Joe Biden’s Church Troubles

Certain elements in the news media are attacking Sarah Palin’s religious beliefs. This has included several bizarre articles, in mainstream publications, highly critical of her local church. One source blasted her “Neanderthal faith.”

As usual, the liberal press is demonstrating its lack of understanding of evangelicals and its gross double standard and bigotry toward conservative Christians. The extraordinary faith story in this presidential race is — obviously — the church of Barack Obama.

That said, scant attention is being devoted to the church troubles of Palin’s counterpart: the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joe Biden. I would like to highlight the turmoil that Biden has been facing:

The essence of Biden’s problem is the ongoing debate over pro-choice Catholic politicians, which has become a dominant issue in the Catholic Church. The subject flared up for Biden a few weeks ago when he was asked by Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press:” “If Senator Obama comes to you and says, ‘When does life begin? Help me out here, Joe,’ as a Roman Catholic, what would you to say to him?”

“I’d say, ‘Look,’” Biden forcefully instructed, “‘I know when it begins for me.’ It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I am prepared to accept the teachings in my Church.” Biden said that while he personally believes life begins “at the moment of conception,” there are people of other faiths with different definitions. Thus, “For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.”

Much could be said about Senator Biden’s position — and officials in his Church have not hesitated to speak up. For one, it is a biological fact that life begins at conception; thus, to make that acknowledgment is not to impose a particular religious creed on anyone. And, indeed, the Catholic bishops responded by noting that the Church does not teach that life begins at conception “as a matter of faith” but, rather, “as a matter of objective fact.” Moreover, said the bishops, the protection of innocent human life “is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.”

The Church is also disturbed by Biden’s belief that although life begins at conception, he favors the right to exterminate that life, whether by scientists dissecting human embryos in a lab or would-be mothers having abortions as a means of birth control. On embryonic research, Biden has made statements that have really rankled Church officials. He publicly criticized Sarah Palin, who chose to bring to term a Down syndrome baby, for alleged hypocrisy in opposing embryonic research — research, Biden assumed, that can help babies with Down syndrome. “If you care about it, why don’t you support [embryonic] stem cell research?” asked Biden.

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, there’s nothing here to criticize: Palin opposes embryonic research because it destroys life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it is not right to destroy life to try to help other life; Biden’s Church calls that an “intrinsic evil.”

Further, the bishops were troubled by Senator Biden’s understanding of church and state, and specifically his assertion that he as a public official cannot “impose” his moral values on other Americans. In truth, that’s not a proper understanding of what Thomas Jefferson, or any founder, meant by separating church and state. Every politician in the history of the American republic has imposed his or her moral values. That’s what making law is all about. Each law is based on the moral values of the lawmakers — values typically rooted in a religious belief system.

Senator Biden’s previous bishop, Michael Saltarelli, of the diocese of Wilmington, has pointed out: “No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’ Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’”

Biden’s new bishop, W. Francis Malooly, has publicly stated that he would like to talk with the senator to help him “understand how crucial the sanctity of human life is to a just society.”

Likewise, Carl Anderson, the head of the huge Knights of Columbus, has requested a meeting with Biden. The Knights have been running ads telling Biden, “You now have a unique responsibility when you make public statements about Catholic teaching.” These ads urge the senator to make “correct” statements.

Particularly notable, Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, issued a statement saying that Biden’s remarks do “not reflect Catholic teaching.” And now, the entirety of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has requested a “discussion” with both Biden and Barack Obama.

In short, Joe Biden is in hot water. The secular media can try to redirect the fire to Sarah Palin’s little church in Alaska, but it’s Palin’s opponent who has major issues with a much larger church.

Does the press care? Will journalists devote some attention to Joe Biden’s church troubles? Are you kidding?

Dr. Paul Kengor

By

Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • noelfitz

    I read:
    “Certain elements in the news media are attacking Sarah Palin’s religious beliefs.”

    I would disagree with Ms Palin’s religious beliefs. She has rejected the Catholic Church she was baptized into, hence is an apostate.

    Mr Biden has kept the faith.

  • CherylDickow

    This is so excellent and the timing couldn’t be better. Yesterday I was asked by a devout Christian, who is as concerned about this election as many other Christians, to sort of explain Joe Biden’s public support of abortion. After all, like so many of our Christian brothers and sisters, we are living in a time when God is providing countless opportunities to witness to our faith. Maybe, some are suggesting, our last opportunity. Nonetheless, the only thing I could say was “Joe Biden is a baaaad Catholic.” Now I can forward her this excellent article to support my statement:-)

  • CherylDickow

    noelfitz,

    When I edited Teresa Tomeo’s book “Newsflash” earlier this year she spoke of the countless Catholics who have been left behind in the dust, so to speak. Catholics who have not been fully or passionately or correctly catechized in the faith. I see by your statement ‘Biden has kept the faith’ that you are one of those many people. My favorite verse to share with Catholics such as yourself, and ask you to consider spending time in prayer and discernment, is 2 John 9-10:

    Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works.

    It would appear that many bishops have recognized the destruction of Biden’s (and Pelois’s) public comments and that we truly seem to be living in a time where many Catholics have not remained in the teaching of the Church. I commend all bishops who have come forward in recognition of the consequences, as clearly stated in the above verse. As I would tell my middle school students, “Once you know, you are accountable.” The bishops are making sure we know!

  • asdwanamaker

    noelfitz says, “Joe Biden has kept the faith.”

    Joe Biden has kept the faith? What? I would contend that Biden has rejected the faith in a far more insidious way than Ms. Palin.

    Mr. Biden seeks wiggle room everywhere as a matter of remaining in the Church. A cafeteria Catholic is far worse than someone who has the integrity to (erroneously) decide that what he or she has been taught is in error and, thus, cannot stay.

    I respect Catholics who leave Mother Church and become Evangelicals FAR more than cafeteria Catholics who stay and, by their very presence in the Church, undermine the faith of other Catholics — most notably their own families.

  • elkabrikir

    Noelfitz,
    perhaps learning a little bit about Mrs Palin’s upbringing would enhance your understanding of why she is an evangelical today and very loosely associated with any specific church affiliation.

    Her parents moved up to Alaska when she was a child and she lived, basically, a frontier style life. They chopped wood to burn as winter heat and only ate the moose they killed. Their family did not have access to parish life the way Biden did.

    Her faith developed in the tradition of many, many rural Americans. Storefront churches with a deep abiding love of God as found in nature and one’s fellow man is the hallmark of her faith. It is also a nonjudgmental faith which seems integrated into her life and filled with love.

    By their fruits you shall know them. Check out the fresh fruit on her family tree.

    She has not hardened her heart, and may yet be drawn to the fullness of life in Christ through the Catholic church. Let’s be effective evangelists to that end, starting with public leaders like Biden, Pelosi, and the Kennedys.

  • bambushka

    “the bishops were troubled by Senator Biden’s understanding of church and state, and specifically his assertion that he as a public official cannot “impose” his moral values on other Americans”

    By this logic, many pedestrians are trying to persuade those who stand vigil in front of abortion mills to keep their praying in Church.

    Some have offered those standing vigil, doggy bags, because they say “You must be homeless or you wouldn’t be out on the sidewalk at night.” They say, “Go pray in church”,( do not shine the Llight on this place of mass murder. Go away and let these children die in the dark, unseen, unloved, unknown.)

    The jogger is telling the vigilers to disappear, go pray in a church. (Why are they exercising on the sidewalk? Doesn’t exercise belong in a gym?)

    The walker is saying that the vigilers presence on the sidewalk causes embarrassment and humiliation for the women who are going into the clinic to toss their child down the garbage disposal. How is this not embarrassing all by itself? Do people understand that at times the heart of the child is still beating as it is pulled from the womb into the cannula and put in the suction bottle? Biden actions are saying, “I’m personally opposed to grinding up my offspring, but I will not stand in the way of someone else who wants to do this to their children?”

    Is this what you mean by abortion? Arms and legs torn asunder? Children given to the god Moloch? Babies in the public sewer system?

    Mr. Biden, is this what you mean by abortion?

  • katieL

    I’ll bet no one was concerned with “imposing” on any person’s devout Christian moral beliefs when abortion was legalized. That argument is always one-sided. Bottom line for me is this, don’t impose, but don’t legalize, don’t fund, don’t promote, and don’t ask tax payers to pay for abortions. There’s a good chance that if this carnage is made illegal, there would be less abortions because, you know what, woman will still seek them if they’re that desparate, but maybe think twice when they realize that their own life is in danger through back door doctors operating illegally. That may sound harsh, but I believe it to be true.

  • Warren Jewell

    Noelfitz! (Lord, save Noelfitz from Noelfitz. Well – okay – save me from me.)

    Biden has ‘kept the faith’? Pro-life, apostate Palin has – within the flock’s confines, Biden would seem to want a fence for his own section, with Pelosi, et al, to make their own rules on ‘life’, and whatever-else, like the definition of ‘marriage’, ‘family’, etc, ad nauseam – ad nauseam from out of the news is becoming nore common in my old age.

    But, let’s be fair – Noelfitz, using the Catechism, demonstrate that Biden is ‘keeping the faith’ as the Church would have it.

    katieL: imposition is already LONG made – ‘You shall not murder’ – a Commandment from God, pace any human thoughts.

  • wgsullivan

    I don’t believe noelfitz arguement is with Church teaching. The arguement is with Republicans. I have spoken to family that are very pro-life and strongly in favor of marriage between a man and woman being held true and sacred but can’t bring themselves to vote Republican. They can’t see past their political party and will come up with every excuse to not vote Republican.
    There is a great video on Catholicvote.com that may sway a few or at least inform a few consciences enough to feel guilty. I suggest taking a look.
    In my opinion the only way for God’s will to be done in this situation is to pray and fast. If we are willing to pray and fast for God’s will, whatever our opinion, we will see more clearly His will.

  • marcey

    wgsullivan,

    I’m not sure how anyone could profess to be pro-life and traditional family – made up of a man and a woman – and struggle with voting Republican. I guess they join the ranks of the many Catholics (maybe even majority of Catholics) who choose to ignore and avoid seeking the truth by learning the teachings of the church.

    So many Catholics have closed their hearts to the unborn that it seems like it must be right thing to do – just be looking at the sheer numbers. How many people look at Catholics and think, “Wow, if a Catholic doesn’t care about abortion, why should I?” Then I always wonder if God will hold us accountable for our own actions but also in leading others down the wrong path.

    Shouldn’t that whole possibility of accountability on a grand scale scare us into right action? Obviously it doesn’t but it sure should be considered.

  • Mary Kochan

    I believe his argument is with church teaching. The Church teaches that this is an overriding issue. But he keeps letting other things override it.

    Look at today’s Bishops Speak in the Church Today section.

  • wgsullivan

    Marcy,

    Your point is exactly where I find myself. Banging my head against the wall wondering how any Catholic breathing could not get the message that Christ’s Church, the One He founded, puts life at the very top of the heap. That His teaching is synonymous with His Church. They are one! But I still find myself shaking my head and measuring just how much I push before my relatives stop listening altogether.
    Mary, point well taken. As Fr. Frank Pavone says, “The hands lifted up to God to say “Amen” to His teachings are the same hands that push down on the lever in the voting booth. We don’t have four hands, a pair for Church and a pair for the voting booth.”

  • irish_2171

    Cheryl,

    You’re comments are “spot on”. This cafeteria Catholic business is wearing me out. I’m glad to hear someone speak up. A lot of people want to be Catholics when it looks good, but when it comes time to get dirty they’re suddenly unavailable. Life is not negotiable and is paramount to everything. End of story.

  • LarryW2LJ

    “Mr Biden has kept the faith.”

    Oh, yes !!!!!!

    It is sooooooo much better to call yourself a “Catholic” and do NOTHING to stop the killing of millions of unborn children; than call yourself an Evangelical and show good Christian example by living your faith (i.e not to abort a child with Down’s Syndrome).

    Sorry for the sarcasm ……. but didn’t we learn ANYTHING from the “whited sepulchers ….. AKA the Pharisees ?????

    Larry

  • asdwanamaker

    I love the “I cannot impose my views” crowd.

    Joe Biden is perfectly willing to impose his view that the top earners should have money forcibly taken from them to be redistributed to non-earners, even though millions disagree with that view.

    Joe Biden is perfectly willing to impose his view that persons in homosexual relationships be granted the constitutional protections afforded to marriage, even though millions think he’s wrong.

    Joe Biden is perfectly willing to stand with Barrack Obama, who is willing to impose his view that even a born human should not be guaranteed the legal protections of personhood if that human was born alive in a failed abortion, even though millions hold a completely different view.

    Joe Biden is perfectly willing to impose his view that we cannot drill for oil in ANWR even though millions hold the exact opposite view.

    But Joe Biden is not willing to impose “his” view that the unborn child is a person deserving of the constitutional protection simply because others have a different view?

    Uh huh.

    Joe Biden is nothing more than a liar, a hypocrite and a bully.

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  • sue

    Why aren’t any of the above named Catholic heads keeping the issue in the media?  Why hasn’t Senator Biden been censured for his support of abortions?  To me, as a Christian, I am held accountable to a Holy God Who does not give me permission to nod and accept Sin just to be politically correct and “get along with everyone”.  We’re called out to be accountable and “different than the world”.  Enough! of this Political Correctness and respecting everyone’s opinion.  Who has failled the country more than our Politicians, our Churches, and our Schools? 

  • Carl

    Now Joe Biden supports homosexual marriage, as stated on Meet The Press.  This is now coupled with his support of abortion.  Why doesn’t Joe Biden’s bishop excommunicate him publicly for his anti-bible and anti-catholic remarks?  Nancy Pelosi is the same, and so are scores of other politicians who espose Catholicism but demonstrate demonic support.  They will pay for their sins, as will their children.

    It seems as though there is no moral leadership in our government, and no moral leadership in the Catholic Church.  No wonder the true Christians are leaving the Catholic Church in droves. 

  • Msaved56

    So Joe Biden is saying God doesn’t come first. Let me get this straight he puts everything else before God because some people may not believe in God etc. so that washes his hands of his duty to God. Hmmm Somehow I don’t think that will pan out for him with God. And their Catholic leader is OK with this ?

    Jesus said in the Bible if you love me you will follow my commandments. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he replied, Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

    All the other commandments hinge upon this one.

    Pelosi, Coumo and Biden are not Christians. A Christian is a follower of Christ. I don’t know who they follow, but it’s not Christ as they don’t put him first over everything even family.

    Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

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