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Ryan as VP pick continues election year focus on Catholicism
Paul Ryan is better known for his outspoken fiscal conservatism than for leading on conservative Catholic social causes.
August 11th, 2012
09:20 AM ET

Ryan as VP pick continues election year focus on Catholicism

By Dan Gilgoff and Dan Merica

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate promises to cast a spotlight on American Catholicism in an election year when the tradition has already been a major focus.

Ryan, a Catholic who chairs the House Budget Committee, is better known for his outspoken fiscal conservatism than for leading on conservative Catholic social causes like opposing abortion and gay marriage.

But Romney called attention to Ryan's religion Saturday in introducing him as his running mate: "A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life," Romney said.

And socially conservative groups were quick to praise Ryan's selection, with the president of National Right to Life saying that "Ryan has a deep, abiding respect for all human life, including unborn children and their mothers, the disabled and the elderly."

Ryan’s advocacy for cutting taxes and trimming the deficit — he is the architect of the GOP’s proposed federal budget — married with his willingness to talk about fiscal belt-tightening in moral terms and his low-key social conservatism speak to a political moment in which the economic concerns of the Tea Party and the social focus of the Christian right have merged into a relatively cohesive anti-Obama movement.

CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the day's big stories

Ryan’s presence on the ticket also could increase Romney’s appeal among the millions of middle-of-the-road Catholic voters who populate key swing states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Catholics are considered the quintessential swing vote, and no presidential candidate has won the White House without winning Catholics since at least the early 1990s.

With Romney, a Mormon, selecting a Catholic, Obama is the only Protestant in the 2012 presidential race (Vice President Joe Biden is also Catholic).

"As a conservative Catholic, Ryan is likely to appeal to a number of Catholics in the Midwest,” said John Green, a professor of religion and politics at the University of Akron in Ohio. “Catholics who are concerned about religious liberty, he is certainly a positive there."

The Catholic Church has helped frame this year’s election by strenuously opposing a rule in President Obama’s health care law that requires insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage to nearly all American employees, including those at Catholic colleges and hospitals. The Democrats have said that Romney’s and the GOP’s support for the Church’s position constitutes a “war on women,” while Romney and his party say Obama’s rule represents a “war on religion.”

In an interview with CNN, former GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich, who is Catholic, said that Ryan would shore up support in a Catholic community that feels it is “under siege.”

Romney released an ad Thursday repeating the war on religion charge. Next week, Sandra Fluke — a Georgetown University law student who was thrust into the national spotlight after radio show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for her role in supporting Obama’s contraception rule — will introduce the president at a stop in Denver.

Ryan’s own Catholicism became a major issue this year, with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops criticizing his proposed federal budget for what the bishops said would be its adverse impact on the poor.

The bishops cautioned against overreaching budget cuts that endanger “poor and vulnerable people.” The bishops’ message called on “Congress and the administration to protect essential help for poor families and vulnerable children and to put the poor first in budget priorities.”

This split between politically conservative and liberal Catholics has existed for decades in the Catholic Church. But with Ryan running for vice president, some experts expect this divide to be sharpened.

"What Ryan will highlight is a division within the Catholic community,” Green said. “More politically liberal Catholics are very critical of the Republican approach and the Ryan budget, but Ryan has taken them head on.”

In an April speech at Georgetown, a Catholic school, Ryan defended his budget in religious terms.

“The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it,” Ryan said. “What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding of the problems of the day.”

Ryan’s $3.53 trillion budget doubles down on past proposals to overhaul Medicare and other government programs that are seen as politically sensitive. While the budget has little chance to become law, it draws a distinct contrast with Democratic views on spending.

That speech, along with other statements that put his budget into religious terms, led liberal Catholic groups to openly protest Ryan’s budget.

In particular, NETWORK, a group founded by 47 Catholic nuns that speaks out on social justice issues, went on a bus tour around the country to protest the Ryan budget.

In an interview with CNN, Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK, said Ryan has co-opted sacred Catholic teachings and twisted their meanings.

This line of attack will intensify in the coming months because of Ryan’s nomination, says Deal Hudson, a religion and politics expert who ran President George. W. Bush’s Catholic outreach in 2000 and 2004.

“I think the Catholic left will make this the drumbeat about Congressman Ryan,” Hudson said. “That is why it is so important for the campaign to effectively get out in front of this argument.”

According to Hudson, it is possible to defend the Ryan budget from Catholic attacks, it will just take a campaign that “realizes this is what they face."

- CNN

Filed under: 2012 Election • Catholic Church • Politics

soundoff (1,690 Responses)
  1. Dashawn

    Since this debate will never end in our lifetimes and it will become even more divisive, I stand by the notion of splitting America in 2. A little experiment. On one side, those who strongly support the Left can live in one half of the country where socialized healthcare, large government, food stamp encouragement, wealth distribution (huge taxes on the richer citizens), gay rights and religious suppression are all laws of the land. And in the other half we have those who strongly support the Right, where the law of the land is individual freedom to practice any religion, tax cuts for the rich to encourage hiring, work programs instead of food stamp encouragement, traditional marriage only, civil gay rights, very limited government. And then those that are left out of either group, the ones "on the fence" who don't strongly support EITHER left or right, can just observe for a few years each side, and see which side's policies seem to be more family friendly, prosperous, and unshackled from government control and mandates. Then the undecided can make their decision to live in the land that best fits the needs of their views, values, desired quality of living.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      This happened already... it was called the Civil War. You lost. Try Mexico... you christians subjugated that country pretty well.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Bob Cherry

      You realize the tax rate on the rich is at it's lowest point in decades, so where are the jobs. The whole job creators thing would be laughable if it wasn't so infuriating. Really where are the jobs these tax rates are supposed to create?

      August 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  2. Chaos

    So? Did he speak up to the church leadership when he found out that the church was systematically coddling child molesters or did he sit there and do nothing like the rest?

    August 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • SL

      NO he kept that hole below his nose closed.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Was Rev. Wright doing that too? Figures. :(

      August 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  3. George

    Obama IS NOT PROTESTANT, HE'S A MUSLIM folks. He has his foot ion both christianity and islam for political purpose. He may say he's a christian, but then the devil himself would probably say the same thing to persuade to deceive others. He has publicly stated that "this is not a christian country", would a true Christian say that? com-mon folks wake up!!!. Obama is a MUSLIM, by the mere fact that he is son of a muslim. You can't be a Christian (where Jesus is GOD) and a muslim (where Jesus is not God)... this is a contradiction. Christianity and islam have about the same thing in common as a dog and a cat. Islam is a religion based on the devil as their god (Allah is another name for the devil) The Holy Bible teaches that the devil wanted to be God but that position was already taken by GOD, So now he's the god of islam.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Answer

      Oh look a loon!

      August 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Billy

      If he is a Muslim, he is doing a pretty good job killing a bunch of his own kind with drone attacks. Doesn't say much about his religious commitment, does it?

      August 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      See you soon George.... wear shorts, its hot down here.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Billy

      So God is working at a position? Does he get overtime? Is he employee of the month? The Eon?

      August 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Chaos

      Do you wear your tinfoil hat with the shiny side in or out?

      August 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      Obama is Muslim or not, only he know's or God, but thing undeniable is truth absolute enshrined in con–sti-tution of USA, every hindu pervert Christian deny in his hindu pagan Mithra ism, savior ism.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Chaos

      "Christianity and islam have about the same thing in common as a dog and a cat."

      Hmm . They're both furry, mammals, carnivores, pets, domesticated, have multiple births, have tails, have fangs, I could go on all day....

      August 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Bob Cherry

      George, did you stop taking your medications again.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • ME II

      @George,
      You say that Obama is a Muslim, "but then the devil himself would probably say the same thing to persuade to deceive others. "

      August 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  4. mitch

    the lack of tolerance toward religion, is because religions will not stay out of matters that are governed by the state. You as a group have the right to vote in a democracy, but as a minority do not have the rignt to impose on others the right to be free of your views and dogma. Your voice, in my opinion, has far less influence than the tax paying citizen; try paying taxes like most every one else and maybe the rest of us will take you seriously.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • bhr

      I agree in a sense religion shouldn't be the government, but right now govt is involved too much in religion and have crossed the bounds of separation. Al the clergy in the military, catholic, Protestant, Islam, buhdist,all have to have their prayers screened and edited before they can hold them in a group of people.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • WorkInProgress

      since when does religious people not pay taxes? Oh, you mean the church that's made up of religious people that have paid taxes? Would you simply like to tax them more?

      August 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  5. mike is a catholic

    Someone at CNN should have read this canned piece before it ran. Sandra Fluke introduced the President in Denver last week. Nice "news." Where did you lift your information from? Next time interview some Catholics, you will find them at church on Sunday, not hard to locate.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Not hard to find, just too stupid to believe.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  6. frank

    ryan looks like he is on something

    August 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  7. tonyarechiga

    Who actually cares that he is a CATHOLIC that holds office???!!! I feel that faith should be kept private and not used to gain votes.

    so pathetic !!!

    August 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • bhr

      Why should religious beliefs be closeted and while gender preference is celebrated?

      August 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  8. jimzcarz

    This dude piloted the weinermobile..You just can't make this stuff up.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  9. Angelique

    "Ayn Rand taught me my values systems and my beliefs." -Paul Ryan

    "Faith in God is a sign of moral weakness." -Ayn Rand

    This is going to be fun.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Russ

      as an evangelical Christian, I am dumbfounded how many who claim to follow Christ see no connection between Ayn Rand's political philosophies and her personal convictions ("The Virtue of Selfishness"). This outs our deep hypocrisy.

      Do we believe Jesus (the One who gave himself for us at his own expense & calls his followers to do the same) and Ayn Rand (preserve Yourself at the expense of others) – two anti.thetical positions – can be held together?

      This is the dog wagging the tail. What matters more: your politics or your faith?
      For people who claim the latter, this is a litmus test we are absolutely failing.
      Atheists, we deserve the mockery you are giving us here.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  10. Dashawn

    Intolerance toward religion discriminates against BILLIONS worldwide. Many religions, from Christianity to Muslim, have beliefs where their scripture involves supernatural aspects that predictably irritate Athiests , as if Athiests are genuinely frightened that oh...so many people out there believe in snakes and 6k year old Earth and, oh... They tremble over nothing because that's what they choose to worship.vgood luck in this lifetime, good luck in trying to convince yourself you can convert billions of Hindus, Christians, Muslims etc. into NOT believing in the higher power(s) they believe. Sounds real productive.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Billy

      There is a difference between thinking someone is foolish and having no faith in their ability to make a proper decision, and acting against those doubts. Just because I think you are a crackpot, I will protect your right to be one. That's not discrimination.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • jeffision

      Weak people who need a Big Daddy in the sky in order to behave wouldn't bother me at all if they kept that insanity private, but they feel compelled to make everyone else believe in their hallucination in order to eliminate the reality that what they believe is crazy.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      Atheism is hinduism, pagan ism, way of hindu Jew's, filthy self centered, secular s, other half of hindu, pagan Christianity

      August 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      It's not discrimination Dashawn. And atheists are not frightened by religion. They just don't want it to get our of hand, much in the same way that one control's their pet to keep it from going p00py outside the box. The billions that you speak of are really like sheep, or better, like lemmings, so it is up to people who mostly rely on common sense and wisdom to keep weak-minded people from dragging everyone else in a direction that is beneficial to none.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  11. frank

    just another bull thrower

    August 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  12. jeffision

    Religion is a concretely insular psychosis that is fearfully well-defended against rationality.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  13. Independent, in Texas

    Well that does it.......reading all the anti-God stuff here has done it. I will be voting Republican agin for the first time in 3 elections.......all you athiest like "colin" have just burnt me out off the democrat party.......if Obama loses this election he will have you atheist to thank for it.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Colin

      What makes you think I am a Democrat? I am against many Democratic policies.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "atheistS", and you're not fooling anyone. You had no intention of voting for Obama and if you think your little temper tantrum is going to scare atheists away from stating their views, you're off your gourd.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      Way of hindu, tailor trash and hindu gentile filthy slave of hindu liar Baptist poster, every state has share of their hindu's, ignorant and you are one of them.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Billy

      Texas, you are a republican, that is fine, don't worry about it. But don't think that the people won't stop laughing at you for being religious. Obama is just as much of a nut as the rest of them. Have fun with that.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • bardowl

      The whole point of America is that everyone can believe, or not believe, whatever they want. I'm an atheist, but I would never think another American is stupid just because of what they believe. It's their right as an American to believe what they want, and I would hope that they would give me the same respect. However, one of the biggest foundations in this country is the separation of church and state; the government has no right to do anything supporting or oppressing a certain religion. Just as it would be wrong for the government to outlaw going to church, it's wrong for them to outlaw birth control. Religious women are by no means being forced to buy birth control or have abortions, just as atheists aren't forced to go to church.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  14. Just call me Lucifer

    I know this guy... he's one of mine.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  15. John the Historian

    Well Willard will surely lose this election.With flip flopper Romney and cuts cuts cuts Ryan how can Obama lose. I wonder if Wiilard after the election will go to kolob and ryan will go to purgatory. Just a thought.

    August 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  16. Dashawn

    Yes America is headed toward ruin, and one big reason, as evident in this commentary, is the lack of tolerance toward religion. Athiests are free believe in their nothing, but they don't seem to value others' freedoms in their own beliefs. Who cares WHAT religion Mr. Ryan is. Everybody has a right to stand for something,cand if you don't like what someone stands for, then you don't have to associate with them. You don't have to vote for his ticket!! But the attacks just display the true fear many on our left have. I'm not a fan of either ticket, but what's obvious to me is that we've seen 4 years of an ABYSMAL presidency. And while I may not share the same religion as the presidential candidate OR his running mate, I'm voting on whose policies I feel will put us on the right track again. If people feel Romney / Ryan are not fit to put us in that direction, tell us how so. Otherwise, I'll continue to be amused and also sickened by the fear-derived comments that serve to bash a man's wealth, tax returns, religion, etc., all smokescreens designed to divert attention from the Obama record. Accountability means nothing anymore. And disagreeing with someone means attacking with lies, instead of with solutions to our main problems: government spending, the economy, and the economy. Also, the economy. This former moderate liberal, now-independent may have to go right.

    August 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Steve the Zombie

      You guys call athiests idiots, we call religious people idiots. It's all fair game. We didn't start it, but we plan on keeping it up. Go look through a telescope. Saturn and Mars are close in the sky it's cool.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Colin

      "Dashawn said: "Yes America is headed toward ruin, and one big reason, as evident in this commentary, is the lack of tolerance toward religion."

      The opposite is true. We have to stop mollycoddling ridiculous superst.itions under the guise of them being "deeply held" or "cherished" beliefs. If you believe that the World is less than 6,000 years old and began witha man a woman and a possessed snake, you are an idiot. A breathtakingly moronic idiot, whehter you call this view your "religion" or your view of history or your view of biology.

      It is time to stop pandering to the super-stupid who dress up their ignorance as "religion".

      August 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Dashawn

      Steve the Zombie, and Colin: thanks for helping me illustrate my point!

      August 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • WiVoter

      Totally agree with you. Excellent comment.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Science

      @Dashawn

      You want straight up facts? Cool ok. Abysmal precedency huh? Does that mean that since Obama has been in office the Economy has risen 74%, he's killed Osama bin Laden, he created a piece of health care that, although imperfect, has started this country on the path of universal healthcare and all the while dealing with the worst congress in American history that has made it its mission to block Obama and democrats at every turn instead of actually creating legislation that will help this country. Oh, not to mention, Obama had the cajones to actually say that he's in favor of giving all americans the right to marry instead of excluding a portion of the population.

      Meanwhile we have Mitt Romney who has been spending the better part of his campaign trying to show people how unlike Obama he is and failing. His new running mate also has a record of having the balls to create a budget plan when no one else would, but the plan was so untenable that it actually spurred both sides of the aisle to stop it because cutting taxes in no way trims the deficit.

      On politics alone, Obama not only is the clear winner, AND his presidency has been anything but abysmal. I won't say he's been the best president ever, because he hasn't. He hasn't closed guantanamo, we're still in Afghanistan and he's acquiesced to the republican controlled house more times than I care to admit. So far, he's only been OK, but if given a second term, without the thought of his reelection prospects, I think he could do marvels for this country.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Colin & co: take it from Nietzsche...

      “Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as science ‘without any presuppositions’; this thought does not bear thinking through, it is paralogical: a philosophy, a ‘faith,’ must always be there first of all, so that science can acquire from it that direction, a meaning, a limit, a method, a right to exist. … The truthful man, in the audacious and ultimate sense presupposed by the faith in science, thereby affirms another world than that of life, nature, and history; and insofar as he affirms this ‘other world,’ does this not mean that he has to deny its anti.thesis, this world, our world? … It is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, the Gay Science)

      Nietzsche's point: science is not a substi.tute for faith. putting your faith in science is not science, but religion.
      it's the pot calling the kettle black. and it's utterly flawed philosophically.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • WiVoter

      Just for the record I was agreeing with Dashawn and not you other yahoo's. Zombie. If that doesn't say everything. And Colin you are just proving how intolerant you are. It is not up to us to impose our beliefs on anyone, it is up to us to respect that it is okay for someone else to have their own opinions and beliefs. I'm so sick of people telling me what I can and cannot believe or practice. Universal law is to respect the oneness in everyone even your enemies and treat them as your brother. I'm sick of people telling me I believe everything I read or that I wear a tin hat. Why do so many people get outraged if someone doesn't believe in what they do? Who's to say who is right and who is wrong? If a person can just separate themselves from their ego's. It really doesn't matter what someone else believes in.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Science

      Russ

      You read it wrong, or rather you sort of read it right but you have misunderstood it. Sure, to a degree we all put "faith" in science. We have "faith" that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. We have faith our computers will keep working and stay connected to the internet. We have "faith" that the flu vaccines we've created will help us fight the flu. This faith in science is our trust that it's right, but it's not blind faith. It's demonstrable faith by the mere fact that our computers do work, that people have been saved from the flu and that the sun has been rising in the East since the beginning of the earth. Any of these things could change however and that faith in science also allows us to adapt, to change. Equating this faith with the "faith" in religion, which has a different definition when applied to christianity, has been the theists way or trying to bring the atheist down to their level. Also using famed atheists has been a slimy tactic of theirs as well.

      I'm just going to tell you what my dad always says to me. Never argue with an idiot, he'll bring you down to his level and win from experience.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Science: that's the reason I gave you Nietzsche. Read the entire essay. It's his point exactly.

      He does not believe in God. He's the prototypical atheist. But he is unyielding here. And he does call it 'faith' – purposefully & with full criticism. He's offering a philosophically more logical way for the atheist... and one that outs what has become a cheap, commercialized nihilism.

      Nietzsche himself admits how hard this path is (even he admitted even he failed his own test: eternal recurrence) – and notes that most atheists lack the acu.men or honesty to embrace it. But oh yes, he clearly is criticizing what many on this blog think is atheism but is really 'faith.' Again, don't take my word for it... Nietzsche takes the train all the way to its logical destination – and most aren't willing to go all the way to the track's end.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Science

      @Russ

      Did you even read what I just wrote? No one here on this blog rejects the idea of "faith" whether they're atheists or theists. Atheists reject blind faith in stories that have less chance of being true than Bigfoot. That's the main difference here. Trying to equate my faith in science as the same thing as your faith in god is not only dishonest, it's just plain stupid. Understand that the philosophical idea of "believing" in science might be rooted in philosophy but produces actual, tangible and verifiable results. Your belief in god however stays strictly within philosophy.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Science: as I said, you're not taking Nietzsche at his intent. He's criticizing YOUR position in the same way that you criticize mine. He is lambasting so-called atheists who don't realize science requires a set of presuppositions – which are, by definition, NOT logical deductions, but *pre*-supposed. as such, they are every bit as categorically 'faith' as any other religion.

      again, are you willing to hear Nietzsche on this? He regards you & me as the same – faith-based believers. If that irritates you, then maybe you're beginning to hear him. but that is precisely his point.

      August 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • ME II

      Not sure, but it seems to me the Nietzsche quote was talking about faith as in presuppositions of science like, "this universe is real", which in the philosophical sense might be considered a "faith". Although, I would argue that it is inductively true, if not deductively.
      As opposed to what is being mentioned, that one has faith in science Science either works or it doesn't t, there is no faith. Or as someone said, "Science wins because it works."

      August 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Science

      @Russ

      First, let me say that disagreeing with Nietzsche isn't a cardinal sin, I'm free to agree and disagree with whomever I wish and although Neitzsche and I share the same label as "atheist" he's too nihilistic for me. In this specific instance I do actually agree that it takes "faith" to believe in science like @ME II has pointed out. I have faith the universe exists. Take a look at the prior sentence and you can deconstruct it philosophically like Neitzsche has done. That's the value of philosophy and higher intelligence. In a more pragmatic and real world implication however, I know the universe exists from inductive and deductive reasoning and by having the brain power to recognize my surroundings and give it a name. That "faith" when applied to the real world and actually tested is entirely different from yours and although we might be two sides of the same coin, we are very different and we don't "share faith" any more than we share the same views on most things. I don't believe there is a god, you do believe there is a god. There we both have "belief" but since mine is founded on rational thinking after reading about your faith and the faiths of others, testing your faith and finding it wanting, my "belief" is different. See the difference friend?

      August 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Leeroy

      @ Science, if you went into most 3rd world countries and told them you don't believe in a God, you would be useless to them. You say you want to help others. But your beliefs would limit you severely. Just saying. Some suggest too much intelligence, used incorrectly, can be a weakness as well. ;)

      August 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Science: I appreciate your candor. Obviously, when push comes to shove, I certainly disagree with Nietzsche – but I do still respect him & his logic. And that is largely because he is the most honest atheist philosopher I have read. I think once you get on the train (presupposing there is no God, or "direction" with which to read science, as he puts it), there are certain unavoidable, logical conclusions. As best I can tell, Nietzsche follows them all the way down. And that's where I think he accurately criticizes your position – and most of the atheists I see on this blog.

      NOTE: yes, we are different – but it is not in the way you are asserting. I love science. I think it's a wonderful human (limited & flawed), subjective (philosophically speaking) discipline based upon observation. It's a tool – a wonderfully effective one, but a tool nonetheless. But we are talking about the brain, not the tool. As such, this is not a science versus religion debate. What atheists often trumpet as science is actually their faith.

      Science merely observes the data & collects it. The issue is how one reads the data (hence, Nietzsche's "direction") – which is *always* based upon one's presuppositions, thereby giving the data a trajectory. Those presuppositions (again, not deductions, but PRE-supposed, circular points of departure) entirely transform the conclusion one draws with the data. (For example, the unending debate over intelligent design... but I digress)

      Religious folks (which, notably, *many* prominent scientists and scholars are) do not believe science contradicts their faith. And largely that is because science (as a discipline & by definition) does not & cannot address the central metaphysical question (why?). it only addresses the "how?". As soon as something labeled "science" attempts to address metaphysics, what is actually happening IS metaphysics. It is no longer merely data, but data read thru a particular grid (thru *another*, competing metaphysical grid). now, that is a worthwhile discussion, but that is one faith versus another – not faith versus science.

      so, in sum: yes, we have different metaphysical grids (presuppositions), but that is faith, not science. and to claim otherwise fails to understand the limitations of science – hence the term "scientism." so, yes, we are different – but that's because you have your faith & I have mine. we both enjoy & employ science through our differing grids.

      however, secondly, as a Christian who does not think faith is merely a sacrifice of the intellect and thus knowingly inviting your criticism, let me be clear: i do believe my faith to be historically grounded, archeologically demonstrated, and logically sound. i also have read many religious texts, and still believe Jesus Christ always was, is and continues to be God.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Science

      @Leeroy

      I've been to many different third world countries and my non faith has in no way hindered my ability to help them or for them to receive help from me.

      @Russ

      Ahhh..... I see your point and at moments I can agree with you. Science is a collection of data however logic is the tool in which we discern and wade through that data and make conclusions based strictly off of the set of data provided. It does not answer the question "why" because in science, the "why" is not important, that's a philosophers job. I agree and have never really stated otherwise that it is possible to be both a believer and scientist or to simply agree with science. It involves some double think on your end and some twisting of stories into allegories, but it's possible. I have greater respect for any theist who is at least able to see inherent contradictions in their beliefs vs. what we have found. That's not to say I have to respect your beliefs because I find them foolish, but at least it takes a bigger person to know that some of their beliefs are silly.

      Furthermore, to keep asserting that our two faiths can be equated is again, simply foolish. To say, " I have my faith and you have yours" is to make it seem like we both believe in some sort of voodoo when in truth they're on two different levels. The only thing they share is the word "faith" when it becomes loosely defined and that's about it.

      Russ, I understand that you believe all the things you said in the last paragraph are true in at certain points they are. Did the Roman Empire exist? Yes, did Jesus Christ exist – most likely a man named Joshua Bar Joseph probably walked this earth and wanted to reform Judaism in the face of religious upheaval. However, to say that it's grounded in logic is absurd. Can you really tell me with a straight face that jesus did all the things he's purported to have done (walk on water, water in to wine, etc...). Can you really tell me that Noah gathered every piece of flora and fauna, but it on an Ark for over 100 days and then was able to repopulate the earth with all those creatures? Do you really believe that the earth was created before the Sun and the Moon, that plants and light somehow existed before the sun existed?

      Finding historical artifacts in archeological digs and being able to trace certain parts of the bible to real places and events in no way reaffirms the bible to be completely true the same way the the DaVinci Code is still a work of fiction even if it takes place in Paris and highlights a bunch of real places and paintings. You can go on believing what you want to believe, but to call the bible "logical" is nonsense.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Science: good questions. your incisive questions actually honor what i believe. thanks for asking.

      the short answer: i never said Christianity wasn't at some level ridiculous. the central idea of the resurrection of the dead is ridiculous at the outset – but no more ridiculous than the mathematical probability that we should exist at all. and on both counts, i find historical & existential reality to demonstratively point to the truth of both.

      in other words, yes, I believe the Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. i believe the historical accounts of the firsthand witnesses. and – in comparison with the resurrection of Jesus – any and all of the other miraculous objections would be straining a gnat while swallowing a camel.

      but to give categories (instead of writing an essay): i do believe the Bible is God's Word (the means He chose to convey who he is, and so I attempt to submit to it *as a whole* rather than pick & choose what I like). i believe what it says – but i'm not a literal 6-day, young earth advocate. while i'm open to that possibility, i find the framework hypothesis much more compelling (not to mention literarily faithful to the genre of Gen.1-2) – in which case, the age of the earth is an open discussion. also, i don't think the flood HAD to be worldwide. it might have been, but the Hebrew word for land there does not necessarily entail the entire planet.

      again, all that is secondary to this: if there is a God (which is our main discussion here), every one of those miraculous events (including creation & existence itself) are completely logical out-flowings of that central reality & truth. if not, then yes, I'm an idiot – or at least living as one (1 Cor.15:19).

      a few writings worth perusing on these topics:
      CS Lewis, "Fern Seeds & Elephants"
      Richard Bauckham, "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses"
      NT Wright, "The Resurrection of Jesus" (a debate w/ liberal scholar John Dominic Crossan)

      August 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  17. Colin

    A few questions should help highlight why some might be inclined to question Catholicism

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the religion of:

    (a) The ancient Celts;

    (b) Bronze Age Egyptians;

    (c) Pre-Colombian Aztecs; or

    (d) Modern Catholics

    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are:

    (a) a reptile handler who has severe mental issues;

    (b) a five year old boy who just read a fairytale;

    (c) a scientific fraud; or

    (d) a Catholic

    I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" like protect myself from disease with a condom. I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Catholic

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A gifted psychologist

    (b) A well respected geneticist

    (c) A highly educated sociologist

    (d) A Catholic with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Catholic

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    I am sorry, but no matter how you dress it up, Cathloics believe a pile of childish nonsense. This cr.ap is not "deep" or "cherished", nor am I misquoting anything. I am calling a spade a spade. When you strip away the nomenclature and call it for what it is, Catholicism is nothing more than Dark Ages supersti.tions piled on top of Bronze Age Jewish mythology about talking snakes and splitting seas. Only an idiot could believe this garbage.

    August 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • zorroprimo

      Exactly. Catholicism is every bit as loony as Scientology.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Severinus

      Catholics do not believe the world was created 10,000 years ago, that's Protestant literalist BS. The Catholic view is much more nuanced and does not dispute evolution. It allows for allegorical interpretation of the Bible (see St. Augustine's Confessions for a beautiful allegorical interpretation of Genesis) and states merely that Adam and Eve were the first humans and our immortal souls (not our bodies) are created in God's image. I'm not saying I go along with that now, but being raised Catholic I do not even recognize what the church has become.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Colin

      Severinus. First, the catholic church ABSOLUTELY believed this and had it as part of their official catechism until Darwin and subsequent advances in geology and biology proved it wrong. Only then did it change. Belief in original sin still underwrites a large part of Catholic theology. Augustine never doubted the literal truth of Genesis.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Severinus

      I don't know where you get that from Colin. The Catechism never, ever, said that. Augustine in the 4th century didn't even think that. The absolutist, literal interpretation of the Bible is entirely a Protestant invention, as is the 10,000 year nonsense. I can't find the exact reference, but it was a Protestant in the 18th or 19th century that came up with that by counting generations in the Old Testament.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  18. Severinus

    "A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life" – you know, except for gay people's lives, and except for criminal's lives, even ones who are mentally disabled. A faithful Catholic would also oppose the death penalty, but we don't hear that from Ryan. He's Catholic because it suits him politically, faith has nothing to do with it.

    August 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • zeyn2010

      Only politics – correct. He said his views on belief was shaped by Any Rand (objectivism) and changed his beliefs in 2012!

      August 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  19. slippery

    The Pope in Rome and the dead Joseph Smith will make a BIG contribution to our religious freedom (pun intended)

    August 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • ME II

      What pun?

      August 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • gee

      Your are too charitable with 'pun'. More like reality. Clamp on religious freedom in the bedroom and on the street.

      August 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  20. zeyn2010

    Wikipedia says he shared Ayn Rand's views on beliefs & religion, which is pretty much objectivism, and only changed this view in 2012! I guess one sells their soul to be a politician. At least he is a freethinker within......

    August 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • ME II

      Unless they've locked it down some, the wikipedia page is probably changing by the minute because of edits.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.