Sr. Edith Bogue: Religion and the Supreme Court

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This may be the source of Justice [Samuel] Alito’s frustration. Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Jewish justices sat with him on the bench. Their governing religious bodies have been active on a variety of legal issues – and yet their affiliation with these “mainstream” denominations is normalized.

There is a perception that somehow, one’s religious belief – whatever it is – can be tucked away so that it has no influence on one’s thinking. Yet the foundational values from which one operates – be they secular humanist or religious – will inevitably have an effect on one’s thinking. It’s surprising that the press has only thought about this with regard to the Catholic justices.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture

22 Comments
Posted October 27, 2009 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Sarah wrote:

RE: “It’s surprising that the press has only thought about this with regard to the Catholic justices.”

I’m afraid that it’s not surprising at all.  You see, Methodists and Episcopalians and Lutherans are less likely to be a threat to the media’s agendas than Roman Catholics.

It’s really just that simple.

October 27, 8:25 am | [comment link]
2. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Hmmm. I really don’t understand.

How are Roman Catholics likely to be a threat to the media’s “agendas”? And are you talking about liberal agendas, or conservative agendas? There are, of course, both kinds of press media, with a few inbetween.

October 27, 9:07 am | [comment link]
3. Sarah wrote:

RE: “There are, of course, both kinds of press media, with a few in between.”

Closing in on 90% of the mainstream media vote Democrat and are—accompanied by that vote—quite astoundingly liberal in their politics.  So yeh . . . Roman Catholics—unless they are the nice liberal kind that think abortion is a great idea and gay marriage too—are a thread to the *mainstream* media’s agendas.

October 27, 9:16 am | [comment link]
4. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

#3: Okay, fair enough. But then why are not Southern Baptists or Assemblies of God members also a threat? Is it because Roman Catholics are just more visible? Or more vulnerable because their history of tolerance for child sex abuse has been exposed?

Or is it more likely, as a priest recently observed on another thread, that prejudice against Roman Catholics is the last socially correct form of bigotry?

October 27, 9:30 am | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:

Well believe me, if the Supreme Court were made up of Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God folks I think the media would be howling too!

RE: “Or is it more likely, as a priest recently observed on another thread, that prejudice against Roman Catholics is the last socially correct form of bigotry?”

Well . . . I’ve noticed some Roman Catholics saying that really loudly whenever their theology is critiqued by Protestants.  I don’t personally believe that either example—that of the press loathing conscientious RCs on the Supreme Court, or that of Protestants critiquing RC theology—is an example of “bigotry.”

But then, I think “bigotry” has now experienced such an inflated and expanded definition that the word now approaches meaninglessness, much like the word “homophobic” has for conservative Christians.  Rolls off people’s backs like rain on a duck’s.

October 27, 9:55 am | [comment link]
6. Chris Molter wrote:

I’ve noticed some Roman Catholics saying that really loudly whenever their theology is critiqued by Protestants.

I usually notice it when a parody or caricature of our theology is “critiqued”, not so much when the actual theology is.

October 27, 10:10 am | [comment link]
7. Sherri2 wrote:

90 percent of the media? Where does that figure come from?

October 27, 10:25 am | [comment link]
8. Sarah wrote:

RE: “I usually notice it when a parody or caricature of our theology is “critiqued”, not so much when the actual theology is.”

Well—on the occasions when I hear it it’s when valid differences are articulated by the Protestant.  Often, along with the cries of “bigotry” the responder embarks on long and tedious explanations of what infallibility means [or whatever the rejected issue is], when the original speaker well knows what it means already and has already rejected it in full knowledge.

But we’re probably not going to agree about when we hear the cries of “bigotry” on this issue.  ; > )

October 27, 12:40 pm | [comment link]
9. Words Matter wrote:

when the original speaker well knows what it means already

Would that it were so. I could show you tedious comments at this site where Catholic doctrine is mis-represented.  I could also point to protestants who disagree with Catholic doctrine knowledgeably and don’t display a shred of prejudice. They don’t post on this site much, however.

As to bigotry, particularly in the media, and anti-Catholic prejudice, I recommend The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice by the Episcopalian Phillip Jenkins.

October 27, 1:25 pm | [comment link]
10. Branford wrote:

Sherri2 - here’s some (somewhat dated - 2005) info on journalists’ political leanings showing a decided numerical bent towards “liberal”:

How Journalists See Journalists in 2004

In May 2004, the Pew Research Center for The People and The Press (in association with the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Committee of Concerned Journalists) surveyed 547 journalists and media executives, including 247 at national-level media outlets. The poll was similar to ones conducted by the same group (previously known as the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press) in 1995 and 1999. The actual polling was done by the Princeton Survey Research Associates.

KEY FINDINGS:

Five times more national journalists identify themselves as “liberal” (34 percent) than “conservative” (just 7 percent). In contrast, a survey of the public taken in May 2004 found 20 percent saying they were liberal, and 33 percent saying they were conservative.
The percentage of national reporters saying they are liberal has increased, from 22 percent in 1995 to 34 percent in 2004. The percentage of self-identified conservatives remains low, rising from a meager 4 percent in 1995 to a still-paltry 7 percent in 2004.

Liberals also outnumber conservatives in local newsrooms. Pew found that 23 percent of the local journalists they questioned say they are liberals, while about half as many (12 percent) call themselves conservative.

Most national journalists (55 percent) say the media are “not critical enough” of President Bush, compared with only eight percent who believe the press has been “too critical.” In 1995, the poll found just two percent thought journalists had given “too much” coverage to then-President Clinton’s accomplishments, compared to 48 percent who complained of “too little” coverage of Clinton’s achievements.

Reporters struggled to name a liberal news organization. According to Pew, “The New York Times was most often mentioned as the national daily news organization that takes a decidedly liberal point of view, but only by 20% of the national sample.” Only two percent of reporters suggested CNN, ABC, CBS, or NPR were liberal; just one percent named NBC.

Journalists did see ideology at one outlet: “The single news outlet that strikes most journalists as taking a particular ideological stance — either liberal or conservative — is Fox News Channel,” Pew reported. More than two-thirds of national journalists (69 percent) tagged FNC as a conservative news organization, followed by The Washington Times (9 percent) and The Wall Street Journal (8 percent).

October 27, 4:24 pm | [comment link]
11. Sarah wrote:

RE: “I could show you tedious comments at this site where Catholic doctrine is mis-represented.  I could also point to protestants who disagree with Catholic doctrine knowledgeably and don’t display a shred of prejudice. They don’t post on this site much, however.”

Yep—like I said . . . “we’re probably not going to agree about when we hear the cries of “bigotry” on this issue.”

Nicely confirmed.

October 27, 9:11 pm | [comment link]
12. CPKS wrote:

“bigot - A person obstinately and unreasonably wedded to a particular religious creed, opinion, or practice; a person blindly attached to an opinion…”
Nescie confirmatus, ignorantly assured.

October 28, 7:29 am | [comment link]
13. Words Matter wrote:

[Comment deleted by Elf]

October 28, 8:04 am | [comment link]
14. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Your problem, Sarah, is that objective reality exists.”

Not a problem at all.  It’s simply that I disagree with your assertion of belief on this particular thread.  I’m sure you believe that your assertion of belief is “objective reality.”  But I don’t and I have said it.  That appears to be a problem for you, not me, as it’s not all that important to me that you don’t agree with my assertion.

RE: “You can hide behind snide, faux-cute comments as much as you want . . . “

Not certain what you mean by that and don’t particularly care.  There’s merely me and you responding to each other’s assertions and in the end my pointing out that “we’re probably not going to agree about when we hear the cries of “bigotry” on this issue.”

It’s interesting to see that merely in this short exchange of assertions of belief you’re already pettish and angry with my assertions of belief.

October 28, 8:26 am | [comment link]
15. Chris Molter wrote:

the responder embarks on long and tedious explanations of what infallibility means [or whatever the rejected issue is], when the original speaker well knows what it means already and has already rejected it in full knowledge.

In my experience, a Catholic apologist rarely needs to embark on a long explanation (I suppose any theological defense could be seen as tedious depending on ones POV) if the other party DOES have full knowledge of what doctrine, teaching, Tradition, etc. they’re rejecting.  At that point, the issue often becomes a historical argument about what the Fathers taught, the early Church practiced, and what Councils declared and when.  Far more commonly, the long and tedious explanation is required when a misrepresentation or misunderstanding on the part of the Protestant apologist occurs. 

But I do agree that we’ll probably disagree wink  I suppose it’s a case of “your mileage may vary”

October 28, 8:40 am | [comment link]
16. Sarah wrote:

RE: “In my experience, a Catholic apologist rarely needs to embark on a long explanation (I suppose any theological defense could be seen as tedious depending on ones POV) if the other party DOES have full knowledge of what doctrine, teaching, Tradition, etc. they’re rejecting.”

I completely agree here.  Unfortunately, even when a Catholic apologist does not need to do so—they often do anyway.

It gets old because along with that there’s the implication that if one really really really really knew what papal infallibility was one would fall down before it and acknowledge it as the truth.  And if you don’t—why then you’re a bigot engaging in persecution of Roman Catholics.  I’m not saying that Chris Molter talks that way—but I am saying that I see a ton of that kind of rhetoric on these blogs, just as Words Matter claims he sees the other kind on these blogs.

I should add that I’m not confident at all that people who don’t grasp RC theology and goof up in explaining it in all of its full nuance are “bigots” either—which appears to be another side-note in this odd exchange.  Anglican theology is often screwed up when talked about by Baptists or Methodists or what-have-you.  I don’t then claim “bigotry” and “prejudice” when they screw it up.  Indeed—the entire Christian faith of whatever stripe is often screwed up by the pagans, but unless the person engaging in the massive screw-up is a rabid Anti-Christian [of which there are few], rather than simply a non-Christian who doesn’t agree with or like the Christian faith [much more likely], I can’t imagine describing such bumbling rhetoric as the sign of the “bigot.”

Keep in mind that I started out pointing out that the media aren’t going to like conscientious RC’s being on the Supreme Court because their own agenda will be threatened by that service on the Court.  It was, in fact, a compliment.  It was only when someone said that maybe it was just “bigotry” that we got off on this rabbit trail.

I think if the Supreme Court were made up of conscientious Southern Baptists the press would be just as virulently opposed because that would threaten their agenda.  I do not, however, think that the opposition would be a form of “bigotry” by the press.

October 28, 8:54 am | [comment link]
17. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Sorry about the rabbit dots on the trail…
Sometimes I just can’t help it.
I started because one of Sarah’s comments seemed kind of cryptic, i.e., her assumptions were not my assumptions.
Then came the dots.

The Rabbit
(spreading little rabbit dots among the threads)

October 28, 9:18 am | [comment link]
18. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

PS:
It does not seem helpful when we start telling one another what the other person’s problem is. It works better when we tell one another what our own problem is.

The Rabbit
...still spreading dots.

October 28, 9:23 am | [comment link]
19. Sarah wrote:

Br_er Rabbit cannot help introducing rabbit trails—it is obviously in his nature, considering his name, and thus he cannot be judged by the elves or any other.  He was born that way!  ; > )

October 28, 10:27 am | [comment link]
20. The_Elves wrote:

........?

October 28, 11:19 am | [comment link]
21. Chris Molter wrote:

Sarah,
I think our positions are a lot closer than we initially may have thought.  We DO love our interminable theological diatribes.  Heck, the Summa is the perfect example of such, although given Calvin’s Institutes, at least we’re not the ONLY ones… smile I definitely agree that there’s a tendency for folks to be dumbfounded that anyone who REALLY understands Catholicism (or Calvinism, etc) wouldn’t want to be Catholic (or Reformed, etc).  You’re also very right to point out that not all ignorance can be properly called bigotry.  I suppose many Catholics are just overly sensitive to it, given the prevalence of ACTUAL bigotry.  We don’t just get the general anti-Christian bigotry that y’all get.. we get the “all Priests are pedophiles”, “oppressive patriarchy”, “INQUISITION!  WITCH BURNING!”, “Crusades”, “Galileo”, “Filthy rich Vatican”, “Opus Dei/Jesuit/Illuminati”, etc. stuff.. which, while funny/sad, gets tiring when you try to have an actual conversation and find out that people actually BELIEVE some of this nonsense.

October 28, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
22. Sarah wrote:

RE: “We don’t just get the general anti-Christian bigotry that y’all get.. we get the “all Priests are pedophiles”, “oppressive patriarchy”, “INQUISITION!  WITCH BURNING!”, “Crusades”, “Galileo”, “Filthy rich Vatican”, “Opus Dei/Jesuit/Illuminati”, etc. stuff.. which, while funny/sad, gets tiring when you try to have an actual conversation and find out that people actually BELIEVE some of this nonsense.”

I agree.  I am reminded of some of the chants of the Ian Paisley’s of this world, for instance—I am very aware of those.  But I don’t see a lot of those chants in the blogs I frequent.

However . . . some of the “witch burning” and “inquisition” and “crusades” chants get tarred onto all of Christianity too.

I still believe, though, that those who get their knowledge of Christianity from the History Channel are not *necessarily* bigots.  My own pagan friends ask me about their own legitimate questions concerning “crusades” and “witch burning.”  I think it’s legitimate to be a “populist ignorant person” concerning Christianity, and as this culture declines further into the mire, there will be far more ignorance, without being a bigot.  And people honestly do now—especially if they are unchurched and do not have any sort of godly heritage—think of Christians as “the weird guys who burned witches in the past and now don’t think sex or any other fun is a good thing either.”  Some of this is our fault, sadly, and some of it is the very unlearned, practically illiterate populace, and some of it is, of course, the calculated tactics of the progressive activists who are seeking their own agenda and so need to do some reverse-pr moves.  Generally when I am asked about such things by my friends I very calmly engage them in some real questions about whether “crusades” were all bad and do some careful defining of what “crusades” were, while at the same time pounding home the point that all human beings are perniciously wicked, and do terrible things, and cannot even know their own heart, so black and bitter it sometimes is. [See—my Reformed heritage shining through!]

This gives me the chance to acknowledge the sin of Christians [including my own] and present the Gospel, like flowers or a rabbit from a hat. 
; > )

And so their questions about the evils of Christians done using the name of the church [whatever church] gives me a great opportunity.

So I’m not *certain* that even the folks chanting “witch burning” are all bigots.  They’re just flat out illiterately ignorant.

But you’re probably right that we agree in general.

A pity.

No more skirmishing here.  ; > )

October 28, 12:48 pm | [comment link]
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