Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alarms and Violent Decisions

On Monday I returned from nearly two weeks on the road, our Great North Tour, in which we gave 15 performances of 7 scripts in 13 days in 6 states – from Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Holt’s Summit, Missouri. In all of that wonderful chaos God gave me the great blessing of being away from the internet. And two weeks away from the Lying for Jesus issue was very therapeutic.

But as therapy ends and Lent begins, I’d like to conclude my thoughts on the firestorm that swept us all up into the single most divisive issue I have encountered in ten years as a Catholic.

My Role in This

Back in August, James O’Keefe was invited to give what amounted to the keynote address at the American Chesterton Society Conference in Emmitsburg, Maryland. O’Keefe electrified the crowd by telling us that he was inspired by G. K. Chesterton (he did not mention his other role model, quasi-Satanist Saul Alinsky) and that he, James O’Keefe, was willing to live a monk –like existence harassed by leftists and lawyers as he struggled to serve “Veritas”, Truth, in his undercover videos.

During the Q & A, O’Keefe was asked point-blank, “How do you justify lying to others in your videos – leading them to believe you’re someone you’re not?” O’Keefe replied bluntly, “The end justifies the means. We are lying to serve truth.”

I realized immediately that this was a terrible answer.

The following afternoon, my actors and I performed our play Faith of our Father for the crowd, and I took the opportunity, as I spoke to introduce our play, to point out the similarities between acting and what James O’Keefe does in his videos. “James is not lying,” I suggested, “he is acting; he is role-playing. He is using fiction to reveal a greater truth, which is what drama is all about.”

Now I was not entirely happy with that argument when I made it, but I knew it was better than what O’Keefe himself had offered.

And after the Conference James and I even kept in casual contact via email. I knew he was particularly interested in the novels of Michael O’Brien, which I am recording as audio books for Ignatius Press, and I was hoping to get him a copy of one, since their spirituality seemed to have a profound impact on him.

And then came the bizarre sting gone awry, reported last October, when James ill-advisedly planned to “faux seduce” a female CNN reporter, Abbie Boudreau, luring her onto his boat amidst pornographic sex toys and pictures, for the purpose of revealing the “veritas” or truth of – well, it wasn’t quite clear what. When this happened, I began blogging about the problematic nature of what James O’Keefe was doing, and quickly learned that this issue divided the American Chesterton Society in two, with many Chestertonians supporting O’Keefe and many joining me in my criticism of him.

It was then that I was told that O’Keefe had secretly recorded his conversation with Dale Ahlquist, David Zach and me at the closing banquet of the Chesterton conference months earlier! It was not clear why – but it was certainly disturbing that what we thought were private conversations, all aimed at James for his benefit and encouragement, were being recorded by him for whatever reason. I was sorry that I myself hadn’t at that time “faux seduced” James at the banquet, as he was soon to attempt to “faux seduce” Abbie Boudreau on his boat, for the resulting tapes would have been much more entertaining and funny than whatever it was we had said to him in earnest.

But in the midst of this I maintained contact with James O’Keefe, as I still do; for I still admire his spunk and his desire to serve the truth, and to sacrifice a certain amount of personal comfort and security to do so. I criticized him publicly for two reasons: 1. he is a public figure performing public actions, some (but not all) of which are ill-conceived and of dubious morality; and 2. I wanted to make it clear that the American Chesterton Society had not implicitly endorsed James by having him speak at the Conference, since the members of the Society were not united in their support of all of the techniques he uses in his “Project Veritas”. Certainly, an invitation to speak is not necessarily an endorsement – but I was worried it might at some point be spun as if what O’Keefe was doing was Chestertonian. I personally do not think it is, and I think portraying these techniques as Chestertonian is simply hijacking Chesterton, as I took pains to point out here.

But then the great man Chesterton has indeed in this debate been used in defense of what James O’Keefe of Project Veritas and Lila Rose of Live Action are doing. A powerful Chesterton quote was used to excuse lying, when in reality the quote attacks “lying about lying” – but more on that in a minute.

Honesty about Lying

What struck me in this latest battle – and what inspired me to start blogging about it – was how in the first week of the fray over Lila Rose’s Planned Parenthood sting videos, everyone admitted that the role-playing behavior in question was lying.

My involvement in this latest and more bloody round began when James O’Keefe emailed me to ask how I would respond to Christopher Tollefsen of the University of South Carolina, who had criticized Live Action here. James copied in two others into our correspondence, one of whom took offense when I replied, “You really can’t respond effectively to this, for Tollefsen is making excellent points. Your only hope is to claim the undercover videos involved role-playing and not lying. You can fall back upon my original defense that I offered at the Chesterton Conference, the Undercover Journalist as Guerilla Theater Actor defense, which is not a very strong defense, but you can’t really rebut what Tollefsen is saying. The problem with the Role-playing defense is it only applies to actors who are speaking literal falsehoods but not doing so in order to deceive anyone, who are performing for people who are in on the fiction; once you tell a falsehood with the intent to victimize or to deceive someone who’s not in on it – even to achieve a good ultimate end - you are simply lying.” The cc’d correspondent took umbrage with this, and when I quoted the Catechism to support the Church’s position that lying is inherently sinful and may never be done under any circumstances, not even to achieve a greater good, he replied, to my astonishment, “We are not bound by what the Catechism teaches.”

This surprised and disturbed me.

Then, naively, I began to post on this issue on Facebook. At one point I simply cut and pasted CCC 1753, “A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means” – and to my utter consternation, this became my most controversial post in my two years on Facebook. Within twenty-four hours, this post attracted 150 comments from my conservative Catholic friends, one of whom said, “If this is what the Church teaches, I will gladly die a heretic.” What on earth is going on here? I wondered.

And that same first week we were all stunned when no less than the brilliant Peter Kreeft weighed in supporting Live Action and arguing, in effect, “Intuition trumps the Catechism”. Instead of looking at the theology of lying, with St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and tradition all condemning the act as evil, and Catholic teaching, including the epistles of St. Paul, condemning doing evil so that good may come, Kreeft said, “Reason includes intuition and our intuition on this issue tells us nothing is wrong here”, ignoring the fact that much of the moral law in Divine Revelation (particularly the Sermon on the Mount) flatly contradicts our intuition and our “moral common sense”, and that Kreeft’s “just so” argument (or “Just say Know”, as I called it) was illogical and unfalsifiable.

Still, there was a healthy mindedness in the first week of that debate. Everyone, from luminaries such as Peter Kreeft on down, frankly admitted that the behavior of these undercover journalists was lying.

Lying about Lying

But since then a strange and sickly twist has occurred. As I wrote in my first blog posts on this, there is legitimate wiggle room in examining this behavior. A case may indeed be made that what James O’Keefe and Lila Rose do is not in fact lying. This is, perhaps, better than simply condemning the Catholic Church and its Catechism outright.

Or is it?

Here’s the Chesterton quote that folks are parading and that has caused even the bold and brilliant Mark Shea to pause

‘It was absurd to say that Catholics introduced a horrible sophistry of saying that a man might sometimes tell a lie, since every sane man knows he would tell a lie to save a child from Chinese torturers; that it missed the whole point, in this connection, to quote Ward’s phrase, “Make up your mind that you are justified in lying and then lie like a trooper,” for Ward’s argument was against equivocation or what people call Jesuitry. He meant, “When the child really is hiding in the cupboard and the Chinese torturers really are chasing him with red-hot pincers, then (and then only) be sure that you are right to deceive and do not hesitate to lie; but do not stoop to equivocate. Do not bother yourself to say, “The child is in a wooden house not far from here,” meaning the cupboard; but say the child is in Chiswick or Chimbora zoo, or anywhere you choose.’

Now at first glance this quote seems to support telling a vigorous lie when the situation calls for it, which is exactly what Kreeft rightly says our “moral common sense” tells us to do, and since Chesterton is the Apostle of Common Sense, he must be the Apostle of Moral Common Sense as well.

But read this passage more carefully.

First, it appears in this context. This passage appears in The Catholic Church and Conversion as Chesterton lists a number of opinions that were current in his day with which he had to struggle when he decided to enter the Church, opinions about the Catholic Church in England that would normally keep people from embracing it. One of these opinions is the idea that Catholic moral theology permitted lying under certain circumstances. This opinion was wrong, for the consensus of the moral theology of the Catholic Church has never permitted lying. And Chesterton does not appear to realize this , for the opinion he cites had its origin in England during the persecution of the Jesuit martyrs during the Reformation, and was really an objection about “mental reservation” – an objection fueled, I suspect, by the guilt of killing these innocent men and future saints.

But the point is – first, that people condemned the Catholic Church in Chesterton’s day for what they wrongly thought was its teaching that lying was sometimes the right thing to do; lying is never the right thing to do, the common English voice said in response to this imagined teaching – and second, Chesterton responds not by condemning lying, but by condemning lying about lying.

From Macbeth onwards there has been a healthy British disdain for “equivocation”, the practice of telling a lie without having the courage to admit you’re telling a lie. Readers over the age of thirty will recall quite clearly Bill Clinton’s famous, “that depends on what the definition of is is,” a stellar example of equivocation in action. Indeed, when Clinton wagged his finger at the camera and said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he meant intercourse; if the listeners thought he meant sexual activity other than intercourse, well that was our problem, not his.

And we must be very clear about what Chesterton and the Brits are doing - this healthy rejection of equivocation is NOT an endorsement of lying. The entire point of Chesterton’s quote and of the English tradition since the execution of the Jesuit martyrs is that equivocation is wrong because it is lying about lying; it is a double lie. Equivocation is not wrong because lying is right; equivocation is wrong because lying is wrong, and to play games with words is to lie twice – you are lying to the listener and you are lying to yourself by convincing yourself that you are not telling a lie, when in fact you are and if you had more of a backbone you’d admit that to yourself.

But sadly, even though Dr. Kreeft and others had the backbone to call a spade a spade when this debate began, the argument has settled down to definitions and word play since then.


And yet clear thinking depends on definitions.

For this very reason, much confusion arose in the Torture Wars when torture was defined as “severe corporal punishment”. Torture is not that at all. Torture is the attempt to destroy the Image of God in your fellow man. Torture is using physical or psychological pain to destroy free will and reason in another.

Likewise, lying is not “uttering falsehoods”. If that were all lying is, then acting, story telling, and social pleasantries would all be lies. “A lie,” as the Catechism tells us, “consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving”. And try as they might, the Lying for Jesus camp can not ignore the simple fact that without deceiving the target, the sting videos of Live Action and Project Veritas would crumble at the starting gate. Deception is central to what they do.

If James O’Keefe and Lila Rose tell someone they are a pimp and a hooker, with the intention of making that other person believe that, then James O’Keefe and Lila Rose are lying. They are lying to reveal truth, but they are not acting, role-playing, or anything else. They are lying.

They are doing evil so that good may come, but they are lying.

To tell yourself that they are not lying is equivocation. And for the value of equivocation, see Chesterton, supra.


Now, my dear fellow Catholics and pro-life enthusiasts, it certainly does us no good to judge one another. We must all admit that James O’Keefe and Lila Rose are good and brave people doing what they think best to bring down the Culture of Death. But we can not fight the Culture of Death with a Culture of Deceit. I do not doubt the good intentions of my fellow pro-life warriors who are excited by the illusion of success these techniques are giving us; and it saddens me that many of them are tarnishing those of us who are sounding a warning about this as being armchair pro-life supporters, cowards or Pharisees in this battle.

But doing bad so that good may come is, as Mark Shea has pointed out, a Faustian bargain. Endorsing a lie and excusing a lie is no way to serve Him who is Truth.

John Paul II said, “Truth must be the foundation stone, the cement to solidify the entire social edifice." And Frederich Hebbel said, “One lie does not cost you one truth, but the truth.” And Thomas Jefferson said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” And the Word of God Himself said, “To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness to the Truth”, and when Peter denied Jesus with three simple lies, lies which were told to serve a greater good (Peter’s survival), it was the most horrible moment of his life and the most shameful (and human) incident in all of Scripture.

You can not serve Jesus with a lie. You can not destroy the Culture of Death with a Culture of Deception.

What is Being Revealed

During my two week sabbatical from the internet, while on tour, we were treated to dinner at the house of a marvelous Catholic family in Chicago, a family very active in the pro-life movement.

The father told me about standing on the street corner in front of an abortion mill and witnessing to the young mothers who are about to kill their unborn babies. Some of them are only 12 or 13. Some of them are scared. Some of them are cynical. Some of them yell as they drive by, “You’re not making any difference!”

These sidewalk counselors are despised, berated, spat upon, cursed at, buffeted. They do not strike back. They do not lie. They do not torture. They turn the other cheek. They are the suffering Christ to their neighbors, and the witness, though hated, is a profound and honest witness.

The father told me of Saul Alinsky (James O’Keefe’s hero), who was responsible for the plan to undermine the Catholic Church in Chicago and hijack the Democratic Party for what later became full endorsement of abortion.

The father told me of the difficulties of the pro-life work, of his own and his family’s suffering, his endurance, his willingness to follow the light even while surrounded by such darkness and demonic hatred.

And I thought of my own public battles – inconsequential by comparison, fought mostly on the internet. I thought of the Torture Wars, of the attacks I received when defending poverty as a virtue, of the virulent resistance any time I mention Catholic Social Teaching and its expression in Distributism, of the recent scuffle over neo-Pelagianism, of the obstinance of otherwise good Catholics against a rational examination of usury and its effect on our economy, of the resistance we receive trying to book Theater of the Word, of the Kennedy Catholics who torpedoed our pro-life theater tour to Massachusetts, of the mess the liberals have made of the Church, of the anti-Christian education masquerading as “Catholic Schools” and the beatings I’ve taken standing against bad Catholic education, of the attacks in St. Louis and elsewhere on Cardinal Burke and my feeble attempts to defend him, and on and on and on.

And I thought of my own near despair when this most recent issue heated up in cyberspace and left me wondering if there were any Catholics left who hadn’t sold out to Americanism.

And then I recall my dear friend Hilaire Belloc, and something he wrote in The Path to Rome.

He writes of the struggles of reverts, or converts, who become jealous of the things of God.

“We are perpetually thrust into minorities, and the world almost begins to talk a strange language; we are troubled by the human machinery of a perfect and supernatural revelation; we are over-anxious for its safety, alarmed, and in danger of violent decisions.”

It is very tempting to think that we must defend the Church, that it’s all about how much power the liberals have or how to keep the neo-cons from making the whole world into The World Over.

But Belloc is right. It’s not about us. We should not be troubled by the human machinery of this perfect and super-human revelation. We must not be over-anxious for its safety or in danger of violent decisions.

It’s not the liberals who have ruined the Church. It’s not the conservatives who have ruined the Church. It’s the devil who is trying to ruin the Church, and its our fallen human nature that’s helping him.

Meanwhile, I will close with Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, who was as opposed to equivocation as any healthy Englishman, and who wrote, “The Church holds that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, so far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, though it harmed no one, or steal one poor farthing without excuse.”

My friends, if we are to lose the battle, let us lose gloriously as did the martyrs, as Our Lord appeared to lose as he hung on a cross. Let us lose the battle through virtue and win the war over the gates of hell, which can only be overcome by losing our clever stratagems of lying, torture, “making super-disciples”, or even “evangelizing through drama”, for the war is won by Him, and every compromise we make for the sake of efficiency or quick fixes along the way is only alarm, is only a violent decision, is only a human reaction to our own lack of faith in the One who turns death into life, is only our trouble at the human machinery of this perfect and supernatural revelation.

May God bless us all! And may we offer our Lenten sacrifices for Christian unity against the Culture of Death.

Revised July 24, 2013


Joey G. said...

Kevin, thanks for a very thoughtful post.

The quotation from Chesterton is an interesting sounding board for one take on the issue. In the heat of battle (so to speak) over the past few weeks, my general tact has been - perhaps rashly - to dismiss even the suggestion of "Wisdom from GKC" on this matter, not because I think him irrelevant or unwise, but simply because I saw the appeal to "common sense" so akin to what Dr. Kreeft was doing and so unhelpful in a debate of the kind of theological nuance with which we're dealing. Thus, my normal knee-jerk reaction was, "Chesterton isn't infallible," not so much as a way of dealing with his insight as merely evading the need to deal with it - in other words, saying, in effect, that whatever Chesterton means about the matter, he may be wrong and we would do better to deal with sources about which such cannot be said.

Then, too, my frustration redoubled because even folks' use of the Doctors of the Church had this kind of argument from authority about it which frustrated me a bit, because - yes - in retrospect, even Aquinas or Augustine in their extensive treatment of the matter of lying might not be guaranteed to be right. We can only vouch for what is in the Catechism from these sources. And, as I said, this was double frustrating because, if Aquinas and Augustine then, a fortiori, Chesterton at least might be wrong in the matter.

But as I got over the knee-jerk and began to think about that quote, it occurred to me that Chesterton's sensibility on this point is actually very similar to a source which I, myself, had appealed to - Cardinal Newman!

Newman, if you recall, in an appendix to the Apologia, engages in argument with, I believe, a British Divine from the C. of E. over sundry matters of Roman discipline, one of which is "equivocation." In the discourse, Newman even goes so far as to disagree with Saint Alphonsus Liguori - and the rest of the "Jesuitical" tradition - for allowing for equivocations of a certain kind (commonly known as "broad mental reservations").

I don't have the Apologia at hand, but I'm nearly certain that Newman even expands as much as saying that he would find it easier to countenance a flat out lie than an equivocation.


Joey G. said...


What to make of it? Well, I think you, in dealing with Chesterton, have certainly hit the nail on the head that there's also a kind of "a fortiori" involved here (my, how that mode of argumentation is cropping up in this!) - that equivocation is wrong because it is a compromise with the truth, which really serves to emphasize the wrongness of lying on the whole.

And yet, I wouldn't be surprised if Chesterton's sentiments were unlike those of Newman, namely that equivocation seemed even worse than an outright lie. They both disliked how those outside the Church could be turned off by such a "refinement" as the doctrine of mental reservation. It seems like it's straining gnats. It smacks, indeed, of a kind of Pharasaism to the British ethic, to the frankness and candor which Newman and Chesterton personally excelled in. It's not "let your yes mean yes and your no mean no." Indeed, it may, from a certain point of view, seem ethically of that kind of lukewarmness that Christ condemns in the Apocalypse.

In any event, no, it was not Newman's task to justify lying, nor Chesterton's - but to call into question even the allowable compromises that the tradition had worked out by the early 20th century. If these two are to be invoked at all in this question, clearly they must be invoked on the side of those who wish to just have done with it and call a lie a lie.

I think we have a lot to learn from these men, from their very pastoral and prophetic witness on this matter. Their concern seemed to be motivated by the moral weakness that casual (or casuistic) relations to the truth evince. They concern was very much in keeping with the Church's pastoral positioning as it has developed since: oriented primarily toward the salvation of souls and the witnessing of the Gospel to the world at all times, regardless of the cost.

Martin Tohill said...

Beautiful post. Thank you

Paul said...

Here's a quote from Newman' Apologia, to show that he thought there were occasions on which it was morally permissible to tell a material lie. (I.e. a lie that does not reach the level of a formal lie, which would be condemned by the Church).

"A secret is a more difficult case. Supposing something has been confided to me in the strictest secrecy which could not be revealed without great disadvantage to another, what am I to do? If I am a lawyer, I am protected by my profession. I have a right to treat with extreme indignation any question which trenches on the inviolability of my position; but, supposing I was driven up into a corner, I think I should have a right to say an untruth, or that, under such circumstances, a lie would be material, but it is almost an impossible case, for the law would defend me. In like manner, as a priest, I should think it lawful to speak as if I knew nothing of what passed in confession. And I think in these cases, I do in fact possess that guarantee, that I am not going by private judgment, which just now I demanded; for society would bear me out, whether as a lawyer or as a priest, in holding that I had a duty to my client or penitent, such, that an untruth in the matter was not a lie."

Christopher said...

This is great. Thank you very much.

-Chris Chan

Mark P. Shea said...

FWIW, Alinsky was not a "quasi-satanist". He was an old school lefty rabble rouser. His dedication of Rules for Radicals to Lucifer was as much "satanism" as "devil take the hindmost!" is a prayer to the prince of darkness. He was an atheist who liked sticking it to the man and who naturally sided with rebels in any fight. Lucifer is the biggest rebel of them all, so he offered a tongue in cheek encomium to Old Scratch. The urban legend that he was a serous devil worshipper is pseudoknowledge.

Not that this justified his all-American Lefty consequentialism, of course. But I this particularly lurid myth just muddies the waters. Indeed, Alinsky had a long friendship and correspondence with Jacques Maritain, one of the better Catholic writers of the 20th century and they were genuinely fond of each other. I sometimes like to hold out hope that he was saved throught the prayers of this good Catholic man he liked so well.

Other than that, masterfully done, sir. The longer I think about it, the creepier and more loathsome O'Keefe's secret taping of you guys seems to me. God save us from Catholics who want to establish the People's Democratic Security State of Heaven where each citizen feels himself appointed by God Almighty to spy and report on his neighbor.

Patrick Button said...

Great post Kevin! I do have one question. You mention resistance to distributism in the same paragraph that you refer to the torture debate. I would not consider myself a distributist and have major objections to distributism. Does this make me equivalent to a torture supporter? Or if not morally equivalent, similar in my dissent?

I would never intentionally dissent from Church teaching and it is my understanding that there is an acceptable range of opinion regarding economic systems. I think that Distributism is an acceptable position and so is free market capitalism provided that one still acts in a spirit of solidarity. I have read Rerum Novarum and the Catechism but nowhere do I see Distributism mandated as a matter of doctrine.

P.S. I really enjoyed your performance of Socrates Meets Jesus at Benedictine College.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thanks for the correction, Mark.

Patrick, you are correct in that the Church does not overtly endorse a particular social or economic model - although both socialism and capitalism have been criticized, and distributism would seem to be the model that best embodies Catholic Social Teaching. But when people are resistant to distributism, especially when that resistance is irrational and angry, it's usually a sign that there's more than economic theory on the line.

And I'm not saying that everyone who disagrees with me on lying or distributism is necessarily dissenting from the Church. Some may be doing just that, while some may be earnestly examining these issues, trying their best to think with the mind of the Church, even if they come up with different conclusions.

So, no, this is not always about dissent. But we can't ignore that many times apparently it is.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Hey, Chris Chan, what's that Father Brown quote about lying?

Deacon Nathan Allen said...

Nicely done, Kevin. In Q 110 art 3of the Summa, but St Thomas says: "I answer that, An action that is naturally evil in respect of its genus can by no means be good and lawful, since in order for an action to be good it must be right in every respect: because good results from a complete cause, while evil results from any single defect, as Dionysius asserts (Div. Nom. iv). Now a lie is evil in respect of its genus, since it is an action bearing on undue matter. For as words are naturally signs of intellectual acts, it is unnatural and undue for anyone to signify by words something that is not in his mind. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 7) that 'lying is in itself evil and to be shunned, while truthfulness is good and worthy of praise.' Therefore every lie is a sin, as also Augustine declares (Contra Mend. i)."

ringjp said...

What a great post Kevin! I really love what you and Mark Shea are doing. Years ago I was lopsided on some these issues (i.e., siding more with "the thing that used to be conservatism" than with the Church). Thanks be to God for softening my heart (and thanks be to Mark Shea) for helping me conform myself to the teaching of the Church - which is, the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Anthony S. Layne said...

Very good post, Kevin. I especially liked the way you put the Chesterton reference in context.

Along the way, taking my cue from Mark 7:10-11, I came to the conclusion that there are two edges to Pharisaism. The edge that Drs. Kreeft and Zmirak stressed was a Kantian legalism that overrode compassion, but the other—the edge that showed up in the "Lying for Jesus" debate"—was a tendancy to finesse and nuance the Law until noncompliance could be rendered harmless, even become a good thing. I was also struck by how often the "Jews in the attic" and the "ticking time bomb" scenarios were pulled into play, when it's patently clear that LiveAction's tactics didn't conform to either situation; it has all the marks of pressing cultural hot buttons to provoke agreement. If we really have to work this hard to justify some tactic, then it's best to drop it.

Dr. Eric said...

I think the people who vehemently protest that what O'Keefe is doing (he appears to have taken down someone from NPR just recently) is not lying seem to think that his actions could be construed as mortal sins and that's why they defend his actions. I can't believe that "good Catholic" people would really down deep in their hearts think that the ends justify the means.

I know a lie when I see it. I know when the 4 of my 5 children are lying (the baby is only a month old and can't lie yet.) O'Keefe and Rose were lying. But their lies were not mortal sins. They did not perjure themselves. They did not reveal a serious secret that should have been kept silent. They did not injure the reputation of an innocent person. They did not meet any of the criteria for a lie that would have been a mortal sin.

Perhaps this is the middle ground upon which both sides could agree.

Paul said...

Deacon Nathan Allen, I have not the slightest doubt that lying is intrinsically wrong, and thus always wrong -- because the Church teaches so in the Catechism (#1753). However, as has been a subject of discussion for at least 5 centuries, there are some occasions when the deliberate and conscious telling of a falsehood is not a lie.

The problem is that many people who are unaware of the history of the issue are jumping in, without argumentation, and claiming that the issue is a simple one and that, in effect, they can resolve the Church's lengthy discussion without a knowledge of the matter, and with a few moments thought (no matter which side of the issue they are on). It simply isn't so. But telling them this merely brings on all kinds of complaints -- but no actual arguments.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, telling a falsehood without the intention of deceiving is either making a false statement that you think is true, or else it is what I would call "pretense" - acting, story-telling, role-playing, pretending, joking.

Telling a known falsehood with the intent to deceive, on the other hand, is lying. CCC 2482.

Once you tell what you know to be false with the intention to deceive, you are lying. It's not rocket science, Paul.

The history of nuance on this issue is resolved by the Catechism, which carries the weight of the magisterium on matters of Faith and Morals. The theology of lying might be complex and subtle, requiring years of study to understand fully, but the Catechism gives us a shortcut, and one that is in all likelihood infallable. It is, at any rate, clear, and more clear than many would like to admit.

adele young said...

After reading probably hundreds of opinions about the above O'Keefe and also Lila Rose/Live/Action situations that consider the question of the morality of wilfull acts of sinful deception...I would say some further clarity in the Catholic Catechism is in order. There seems more confusion than certitude in all these comments. Perhaps especially in the more gray areas...of whether there is a such an occurance as a justifiable lie...or a morally acceptable act of deception. Another case in point: recently Jerry Seinfeld's wife published a cookbook for moms of picky eaters. In the book her recipes call for " puree-ing " veggies that most kids refuse to eat..and "hiding" them in their mac and cheese, spaghetti sauces, etc in order to get the reguired daily nutrients into their sqeamish kids. Now since this is obviously a deceptive act of some sort or another would the author be guilty of sin by encouraging mothers the world over (not sure if this book is published outside the USA)to deceive their children? And what about all the mothers who would be deceiving their kids? ( I admit to having done this myself..and never confessed either to the kids or my priest) Or would we ever want to consider that God must have given us common sense for a reason? I know in comparison to the other stated cases this is "peanuts" for the stakes in those other cases are considerably higher. But the dilemma remains: is the "little white lie" always, always sinful? Personally for me the only commenter in all this that came close to answering satisfactorily with some degree of justification is Peter Kreeft..who after thousands of words I think did justify the common sense position of answering this dilemma in the affirmative...sort of like
when one admits guilt to the Judge but adding..."with explanation, Sir!" Usually gets one off in traffic court! But what about in the Catholic Catechism, which if truly clear and apparent on this matter, why are the answers all over the place as they seem to be?Can morality really be so evasive and tricky? Or is there no single interpretation that will satisfy all? Perhaps the Church hierarchy need to "council" the matter and give us more information regarding the matter as presented in the CC?
Or are we ever,ever allowed to use the common sense God endowed us all with...well, some of us!

daniel said...

You say "If James O’Keefe and Lila Rose tell someone they are a pimp and a hooker, with the intention of making that other person believe that, then James O’Keefe and Lila Rose are lying.

What about if they do it with the intention of seeing whether the other person will check they are serious, and check exactly what they mean by the very imprecise terms pimp and hooker?

Jesus often used the phrase "I tell you solemnly" to emphasise that he was not telling a parable. When he was telling a parable, his literal words may not necessarily have been true, his listeners should know that he was using the parable as a device. The Church teaches that we do not have to believe that the events in the parable actually happened - even though Jesus tells us that our yes must be yes.

In fact, look at what Jesus does on the road to Emmaus, Jesus pretends.

Kreeft and intuition are right, it seems like lying, which is wrong, but its not.

Richard Aleman said...

Dear Mr. Button,

The exclusion principle states that two objects cannot occupy the same space. "Free market capitalism" cannot act in accord with solidarity and still remain "free market capitalism." In order for any economy to distinguish itself as purely market driven is to eliminate solidarity. By the way, I'd consider taking another peek at "Rerum Novarum," considering it was directly addressing the inequalities produced by "free market capitalism."

LarryD said...

Great post, Kevin.

- from a new reader, but long time admirer of your work on The Apostle of Common Sense.

p.s.(and off-topic) - have you considered televising Fr Brown mysteries for general consumption?

Kevin O'Brien said...

Daniel, a parable is a form of fictional speech, not inetnding to deceive; hence, not a lie.

You write, "Kreeft and intuition are right, it seems like lying, which is wrong, but its not." Read Kreef's article. He admits the behavior in question is lying. He does not say "it seems like lying, but it's not," he says, "it's lying, but it's jusifiable". Read the article.

This week the Lying for Jesus camp has fallen back on, "It looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, but it's not really a duck." What will next week hold?

Adele, the Catechism is NOT all over the place on this issue. The Catechism clearly says that telling a falsehood in order to deceive is lying and we may never lie, even to do good. That's it. Hardly "all over the place". The argument is "all over the place" because people don't want to hear what the Catechism clearly teaches.

Kreeft's position was very much a common sense position. I admit that. But it was contrary to the Catechism, which in this case contradicts our common sense. But so does "love your enemy" and "turn the other cheek" and "lose your life to gain it" and so forth.

Mark P. Shea said...


Your logic, when broken down to simplest terms is this:

All deception (such as pureeing veggies into kids food) is lying. (False premise).

Not all deception is bad. (true)

Therefore not all lying is bad. (False).

Fix the premise, which should be "All lying is deceptive, but not all deception is lying." Hence, we can put veggied in our kids food and yet we are telling them no lies. However, we cannot walk up to somebody and give them a fake name, occupation and purpose with the intention of making them believe us, because that's lying.

Which, you know, Mr. O'Keefe frankly acknowledges.

Mark P. Shea said...

Adele, the Catechism is NOT all over the place on this issue. The Catechism clearly says that telling a falsehood in order to deceive is lying and we may never lie, even to do good. That's it. Hardly "all over the place". The argument is "all over the place" because people don't want to hear what the Catechism clearly teaches.

Exactly right. This is like when people say, "How can we know anything definite about Jesus?" People are all over the place in their opinions!" The fact that people have fifty million ways of trying to ignore the plain and obvious teaching of the Church does not make the plain and obvious teaching of the Church confusing. It's real simple: "By its very nature, lying is to be condemned." " “A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means”

Very simple and straightforward. The illusion of complexity is created by the massive number of failed strategies put forward to try to assert that a) we don't have to listen to the Catechism; b) the Catechism can't mean what it says; c) there are exceptions to what the Catechism says; d) some situation irrelevant to this one somehow makes this one okay; e) venial sin is okay with God; f) criticizing Lila Rose is churlish; g) criticizing Lila Rose is support for the murder of children; h) our feelings trump the Catechism; i) Jesus lied so it's okay for us to; j) this was acting, not lying; k) this was fiction, not lying; l) when Peter Kreeft calls it lying he doesn't mean, you know, *lying*; m) as long as you mean well, it's not lying; n) as long as you think the person you are lying to has no right to the truth, it's not lying; o) if you forbid lying to Planned Parenthood, the only option left is to tell Nazis exactly where all the Jews are hiding; p) you are a do nothing Pharisee who is stripping the pro life movement of its one and only weapon for defending innocent children in your cold legalistic pride; q) feelings and intuitions unguided by revelation are infallible; r) St. Paul lied when he tried to be all things to all, so lying for Jesus is great!

And so forth. The "confusion" is *entirely* on one side: the side that is bent on ignoring the bloody obvious teaching of the catechism by any and every shoddy argument necessary, up to and including blaspheming Jesus as a liar in order to have him fly cover for these crappy arguments.

And the irony is that it's all so incredibly unnecessary. This equivalent of a flaming bag of dog poo on PP doorstep is such a minor skirmish in the battle against abortion. And yet so many prolifers are willing to sell their birthright for this the dumb consequentialism of lying for Jesus and will get *nothing* in return for it but a nice shiny sword inscribed "LIAR" which they are handing to PP for use against them the next time PP wants to ram through a bill to shut down crisis pregnancy centers. Sin makes you stupid indeed!

jem said...

Kevin , I was wondering your thoght on the news reported today concerning Mr. O'Keefe and NPR , What strikes me ,and it relates to the value of our witness to truth , is that those commenting about the article basicaly discount O'Keefe becasue they think he is a liar , they resent the fact that He lies to get the truth and no matter if what He reports is "supportive" to his cause they will have none of it . I pray this does not now start occuring with The pro life casue ,as it says a little leaven leavens the whole lump

Kevin O'Brien said...


I have not seen the latest video, but I did read the story you linked to.

Yes, you're right in that O'Keefe is (in Mark Shea's memorable phrase) handing his opponents a sword with LIAR inscribed on it that they will be able to use against him, regardless of the truth he is revealing in his video - a convenient way to ignore the "veritas" he is aiming at.

But what interests me about this latest story is that it reveals NPR executives as being rather careful about donations. The executive clearly says to the potential donor that there is a firewall between donations and news coverage, that she has to check further before assuring him of the tax consequences of his gift, and that his organization will be fully checked out before they accept any money from him.

So where's the scandal?

Paul said...

Kevin O'Brien: "telling a falsehood without the intention of deceiving is either making a false statement that you think is true, or else it is what I would call "pretense" - acting, story-telling, role-playing, pretending, joking."

I do not agree that you have provided a complete list of the occasions (and intentions) in which knowingly uttering a falsehood is permitted. This kind of thing was addressed by the Blessed John Henry Newman back in the 19th century (and there has been no significant change in the Church's teaching on this issue between then and now). Some of his points on this issue can be seen here.

It would be best if you actually addressed his claims head on.

Paul said...

Adele: " 'puree-ing' veggies that most kids refuse to eat..and 'hiding' them in their mac and cheese, spaghetti sauces, etc in order to get the reguired daily nutrients into their sqeamish kids"

Although Mark Shea points out some weaknesses in the wording of your comment, I think that the situation you described comes under the intention of hiding information. Since Aquinas defends this, I should not worry too much about others.

BHG said...

This is one of those hard places where I must force myself to accept the teaching of the church where it seems so hard. YES, the Church is right. and, YES, there are situations where I will sin in this way, no doubt about it. But it will be sin, also no doubt. Perhaps the problem is the way in which we order our priorities as we judge the alternatives. I don't know but I am prepared to admit that it's a possibility.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, I never claimed my list was an exhaustive list of occasions when uttering falsehoods is not lying.

As to Blessed John Henry Newman, before I deal with his appendix on lying from the "Apologia", you need to deal with his quote condemning lying above, also from the "Apologia". Or better yet, send me an analysis of the Newman essay you linked to. I will give your analysis of it space on this blog. But of course that means you have to read Newman's essay carefully and in context, instead of just linking to it.

Either way, Newman was not, in 1865, proclaiming official Catholic teaching on lying. He was speaking as a private theologian. It is certainly true that theologians have discussed lying for centuries, and many - even those who were later proclaimed saints - have come to conclusions that are less stringent than the official teaching of the Church.

But, Paul, the most official magisterial document proclaiming Church teaching on matters of Faith and Morals published in our lifetimes is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is very clear that a) uttering a falsehood with the intent to deceive is lying and b) lying is intrisically evil: one may never lie, even to do good in the long run.

That is the official Church teaching, uttered by the magisterium, and as Newman said we need to be very careful when questioning the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

And by the way, I am getting tired of folks making of Newman what they want him to be. He was not a theological liberal, he was not gay, he was not pro-lying. Read him.

Paul said...

Kevin O'Brien: "you need to deal with his [Newman's] quote condemning lying above"

Lying is uttering a falsehood with intent to deceive. It has been defined that way since at least the time of Aquinas. Uttering a falsehood with some other intent is thus -- by definition -- not a lie. (such a falsehood might be permissible, or it might be impermissible, but whatever it is, it is not a lie).

I linked to Newman's writings on this because his writing is very clear, and the thought that Newman, of all people, would depart from the Church's teaching in even the slightest way is unimaginable. And, though his writing is from the 19th century, there has been no significant change in the Church's teaching on this issue between then and now. (So to point to the current Catechism does not cause us to place Newman in a different context -- Newman would regard the current Catechism on this subject as not being surprising or new in the slightest.)

Newman quite clearly indicates that there can be occasions for uttering a falsehood when the goal is to hide information. Since the goal is hiding information, and not deception, it simply cannot qualify as a lie. (Of course, there may be occasions in which the intent of hiding information may be morally wrong. But it would still not qualify under the definition of a lie.)

There are occasions in which we are bound to conceal information. The current Catechism says: "The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it." A Catechism of 1862 says: "Although it is never lawful to tell an untruth, yet we are sometimes bound by charity or official duty to conceal the truth.".

The examples that Newman gives are of occasions when silence is not sufficient to conceal the truth. In which case, when there is a serious need to conceal information, uttering an untruth is permissible, and will not be a lie.

Billy Bean said...

Kevin" "We must all admit that James O’Keefe and Lila Rose are good and brave people doing what they think best to bring down the Culture of Death. But we can not fight the Culture of Death with a Culture of Deceit." We can all agree on this. I think you have nailed this thing down as succinctly and accurately as possible. For me, this issue is closed. Thanks!

Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, obviously there's a difference between being silent so as to conceal information that could harm others and speaking a lie. Duh.

If Newman claims that lying is sometimes a good thing, he is not speaking through the mind of the Church, nor is he speaking with any magisterial authority (since Newman was never a bishop, his statements, like mine, are all those of an individual member of the Church, and not in any sense magisterial pronouncements).

So your Catechism quotes simply defeat your argument. The Catechism - even earlier catechisms - have never said we may LIE to protect others, but we may indeed BE SILENT so as to protect others. For example, how did Jesus behave when on trial? Did He lie, or was He silent?

Again, if you want to take a swing at Newman's writings, then I ask you to read and analyze them closely. Don't simply say Newman is in your camp without reading him carefully and citing him specifically, in context. I won't allow Newman to be abused as he often is by people who co-opt him wihtout reading him.

You're apparently a smart guy and a devout Catholic, Paul, so apply yourself to Newman and his writings. Don't just use him as a weapon in an argument. Read him carefully and seek to undertand him prayerfully. There's a wealth of riches there.

And if you become a Newman fan in the process, check out our youtube page, where you'll find our short movie on Newman's conversion.

Billy Bean said...

Oh, and Mark: "And the irony is that it's all so incredibly unnecessary. This equivalent of a flaming bag of dog poo on PP doorstep is such a minor skirmish in the battle against abortion. And yet so many prolifers are willing to sell their birthright for this the dumb consequentialism" If Kevin nailed it for me, you have here varnished and finished it. Case closed. Leave it to a couple of Irish Catholic boys!

Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, you also seem to be implying that what the undercover journalists are doing in these videos is not lying because they
are not intending to deceive.

This is patently absurd.


Granted, the ultimate object is to reveal the truth (this is the "end" of what the journalists are doing); but the proximate object is to deceive (this is the "means" by which the "end" is achieved).

The sting actors are LYING (telling falsehoods to deceive others) as a MEANS of achieving the END of revealing a TRUTH about the target.

They are using bad means to achieve a good end. This they should not do.

Kevin O'Brien said...

... for this is the Faustian bargain that will cripple the pro-life cause. But I've said all that in my post.

Paul said...

Kevin O'Brien: "If Newman claims that lying is sometimes a good thing"

He most emphatically and absolutely says no such thing.

Kevin O'Brien: "The Catechism - even earlier catechisms - have never said we may LIE to protect others, but we may indeed BE SILENT so as to protect others."

I gave you the quote from the current Catechism. I shall give it to you again, including the part you have not taken on board: "The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language."

I.e. the Catechism says: "being silent ... or for making use of a discreet language".

So, the Church understands perfectly well that silence will sometimes not suffice to hide information, and officially teaches that some other discreet language may be used. The controverted issue is what exactly is permitted as "discreet language"? Anyone familiar with the issue will know that what are known as 'strict mental reservations' have been officially condemned. But there is very little precise teaching on what qualifies as "discreet language".

So, to paint this issue as something where there are Catholics out there ignoring the Catechism in some blatant way is not correct -- because the Catechism itself indicates otherwise.

Mrs. Pinkerton said...

Kevin, you need to add another check box now: brilliant.
Thanks so much for this. May God abundantly bless your Lenten season.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, my friend, you can not make a case that going into a Planned Parenthood center and claiming to be a pimp when you're really not is "discreet language".

This is an example of discreet language.

WIFE: Do you think this dress makes me look fat?

HUSBAND: The dress does not have the power to make you look fat.

Kevin O'Brien said...

And thank you for admitting, Paul, that Newman does NOT say lying is sometimes a good thing.

Or, in your words, "He most emphatically and absolutely says no such thing."

Patrick Button said...

Mr. Aleman: First, my apologies for the late response, I hope you will still see it. It is important to define our terms. If by free-market capitalism you mean a economic and legal system that allows employers to beat up union members and hire children to crawl through dangerous machinery than I would agree that free-capitalism is inherently unChristian. However, allowing for regulations that protect the basic human dignity of workers does not make one a distributist.

My greatest objection to distributism is the issue of scale. Many things essential to modern life like cars and medicine can only be produced by large companies. I won't go into detail but suffice it to say that without giant pharmaceutical companies, I would not be a functioning member of society. Some distributists have replied that companies should be grow to the size at which they can effectively serve people, thus allowing for some large corporations. But who gets to decide how big a business can become? Do you decide? Does the government? The distributists that I am aware of are not arrogant enough to make such judgments. But unless everyone suddenly decided to freely follow the distribust ideal, someone would have to decide for them. That sounds totalitarian to me.

God Bless!

Paul said...

Kevin O'Brien: "And thank you for admitting, Paul, that Newman does NOT say lying is sometimes a good thing."

I am not sure exactly what I am supposed to be now "admitting", when I have said essentially that in every comment I've made.

On a more general, and final, note: I'm beginning to realize that there are two competing definitions of "lie". There's the ordinary everyday use of the word to mean "deliberately tell an untruth", and the Church's much narrower definition of "deliberately tell an untruth in order to deceive".

What happens is that someone (sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly) will use the word "lie" in a way that only fits the first sense. Whereupon the nicest, most devout, and kindest people will fiercely pounce on that person as if they had said it in the second sense. And very great confusion then ensues because, despite all the explanations, despite all the precisions, the two senses of the word will be repeatedly flung together as though they always meant exactly the same thing.

And here we are.

Kevin O'Brien said...

No, Paul, it's not semantics. Everyone knows what a lie is, and everyone knows that these sting videos involve lying. The semantics game is played by those trying to excuse them. There is no Church use of the word "lying" versus everyday use of the word "lying". Everyone knows that a lie is what the Church says it is. This is not "theological" language; it's simply an accurate definition.

And you began by using Newman as an authority who approved of lying. You ended by admitting he never did.

It all hinges on "intent to deceive", which destroys the case of the supporters of lying, as it's obvious that these videos involved intent to deceive.

And now at no less than Glenn Beck's website it has been revealed that James O'Keefe is editing his videos dishonestly to make his targets appear more culpable than they are. This is the problem. Once you begin to rationalize lying, there's no reason ever to stop.

Paul said...

Kevin O'Brien: "And you began by using Newman as an authority who approved of lying. You ended by admitting he never did."

I never said that Newman approved of lying. What I actually said was: [Newman] thought there were occasions on which it was morally permissible to tell a material lie. (I.e. a lie that does not reach the level of a formal lie, which would be condemned by the Church)

For anyone familiar with the Church's teaching on lying, my claim comes from the definitions given by Aquinas -- a material lie is deliberately telling an untruth: a formal lie is deliberately telling an untruth with the intent to deceive.

Oh, by the way, you said: "It is certainly true that theologians have discussed lying for centuries, and many - even those who were later proclaimed saints - have come to conclusions that are less stringent than the official teaching of the Church"

Precisely which saints do you refer to? And what were their errors? References, please.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, as to the saints who have held a variety of opinions on the morality of lying, my friend Joe Trabbic lists a few here .

You may or may not be confused about how Church teaching and infallibility works regarding theologians, but I will take this opportunity to explain it, as I know from private correspondence that other readers are confused about this.

The teachings of the Magisterium (the bishops in union with the pope) on matters of Faith and Morals is infallible. No individual bishop, however, is guaranteed freedom from error, when teaching or writing individually. Thus, any individual bishop or pope or priest or layman may teach erroneously on matters of faith and morals.

Indeed, doctrine develops via the correction of error. Newman was very clear on this. And even the great St. Thomas Aquinas was not free from error. No human is. Only God is, and He protects His Church from error on matters of Faith and Morals when the Magisterium teaches; it's a special charism He has given them. Therefore, the Church assesses and weighs theology and philosophy from a number of writers as the Holy Spirit guides it to more fully understand and teach the Deposit of Faith. And the Catechism references a number of writers who were right on some subjects and wrong on others - including saints.

God has set the world up so that we struggle to search for Him. The struggle and the suffering it entails is part of His plan. The Church feels its way toward a fuller elucidation of the truth through responding not only to heresies but also to simple errors or poorly thought out positions as presented by its members over the millenia.

Therefore, clearly, I may be wrong. As may Mark Shea. Or Peter Kreeft (who admits as much). Or St. John Crysostom. But this whole process of examinging and working out doctrine is how the Church operates, in its individual members - all of whom must submit to the end product of such musings, which is the Magisterial teachings of the Church, itself being the developed understanding of the one Deposit of Faith left to us by God.

That is why it is so crucial to understand and pay heed to the Catechism. For although the Catechism is a short-hand reference work, a synopsis of teachings on Faith and Morals, it is a guidebook that reflects and contains the teachings of the Magisterium, and not simply indivual theologians. Thus the Catechism of today presents us with the most fully developed Magisterial doctrine on all subjects of Faith and Morals, regardless of what John Henry Newman or others wrote 150 years ago.

Has Catholic doctrine changed since Newman? No. Was Newman an infallible spokesman for Catholic doctrine? No. Was Chesterton? No. Am I? No.

Is the Catechims? Yes.

And all I've been doing since this debate began has been trying to get people to understand the clear teachings of the Catechism on lying and consequentialism.

Paul said...

Kevin O'Brien: "as to the saints who have held a variety of opinions on the morality of lying, my friend Joe Trabbic lists a few here

I actually asked you for the list of saints who, you claimed, had "come to conclusions that are less stringent than the official teaching of the Church". There is no list of that nature derivable from the article you pointed at.

What is in the article is a record of the two strands of thinking on lying that have existed in the Church, and the author of the article comes to no firm conclusion about the relative merits of each. And the article in The Thomist (that is pointed at by this article) also comes to no firm conclusion. Both authors recognize that there are occasions where it is not entirely clear whether a particular behavior counts as lying or not -- especially when it is a case of hiding information. The Catechism (and other kinds of magisterial teaching) doesn't resolve that kind of issue.

Kevin O'Brien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, you asked for a list of saints who were wrong on lying. I provided it. You say that concealing information through silence is allowable. I agree with that. You imply that James O'Keefe and Lila Rose are concealing information through silence. Obviously they are not. They are telling active lies. You say that Church teaching on lying is inconclusive. That is rubbish. You say that the Catechism is not clear. You are lying to yourself. But, enough. It's obvious you are letting politics trump Church teaching here, as are many of my friends. Salve your consciences as you may, but comments here are now closed

Pat said...

Thank you for this blog post. It has been very helpful to me in cutting through the obfuscation swirling around this subject.
"Lying for Jesus" betrays the Church in showing a lack of trust in God and "taking the matters into our own hands". It is doomed to failure. God and Belial have nothing to with each other.