American Catholics Speak Out Think back, if you will, to the events of September 11, 2001. Try to recall your own feelings as you watched, again and again, the video of the two huge airplanes crashing into the towers of the World Trade Center. Can you remember the thoughts that passed through your mind as you looked at the aftermath of the attacks, as you viewed the tear-streaked faces of those who were fearful for loved ones who had been in the towers. Were you touched at all as you read the poignant notices posted by people desperately seeking news of people dear to them? I was. As information linking the highjackers to Islamic extremist groups was developed and made public did you, even for a moment, entertain negative sentiments for Muslims in general and Islamic extremists in particular? Thanks to Christ's presence in me, I can honestly declare that I never for a second laid the blame for the events of September 11th on all Muslims. On the other hand, my unsympathetic opinion of Islamic extremists quickly upgraded to outright hostility. I agree with my President that those who have declared war on the United States, and who are prosecuting that war by means of terrorism, are blood enemies of my homeland. I do not hate them, for Christ has graciously cleansed me of that emotion, but I admit to strong feelings of anger toward those who would deliberately set out to murder innocent civilian men, women and children. They have placed my children and grandchildren in harm's way. That makes them my enemies also. One would imagine that the great majority of Americans share my anger toward Muslim extremists while, I should hope, being careful to distinguish between them and law-abiding adherents of Islam. I can imagine that the terrorist attacks and subsequent events must place an awful burden on the Catholic faithful. On the one hand, their reigning monarch, John Paul II, had been making nicey-nicey with Islam, going so far as to plant a kiss on a copy of the Qu'ran. On the other hand, the extremist school of Islam was and still is engaged in bloody war with the Western world in general and the United States in particular. Talk about being in a moral quandary; Catholics in the pews must feel obliged to choose between obedience to their worldly master and patriotism. Shall they rally behind the yellow and white flag of Catholicism? Or the red, white and blue of their homeland? How should Catholics relate to Muslims in general and extremists in particular? Inquiring minds wanted to know, and so just two months after the World Trade Center attacks folks at LeMoyne College teamed up with Zogby International and conducted a telephone poll of 1508 Catholics to find out. The results of the poll, reported in USA Today, are interesting: A nationwide phone survey of 1,508 Roman Catholics found 56% had a favorable impression of Islam. Similar majorities had a favorable view of Mormons (54%), Buddhists (57%) and Hindus (54%), but only 46% of Catholics had a favorable view of fundamentalist Christians. – Cathy Lynn Grossman, Poll: Catholics view fundamentalists less favorably, USA TODAY, 11/16/2001 Hmmmm. Catholics thought more highly of Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons and Hindus - all non-Christian religions - than they did of fundamentalist Christians. Why is that? Could it be because their master was running around doing all he could, despite failing health, to bring all the world's religions under the umbrella of Mother Church and we hard-headed Bible-believing Christians (not all who claim to be Christian are Bible believers) just won't kneel down and kiss his….ring? The pollsters, and others, tried to come up with reasons for the results. Most of those reported seem pretty lame to me: The survey's results may reflect, in part, its timing. It was done after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and during the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan. In the poll, 58% of Catholics surveyed agreed that "fundamentalist Christians tend to be religious fanatics," and 50% called them "not tolerant of others"; 44% found Muslims to be intolerant, and 49% thought they were religious fanatics. – Ibid. “Religious fanatics?” Translating that from Catholic-speak into everyday language means that a Christian who disagrees openly with Catholic doctrine and practice is a religious fanatic. Were this not so serious an issue, I would have to laugh. Anyone who ever has dealt with Catholic apologists mano-a-mano would surely agree that they tend to be both fanatical and intolerant. For the intolerant to denounce others as being intolerant is exactly the kind of hypocrisy that Lord Jesus was talking about in the opening verses of Matthew 7: Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. - Matthew 7:1-5 Additional evidence of Catholic hypocrisy was provided by the responses to other questions in the survey: An overwhelming majority, 89%, said their Catholic identity is important to them; 96% said it's important to "stand up and live your Catholic values" in daily life. – Grossman, Op. cit. All but four percent of the Catholic respondents said it is important to “stand up and live your Catholic values.” Sounds good, doesn't it? Yet 50% or more of the respondents disagreed with the Catholic Church's position on in-vitro fertilization, artificial birth control and the death penalty. When asked to make a moral decision on several issues, 50% said in vitro fertilization procedures are not wrong, and 61% would not condemn artificial birth control. The church opposes both. Although the church also opposes the death penalty, Catholics were evenly split on the issue. – Ibid. It's an interesting article. You can read it for yourself at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2001/11/15/poll-catholics.htm