Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bill Donohue on John Hagee

Lucky the Goldfish passed me a news item she thought I'd find interesting, and she was right. I'm at a loss to make a science fictional analogy, but I'm going to post on it anyway.

According to the Religion Blog at the Dallas News, Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, spoke out against John McCain because McCain has received an endorsement from John Hagee, a Protestant who has spoken out against the Catholic Church. This isn't a political blog, of course, and I have no intention of endorsing a candidate here, mostly because the political opinion of a science fiction blogger shouldn't mean much to an intelligent voter, but this deserves some comment.

According to the Religion Blog article by Jeffrey Weiss, Donohue's beef is that Hagee has called the Church "the Great Whore," an "apostate" church, and a "false cult system." The Blog links to a press release at the Catholic League's website.

Though I don't endorse political candidates, I do wish to support Hagee in his opinion, incorrect though it is. Hagee is a Protestant, and by saying the things he has said about Catholicism, he is expressing the historical viewpoint of Protestantism. I greatly respect this. Indeed, if he expressed any other opinion about the Catholic Church, I would say he has gone soft on doctrine for the sake of tolerance and get-alongism. Protestantism broke off from Catholicism; the only excuse the Protestants could have for this was the belief that the Catholic Church was so corrupt and incorrect in its doctrines that reform was impossible. Similarly, modern Protestants who are comfortable with the Catholic Church or even praise the Catholic Church, such as Billy Graham, have no excuse for failing to reunite with it and should be considered culpable for remaining in schism. The only sound reason for a Protestant to be Protestant is to have a viewpoint such as Hagee's.

I am in favor of open, civil discussion between people of different religious viewpoints. However, those who participate in this discussion must be allowed to express their honest views. To suppress certan opinions because they are unfashionable or politically incorrect is to stifle free speech and freedom of religion. Hagee should feel free to call the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon, and he should be able to state that opinion plainly and back it up as well as he is able. Indeed, he seems to be able to express himself with a calm demeanor, as you can see here on YouTube, and Catholics should be willing to give him space to do so. Similarly, I feel free to express my opinion that Protestantism is a heretical, unsupportable theological position invented by an obsessive-compulsive monk desperate for a means to assuage his defective conscience.

I suppose I appreciate people like Donohue who want to defend the Church, but sometimes I can't understand them very well. Instead of calling Hagee a bigot and criticizing McCain for accepting Hagee's support, Donohue might do better to challenge Hagee to a debate.
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