An irate emailer was upset that I had repeatedly referred to Melissa McEwan, a John Edwards supporter and his former netroots coordinator, as a bigot in my post entitled “Ann Coulter and John Edwards Embarrass Themselves.” He opined that “while the posts [I] highlight[ed] from [Amanda Marcotte’s] Pandagon blog are obviously anti-Catholic, nothing [I cited] from McEwan fits the charge of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry.’”
On February 6, 2007, The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights issued a press release entitled "John Edwards Hires Two Anti-Catholics."
The Catholic League identified Ms. McEwan as one of the two. It described her accurately and did not cite all the proof..
Ms. McEwan has posted as “Shakespeare’s Sister.”
Ms. McEwan is not only anti-Catholic, but anti-religion, in my view, but please decide for yourself.
Set forth below are some McEwen posts in which she exposes herself as not only anti-Catholic, but anti-religion.
“Me and You and God,” dated March 23, 2005
“I consider myself an atheist, in the sense that I have no relationship with or belief in any type of anthropomorphic god. I believe there is plenty about this existence that is outwith the capacity for human understanding, much of that falling into a category that might best be described with that muddy and imprecise word ‘spiritual,’ but I am, for all intents and purposes, an atheist.
”That said, I have respect for those who are religious, as long as they don't wield it like a weapon and regard my beliefs with the same respect I extend to them—a reciprocity generally determined by one’s opinion about whether religion belongs in the public sphere. Once it starts creeping beyond privacy and into a place where I am expected to conform to religion’s expectations of its adherents, that’s when the problems begin.
”There have been a lot of problems with just that sort of invasiveness lately, and, consequently, the intensity of the response of the nonreligious to such incursions has escalated. To that end, the Green Knight, a liberal Christian blogger, whose contributions on religious topics are invaluable, has written an interesting piece on the intolerance of the Left toward religion, questioning, quite fairly, whether much of the contempt shown toward religion (and, by association, religious people, irrespective of their politics) was birthed by possible injustices meted out by the religious (or just plain old intellectual snobbery), and noting, quite rightly, that we’re going to have to excise those demons if we don’t want to alienate potential allies.
”It’s a dialogue we need to have on the Left; undeniably there is a backlash against religion as a result of the insurgence of religiously driven wingnuttery that has become such a prominent part of the national debate, but many liberals have become incapable of tolerating the merest presence of godspeak. And not all religious people are intolerant; indeed, some of the kindest, most inclusive, most welcoming people I’ve known have been devoutly religious, letting a belief in God inform a rare and wonderful empathy, rather than narrowly construe their boundaries of acceptance into something odiously judgmental and unrecognizable as an intention of the tenets of any major religion. It is tempting, and easy, to cast the religious in together as a uniform lot, especially when the most vitriolic of their numbers are the ones who seem to have the loudest voices. But good godly people dissociate themselves from that garbage, and we should be willing to do the same.”
I quoted Ms. McEwen in full, to eliminate any argument that I took her words out of context and any doubt that she is a secular extremist who insists that religion (and religious values) belong in the closet instead of the public square.
I also quoted to show Ms. McEwen’s political strategy: to treat religious people as potential allies and try to convince them that to eschew their religious values in their capacity as citizen.
BUT, America's Founders believed in freedom of religion, NOT freedom from religion. Those who decry any use of public property that involves religion — such as the display of a creche at Christmas time — ignore facts that reflect the Founders' intention, such as the fact that the podium of the Speaker of the House of Representatives was used as a pulpit for religious services held in the Capitol long after the First Amendment was adopted and both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the men to whom secular extremists point to support their extreme version of church-state separation each left the White House to attend such religious services.
America's Founders' humble position was that human rights came from God. America's Declaration of Independence proclaimed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...." Americans believed that God created man, not vice versa.
Justice William Douglas put it well in Zorach v. Clauson (1952), in upholding a public school "released time" program: "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. . . . When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. . . . [W]e find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence."
Ms. McEwen’s aggressive atheism is not specifically targeted at the Roman Catholic faith, but Ms. McEwen has gone out of her way to attack the late Pope John Paul the Great for championing fundamental Catholic teaching as well as that teaching.
“Pope Stuff,” April 2, 2005
“Today, President Bush called the Pope a ‘champion of human dignity,’ and if you were poor, suffering under Soviet tyranny in Eastern Europe, or facing the death penalty, you’d probably agree. But if you were gay, or a victim of a priest who sexually assaulted you, or a woman who wanted to be a good Catholic and leave an unhappy marriage or have a career that wasn’t interrupted repeatedly by childbirth, or a priest wrestling with celibacy, or a pregnant victim of rape or incest, you’d probably disagree, because the Pope didn’t particularly care about your dignity, your needs, or the realities of your life. The same, of course, can be said for Bush—and then some—so it’s no wonder he views the Pope that way.
”However, I believe that to [be] recognized as a champion of human dignity, you’ve got to care equally about the dignity of all humans, and not be selective in your advocacy of equality or your protection of victims, conveniently excluding those who have been victimized by your own hand. So while I acknowledge that Pope John Paul II has indeed done some good things, you will not find me among those who choose to celebrate his legacy.
”Consider this my eulogy for whenever he passes on. I only hope the Catholic Church seeks to find in his replacement one who truly earns the accolade unjustly bestowed by our president this morning, although I won’t hold my breath.”
Alas, the late Pope John Paul the Great did not die fast enough to suit Ms. McEwen, so she vented, in “Touche,” dated April 1, 2005, “Is there any other news going on in the world besides the Pope death watch?! F..k!”
That same day, Ms. McEwen also posted “Yeah, Yeah, I Know; I’m Going to Hell” and a crazed attempt to gain political advantage from the Pope’s impending death:
“Pope Is Ready to Die"
"Well, whaddaya know? The Pope and I actually agree on something. I’m ready for him to die, too. (Emphasis added.)
”Is it too much to hope that with the religious right's holy woman-child icon Terri Schiavo having died, and Falwell and Popesy looking ready to keel at any moment, that this is finally evidence that there is no God, or that if there is, he's not taking calls from the wingnuts anymore?”
On April 5, 2005, Ms. McEwan posted “Check It at the Door, Please,” a diatribe against religion:
“I’m officially sick of reading about religion in the political news.
”This was the straw that broke this camel’s back: New Pope Could Influence Political Life in America. That’s the headline of a column by Adam Nagourney in yesterday’s NY Times, discussing Catholics’ role in American politics, which of course follows dozens? hundreds? of stories—especially when one adds in television coverage—examining the increasing role of religion in American politics and the alleged mandate given the president by religious conservatives. (And now I see the President will be attending the Pope’s funeral, even though he has yet to attend a single funeral of a fallen American soldier.) Although I’m all too aware of the church’s history of interference in political issues, the question is why, in a country that grants and protects freedom of religion, yet makes a provision for the separation of church and state, does the Christian church—in all its forms and denominations—continue to try to stick its big nose into the political sphere, and why do we, as a country, continue to engage the escalating noise coming from the religious? Religion simply shouldn’t play any role in the public discourse.
”Despite its dodgy history of political activism, religion is meant only to inform the morality and ethics of its adherents, who can then bring their principles with them into the public (governmental) sphere—while leaving their religion behind. Easier said than done, Shakespeare’s Sister, someone, surely, will tell me, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s true.
”You see, one of the things that irks me about the religious is that god-fearing people tend to decide what they believe, then shop around for a religion that suits. It’s rarely, in my experience, that someone tries to discern an objective truth about religious laws and beliefs and then adjusts their behavior accordingly. Rather, behaviors and beliefs are formed, either within or outwith a religious context, and then a denomination is chosen based on its ability to approximate the chooser’s existing beliefs. And even then, passages of the holy text of choice which conflict with personal values are generally ignored, with preference given to teachings that reinforce preexisting opinions. Hence, religion’s all-too-common role as a justification for ingrained beliefs.
“I know this isn’t categorically true of all religious people, and I don’t mean to suggest that it is, but it’s true of enough people (and examples of those who can do just as I'm suggesting are plentiful enough) that I find specious the claim that a religious person cannot enter the public sphere and leave one’s religion behind.
”The problem, obviously, is that we’ve permitted religion to become untrumpable. No amount of rational or scientific evidence is allowed to supersede faith, and simply by virtue of being ‘religious’ is one assumed, even within the public sphere, to be a good person, even if they are resolutely unethical. There is no regard for a personal moral code derived from earthly sources; an atheist will never be president, in spite of the fact that someone who seeks to be a good person purely out of respect for other people, without promise of eternal reward, is arguably more altruistic.
”Though it is not my personal choice, I won’t identify defining one’s sense of right and wrong using religion as intrinsically faulty; I do, however, strongly believe that the belief system one brings into the public sphere, even if molded and informed by religion, should be able to stand on its own without invoking its source. If you have no other justification for your political position than ‘God says so,” it doesn’t belong in the public sphere. Not in this country.
Ms. McEwan disputes and disdains a fundamental Catholic teaching: that religious values are not supposed to be part of public life. She IS an anti-Catholic bigot.
As Father James Poumade put it in a homily delivered on May 30, 2004:
“Pontius Pilate was personally opposed to executing Jesus, and may even have come to believe in Him, but didn’t wish to impose his belief on the crowd….He knew what his decision meant….It is inconsistent to claim that one can reject the faith publicly and still be Catholic. Those who try to do so are the only ones truly guilty of mixing politics and religion. Being a practicing Catholic means following the will of God as revealed to us through Scripture and Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church.”
The "separation between faith and life" that people like Ms. McEwan preach was condemned by the Second Vatican Council as “among the more serious errors of our age."
The Roman Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life. It stressed that “[t]here cannot be two parallel lives…the so-called 'spiritual life', with its values and demands; and…the so-called 'secular' life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.”
The Doctrinal Note emphasized that lay Catholics, in fulfilling civic duties, are to be “‘guided by a Christian conscience,’ in conformity with its values,” and that “their proper task [is] infusing the temporal order with Christian values, all the while respecting the nature and rightful autonomy of that order, and cooperating with other citizens according to their particular competence and responsibility.”
The Doctrinal Note categorically rejected the claims that citizens have “complete autonomy with regard to their moral choices and lawmakers…are respecting this freedom of choice by enacting laws which ignore the principles of natural ethics and yield to ephemeral cultural and moral trends, as if every possible outlook on life were of equal value.”
The Doctrinal Note distinguished legitimate and illegitimate freedom. It explicitly respected “the legitimate freedom of Catholic citizens to choose among the various political opinions that are compatible with faith and the natural moral law, and to select, according to their own criteria, what best corresponds to the needs of the common good.” (Emphasis added.)
“Political freedom is not – and cannot be – based upon the relativistic idea that all conceptions of the human person’s good have the same value and truth,” the Doctrinal Note warned.
The Doctrinal Note rejected moral relativism and related the essential basis of democracy in the clearest terms: “If Christians must ‘recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs,’ they are also called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism. Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.” (Emphasis added.)
With respect to abortion, the Doctrinal Note was categorical: “John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.” (Emphasis added.)
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.