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Rush Limbaugh: Pope Francis Represents "Pure Marxism"

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) December 5, 2013: Rush Limbaugh, the supreme pontiff of conservative American civic religion, has accused Pope Francis, the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, of "pure Marxism" -- in his new apostolic exhortation titled Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel).

By definition, an apostolic exhortation is a pope's religious pep talk for practicing Catholics. This is the first sole authored document issued by Pope Francis. (Earlier another document was issued under his name, but now-Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI had drafted most of it.)


Of course "pure Marxism" is against Limbaugh's conservative religion. Historically, Limbaugh's conservative religion reached a certain critical mass in the United States in reaction to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917. But the anti-communist fervor of the conservative religion in the United States soared during the Cold War.

Nobody today should forget how powerful the anti-communist fervor of the American conservative civic religion was during the Cold War. In his book The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret Cold War (2013), Stephen Kinzer explains how Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, and his brother Allen, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, worked together to destabilize governments that they perceived to be communist or neutral -- in Iran (pages 119-146), Guatemala (147-174), Vietnam (175-215), Indonesia (216-246), the Congo (247-283), and Cuba (284-307). During the Cold War, the Dulles brothers and President Eisenhower imagined communism to be a monolithic force in the world under the direction of the Soviet Union.

However, the Cold War has ended. The old Soviet Union has been broken up. But the American civic religion of anti-communism has not ended.

So as the supreme pontiff of the conservative American religion, Limbaugh understands that it is imperative for him to alert his co-religionists to possible threats to their civic religion. After all, as the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis alerts his co-religionists to alleged threats to their religion that he refers to as secularism and relativism.


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Pope Francis criticizes "the sacralized working of the prevailing economic systems." Yes, Limbaugh and others have sacralized the workings of the prevailing economic system. That's their religion. The pope is criticizing their civic religion.

Pope Francis may think that his Catholic religion trumps the civic religion of American Catholics, because his religion is centuries older than their religion. But Limbaugh understands that his civic religion trumps the pope's religion in the United States. However, Limbaugh also understands that it is important for him to denounce the pope's "pure Marxism."

Pope Francis even criticizes "trickle-down theories." But trickle-down theory is a sacred doctrine in Limbaugh's conservative civic religion.

The pope criticizes "the idolatry of money." But Limbaugh's conservative religion is based on the idolatry of money. Besides, everybody knows that the pope's church is not entirely innocent of the idolatry of money. So who does Pope Francis think he's fooling, eh?

The pope criticizes "the absolute autonomy of the marketplace." But Limbaugh's conservative religion holds the absolute autonomy of the marketplace to be a sacrosanct doctrine. When you criticize the absolute autonomy of the marketplace, you sound as though you want governments to regulate the marketplace. But Limbaugh's conservative religion worships deregulation and often opposes regulation in principle.

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Pope Francis writes of "a new tyranny" based on "the interests of a deified market." Here the pope is at odds with Limbaugh's conservative religion, which deifies the market as being guided by an invisible hand.

The pope criticizes "the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless." But Limbaugh's conservative religion adores the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest.

So when we add up the pope's pointed criticisms of unfettered capitalism, is he preaching "pure Marxism," as Limbaugh claims?

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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...)

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