In an age of innumeracy, the numerate will be king. Or maybe this item is just another case of the blind leading the blind.
People tend to give a lot of weight to numeric data, which is why politicians and other liars are so fond of tossing numbers around. The liars I'm talking about today are religiously motivated, which is always kind of sad. You'd think religious people would be more concerned about the sin of bearing false witness. Instead, I'm afraid they are among today's most vigorous devotees of the notion that the ends justify the means. They're lying for God, you see. That makes it okay.
A group called Catholic Advocate has sent me a copy of its Scorecard of Catholics in Congress. While you may have heard that John F. Kennedy made a point of declaring that his Catholicism did not compromise his independent political judgment in serving as chief executive of a secular government, today's Catholics are supposed to take direct dictation from the Church hierarchy—or else. The cover letter from Deal W. Hudson, director of Catholic Advocate, explains, “I'm leading the fight to expose counterfeit Catholic politicians like liberal pro-abortion Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—and I need your help to do it.... The enclosed scorecard ranks 130 ‘Catholic’ members of Congress on 10 issues recently debated in Congress.”
I scanned the scorecard. The results are shocking. Hudson reports that many U.S. Representatives are faithless Catholics who score zero percent when it comes to voting in accordance with holy Church policy. This roster includes Harry Mitchell of Arizona, Gerald McNerney of California, Joseph Courtney of Connecticut, Phil Hare of Illinois, Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, Albio Sires of New Jersey, Michael Arcuri, Kirsten Gillibrand, and John Hall of New York, Jason Altmire, Christopher Carney, Patrick Murphy, and Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, Nicholas Lampson and Ciro Rodriguez of Texas, and Peter Welch of Vermont.
Every single one of these representatives in the U.S. House has a 0% record of supporting the Church's teachings, at least according to the Catholic Advocate scorecard. All of them have that in common. The other things they have in common? They are all freshman Democrats and their Catholic Advocate scorecard rating is based on one vote. Not ten votes, as Hudson said, but one vote. The other nine votes used in the Catholic Advocate scorecard occurred in previous sessions of Congress. Each freshman is marked “N/A” for those nine votes, but that does not stop Catholic Advocate from branding them with a 0% score for their religious fidelity. They did, after all, vote for federal funding for stem-cell research. These representatives presumably felt that a vote in favor of such research would reflect the wishes and desires of the people whom they represent, whether or not the Church is opposed to it. That does not matter. These representatives are required to toe the Vatican line and to be condemned when they do not.
In addition to stem-cell research, which the Church is eager to ban, issues of interest to Catholic Advocate included federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, human cloning, abortion in military medical facilities, and the late-term abortion procedure which doctors call “intact dilation and extraction” and pro-lifers call “partial-birth abortion.”
Why exactly would Catholic Advocate send out a congressional scorecard in the middle of 2007? It's not a congressional election year and the data are severely compromised by their paucity (an inevitable consequence of the freshman status of so many representatives). Very simple! It's a fund-raising letter. On the final page of Deal Hudson's eight-page cover letter, one finds a solicitation to send money. You can even check off the amount you want to contribute. The first suggested amount? $1000. Hey, it's for God's work, you know. Pikers can continue down the list until they finally get to $50. An even more parsimonious item is the $39 price of a “brief and refreshing booklet” titled How to Vote Catholic. (The booklet's description is by Father Frank Pavone, leader of Priests for Life and one of the noisier figures at the disgraceful Terri Schiavo circus in Florida.)
So Catholic Advocate would like you to be informed, but they would like it even more if you send them money.
The beam in your own eye
Perhaps you recognize the name of Catholic Advocate's director. It seemed familiar to me, so I googled Deal W. Hudson and learned just what the deal is with Deal. He is a figure of some note, having served as a professor at Fordham University and as editor of the Catholic magazine Crisis. Hudson left both positions in disgrace. A news item originally published in the Washington Times, a newspaper not noted for its willingness to expose right-wing figures, tells the story:
Publisher of Catholic magazine forced to resignThis article, published on September 21, 2004, is no longer posted on the Washington Times website, but I was able to winkle it out from Google's cache. Hudson's efforts at pre-emptive damage control were documented in an article in the National Catholic Reporter.
By Julia Duin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Deal Hudson, publisher of Crisis magazine and, until recently, a top Bush political adviser on outreach to Roman Catholics, will resign from the magazine at the end of the year after five of his most influential columnists pressured the board to get rid of him.
The columnists, who include some of the nation's best-known Catholic scholars, told the board in a letter that they would leave the magazine unless the board ejected Mr. Hudson, 54.
According to two scholars familiar with the letter, the columnists were angry about an Aug. 19 National Catholic Reporter (NCR) expose on Mr. Hudson's sexual liaison with an 18-year-old student in 1994, an action that cost him his tenured professorship at Fordham University and a $30,000 settlement.
In addition, specific accusations of more recent sexual misconduct had come to the board's attention, one scholar said.
“This was not about one incident 10 years ago,” he said. “It's surprising it was held down as long as it was. I haven't gone out of my way to track Deal Hudson's improprieties—I could be doing nothing else. But you began to wonder after a while if they are true.”
I don't know about you, but I can rest easier at night knowing that Deal Hudson is guarding the religious fidelity of the Roman Catholic members of the U.S. House and Senate. Whatever damage he manages to do will probably be limited by whatever scandal is next.