It has recently come to my attention, thanks to one of the regular readers of http://www.datinggod.org, that a very good post can be read on Faith in Public Life blog titled, “Catholic Lie of the Year.” The premise for this reflection follows the annual politifact.com (a Pulitzer-Prize winning news source) awarding of the “Lie of the Year” to the myth perpetuated by some politicos that healthcare reform was an ostensible “government takeover” of healthcare. Busted.
As those who have been familiar with the content and scope of the reform legislation have known all along, such lies perpetuated by those wishing to curb the reforms are nothing more than a ruse. Unfortunately, there are far too many sheep led astray by such egregious untruths. And when this many people repeat and repeat an untruth, it begins to take on the aura of validity (remember WMDs?).
In response to such flagrant disrespect for the truth, the Faith in Public Life blog had this to say in choosing the “Catholic Lie of the Year.”
I’m picking the laughable effort that Deal Hudson, the CatholicVote.org crowd and other conservative Catholics made to brand Tea Party ideology as all nice and cozy with Catholic social teaching. This effort was so transparently partisan and willfully ignorant of centuries of Catholic social teaching that it runs away with the award like Cam Newton and the Heisman.
It is indeed laughable that those that bear the self-ascription of the “Tea Party” (and indeed such descriptors can only be self-ascribed because there is no “Tea Party” authority or unified organization of which to speak) should claim their disparate ideological aims as in line with Catholic Social Teaching (CST).
The most common distortion of CST, and coincidentally the most misunderstood of the seven principles of CST, is that of the principle of subsidiarity. The Faith in Public Life blog explains:
The idea that the Catholic principle of “subsidiarity” fits lockstep with anti-government rhetoric, free-market fundamentalism and lower taxes for millionaires and billionaires is a stunning distortion of papal encyclicals and Catholic social teaching through the ages. The always insightful Vox Nova blog says it well.
“Fundamentally, subsidiarity is all about letting human dignity flourish by creating the space for social relations to take place at the most personal level. It is meaningless when stripped away from solidarity. It has nothing to do with low taxes, minimal regulation, or low spending. In the economic sphere, solidarity calls for government intervention in certain core areas (such as determining working conditions and support for the unemployed), while subsidiarity calls for the government to create favorable conditions for the common good to flourish. That, by the way, means correcting the problems that come with the free market. This was patently clear to Pius XI, the intellectual architect of subsidiarity, when he railed against the injustice created by unregulated large corporations, especially in the financial sector. Properly understood, subsidiarity provides a bulwark against both the centralizing tendencies of socialist collectivism, and the decentralizing tendencies of the free market.”
The work of the Faith in Public Life blog and the bloggers at Vox Nova, among others, is well done. The manipulation, misrepresentation and even villainization of CST by certain seeming “conservative” groups, pundits and network hosts (am I the only one who finds it odd that Tea Party icon Glenn Beck has demonized CST, while other Tea Party constituents have been propagating the myth of Tea Party ideology and CST symbiosis) has really confused the public and disheartened theologians.
It seems to me that this instance, whether intentionally or by happenstance, is yet another example of how certain political entities, organizations and demagogues misappropriate theological and scriptural themes, terms and concepts to use in ways antithetical to their true meaning.
When it comes to the so-called Tea Party and Catholic Social Teaching, one should be very aware of what is and what is not legitimate. Don’t fall for the ruse.