The Catholic Case for Trump

When Hillary Clinton took the stage for the second debate wearing what journalist Linda Staci called her black and white “subliminal nun outfit,” her goal was to paint Donald Trump as a moral leper unfit for public life. Despite her prim-proper-pose, she failed. But, she did inflict damage. Especially among many Christians, not savy in the ways emotional manipulation can be used to persuade them to go against the interests of their fellow Christians in the United States.

These are decent and good people, probably our most decent and good people. But some have the defect of their virtues. And this imprudent prudence has made them targets for an emotional appeal against their best interests. A priest who hears lots of confession in New York City would hardly be surprised at what has been said and allegedly done in these Trump scandals. Lust is something that travels with us up to our last breath! So, please, let’s not be naïve about young and not so young men climbing their way through the city going off the rails in this direction. And if it is true we learn humility through humiliation, Donald Trump has gotten a double scoop of humility ala mode. As such, it is a disguised spiritual blessing. Very well disguised, as Churchill would say.

Using Moral Outrage to Promote Anti-Catholic Agenda

Yet just as the Devil can quote Scripture to his own advantage, politicians with an anti-Catholic agenda can paint their opponents as morally unfit based on their human frailty. But can a sin of lust hold a candle to a sin of malice against life, family and church? Too many of us have equated voting for president with an election in the 8th grade, a popularity contest on a grand scale. Sorry, voting needs to be a well thought out strategic use of the electoral process to advance the cause of Christ. So let’s focus on advancing the issues dear to the church!

History tells us how some of our wayward popes, or those Old Testament figures more familiar to our Protestant and Jewish friends, were called by God to do great things. This in spite of their failing to be what we are all called to be: Saints. St. Peter’s Basilica was built by saints and sinners, yet it now stands as a testament to God’s transcendence. And at the risk of being just a touch snarky, why has everyone in this Trump media-show-trial suddenly forgotten their favorite Pope Francis quote, “Who am I to judge?”

When Pope Benedict XVI described the “dictatorship of the media” this was the kind of narrative-obsession redirection of attention from what is essential he was talking about. But Benedict also gave us the key to decoding what is important, when he said there are three non-negotiables: 1) the right to life 2) the sanctity of marriage and the family 3) religious freedom and liberty for the church and believers. So if we apply this ethical triangulation to the two campaigns, where are they objectively located on the Three Core Principles?

True or False: Pope Benedict XVI’s Core Three Principles?

1) Donald Trump will appoint Supreme Court judges favoring the core three? True. We have their names. No need to speculate here. Nothing in her record indicates Hillary Clinton will fill the current vacancy, including the probable imminent departure of Justice Ginsburg, with justices who will support the Core Three principles.

 2) Donald Trump will support marriage and the family? Mixed true. He wants to get Washington out of this game and move this issue to the states. At this point critics may be right, or not, to believe he doesn’t care on an emotional level about this. Although I believe he could be brought to that point of strong support through friendship, prayer and persuasion, especially through his family. But this is not his strong suit. But Trump’s no political fool. For now, wisely from his point of view, he wants this to be the “people’s problem” in state houses across the country. He doesn’t want it be a federal problem, slowing down his national rebuilding agenda. Honestly this is the path non-ideological Democrats should have been supporting for years. Getting the culture of death albatross off their necks and letting federalism and democracy work. Not a perfect solution, but it will consolidate gains made in most of the country, and derail the imposition of alien values on local communities by a handful of elites.

And given a lifetime history, Trump will dance with the people who brung him to the party. The flip side is he will punish those who didn’t ask him for a date. The pro-life people demonizing Trump for his lack of purity on this and other issues will only diminish the clout their cause has. Trump may possibly be an old -school Presbyterian, riding on the coattails of a non-pious predestination. But he is definitely an old-school big-city political boss, ready to mete out rewards and punishments. Misread him at your peril, if he wins.

Hillary, for her part, supports partial birth abortion and the redefinition of sexual identity, so there will be no incremental pro-life/family changes. There WILL be an existential threat to decades of gains – instantly vetoed by federal fiat at the first chance. Don’t be naïve. Bureaucratic rulings and Executive Orders ala Obama will be rubber stamped by a packed court, if the court even bothers to hear the cases.

As legal scholar Richard Epstein has said, the wide latitude given bureaucratic rule makers over the years by courts has been turned on its head by Obama bureaucrats. The rule-making power in service of implementing Congressional legislation has now morphed into rule-making without a Congressional mandate. The single-sex bathroom regulations sent to public schools with no public hearing are the latest implementation of something Congress never authorized. It is a form of legal checkers, as “penumbras” jump over “emanations” and to make bureaucrats kings in the name of fighting discrimination. This public-be-damned attitude will find few checks and balances in a Clinton administration, as 8 and soon 12 years of judicial appointments pull the “progressive” train towards the nightmare of a technocratic utopia.

3) Donald Trump will support the freedom and liberty of the church and believers? True. Using bureaucratic verbal engineers to redefined civil rights, at the expense or religious rights, the federal governments is currently attempting to incrementally control the Catholic Church and other churches in the United States. This is already underway and will continue under a Clinton administration. She has said, “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

First some history. For its first three hundred years, the Church grew organically, mostly underground, with the active opposition, sometime violent, of the state. Its founder Jesus Christ was executed by the state, after all. But there is an obverse side to this coin. When the state said the church could come out from the shadows, it then had to spend the next 1700 years fighting, on and off, here and there, for its independence from state interference and control. The Papal States were a vain and failed attempt to give the papacy a safe haven. The United States has generally remained tolerant and open to the Catholic Church. But state management of the church is THE perennial temptation of petty tyrants. And there are many petty tyrants in Washington ready to act. Constant vigilance by Christians is mandatory.

Interference rarely goes well for the church, although the law of unintended consequences sometimes comes into play. It was the Communists, after all, who approved John Paul II as the bishop of Krakow from a list of three names submitted, reasoning he was a harmless intellectual dreamer. Today the Obama administration has launched its own direct assault on the Church, trying to shut down the Little Sisters of the Poor. Clearly the nuns would be conscience bound not to comply with the government contraception mandate and thus go out of the “business” of caring for the poor.

Religious Liberty Rights in Danger

But another, perhaps even more shocking move is afoot. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in a September report said,  “Civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination…are of preeminent importance in American jurisprudence. Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as … sexual orientation and gender identity…significantly infringe upon these civil rights.”

Chairman Martin Castro said, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”  Evidence has now emerged that members of Clinton’s team have even worked to set up false front groups to advance this anti-Catholic agenda. If Trump loses this fight in November, this attack on religious freedom by the Clinton team will touch all Catholics, not just the Little Sisters.

Pius XII made a concordat with the Nazi’s before World War II, which they immediately violated, because he knew that only if the church could retain some freedom of movement could it advance a moral case against tyranny. Silencing the church is silencing freedom. We now know Pius XII used what limited freedom he had to actively help those seeking to assassinate Hitler, while working to form consciences wherever possible.

Today, in the United States, if the federal government deems Catholic and Christian churches agents of discrimination, religious equivalents of the Ku Klux Klan, our religious freedom and ability to evangelize will be radically curtailed. We will be deemed enemies of the state. Instead of houses of worship, where an unadulterated Gospel can be proclaimed to us sinners, we will have factories of piety, lifeless and devoid of doctrine. The quote attributed to the late Cardinal George of Chicago would sum up a grim prospect: “I expect to die in bed, my successor…in prison…his successor…a martyr.”

Freedom of Speech for Churches

Besides vowing to stop this, Trump also wants to remove the ban on churches engaging in so-called “political” activity, thus risking their tax exempt status. This will free the churches from the fear of an IRS crack down on their religious free speech, made under the pretext of fighting discrimination. Have you ever wondered why the Catholic Church’s Fortnight of Freedom, if you’ve even heard about it, is run in the ineffectual month of July each year, when everyone is away on vacation? Or wondered why instead the church doesn’t teach us how to defend our religious liberty around election time, when believers’ minds are focused, and their actions would have some impact? I’d guess it is to avoid litigation threatening our tax exempt status. Yes, follow the money!

Hillary, as a third term of Obama’s policy, will grind on relentlessly towards this long-war goal of a de-Christianized America, or at least making it into a Christianity Christ would not recognize. She is a political genius – or if you will an evil genius – personifying all that is hostile to Christianity in the Republican and Democrat parties. Her policies could end the independence of the Catholic Church in its role as teacher and mother, and place our fate under the raw judicial power of the Supreme Court.

A Womanizer or Tyrant?

Christians who think their personal purity will be violated by supporting a purportedly “lustful scoundrel” such as Trump may feel good about themselves. Or, they may be thinking they are sending a message about wanting “better” candidates, or just  punishing Trump not being the more perfect candidate they preferred. But I hardly think they will feel good about what happens to the Church when his opposite number takes control as they watch years of gains in the Core Three areas of life, family and religious liberty slip away, just as abortion and marriage laws were swept away by judicial fiat. Structures of sin would quickly take hold and dominate an already weakly catechized younger generation. A generation with no collective memory of the “era of faith” many of us grew up in after the Second World War will take their moral cue from the government instead.

John Ford’s Flawed Heroes

This moral divide is nothing new. John Ford’s films tell the tales of flawed fighters who are not quite fit to live in the world they help create. Rudyard Kipling’s soldier Tommy Atkins knew, “Than it’s Tommy this an’ Tommy that an’ Tommy’s ow’s yer soul? But its “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.” Do we not need a thin red line of heroes to stop the barbarian iconoclasts at the doors of our churches?Jesus, after all, announced his entrance on the world stage  to those most unpious of Jews, the rough and tumble shepherds of the hills in Bethlehem. And, they got it.

Yes, I respect my good conservative and liberal friends and their feelings. But perhaps they should consider that when Pope Francis said Christians need to go out into the peripheries, he was also talking about people like Donald Trump.

For myself, as a fellow flawed man, I will follow this Don Quixote riding through his personal media hell of humiliation, whatever mixed motives may accompany his quest, because whether knowing it or not, I think he is fighting for a heavenly cause. And I know enough history to know that the men who won battles when Christianity was threatened were not all saints.