Social Justice Poison

Joel Kotkin at Tablet demonstrates how an emphasis upon the bilge going by the name of Social Justice, and what an Orwellian phrase that truly is, is poison for any religion stupid enough to embrace it:



In this difficult environment, many religious movements—Reform Judaism, mainstream Protestantism, and increasingly the Catholic Church under Pope Francis—have sought to redefine themselves largely as instruments of social justice. Although doing good deeds, or mitzvot, long has constituted a strong element in most religions, the primary motivation of the faith community traditionally focused on heritage, spirituality, and family. In their haste to be politically correct, even Catholic private schools such as Notre Dame are rushing to cover up murals of Columbus, and, in one California case, a private Catholic grammar school has gone as far as hiding statues of saints.

Yet rebranding themselves as progressive often brings religious activists into alliances with people who reject their core values. The Catholic left, for example, allying itself with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, implicitly embraces the advocates of the most extreme abortion liberalization. Sometimes, these linkages are ironic: Faith in Public Life, for example, a strident “religious” group advocating a progressive anti-Trump line, gets much of its funding from George Soros, arguably the world’s most well-heeled and active promoter of atheism.

For their part, progressive Jews, embracing the notion of tikkun olam, face a similar dilemma. In their rush to oppose President Trump, with his occasional despicable winks at alt-right groups, many Jewish activists have collaborated with the organizers of the Women’s March, including enthusiastic backers of the most influential anti-Semite of our time, Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan.

Deep blue cities and the progressive feeding lots of the academy—strongholds of progressivism—are precisely where support for such anti-Jewish measures as the BDS movement is strongest. Anti-Semitism is particularly rife not in conservative Southern schools but in progressive places like San Francisco State; in that city, the ultimate progressive stronghold, a leftist gay Jewish café owner recently has been subject to repeated protests for being a “Zionist gentrifier.”

This alliance with anti-Semites and those opposing the existence of the state of Israel pushes the limits of cognitive dissonance. Jews in the U.K. are confronted with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who defends not only anti-Zionist but also traditional anti-Semitic tropes. Recently progressive heartthrob Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, herself an adopter of anti-Israel memes about Gaza and other occupied areas, gushed over her recent “lovely and wide-reaching” conversation with Corbyn, the West’s most politically prominent Judeophobe.

Indeed, despite the impression left by some progressive Jews, the largest threat to Jews in America stems not from the isolated and pathetically small lunatic fringe of white supremacists. The most anti-Israel members of Congress, as well as on the local level, come primarily not from the right wing of the GOP but the burgeoning left wing of the Democratic Party. Democratic voters—as well as key constituencies like minorities and millennials—poll consistently less sympathetic to both Jews and Israel than older, generally white Republicans.

Is there a way back from this sorry state of affairs?

However satisfying to its practitioners, the emphasis on social justice is clearly not attracting more worshippers. Almost all the religious institutions most committed to this course are also in the most serious decline, most notably mainstream Protestants but also, Catholics and Reform and Conservative Jews. The rapidly declining Church of England, which is down to 2 percent share among British youth, is burnishing its progressive image by adding the use of plastics to its list of Lenten sacrifices, but seems unable to serve the basic spiritual and family needs of their congregants.

In contrast, more conservative faith organizations generally enjoy better growth, and higher birthrates, particularly in the developing world . The University of London’s Eric Kaufmann explains in his important book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? that if current trends continue, the more fundamentalist family-centered faiths seem most likely to survive. Already, for example, Orthodox Jews, historically a small subgroup, are projected to become the majority of the Hebraic community in Britain by 2100, and already constitute some three-fifths of Jewish children in New York.

Go here to read the rest.  For Catholics charity is at the core of our Faith, with the command of Christ to love God and love our neighbor.  What is now called Social Justice, basically repackaged Leftist politics, has nothing to do with true charity, which is the individual responsibility of each Catholic.  Working as a volunteer in a soup kitchen is charity.  Voting for a larger welfare state is Leftist politics.  Helping an illegal alien family lacking basic food is charity.  Voting to have our immigration laws ignored is Leftist politics.  A sign of a religion on its way to extinction is when it becomes indistinguishable from a political movement.  CS Lewis, who saw all this coming, put it well in his Screwtape Letters:


The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner.

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  1. Yeah I hear you…

    My 3 daughters attend an Opus Dei school in Sydney, the same school I attended as a child. This afternoon somebody posted a petition on our Class grade WattsApp group to sign for Cardinal Pell. 5 mothers commented they signed it (including myself) and one of the class parents signed and commented also. 2 parents left the group in protest. One is a “non practicing” Muslim whose daughter attends the school and the other is a “catholic” who had previously pulled her older daughter out of the school because she thinks the school is “weird” and who knows- she is a cockatoo who jumps up at the slightest thing.
    Anyway sorry to bore you with the details but… Half an hour later that same class parent who acknowledged the petition and signed it was forced to send a message to all the parents that this WattsApp group was for “information” only and not to post “personal” items. I felt like rubbish after this and ashamed as I thought I was safe, amongst like-minded people, to express my thoughts. Now we have to be careful as not to “offend” these other parents. In fact in the 30 years of being at this “conservative”, Catholic, Opus Dei School this is the first time I have felt this low for being a Catholic.

    I guess what I’m saying is I long for the day you could speak your mind to other fellow Catholics and trust that you understand each other because you are united in your beliefs. Today I’m forced to shut my mouth of fear of this imaginary offence I may commit to other “Catholics” and I have to watch the “feelings” of others whilst many are treading on my convictions and beliefs as a Catholic.
    And this social justice rubbish is making it worse because the more this Pope screams “social justice”, the more unjust this world is becoming for Catholics. Go figure.

  2. I agree with Donald’s post and what Ezabelle wrote above. And frankly, I don’t give a hoot whom I offend. What foul refuse these three things are: (a) social justice, (b) the common good and (c) peace at any price!

    My parish priest quoted CCC 1817-1821 on hope (reproduced at the end of my spleen venting below) at a Wednesday night talk a few weeks back. Note that it says our hope is in our destination of Heaven, NOT in a man-made socialist paradise here on Earth.

    In the meantime, I have an immigrant (legal!) pregnant step-daughter and her husband in the snowy northeast to help (in ways you don’t know and I won’t describe in a public forum). And I have a step-son, his wife and their children (my step-grandchildren) still in the Philippines to get over here into the USA where he can get a real job and make enough money for his family (my wife sends them extra money every month from our bank account to help out). That’s where my social justice starts.

    My personal life may be all screwed up with the idiot alcoholic decisions I made, but I damn well know what my duty is and I would like a shot at getting into Heaven in spite of all my manifest defects of character and short comings. But this freaking social justice crap burns me up; Pope Francis and the liberals can stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.


    Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” “The Holy Spirit…he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.”

    The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.

    We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ.

  3. “Working as a volunteer in a soup kitchen is charity. Voting for a larger welfare state is Leftist politics”.

    And yet I’ve seen, more than once, Catholics on the Left mock those who engage in charity if they do so while opposing Leftist politics. The argument is that such tiny bits of charity have no ultimate value compared to what the policies of progressive Democrats can achieve. Your charity is but filthy rags unless it is also joined by complete adherence to the policies and narratives of the Left. You’ll notice the emphasis on material ends as the final end of charity. This would be because for the Left, the hereafter is entirely irrelevant, and the here and now is all that matters. Those religious believers who glom onto that, despite whatever faith tradition they are from, inevitably adopt some vague universalist doctrine, however implicit, and end up relegating concerns about the afterlife to the closet, making the material world the end all to everything.

  4. “And yet I’ve seen, more than once, Catholics on the Left mock those who engage in charity if they do so while opposing Leftist politics. The argument is that such tiny bits of charity have no ultimate value compared to what the policies of progressive Democrats can achieve.”

    This is an issue for which I can see both sides, largely due to having a disabled (autistic) adult daughter who has had to rely upon various publicly funded services. I have a hard time believing that private charity alone, which would be supported by only a small number of people, would enable her and others like her to have access to services such as education, housing, employment, etc. On the other hand, the quality of these services often leaves a lot to be desired. Plus government interventions such as the recent hike in the IL minimum wage make things worse instead of better (people like my daughter aren’t “worth” $10 or $15 an hour to most employers). As I always say, there needs to be a balance between no government involvement at all vs. all intrusive nanny state involvement.

  5. It also comes down to an issue CS Lewis addressed in Mere Christianity: who lives longer, an individual or the state? If you don’t believe in an immortal soul, and assume that individual people live only 70-80 years or so while a state or a nation goes on for centuries, then naturally you will assume that anything done at the government level has more lasting significance. But if you believe that people live forever, that the lifespan of a nation “is to ours as the life of a gnat”, and that your good or bad example could influence whether someone ultimately ends up in heaven or hell, then individual acts of charity and mercy mean a whole lot more.

  6. Well LQC, somehow I think as a step-father and spouse you are doing a beautiful job, regardless of anything. Someone needs to remind our “Holy Father” of his role and responsibilities. I wish I had the ability to rise above this bigotry.

  7. “Helping an illegal alien family lacking basic food is charity. Voting to have our immigration laws ignored is Leftist politics. ”

    Remember that the next time you try floating the canard that Archbishop Chaput is a conservative, Don.

  8. “Catholics on the Left mock those who engage in charity if they do so while opposing Leftist politics. The argument is that such tiny bits of charity have no ultimate value compared to what the policies of progressive Democrats can achieve. Your charity is but filthy rags unless it is also joined by complete adherence to the policies and narratives of the Left.”

    How far we’ve turned from the truth. Those little bits of charity when done in the name of Jesus, and to the least of our neighbors and quietly doing it in secret have more value for our souls and the Church than anything that is done publicly because it makes me a good person for the world to see. Man’s idea of social justice that does not include the unborn, the infirmed and the aged, from birth to natural death is not justice at all but a self-righteous adherence to ones own worldly value before others of the same ilk.

  9. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
    “as thyself” , the individual citizen, the sovereign person, not the state, nor the ideology, not the group, not the movement, not the mob, not the neighbor, but “as thyself” as God created all men equal in social justice but individual in the exercise of social justice. “As thyself” as God loves me for myself, me, myself and I.

  10. Man is the glory of God. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God. A patriot is a sovereign person with good will for the common good. Peace on earth to men of good will…the rest can go to hell.
    The sovereign person has a belief system, a religion. a love for God. An ideology or belief does not have a sovereign person, that is, communism is not a sovereign person. Social Justice is a belief system. Social Justice is not a sovereign person.
    Belief systems do not vote. Citizens vote.
    Communism does not go to heaven. Sovereign person go to heaven.
    Leaders represent their constituents. Popes lead the Faithful. Again, everybody else goes to hell.
    Well, WHO are “the Faithful”? Everyone who loves God and his neighbor as himself. He who is faithful to the gift of Faith from God in his vocation and in his destiny.
    Religion is man’s individual, personal and intimate relationship with “their Creator” in thought, word, deed and peaceable assembly.
    Is Pope Francis’ belief system in Social Justice peaceable assembly for the sovereign person or is Francis’s ideology another link in the chains of enslavement? Has Francis forgotten that man is made in freedom with free will?

  11. I’ve read Kotkin for years: a professional demographer who lets his data and not his generally progressive views drive his writing, and who can lament his opponents views (on things like gay “marriage”, on which he is a progressive) without expressing personal hatred. .

  12. There is no such thing as “gay marriage”. Marriage consists in the marital act. Sodomy is not the marital act no matter how much human dignity a sovereign person has.

  13. “He is not an unmixed conservative, as few of us are.”

    Oh, brother! Using this metric, anyone, even Hillary Clinton (a once self-proclaimed Goldwater Girl after), can be called conservative.

    Anyone who knows anything about Chaput knows that except in matters where Church doctrine explicitly forbids it (e.g. abortion, sexual morality) he is not only on the left, but the HARD left. And as his calumnious smearing of Justice Scalia as a cafeteria Catholic on capital punishment indicates, he is not above using Alinskyite tactics to attack those who disagree with him. To say otherwise is ignorant at best and downright dishonest at worst.

    His being “persona non grata” in this pontificate only proves just how far left Bergoglio and his cronies are, not that Chaput is conservative.

    Besides, even Chaput himself would rightly deny he’s conservative.

  14. I would compare Chaput to someone like Rick Santorum who is what I would call a pragmatic social conservative in the sense that he recognizes government is going to have to be part of the solution to the problem it created in the first place.

    Of course, that made Santorum “a big government conservative” according to those twin paragons of Reaganesque small government conservatism Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.

    Anyway, I don’t mind having a debate over what to do about the illegals we already have here. As long as we’re all agreed beforehand that no more illegals are getting in, that is.

  15. Yes, Don, I will say Chaput was indeed a hard leftist, except in matters where Church doctrine explicitly forbids it. That qualification was part of my original statement.

    As to the first article, Chaput was a bishop member, along with other supposed orthodox stalwarts like Paprocki, Olmsted et. al., of that sham USCCB ad hoc committee that put together that hideous Fortnight for Freedom statement that painted state immigration laws that are well within the parameters of Catholic morality with the same brush of bigoted violations of religious liberty as the HHS Contraception Mandate.

    When you consider Chaput’s willingness to smear a faithful Catholic SCOTUS Justice even going so far as to inject the name Francis Kissling alongside Scalia’s, one has to wonder what the Archbishop’s ideas of holiness really are.

  16. As I said the last time we discussed Chaput’s “tribute” to Scalia after his passing, it was at best an empty gesture. Never did Chaput ever express repentance over his calumny against Scalia.

    To call Archbishop Charles Chaput a conservative renders that term meaningless at best and insulting at worst.

  17. “Empty gesture?”

    It was filled with substance, especially when Chaput nailed why conservatives would ultimately end up voting for Trump:

    Scalia’s words are worth reading and rereading as we ready ourselves for national elections this fall. The next president will almost certainly appoint more than one Supreme Court justice, and perhaps several. And those choices will shape the interpretation of American law for decades. We live at a pivotal time, and we’ve lost one of the Court’s most impressive members.

    Now if Chaput were “hard Left” why in the world would he bring up a point sure to help the Republican nominee in 2016?

  18. The social justice angle is just a thin veneer for anti-religious people who are trying to pass themselves off as religious. It’s garbage, and true, solid religious know it. Only idiots and fools are fooled by it.

  19. I second G comments. Most of us are helping those in need at some capacity whether it be charities or members of our families. Planned Parenthood hoodwinks as social justce for those poor pregnant “Mexicans or black folk”. How condescending. These women derserbe more than crippling sympathy. PP couldn’t care less for these women. It’s $$$ which they thrive on. I did pregnancy counselling for 6 years back in the day and you try consoling a woman who was told that aborting her twins would be the best thing for her sanity. Monsters. True social justice does not beat a drum or need reminding. You ask the parents of parents with children with a disability or a family member helping a relative in need. What a load of hollow garbage from our mediocre Church leaders.

  20. The growing anti-semitism of the Left was the subject of discussion in the French press some 20 years ago.

    Robert Redeker suggested that, after the Cold War, the Left has replaced “sovietophilia” with “islamophilia,” and that “Palestinians and the contemporary Muslim masses replace the proletariat in the intellectuals’ imagination” as the pure, ideal alternative to Western capitalism. (Le Monde, 11/21/01).

    Alain Finkielkraut also offered an important distinction between absolute anti-Zionism and traditional anti-Semitism. In the March 2002 issue of the Jewish magazine, L’Arche, he argues that traditionally anti-Semites were Nationalists: “the French who worship a cult of their identity and who love each other in opposition to Jews.” “Contemporary anti-Semitism,” however, is the domain of the French who “do not love each other, who think in terms of a post-national future, who rid themselves of their Frenchness to better identify with the poor of the Earth, and who, through Israel, group Jews in the camp of the oppressors.” More recently, Finkielkraut has published an essay on anti-Semitism, Au Nom de l’Autre: Réfléxions sur l’antisémitisme qui vient (In the Name of the Other: Reflections on the Coming Anti-Semitism) in which he has taken aim at the left, explaining that anti-Jewish hatred of today comes not from those nostalgic for Pétain and Vichy but rather the activists of the anti-globalization and anti-racism movements.

    Pierre-Andre Taguieff introduced in his January, 2002, La Nouvelle Judéophobie (The New Judeophobia). argues that the new judeophobia originated in Islam and Arab nationalism, however it now extends to a movement consisting of “neo-Christian humanitarianism,” “third-worldists,” and anti-globalization activists. This movement “draws nourishment from a myth and feeds it in return.” The myth “is constructed on the demonized figure of ‘Jews-Israelis-Zionists’ supported by the ‘Americans’ and in opposition to that, no less mythical, of the Palestinian Arab ‘innocent victims.’“ On one side, Taguieff continues, stands the “cosmopolitan Satan,” the unholy trinity ‘United States/Israel/The West.’ On the other side stands the “dominated and the oppressed.” Thus the new judeophobia recycles old stereotypes such as the rich Jew and the dominating Jew under the “varnish of progressivism.” The Jew is once more the stand-in for capitalism, imperialism, cosmopolitanism, indeed the whole economic order.

  21. None of the search functions of the online bible sites can find, in the text of the bible, OT or NT, and tranlsation or manuscript, “social justice” or “common good.” [and I have given up trying to find ‘green new deal’]. I can find words to the effect some of us can be condemend forever (are those bad translations?). Can anyone help me here? Guy McClung, Texas

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