ELLIOT: They think you dont really believe

The John Podesta/Catholic emails are revealing, but not just in the ways that many conservatives and church leaders have noted. To sum up the controversy: A recent WikiLeaks release included Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails from 2011. One exchange was between Jennifer Palmieri, now Clinton’s communications director, and John Halpin, a scholar at the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress.In the emails, Halpin said that Catholic conservatives “must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations.”Palmieri replied “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.” (Podesta was included on the emails but did not comment.)Writing on the controversy this week, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board observed that the emails are “a window into the intolerant secular soul of the Democratic establishment.” Addie Mena of the Catholic News Agency mused, “Oh anti-Catholicism. You’re always in vogue.”House Speaker Paul Ryan said “All Americans of faith should take a long, hard look at this and decide if these are the values we want to be represented in our next president.”That’s all true enough, but the emails reveal something additional. Combined with two other incidents recently, they show a tendency on the left to be so far removed from people of faith that some of them just can’t really believe that the faithful truly believe — not what people of faith believe, but that they really believe at all.Consider the second example, a column written last month by Bill Press, a liberal political analyst. The column, titled “Mother Teresa ain’t so saintly,” knocked Mother Teresa for “dogmatic” views of abortion, contraception, and divorce, and for prioritizing the saving of souls. While his stance on her may be wrong, it’s at least logical given his political views. But more disturbingly, Press uses that same list of attributes as reasons that the Pope should not have made her a saint. In other words, Press thinks the Catholic church shouldn’t canonize a Catholic for acting Catholic. (Note: While North Statement publishes Press’ columns regularly, we declined to print that one.)Karl Marx famously said that repressive societies use religion as the opiate of the people, employing a mind-robbing stupor that made tyranny and bondage bearable. Modern liberal churches often use religion as the amphetamine of the masses — services aren’t about worshiping God, they are about energizing the congregation to go forth and fight for a better world. They are about the power of the people, not the power of the Spirit. In other words, some liberals see church as an auxiliary to advance their policies, a do-goodery club for like-minded folks. There is nothing wrong with civic philanthropy and political organizing, of course. But it’s not religion. One gets the idea that some of these folks would feel more comfortable if God weren’t involved at all. Think that’s too harsh? Not for Gretta Vosper, the United Church of Canada minister who is an atheist. That’s right: The minister of a Christian church is an atheist. Vosper, in the third incident, has said she thinks many other progressive ministers are actually atheists. She is beloved by members of her congregation, who are — by their own admission — more interested in the “Glory of Good” than in the Glory of God. All of this brings us back to the anti-Catholic emails of the Clinton campaign. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement saying “we hold onto our beliefs because they come to us from Jesus, not a consensus forged by contemporary norms.”But Charles Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, may have had the best response.”Of course it would be wonderful for the Clinton campaign to repudiate the content of these ugly WikiLeaks emails,” Chaput wrote. “All of us backward-thinking Catholics who actually believe what Scripture and the Church teach would be so very grateful.”