The Communist and the Catholics, Part 4

Editor’s Note: the following is the final installment in an exclusive 4-Part series based on Dr. Paul Kengor’s new book, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor

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Frank Marshall Davis

In my previous commentaries, I’ve discussed Frank Marshall Davis, Hawaii mentor to a young Barack Obama, and the subject of my new book. I detailed how and where he saw the Catholic Church as a hindrance to his views for the state—and how he refused to accommodate the Church, not unlike Obama. I’d like to conclude with two final examples, including, ironically, one where Davis actually agreed with the Church, albeit for curious reasons.

Another Catholic target of Davis was Archbishop Stepinac of Yugloslavia. Stepinac was persecuted in a classic communist show trail, a terrible miscarriage of justice. Frank Marshall Davis, however, portrayed it the other way around, as did the Kremlin and the international communist movement. In a September 1949 article titled, “Cold War in Church,” written for the Honolulu Record, the Communist Party publication in Hawaii, Davis dismissed Stepinac’s persecution as a “lie” and “propaganda.” That is, lies and propaganda from Rome, from America, from the West. As always, Frank Marshall Davis took the side of the Soviet Union against the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Pius XII

There was, however, one instance where Davis surprisingly agreed with the Church. It came in his June 11, 1953 column, where Davis curiously found himself allied with Pope Pius XII, one of the most stalwart anti-communists of the 20th century. The reason? Pius XII opposed the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who had been correctly charged with giving atomic secrets to the Soviets.

Of course, Pius XII opposed the Rosenbergs’ execution because he was loyal to his Church’s teachings against capital punishment. Frank Marshall Davis, however, opposed the Rosenbergs’ execution because he was loyal to the Kremlin. That’s what it finally took for Frank Marshall Davis to agree with the Catholic Church.

In sum, mentors matter. We all know that. We can’t say for certain that Barack Obama got his views—and intransigence—on the Catholic Church from Frank Marshall Davis. But it’s certainly notable, and perhaps not coincidental, that both men saw the Church as an obstacle to their vision for the state.

For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.

Note: To read Part 1, go here. For Part 2, go here. For Part 3, go here.


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.”

Dr. 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.”

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  • MaryK

    It’s been an interesting series, and deserves further study.  However, since they seemed to be long on “guilt by association” while lacking in proofs, I find it hard to swallow. I can see where one can make certain judgments based on similarities in political attitudes between  Davis and Obama, but those similarities are not proofs in themselves that Obama learned those attitudes from being mentored by Davis.  Perhaps these four glimpses of your study are just insufficient to be believed.  So, i will withhold agreement with your conclusions for now.

    What i really wish is that there was a stronger contender from the Republican side to vote for.  Mitt Romney just doesn’t show us much that would deserve our vote.  He’s so reactionary to everything said against him from the left.  He rarely gives a realistic promise of his own platform.  How ridiculous was his statement, “I will reverse Obamacare on Day 1”  I guess he thinks we are all in kindergarten, like children who still believe in the tooth fairy – but even children know he can’t do that on his first day in office.  And so much of what he says is just as elementary.  Is it too much to ask that he be more open and honest, so we wouldn’t even consider giving Obama a second term – and release those darn tax returns like any other honest presidential contender has done?  What worries him about that?  Perhaps we can make guesses, which of course would not be proofs any more than the Davis/Obama connection. 

    So, i can’t vote for Obama, but i don’t trust Romney. 

  • Mary K – you are either blind to the truth or an Obama supporter.  Romney is nice, decent, and earnest.  He has led an exemplary personal life.  He has become a self made man.  He was not always rich but rather worked for what he has, even though Obama would say to Obama regarding his business success, “You didn’t build that!” 

    I don’t know where to start with Obama.  From his support of abortion, Planned Parenthood, the radical homosexual agenda which actively promotes the perversion of man’s sexual faculties to his scorn for religious traditionalists to his hatred of the American ideal,which he is systematically dismantling.    

    If the Davis/Obama connection doesn’t impress you, how about the Saul Alinsky/Obama connection or the Ayres/Dohrn/Obama connection.  Obama was schooled in community organizing in the living room of William Ayres, domestic terrorist, who recently stated to a group of students, that his bombing of government buildings didn’t go far enough.  The American people are truly asleep.  Obama is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  He will destroy the United States and anyone who stands in the way of a one world government, which he will head.     

  • MaryK

    Well Diana-  It seems you really didn’t read my post or you wouldn’t have called me an Obama supporter and then launched into his sinister background in an effort to bring me up short.  I can only respond that most of your post was written for other readers who remain to be convinced.  I never said i disagree with the author of this column; my reason for objection was to show my dissent with the premise that “Guilt by Association” becomes  “Guilt”.  That does not withstand the test of logic.

    To put your mind at ease, i didn’t vote for Obama 4 years ago; i won’t this time around – and for many more reasons.  However, that does not mean that i bend the knee to every word that springs from the mouth of Romney either.  I don’t care how “nice, decent, earnest, rich, or self made,” he is, he still has not given us a single valid reason to vote for him, other than empty promises and parroting the Republican agenda of tax breaks for the rich, and stick it to the poor.  His only other constant is to attack anything and everything Obama without a modicum of what he himself stands for.  It’s a joke that the jobs problem is all Obama’s fault – after all, i take notice on how Republicans abort every effort at solutions.  The president can do very little without Congress giving approval.  And, the only reason the health care bill passed was because Obama lied to a few Republicans who, with certain agreements, finally crossed over.

    I could have said more – except to say that i see you parrot the GOP out of context “You didn’t build that” when everyone knows that was not the intent.  I find it difficult to swallow that Catholics criticize Protestants for taking Scripture texts out of context, but swallow the camel in the political arena.

  • Wgsullivan

    I wish I didn’t have to agree with this excerpt from Fr. Rutler’s article but this is where I believe the weight of this election lies as well. 
    “The bishops of the United States have asked the faithful to pray for
    religious liberty, now facing unprecedented assault. The national
    election in November, 2012 will either give Christians one last chance
    to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation.  This can
    only sound like hyperbole to those who are unaware of what happened to
    the Slavic lands after World War I and to Western Europe in the
    1930′s.   St. Paul  was writing to us when he wrote to the Galatians and
    Corinthians and Washingtonians — or rather, Romans — in his lifetime.”
     Fr. George Rutler