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Mystery Of The Ages

Hey, I have been granted an extension of a few hours to do very, very last minute polishing on the Benedict Option book manuscript. While I’m away with my head buried in my laptop, I want to throw this question out there that I’ve been thinking about since a comment appeared here over the weekend.

One of the conservative Catholic commenters on this blog wrote that he wishes we had a Religious Right run by Catholics, because Evangelicals are so dumb they really messed it up. I pointed out in reply that if you were depending on Catholics to run the Religious Right, we wouldn’t have much of one; on key culture war issues, Evangelicals are better Catholics that Catholics.

I’m serious. The Catholic Church is against abortion. Look at these polling results from Pew: [1]


The Catholic Church says that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage is wrong. But the most recent Pew poll [2] found only 27 percent of white Evangelicals approving of gay marriage, versus 58 percent of Catholics doing so.

Here’s something I have never figured out. In theory, Catholics ought to be a lot more theologically conservative on such matters. They have a clear teaching proclaimed by a clear church authority, with a deep Biblical theology behind it. And yet, on the whole, it doesn’t seem to matter to lay Catholics. Evangelicals, on the other hand, have the Bible, but no binding interpretive authority to keep them from diverging. Yet, on these issues, they are more morally conservative than Catholics — even by Catholic standards.

Why is this? I’m asking in a serious way. Any of you have a theory? I’m not going to publish gratuitous Catholic bashing or Evangelical bashing in the comments.


311 Comments (Open | Close)

311 Comments To "Mystery Of The Ages"

#1 Comment By JonF On October 20, 2016 @ 6:07 am

Re: The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, at least in Australia, are not Burlesque but political activists seeking the abolition of traditional marriage and gender identities.

I know nothing about Australia in this regard, but in the US they are simply clowns.

#2 Comment By JonF On October 20, 2016 @ 6:09 am

Re: It’s pretty strange for a person to say they are personally opposed to murder, but are okay with it in public policy.

Every politician (basically all of them) who supports having, and using at whiles, the military– whose job is murder, and much else that the devils could wish for– is saying exactly that.

#3 Comment By Liam On October 20, 2016 @ 7:44 am

“It’s pretty strange for a person to say they are personally opposed to murder, but are okay with it in public policy.”

Though it should be American law before Roe did not equate abortion with murder.

#4 Comment By savvy On October 20, 2016 @ 9:04 am


But, Kaine is opposed to the death penalty in public policy, because it’s a moral stance for him.

Some murders are more acceptable than others, it seems.

I would just rather he be honest and stop playing this charade on being personally opposed to abortion.

#5 Comment By JonF On October 20, 2016 @ 1:47 pm

Re: Some murders are more acceptable than others, it seems.

Yep. And nothing unique about that. It is and always has been an exceedingly common view, and not just among politicians.

#6 Comment By dominic1955 On October 20, 2016 @ 3:01 pm


“Every politician (basically all of them) who supports having, and using at whiles, the military– whose job is murder, and much else that the devils could wish for– is saying exactly that.”

Don’t be ridiculous. There is a long history of Christianity supporting the military, Catholic, and Orthodox and Protestant.

#7 Comment By Dr ExCathedra On October 20, 2016 @ 4:05 pm

Two suggestions.

First, Using some form of the church-sect theory of religion (eg Stark & Bainbridge) Catholicism in the US was formerly self-identified as an outsider group AGAINST the Protestant culture, but has now been thoroughly assimilated into it and the religion marker is ancillary to other identities. With the loss of otherness has gone the loss of conviction.

Second, Vatican II’s meta-message (despite its theological texts) was that adapting to the “modern world” was the coolest thing to do and that being other to it was cranky and nasty and rigid, etc.

Put the two together and you get the tepid-tea form of Catholic-lite identity you now have now.

I am almost 70, was formed in the pre Vat II religion and remained intensely involved until I was 40. I can tell you that I doubt very much that more than a very very few US Catholics born after 1960 have any real clue as to what historic Catholicism actually is.

The 2011 survey about disparate US RC beliefs about the Eucharist was just one of many signs that the culture is assimilating the church like The Blob.

#8 Comment By connecticut farmer On October 20, 2016 @ 4:49 pm

Just a thought but–the Roman Catholic Church in America has, historically, been considered an immigrant church, early on predominantly Irish and German but (commencing in the late 19th century) including a large influx of Italians. Such immigrants tended to settle in cities. Perhaps after generations of exposure to the fleshpots, they became more urbane, hence more “liberal.”

#9 Comment By Myles On October 21, 2016 @ 6:50 am

Perhaps the Catholic teachings are not being taught much by parents, teachers, professors, religious and clergy. I go the local Mass here in China, (yes a universal Latin practice would be a blessing for me), with a faith sharing Bible study occuring after Mass held by the students from Africa who are about half the Sunday congregation. They know the teachings and they are not fooling around. I think this tradition was started in Africa by Archbishop Lefevre when he was in charge.

#10 Comment By Marzetti On October 21, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

As a complete outsider to both camps I would have to say that Republican politicians have been more successful in galvanizing opinion within the Evangelical community on both these issues.

#11 Comment By Profwatson On October 25, 2016 @ 6:59 pm

Your Catholic commentator’s comment about Evangelicals being dumb has a lot of truth to it, but the same can go for so many others as well. Those of us who are not “dumb” have to feel fortunate that God did not create us with intelligent deficiencies(that is a Calvinist prospective, of course).