US attorney general alarms liberal Catholics

Liberal Catholics say the US attorney general William Barr’s Catholic faith is threatening the separation of church and state.

Their concerns follow a speech on religious freedom last week, where Barr said “militant secularists” were behind a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order”.

He claimed Catholicism and other mainstream religions were the target of “organized destruction” by “secularists and their allies among progressives who have marshalled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia”.

Barr also said the US “traditional Judeo-Christian moral system” was under siege by “modern secularists” who were responsible for every sort of “social pathology”, including drug abuse, rising suicide rates and illegitimacy.

A Catholic theologian and professor of religion, Colt Anderson, says Barr’s speech is a “threat to American democracy”.

It was a “dog whistle” to ultra-conservative Catholics who have aligned themselves to Donald Trump in a campaign to limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans, immigrants and non-Christians, especially Muslims, and to criminalize almost all abortions.

“The attorney general is taking positions that are essentially un-Democratic” because they demolish the wall between church and state, Anderson says.

Some Washington-based Justice Department Catholic employees are also concerned.

“I was shocked by the speech and all this fire and brimstone,” one says.

“Trump is Barr’s imperfect vessel in serving a much higher cause: the gospel,” says another.

Although many Trump policies are strongly opposed by the Vatican, Barr did not address these.

Pope Francis’s pleas for the US to open its doors to more refugees, for instance.

Barr defends policies that turn away or imprison immigrants seeking refugee status at the US-Mexico border, even separating parents from their children.

His speech is a reminder that while Trump enjoys the support of many high-profile right-wing Christian evangelical leaders, he is also surrounded by conservative Catholics who are associated with organisations other Catholics consider extreme.

However, many conservative religious commentators are positive about Barr’s speech.

“Barr took the gloves off, saying that religion is not jumping to its death; it’s being pushed,” one says.

“As we religious conservatives think about how to vote in the election next fall, we should ponder the fact that under Donald Trump, as awful as he is in so many ways, a man of William Barr’s convictions is heading up the Department of Justice.”

Liberal Catholics, on the other hand, arLiberal Catholics say the US attorney general William Barr’s Catholic faith is threatening the separation of church and state.

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,