February 5, 2013

Liberal Catholics Declare Gun Control Pro Life

(Photo credit: WordPress)

(Photo credit: WordPress)

By Kieran Raval

On 23 January 2012, one day after the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and on the cusp the March for Life, over 60 prominent Catholic priests, religious, scholars, and activists called on pro-life citizens and lawmakers “to show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to…” Contraception? Abortion? Try “military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.”

Faith in Public Life, self-described as “advancing faith as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good,” released the statement calling on politicians to enact stricter gun control measures. That is not objectionable, per se. Political prudence ought to inform a reasoned debate and reasonable and just policies on this issue.

The statement is deeply flawed, however, in its attempt to establish a moral equivalency between the issues of abortion and gun control. The deliberate taking of innocent human life is an intrinsic moral evil. The deliberate taking of over one million innocent lives in the womb each year is intrinsic moral evil on an unconscionably exponential scale. Owning a gun, even a large, fully automatic gun with a high capacity magazine, does not, in itself, violate the natural or divine law. It is not an intrinsic moral evil deserving of the same kind of attention and outrage that even one abortion demands.

Sister Simone Campbell, director of NETWORK, a self-proclaimed Catholic social justice lobbying firm, went so far as to say “If you call yourself ‘pro-life’ you must support gun control.” Setting aside the condescension, it is questionable whether Sister Campbell’s statement would even apply to her own organization. One finds no mention of abortion or the pro-life cause on NETWORK’s website. The same goes for Faith in Public Life. It seems that “justice, compassion and the common good” stop short of the womb.

The statement’s signatories, outspoken and fired-up about social justice as they are, make one small, reluctant nod to acknowledge the “tragedy” (not injustice, outrage, or crime) of abortion. They go on to remind us that “the defense of human dignity extends beyond protecting life in the womb.” The thinly veiled insinuation, of course, is that pro-lifers care little about people once they are born. One wonders, though, how one protects life beyond the womb when that life never gets beyond the womb and the tip of the curette or forceps.

“More than 900 people have been killed with guns since the Newtown tragedy,” the signatories assert. They fail to note that more than 150,000 people have been (legally) killed by abortion in the same time frame. During the 15 minutes that Adam Lanza murdered 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary school, an average of 30 children were murdered in the womb.

This is not to lessen the gravity of the Newtown shooting nor any crimes since, but to give some context and perspective to the legalized holocaust happening in our midst. It goes largely unreported and unmentioned because it is largely unseen. The elites who signed the Faith in Public Life statement offer little in the way of robust condemnation of this scourge. Their silence betrays a certain complicity in society’s radical and deadly prejudice against unborn persons. It is, of course, much easier to go along to get along when it comes to abortion, especially when academic colleagues, tenure committees, MSNBC producers, political friends, and elites in the DNC and Obama administration are watching.

One wonders whether Faith in Public Life and the signatories actually intended the statement to be primarily about gun control, or whether it was just a clever way to disparage the pro-life movement without seeming too obvious. If the statement spent as much time talking about the breakdown of the family and culture as it does talking about the pro-life movement, it might seem more credible. Russell Nieli rightly pointed out that family breakdown is the real issue behind violent crime, and few on the right or the left want to discuss it. Even fewer want to talk about the rights mentality, pioneered by the left and embraced by the right, that simultaneously undergirds a pop-culture that glorifies violence (driven largely by liberals in media and entertainment), an individuated conception of citizenship that precludes any recourse to the common good (driven largely by NRA types), a weak family and marriage culture, and a legal system that allows for the murder of children in the womb. The only solution, therefore, to our inability to rule ourselves is recourse to the state to provide blanket solutions.

The common thread linking these seemingly disparate issues is the modern, liberal turn to favor the individual and his rights, over and against his duties, obligations, mores and the place of marriage and the family within the larger social order. The modern, liberal individual is freed from the constraints and demands of the family, community, and relevant social and religious norms. He is educated by the entertainment industry. Unable to rule himself by putting the stamp of his reason on his actions, he is defined by the whims of his preferences and desires.

Fundamentally, there is a twofold reason for resorting to moral equivalency. On a practical level, it enables those with unshakable political ties and agendas to get a pass on otherwise debatable policy prescriptions. It enables Catholics, in particular, who have so closely allied themselves with the Obama administration and the progressive project, to sugarcoat their political agenda, raising it to a level of real seriousness. Matt Cuff, policy associate for the Jesuit Conference, said of Jesuit students participating in the March for Life, “Our students know that coming to the Mass [for life] and rally isn’t enough, nor is opposition to abortion enough. We need to be advocates for programs that improve the lives of mothers, especially in low-income neighborhoods. In today’s political environment that means opposing cuts to government programs that serve low-income mothers as vigorously as we oppose abortion.” Blink, and you’ve gone from opposing abortion to opposing spending cuts.

On an ideological level, the reality is that many such progressives simply do not see abortion as a crime that cries out for justice. Their ideology and political affiliations may even lead them to support abortion in one circumstance or another. Moral equivalency thus lowers abortion from an intrinsic moral evil to just another policy matter that gets little more than lip service. But with no peace in the womb can we really expect peace in schools?

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[Update 2:29 p.m.: We have included the link to the Faith in Public Life statement]


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  • Jeremy Baines

    I don’t belong to the NRA and don’t claim to speak on its behalf, but I think you’re out of line to claim that “NRA types” have “an individuated conception of citizenship that precludes any recourse to the common gun.” That sounds like something from the list of liberal talking points. I don’t find gun owners to be any less community-minded than other people, and I know some that, had they been nearby at Newtown, would have intervened to take out that crazy kid and prevent the loss of several children’s lives. I’m quite amazed to see your point of view on IRD, since most articles on here are rooted in common sense, not the Left’s view of gun ownership.

    • kieran raval

      Jeremy- That is an entirely fair criticism. Point well taken. A more accurate phrasing would be “driven largely by libertarian and neoconservative forces in certain parts of the NRA and elsewhere on the political right”

      Or something to that effect.

    • Ben Welliver

      I don’t know how old the author of the article is, but a lot of young conservatives have absorbed so much of the left’s propaganda, that they view issues with a liberal bias even without realizing it. This author probably doesn’t realize his contempt comes through in his smirking “NRA types” dig, the stereotype that no one owns a gun for defending himself or his family, he is a latent killer eager to do a school shooting. Give the country 20 years and enough people, both liberals and CINOs, will have such antipathy for “NRA types” that we will end up like the UK, no guns for law-abiding citizens, period. These writers are pretty good on the abortion issue, but on several other social issues they are clearly left of center, which is kind of ironic, because abortion doesn’t directly impact that many people, but gun policy definitely does, since any person can conceivably be in the position of needing to defend himself.

  • cken

    I guess they missed the idea that gun control is also pro-death if you don’t have a gun. When was the last time someone got killed who could shoot back? Abortion is a moral issue and therefor not comparable to gun control. That is comparing apples to oranges. Abortion is between that person and their God. No one knows when the soul enters enters a human. If a fetus has no soul and can’t survive outside the womb is it murder?

    • Gabe

      If no one knows when the soul enters a human, then why would anyone have an abortion and risk snuffing out a life that has a soul, is recognized by God and has intrinsic value? It seems to me that the burden of proof falls on those trying to say that having an abortion does not murder a living human being. Or as King David acknowledged that “when I was in my mother’s womb, You knew me.”

      • Ben Welliver

        Science has advanced to the point where there is no doubt that the unborn child definitely IS a human, since surgery can be performed on fetuses, and no woman shows her friends an ultrasound of “my fetus,” she refers to it as “my baby.” The pro-abortion crowd still likes to play the agnostic game, Who knows if the fetus has a soul? yeah, it definitely does have a soul, is contained with its mother’s womb but is very much a separate human being.

        Think about Obama’s line about gun control, “If we can save just one life . . .” Yeah, Obamessiah, we know how committed you are to saving lives, especially the most helpless members of society. If you intend to leave a legacy as the great pro-death president, you’re doing fine.

        • cken

          “yeah, it definitely does have a soul,” How can you possibly make a statement like that when no one knows what a soul is. Where is it in our body? What is it made of? We don’t know what God is or what He/it is made of. We don’t even know what consciousness is. So for you to say, yeah, it definitely does have a soul, is nothing more than your opinion or your unsupported belief.

  • Daniel

    It is not only liberal catholics who endorce gun control – the Vatican does as well.
    See http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=16860