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Note: This is being cross-posted from Anonymous Is A Woman and Raising Kaine

Kansas senator, Sam Brownback, formally threw his hat into the Republican presidential ring with yesterday's announcement. On the surface, he's the ideal candidate for the pro-life, religious values voters. But his real agenda goes far beyond what even a lot of them want to see for our government.

Indeed, over the years, Brownback has burrowed himself into the leadership role in a network of secretive cabals with a dangerous theocratic agenda that most Americans, even the so-called values voters, don't support. And in some cases, his view is extra-biblical, relying not simply on biblical principles but on the rule a religious elite who believe they know Christ's true plan for our nation and are dedicated to imposing it on the rest of us. Their goal is nothing short of the abolition of free will and individual conscience.

Most people don’t expect Brownback to actually win the Republican nomination, but as this Rolling Stone article points out:

"Brownback is unlikely to receive the Republican presidential nomination -- but as the candidate of the Christian right, he may well be in a position to determine who does, and what they include in their platform. 'What Sam could do very effectively,' says the Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical activist, is hold the nomination hostage until the Christian right "exacts the last pledge out of the more popular candidate."

But Brownback's role as the deal maker for the right is no where near the only threat posed by the softspoken Kansas senator who manages to carry a big stick with a great deal of political clout.

Brownback has managed to amass a movement that is nothing less than an old-fashioned tent revival meeting, composed of far right evangelicals and traditionalist Roman Catholics from the ultra-orthodox Opus Dei movement.

According to Terry Mattingly’s On Religion website: (please note, emphasis is mine)

"This latest ceremony at Catholic Information Center will not draw the attention of the Washington Post. But that happened last year when Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas entered the fold. Some of McCloskey's earlier converts also caused chatter inside the Beltway -- columnist Robert Novak, economist Lawrence Kudlow and former abortion activist Bernard Nathanson."

Father C. John McCloskey III, the priest referred to in the above article, is a brilliant Catholic apologist with an Ivy League education, who has worked for Merrill Lynch and Citibank on Wall Street before becoming a priest in the personal prelature of Opus Dei.

For all his brilliance, Fr. McCloskey certainly doesn’t win any points for religious tolerance. Again, from On Religion.

"In addition to winning prominent converts, McCloskey has bluntly criticized the American Catholic establishment's powerful progressive wing, tossing out quotations like this zinger: 'A liberal Catholic is oxymoronic. The definition of a person who disagrees with what the Catholic church is teaching is called a Protestant.'

"It is also crucial that McCloskey openly embraces evangelism and the conversion of adults from Judaism, Islam and other world religions. For many modern Catholics this implies coercion, manipulation, mind control and, thus, a kind of "proselytism" that preys on the weak.

" 'That's pure trash. That's a false ecumenism,' said McCloskey. 'That's simply not Catholic teaching. The Catholic church makes exclusive truth claims about itself and cannot deny them. It doesn't deny that there are other forms of religion. It doesn't deny that these other forms of religion have some elements of truth in them. ...

" 'But we are proclaiming Jesus Christ and where we believe he can be most fully found and that's the Catholic church. We cannot deny that.' This issue will become even more controversial as America grows more diverse. "

But what’s especially bothersome about Fr. McCloskey's narrow minded views is his cultivation of those in power:

"But words like 'conversion' and 'evangelism' draw attention when a priest's pulpit is located on K Street, only two blocks from the White House. The flock that flows into the center's 100-seat chapel for daily Mass includes scores of lobbyists, politicians, journalists, activists and executives"

However, Opus Dei is actually just the tip of the iceberg for Brownback. Much more troublesome is his long term association with a shadowy group in Congress called The Fellowship. Here’s a rather lengthy description of them, their goals, worldview, and influential members, taken from the Rolling Stone piececited above:

"One of the little-known strengths of the Christian right lies in its adoption of the 'cell' -- the building block historically used by small but determined groups to impose their will on the majority. Seventy years ago, an evangelist named Abraham Vereide founded a network of 'God-led' cells comprising senators and generals, corporate executives and preachers. Vereide believed that the cells -- God's chosen, appointed to power -- could construct a Kingdom of God on earth with Washington as its capital. They would do so 'behind the scenes,' lest they be accused of pride or a hunger for power, and 'beyond the din of vox populi,' which is to say, outside the bounds of democracy. To insiders, the cells were known as the Family, or the Fellowship. To most outsiders, they were not known at all.

" 'Communists use cells as their basic structure,' declares a confidential Fellowship document titled 'Thoughts on a Core Group.' "The mafia operates like this, and the basic unit of the Marine Corps is the four-man squad. Hitler, Lenin and many others understood the power of a small group of people.' Under Reagan, Fellowship cells quietly arranged meetings between administration officials and leaders of Salvadoran death squads, and helped funnel military support to Siad Barre, the brutal dictator of Somalia, who belonged to a prayer cell of American senators and generals.

"Brownback got involved in the Fellowship in 1979, as a summer intern for Bob Dole, when he lived in a residence the group had organized in a sorority house at the University of Maryland. Four years later, fresh out of law school and looking for a political role model, Brownback sought out Frank Carlson, a former Republican senator from Kansas. It was Carlson who, at a 1955 meeting of the Fellowship, had declared the group's mission to be 'Worldwide Spiritual Offensive,' a vision of manly Christianity dedicated to the expansion of American power as a means of spreading the gospel.

"Over the years, Brownback became increasingly active in the Fellowship. But he wasn't invited to join a cell until 1994, when he went to Washington. 'I had been working with them for a number of years, so when I went into Congress I knew I wanted to get back into that,' he says. 'Washington -- power -- is very difficult to handle. I knew I needed people to keep me accountable in that system.'

"Brownback was placed in a weekly prayer cell by 'the shadow Billy Graham' -- Doug Coe, Vereide's successor as head of the Fellowship. The group was all male and all Republican. It was a 'safe relationship,' Brownback says. Conversation tended toward the personal. Brownback and the other men revealed the most intimate details of their desires, failings, ambitions. They talked about lust, anger and infidelities, the more shameful the better -- since the goal was to break one's own will. The abolition of self; to become nothing but a vessel so that one could be used by God.
They were striving, ultimately, for what Coe calls 'Jesus plus nothing' -- a government led by Christ's will alone. In the future envisioned by Coe, everything -- sex and taxes, war and the price of oil -- will be decided upon not according to democracy or the church or even Scripture. The Bible itself is for the masses; in the Fellowship, Christ reveals a higher set of commands to the anointed few. It's a good old boy's club blessed by God. Brownback even lived with other cell members in a million-dollar, red-brick former convent at 133 C Street that was subsidized and operated by the Fellowship. Monthly rent was $600 per man -- enough of a deal by Hill standards that some said it bordered on an ethical violation, but no charges were ever brought.

"Brownback still meets with the prayer cell every Tuesday evening. He and his 'brothers,' he says, are 'bonded together, faith and souls.' The rules forbid Brownback from revealing the names of his fellow members, but those in the cell likely include such conservative stalwarts as Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee, former Rep. Steve Largent of Oklahoma and Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma doctor who has advocated the death penalty for abortion providers. Fellowship documents suggest that some 30 senators and 200 congressmen occasionally attend the group's activities, but no more than a dozen are involved at Brownback's level.

"The men in Brownback's cell talk about politics, but the senator insists it's not political. 'It's about faith and action,' he says. According to 'Thoughts on a Core Group,' the primary purpose of the cell is to become an 'invisible 'believing' group.' Any action the cell takes is an outgrowth of belief, a natural extension of 'agreements reached in faith and in prayer.' Deals emerge not from a smoke-filled room but from a prayer-filled room. 'Typically,' says Brownback, 'one person grows desirous of pursuing an action' -- a piece of legislation, a diplomatic strategy -- 'and the others pull in behind.'

"In 1999, Brownback worked with Rep. Joe Pitts, a Fellowship brother, to pass the Silk Road Strategy Act, designed to block the growth of Islam in Central Asian nations by bribing them with lucrative trade deals. That same year, he teamed up with two Fellowship associates -- former Sen. Don Nickles and the late Sen. Strom Thurmond -- to demand a criminal investigation of a liberal group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Last year, several Fellowship brothers, including Sen. John Ensign, another resident of the C Street house, supported Brownback's broadcast decency bill. And Pitts and Coburn joined Brownback in stumping for the Houses of Worship Act to allow tax-free churches to endorse candidates.

"The most bluntly theocratic effort, however, is the Constitution Restoration Act, which Brownback co-sponsored with Jim DeMint, another former C Streeter who was then a congressman from South Carolina. If passed, it will strip the Supreme Court of the ability to even hear cases in which citizens protest faith-based abuses of power. Say the mayor of your town decides to declare Jesus lord and fire anyone who refuses to do so; or the principal of your local high school decides to read a fundamentalist prayer over the PA every morning; or the president declares the United States a Christian nation. Under the Constitution Restoration Act, that'll all be just fine.

Brownback points to his friend Ed Meese, who served as attorney general under Reagan, as an example of a man who wields power through backroom Fellowship connections. Meese has not held a government job for nearly two decades, but through the Fellowship he's more influential than ever, credited with brokering the recent nomination of John Roberts to head the Supreme Court. 'As a behind-the-scenes networker,' Brownback says, 'he's important.' In the senator's view, such hidden power is sanctioned by the Bible. 'Everybody knows Moses,' Brownback says. 'But who were the leaders of the Jewish people once they got to the promised land? It's a lot of people who are unknown.'

"Every Tuesday, before his evening meeting with his prayer brothers, Brownback chairs another small cell -- one explicitly dedicated to altering public policy. It is called the Values Action Team, and it is composed of representatives from leading organizations on the religious right. James Dobson's Focus on the Family sends an emissary, as does the Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum, the Christian Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for America and many more. Like the Fellowship prayer cell, everything that is said is strictly off the record, and even the groups themselves are forbidden from discussing the proceedings. It's a little 'cloak-and-dagger,' says a Brownback press secretary. The VAT is a war council, and the enemy, says one participant, is 'secularism.'

"The VAT coordinates the efforts of fundamentalist pressure groups, unifying their message and arming congressional staffers with the data and language they need to pass legislation. Working almost entirely in secret, the group has directed the fights against gay marriage and for school vouchers, against hate-crime legislation and for 'abstinence only' education. The VAT helped win passage of Brownback's broadcast decency bill and made the president's tax cuts a top priority. When it comes to 'impacting policy,' says Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, 'day to day, the VAT is instrumental.'"

Sorry for the very long quote, but if I tried to paraphrase any of this, you wouldn’t believe me or would think that I was just being paranoid.

In addition to Opus Dei, The Fellowship, the Values Action Team and his other shadowy, undemocratic cells, Brownback announced that one of the major advisers to his presidential exploratory committee will be Thomas Monaghan,, the founder of the ultra-conservative and controversial Ave Maria University, which you can read abouthere.In addition to moving Ave Maria from Michigan to Collier County, Florida, Mohaghan is attempting to build his own theocratically governed private town, also named Ave Maria. The town will be set up and governed on orthodox Catholic principles such as banning pharmacies from distributing contraceptives

According to this report from the Media Transparancy website:

"Tom Monaghan 'is putting his money and influence' into making Brownback "the next president of the United States," McClatchy Newspapers' Matt Stearns recently reported. The extremely wealthy, and controversial conservative Catholic, 'is advising the 2008 presidential exploratory committee for Brownback, a longtime social conservative who converted to Catholicism a few years ago,' Stearns pointed out.

" 'In the Catholic community, he's looked upon as kind of on the fringes,' the Rev. Robert Drinan, a liberal Roman Catholic priest and former Democratic congressman who teaches at Georgetown University, told Stearns. 'The worldview is, "We have to get back to a Catholic civilization." They want to go back to a Christian society imposed from above...It's just another world they want to build.'"

If this all frightens you, it frightens me too. There are a lot of good, sincere people out there who oppose abortion, worry about the increasing crudeness that passes for culture in our society, and sincerely believe that religion has value in the public square. But what Sam Brownback is involved with goes way beyond that well-intentioned debate about societal reform.

Brownback is not just involved but is the leading force in groups whose goal is to remake America as an authoritarian theocracy, guided by biblical law as dictated by an annointed few. Incredibly, they believe that "the Bible is for the masses," and their vision is for an extra-biblical dictatorship, perhaps based on biblical principles, but ruled by a small cabal who impose their religious and social views on everybody else. These are people who have made alliance with the leaders of El Salvadoran death squads and brutal Somalian dictators. Theirs is a scary vision for America, indeed for the world.

Brownback, the Fellowship, and their fellow travelers like Jim DeMint, Ed Meese, Tom Coburn, and others mentioned above need to be taken seriously and watched carefully. Theirs would be a dangerous America indeed.

Originally posted to anonymousisawoman on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 06:08 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There is nothing wrong about Opus Dei (0+ / 0-)

    Stop the mischaracterization.

    Stop bashing Catholics and pro-lifers.

  •  poll : Opus Dei or Otis Day? (3+ / 0-)

    A little bit louder now!

    seriously: these kind of diaries scare the shit out of me.Is this really true?

    One of these days, the people are going to demand peace of the government, and the government is going to have to give it to them. - Dwight Eisenhower

    by bostonjay on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 06:17:59 PM PST

    •  I wrote the RS piece (8+ / 0-)

      And yes, it's all true, extensively fact checked, no lawsuits followed.

      •  That was an excellent article (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bostonjay, PeteZerria

        I think this paragraph sums up brownback's plans for the US pretty well.

        In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years -- schools, Social Security, welfare -- will be privatized or simply done away with," reads the article. "There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.

        -7.25 -6.77 The Republicans have their splits right after election and Democrats have theirs just before an election. Will Rogers

        by Lovo on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 07:08:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's all about the fetus and (4+ / 0-)

    controlling a woman's vagina. Control women's sexuality and you've got real power over a society.

  •  I hear that Brownbrain went to a Catholic (7+ / 0-)

    madrassa in his youth.

    Yeah, that's the ticket.

    •  Funny thing is (3+ / 0-)

      Brownback went to a nice, centrist Methodist sunday school in his youth. I visited his teacher. She's a bit perplexed by her pupil's progress. As is his mother, who doesn't recall teaching him any of his "traditional values" about homosexuality or abortion, neither of which she opposes, as I recall.

      •  Losing the Klan vote (0+ / 0-)

        it's a fine balancing act appealing to extremes - you have to keep track of which ones hate each other......

      •  He used to be (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bostonjay, DaleA, PeteZerria

        a member of the "moderate" Republican wing of Kansas...until he went to Washington and smelled the stench of fundamentalism growing in Kansas. He is an opportunist extraordinaire--switching sides when it looked convinient to further his own career.

        Frankly, I am not too confident this isn't just posturing to the fanatical base because that is how he has built his brand. Though perhaps he drank so much kool aid hanging out with these freaks that he started buying into it. That I can't answer, however it must be noted that as early as 1993 he was a "moderate" pro-choicer.

        "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

        by michael1104 on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 07:03:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Brownback Code: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rex Manning

    Total control.

    Fear will keep the local systems in line. -Grand Moff Tarkin Survivor Left Blogistan

    by boran2 on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 06:28:11 PM PST

  •  The Diarists Anti-Catholicism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    timber reminiscent of that expessed against Al Smith and John Kennedy...."There's a shadowy group of papists dedicated to taking away your God given rights as Americans!"...And I love your bolding - "The Catholic church makes exclusive truth claims about itself and cannot deny them." of a statement by a Cahtolic priest. Is it surprising that a Catholic priest would feel his faith has exclusive truth claims? should read up on the history of the group called the "Know Nothings". Know why? 'Cause you are one.

    I would never vote for Sam Brownback for President. But this BS on the left of attacking religious faith is not productive.

    •  Only, the Fellowship is protestant (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeteZerria, michael1104, old wobbly

      The really shadowy group Brownback is associated with is Protestant. The Fellowship. It includes Catholic members, but it's a protestant led and inspired organization. It's not "anti-religious" to be concerned about the influence of movements within specific faiths that are deliberately anti-democratic. And movements that A)engage in politics; B)do so secretively qualify as anti-democratic in book.

      •  Conspiracy Theories (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that target specific religious groups are usually built on bigotry and intolerance. And I would question whether people of a certain religious equation working together on political issues is "anti-democratic", unless we are speaking in the context of the Cuban or Chinese political systems.

        I have attended Opus Dei classes, and there was discussion of economic and social issues. The opinions ranged from a capitalistic viewpoint to outright socialism. Interestingly, it seemed the priest conducting the classes leaned toward the latter. However, the emphasis is on helping individuals to develop their own moral belief system. There were no albino monks either.

        This type of scapegoating paranoia does nothing but give the right something to point at and say "See, they hate religion." As a confirmed Democrat, and an economic socialist, my opinion is that this type of thing only serves the interests of the opposition.

        •  It's not a conspiracy theory (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          This is out in the open. Maybe Brownback doesn't talk about this much, but I don't think he denies this, either.

        •  Not a conspiracy theory (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bostonjay, madhaus, DaleA, Lovo, old wobbly

          My report was based on extensive interviews with Sam Brownback, and my characterization of the Fellowship on six months of archival research. All my work is fact checked; my original report on the Fellowship, for Harper's, also went through legal review.

          You misrepresent my argument. People of particular religious views working together are not "anti-democratic." People who seek to exert influence through political networks deliberately kept secret are. And people who say they don't like democracy are definitely anti-democratic. In Modern Viking, the approved biography of the Fellowship's founder, Abraham Vereide, Vereide subscribes to the idea that prayer cells allow politicians to make decisions based on scripture rather than the "din of the vox populi." I spent a month living with such a prayer cell, documented in Harper's, during which I was taught that the Kingdom of God one earth, which we were to attempt to build, would not be a democracy but a monarchy, with leaders appointed by God according to what I'd argue is a severe misreading of Romans 13.

          As for Opus Dei, it's record is uglier. The founder was an open admirer of Franco who supported and applauded that dictators bloody takeover of Spain and subsequent "liquidation" of tens of thousands of political opponents.

          This does not mean every Opus Dei believer is a fascist. But it is a movement heavily debted to its founder, who was a fascist. As for socialist inclinations -- yes, of course. That doesn't meant it's not authoritarian.

          I understand and share your concern about scapegoating paranoia. One shouldn't indulge in that. Nor should refuse to acknowledge that there are anti-democratic movements.

    •  Descending to insults, are we? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Per Wikipedia

      The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1850s. It grew up as a popular reaction to fears that major cities were being overwhelmed by Irish Catholic immigrants whom they regarded as hostile to American values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. It was a short-lived movement mainly active 1854-56; it demanded reform measures but few were passed. There were few prominent leaders, and the membership, mostly middle-class and Protestant, apparently was soon absorbed by the Republican Party in the North.

      The movement originated in New York in 1843 when it was called the American Republican Party. It spread to other states as the Native American Party and became a national party in 1845. In 1855 they renamed themselves the American Party. The origin of the "Know Nothing" term was in the semi-secret organization of the party. When a member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply "I know nothing."

  •  If brownback gets elected (0+ / 0-)

    we can change the national anthem to Onward Christian Soldiers

  •  sekret handshakes lust anger infid=blackmail (0+ / 0-)

    sekret handshakes, lust anger infidelities and big money. and blackmail of course. this is how treason hides its face: behind the smiling faces of elected officials working to overthrow the government they swear to protect. wuh.

    opus dei? catholic priests? nahhh. all this has nothing to do with religion, or even christianist philosophies, really; it's a straight-forward (though convuluted... eh can something be both? oh well, this sure is) power play. corporate dominionists on the take.

  •  Brownback would have scared me a lot more before (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Disillusioned, DaleA

    November.  I saw the documentary "Jesus Camp" a couple weeks after the election.  If I had seen it when the Republicans and their Christian Right followers were still in total control in Washington, I think it would have completely depressed me. But knowing that we had finally turned them back in Nov. helped a lot.  They are not invincible.  I don't think Brownback is going anywhere.  But thanks for the info.  I didn't know he had converted to Catholicism.  He wouldn't like it at my liberal Catholic parish.

    another american against the war(s)

    by extradish on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 06:45:34 PM PST

  •  Great piece Thank you (0+ / 0-)

    the meek shall inherit the earth

    by Howaboutthetruth on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 06:58:20 PM PST

  •  These guys are just like osama no difference (0+ / 0-)
  •  When I saw the words Brownback Mountain (0+ / 0-)

    all I could think of is a guy standing on his head with explosive diarrhea. And, well, come to think of it, that's not a whole lot different than the actual Senator Brownback.

    When in danger or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout.

    by londubh on Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 07:28:52 PM PST

  •  I saw Brownback in Stephanopholus show (0+ / 0-)

    Actually I was impressed with him.  I want a good Republican to win--pragmatic, moderate, and competent and concern for the poor.  I will vote for the Democratic candidate but I want a good Republican to win just in case they win.

    Sen Brownback apologized to Hillary for hateful politics,  was very concerned about Africa and if he is a Catholic convert which I hope means Catholic social teaching on social issues like helping the poor, being a peacemaker, etc then that is good.  

    He may be pro-life but I dont think he will get far in changing the abortion laws because it is widely popular so I dont think Dems should fear that. (I may be pro-life but not a single issue and dont think it should be the basis of my voting preferences).

  •  there's something in what you say, timber... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'd love to believe that Brownback is a good person, who would govern in accordance with the Constitution & the people's will.  There are assorted Repub politicians out there whom I suspect of being good folks.  

    On the other hand, I once thought that Bush was just a good-natured dolt who couldn't conceivably hose up the  whole frickin' world, even by accident.  Oops.  

    Seems to me that Brownback has bought into an awful lot of the rubber-stampede of the past half-dozen years, which more or less disqualifies him in my mind from the human race, not to even talk about the corpus of people who deserve to be considered for leadership of the country.

    As for Opus Dei, etc., well, I'm deeply suspicious of anybody who buys into any organization that purports to know what the truth really is and promotes itself as a means toward attaining the implied nirvana.  "Sinners" who embrace religion for the purpose of knowing themselves and their shortcomings, and coping with the contradictions that life confronts them with, fine, sure, have at it.  But anyone who offers to "save" me, or "save" the world, or even suggests that he/she/it is "saved" is going to see little of me but asshole and elbows, unless it be the business end of a rolled-up newspaper.

  •  The Diarist's anti-Catholicism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    doesn't exist, Chgo Jim. The diarist - that would be me - is a Catholic.  And as living proof that God does indeed have a sense of humor, was converted and baptized by the very same Catholic Information Center on K Street that was cited in the diary and in the other original articles that I linked to.

    My diary was so long as it was that I didn't go into my personal connections with Opus Dei.  I was never a member, but I was indeed converted by an Opus Dei priest of the Catholic Information Center, when it was still located on 14th Street.

    I personally knew Fr. McCloskey, who is far different from the priest who converted me, the late Fr. Mike Curtin.  I was, in fact, the CIC's first convert when Opus Dei took it over from the Redemptorists.  My sponsor for conversion is still an Opus Dei numerary (one who has a regular family life and doesn't live in one of their residences.)

    Fr. Mike once served as the personal assistant to Opus Dei's founder, St. Josemaria.  But Fr. Mike was humble, interested in social justice, and open minded even if he was theologically conservative.  I never hid my political sympathies from him.  Yet he was very welcoming.

    Fr. McCloskey is cut from an entirely different cloth.  He is narrow minded, rigid, but brilliant.  And he deliberately seeks out those in power to promote his personal vision of what Catholicsm should be.

    In a series of emails with him in 2000, he told me directly that he did not consider AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, actor Martin Sheen, or the late Monsignor George Higgins good Catholics.  All of those people are or were very devout and dedicated Catholics. I have met all of them and can vouch for that from conversations with them.

    I am not criticizing all Catholics or even all Opus Dei members.  But I have read some disturbing things about them, discounting the sensationalist portrayals in popular novels and movies.  

    But Ishmael is right, more threat comes from the Protestant fundamentalist right.  Google the term "dominionism" if you really want to have nightmares about theocracies.

    And Ishmael, thank you for the belated permission to quote.  As I said in my diary, if I had paraphrased, I would have been written off as a paranoid flake.  It needed to come directly from your article.  At least, I thought you and Rolling Stone had more street cred that me. After all, I'm anonymous :)

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