A Prayer for Bart Brewer
A report that local anti-Catholic gadfly Bart Brewer was spotted back East brought to mind for us a scene from Fiddler on the Roof: One of the Russian Jewish townspeople asks the local holy man, “Rabbi, is there a prayer for the czar?” The rabbi lifts a venerable hand and says, “God bless the czar and keep him—as far from us as possible.”
Brewer was in Greenville, South Carolina, in February to take part in a four-day Fundamentalist conference called “To Open Their Eyes” aimed at “bringing salvation” to area Catholics. Brewer and several other ex-Catholics headed up the show.
If Catholics “follow what the Church teaches, they cannot be saved,” keynote speaker Mark Minnick told an audience of an estimated eight hundred to one thousand people.
“The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ completed everything necessary for man’s salvation, that he did it all, that he paid the whole penalty for our sins,” said Minnick, who is pastor of the local Mount Calvary Baptist church and a professor at Bob Jones University. “Roman Catholicism teaches that people all their lives have to contribute through their observance of the sacraments, through their works of charity. This is what Mother Teresa was trying to do. She was trying to be good enough to merit entrance into heaven.”
Fortunately, there’s no need for any outside counter-resistance help in Greenville—the local Catholics are doing just fine, thank you. Told by a reporter from the Greenville News of Minnick’s statements, Fr. Jay Scott Newman, pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, said the Baptist pastor “has fundamentally misunderstood the Catholic teaching on the difference between justification and sanctification. The first moment of the Christian life is justification, the work of grace alone, the free and unmerited gift of God to the sinner. But this must be followed by sanctification, that is, objective growth and holiness.”
Attendee Steve Miller, a member of Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in nearby Spartanburg, said, “We [Catholics] are saved only by God’s grace and his sacrifice on the cross, just as our Baptist brethren believe.” He pointed to Jesus’ two great commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. “How do you tangibly love your neighbor?” asked Miller. “Do you just sit and think about him, or do you give somebody a meal when they need it?”
Organizers said they were trying to equip their congregations for evangelizing the growing number of Catholics moving into Greenville.
After the Rapture, the Harvest
Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling Rapture potboiler Left Behind series, has, according to World magazine, signed a new four-book deal worth $45 million. The contract puts him in the ranks of secular best-selling novelists Tom Clancy and John Grisham. The new series, which he is writing on his own, tells the story of a Christian archeologist-professor who reportedly will bear a passing resemblance to Indiana Jones.
LaHaye is breaking ties with Tyndale, the Christian publisher he has worked with for years. His new deal is with Bantam Dell, a division of Random House. The World report speculates the move may put LaHaye’s new series in a more strategic position to be turned into Hollywood movies. The Left Behind movie, filmed and distributed by Cloud Ten Pictures, a Christian production company, was an artistic and financial bust.
Devil in the Digital Domain
In the wake of our reporting the alleged anti-Catholic bias of the Yahoo! Internet search engine (“The Apologist’s Eye,” January 2002), reader Reuben Thonerfelt alerted us to the fact that a web search at Yahoo! using the key words “this rock” and “magazine” yields a single entry: a link to http://www.aomin.org/In_sententius.html. It’s a web page from Alpha and Omega Ministries containing a rebuttal by anti-Catholic James White of a 1991 This Rock article by Patrick Madrid.
Hitler Was No Altar Boy
Hand in hand with the recent historical lie that Pope Pius XII was a Nazi sympathizer, the equally incredible fantasy that Adolf Hitler was a Catholic religious zealot has also gained acceptance. A few examples:
- National Review Online reports that the narration of a recent film about Hitler at the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum said, “Enter Adolf Hitler, Austrian born and baptized a Catholic. . . . ‘In defending myself against the Jews,’ he is quoted as saying, ‘I am acting for the Lord. The difference between the Church and me is that I am finishing the job.’” (The film was altered after protests by, among others, conservative Jewish writers.)
- Bill Clinton said at the 1999 National Prayer Breakfast, “I do believe that even though Adolf Hitler preached a perverted form of Christianity God did not want him to prevail.”
- In the same year, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd listed Hitler as yet another Christian zealot: “History teaches that when religion is injected into politics (the Crusades, Henry VIII, Salem, Father Coughlin, Hitler, Kosovo) disaster follows.”
Now students at Rutgers University School of Law at Camden, New Jersey, have posted papers on a web site (www.lawandreligion.com) detailing Hitler’s desire to eradicate Christianity. The documents are from the archives of General William J. Donovan and were originally prepared for the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.
The Rutgers site’s presentation is entitled “The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches,” and it notes a deep hatred of Christianity throughout the higher Nazi echelons. Hitler was indeed a baptized Catholic, but his rejection of the faith was profound. “It is through the peasantry that we shall really be able to destroy Christianity,” he said in 1933, “because there is in them a true religion rooted in nature and blood.”
The number of Christians, most of them Catholic, who died in the Nazi death camps—three million in Poland alone—is incontrovertible historical evidence that Hitler meant what he said.
Hey, Calls to Mother Angelica are Free
The state of Florida is trying to force psychic television pitchwoman Miss Cleo to prove she’s really the Jamaican shaman she has claimed to be before millions of viewers of her infomercials. Florida’s attorney general has subpoenaed Miss Cleo’s birth certificate and records that would show her relationship with Access Resource Services, a Fort Lauderdale–based company that profits from her sales pitches.
Miss Cleo’s true identity and history have been cloaked in secrecy since she emerged on the late-night infomercial scene last year. Millions of dollars are tied to the image of her as a Jamaican-born master psychic. Miss Cleo exhorts viewers to learn more about their love lives or to peer into the future by calling a toll-free number. The call starts free, but for those who want a reading, the cost is as high as $4.99 a minute.
Assistant attorney general David Aronberg said consumers have a right to know the truth about the “psychic,” including where she’s lived. “The whole concept of Miss Cleo is premised on her being a shaman from Jamaica,” Aronberg said. “If she’s from the Bronx instead, that would be a fraud.”
An investigator for the attorney general’s office identified Miss Cleo as Youree Harris, a 39-year-old woman living in west Broward County. The attorney for Miss Cleo/Harris, William J. Cone Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, would not acknowledge which of the aliases cited by the state was Miss Cleo’s true identity, but he allowed that one of them was correct.
Aronberg quoted an Access Resource Services collection letter signed by Miss Cleo that reads, “Taking responsibility for your actions is an important step in your spiritual journey.”
“I predict Miss Cleo’s spiritual journey will lead her to the courthouse,” he said.