03/29/12 – David Carlin on Christianity and Party Politics in 2012

[Beginning note: When studying piano, particularly jazz, I learned to incorporate certain combinations of keys as if they were one thought covering multiple finger movements. The same goes for typing; one thinks the word, and the fingers know the tune. Consequently, while skimming through what follows, it struck me that in my haste to skiddle-dee-doo-bop the sentences, I frequently typed “Democrat” where Mr. Carlin may have, likely did, or definitely did say “Democratic.” I ask the reader to correct for this affectation of mine.]

7:00 p.m.
Ernest Greco, of the Rhode Island Declaration, introduced Mr. Carlin.

Ernest Greco - Rhode Island Declaration

7:08 p.m.
So this will be an experiment. Sometimes speeches and talks don’t lend themselves to liveblogging, because the thoughts tend to be longer and thoughtful. Paragraphs, not one-liners.

David Carlin: “I’m going to say a lot of negative things about the national Democrat Party.” It’s become primarily anti-life.

David Carlin

That doesn’t make him a Republican or opposed to Democrats in RI.

7:13 p.m.
“My Democratic credentials are good; my anti-Republican feelings are strong.”

He pegs the McGovern candidacy of 1972 as a crucial turning point. The young folks who entered then have taken it over.

“Fundamental division of the party”: the brains of the party and the muscle of the party.

The ideas come from the anti-Christian (secularist) people. “Downright hostile to religion,” thinking that the world would be better off without traditional religion, mostly Christianity.

7:16 p.m.
“There are other constituencies of the party” that don’t agree entirely with the secularists: blacks, Hispanics, labor unions (particularly labor leaders and public-sector unions “who butters their bread”).

“The source of ideas in the body now are these secularists.” It’s a “spillover” into politics of the culture war and its “religious, moral aspect.”

7:18 p.m.
Three groups in the culture war:
Traditionalists: feel they’re under attack (“and they’re right”)
Secularists: are attacking the traditionalists, although they’ll accept religion in the way they accept stamp collecting.

It makes for the kind of politics they had in France in revolutionary times.

An intermediate group is made up of more “modern, liberal progressives” with a “nostalgic” affinity for Christianity. (They like the adjective, “Christian.”)

When it comes to fights between the sides (abortion, same-sex marriage), the intermediate group tends to side with the secularists.

7:22 p.m.
The secularists and the intermediates are akin, in their relationship, to the communists and fellow travelers some decades ago.

7:24 p.m.
The arrangement works out well for the secularists, who couldn’t win political battles by themselves, so it’s good for their cause to have a pull on the liberal Christians.

“New fighting ideas come from the secularist, left wing of the Democrat Party.” How long this can work, he’s not sure, because other core groups, such a blacks, aren’t on board with the movement, but they’re Democrats out of “inertia.”

The Democrats also rely upon older members who are still voting, in a sense, for JFK and even FDR.

7:28 p.m.
“Everybody knows that President Obama is lying about same-sex marriage.” Obama is dodging with “I haven’t quite made up my mind”; like many Democrats, he’s just not willing to say so out loud.

“These are spearheads in the secularist attack on traditional Christianity.”

He doesn’t think you can have a pro-homosexual or pro-abortion Christianity. “Anybody who understands the history of Christianity and the history of its theology” understands that there’s no correspondence.

He’s suggesting that the issues aren’t truly the core purpose of the the objection, so much as using the issues as a weapon against Christianity, in the way that secularists used to mock the idea of miracles.

7:31 p.m.
“If they can convince everybody [about their view on homosexuality and abortion] that will be the end of traditional Christianity.” Even to the extent, he says, that parents won’t successfully be able to pass their beliefs on to their children.

7:33 p.m.
The culture war begin around 1700, with the “deistic controversy” in England.

[Setting check: there are about three dozen people in the room.]

7:34 p.m.
British deism wasn’t “radically different” from Christianity, mainly it was a “watered down” version.

Then it jumped across the Channel to France and Continental Europe, where the replacement deity became the nation. “Live and die for France, or live and die for Germany.”

The problem with that approach is that, if nations are gods, then they will battle in a polytheistic manner. Hence, he says, we have World Wars I and II.

7:36 p.m.
Then we had socialism offering an alternative to God, manifesting in Naziism and Communism.

“Naziism didn’t work out so well,” and even Communism fell apart, although with a longer run.

He wonders if the Pope told Fidel, the other day, “You made a big mistake; you went the wrong way.”

Now, the deity is unlimited personal liberty, with a high concentration on sexual freedom.

[Note: I wonder about that. Liberal secularists want plenty of control over other people, but what they want to control mainly has to do with economics and power.]

He lists various liberal causes, including euthanasia, although saying the U.S. “has been a little bit slow” on that one.

Eventually, the logic of same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy. “The only reason the secular left hasn’t really pursued that is that not enough people really want it.”

He points out that the Lawrence ruling of the Supreme Court will have to cover polygamy.

“Whether we get that far, I don’t know. We’re headed toward Niagra Falls if we don’t figure out a way of stopping.”

The secular left is full of powerful, serious people. Dominant in politics, in entertainment, and (“most important”) academia.

They’ve got a lot of money, a lot of energy, and a “missionary belief” in their cause.

7:42 p.m.
“Their representative” is sitting in the White House, he says, and seeking another term.

He says he’s going to write in somebody’s name, rather than vote for Obama. He attributes his dislike of Republicans to an “old prejudice.”

[It’s worth noting that that’s consistent with my view of Rhode Island’s core political problem.]

7:44 p.m.
Upon questioning, Carlin admitted that he’ll vote for the Republican, as he has for several presidential elections.

7:45 p.m.
Will Grapentine is making a somewhat long speech leading up to the “disconnect” between Catholics who don’t vote their faith. “Sometimes it’s master lever”; sometimes it’s that old anti-Republican prejudice. Question: When will people look at the issues instead of the party letter next to the name.

Carlin: The states with the highest percentage of Catholics are the most likely to post for pro-choice Senators and Representatives.

7:47 p.m.
The Church is officially pro-life, and “in some sense” most Catholics are, but to them, it’s one issue among many others.

“If Christianity is alive and well in the United States, its not because of Catholics,” but because of Evangelical Protestants.

Regarding party loyalty, he thinks young generations are less committed to parties. For Democrat seniors, giving up the party would be like giving up themselves. (He includes himself in that.)

His mother and father married during the Depression, voted for FDR. Walking down Prospect St. in Pawtucket, his father explained to him why “we” are Democrats: They are the party of the poor people, and the Republicans are the party of the rich people. “I’ve never been able to get that to unclick.”

Now, of course, he says, we’ve got two parties of the rich people. “That’s unnatural. In a modern political system, you should have one party” representing ordinary people, and one party for the establishment. [Note: How’s that for an entrenched narrative for political theory!]

Will G. sort of made the point that it’s becoming the party of the establishment rich versus the ambitious self-starters. (The point kind of drifted.)

7:53 p.m.
Kara Russo: Asking about the forcing of the secular ideology, as in sex ed. in schools; Catholic services forced out of adoption in MA; the HHS mandate, forcing funding of contraception and abortificients. It’s no longer about freedom.

Carlin: They’re particularly interested in sexual freedoms and freedoms to kill (sick and unborn) because those help to battle against Christianity. Other freedoms (like that of conscience) serve Christianity.

He’s “quite shocked” at the change that he’s observed over his lifetime.

7:55 p.m.
Carlin: The ACLU, for example, is not going to do much work defending freedom of conscience.

Russo: “It seems to me it’s a fascism.”

Carlin: “It’s a missionary faith.” Just as Christians try to spread the truth, and just as Jehovah’s Witnesses come and knock on your door, they want to spread their faith.

7:56 p.m.
A pastor (from Cranston) notes that only 20% of people are going to church regularly, and if the trend continues, it’ll be about 10% by 2020. Only 16% of Catholics are going to church regularly. He says Cranston’s own religious leaders didn’t pick up the right point with the Jessica Ahlquist matter. His point is that religion is staggering without any help. “It’s a battle that we’ve almost lost at this point.”

He notes that he only learned on a tour in D.C. that there used to be services in the Capitol. He says he was never taught that sort of thing (at age 57). “It’s almost a lost war.”

Carlin: Agrees with the numbers that the pastor was citing. “There is a cultural atmosphere that has been progressively undermining traditional religious belief.”

He notes that SSM advocates are very optimistic in the long run because young people favor it. “The opposition will die off.” “Unless there is some remarkable change,” SSM will be the law of the land.

8:01 p.m.
Question: Should schools keep teaching abstinence plus contraceptive sex education?

Carlin: “I’m not too optimistic about teachers’ ability to influence students in the classroom” meaning they won’t be able to instill traditional moral values. He doesn’t think what gets taught matters that much, because the important influences are parents (when younger) and peers.

“If all your friends are having sex, then you will, too. It doesn’t matter what your teachers are saying.”

8:03 p.m.
The questioner is a young (college age) girl appears to be supportive of contraceptive education. Carlin’s not convinced that the carelessness of kids can be overcome, even if they’re taught about “safe sex.”

He thinks “moral education” is a waste of time in school.

8:05 p.m.
Question: What motivates the attack on Christianity (“an insidious reason”)? And how can it be fought?

Carlin: “The anti-Christian element is deeply built in to our civilization, much like Christianity is.”

He’s not sure how to combat it. Maybe a higher level of religious literacy would be helpful, even accounting for people who will learn it and say, “this is all baloney.”

He suggests that Catholicism is pretty complex and can’t be taught easily, which is why it makes sense for Catholic schools to develop. But the Catholic school system collapsed about 40 years ago.

8:08 p.m.
Teaching at CCRI, he’ll sometimes ask a question about religion or Bible stories, but none of the students know them.

“What was the opening year of the Protestant Reformation? Nobody knows. It’s been years since anybody knew the answer.” Usually his classes can get the right millennium.

8:09 p.m.
“The level of religious and Biblical illiteracy is astonishingly high, these days.” He likens it to soldiers not know how to fight when going off to war.

8:10 p.m.
Chris Young (in another lengthy question) is whether it’s all an incremental plan to remove religion in the public school. ACLU is central to the project. “They don’t tell the public that the ACLU was started by communists.”

8:12 p.m.
Young is still talking. Now he’s on the communist plan to break down American society by undermining the family. “The American people only care when things affect them,” because they’ve been trained only think about themselves.

The people in this room, Young says, could run for office, but we won’t. We don’t care enough.

Young: “The mafia runs this state and they control the elections.”

8:14 p.m.
Carlin interjects to say that he can’t go as far as Young with the communist and mafia claims.

Carlin: “I think, ultimately, the agenda of unlimited personal liberty is unlivable. People do need either a religion (at least most people). So, if we succeed in destroying Christianity, some substitute will appear, but it may not be a benign replacement.”

8:16 p.m.
Question from somebody else. He thinks the war against religion is that it will either reverse or continue. He thinks it’s actually going to get worse.

Carlin cites Maggie Gallagher from the National Organization for Marriage, who often says that SSM will become a means of suppressing traditional Christian beliefs.

8:19 p.m.
Barth Bracy: Among Democrats, we see social liberals. In the Republican party, we’re seeing libertarians. Your thoughts?

Carlin: “Every so often, I’ll run into somebody who cites Barry Goldwater.” He realizes they are a growing element among Republicans, but he hasn’t thought a lot about them. Ron Paul doesn’t talk in terms of being pro-choice, but he thinks that’s the logical extension of his political theories, and he’s popular among marginal people.

8:22 p.m.
Question from somebody else: One of the problems is that many pastors are afraid of losing tax exempt status. Separate question: Isn’t a revival possible? (Cites Prohibition.)

Carlin: Agrees that his experience is that Catholic homilies don’t often address social issues. He’s only heard a priest say that “we have to be kind to gays.” He agrees with that sentiment, but says it’s not a very full explication of Catholic theology.

He doesn’t think it’s so much an IRS fear, but rather a real reluctance to go too far with conservative movements because a century or more ago, the Church became a tool of factional, class interests and engendered resentment.

8:25 p.m.
Question: How did the secularists take over the Democrat Party?

Carlin: The McGovern campaign gave them a place at the table, and that faction of liberals was unique among the party’s constituencies in their interest and dedication to politics and media.

8:28 p.m.
Basically, they had the intellectual talent and “moved in.”

8:29 p.m.
Same questioner notes how astonishing the rapid change has been.

Carlin agrees, but says that, “once you adopt” certain liberal premises, such as easy accessibility of sex, “everything else logically follows.”

Chris Young: Do you think there was a socialist agenda in the establishment of public colleges.

Carlin: No.

8:32 p.m.
Carlin is describing a book (perhaps The Soul of the American University) that talks about the gradual fading of Christianity in Christian schools. “The same sort of thing has been happening to Catholic colleges.” At least the Protestant schools didn’t know where they were going.

8:34 p.m.
Young goes into Communist influence in colleges. Interestingly, he notes that he’s losing audience members for Carlin, but says that he’s going to put his video on TV, which will get a much larger audience.

8:35 p.m.
Last question from an older woman: “I don’t not believe that Christianity can be destroyed.” “We’re dealing with a transcendent truth above the political sphere.”

In previous conflicts, the Church has survived; there’s always been an underground movement.

8:37 p.m.
She notes that the apostles started as 12 people, so the attendance statistics don’t worry her. Many people will be in Church for Easter; she’s heard some great homilies at the Cathedral in Providence.

She sometimes wishes tax exemption would go away so religious leaders could be unleashed.

8:40 p.m.
Carlin clarifies that, when he talks about Christianity being “destroyed,” it’s akin to saying that it’s going to be cold outside. That doesn’t mean absolute zero.

8:41 p.m.
Christianity could become insignificant in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean the end of Christianity. [Note: some would argue that it’ll mean the end of the U.S.]

8:42 p.m.
He notes that an upsurge of Christianity in Africa corresponds with a decline in Western Europe.

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