Inside the Small but LOUD Bubble of Well-Funded MAGA Catholic Insanity…

….. James Altman invites his cult of personality into full-blown schism with this bull of excommunication against the Pope:

The theological claims are absurd, of course. And if you want as in-depth a look at how false and silly they are as any normal person could possibly need, here you go:

What I find fascinating about Altman is the intense, almost orgasmic ecstasy he gets at the thought of the suffering of those he hates. God pity the poor souls who look to this guy as a shepherd. As I have already observed, the defining psychological trait of conservatives in the Age of MAGA is intense self-pity for the conservative and the tiny minority of people he sees as extensions of his ego combined with a radical lack of empathy for all other human suffering as non-existent, contemptible, guilt-manipulation or, in this case, funny. The joy he takes in the thought of the endless, eternal suffering of those he hates–and that it can’t come soon enough–says it all. And he is so intensely deluded that he tells himself he speaks in love. He is already on record referring to trans people and advocates of masks mandates as “vermin“, declaring that the real blame for lynching was due to the black victims (whom he readily declares to be guilty of rape and murder, while the only fault of the lynchers was their failure to pursue “due process” before inflicting what Altman calls “capital punishment”, not murder. And he likewise is on record saying the victims of the Nazi extermination of the Warsaw Ghetto had it coming because (you guessed it) abortion.

Altman, having been silenced by his bishop for his remarkable proclamations (such as damning to hell everybody who votes for a Democrat because, again, abortion) did not obey his bishop. Instead, he took his show on the road, founding a grift called the Coalition for Cancelled Priests, raising buckets of money with a victimhood narrative that elicits money from the same sort of Catholic who donates to a billionaire for his rapist defense fund and his treason defense fund and his insurrection defense fund. As the production quality of his video makes clear, he is well-funded by people with a lot of money to throw at hating the Pope and the Church outside the MAGA bubble. His essential contract with his cult of personality is, “I will give you moral carte blanche to deeply and intensely hate the people I hate and savor the hope that they suffer in this life and the next. You keep me in the manner to which I am accustomed. We both tell each other we are persecuted heroes and martyrs and the rest of the Church are vermin.”

Those damned vermin now include the Pope (and, by extension, all who are in union with him–which is to say, all Catholics).

What is so striking about this clearly disturbed and rage-filled man (who obviously should never have been ordained and who is begging for laicization) is that both the MAGA Cult and the Francis-haters are conducting the same war on reality because the latter (which marinates in the delusion that Francis is not Pope) is a subset of the former (which marinates in the delusion that Biden is not President). Like all magical thinkers, they have now been reduced to the desperate attempt to simply try to deny Reality out of existence by screaming at it loudly with purely delusional words.

His sect imagines that Altman’s video is the first shot at Lexington/Concord (or, more accurately, Fort Sumter) and that now the True Church, galvanized by this Prophet, is about to rise up and cast out Pope Francis.

In reality, it is just a well-funded demagogue with a big microphone paid for by a tiny number of rich American enemies of the Church who want it remade in the image and likeness of Christofascism, subservient to far right aspirations of authoritarian power. American Catholics constitute 6% of the global Church. These people constitute a tiny fraction of that small fraction, because even in the US, it is a delusional fringe:

Outside the US, it is even more a fringe minority. So now that Altman and his propagandists at Lifesite News and related … epistemic bubbles… are clearly announcing they are in schism, it will be… clarifying,,, when we see just how small the number of people who follow him into schism will be. I fully expect Altman and his cult of personality to experience a Full Bluto Blutarsky Moment as he tries to rally the sect.

And here is the final irony this poor man’s trajectory and of the little cult of personality that is following him out of the Church and into schism. As DW. Lafferty observed over on Twitter:

Remember where this started, though. It started with the usual grandstanding about how voting Democrat is a mortal sin because of abortion, don’t take the COVID vaccines, climate change is a hoax, etc. That’s the path he took, and it led him straight out of the Catholic Church.

He didn’t get to sedevacantism by going loony, or by getting wrapped up in the intricacies of the doctrine of papal infallibility. He just followed the crude political logic of every Trump-era conservative influencer. There are so many Catholics following that same path.

For twenty years, what was evolving into the MAGA “prolife” cult of death in opposition to the Church’s Consistent Life Ethic told us that we had to ignore everything the Church said and “focus on abortion” because it’s “Non-Negotiable”. In fact, however, what the “prolife” Cult of Death did was focus on every single culture war shibboleth the GOP told them was sacrosanct and turn it into some crucial hill to die on. The unborn were just human shields for that, the real project. What compelled Altman to reject unity with the Pope was not some mythical “non-negotiable” abortion issue. He was perfectly fine with any number of unborn children dying in the wombs of COVID victims. What mattered to him most was his hatred of Francis for contradicting right winbg culture war bullshit denying climate change, or failing to hate the “vermin” he (and the GOP) hate. GOP shibboleths, not the unborn, are the real non-negotiables for the MAGA “prolife” cult of death.


6 Responses

  1. “The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior ‘righteous indignation’ — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”

    These are the people A. Huxley described then

  2. Great article Mark. I keep trying to understand this mindset that is so ready to believe lies.
    The only reason I can come up with is fear. The followers feel safe with an us against them mentality. I also think there is a certain thrill with the constant “the sky is falling” input of misinformation.
    What I don’t have is a solution.

  3. Just to be clear, the fringe is a much smaller population than the 17% who don’t have a favorable view of Pope Francis. Looking up the Pew article that comes from, 3% didn’t respond, and 14% view Pope Francis unfavorably.

    In a Catholic forum I frequent, I’d bet 1/3 of more of the posters would probably say they view Pope Francis unfavorably.

    But whether or not they think he is a good Pope, they still defend his legitimacy as Pope. The threads where sedevacantists sometimes wander in to spout their opinions conclude quickly and decisively. Extending that observation more generally, I’d say that the overwhelming majority of that 14% accept Francis as Pope.

  4. I’m glad that when I decided I didn’t want to be Catholic anymore I just left instead of going to seminary, getting ordained and then becoming as loony as late stage Caligula!

  5. I think Mark inadvertently came up with a new term combining “right wing” and “windbag.”

    “right winbg culture”

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