Monthly Archives: May 2015

Go Nebraska!

Shout out to my home state!

“A growing coalition of liberals, religious groups, and libertarian-minded conservatives overcame more traditional…Republicans” in Nebraska: and abolished the death penalty.

Here’s hoping that similar coalitions can form a new antiwar movement. Everything that Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty has to say about this barbaric practice can be said about our “wars”:

“It’s not pro-life because it risks innocent life. It’s not fiscally responsible because it costs millions…At the end of the day, it’s another big government program that’s really dangerous and expensive but doesn’t achieve any of its goals.”

Quotes from How Nebraska Abolished the Death Penalty, The Atlantic, May 27, 2015

good life

An Invitation to All Catholic Killers

Recently we here at Catholics Against Militarism made a small effort to counter a very troubling article promoting militarism which appeared in the National Catholic Register. The article, by Wayne Laugeson,  was provocatively entitled Catholic, and Killing for a Living, and it was about the “hot topic” of American snipers.

Our email drawing attention to the article and asking for people’s help appeared on the Lew Rockwell blog.

I would like to make a few comments about what I consider to be the most remarkable and disturbing aspect of the article — the emphasis on the Christian, pro-life credentials of the snipers. My comments are directed strictly at pro-life Catholics and Christians who join the military, not police or law enforcement snipers who are in a completely different situation. It is a serious weakness of the article that the author conflates the two different types of snipers.

The basic premise of the article is that being an “American sniper,” including participating as a sniper in America’s foreign wars in Iraq and elsewhere, is all about protecting innocent life and fighting evil, just like being against abortion and part of the pro-life movement.

Jack Coughlin, the Marine Corps sniper who is the principle subject of the article, is a “devout pro-life Catholic.” The people Jack killed were “ruthless killers,” and being a sniper is about saving innocent lives.

Butch Nery, another devout Catholic and Vietnam veteran says that an American sniper defends the “country and the oppressed” and “helps disadvantaged individuals … survive evil aggression.” Nery also says this:

“When you are overseas, and you see some of what the enemy does to innocent women and children, you don’t have any questions about the morality of a sniper’s role in the overall mission.”

And, we are told, police sniper Derek Bartlett believes that the Bible contains many justifications of violence in defense of innocent life in war and peace.

Dave Agata, a “nondenominational Christian,” says that snipers are “mostly a moral pro-life community” and that “an American sniper is someone tactically trained to save innocent lives.” Mr. Agata makes the most dramatic statement about abortion in America:

 “In this country, you can take a young girl to a clinic and pay some butcher to take the life of a baby.”

But for Catholics, of course, this is actually an understatement. Catholics believe that abortion is murder and that this “butchery” has been going on for decades and has taken millions of innocent lives. It is often described correctly by pro-life activists as a holocaust, a genocide and mass murder. Consider that in 2012 alone, the Planned Parenthood clinic on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, where I live, performed nearly 7000 abortions.

It seems to me that our first obligation is to defend the innocent and fight evil right here in our own backyard. If we had a decent, healthy society then Dave Agata’s “butcher” would be arrested and prosecuted and prevented from doing further harm. But who is protecting this ruthless killer?

It is, without a doubt, the U.S. Federal Government that is the most powerful defender and promoter of the abortion industry in our country. If it wasn’t for Roe v. Wade, which overturned state and local authority and made abortion the law of the land for hundreds of millions of people, we would have some state and local governments that would restrict and even abolish abortion.

American Snipers, I am ready to take you at your word that you are devout Catholics and/or pro-life Christians who want to defend the innocent and oppose evil in the world. We are of like mind on this matter. The only thing I hate more than war is abortion. But I believe you are making a terrible mistake. You are devoting your talents and courage and sacred honor to assisting and strengthening our great enemy, the U.S. Federal Government. This government is the enemy of the unborn and the innocent, and I would add that it is also an enemy of peace. Is it that hard to imagine that this amoral, anti-Christian entity which enforces the unjust, diabolical abortion law, might also be engaging in unjust wars? This question is not honestly discussed in the article.

If Catholics and other pro-life folks were willing to non-violently resist Federal power and challenge it with the local authority of states and cities, Church and family, we might be able to establish a beachhead in North Dakota or Alabama, or even in “liberal” Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the two most Catholic states in the union. We might create an example of a state or city with genuinely Christian pro-life laws and values that might spread to other places. But this can never happen as long as good Catholics are so submissive to and entranced by the immensely powerful and increasingly totalitarian central government and its armed forces. In effect, America’s perpetual wars and suffocating militarism serve to distract American Catholics from the fundamental evil of abortion which exists at the core of our society. In order to make inroads against the culture of death, the Catholic love affair with the military and the state must end.

Ultimately, both literally and figuratively, between us pro-life Catholics and the walls of that Planned Parenthood clinic stand the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps.

So obviously I have some serious disagreements with the Catholic snipers and other Catholic soldiers regarding the foreign wars of the US military, but our Catholic Faith and our pro-life commitment should enable us to find some common ground and possibly even work together. I’d like to hear from Jack Coughlin or Butch Nery or any “Catholic killer” who shares their viewpoint. Just post a comment to this blog or use the contact page and I’ll get back to you and we can have a private conversation. Perhaps we can even meet face to face at some point and talk, man to man, brother to brother, Catholic to Catholic. You never know what might come out of such a meeting, since “the Lord works in mysterious ways.”

Recommended further reading:

Christians and the Pro-Life Ploy


The Future Church

According to Benedict:

“But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize her true center and experience the sacraments again as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystalization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek.”

“Industry of Death”

Pope Francis said Monday that “many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war”.

This is very contrary to the message we usually send children about how noble and glorious war is. We let them believe that people go to war only as a last resort.

He answered a question from one of the 7,000 children taking part in an audience held with the Peace Factory organisation. “This is serious,” Francis told the children.  “Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms….It’s the industry of death.”

He’s right.



Old Words

“Old words that used to mean something—ideals, meaning, character, self, soul—have come to seem mere floating signifiers, counters in a game played by commencement speakers and college catalogs. Vague and variable as their meanings may have been, there was a time when the big words of the humanities still carried weight. They sustained yearnings and aspirations; they sanctioned the notion that the four-year transition from adolescence to adulthood might be a time of exploration and experiment.

This idea has not disappeared entirely, but the last time it flourished en masse was forty years or so ago, in the atmosphere pervaded by the antiwar counterculture. Indeed one could argue that the counterculture of the 1960s and early ’70s involved far more than the contemporary caricature of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. It was in part a creation of young people who wanted to take college education seriously, to treat it as more than mere job training. Beneath the slogans and excess, the counterculture contained a probing critique of the instrumentalist mentality that managed the Vietnam War—the mad perversion of pragmatism embodied in the American major’s words: “it became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.” Writers like Albert Camus, Martin Buber, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer may have been more often cited than read by young people in the 1960s and ’70s, but those writers’ presence in countercultural discourse suggested the urgent question at its core: How can we live an ethical life amid the demands of illegitimate power?”

The Liberal Arts vs. Neoliberalism,” Commonweal, April 20, 2015

Mother’s Day Proclamation

“Arise then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears! Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own.
It says, ‘Disarm, disarm!’ The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar but of God.”

— Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870