In my previous commentary, I talked about Frank Marshall Davis, Hawaii mentor to a young Barack Obama, and the subject of my new book. I noted how Davis, a literal card-carrying member of Communist Party USA, targeted the “Catholic hierarchy” as an obstacle to his vision for the state. He singled out the likes of Cardinal Spellman, who he listed among the “hate evangelists” itching for war against Joe Stalin’s peace-loving Soviet Union.
Davis portrayed communism and the Soviet Union as friendly to Christianity. And those opposing Soviet communism were, in the words of Frank Marshall Davis, modern-day “Pontius Pilates.”
A painful illustration was a September 29, 1949 column that Davis wrote for the Honolulu Record, the Communist Party publication for Hawaii. Titled, “Challenge to the Church,” Davis imagined Judgment Day, where anti-communist Christians would be called to account for their transgressions: “On your Judgment Day, when the Lord will ask you for an account of your stewardship, will … your answer be, ‘Lord I was too busy Redbaiting?”
And the Catholic Church especially deserved a good scourging. “The Christian churches, and the Catholic church in particular,” preached Barack Obama’s mentor, “are making a grievous error in their shortsighted belief that the major enemy of Christianity is Communism.”
Not a communist in Moscow would have agreed with Frank Marshall Davis, and the late Lenin would have laughed him out of the country—or thanked him for his efforts.
Not only was Soviet Russia not anti-religious, said Davis, but it had saved the world from Hitler’s “anti-Christian paganism.” Really, Christians worldwide should pay homage to Stalin. Instead, they were blinded by their anti-communist bigotry.
Here, as in so many of these cases, Davis, not unlike Barack Obama, was a man of the far left making appeals to the “social justice” Religious Left for support, especially liberal Protestants.
And when the Catholic Church did not accommodate his plans and policies for the state, Frank Marshall Davis, like Barack Obama, simply told the Church that it was wrong and didn’t bend. Imagine that.
For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.
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.”