Theocratic Propaganda: 
Introduction

by Guillermo Moreno

July 04, 2020

In January of 2020, a Rad Trad website that will go unnamed posted the following on Facebook: “If you have had an abortion, you should be deported.” That post was quickly taken down, and the website eventually ceased to exist.

No doubt that this post was in response to the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the court case that legalized abortion across the United States of America. This post simultaneously condemned illegal immigration. This way, the issue of abortion was politically fused with the only penalty due to individuals whose criminal offense merits the physical eviction from the country.

 

My response to the post, while it was up, was: “Theocratic propaganda at its FINEST!” to which one of the website administrators replied by asking for my definition of ‘theocratic propaganda.’ I replied by stating that I could write a book about it. This project is the fruit of that interaction.

 

I must admit that I am used to addressing dissent from the Catholic Church on the Left. My concerns were with people who say that they are Catholic but who hold views that are contrary to what the Church says. What I mean by ‘what the Church says’ is, synonymously, the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith, because the Church proclaims what Christ taught and commanded[1] (Mark 1:15; Matt 28:16-20; Acts 15:6-11; 1 Thes 2:1-2, etc.).

Firstly and ultimately, the Catholic Church proclaims Jesus Christ. These views that are contrary to what the Church says, however, are views that are in line with what is deemed to be liberal and Leftist in modern western civilization. These issues include birth control, in-vitro fertilization, transgenderism, homosexual “marriage,” divorce and remarriage, the women’s ordination, and abortion.

Referring to these matters of dissent from the Left, there are two points that I feel the need to address before proceeding with the topic of this project, specifically. The need is there to address, even if briefly, why it matters.

 

Firstly, it is no coincidence that these dissenting views are matters inherent to sexuality. A long and complex history of secular ideologies has led to the dysfunction of society that has as its root the dysfunction of the family.[2] Broken homes are seen as a new norm in society in a way as if cancer were no longer seen as a disease in the human organism. In the end, a view that is at the cultural level has its deep roots hidden, and those roots are found and exposed by very few well-formed and well-informed individuals, perhaps almost exclusively in the faith-based setting or in academic settings that realize the value in conservative modes of thinking, especially those that are most compatible with Christianity.

 

It makes sense, however, that a distorted view of the universe (hence the idea of no God, or the idea of no objective reality) would lead to a distorted view of the human person, and a distorted view of the human body, for humans are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27). In short, our sexuality is not beside the point of who we are. It’s not a coincidence that we are created as male and female. It’s all in God’s plan, and there is wisdom and prudence, for believers and skeptics alike, in researching why the Church teaches that marriage is a lifelong, exclusive, indissoluble union between a man and a woman that is open to life in the marital embrace,[3] and that the aforementioned dissenting views are precisely that: dissenting. Dissenting from what? From God; from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Secondly, it is no coincidence that these views are liberal. In an article that I wrote for Le Nouvel Esprit, I expressed that terms more appropriate than ‘conservative Catholic’ and ‘liberal Catholic’ are faithful Catholic and dissenting Catholic in order to clarify that the Good News of Jesus Christ is at stake, regarding beliefs of what is moral among people who associate themselves with the Catholic Church. Yet, the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ have political connotations that logically concern what has been deemed to have changed in society, regarding moral norms. Mainstream media, big tech, Hollywood, academia, and politics largely fail to acknowledge that abortion is immoral, and vocally prolife advocates are overwhelmingly conservative when it comes to sexual moral norms, compared to proponents of abortion who promote so-called free love. Because of the inherent relationship between conservatism and fidelity and the contrasting relationship between liberalism and dissent, it’s hard to avoid using the politically connotative terms.

 

But since religious conservatives seek to conserve what is being handed on (the Good News of Jesus Christ) and because religious liberals are seeking to change what is being handed on (the Good News of Jesus Christ), it is clear that dissidents want to change what is established by God. Many believers have fallen for the liberal ideals. Having done so has taken a toll affecting societies and cultures; if you will, groups of people. Therein is the development of a groupthink, depending on the group at hand. In this case, it’s conservatives and liberals, in a fusion of religious beliefs with political terminology.

 

Groupthink is when an individual perceives himself or herself as a member of a group and cannot think apart from the membership of his or her group; they cannot think “outside” of the group. For example, people here in the U.S. who take pride in calling themselves Hispanic or Latino can’t quite help but see themselves exclusively from that lens, and despite being born and/or raised in the U.S., they identify with this group and thus also see themselves as foreigners and immigrants here. In their eyes, the U.S. is the white man’s land.

 

We can see how groupthink inevitably leads to identity politics, and we see identity politics clearly in western civilization; us versus them, white versus non-white, man versus woman, rich versus poor, privileged versus non-privileged; the oppressor versus the oppressed.[4]

 

To summarize my two points, dissent from what the Church says naturally relates to the distorted view of the human person (especially in our sexuality) and to liberal principles (in the socio-political sense of the term described above, principles which are inherently immoral). Dissent from what the Church says damages the human intellect and the human will, the two faculties of the human person.[5] If you will, dissent from what the Church says impairs our sanity and our sanctity. Our ability to know what is true and to love what is good is damaged, on an individual level and on a cultural level.

 

Now, here is my point: groupthink and identity politics have an uncanny way of impairing individual persons from thinking critically. Referring to the previous example, people who are “proud of being Hispanic or Latino” and who maybe even identify nationally with the country of their immigrant generations (Mexico, for example), cannot see Hispanic immigration apart from race. That is why the idea of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is deemed as racist, even though the Hispanics’ race is totally beside the point of the prevention of any trespassing into the United States without proper authorization. ‘Illegal’ is not a race. But in the perspective of proud Hispanics and Latinos, to establish policies that regulate the flow of immigration and to execute them (building a wall and deportation) cannot be but seen as racist.

The key here is the damage to critical thinking that groupthink and identity politics does to individuals in a society. We can think of critical thinking as a kind of virtue because it requires strength, and the development of the habits to grow in that strength, to do what is good and to overcome the weaknesses and inclinations of our own self-interests. Critical thinkers strive to go through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14). The opposite is true of groupthink. Groupthinkers take the easier route and conclude that the truth is whatever is easier to conclude on the surface, which best fits their narrative, and with no need of building habits to grow in strength. These are more susceptible to enter the wider path (Matthew 7:13-14). In this sense, if critical thinking is a kind of virtue, then research is a kind of habit to grow in the strength that is required for critical thinking and thus to attain the facts. The facts behind any research are not contingent on the ideology of a group of people, but on the truth; on what really happened or happens.

But whatever is easier to believe is even easier if other people also believe it, especially if we share certain features with them, such as skin color, apparently. To stay on course, what comes to mind is the paraphrase of Marx’s quote, that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” I think I see what he is trying to say, that people as a group need religion in order to believe in a greater good in this life of materialism, suffering, and chaos. Religion makes life easier.

However, religion in and of itself cannot be the opiate of the masses because of the necessity of faith, a virtue and an act of the will in which the adherent professes to believe what the religion says, which doesn’t preclude critical thinking or research. Actually, it necessitates personal conversion.

Instead, what is easier to do, due to our weakness in wanting what is easiest to attain as soon as we want it with as less effort as possible, is what groupthinkers, and thus the groups as wholes, are susceptible to. In this sense, religion is not the opiate of the masses. Identity politics is. Less effort is required to view different persons as groups rather than seeing persons as individuals, even within groups. More effort is required to see each individual as his or her person.

I’ve witnessed groupthink in race and in religion, and thankfully, I have been critical of such groupthink and called it out, mainly groupthink coming from the Left in terms of dissent, until now.

I did not know that dissent from the Right exists, nor did I ever think that I’d address it. But I did find myself wondering at various points if such a thing was possible. Here I now work on this project, calling out the dissenters on the Right, who are the Rad Trads. Rad Trads are radical traditionalist “Catholics” who dissent from the Church as the Body of Christ in order to form the supposed true lineage of Catholics. They sympathize and follow dissenting groups such as the Society of Saint Pius X (from here on out, SSPX). These types not only idolize the rite known as the Traditional Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass and view the ordinary rite, known as the Novus Ordo, as evil, but they reject the authority of the Church as legitimate due to theological disagreements following the Second Vatican Council. As you can imagine, these disagreements are of a theocratic and thus political nature.

My goal is to address dissent from the Right in particular, and groupthink and identity politics in general due precisely to the theocratic logic that Rad Trads are blinded by, and of which Leftists are by no means free from. And for further terminology, a term used in this project for the dissenters on the Left is the Cafeteria Catholics, or the Caf Cats, for arbitrarily picking and choosing what they want to believe in Catholicism, according to their liberal preferences.

 

Just as plenty of sources are on the market that address the Church’s teaching on dissenting issues from the Left, our times do call for sources to address dissent from the Right; notably, addressing the objections of SSPX, and even their more extremist denominations, against the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

 

While dissent from sexual morality is more pervasive, dissent towards traditionalist idolatry is equally if not more dangerous because of the theocratic implications that are manifesting themselves in Rad Trad groups. Catholic sources which refute liberal objections to the Church’s teaching on sexual morality are more engaging and captivating. Works that address liturgical rites and political agendas can be tedious due to the necessary effort to inform oneself in issues that are not only dense but also polarizing. But such works are necessary also for the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ, for the faith of the laity, and for the Church in the modern world.

 

It is my heartfelt prayer that this work serve to end the social-political and doctrinal schism within the Catholic Church, and that the understanding of the dangers threatening Catholics from the Left and from the Right will serve to unite Catholics in western civilization, that we truly be one, as God is one (cf. John 17:11, 20-21).

 

Endnotes

[1] Cf. Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith (Naples, FL: Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University, 2007), p.1-5.

[2] Cf. Pope John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, translated by Michael Waldstein (Boston, MA: Pauline Books and Media, 2006), p. 36-44; Cf. Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker, Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700 (NY, United States of America: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013), p. 543-544.

[3] Cf. Austin Flannery, O.P., Gen. ed., “Gaudium et Spes” in Vatican Council II Vol 1 The Conciliar and Postconciliar Documents New Rev. ed. (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, Inc., 1996), 48.

[4] Cf. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, translated by Myra Bergman Ramos (Great Britain: Penguin Classics, 1993), p. 17-18.

[5] Frank J. Sheed, Theology and Sanity (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1993) p. 21.

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