Matthews Criticizes Catholic Church for Applying Doctrine to Politicians
Maybe this afternoon's oppressive heat and humidity on the Hardball Plaza in DC were getting to Chris Matthews. I'm not sure how else to explain his complaint, to the effect that it is wrong of the Roman Catholic Church to apply its rules to politicians as it does to other adherents.
His remark came in the course of a debate on religion on this afternoon's edition of "Hardball" between Christopher Hitchens, author of the atheist polemic "God Is Not Great", and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Today you have the Roman Catholic church through its bishops challenging the rights of Catholic office-holders to take positions for abortion rights. They basically say you have to be for imprisonment of people involved with abortion or else you're not a Catholic and you'll be excommunicated. It seems to be an era, not just because of Islam, to keep religion out of politics . . . Why are they foisting themselves, why are the religious leaders jumping into the political marketplace and saying to politically-elected people, who are duly elected, "you cannot take that position and be in our church, or we will excommunicate you"? That seems to be what's going on.
View video here.
I have never heard a Catholic official say that a member of the Church who opposes established doctrine does not have a have right to run for or serve in office. But surely the Church has a right, one might argue a duty, to enforce its doctrine on politicians just as on any other member. Should the Church say that a pro-abortion rights politician is a member in good standing when, pursuant to Church doctrine, he apparently is not? Does Matthews expect an exemption for politicians? Would Matthews object if the NAACP expelled someone who, say, espoused a belief in white supremacy? What's the difference?
BONUS COVERAGE -- Hitchens'-shots-at-Sharpton. Hitchens took two of the most pointed jabs I have seen someone aim at Al Sharpton in the course of a debate. First, after Sharpton claimed that it was not a religious vision "but a personal hallucination" of Pres. Bush and Hitchens that led us into the war in Iraq, Hitchens shot back:
"Well, I've lived to see the Rev. Sharpton denounce rhetorical maneuvering, so that should be enough for me this evening."
But the polemicist par excellence was just clearing his throat. A bit later he said:
"You're the guy who proves you can get away with anything in this country if the word 'Reverend' is in front of your name."
View video here.
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