into heaven (I knew of a priest who refused to baptize an infant because the parents were not believers—wonder how that works…..). I have read other interpretations by some Catholic sites, so I would guess that this is never a “settled” thing.
    This would also mean that all religious practitioners that don’t baptize are headed straight for hell, would it not? It’s not as exclusionary as “only Catholics go to heaven” but it certainly would cut down on the number in heaven, wouldn’t it? I do realize that most religious denominations hold that view. The Jehovah Witnesses seem to be trying to lose that image by saying “they don’t know—it’s up to God”. That seems a rational approach. After all, it’s God’s heaven.

  53. “Sure, but whether or not they are in fact justified is a different question. And the Harm Principle is no great help either because it depends on a particularly narrow view of harm, among other things.”

    If harm can be described as someone not seeing you or giving you their property than everyone is being harmed by everyone. You are harming me by failing to give me your car.

  54. Nullius in Verba

    October 26, 2014 at 6:37 am

    “If harm can be described as someone not seeing you or giving you their property than everyone is being harmed by everyone.”

    Fortunately, it isn’t.

    The ‘Harm Principle’ comes from JS Mill’s essay ‘On Liberty’. It’s long, and the slightly more formal 19th century language does put some younger people off (attention spans seem to be getting shorter), but it’s still probably one of the best explanations around of the Enlightenment principles of free speech and tolerance.

    It’s not perfect, and many philosophers have spent time arguing the difficult cases and exceptions, but it’s a good starting point for understanding where libertarians are coming from.

    You can find the full essay here: http://www.bartleby.com/130/

  55. Sheri,
    Thanks for your thoughts. The Church’s idea of baptism extends beyond the usual dunking in water variety. There is also baptism of desire which I believe covers cases where an unbaptized person would choose to be baptized if he/she only knew what it was about – e.g., an infant or someone in a faraway jungle who never heard of Jesus and his pathway to heaven. Not baptizing the child of parents who are non-believers is tricky. Baptism (for Catholics, a sacrament) is much more than the opening act for throwing a big party for the newborn. It’s the initiation into the Christian Club. Why in the world would those who don’t believe in the club want their newborn to be in it? This reminds me of girls who want to be married in a church because the building would flatter their wedding gowns in photographs but who have no intention of ever setting foot inside once the reception hangover has worn off.

  56. Ed: Thanks for the explanation.

    My guess is the parents were “hedging their bet” on whether or not there was an afterlife and if there was and it required baptism, their child was “covered”.

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