Steve Bannon’s dubious crusade

Europe is sick. Despite its apparent material success, a spiritual sickness pervades it that politics will not cure.

Pope Francis shares this view. In the United States, the pope may be known as a sharp critic of President Trump, but he has also been vocal about the trends that have led to populist backlashes in the Americas and in Europe. In 2014, for instance, Francis said: “Europe is tired. We have to help rejuvenate it, to find its roots. It’s true: It has disowned its roots.”

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A bastardized form of Christianity may, in fact, hasten Europe’s decline.

Even for some non-Christians, Christianity offers a grounding for European culture that has become dangerously depleted. The famously secular German philosopher Jürgen Habermas has admitted that the West, especially liberal democracy, depends upon Christians as a creative minority for key values of conscience and human rights. Mr. Habermas argues: “To this day, we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.”

But a bastardized form of Christianity cannot provide this nourishment and may, in fact, hasten Europe’s decline. This is the risk posed by Stephen K. Bannon, a former adviser to the Trump administration, who has embarked on his own project to rejuvenate Europe. The politics he offers has only a veneer of Christianity, intended to justify his political aims. And his notion of Europe is perhaps just as shallow, ignoring the profound spiritual and intellectual challenges that predate the continent’s latest demographic changes.

Inclusion and civility are often dismissed as pieties of procedural liberalism. But ut unum sint (“that they may be one”) is the message of Christianity. A politics that divides is not good politics. And it is not good for Chrisitanity.

Bannon’s ‘Gladiator School’ Takes Shape

Mr. Bannon has caused a stir with his plans to found near Rome what he calls the Academy for the Judeo-Christian West. The imagination has run wild as many speculate about a “gladiator school” for neopopulist ideologues, even after the Italian government blocked plans to site the school at an ancient Carthusian monastery.

The political strategist is not starting from scratch. He is building upon the work of the English political activist Benjamin Harnwell, who founded and runs the Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Mr. Harnwell has advocated for Christian politics for several years in the European Parliament, including drafting a “Universal Declaration of Human Dignity.” The D.H.I. presents the imago Dei as the center of Christian politics and has promoted it by organizing members of the European Parliament and now by founding a school. (It is unclear how the academy would relate to “The Movement,” Mr. Bannon’s umbrella organization in Brussels for Euro-skeptic parties in the European Parliament.)

Mr. Bannon’s proposed school is described by the D.H.I. website as “an initiative defending the Judaeo-Christian foundations of Western Civilisation based on the recognition that every single person without exception is made in the image and likeness of God.”

That initiative, the D.H.I. website notes, “is a direct response to a growing secularist intolerance to Christians of all confessions that has led to a myriad of attacks on human dignity.” The D.H.I. cites many examples of “intolerance” and “attacks,” including the legalization of euthanasia and abortion, the “redefinition” of marriage, and “a growing reliance on the state for welfare, entitlements and other assistance,” which “is undermining human dignity by removing a person’s own sense of duty and personal responsibility.”

More specifically, many observers, and the D.H.I. itself in its literature, link the foundation of the D.H.I. in 2008 to Italy’s withdrawal of Rocco Buttiglione as a candidate for the European Commission in 2004. Mr. Buttiglione, a Catholic political scientist and politician who was close to St. John Paul II, came under attack because of his statements about homosexuality (“an indicator of a moral disorder”) and women. “The family exists in order to allow women to have children and to have the protection of a male who takes care of them,” he said at his confirmation hearing.

His nomination sparked debate about the role of Christianity in European politics and culture, with many arguing that the reluctance of the European Parliament to confirm Mr. Buttiglione’s appointment underlined a new intolerance of Christians. As Mr. Harnwell told the Catholic news site Zenit in 2011, “For the first time, I appreciated the extent to which a requirement was being placed on public figures to divest themselves of their Christianity in order to be acceptable to a militant secular environment.”

The D.H.I. says it is fighting “a growing secularist intolerance to Christians of all confessions that has led to a myriad of attacks on human dignity.”

This sort of debate over Christian public witness has trans-Atlantic resonance, and U.S. interest in the D.H.I. increased considerably when two Americans became associated with the institute. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke assumed the presidency of the D.H.I. advisory board in early 2019. This caused a flurry of speculation not only about an unholy alliance between the Catholic political right and members of the church hierarchy, but also between European Christian democracy and Trump-style populists, who together would import American-style culture wars to Europe.

But then Cardinal Burke resigned from the D.H.I. in a dramatic letter in June 2019. With his letter, Cardinal Burke has not only dispelled suspicions of an alliance with Mr. Bannon, but questioned the Catholicity of Mr. Bannon’s project. In his letter of resignation, Cardinal Burke argued that “the Institute has become more and more identified with the political program of Mr. Bannon.” (The cardinal also objected to Mr. Bannon’s endorsement of Frédéric Martel’s book In the Closet of the Vatican, which alleges the presence of an extensive “gay lobby” in the Vatican, and to Mr. Bannon’s “calling into question” of clerical celibacy.)

Despite this setback, Mr. Bannon has attracted a great deal of attention to a project that has not even happened yet. The question is: Can it offer what it claims to?

The failed candidacy of Rocco Buttiglione, center, for the European Commission in 2004 sparked debate about the role of Christianity in European politics and culture. (European People’s Party photo via Creative Commons)

I argue that it cannot. The project, like much of current European populism, seems to have a shallow understanding of both Europe and Christianity. This is particularly troubling in the case of Christianity.

Many political ideologies designate ingroups and outgroups for the benefit of “us versus them” politics. In the United States, the language of exclusion often involves race and ethnicity. For European populism, identity has more often been about religion, and especially an opposition to Islam.

While any identity can become pathological in the service of politics, such tribalism violates the core message of Christianity: the universality of the Gospel. Again, ut unum sint.

The D.H.I. presumably wishes not to engage in such politics, but rather to promote the heart of the Gospel. But Cardinal Burke’s resignation only underlines the urgency of this question: If the D.H.I. desires to promote the imago Dei, why would it work with Mr. Bannon, a man who is now at loggerheads with church officials from Pope Francis to Cardinal Burke?

A West That Belongs Without Believing

Most Christian intellectuals and theologians agree with Mr. Bannon that Christianity played an important role in the foundation of what we call the Western world, one that continues to matter today. It particularly matters in accounts of how the West can revive itself.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has argued that Europe—as not merely a geographic designation but a spiritual entity—is in a crisis because of the loss of its spiritual roots. This crisis is reflected in everything from declining birth rates among Christians to the controversial decision to omit any reference to God in the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, the 2007 text that amended the E.U.’s constitutional structure. Since the Enlightenment, Europe has increasingly adopted a politics of technical reason, one defined against a narrative of the inherent violence of religion but also by the false promise that economic progress can secure eternal peace. This politics has become antipolitical, failing to see that the challenge of politics is the profoundly moral one of attaining peace and justice. Christianity, in its vision of the dignity and rights of humankind, can help Europe reclaim that latter vision of politics and thereby guide the world.

Pope Francis has continued that argument, warning that Europe “will wither” if it does not recover “its own identity, its own unity.” Francis particularly sees Europe’s crisis in its unwillingness to welcome strangers—in other words, to offer charity and also to assimilate new peoples as it has historically done for millennia.

Francis sees Europe’s crisis in its unwillingness to assimilate new peoples as it has done for millennia. 

Both popes see Europe’s challenge as not merely one of identity but as a crisis of faith and reason that goes to the core of human existence. Part of Benedict’s proposed solution is the “mutual purification” of faith and reason, whereby reason can help faith realize its public nature, and, as he said in “God Is Love” (“Deus Caritas Est”), “faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself.”

Needless to say, Benedict is calling for Europe to do a great deal more than reclaim the superficial identity of “Christian.” That is because Benedict sees Europe as more than the protector of a religious identity. It is also the protector of a way of life that cultivates the harmony of faith and reason.

Seeing Europe, or the larger West, as merely grappling with identity fails to see the profound spiritual and intellectual challenges that have been building for centuries. And without an accurate diagnosis, how will we find a cure?

The West Against the Rest

Articulating intellectual challenges does not always make for good politics. It is more profitable to scapegoat enemies. Mr. Bannon and others like to see the West as a mere identity because it allows them to focus on who is not Western. But if Christian and Western merely mean “not Muslim,” then Mr. Bannon and his supporters have not found the true meaning of the West, much less of the Gospel.

The Dutch populist Geert Wilders has said that “our Judeo-Christian culture is far superior to the Islamic one.... I can give you a million reasons.” Many of his supporters were so gleeful at this statement that they missed the obvious: Mr. Wilders is celebrating “Judeo-Christian culture” rather than religion.

Can Christianity be restricted to one culture? Not according to St. Paul, who told the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” And not according to Jesus, who proclaimed himself the bringer of good news to the captive.

Indeed, Christianity spread in its early days because it was as universal as the Roman Empire—much more so, as it turned out. But Christianity’s striking universality has been erased from Mr. Bannon’s understanding of it. It is no longer a lumen gentium (light of nations). Practically, this Christianity no longer feels the imperative to welcome the stranger, to serve as the good Samaritan.

It is not even clear that such a Christianity could survive. A key dynamism of Christianity has been its claim that it transcends any regime and, indeed, the world itself. What is Christianity without transcendence?

Christianity is bigger than the West. Yes, Christianity has important roots in the West that cannot be easily dismissed. But the good news of the Gospel is meant to be a light to all nations.

The great irony in Mr. Bannon’s project is that to strengthen populism, he is invoking a Christianity that is itself weakened. He speaks as though the “Judeo-Christian” religion does not need to revitalize itself but rather faces only external threats.

Mr. Bannon is moving against the current of the spiritual giants of our time, all of whom see the need for Christianity to renew its universalism. 

In remarks delivered to a 2014 conference on poverty held in the Vatican, for instance, he said, “We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict” and that people of faith must fight “against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.” Mr. Bannon attacked not only “a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities and to objectify people” (which is not too far off from Pope Francis’ “throwaway culture” critiques) but also said that the “Judeo-Christian West” is under threat from both “immense secularization” and “jihadist Islamic fascism.”

Other observers say the most honest approach for the church is to look within.

Christianity has weathered the Great Schism, the Reformation, the rise of capitalism, the Enlightenment and the malaise of late modernity, but not without a few wounds. Recent popes have seen the need to nurture the heart of Christianity.

U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke resigned from the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, saying it has become "more and more identified with the political program" of Mr. Bannon. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

St. John Paul II famously called for a “new evangelization,” particularly within those lands that were once at the heart of Christendom. Benedict XVI called for the world to see faith as an encounter with a person. Pope Francis both teaches and exemplifies the name of God: mercy. But all three have urged Christians to see faith in Christ as transcending any particular time and place.

Mr. Bannon proposes the opposite, linking Christianity to a specific culture. But he is tying the fortunes of Christianity to a culture that has largely already rejected it. He is also setting it against other cultures, presenting Christianity to much of the world as an enemy.

In all of these ways, Mr. Bannon is moving against the current of the spiritual giants of our time, all of whom see the need for Christianity to renew its universalism.

This should give D.H.I, Mr. Harnwell and others pause. Does Mr. Bannon’s plan to salvage the West only hasten Christianity’s demise?

The Polyhedron and Pentecost

The problem with fear-mongering is not just that it is wrong. It is that critics of fear-mongering often prefer to believe that there are no real problems at play. But Mr. Bannon’s populism has found a market in part because liberal democracy is indeed beset by difficulties it cannot solve. And if Mr. Bannon has no real solutions, neither does anyone else.

How are Catholics to respond to liberalism’s difficulties? Inevitably, Catholics from different political traditions will respond to this challenge in different ways.

In the United States, many politically conservative Catholics have grown weary of their subordinate status in the Republican Party. As the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat explains, many feel betrayed by the coalition supporting the Republican Party and believe that “something else is needed in American society besides just classical-liberal, limited-government commitments.” Such conservatives, including Mr. Douthat himself, want a “philosophical reconsideration of where the liberal order has ended up” and a political movement that does more than pay “lip service to traditional values.” They also seek, however, to learn from the electoral success of Mr. Trump, and seek particularly to cultivate a virtuous nationalism free of American exceptionalism. Given the fragmented nature of U.S. conservatism, it is hard to predict where this movement will go. But Catholics will almost certainly be an important part of the conversation.

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On the left, economic inequality, climate change and questions of race and sexuality have led to rifts within the party over what constitutes social justice, with many Catholic Democrats often caught in the middle. If President Trump is re-elected in 2020, then the next four years will be of crucial importance for how Catholics do and do not fit within the post-Trump Democratic party.

Whether left or right, however, all Catholics must beware of any party or ideology that sacrifices the universal mission of Christianity in the name of politics.

All Catholics must beware any party or ideology that sacrifices the universal mission of Christianity in the name of politics. 

Everyone says this, and yet no one seems to know how to do it. In part this is because this task is at least as spiritual as it is political.

Appeals to the common good ring hollow in our time, as it is the very notion of “common” that is under dispute. Pope Francis, however, has spoken of a “reconciled diversity.” The Holy Spirit brings about communion and unity despite all the manifold differences among humans. The Spirit brings about “harmonic unity in diversity.”

This communion is a gift of the Spirit, but Christians can and need to cooperate with the Spirit. This unity takes real work, beginning with the acknowledgement of differences. That acknowledgement in turn will require both cooling heated passions and articulating differences that are often as poorly understood as they are divisive.

Ideologues will claim to offer such unity, usually by redefining who gets to be included in that unity. But this unity does not come on the cheap.

Pope Francis favors the model of a many-sided polyhedron rather than a sphere because it shows how the world can be integrated while remaining particular, how we can achieve a world where “all cultures are respected, but all are united.” This is the genius of Catholicism: holding in tension the universal and particular. It is also an image of the common good we desperately need in our time.

By refusing to give in to the temptation to reap immediate, short-lived gains in politics, the ideological shortcuts that promise the success of some at the expense of others, and rather training our sights of the unity of all in God, we can work toward the development of all peoples.

This is easier said than done, especially as our society makes it difficult to cultivate this desire for community. Perhaps that is something parishes can embrace around the Eucharist.

Further, the resolve of Christians for unity will always be tested by polemical issues. As the affair surrounding Mr. Martel (as well as recent controversies concerning teachers in Catholic schools in civilly recognized same-sex marriages) reveals, sexuality will be a flashpoint of contention. Catholics will have to see sexuality as not merely a tool of the culture wars, but a place of genuine reconciliation. Rejecting division and cheap unity, that reconciliation will be key to presenting an image of true unity to a world that so desperately longs for wholeness and integrity.

Yes, deep divisions mar our world. But the solution to those divisions can never be to bring those divisions into the heart of the church.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

It will be interesting to see the comments on this. Is the crusade dubious because it is wrong or because it cannot succeed? Europe is definitely dying. But what will replace the people will be interesting. The United States is about 25 years behind but seems to be on the same pathway. There is nothing magical about the geographic space Europe and the United States occupy. It is their culture that will disappear and that is what made each such a power of thought and innovation.

Antony P.
1 month 1 week ago

Francis was just quoted as saying, on the plane to Mozambique, that “I am honoured that the Americans attack me.” How is this not divisive? Yes, Bannon can be, and probably is divisive, but he does not have the ministry of unity. Francis does!

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Antony - I too was shocked of this divisive statement from the Holy Father, and cannot imagine any other pope in the last 100 years saying such a thing. None of them would even say that about the Soviet Union or the Chinese. As is common in the off-the-cuff interviews, Pope Francis often says things that the Vatican has to 'clarify" or walk back later. It undermines so much of what he says about other things. Ut unum sint, indeed!

Deborah Wells
1 month 1 week ago

As soon as I read this statement from Pope Francis, I did not think of divisiveness, but of the ending of the Beatitudes. Go to Matthew and re-read that section. The final beatitude and what comes after states this: "Blessed are those who suffer persecution in the cause of right; the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are you, when men revile you, and persecute you, and speak all manner of evil against you falsely, because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward awaits you in heaven; so it was they persecuted the prophets who went before you. You are the salt of the earth; if salt loses its taste, what is there left to give taste to it? There is no more to be done with it, but throw it out of doors for men to tread it underfoot. "

He more likely has a ministry of "salt," to speak out and disagree with the culture, because the culture is sick in so many ways and needs healing. It is what Jesus did and the apostles after him who rejoiced at their persecutions. This is the reason I believe he said he was "honored." The Pope has said he always considers criticisms an honor. It is not for us to judge him, but ourselves, especially if we agree with those who try to delegitimize his teaching and undermine his pontificate.

Antony P.
1 month ago

@ Deborah W.: If you can read the Beatitudes into this statement by Francis, you can read them into anything.

The majority of those criticizing Francis are doing so because of their love of Christ, not because they reject Christ. If Francis thinks, that, in his office as the universal pastor, he can willify those who disagree with him, in the name of Christ, then he completely midssunderstands his office, and his vocation.

Antony P.
1 month ago

Unintended duplication. Removed by poster.

J. Calpezzo
1 month 1 week ago

Bannon is a fat, drunken phony and unworthy of space in America.

SHELLEY HIBBLER
1 month 1 week ago

You got that right!

Antony P.
1 month 1 week ago

These, of course, are all very rational arguments, meant to promote human dignity .... How sad....

Stanley Kopacz
1 month ago

Hey. This is America. Listen to the President. He doesn't need any rational arguments. If name calling and mockery of appearance is good enough for the leader of the (so far) most powerful empire ever, it's good enough for the rest of us.

J Cosgrove
1 month ago

Are you describing yourself too? I thought you gave this site up.

By the way, where is our empire? Do you mean Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands? Now adding Greenland would really expand it. Another 55 thousand people. I believe there are as many American graves around the world as in these places.

Stanley Kopacz
1 month ago

You're right. I get suckered back in by answering the egregious sophistries of the climate-change denying sugar plum fairies. I will continue to do so. But I should steer clear of arguing about less important topics.
If you think empires consist of only acquiring land, then you are more nineteenth century than I thought. The dollar is still what the pound sterling was. We can bomb other countries not to our liking either with military ordnance or economic sanctions. Of course, eventually, empires overextend and collapse under their own hubris. I just hope that when ours does, the remainder is a democratic country. I'm not very sure of that.
But rational argument? Let those righties who accuse liberals of emotionalism lecture Trump first. Over and out until you say something silly about climate.

J Cosgrove
1 month ago

Wow, in less than a day, I get called Satan and 19th century. Does that mean Satan is a 19th century idea. It’s nice to finally know what you are.

We are going to need you in 2050 telling us how bad it is going to be. So stay involved.

Todd Witherell
1 month ago

The hubristic American Empire, Mr. Cosgrove:
From this article in Politico: the United States maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries abroad ... by contrast, Britain, France, and Russia maintain 30 combined.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/us-military-bases-around-the-world-119321

Todd Witherell
1 month ago

From this article in Politico: the United States maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries abroad ... by contrast, Britain, France, and Russia maintain 30 combined.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/us-military-bases-around-the-world-119321

Jorge Rebasa
1 month 1 week ago

Europe is dead as is America.

LE Kieley
1 month 1 week ago

I am an American and do not ever attack the Pope. I am concerned about him not addressing inclusive concerns we common Catholics have about his top priority globalism, open border & thereby assimilation of all Islamic fascism. I want harmony of faith and reason, am a good samaritan but do realize external threats. Reconciled diversity--just what does that look like in his eyes? Our culture as well is coming slowly & frightened depleted as well. America needs him more than ever to address our concerns, give us a sense of compassion towards our needs b/c our spiritual needs are unfortunately lingering with a spiritual sadness. We need open dialogue towards a wholesome reform that is transparent, not just forgiveness of heinous acts in the priesthood, but endorsing McCarrick has not given us an olive branch to cling to. God help us as we feel alone on an isolated raft on a turbulent ocean.

Charles Erlinger
1 month 1 week ago

This is a timely article. In politics we claim whatever roots that we think will support the polemical point we are making at the time. Nobody in public life seems immune from this allergy.

The claim that Europe’s roots lie in Christianity depends on in which garden you are digging. Geographic Europe’s cultural roots lie in the garden of paganism, that is, in the garden of the Roman Empire, with its adoption of just those cultural plants from pagan Greece that were deemed useful to the Empire.

Christianity is an Eastern religion, which grafted onto its branches just those religious, philosophical and social twigs from both Judaism and paganism that seemed supportive of the thematic foundation. It became a European religion through missionary work and by reason of its adoption as, for all practical purposes, a state-established religion in the fourth century.

The sturdy oaks that we point to as being grown from our roots, such as the “rule of law!” come from the Roman Empire, prudentially adapted by Christians to suit our purposes.

None of this diminishes the credibility of the promises of the Christian faith, but selling an evangelic product on the basis of false advertising seems sleazy, no matter who is doing it.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

From the interviews and speeches of Steve Bannon I have heard, I think he has a rather shallow view of Christianity. It comes across as a pragmatic utilitarian interpretation. But he is truly right that Europe has lost its way, in almost the same way as the liberal wing of the USA. Europe's decline has several features that they share with liberal America:
1. Loss of faith in God, as the sovereign ruler of all and the father of all.
2. Loss of faith in Jesus Christ, as the unique and sole Savior of the world - the only way, the only truth, the only life.
3. Loss of the Catholic understanding of Christ-with-us, her authority, wisdom and culture.
4. Loss of a belief in humanity as made in the image of God, with a sacred dignity from conception to natural death.
5. Loss of an understanding of family, of man & woman, father & mother, lifelong marriage with having children as the natural priority.
6. Loss of confidence in the European/Western/Christian culture, religious & secular, scientific & artistic, political & economic, etc.

The consequences are a rise in hedonism (esp. the sexual revolution & diminished appreciation of work), group self-loathing (the need to apologize for things done by long-dead forebears, as if all other societies were not even worse, suicide, abortion & euthanasia), arbitrary identity (separated from one's biology, family, country, ethnicity, forever morphing in ever-stranger ways), cultural inferiority (hysterical intolerance while demanding tolerance, both sides of the political spectrum), demographic decline, death and replacement.

The only hope is a return to the mystical body of Christ, his Church, to truly believe in the fullness of the faith. Europeans cannot save Europe, only Christ can. The Holy Spirit never promised to preserve Europe or the USA, only the Church.

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

It's creepy how many conservative Catholic nutballs, present and past, Trump has drawn to his administration, including Bannon. Bannon wouldn't be able to play with his extreme religious views without the funding of people like Robert Mercer, because the whole reactionary "Christendom" time-trip back to a Shire version of the middle ages is a silly failure (remember the Big Society?).

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Speaking of nutballs, Trump Derangement Syndrome has had some crazy results, including pushing the Democratic candidates over the rational cliff, with their calls for slavery reparations, abortion for the near-born and just born and outlawing health insurance, fracking and flights (by 2032). But, the strangest is their resorting to "Magic Activism" (see link below). "These new activists up the ante by appropriating dark imagery, rituals, and rites to dispute with in the public square. Black magic is part of their tool kit for change. At the Kavanaugh hearings, for example, Brooklyn witches publicly hexed the conservative candidate to the Supreme Court. It was also known that a “Magic Resistance” to President Trump took the form of thousands of witches—13,000 strong—asking dark powers to bind the president’s actions after his inauguration. The Trump victory has ignited an explosion of witchcraft manuals for political action with titles that do not mask their preternatural purpose. In 2018, Michael Hughes, for example, wrote Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change. David Salisbury has written his 2019 Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance (Includes Spells for Social Justice, Civil Rights, the Environment, and More). He even calls upon readers to invoke the Greek god Hermes to give letters to legislators greater effect. Revolutionary Witchcraft: A Guide to Magical Activism by Sarah Lyons will soon be released to a sympathetic target audience."
Then there's Lucien Greaves, with the new documentary Hail Satan? - Crazy might be the most charitable way to describe all this.
https://www.crisismagazine.com/2019/why-satanism-is-now-on-the-center-stage-in-the-culture-war

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

You bring up all this fringe stuff because you are afraid to address the actual Democratic stance, I presume?

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

I'm not sure what the actual Democratic stance is? They used to support blue collar workers but that has taken a back seat to the more radical stuff. I would like to see a Democrat moderate have a chance, but that is impossible. Even Biden has had to back off Obama's policies. Obama had already moved left of Clinton who had already moved left of Carter. Bernie is not even a member of the Democratic party and is now seen as not radical enough. Trump would have never been possible if the Democrats hadn't left the worker behind. They are a party of the very rich and the poor progressives. That's it.

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

I've been a Democrat my whole life and it seems to me that the basic platform has always been the same - public education, women's rights, unions, civil rights, care for the environment, helping the poor, elderly, disabled, children with government programs, etc. If stances have become more extreme it's because the situations have become more extreme .... mass shootings, civil rights under attack, climate change regulations rolled back while the country is alternately burning and drowning, etc. I'll vote for Biden if he's the candidate, but I would rather have Warren or Buttigieg.

Judith Jordan
1 month 1 week ago

Crystal, I agree with you too.

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Crystal - I was raised in a Democrat household and was a supporter of Jimmy Carter. As I studied history, I learned they were the party of slavery, of the trail of tears, of Jim Crow, of corrupt Tammany Hall. The Democrats used to be for the little guy, but then they abandoned them, starting with the smallest in the womb. They then left the traditional religious middle class, in exchange for the sexual elites. Then they left the workers, in exchange for government welfare. Then they left America, in exchange for globalism. They are now firmly the blame-America-first party, the anti-Christian party, the pro-abortion party. They deserve Trump, even if America doesn't.

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

It seems often that neither party is for the little guy. But the other stuff just isn't true. Do you really believe the Republicans are examples of traditional Christian values .... they doom the poor, doom the immigrant, doom the sick and elderly, they doom children, with their policies. They support and love an adulterer, a rapist, a liar, a crook as their "chosen one". They wouldn't recognize Jesus if he was standing before them.

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Crystal - I know your grasp of history is questionable, but the Democrats owned slavery then, and abortion now. Notice in both positions, they fail to recognize Jesus in the humans. Even the civil rights act of 1964 was supported by a larger percent of Republicans than Democrats. And your phrase "They support and love an adulterer, a rapist, a liar, a crook as their 'chosen one'" is equally applicable to Clinton and Trump. You would have to live in an alternate universe to think the poor, the immigrant, the sick and the elderly are not more doomed by Democrat policies of government control and dependency than the more independent and private support of Republican policies. Just look at the underclasses in Democrat-run cities. The poor and the immigrant in America are better off than the poor in any country they have come from - that is mainly why they come. I did not say Republicans have Christian values, just that they don't have explicitly anti-Christian policies.

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

The Republican party *does* have explicitly anti-Christian policies. "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me." Trump, Mulvaney, the Republicans in congress have been putting forth policies that are pure "goat" policies .... they want to cut Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, Meals On Wheels, after-school programs for poor children, asylum for immigrants, they're putting children in cages, trying to deport kids with cancer, supporting privately run prisons, they want to throw thousands off health care, etc..

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Crystal - you have completely misinterpreted the scripture, in several ways. 1) There is no mention of a government doing any of the things in the list. It is you yourself, and each of us, who are asked to do it, using personal, private or public means, 2) there is no Republican proposal to eliminate any of these programs, just to make them more efficient, less subject to fraud, and to avoid untended negative consequences, such as generational dependency, 3) this scripture says nothing about private prisons or meals on wheels, or the right way to deal with processing illegal migrants (note Obama built the “cages” and deported more than Trump). 4) Jesus had a totally different attitude to Roman government than you pretend. As I said before, you say Jesus but you mean Marx.

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

BS

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

BSE

Mike Macrie
1 month ago

At least with Democrats, the poor and Immigrants are provided an opportunity to succeed. With Republicans, the poor and immigrants are doomed. Mitch McConnell is a testimony to the continuous poverty in Appalachia.

Judith Jordan
1 month 1 week ago

Tim O'Leary--
I have never understood how a Christian would pay any attention to Magic, Witches, etc. except to be entertained. To be concerned about them, one would have to believe in them and their “powers.” Otherwise, why care?

As for witches placing "hexes" etc. against Trump, they are not doing anything differently than millions of good, religious people all across the country who pray for Trump to be out of office soon and not do more damage to America.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Judith - It is Catholic teaching that the devil is real and that he is most influential when he is denied. As French poet Charles Baudelaire wrote: "the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist!" Inviting him into your life, as witches and satanists do, is very dangerous. It is in fact the opposite of what religious people do. Here is the Catechism on the devil (regarding the petition in the Lord's prayer "Deliver us from evil): "In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who "throws himself across" God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ. (CCC 2851)

Robert Lewis
1 month ago

St. Teresa of Avila is said to have remarked that people who were overly worried about the Devil gave her more concern than the Devil himself.

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Robert - the temptation of the present culture is the opposite of your glib remark. St. Teresa of Avila wrote extensively of her trials and tortures caused by the devil, but counseled that he could be overcome by prayer, sacraments and sacramentals, and a trusting reliance on Jesus, something foreign to most secularists and satanists. She explained one encounter in her autobiography as follows (link below): "Once, when I was in an oratory, he appeared on my left hand in an abominable form; as he spoke to me, I paid particular attention to his mouth, which was horrible. Out of his body there seemed to be coming a great flame, which was intensely bright and cast no shadow. He told me in a horrible way that I had indeed escaped out of his hands but he would get hold of me still. I was very much afraid and made the sign of the Cross as well as I could, whereupon he disappeared, but immediately returned again. This happened twice running and I did not know what to do. But there was some holy water there, so I flung some in the direction of the apparition, and it never came back…From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue."

So, make sure you have holy water with you. Note the present culture does not put sufficient store in sacramentals.

St. Paul: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13).

PDF of her autobiography (Note esp. Chapters 13 and 31): http://www.carmelitemonks.org/Vocation/teresa_life.pdf

Mike Macrie
1 month ago

Do you mean Trump needs an Exorcism?

SHELLEY HIBBLER
1 month 1 week ago

Crystal, I agree with you.

rose-ellen caminer
1 month 1 week ago

The terms "Judeo- Christian" [as in Judeo Christian West, or Europe] and "cultural Christian", are tropes which mean; let 's us westerners; [ Christians and Jews ,and atheists ], lets go gang up an Muslims. Though every European person for close to two thousand years grew up knowing about Adam and Eve, and the Old Testament stories , and internalized the 10 commandments as foundational ethics, Europe was called Christendom, , not Judea/Christendom, And there is a reason the Zionists of Europe wanted a homeland outside this "Judeo Christian" west.And it had nothing to do with being pious religiosity. For the Zionist movement was started and promoted by secular non religious Jews.I see through Bannon and his ilk.They are racists anti Semites; against Semitic Islam this time. The claim to be a "cultural christian" is a bogus one; how many of these "cultural Christians" who as the article says profess to be opposed to abortion, believe in men as the head of the family, , believe that homosexuality is wrong , that lgbt people have no rights to their identify,how many of them would actually make abortion Illegal, how may would give men more legal rights then women in the family, how many would ban homosexual practices/and lgbt identity? No politician calling themselves a cultural christian would . And very few ordinary citizens of Europe would. So the only thing the is true about these "cultural Christians" is that they want to band with Jews and Atheists to go after Muslims; demonizing them and expelling and banning them from the west! The best thing to happen to Europe is the influx of non Europeans including of Muslims .Just as a mixture of immigrants has been good for America it will be good for everyone else too.Including Judeo- Christian Europe..[IMO}

Todd Witherell
1 month 1 week ago

Steve Bannon is a fascist thug. So is Cardinal Burke. A pox o’ both their houses!

J Cosgrove
1 month ago

The interesting thing is Trump is against authoritarian rule which the left endorses. The word “fascist” is just used to describe anyone somebody doesn’t like. For example, the move against free speech is all coming from the left.

Todd Witherell
1 month ago

Fascists in Franco’s Spain, Hitler’s Germany, Trump/Bannon’s America, etc.. chant “send her back” and “lock them up” to everything foreign, or perceived as foreign, because they are extreme nationalists and xenophobes. And they use the state to inflame hatred of foreigners and immigrants. As Pope Francis has said, with Mussolini’s Italy as backdrop, populism/fascism is evil and ends badly. It can in fact happen here. We have elements of it now. But we also have resistance!

J Cosgrove
1 month ago

You should read about fascism. The first fascist government was the United States under Woodrow Wilson They are governments of the left so it’s not clear that Franco was a fascist. He definitely was a dictator. Republicans have been for freedom since the beginning, the opposite of fascism. You should read more.

Todd Witherell
1 month ago

I am 50 years old. The Republican Party throughout my entire lifetime has been in favor of “freedom” to despise and imprison black people at horribly high rates, launch imperial wars of aggression, unashamedly value the profit motive over human dignity, and now capitulate to an ignorant demagogue who exemplifies and awakens the very worst elements of the American character. Crush the infamous thing!

Todd Witherell
1 month ago

I am 50 years old. The Republican Party throughout my entire lifetime has been in favor of “freedom” to despise and imprison black people at horribly high rates, launch imperial wars of aggression, unashamedly value the profit motive over human dignity, and now capitulate to an ignorant demagogue who exemplifies and awakens the very worst elements of the American character. Crush the infamous thing!

Todd Witherell
1 month ago

I am 50 years old. The Republican Party throughout my entire lifetime has been in favor of “freedom” to despise and imprison black people at horribly high rates, launch imperial wars of aggression, unashamedly value the profit motive over human dignity, and now capitulate to an ignorant demagogue who exemplifies and awakens the very worst elements of the American character. Crush the infamous thing!

Vincent Gaglione
1 month 1 week ago

Whenever religion gets mixed up in government, the outcomes are usually egregious violations of human rights and free will. The religion doesn’t matter, just that the religion is used to gain power and distorted to justify policies. As for Catholic Christianity, after 2000 years of European wars, colonialism, slavery, cultural imperialism, and genocide, the Bannons and others of his ilk hold no appeal to me, neither for Europe or here in the USA. Christ would have a hard time figuring out what exactly has become of his teachings!

J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

Why don’t you direct your comments at the Jesuits who helped put Mugabe and Chavez in power.

Vincent Gaglione
1 month ago

I don’t really understand your point. Despite some of the Jesuit order’s excesses during its history (no different than most, as it turns out), it suffered suppression under “Catholic” regimes and a pliant Pope. You allege they supported Mugabe and Chavez, but why? I find no sense of that in what I read. Because they attended Jesuit schools?

My remarks however, were intended to be much more general and nonspecific. I use now the example of the Rohingya purge by the alleged “peaceful” Buddhists in Myanmar as an example of what I mean.

I am ready to admit that the pacifism in Christ’s teachings has never found much support among Christians but in the West we do not even agree to submit to the “just war” theory in our geo-politics. The discussions of “Judaeo-Christian” principles as the foundation of Western culture is a whole lot of blather to satisfy the ignorant and appeal to the Jewish and Christian voters.

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