Enter Joe Biden, Stage Left

Joe Biden, a Democrat who happens to be a Catholic, is now officially running for President of the United States.  And he’s doing so in an effort to save what he calls the “soul” of America.

His assumption seems to be that there are two (more or less Platonic) Ideas of America currently struggling for dominance, the true Idea and the false Idea.  I suppose he sees himself and his views as symbolizing the true America, while he sees Donald Trump and his views as symbolizing the false America.

If Biden is to be the Democratic candidate, he will, of course, have to embrace and endorse the beliefs and values that currently prevail in the Democratic Party, and these beliefs and values include the following:

1. Abortion is a fundamental human right.

2. Homosexual behavior is a fine thing for people who are born that way; and anybody who disagrees is a homophobic bigot.

3. Same-sex marriage is a fundamental human right.

4. The U.S. Constitution, thanks to the theory of substantive due process, protects all human rights; and it’s up to any five members of the U.S. Supreme Court to decide what is, or what is not, a human right.

5. Non-liberal whites are almost always racists.

6. It is a great duty of the U.S. government to protect those among us who are most oppressed; namely, blacks, other persons of color, women, undocumented migrants, Muslims, homosexuals, transgender persons, and criminals (including drug dealers) who have committed no violent crimes.

7. When the rights of churches or religious individuals collide with the rights of the above-listed victim groups, the former must give way to the latter.

8. When the rights of parents collide with the rights of their transgender children, the former must give way to the latter.

9. Almost all our social ills can be cured, or at least significantly mitigated, by actions of the federal government.

Lest anybody think that the above is an invidious description of the Democratic belief system given by a person who is a lifelong Democrat-hater, let me assure the reader that I once possessed very strong Democratic credentials.  I think I first thought of myself as a Democrat on that day when I was about eight-years-old and my father explained to me, “The Republicans are the party of rich people.  The Democrats are the party of poor people, like us.”

Later in life I became a politician in my home state of Rhode Island.  I served twelve years (1981-93) as a Democrat in the R.I. Senate, two of those as majority leader.  In 1992, I was the (losing) Democratic candidate in my district for the U.S. House of Representatives.

By that date, it was clear that my party had become a pro-abortion party.  Yet I, a pro-life Democrat, still hoped that the party’s anti-Christian momentum could be reversed.  That, as it turned out, was quite foolish.

[Photo/Michael Dwyer, AP]
Increasingly, cultural enemies of Christianity have gained ideological dominance in the party.  From abortion they moved on to homosexuality and same-sex marriage; more recently they have advanced to transgenderism; and, in the future, they will almost certainly move on to assisted suicide: first to voluntary euthanasia, later to involuntary.

It is with regret that I say it, but my old and dearly loved party has become a party of atheistic anti-Christianity.  This is Biden’s party, and if he doesn’t embrace its values he won’t get its nomination.

Some people may object to what I’ve said. They may point out that today’s Democratic Party still contains many Christians and is far from being a party made up solely of atheists.  True . . . and beside the point.

Many persons who identify as both Christians and Democrats are simple souls who imagine that their party, because it has the same name it had in the good old days of FDR and JFK, is the same party it has always been. They don’t understand, or they won’t allow themselves to understand, how radically their party has changed.

But those people are followers, not leaders. The ideological leadership of the party is in the hands of persons who may be called Secular Progressives.  These people are atheists and near-atheists. By “near-atheists” I mean agnostics, religiously indifferent people, and liberal Protestants (in contrast to Evangelical Protestants).

If liberal Protestants are Christians, it is in a Pickwickian sense of that word only.  For more than a century now, liberal Protestantism, in an attempt to “save” Christianity for persons with a modern mentality, has been shedding one element after another of Christian belief.

Having shed almost all Nicene doctrines, they have more recently, under the impact of the sexual revolution, dropped all traditional Christian sexual morality plus the ancient Christian taboo against abortion.  Nowadays liberal Protestantism, while not quite full-fledged atheism, is far closer to atheism than it is to traditional Christianity.

Liberal Catholicism, while drifting in the same direction, got its start later than liberal Protestantism, and so has not yet traveled quite so far down the road to atheism as has its elder brother.  Its main project at the moment is to persuade the Church to remove its age-old condemnation of homosexuality.  To all appearances, it has had considerable success with this project, not just among tolerant laypersons, but even among many priests and some bishops.

When Joe Biden tries to exploit the “fact” that he’s a Catholic, it will be interesting to see how many Catholic bishops will denounce his spurious appropriation of the faith.  If the denunciation is nearly universal, it will be a sign that the Church in America is recovering its health.  If not, it will be sign that we are still sliding downhill.

As for myself, I’m not optimistic.

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, and most recently Atheistic Humanism, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Church.