Kathleen Gilbert


Irony: Bar boots Denver bishop giving private talk on threats to religious liberty

Kathleen Gilbert

DENVER, March 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Just after speaking about society’s slow descent into adversity against religious freedom, the bishop administering the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver found himself in a closer encounter with the subject than he’d anticipated.

Bishop James Conley was speaking to a Theology on Tap group on Jan. 26 about how America is turning into an “atheocracy” at Stoney’s Bar and Grill of Denver when trouble began brewing.

“America today is becoming what I would call an atheocracy—a society that is actively hostile to religious faith and religious believers. And I might add, the faith that our society is most hostile toward is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular,” said Conley, according to one report.

“I think we all recognize that there is a new mentality in America, one that has grave risks for all believers—and puts in jeopardy all faith-based movements for social change and renewal. An atheocracy is a dangerous place—morally and spiritually. ... We risk becoming a nation without a soul, a people with no common purpose apart from material pursuits.”

Even though the remarks were given in a private area of the bar, patrons reportedly began aiming snide remarks at the prelate, with one shouting an obscenity at Conley. Workers also complained to management at having to serve the bishop, according to the report, and some refused to serve the group.

The night ended with the restaurant saying that the event was “too controversial” and requesting that Theology on Tap take its business elsewhere. However, the owner of Stoney’s told Catholic News Agency that the dust-up was a “misunderstanding” and that the restaurant hoped to work with the group in the future.

EWTN reports that Katie Mullen’s Irish Restaurant and Pub welcomed the Theology on Tap following the row.

“It’s ironic that the talk itself pertains so well to what happened,” Chris Stefanick, director of the archdiocese’s office for youth, told CNA, who also hinted that the loss of Theology on Tap would lose Stoney’s a lot of customers.

“There were about 300 people there on a night that otherwise would be kind of dead,” he said.

Conley’s talk quoted Pope Benedict XVI on the leftist claim that religion is the source of violence.

“The enemies of religion ... see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear,” said Pope Benedict. “But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself.”

This, said Conley, was a description of the “moral and political landscape of an atheocracy.”

“Without God, there is no basis for morality and no necessary protections for man,” the bishop said. “The strong decide what is right or wrong—even who lives and who dies. ... That is where we seem to be heading in America today. A lot of people would argue that we are already there.”

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