Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #104

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

To all the South Africans on this mailing list – I know I have a few, but don’t know exactly how many – one of your fellow countrymen is trying to raise funds to bring me over to speak in your country. He wanted me to ask you if you would like to join him in his efforts. If so, simply send me an email and I will put you in touch with one another.

No newsletter next week because of the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll get back to it the week after.


This newsletter is a follow up of sorts to Issues #100 – #102, on Catholics and voting. As I mentioned last week, I received a number of rather ugly emails from folks about those newsletters. 100% of those emails were what I would classify as: knee-jerk, emotional, and less than rational.

Furthermore, not a single person who sent me a nasty email answered any of the 3 main questions that I had asked in my newsletters. The 3 questions were: 1) If Obama was supporting policies that would kill more than a million Jews per year; could you vote for him? 2) If Obama was supporting policies that would kill more than a million blacks per year; could you vote for him? 3) If you answered, “No,” to questions 1 & 2, then how can you vote for him when he supports policies that could kill more than a million unborn children per year?

In other words, not a single one of these people who took the time to write ugly things to me, took the time to actually answer my arguments. I really did not respond to any of these emails, save one. The email I responded to was from a gentleman named Patrick. Patrick’s email was so far out in left field, that I was simply compelled to respond. He accused me of supporting “right-wing politics” and accused McCain of being a war monger and such and said that he voted for Obama because Obama was, in essence, pro-life on the war and on poverty issues and McCain was not and on and on.

I simply replied to him that his response was “knee jerk, emotional, and less than rational.” He wrote back to object to my characterization of his response. So, I replied with the email immediately below. His last response is below mine. In it, he attempts to answer the questions I asked. In between his paragraphs are my comments, which reveal that his comments are indeed knee jerk, emotional, and less than rational.

As you will see, there is a logical vacuum existing in the minds of people like this, and, to some extent, a moral vacuum as well. The problem is that they have eyes but will not see, and have ears but will not hear.


From John Martignoni:


With all due respect, but your email to me – accusing me of supporting "right-wing" politics – was indeed knee jerk, emotional, and less than rational.  First of all, McCain is far from "right wing."  He often votes with Democrats and is quite often in opposition to "right wing" politics.  He has been known as a "centrist" by people on both the right and the left for many years now.  So, to refer to him as being "right wing" is a bit much.

Next, if your vote on Iraq is based on what has happened in the past and not on what the future holds, then you are potentially making a huge mistake if your intent is to minimize the loss of life over there.  If the U.S. forces are pulled out prematurely, it could result in a blood bath between Sunni and Shia and Kurd that could result in an untold number of deaths and human misery.  The U.S. presence is pretty much keeping a cork in that.

In addition, the "left wingers" voted for the war, and for funding the war, in pretty much the same numbers as the "right wingers".  So, if you are going to hold John McCain responsible for what occurred during the Bush administration, then you need to hold a number of Democrats responsible as well.  

Regarding incompetence…if you put John McCain’s resume up against Obama’s resume…who is by far the least experienced?  McCain may indeed be incompetent, but we have absolutely nothing from past experience to show us that Obama isn’t even more incompetent.  

Another point, is that while I argued that a vote for Obama was potentially putting your soul at risk, I was not at the same time asking anyone to vote for McCain.  A number of people said they were going to vote for a third party candidate or not vote for anyone at all.  Both of those are morally acceptable positions.  

And, I will say it again, nothing I said was any different from what the Bishops have said either as a group or as individuals – I just presented the case with a sharper point.  So, if you are going to accuse me of supporting "right-wing politics," then you need to accuse the Bishops of the same.  I simply took my lead from them.

How many people died because of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq last week?  I can make an argument that less people died last week with the U.S. troops there than would have died if they weren’t there.  So, at this moment in time, it can very well be argued that the U.S. troop presence in Iraq is saving lives.  

Can you make an argument, based on the positions of the McCain and Obama, that Obama’s position on Iraq will save thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions more lives than McCain’s policies on Iraq?  I’d love to see the reasoning on that one.  However, I can, and did, make an argument – based on the words of the abortion industry – that the difference in Obama’s and McCain’s policies on abortion will very possibly lead to the destruction of an additional one million or more unborn babies for each year Obama is in office.  Not to mention that the policies he currently advocates could cost millions of lives for many years after he leaves office.  

So, I, too, believe that being pro-life is more than being anti-abortion.  However, there is no other current issue – whether Iraq, the economy, immigration, welfare   either individually or corporately, where the difference in policies between McCain and Obama would affect so many lives.  That is the position of the Bishops, that is also my position.  

In regards to my being "off-track" when I promote a candidate…sorry, but I would have to disagree.  Apologetics is applicable to any field of endeavor where one can apply his or her faith.  And, politics is certainly one of those fields of endeavor where the faith needs to be applied.

Finally, I would ask you to simply answer the questions I had asked in my newsletter:

Assuming all other things staying the same, could you vote for Obama if, instead of advocating policies that would likely increase abortions by more than a million per year, he was advocating policies that would likely increase the number of lynchings by more than one million per year?  Yes or no?

Instead of using all of the emotionally-charged buzzwords you used – "rightwing," "warmongering," "hateful" – and instead of throwing accusations around; why don’t you simply answer my question?  You won’t, will you?  To date, not one of the dozens of "unfavorable" emails that I’ve received in response to my newsletter…not one of them…has bothered to actually respond to my argument.  All of them were pretty much just like yours.  That fact, in and of itself, speaks volumes.  

Or, instead of lynchings, what if Obama was advocating policies that would likely result in the deaths of more than a million Catholics per year…could you still vote for him?  Yes or no?

My bet is that you would answer, "No," to both of those questions.  Yet, when I ask if you could vote for Obama knowing that he is advocating policies that will likely increase the number of abortions by more than a million per year…what do you do?  How do you answer?  If you answered, "No," to the first two questions, then how can you possibly answer, "Yes," to the last question?  You can answer, "Yes" – and a vote for Obama was indeed answering that question with a "Yes" – only if you do not value the unborn in the same way you value the already born.  Right?  You ought to think about those questions long and hard, because the answers could very well have eternal implications.  

God bless!

John Martignoni


Patrick’s Response:

Hi again, John…
Wow, I am truly complimented by your taking time to write to me in such detail.  I will honor you with my own brief take on each of the points you raise.  I will be brief, because I know you are very familiar with all of these arguments, I make them only to flesh out my answers for any others who might read them.  Mostly they will be in order, but it might meander a bit.
McCain, by his own statements and proven voting history is as much a neo-con as Bush or any of the crew of neo-con ideologues who managed Bush-Cheney into power.  What happened prior to the GW Bush years is less important to me than what happened during them, and most importantly, how he managed his disgraceful campaign of lies, distortions, and demagoguery.  To tell the truth, I could have considered voting for McCain except for the Palin selection.  She is so far off the scale, rightwing, that she proves the point, I think, about McCain’s current rightwing tendencies.
My Comments:  And exactly what does most of this have to do with the questions I asked him?  Nothing!  He’s very good at throwing out accusations without any explanation or backup.  But, this really has nothing at all to do with the crucial question – how can you justify a vote, from the perspective of Catholic moral teaching, for a man whose stated policy objectives are likely to lead to the deaths of an additional one million or more unborn children per year through abortion?!   I’m asking him about abortion, and he’s talking to me about Bush and the neo-cons.  He seems to have a real hatred for George Bush and the "right-wing" (whatever the heck the "right-wing" is), and this hatred seems to be the driving force behind his vote.
My Comments:  And look at what he says that completely contradicts everything else he has said and is going to say below – he says he could have voted for McCain "except for the Palin selection."  On the one hand, he says McCain is a right wing, war mongering, neo-con idealogue (whatever the heck that actually means), who managed a campaign of lies, distortions, and demagoguery; and on the other hand, he says he could have considered voting for McCain except for his vice-presidential selection?!  If McCain is as bad as all that, and if Obama is supposedly so much better than McCain, how could you ever consider voting for him regardless of who he selects as his running mate?  In other words, what he is saying here, is that the whole reason he voted for Obama is because of his hatred for the "rightwing" Sarah Palin.  Forget the war, abortion, feeding the hungry, etc. - all the things that he claims to be important in deciding his vote - when it gets down to the core principle behind his vote, none of that actually matters.  What matters was the Palin selection and his utter disgust for the "rightwing"!  What a bunch of Martin Luther!
My Comments:  With all due respect, but Patrick here seems to be very confused on the inside.  Problem is, he doesn’t even realize it, and maybe doesn’t even care.  Let’s look at what else he has to say:
Iraq. The whole Iraq affair has been an unnecessary tragedy.  I do not favor a “premature” pull-out from Iraq, and neither does President Obama.  He has spoken on this subject at great length, and he finds widespread agreement among the people of the world, including the leaders in Iraq, and undoubtedly the Holy Father.  How many lives might be lost or saved before, during, or after our military withdrawal, is a question that will be answered over the coming two years.  The Iraqis want us out, sooner than later, so even if McCain got elected, we’d be out of Iraq in about the same amount of time as we will under Obama.
My Comments:  Notice the unbelievably large hole in his logic here?  One of his big complaints about McCain not being "pro-life" was McCain’s stance on the war.  McCain’s stance on the war is one of his big justifications for voting for Obama, in spite of Obama’s radically pro-abortion policies.  Yet, when I asked him about the war, and mentioned that it can be rationally argued that McCain’s policies on the war could result in a net saving of lives over Obama’s, what does he say?  He retreats to a position of, "Well, it doesn’t matter whether it’s McCain or Obama – we’d be out of Iraq in about the same amount of time either way."  
My Comments: Just to make it clear, Patrick justifies his vote for the most radically pro-abortion politician ever to run for the White House – or possibly to ever run for any office – by claiming McCain’s war-mongering position on Iraq is not a "pro-life" position and could cost many lives; but then when made to actually defend himself, he admits that there really isn’t much difference between what will happen in Iraq under Obama vs. under McCain.  He thereby abrogates any Iraq war-related justification for voting for Obama.  Yet, what did he do?  Voted for Obama.  Is that rational or irrational behavior?  Is that logic and reason at work, or illogic and emotion at work?  More from Patrick:
I only raised the issue of unjust war to illustrate the phony pro-life credentials of Bush-McCain.  I could have chosen another.  Such as, for instance, the estimate I read today that it would take about $30 billion to alleviate hunger around the world this year, compared to our $500 billion defense budget in the U.S., by far, the largest military budget in the world.  I’ll bet the bishops have some commentary on THAT sad state of affairs!  I would prefer to lay off half our military forces, scrap some battleships and bombers, save about $250 billion, and spend around $100 billion of that on food and healthcare for hungry people.  I’m pretty sure Jesus would approve.
My Comments:  Yes, Patrick, we do indeed have the largest military budget in the world – that’s because it is the U.S. Armed Forces that, quite literally, protect the world.  It is the government’s role, in our Constitution, to provide for the common defense.  It is not the government’s role to end hunger.  That is the role of individuals and of the Church.  For too long individuals and many, many churches have allowed the government to usurp their role of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick.  The result?  A disaster.  It is my belief, based on my personal experiences of running a food bank, a free healthcare clinic, a free legal clinic, and other programs for the poor, that government’s involvment in the poverty issue has made things worse rather than better.  The government is one huge bureaucracy – how efficient do you think it is in dealing with poverty issues?  I’ll tell you…not efficient at all.  
My Comments:  Regarding alleviating hunger around the world…there is actually more to it than simply spending money.  The problem of hunger in the world is not just one of money.  Look at the poverty situation in our country.  Since Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty began back in the 60’s, we’ve spent several trillion dollars to help the poor in this country.  What do we have to show for it, Patrick?  We have more poor people in our country than ever before.  We have more broken families among poor people than ever before.  We have more out-of-wedlock births among poor people than ever before.  You name the bad result and we’ve probably got more of it now than we did when the so-called "War on Poverty" started.  Did spending trillions of dollars solve the problem?  No.  I’ve worked with and for the poor for many years - simply throwing money at the problem is not the answer. 
My Comments:  Plus, are you not aware, that the Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress, and the Presidency, for most of the last 60 or 70 years!!!  If you left-wing folks are so concerned about the poor and the hungry, then how come all those Democrat-controlled Congresses and Democrat administrations didn’t end hunger in the world?  Why didn’t they eliminate poverty?  Why did Bill Clinton and the Democrats never give a penny for AIDS in Africa, the folks over there had to wait until George Bush took office for that?  I believe Bush committed $50 billion dollars to that, didn’t he?  Why did Bill Clinton stand by while hundreds of thousands were massacred in Rwanda?  Why did he stand by while hundreds of thousands were ethnically-cleansed in Bosnia?  Do you really think Obama and the Democrats are going to end hunger?  Are you truly that naive?  Don’t get me wrong…I am not a Republican and am not happy with the Republican Party over many issues, but your reasoning here leaves a lot to be desired.
My Comments:    Lastly, you say that you’re pretty sure "Jesus would approve" if we cut our military budget and fed more people.  Maybe He would.  But, I’m pretty sure that Jesus would not approve of us electing a man who has vowed to pursue policies that will result in the deaths of millions of unborn babies.  Do you think Jesus approves of that?  And let me ask you this: what have you done to feed the hungry?  Do you give money to charities that care for the poor and hungry in Africa, Asia, South America, and elsewhere?  Have you personally made any sacrifices to feed any hungry people?  Do you own an iPod?  Do you know how many people you could have fed with the money needed to buy an iPod?  Do you own a TV?  Why don’t you sell it and give the money to the poor?  Do you own a car?  Why not sell it, buy a bike, or a motor scooter, and give the difference to stop hunger in Africa?  Do you put your money where your mouth is, or do you just rely on the government to take care of such things? More from Patrick:
One of the strengths of our political process is the testing of candidates as they organize and run a nationwide campaign over a period of between one and two years.  Since neither McCain nor Obama has very much executive management experience apart from their campaigns, it appears that Obama wins this argument on that basis alone.  McCain’s incompetence was demonstrated by his mismanagement of his political campaigns.  In the primaries, he mismanaged into bankruptcy.  The final campaign was a complete disaster, and we are finding out the details of it hour by hour, as the backbiting rats jump ship.  Obama’s campaign, on the other hand, was a marvel of organization and wisdom.
My Comments: In other words, Obama running what you believe was a better campaign than McCain, more than makes up for the fact that Obama is going to pursue policies that could kill millions of babies in the next few years?  Plus, from a fairly objective point of view - did Obama really run that fantastic of a campaign, or did a left-wing liberal Democrat-dominated media simply cover up all of the mistakes he made?  Back to Patrick:
I don’t know what info you are getting from “the bishops” that supports your positions in certain terms.  I am, this afternoon, reading thru the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, found here:
My Comments:  I was very clear in Issues #100 – #102 of what I got from "the bishops" that supported my position.  You might want to check those issues on the "Newsletter" page of our website (www.biblechristiansociety.com).  One of the bishops documents that supports what I said, and absolutely does not support your position, is the document on "Faithful Citizenship" that you cite.  You need to read it in its full context.  The bishops basically said, as a group and individually, the same thing I did.  They didn’t necessarily use the exact examples that I used, but some of them did indeed use very similar examples. 
Now, to your questions, which I will answer:  Both questions appear to be the same, so I will only answer the one of them:
"Assuming all other things staying the same, could you vote for Obama if, instead of advocating policies that would likely increase abortions by more than a million per year, he was advocating policies that would likely increase the number of lynchings by more than one million per year?  Yes or no?"
I see the point you are driving at, and I see you want a simple answer.  “no.”  Now, let me briefly characterize my “no” answer.  It is true that, for you and me, as for many other Christians, there is no wishy-washiness regarding when the soul is infused into the human being.  It happens at the instant of conception.  But you, among all people, knowledgeable as you are of world religions, should know that this belief is not universal among Christians.  For instance, the Mormons believe the soul pre-exists the fetus, and is infused into the baby only a few hours before birth.  By this method, they are able to justify abortion, because to them, the baby is a non-human entity until birth.  You may say, mormons are not Christians, and I would tend to agree, but then, neither are atheists, or Buddhists, or Moslems, or Moonies, or whatnot.  And that brings me to the essence of my “no” answer.  In our country, we tolerate each others’ religious beliefs, and within legal reason, our various moral views.  Mormons are tax paying citizens, too.  (And not all of them are conservative republicans!!).  Atheists probably don’t even believe in a soul, or the sanctity of human life, yet most of them are good, tax paying citizens, who deserve to be tolerated. 
There is a gray area in opinions when human life is truly human.  But there is NO GRAY AREA about the illegality of lynching.  So, that is the basis of my answer.  Any man who ran for any office claiming to effect a million lynchings per year, would certainly not have my support, or very many others’ support, I dare say.
My Comments: This is the height of absurdity.  He claims to believe that, from the moment of conception, the unborn child is a human being.  However, he then goes on to say that it’s okay to vote for a man whose policies could result in the deaths of millions of these human beings because in many people’s "opinions," the unborn baby isn’t fully human.  We have to "tolerate" the killing of babies.  In other words, if we had a significant percentage of the population who believed that Jews aren’t really full-fledged human beings, as we had in Nazi Germany, then it would be okay to vote for a man who wants to kill Jews.  After all, not everyone agrees that the Jews are fully human.  We would have to "tolerate" the killings of Jews, then.  If we had a significant portion of the population that believed blacks are not fully human, or are sub-human, as we had in this country for a few hundred years, then that would make it okay to vote for a man who wants to kill blacks.  After all, not everyone agreed that blacks are fully human.  We would have to "tolerate" the killing of blacks.  His reasoning is totally bereft of logic. 
Now, lets us briefly examine one other aspect.  Most pro-choice people, especially pro-choice women, see the issue as one of rights, specifically their rights over their own bodies.  You and I are in full agreement that at the moment of conception, that is a human being with all the rights, sacred and secular, accorded to a human being.  But to many people, even some Christians, since that early fetus could not possibly live outside the womb, then it is part of the mother.  Therefore, the mother asserts her right to do with her body as she chooses.  Again, there is a gray area here that doesn’t exist with respect to lynchings or executions of Catholics.
My Comments: There is no "gray area" here.  A 2-month old could not live without constant care and nourishment from others.  Therefore, if the others in that 2-month’s old life wish to exercise their "rights," they can refuse care to that 2-month old and simply let it die, right?  This, too, is a "gray area."  Where, Patrick, where is the right to kill your unborn child in the Constitution?  Where, in any of your religious upbringing, were you taught that a woman has a right to kill her unborn child?  In Islam, slavery is allowed.  So, do you believe Muslims have a right to own slaves?  Yes or no?  This must be a real "gray area" for you, right Patrick?  If someone was running for office against Sarah Palin, and they believed in slavery, could you justify your vote for him by saying, "Well, this is a moral gray area.  After all, Muslims believe slavery is okay."  So, we would have to "tolerate" slave-owning Muslims, right?  You, sir, are a moral coward!  You are trying to justify your vote for a man who will potentially be directly responsibe for the murder of millions of babies, by saying it’s okay because other people believe it’s okay, and therefore that makes it a "gray area?!"  Oh, please!  
My Comments:  The truth is, Patrick, you are a moral hypocrite.  You say you believe that unborn babies are fully human.  Yet, you believe it’s okay for them to be treated differently than other human beings are treated, because in the opinion of atheists, or Mormons, or whoever, these babies are not fully human.  So, because other people do not think unborn babies are fully human, you somehow think that means we have to tolerate the killing of babies and that it somehow abrogates your moral responsibility to act in every manner possible to protect the unborn from slaughter.  How convenient for your conscience. 
My Comments: So, you could have voted for Adolf Hitler in 1930’s Germany with a clear conscience, because a large percentage of Germans did not believe Jews were fully human, right?.  You would have "tolerated" the killing of Jews.  And, you could have voted for a pro-slavery candidate, or a pro-Ku Klux Klan candidate back in the 19th century and early 20th century, because a significant number of people at the time did not believe blacks were fully human, right?  You would have "tolerated" slavery and lynchings, right?  With all due respect, Patrick, but that is some pretty twisted moral reasoning you’ve got going on there.  I would suggest you take a long, hard look at what you believe and why you believe it.  Because your own words betray you as being one confused young man. 
So, you correctly anticipated my “no” answer, and I explained myself, very briefly.  But the question is based on false premise, which I briefly illustrated for you above.  While you and I see things in absolutes, other citizens see things in nuances.  My own approach is to work to change hearts and minds at ground level.  I don’t oppose efforts to change the laws, as that is a valid work.  But that isn’t my work.  I believe that is the least effective way to wage war against the death culture.  Even if the laws are changed, people will be angry about being forced, and they will rebel, break the law. 
My Comments: The only false premise you illustrated, is the false premise that your moral reasoning is built on something other than a foundation of twisted logic, emotional irrationality, and knee jerk reactionism.   
The way I see it, we all are working towards the same ends, and as long as we don’t engage immoral means, then we are all OK within Church teachings.  The bishops tell me I am free to vote my conscience, and my conscience, well-formed, “resounds the voice of God” telling me whether what I do is right or wrong.  I am fully at peace with my conscience.  My only complaint about you, John, is that you have exceeded (I believe) the limits of permissibility with regard to your tax exempt status with the IRS.  Take away that status, and you have every right to engage in political persuasion in your broadcast emails.



My Comments:  The bishops do indeed tell you to vote your conscience.  But I would argue, based on your words,  that yours is not a well-formed conscience.  You need to read the Bishops’ document in its full context.  They state quite clearly that there is currently no moral evil in our country - either individually or collectively – greater than abortion.  If your conscience is not telling you that, then it truly is malformed.  I truly believe your vote was based on hatred of Bush and the "neo-cons" vs. any rational and moral judgment of the individual candidates’ positions on pro-life issues.  Again, you cannot respond in a morally-consistent manner to my original questions, just as you will not be able to respond in a morally-consistent manner to the questions I’ve asked above, which is something you really need to think about.  And you really need to consider the fact that, if Obama does indeed follow through on his radical pro-abortion agenda, and if the abortion industry is right in that the policies he enacts will result in more than an additional one million dead babies per year – every single one of those deaths can be, and will be, laid at your doorstep. 


My Comments: Regarding my comments exceeding the "limits of permissibility" in terms of my non-profit status with the IRS, have you actually read the IRS rules and regulations on the matter?  I have.  Exactly which comment exceeded the limits of permissibility?  I simply educated both sides on the election.  I did not tell anyone how to vote or who to vote for.  I educated people on the pro-life issues pertinent to the race.  I educated people on what the Bishops said in regards to our political responsibilities as Catholics.   If someone wanted to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, then my newsletters made it very clear who they should vote for.  I educated people on both sides of the issue.  That is not exceeding the "limits of permissibility," that is exactly what an educational organization is supposed to do.  


God bless!



In Conclusion

I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving holiday! Roll Tide!

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Apologetics for the Masses