Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats

OpEdNews Op Eds

Are the Five Male Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court Theocons?

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H2 7/13/14
Become a Fan
  (18 fans)

From Supreme Court five Catholics
Supreme Court five Catholics
(image by DonkeyHotey)

Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) July 13, 2014: The recent Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby has understandably generated a lot of discussion involving different angles on the ruling.

Samuel G. Freedman, a Jewish journalism professor at ColumbiaUniversity, published the op-ed commentary "Among Justices, Considering a Divide Not of Gender or Politics, but of Beliefs" in the New York Times dated July 12, 2014 (but dated July 11, 2014 on the newspaper's website).

Freedman's angle for discussing the ruling involves the religious divide among the Justices: three are Jewish, but six are Roman Catholics. (Disclosure: I come from a Roman Catholic background. However, for many years now, I have not been a practicing Catholic. Today I would describe myself as a theistic humanist, as distinct from a secular humanist.)

The ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby involved a 5-4 divide among the nine Justices. In this case, and in another case that Freedman discusses, Greece v. Galloway (about public prayer at a government meeting), the five male Justices in the majority were all Roman Catholics. Because the two cases that Freedman focuses on involved the practice of religion, he reasonably suggests that we Americans should consider the religious divide of the nine Justices now serving on the Supreme Court.

In the spirit of considering the religious divide, Freedman makes the following statements:

"For Jews [in the United States], said the political scientist Kenneth D. Wald of the University of Florida, a secular state became synonymous with their comfort and accomplishment in the United States. 'Defending and extending the secular definition of the American state,' he has written, 'became the (often unstated) core political priority of America's organized Jewish community.'"

For the sake of discussion, let's say that Wald's characterizations of American Jews are basically accurate. In addition, let's allow that his characterizations may help us understand the three Jewish Justices.

Now, Damon Linker has published the book The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege (2006).

On the front cover of the dust jacket, we read the following statement: "For the past three decades, a few determined men have worked to inject their radical religious ideas into the nation's politics. This is the story of how they succeeded."

Linker focuses primarily on certain Roman Catholics. But are the six Roman Catholic Justices similar to the theocons in the sense of seeing themselves as waging war on secular America, or at least on "the secular definition of the American state" that Wald describes in the above quote?

I hope that they are not. But the theocons discussed by Linker are not exactly a novelty among Roman Catholics. Why not? Let me explain.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Roman Catholic popes have inveighed against modernity. Secularism is presumably a byproduct of modernity. So they are also against secularism. But we may wonder if the papal denunciations of modernity and secularism have trickled down to ordinary Catholics such as the six Justices.

Philip Gleason, a historian at the University of Notre Dame, has published the book titled Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 1995). As the title of his book clearly indicates, the papal inveighing against modernity and secularism trickled down to Roman Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States in the 20th century.

For relevant critiques of modernity and secularism involving now-emeritus Pope Benedict XVI (also known earlier as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), see the following four books: (1) Values in a Time of Upheaval (2006), (2) Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures (2006), (3) The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion (2006), and (4) Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam (2006).

In short, we can assume that the six Catholic Justices did not escape from the papal critiques of modernity and secularism as part of their Catholic cultural conditioning.

Next Page  1  |  2


Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Tell Americans to watch out for Roman Catholic theocons!

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Who Was Walter Ong, and Why Is His Thought Important Today?

More Americans Should Live Heroic Lives of Virtue (Review Essay)

Martha Nussbaum on Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Book Review)

Hillary Clinton Urges Us to Stand Up to Extremists in the U.S.

Was the Indian Jesuit Anthony de Mello Murdered in the U.S. 25 Years Ago? (BOOK REVIEW)

Matthew Fox's Critique of the Roman Catholic Church


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Never has the court been so dominated by a single ... by Richard Girard on Monday, Jul 14, 2014 at 1:21:23 PM
My impression is that historically Roman Catholics... by Thomas Farrell on Monday, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:39:07 PM

Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment