But we now live in a very weird age when conservative Catholics tell themselves they are are “defending the Faith” not because they love the Church’s virtues, but because they hate them.
They tell you, of course, that they do love the Church’s virtues, but they don’t. What they love is rules, fear, force, blood, and iron. They hate the Church for her pity for the stranger, for her opposition to slaughter of the death row prisoner, for her call to listen to the sciences when the sciences speak out of their proper sphere of competence, for her insistence that all are made in the image and likeness of God and Christ died for all (including LGBTQ), and for her rejection of the lie as the means to power and her upholding of civic order.
Above all, they hate hate hate her because she insists that in Christ Jesus there is neither white, black or brown, neither European nor Amazonian or Mexican, but all are one in Christ Jesus. They hate her for not exalting money over the dignity of the human person, and for not accepting the filthy lie that, as long as you rub your Precious Feet pin, you get to spit in the face of every human being the GOP wants to rob, harm, and kill. Most of all, they hate this Pope for continually defying them and doing as the gospel bids.
And because they deeply hate the Church while lying that they are “defending the Faith” we are now treated to the insane spectacle of the Church Militant grift exalting a Know Nothing bigot like Marjorie Taylor Greene as she tells them and their audience of antichrist-worshipping fascists that the Catholic Church is ruled by “Satan”:
Last Thursday, on the eve of testifying in a lawsuit that seeks to prevent her from running for re-election, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the legendary or notorious Georgia Republican, granted an hourlong interview in her home to an unlikely outlet: the far-right Catholic news organization Church Militant, which for years has positioned itself as one of the noisiest and most outlandish partisans in the Roman Catholic Church’s ongoing fight with itself. Greene is an evangelical Protestant, not a Catholic, but Church Militant is making the most of this opportunity, and has featured segments of the interview all week, starting with its opening video on Monday, entitled “Marjorie for Pope.”
In the interview, Greene rehashed old beefs, described herself as a victim of Jan. 6, said the United States is so sinful she doesn’t understand “why God hasn’t destroyed us” and — most exciting for Church Militant — suggested that Satan is controlling the Catholic Church.
That might sound like a claim that would offend most Catholics, but Church Militant is not most Catholics. Originally founded as Real Catholic TV by former CBS News producer Michael Voris in 2008 to offer a more orthodox depiction of Mother Church than is found in pop culture fare like “The Da Vinci Code,” the organization grew increasingly strident and at odds with the formal church, until the Archdiocese of Detroit, where it’s located, successfully blocked it from using the word “Catholic” in the outlet’s name.
These days, Voris describes the website as an apostolate trying to preserve authentic Catholicism in the face of a church hierarchy he describes as an “international crime syndicate” run by a gay cabal. In his crusade against the church, Voris has launched two coalitions for what he calls “canceled” and “persecuted” priests as well as an anonymous network he calls “the New Catacombs,” comprising clerics who denounce “the evil in the hierarchy.”
In 2020, Church Militant pronounced itself the home of “the red-pilled laity” and became such a vitriolic supporter of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that Voris warned that a Biden presidency would result in faithful Catholics being declared “illegal” and “hunted down” and said that if any viewers considered Trump too “crass” to support, they’d better not complain when they were “herded onto the trains headed for the camps.”
The Church Militant site calls itself the home of “red-pilled laity” and warned that a Biden presidency would end with Catholics “herded onto the trains headed for the camps.”
After cheering on the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, last summer Church Militant brought disgraced former “alt-lite” personality Milo Yiannopoulos into the fold. He had recently declared that returning to the Catholic faith had helped him become “ex-gay” — similar to Voris, who in 2016 publicly repented for having had same-sex relationships and committed to live a “chaste” life — and that he was planning on opening a Catholic conversion therapy clinic in Florida.
After starting as a columnist, by last fall Yiannopoulos was hawking Virgin Mary icons and CDs of himself reading from the books of Psalms and Proverbs on Church Militant’s home shopping service. He even appeared on behalf of the group in a Baltimore court as Church Militant fought to hold a protest rally outside the annual gathering of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. When the protest took place last November, Yiannapoulos served as emcee, pairing jokes about gay culture with homophobic slurs as he egged on the audience to chant “Lock them up” at the bishops meeting next door.
This February, Yiannopoulos also facilitated Greene’s appearance as the honored “surprise guest” at white nationalist Nick Fuentes’ third America First Political Action Conference. At that gathering, Greene greeted the crowd of 1,200 white nationalists as fellow “canceled Americans,” and told them they had been “handed the responsibility to fight for our Constitution and stand up for our freedoms and stop the Democrats who are the Communist Party of the United States of America.” In the aftermath of that colorful event — which featured chants in support of Vladimir Putin, calls to hang political enemies, abundant “great replacement” theory and Fuentes praising Hitler — Greene defended her appearance as an effort “to break barriers and speak to a lost generation of young people” who had “gathered to declare that Christ is King.”
In a tweet on Monday, Greene referenced Yiannopoulos again, seemingly in response to the news that Elon Musk had bought Twitter, calling on unseen forces to “bring back” her personal Twitter account as well as those of Trump, COVID skeptic Robert Malone, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Yiannopoulos and the entire “canceled nation.” It’s fair to speculate that Yiannopoulos helped facilitate Greene’s interview with Church Militant as well, in which Voris praised her as “the lioness in the Congress, defender of traditional values, America, all of that,” and suggested that she might become the next speaker of the House.
In the interview, MTG did what MTG does. She insulted Joe Biden, claimed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had forbidden members of Congress from using “pronouns and family names” such as “mother” and “grandparent,” recounted confrontations with fellow lawmakers and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, and described efforts to address the student loan debt crisis as “Satanic.” Here’s the logic on that one: “When people think they don’t have to be responsible with their money and they can just borrow as much as they want and not have to care about giving it back, that is Satan destroying rules.”
This interview was recorded just before Greene’s appearance in a lawsuit challenging her eligibility to run for Congress again on the grounds that she supported the Jan. 6 insurrection. So she protested, predictably enough, that she too was “a victim” of Jan. 6, since she’d been evacuated from the House chamber as well. The lawsuit, which is unlikely to be successful, is based on a provision of the 14th Amendment, written in the aftermath of the Civil War, which holds that people who have sworn an oath to protect the Constitution and subsequently support an insurrection are barred from holding any political office in the future.
But in the interview, Greene showed herself willing to be party to another civil war: the one within the Catholic Church, which for most of the last decade has pitted conservative American Catholics against a pope they consider too liberal to be legitimate, as well as against much of the rest of the global church.
After asking Greene how she gauged the “spiritual character of the United States right now” — the question that prompted her to wonder why God hadn’t destroyed America yet for its failure to end abortion — Voris guided her into issues within Catholic World, taking specific aim at the church-affiliated aid organization Catholic Relief Services, which has recently been targeted by conservative Catholics for its work to help immigrants at the southern border.
“What it is, is Satan’s controlling the church,” Greene responded. Catholics and other Christians who cite biblical mandates to “love one another” by taking care of migrants, she continued, are “perverting” both the meaning of the Bible and the Constitution.
There’s a lot here, nearly all of it contemptible, laughable, and humiliating for a Catholic who has to acknowledge that the fascists, dolts, bigots, and power-hungry rage monsters at Church Militant are indeed members of the Catholic communion. That this embarrassing display of paranoid self-pity (“Biden is coming to put us all in death camps”), this worship of a braindead Fundamentalist over the simple honor due a good man like Pope Francis, and this blasphemous enmity to Holy Church that comes within a whisker of sacrilege is what now passes for “Real Catholic Faith” with millions of these bigots only makes clear yet again that the alloying of MAGA and Catholic… we’ll call it “piety” not “faith” has been a deadly combination.
Long ago, in my youth, Catholics understood the concept of the indefectibility of the Faith. It was the understanding that, dumb and sinful as Catholics can be, that did not render the Holy Spirit powerless to preserve the essential teaching of the Faith since He, not we, is the Soul of the Church.
These ignorant bigots believe no such thing and are ready to set fire to the Church out of pure MAGA spite for the most transient of reasons, such as a traitorous dumbbell who tickles their spite against defenseless brown refugees. She offers them a gospel that teaches “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples: that you hate the least of these.” It is obscene and those who listen to the Shepherd’s voice flee these wolves.
The interesting thing to me is watching Catholics adapt–or fail to adapt–to the new reality that the Church’s most bitter enemies are no longer ignorant Protestants like Greene, but grifting demagogues like Voris.
It is an ancient American Know Nothing trope that the Catholic Church is the sinister patron of Foreign Influences and seeks to adulterate pure White American blood by bringing into the country ignorant brown peasants to break down our Protestant moral fiber created by merciless competition and hard work. So it is utterly unsurprising that a dumb bigot like Marjorie Taylor Greene resurrects those old lies for political gain. She’s just doing her job. Nothing personal. What *is* new and different is that supposedly Real Catholics[TM] like Michael Voris and Church Militant (and other Reactionaries like John Zmirak) would embrace these hoary Know Nothing lies and sell them to thousands of other people who see themselves as the Greatest Catholics of All Time, sent by God to defend the Faith from the Pope.
Bill Donohue, still of the old school belief that the biggest enemies of the Church are dumb Protestant bigots, reacts accordingly.
But what he does not seem to see or register is that MTG made her remarks about the “Satanic” Catholic Church to a grifting Right Wing *Catholic* demagogue who promptly nominated her for Pope because he hates the Church far more intensely than she does. Nor does it register with him that EWTN has repeatedly done puff piece on this ignorant bigot because they adore Trump and, above all, hate the pope who calls the US Church to welcome the refugee and the stranger. It is now the MAGA Catholic, not the Know Nothing Protestant, who is the biggest and most insidious enemy of the gospel the Church actually preaches.
One of many reasons I thank God for Pope Francis.
The Church, when we think of its relationship to political power, has always tried to ‘gentle’ the worst instincts of humanity. This why it stresses a commitment to the sanctity of life, emphasizes human freedom (properly understood as the freedom of the person, not the individual) and has tended toward a ‘leftist’ position in matters of economy and migration.
This puts it at odds with both the militant atheist liberal and the (Anglo-Saxon) conservative, because the one tries to silence it, and the other tries to selectively use some elements as a tool to further its own power. Whether the enemy at the gates is worse than the enemy within, is hard to say. Mark seems to emphasize the danger of inner corruption more, and it agree with that. It’s better for a Christian to be marginalized, than to become Patriarch Kirill.
Disclosure, I have detested Marjorie Taylor Greene for a long time. I hadn’t known that was an apostate Catholic, but it’s sort of the cherry on the sundae, really. For her to say “I’m talking to you, bishops” in any context is no different from her typical assumptions of self-importance. She seems to think that the Whole World is watching her all the time and gives a damn what she thinks. For her to link up with Church Militant shows them both candidly and it’s not pretty.
But for her to publicly fight with Bill Donohue (to steal an expression) is like watching a wasp land on a nettle — somebody is going to get stung, and I don’t care.
Excellent excellent piece Mark… Beyond her nonsensical rant against the Church, take a look at her record in Congress. She’s been stripped of all assignments because of her bigotry and she has done NOTHING for her constituents. Take a look at what she has introduced in Congress. https://www.congress.gov/member/marjorie-greene/G000596
Your line – ” It was the understanding that, dumb and sinful as Catholics can be, that did not render the Holy Spirit powerless to preserve the essential teaching of the Faith…” says so much, but I just don’t understand how some people can be so dumb??
“I just don’t understand how some people can be so dumb?”
If you’re talking about politicians, it’s quite simple: most of them aren’t nearly as dumb as they sound.
Think about Ted Cruz. Every time he talks in public he sounds like an idiot. But he is absolutely not an idiot: Harvard Law School, Solicitor Generals’s Office, argued cases before the Supreme Court. He has serious brain power. So why does he always sound dumb in public? My guess is, he believes that’s the best way to appeal to the Republican base.
Now there are some politicians – Lauren Boebert and Ron Johnson come to mind – who clearly are stupid. But MTG? I’m not sure. She might be in the Cruz category: a performance artist who knows exactly what she’s doing.
I believe that Cruz sounds like an idiot because he’s intrinsically dishonest and isn’t quite sure how to convey a message that he thinks will work on his hearers. Not really a man with real people skills, at all.
I think MTG is something entirely different. (Leaving aside the whole “marshall law” idiocy.) Watch her on video, not just with Voris, but in the clip she’s so proud of, following a Parkland School shooting survivor and harassing him in the street on camera. Put that together with stunts, like yelling into Rep.Ocasio-Cortez’s office through a mail slot. She’s behaving like a junior high mean girl, and loving it — she’s clearly as proud as Satan, but the things she chooses to do. apart from getting attention, are not clever. They don’t advance her message or her position. But they keep her in the spotlight and she loves the attention. It’s just pride.
I lean toward MTG being crazy like a fox.
MTG has lied about so many things that I doubt she was ever Catholic – or if she was, she left for a different reason than disillusionment with clerical malfeasance. I’d like a journalist to check it out. Regardless, the Archdiocese of Atlanta is unlikely to comment.
At the end of the day there is always a silver lining when jerks act like jerks. Even in my most serious Kool-Aide imbibing years, when the hateful crazies peppered their “pro-life” party line with bigotry, I took note. I might have been too deep in the trenches, and felt too weak and compromised to confront them, but their words and laziness in the face of their suffering brethren spoke an unmistakable truth.
It was one more crack in the bars of my prison walls. Their lies don’t fall on completely deaf ears.