Deal Hudson

Substance and smirks

Deal Hudson
By Deal Hudson
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Co-authored with Deacon Keith Fournier

DANVILLE, KY (Catholic Online) - Thursday evening’s debate between the vice presidential candidates was historic in the history of American politics: Never before have both vice presidential candidates professed membership in the Catholic Church and claimed with pride the name Catholic as an accurate description of their Christian faith. 

Yes, both Ryan and Biden profess the Catholic faith. However, there is a certain irony in the timing of their debate. On the day when Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council - and presided over the opening of the Year of Faith - the two Catholic participants in this political debate show the stark contrast right within the Catholic Church which the events in Rome addressed.

There are Catholics like Joe Biden who claim to follow what is too often called the “spirit” of Vatican II, while rejecting the very foundations that important Council proclaimed. Then, there are others, like Paul Ryan, who grasp the implications of what it means to infuse the values informed by their Catholic faith into their political participation on fundamental moral issues such as the Right to life.

Paul Ryan’s Catholic faith grew and matured during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II. Congressman Ryan was only eight years old when John Paul II assumed the chair of St. Peter and 35 years old when the Pope died at age 84. Even those who disagree with him on some of his positions acknowledge his sincere effort to be morally coherent.

Vice President Biden, like many Catholic politicians of his generation, succumbed to the pressure of the secularist culture, switching positions on foundational issues and compromising the very teaching of His Church. This is most evident in his retreat from the defense of the Right to Life and his rejection of the truth about marriage and family.

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Joe Biden promotes the profane notion that there is a “right” to abortion when every abortion violates the Natural Law Right to Life. He recently endorsed the oxymoron of “same-sex marriage”, rejecting the clear teaching of His Church as rooted in the Natural Law. While claiming, as he did in tonight’s debate, that he endorses the “social doctrine of the Catholic Church” he directly dissents from it and then tries to use it to his political advantage by claiming he follows this same “social doctrine”.

Rep. Paul Ryan has faithfully represented the teaching of Blessed John Paul II in his historic encyclical entitled The Gospel of Life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the clear teaching of the magisterium, the teaching office, of the Catholic Church. Though Ryan made his reputation as an expert in economics and budgetary planning, his voting record on the settled moral issues contained within the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church is entirely faithful.

During the debate he made it clear that he understands that what the Catholic Church proclaims about the dignity of every human life is not simply a “religious” position. Rather, it is confirmed by reason and science. His anecdotal story of how he and his wife, after viewing an early sonogram of their daughter, were led them to nickname her “bean” was compellingly presented. Biden seemed to squirm in his chair and stopped smirking for a while.

The simplest way to summarize the difference between Biden and Ryan is this: Biden considers all political issues of equal importance. He ignores the distinction between the moral issues concerning intrinsic evils - such as procured abortion - and those which involve the exercise of prudential judgment, meaning Catholics of good will can come to different conclusions in the application of principles, such as economic applications.

Ryan accepts Catholic teaching that the consideration of intrinsic evils must take priority over all other issues, whether the area considered is immigration, national security, or health care reform. Biden rejects this primacy and, while engaging in open dissent from his Church, clothes himself in the label Catholic as a part of his effort to present himself as some kind of “middle class champion”.

We have both commented previously on the differences between the vice presidential candidates concerning their understanding of the obligations of their faith and its undeniable call to moral coherence in their public service. The faceoff between Biden and Ryan on national television was our first opportunity to look more deeply at the differences between these two men in their demeanor or carriage and the manner in which they present their positions. This says a lot about the character and capacity of a leader.

What immediately struck both of us was the contrast between Ryan’s civility and Biden’s attempt to distract the audience with childish facial expressions and head-shaking. His smile often devolved into a smirk and his incessant reference to his debate interlocutor as “friend” was condescending and seemed arrogant.

Ryan, the younger man, never took the older man’s bait. He never descended into unpleasant mugging for the camera. Ryan came across as courteous, kind, smart, and very well prepared. Biden, on the other hand, acted like he was ready for a verbal brawl and looking for every opportunity to strike.

Biden was so unpleasant that, at times, he gave away one of his most winning qualities—he’s always seemed a likable guy—even to those who disagree with him politically. He did, however, have his good moments, such as when he pointed out that Ryan had requested money from the stimulus package for his constituents.

Ryan’s best moments were his clear responses to questions like the one concerning the future of social security—when Ryan calls something an “indisputable fact” his expertise, especially in economic matters, is obvious. Biden’s response was to ignore the coming bankruptcy of the program, look at the camera directly, and ask “seniors” to remember the level of benefits they are receiving.

Who is more compassionate? The man who wants to avoid the financial train wreck that is inevitable for both Social Security and Medicare, or the man who ignores what lies in the future, a future that will be faced by our children and grandchildren. This is a future that will not only have to deal with the possible loss of the “safety net” but also a crushing national debt that has tripled since the Obama/Biden ticket was elected.

It didn’t help, by the way, that the moderator Martha Raddatz cut Ryan off in the middle of several of his best comments, unlike Jim Lehrer, the moderator of the previous debate, who was extremely fair. Raddatz did not interrupt Biden a single time that we can recall.

When Ryan pointedly asked Raddatz, “So you want to get into defense now?” it was an overdue pushback. And she didn’t allow Ryan to elaborate on the budgetary issue she raised while letting Biden drone on and on.

At certain points in the debate, Raddatz completely lost control, allowed Biden to filibuster and, to his detriment, display a lack of manners. It was interesting to see the comparison of the number of minutes each of them had to speak after Biden’s complaint during his closing statement. In fact, he had more time than Ryan.

Raddatz, however, should be thanked for her question about the two candidates Catholic faith and abortion; she gave Catholic voters a chance to watch and hear each candidate talk about what matters most. Ryan’s answer was nearly perfect, referring not merely to the teaching of the Church but, as mentioned above, to the evidence of science and reason, as well as the personal experience of his family.

Biden gave the predictable answer of the Catholics in public life who have compromised on truth. He “refuses to impose” his personal religious beliefs on the American people—the classic Drinan-Kennedy-Cuomo-Pelosi dance step.  Biden further denied the violation of religious liberty caused by the HHS mandate and Raddatz cut Ryan off when he asked Biden why so many Catholic institutions were suing the Obama administration over the mandate.

Biden’s brief excursus on the Supreme Court, his direct slap at Justice Scalia, further betrayed his sense of moral and intellectual superiority—“we are open-minded”—to conservatives in general and pro-lifers in particular. This embedded attitude is the source of the arrogance that continually emanates from the loftiness of the Obama/Biden message.

In fact, if any strong impression is left by this debate it is the contrast between arrogance and courtesy, between empty accusation and rational explanation, between religious duplicity and faithfulness.

Biden did himself no favors tonight, and Ryan showed himself to be a man worthy of being elected to help lead our nation.

This article reprinted with permission from Catholic Online. The opinions contained in the article are the personal opinions of the authors only.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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