Friday, October 4, 2013

Pat Robertson Admires Justice Scalia…Even If He IS Catholic (Sept. 9, 2013)

You might not have seen this relatively minor story where Republican superhero Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave a talk at a Houston theological institute on whether capitalism or socialism was more conducive to Christian values.  What a not-loaded question!  What a random person to answer that question!  Scalia's answer (from the Houston Chronicle):
“The cardinal sin of capitalism is greed, but the cardinal sin of socialism is power. I'm not sure there's a clear choice between those evils.  While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism…it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is. For in order for capitalism to work—in order for it to produce a good and a stable society—the traditional Christian virtues are essential.”
And of course what could be construed as a semi-official endorsement of Christianity gets picked up by CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) News, because The 700 Club's newscast mostly cherry-picks items that either further their agenda (Obama is bad! Republicans are fighting the good fight! Christianity is the bestest!) or illustrate how America is losing its moral compass (anything gay homosexual, anything abortion, anything that keeps anyone from praying or advancing Christianity anywhere, even if it's a public institution doing the promoting because damn it, we're a Christian nation and what happened to that?).

Um…where was I?  Oh right, Scalia likes Christianity.  And Pat Robertson likes Scalia!  Mostly:
“He's a terrific guy, a very charming man, and very, very, very intelligent, and he's right.  You don't have capitalism without the Protestant ethic, without…the idea that before God, you're able to fulfill your destiny, and it's that ethic that's lifted people up out of slavery, poverty, and he's right.  Scalia, by the way, is a dedicated Catholic.  I don't know what that means, but he's a good man.”
Wow.  Pat could have just stopped after his Cliffs Notes edition of Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and it would have been fine, more or less.  (Is his analysis of Weber correct?  Did I read Weber in college?  I don't remember.  Hey, this isn't a sociology blog!)  But he just couldn't let that Catholic thing go, could he?  That "I don't know what that means" at the end?  What he's really saying is, "Protestantism is responsible for capitalism, but Scalia's Catholic, so I don't know exactly where his admiration for capitalism comes from."  But hey! He may be Catholic, but he's still a good guy!

It's not apparent just from watching the on-air 700 Club program, but hostility to Catholicism has historically been pervasive behind the scenes at CBN—and given that CBN is Pat Robertson's ministry and is completely dominated by him, it's difficult to believe that that sort of prevalent hostility operated independent of Robertson's influence. Robert Boston, in The Most Dangerous Man in America?: Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition recounts this incident:
“In 1986, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights…complained to Robertson after one of its members protested anti-Catholic bias at a Houston office of The 700 Club.  The Catholic League member was a volunteer at CBN and alleged that telephone counselors were making anti-Catholic comments to callers.  Reportedly, Catholic callers were told that their church is the 'Whore of Babylon' and were urged to 'come out of her' to be saved.  When the Catholic League volunteer complained about the matter, he was told his services were no longer needed at CBN.”
Then there's what former CBN producer Gerard Straub (1978-80) had to say in his insider account, Salvation for Sale:
“The fundamentalists I worked with at CBN vehemently attacked the satanic Catholic church's belief that the saints could help in a person's healing… They think that if a Catholic prayed to a saint for healing, Satan would heal the person because it would be to his advantage to deceive the person into thinking that the healing was the result of their prayers to the saint.  The Bible never mentions anything about praying to saints.  The fundamentalists believe that Satan uses the church teaching about saints to trick people into not finding God and into following unbiblical teachings.”
Uh-oh.  Scalia believes in the saints.  Oh, well.  Such a nice man.  Too bad he's going to Hell.

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