Pope’s Speech Should Remind Americans That Conservatives Don’t Own Christianity


francis congress

Calling for action to address climate change and to end poverty, Pope Francis spoke before the U.S Congress on Thursday, sounding nothing like Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum or any of the other Republican politicians who try to portray themselves as God’s anointed GOP messengers.

From a Republican point of view, the pope’s speech must have seemed peppered with liberal talking points. Not only did the pontiff sound the alarm on climate change and poverty, but he also took aim at religious fundamentalism of all types, and he called for a more compassionate policy towards immigration. The pope’s message seemed to be almost the antithesis of contemporary Republican politics.


Pope Francis continued his criticism of global capitalism, and he called for an end to war profiteering through the international arms trade. He also explicitly called for ending the death penalty.

There was scant little in the pope’s speech for conservatives to latch onto, although the pontiff did make references to the family being under attack, implying that permitting same-sex marriages was partially responsible. In that area, the Catholic leader should perhaps heed his own admonitions against religious fundamentalism.

However, aside from his brief mention of concern over the changing structure of families, the pope spent most of his time promoting an agenda that is at odds with American conservatism. His speech hopefully made Catholic conservative leaders in Congress, like House speaker John Boehner and Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan uncomfortable.

American conservatives have done their best to try to monopolize the Christian faith, and to marginalize the Christian left, by depicting liberals as a monolithic Godless movement that is hostile to Christianity. Religious conservatives are so intent on proclaiming that they alone represent Christianity, that they have gone to extraordinary lengths to paint Barack Obama as Muslim, even though he is a Christian affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC).

The pope’s address before Congress will of course do nothing to dissuade Barack Obama’s detractors from arguing that Obama is not a Christian, but it should remind America that the words “Christian left” are not a contradiction in terms. Pope Francis’ speech sounded quite a bit more like self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders than it did like self-righteous modern day pharisee Mike Huckabee.

34 Replies to “Pope’s Speech Should Remind Americans That Conservatives Don’t Own Christianity”

  1. I’m quite sure they are flabbergasted at that!! I mean they HAVE a bill of sale! They HAVE invested YOUR tax dollars in the construction of all of those mega church’s and Media facilities and they do believe that YOUR money belongs to them! How dare the Pope make such a claim!

  2. The funniest thing about this is that the pope is not a liberal. He’s something that doesn’t even exist in American politics. Maybe it will now. It would help to reduce the extreme polarization of politics in this country, or rather to expand the middle by redefining it.

    The ideas the pope is promulgating have been around since the time of Lammenais (early 19th century).

  3. I highly doubt conservative extremists heard that. They’ve already called him a Marxist. They need to grow up. If loving and caring unconditionally is Marxist, then I guess Im Marxist according to the crazies.

  4. The Pope discussed Christian values, which are the teachings of Christ.

    These ideas will not make a dent in the right wing at all. They will just say that the Pope is not a Christian, and he is a pagan, and that THEY are the real Christians.

    The part about fundamentalism will go way over their collective heads.

    Don’t think Pope Francis’ speech will change anything, but Kudos to him for trying; at least it confirms the fact that some of us are sane and realize the right wing is not.

  5. Kim Davis’s response to criticism about her serial adultery and multiple divorces: it all happened before she became a Christian. She’s since been baptized and forgiven for her past misdeeds. She’s been on the straight and narrow ever since.

    So what was Kimmie’s faith before she became a (Apostolic) Christian? She was a Baptist. [Honest to FSM, some Christians say the Baptists aren’t really Christians. Nor are Mormons, et al.]

    Say what now?

    Yes, that’s the kind of crap that drove the founding fathers to restart the nation with a secular government. No “my faith’s better than your faith.” No using the government to oppress minority faiths and non-beievers.

    That’s why rational Christians, Jews, and followers of other religions join non-believers in supporting the separation of church and state.

  6. Does this sound familiar? —

    From Harrington & Ryan, Catholicism, Capitalism, or Communism, St Paul, Minnesota, 1926:

    “We do think that the abuses of Capitalism are as dangerous as Socialism or Communism. … Capitalism is a comparatively new economic system but we believe that the influence of the Church will be the gradual diminution and eventually the abandonment of Capitalism, because the spirit of the Catholic Church and the spirit of Capitalism cannot permanently co-exist together.”

    By “Socialism”, I am sure they do not mean the kind of Democratic Socialism that Bernie Sanders advocates.

    Wikipedia article on Monsignor John A. Ryan: ” When the “Radio Priest”, Father Charles E. Coughlin, turned vehemently against FDR and the New Deal … Ryan countered with an overtly partisan political speech (“Roosevelt Safeguards America”) broadcast on national radio on October 8, 1936, urging Catholics to repudiate Coughlin and support the New Deal and Roosevelt. Wary of the poten…

  7. Brodie, that is very true.

    There are atheists who follow the teachings of Christ more than some Catholics, even though atheists don’t believe in Christ.

    Many people are still under the impression that Catholics worship statues, a big right wing misconception.

    Bottom line is whether you are Christian, nonChristian, Muslim, Jewish, or anything else…a person’s character is judged by how he lives his life and treats others. Nobody needs a label to do that.

  8. “Most”?

    Brodie, there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, and between 200-300 Eastern Orthodox. There are 800 million Protestants.

  9. Also, liberals should be reminded that the Pope is not a liberal, just because he advocates for social justice. He still is only “for” the divorced, the gays, and people who use birth control ONLY if they repent and change their ways. Just because he doesn’t call for them to be locked up/killed/thrown out of society does not mean he embraces them and allows it. Don’t be fooled – he is selling something and trying to get the gays, divorced, and women in the door, but he is not bending to equality.

  10. (continued from below)
    “Wary of the potential controversy his speech could arouse, he began the endorsement by stating, “I am making tonight what is liable to be called a political speech. It is not that. It is mainly a discussion of certain political events in the light of moral law.” ”

    “During his lifetime, Ryan met fierce criticism for his economic and political thought. He was at times labeled a socialist for his endorsement of policies such as public housing, social security, unemployment insurance, and women’s rights in the work place, as well as his critique of unregulated free market capitalism. Refusing to prescribe to either a liberal or conservative political doctrine, instead choosing to support policies based on his theological beliefs, Ryan displeased both liberal and conservative politicians at times. Ryan’s overtly political acts also earned him disapproval within the Catholic Church.”

  11. JPin, the Pope is not selling anything.

    He is living his life according to his faith and sharing what his faith is about.

    Au contraire, a major theme in the Catholic faith is service to those around us, not selling…but giving.

  12. No, he’s not a liberal, but among the hundreds of millions of Americans being screwed by Wall Street and the banks are gays, divorced, and women. And frankly, the gays, divorced, and women not in that category are doing just fine.

    As Bernie Sanders put it so well, “What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger?”

  13. Exactly Democratinny, I am an atheist who has always liked Jesus and followed his teaching minus the magic.I like the HUMAN Jesus not this “divine” Jesus. Divinity is just another unicorn, nothing is divine, no one is divine divinity is ONLY a perception.

  14. I would say most in the United States think Catholics are just an add on to Christianity. I always thought it was because Catholics had way more fun. I was called catlicker in school by the true believers.

  15. Anybody who is relying on any public sector institution or amenity, like public schools, public libraries, post offices. Anybody who is paying hundreds of dollars a month on credit card debt, who is unemployed … shall I go on? I am well within that “anybody”. My brother is just closing his store after 20 years because some big real estate investors bought the building and he can’t afford the rent any more. Yeah, I know there are people a lot worse off than I am, but it’s the whole f-ing atmosphere, the only values recognized today are financial. I don’t only look at it in individual terms, either. Do you think all this corruption isn’t affecting the society as a whole? Which affects me and my family and friends and everybody else.

  16. God Bless our Pope and his words of peace and goodness which all human beings should respect. We all can throw rocks at this and that but for the most part THE CHILD in us ALL agrees with every word he said. Evil tends to rear its ugly head threw greed and other filth but true goodness is heard by those who DO HAVE A LOVING HEART AND ARE REAL CHRISTIANS. Others I’m sorry to say have not heard one word…That is what our nightly prayers are all about. God bless everyone…

  17. I think that people who didn’t vote are to blame. This shit didn’t happen overnight you were warned for over 30 years but people didn’t pay attention or didn’t care.

  18. Maybe you’re right, but you say “you were warned for over 30 years”. I’ve seen this shit happening since Reagan. I voted nearly every election over the last more than 30 years, not just presidential elections. For the Democrat. If by “you”, you mean ME, you’re talking to the wrong guy, I didn’t need a warning to see it coming, I saw it myself.

  19. “warned for over 30 years”. I’ve seen this shit happening since Reagan//////////////I too saw society take dive under Reagan’s huge shaft to this country & it’s people, I knew someday the NAZI idea of living was coming also. “Blue-eyed devil” is not a CB handle, it’s a description of Republicans.

  20. Comparing Pope Francis to Bernie Sander’s is an affront to this Pope…The Pope himself has declared “Some people may say some things sounds slightly left-ish, but that would be a mistake of interpretation” “It is I who follow the church, my doctrine as all of this…on economic imperialism, is that…of the social doctrine of the church.” In other words without this author making it political, the Pope is simply following the basic tenants of the church, the least among us, and not of any political figure….how utterly ridiculous to bring Bernie Sander’s into this.

  21. Brodie, the ones who called you a catlicker probably knew Catholics had more fun! They could have fun too if they didn’t hate so much.

  22. What do you want to bet the Pope loves him some Bernie Sanders?

    It’s not exactly an original idea of mine to compare the two. On matters of social morality, they are very compatible. Why else does Sanders frequently praise Pope Francis?

    And if the Pope is not returning the compliment, I think it’s because he understands better than a bully like Netanyahu that a foreign head of state does not intrude in somebody else’s elections.

    I mean, it’s not like Pope Francis is running for president, or Bernie Sanders is running for Pope.

    And by this comparison, I do NOT mean to imply the Pope is a liberal (see my several comments above).

  23. This article does not mention the subject of Dorothy Day stressing that the reason she is on the way to cannonization is because of her staunch anti-reproductive choice stance that came to her after she had an abortion that I heard on NPR today. Bernie Sanders expressed several other contributions Day made to society which sounded much more substantive to me in deserving sainthood. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/09/24/the-pope-name-dropped-a-radical-catholic-activist-and-bernie-sanders-couldnt-be-happier/?postshare=3541443121441531

  24. I always knew that the conservatives never owned Christianity. Because just about everything they say and do are completely the opposite of what the Bible says. Can you imagine what they would be saying if Jesus came out of the cloud and addressed the people. They would think He was to liberal too. Because he feels the same about the issues the Pope spoke about. They have no compassion at all towards the poor, only the rich.

  25. Actually Mr. Berkhus has it backwards. The Pharisees were the Liberals because they accepted more books to be the Word of God than the Sadduccees.

  26. There are a lot more of us liberal Christians than people realize. We don’t get any press because the things we say and do are far too reasonable to serve as “click bait” for the mainstream media. There’s a group called “The Christian Left” on Facebook, that I’m a member of, and a lot of us doing good works in the world as Jesus instructed.

    Regardless of what these “conservatives” call themselves, “You can’t serve God and money”, and it’s obvious to everyone that they really worship money rather than God. You can see in their every action and hear through their hate filled diatribes, that they aren’t really Christians at all. Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruits”, And I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone, that their fruit has spoiled on the tree, before ever ripening…

  27. With ears, minds, and hearts closed to all but their bigotry and hatred of “others” they do not even understand, evangelical Christians are disgusting and more. They fuel their bias with false beliefs and weird grow-your-own theonomies. In other words they are self-justifying childen with guns.

  28. Untrue as a matter of fact, although they are loud enough to make it seem true.

    Evangelicals (As close as these stats come to the anti-Catholic crowd) 28%

    Catholics 24%
    Mainline Prots 14%

    That’s 38 to 28 who don’t mind calling Catholics “Christians.”

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