Friday, October 24, 2008

Apologetics for the Masses - John Martignoni

If you have never had the opportunity to read anything from John Martignoni, this issue of his regular newsletter is the best place to start! He is a regular guest on EWTN, both radio and TV, and in fact he hosts his own radio show on EWTN. Recently, he started up a new Catholic radio station in his home state of Alabama. Here you go:

Topic: Apologetics for the Masses – Issue #101
General Comments

Wow! I think I received more feedback on this last newsletter than any other I’ve ever done. Some positive, some negative. Some intelligent, some not so intelligent.
Anyway, I appreciate all of the feedback – I read all of it, even though I can’t respond to all of it.

Because of the number of responses to the last newsletter, and the fact that I still have no response from Pastor Walker to Issue #97, I’m going to respond to some of the questions and comments I’ve received in the last week.

Many of you said that you were sending last week’s issue to friends and family who are going to vote pro-abortion. If you want to do the same with this issue, I would suggest you either pick out the particular questions and answers that speak best to the folks you’re dealing with, or at least highlight them in the newsletter. I’ve tried to include objections that come from different directions so as to answer the objections of as many different people as possible.

Before I get to the questions, and my answers to those questions, I want to first make a general statement about my personal political views. I am not a Democrat nor am I a Republican. I have voted for Democrats in the past, and I have voted for Republicans in the past, and I have voted for 3rd Party candidates in the past.

I am actually of the opinion that we need a viable third party in this country because the Republican and Democrat parties both have more than their fair share of liars, cheats, hypocrites, cowards, and power-hungry egotistical jack asses. And, the choice of candidates being provided by just these two parties – in the general election but also in the primaries – leaves much to be desired. In other words, I am generally disgusted with both parties and most of the people within those parties – with a few exceptions.

A viable third party, one that is across the board pro-life, would receive my whole-hearted support. I would love to see all the pro-life Christians get together and start something along these lines.

Regarding President George Bush, he has been a huge disappointment to me in many areas. In the pro-life area, specifically, I do not believe he has done all that he could have. However, he has done some things which have indeed saved the lives of babies and have the potential to save the lives of many more babies. In regards to the latter, is his appointment of Judges Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court – both of whom would probably vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if given the opportunity (I will discuss this more in-depth below). In regards to the former, he has upheld Reagan’s Mexico City Policy which bans the U.S. from giving money to overseas organizations that promote or provide abortions, he has banned funding for research on new lines of fetal stem cells (taken from aborted babies or from cloned, and subsequently killed, embryos), and he signed the Partial Birth Abortion ban. So, he has done some good things in the pro-life realm, but not enough, in my humble opinion.

Now, on to the Q&A:

Question: “McCain is not truly prolife like we are, he still supports it for rape or incest and if the woman’s life is in danger. I know he is better than Obama on this issue but these are the same things Obama said he was in support of abortion over.

It is indeed true that John McCain is not across the board pro-life. He supports the “right” to an abortion in cases of rape and incest. He also supports the use of federal funds for fetal stem cell research that would result in the destruction of already frozen embryos that are no longer “wanted” by anyone. So, what is one to do?

Well, the Church has always been clear, and the bishops have been very clear in what they’ve recently written (see paragraphs #36 of the Bishops’ statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”; and #5.a. of the statement from Bishops Vann and Farrell – both of which are in the last newsletter), that it is morally permissible to vote for the lesser of two evils so as to “limit the evil done”.

Given that, which of these two candidates is the lesser of two evils, from a purely pro-life perspective? Let’s look at a number of issues and see:

Obama is in favor of the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the federal funding of abortion. McCain supports the Hyde Amendment. According to NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League), the Hyde Amendment “forces about half the women who would otherwise have abortions to carry unintended pregnancies to term and bear children against their wishes.” So, if we go by the words of the abortionists themselves , as represented by NARAL, the repeal of the Hyde Amendment will result in an additional 1 million or so abortions each year.

Obama is in favor of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), McCain is opposed. In fact, Obama stated that “the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” This legislation would effectively sweep away all state and federal limits on abortion, such as: parental consent and notification laws for minors, state and federal funding restrictions on abortion, and conscience protections for pro-life citizens working in the health-care industry…protections against being forced to participate in the practice of abortion or else lose their jobs. The National Organization for Women (NOW), which is a pro-abortion group, has proclaimed that FOCA would “sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.” These laws that would be swept away are credited, by the abortion industry, for reducing the number of abortions by hundreds of thousands per year in the last several years.

Obama is opposed to the Pregnant Women Support Act, a bill proposed by Democrats for Life, which aims to reduce abortions by providing assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies. The key provisions being: providing coverage of unborn children in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), and informed consent for women about the effects of abortion and the gestational age of their child. I am not aware of McCain’s position on this particular bill.
Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability. McCain is on record of being in support of such legislation.

Obama co-sponsored a bill that would authorize the large-scale industrial production of human embryos for use in biomedical research. The embryos would be cloned and then destroyed – all in the name of the god of science. McCain opposed the bill. This bill alone could result in eventually millions of embryos being cloned for scientific research. It could also open the doors to the eventual birth of cloned human beings.

Obama was one of the few Senators who opposed a bill that would give modest federal funding to stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of an embryo – adult stem cell research. McCain supported this bill.

McCain has stated that he will nominate more judges like Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court. Obama has stated quite clearly that he will not nominate anyone to the Supreme Court who is not pro-abortion.

So, to sum up, the one anti-life position on which Obama and McCain agree, is the destruction of already frozen, and “unwanted,” embryos for stem cell research. So, on that one issue, there is no difference in voting for Obama or McCain. They also agree that abortion should be available to women in cases of rape and incest, but McCain believes these should be the exception to the rule, Obama believes unrestricted abortion should be the rule.

On all the other issues, the Freedom of Choice Act, the Clone and Kill bill, the Pregnant Women Support Act, the nomination of pro-life Supreme Court and federal judges, the Born Alive Infants Act, the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy, and funding for adult stem cell research, McCain’s positions are pro-life while Obama’s can only be described as fervently and radically pro-death. In fact, the NARAL website proclaims that Obama’s “pro-choice” voting record is 100%, while John McCain’s is 0%! So, I believe, as the abortion industry itself believes, that voting for one over the other would be the difference in millions of human beings living or dying.

Question: “Will you address [Catholic Professor] Douglas Kmiec’s argument that overturning Roe v. Wade just brings it back to the states, who can’t even agree on a common speed limit or drinking age, so why would they make abortion illegal?

If enough Supreme Court Justices wake up and realize that there is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a “right” to an abortion or a “right” to privacy, and Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, then the abortion issue will indeed need to be addressed state by state. What would happen then? Well, if you think about it, there are already hundreds of laws on the books of most states that restrict abortion in some manner or another. Do you think these laws were passed by “pro-choice” legislators? Of course not! In other words, you have the majority of legislators in the majority of states who have already shown a willingness to limit abortion as best they can in a Roe v. Wade environment.

Given that, it is thereby a very logical thing to assume that many, not all, but many of these states would pass laws to outlaw abortion altogether once the dagger of Roe v. Wade is no longer held to their throats. I think Alabama would be one of the first states to do so. And, it would also be logical to assume that if the current abortion restrictions, which are relatively minor – such as parental notification laws – and which are not found in every state, are enough to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, imagine how many more lives would be saved by outright bans on abortion in a number of states.

Furthermore, the overturning of Roe v. Wade would do something that Prof. Doug Kmiec never addresses – it would bring the abortion debate back to front and center in the public arena. Right now abortion is only mentioned if necessary by news outlets. Never has any news outlet ever shown the results of an abortion on TV. They show all sorts of maimed bodies and violence against persons, but they have never shown an abortion. Why not? Because as soon as the majority of Americans saw what it actually is, they would be screaming for it to stop!

Overturning Roe v. Wade may have its biggest long run impact not in the immediate banning of abortion by individual states, but in forcing abortion into the public discussion in such a way that the hearts and minds of millions of “pro-choice” people will be forever changed, and abortion will no longer be considered a legitimate “choice” by women when they become pregnant, or by society as a whole. And, God willing, this horrendous evil will be permanently done away with.
Question: What about the argument that McCain did not vote to increase funding for social programs to help and encourage single mothers to take care of their babies born out of wedlock? Wouldn’t this encourage them to have an abortion, instead? Obama is in favor of programs to assist these women.

Well, I have heard this argument, but I am not aware of any such bill having actually been voted on. As quite often happens, people associated with political campaigns say things that may actually bear little to no resemblance to the truth. Maybe there was such a bill, but I don’t know which bill, when it was voted on, and what it actually said. If anyone reading this has the specifics, I’d love to hear them.

But, let’s also consider this: On the one hand, you have Obama saying he will vote to increase funding for programs that would encourage single mothers to allow their babies to be born. On the other hand, you have him voting for the lifting of any and all restrictions on public funding of abortion, such restrictions having resulted – according to the abortion industry itself – in the birth of more than one million babies a year. And, as mentioned above, Obama is on record as indeed opposing bills, like the Pregnant Women Support Act, that will help women to make a choice for life. McCain supports that particular bill. So, is Obama really in favor of programs that will encourage unwed mothers to give birth to their babies?

Furthermore, the Catholic Church in the U.S. has stated that if there is a woman anywhere in the country who is going to abort because she cannot financially support her child, then she needs to call the Catholic Church and she will receive support. Plus, if a woman cannot financially support her child, there is always the adoption option. Why kill your child when you can let them live and be loved by others? Why not vote federal funds to support adoption – which John McCain and his wife know all about since they have an adopted child – rather than voting to use federal funds to kill babies – as Obama is in favor of.

Question: Please help convince me to “hold my nose” to vote for McCain, because I am very pro life but – like the daughter for Obama- I don’t like anything else about him. This includes the 2nd Amendment, which also kills innocent people if the guns get into the wrong hands. Plus I don’t like his choice of VP being a heartbeat away from the presidency, as she isn’t qualified.

Several things to address here: First, what issue is more important than the issue of life? If Obama is elected, it is very possible that it will cost literally millions of lives, that could be saved if McCain is elected.

As Bishops Vann and Farrell clearly stated (as quoted in the last newsletter), there is no issue or even any combination of other issues, that are the moral equivalent of the pro-life issues – abortion, fetal stem cell research, euthanasia, and infanticide.

In regards to the 2nd Amendment, I will say this: I don’t like guns. Don’t own one. I don’t even hunt. I wish we had less of them – not just at an individual level, but at the level of nations as well. However, the fact of the matter is, that the 2nd Amendment is a part of the Constitution and it gives people the right to own guns. The President of the United States takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, which means an oath to uphold the 2nd Amendment. That’s his job. Besides, as far as I know, Obama has never said he is opposed to the 2nd Amendment.

Regarding Sarah Palin and her inexperience. With all due respect, but Sarah Palin was Governor of Alaska for 2 and a half years before being tapped as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee. Before that she had been a two-term City Council member and two-term mayor.

Barack Obama was a member of the Illinois Senate for two terms, before becoming a U.S. Senator. He apparently voted “present” more than a hundred times during his tenure in the Illinois Senate. Mayors and governors don’t get to vote “present.” He was in the U.S. Senate for only a little over a year before making it known that he would run for President, officially announcing in February of ‘07 – just two years after becoming a U.S. Senator.

Sarah Palin has run a government, at the city level and at the state level. Barack Obama has never been a part of the executive branch of government. He’s never actually governed anything or anyone. He’s not even the Chairman of a Committee in the Senate. He’s authored no major legislation that I am aware of. While Sarah Palin was running a state, Barack Obama was running his Senate office…then running for President. From where I sit, Sarah Palin has much more experience with actually governing than Barack Obama has. Neither Palin nor Obama has a whole lot of experience, but Palin actually has more of the necessary experience for the executive branch than Obama does. If the TV news media was actually fair and impartial, you would be doubting Obama’s qualifications for the presidency much more than Palin’s qualifications for the vice-presidency.

Finally, I “held my nose” to vote for Bush #1 back in ‘88 and in ‘92. I did not vote for Dole in ‘96 because he had voted for pro-abortion judges for the Supreme Court and the other federal courts and he had voted for the Freedom of Choice Act. Instead, I voted for Howard Phillips of the Constitution Party – a truly pro-life candidate. I voted, less than enthusiastically, for Bush #2 in 2000 and I held my nose to vote for Bush #2 in 2004. I will vote, less than enthusiastically for McCain, but very enthusiastically for Palin.

The number 1 reason I will vote for McCain is because I believe the next President will have the opportunity to nominate at least two, and possibly three, judges to the U.S. Supreme Court. If McCain is elected and is true to his word (which I believe he will be – one thing I like about McCain is that, agree or disagree with his positions, he appears to be a man of his word), then I believe he will appoint justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. I believe that this election offers the best opportunity to change the highest court in the land that we have had in 35 years and may have for the next 35 years.

However, as important as that is, I do not believe it is politics that is the major front in the war against the evil of abortion. The number one front is spiritual and we will only conquer on that front when we turn hearts and minds back to God. We need, though, to wage this war on all fronts – spiritual, political, economic, cultural, etc.

If Obama is elected, then it could very well be that God, as He did in the Old Testament with the Israelites, is giving us exactly what we deserve. We, as a country, and in many instances within the Catholic Church, have turned away from God. We think the power resides with us, instead of with God. So, God lets us have what we want, and what we deserve. Then, disaster strikes, and we turn back to God (hopefully). Maybe that’s what electing a radically pro-abortion candidate will lead to, but we cannot vote for an evil in the hopes that it will get so bad that God will allow even more evil to befall us, and we cannot refrain from voting against an evil with that same hope. We must fight evil wherever and whenever we come across it.

Regarding voting for a 3rd party candidate, as I did in ‘96, or not voting at all, the Bishops have not spoken out about that as far as I am aware. My personal opinion is that voting for a 3rd party pro-life candidate – if there is one on your ballot – is perfectly acceptable from a moral standpoint. Not voting at all, is obviously better than voting for a pro-abortion candidate, and could lead, in the long run, to a party paying more attention to the pro-life vote it has too often neglected. So, again, in my opinion, not voting – in the hopes of increasing the long-term impact of the pro-life vote – may be a morally acceptable option. However, it is an option that should be taken only after carefully considering and praying about the judicial front in this war on abortion, and after talking with your pastor and possibly even your bishop.

Question: While we strive to align all of our personal beliefs with the Church to be sure, we acknowledge that we live in what Biden (a Catholic himself) refers to as a ‘pluralistic society.’ Make no mistake about it—We are Pro Life. That does not mean, however, that there should not be abortion ‘rights.’ While God’s word is clear, it is not for us to IMPOSE and REQUIRE that our beliefs be honored by everyone. We can (strive to) live by God’s laws and set a good example, and we can passionately share with people our personal stance on the issues, but it is certainly not for me to DICTATE that other people live by my (still very nieve and childlike) view of God. We are not the judge—God is.

This is something along the lines of the “separation of Church and State” argument. This statement is a beautiful example of what I like to call…stupidity. This person claims to be “pro-life,” but because we live in a “pluralistic society” she says we must not “IMPOSE and REQUIRE that our beliefs be honored by everyone!” And that it is not for us to “DICTATE that other people live by my…view of God.” So, since we live in a pluralistic society, that means there should be abortion “rights.”

So, let me sum up what she is essentially saying here. I believe murdering babies is wrong. But, we need to have abortion “rights” for those who believe it isn’t wrong. We shouldn’t therefore try to pass laws to protect unborn human beings. Assuming that she believes stealing is also wrong, and this belief being based on the Commandments (Thou shalt not steal) and therefore based on her “naive and childlike” view of God, then I assume she believes we must also have some theft “rights,” as we cannot IMPOSE our beliefs on others. We should also have rape “rights,” for those in our pluralistic society who believe rape is okay. We must also have slavery “rights,” for those in our pluralistic society who believe slavery is okay. So, if a Muslim, whose religion allows for the institution of slavery, wants to own a slave, then we cannot REQUIRE them to not do so. So many people have lost the ability to think…it really is sad.

Murder is a moral evil. So, if we want to live in this pluralistic society, then we need to have murder “rights” for those who believe murder is okay. Wait a minute…she already said that. Abortion is the murder of a human being and she says we should have abortion “rights,” so she is in essence saying that we should have murder “rights.” And that we cannot DICTATE otherwise to anyone.

Again, an unfortunately not-so-rare example of stupidity.

Question: What you don’t deal with in this article is that George Bush hasn’t overturned Roe v. Wade—or even TRIED to overturn this verdict in the two terms he has been President. The abortion issue is being used by the Republicans to get votes from Catholics and other pro-life advocates when in reality these administrations are the FARTHEST thing from Christian. You can’t vote on one issue—and on this I think you all are wrong unfortunately. WAKE UP—they are using you!

Sorry, but you can and must vote on one issue, when that issue is LIFE ITSELF! WAKE UP, back atchya! Without life, everything else is irrelevant. Pope John Paul II said so. Pope Benedict has said so. The Bishops, as a group and individually, say so. Common sense says so. Mother Teresa said that if we allow mothers to kill their babies, then what reason can we give to say that strangers should not kill strangers.

Regarding George Bush, he actually did set the stage for the overturning of Roe v. Wade with his appointment of Judges Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court. As I said above, I believe he could have and should have done more, but at least he did that. This next President will more than likely have the opportunity to appoint two new Supreme Court justices, and very possibly three. If we get 3 more Roberts or Alitos or Scalias or Thomases, we will have an excellent chance to overturn Roe.

For that possibility, and that possibility alone, I will vote for McCain. This issue outweighs all others either individually or as a group. Listen to what Cardinal George has said: “[Too many Americans have] no recognition of the fact that children continue to be killed [by abortion], and we live therefore, in a country drenched in blood. This can’t be something you start playing off pragmatically against other issues.”

Question: You say anyone who votes for a pro-choice candidate is gambling their soul. Well, what if both candidates support abortion or some intrinsic evil? What do we do now? Don’t vote? What if John McCain thinks contraception is OK? I don’t know if he does or not, but are we still supporting an intrinsic evil by voting for someone who thinks contraception is OK? What about voting for someone who supports programs to hurt the poor rather than help them? Would that not be supporting an intrinsic evil? These are just questions to consider when you say someone is gambling their soul by voting for a pro-choice candidate.

Actually, I’m not the one who said you are gambling your soul if you vote for a pro-abortion candidate, the bishops are saying that – I’m just letting you know what they are saying. If both candidates support an intrinsic evil then, as I said above, Church teaching allows for voting for the lesser of the two evils. What John McCain privately thinks about contraception is irrelevant to the argument. John McCain’s private beliefs on masturbation and sex before marriage are also irrelevant to the argument. John McCain’s private views on whether or not the Eucharist is actually the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are also irrelevant to the argument. You are not “supporting” an intrinsic evil by voting for a candidate who privately believes in an intrinsic evil.

Regarding voting for someone whose programs would “hurt the poor,” well any program that hurts the poor would be intrinsically evil. But, two things to remember: 1) We must be very careful in our judgments of what actually hurts the poor and what helps the poor. I’ve worked for a non-profit that helped the poor – I ran a food bank and a free heath clinic and several other programs aimed at lifting people out of poverty. I can tell you from first hand experience that the welfare policies that have been pushed by the Democrats, and many Republicans, in the last 20 or so years, have not been good for the poor. What people claim helps the poor, actually hurts them in many instances. 2) Even if we could say that a particular candidate’s welfare policies would definitively “hurt” the poor, that would not be the moral equivalent of killing millions of babies in the womb. One would still, from a moral standpoint, be required to vote for the lesser of two evils – the candidate whose policies may “hurt” the poor vs. the candidate whose policies result in the deaths of millions of human beings.

Question: Instead of concentrating on legalistic concerns (i.e., one’s right to do or not to do something), attention could be directed to human dignity concerns like what to do with an enfeebled Grandma, a poor neighborhood, the war in Iraq.

The right to life is a “legalistic concern” and not a “human dignity” concern? Turn off the TV! Read a book! Engage your brain! What if someone pointed a gun at this guy and he begged for his life saying, “I have a right to life!” And the gunman said, “Oh, please…don’t bother me with legalistic concerns.”

And, finally, someone forwarded me something written by Olga Bonfiglio, who is a professor at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She said this:
“Frankly, it is discouraging to me as a white, church-going Catholic and a convert, to see political ideologues pushing this ONE issue [abortion] as their basis for promoting candidates for elective office when there are so many other problems troubling our nation and our world.”

Olga, please give me one other “problem,” or any number of problems all piled together, that has resulted in the death of almost 50 million innocent human beings in this country alone, and close to 1 billion innocent human beings internationally, in the last 35 years?! Olga, with all due respect, but it is discouraging to me as a white, church-going Catholic, to see people with brains that are obviously not fully engaged being employed as college professors. And, it is even more discouraging to me, as a white, church-going Catholic, to see people who call themselves Catholic so flippantly dismiss the teachings of their Church, the words of Popes and bishops, the battle that pro-lifers have been fighting on behalf of the unborn for the last 35 years, and the deaths of 50 million innocents in this country alone.

As Bishop Robert J. Herman, the administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, has said:
“My desire for a good economy cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. My desire to end the war in Iraq cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion.”

In Conclusion
I’ll be back next week (God willing) with a new topic. I hope all of you have a great week!

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