It has now been five weeks since my debate with Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, during which he stated his opinion that those who believe that Islam is not a religion of peace had placed themselves in a state of disobedience to the teachings of the Catholic Church:
Msgr. Swetland then expanded upon this bizarre opinion in a statement he sent me for publication here at Jihad Watch; you can find it here. It is preposterous, of course, to think that the Catholic hierarchy has any competence to speak about the teachings of a different religion, and if Msgr. Swetland is right, then the Catholic Church’s claims to authority are exploded entirely, for it is forcing assent to a falsehood. But in his statement, Msgr. Swetland writes: “Robert Spencer’s positions seem to be at odds with the magisterial teachings on what authentic Islam is and what Catholic are called to do about it (accept immigrants, avoid hateful generalizations, show esteem and respect, etc.) At least in the area of morals, Robert seems to be a dissenter from the papal magisterium.”
It doesn’t matter how often Leftist and Islamic supremacist groups (SPLC, CAIR, etc.) repeat that to oppose jihad terror and Sharia supremacism is “hateful”; no amount of repetition will make it true. I have never engaged in “hateful generalizations” or failed, to the best of my ability, to “show esteem and respect” to everyone. Thus I asked him here to retract that charge. In a subsequent email, I asked him either to substantiate it with a quotation from me that was verifiably a “hateful generalization,” or retract the charge. Msgr. Swetland replied that, as a college president, he was busy, busy, frightfully busy, and objected to my having said that he held that Islam was a religion of peace. That was downright weird, since he had essentially read me out of the Catholic Church for thinking otherwise. I asked him to clarify, but he ignored this, and likewise ignored several more respectful requests that he either substantiate or retract his claim that I engaged in “hateful generalizations” regarding Islam and Muslims.
This ugly little episode illustrates I have noticed previously among Leftist Christian clerics: despite the high regard that Christianity places upon being charitable, they seem to feel no obligation to be charitable to those whose views they dislike. Apparently a Catholic who doesn’t believe that Islam is a religion of peace has no rights they feel bound to respect. Thus when I was canceled from speaking engagements by Bishops Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts; Jaime Soto of Sacramento; and Kevin Farrell of Dallas; I wrote to each of them, requesting a face-to-face meeting during which I could attempt to clear my name of the charges that had been made against me. Not only did I not get any meetings, but none of them even deigned to answer my letters. This contrasts sharply, I’m sure, with the solicitude and kindness that they show to those whose opinions are more acceptable to them. At a Catholic college, Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, I was assaulted by an unhinged security guard and banned from the campus after university officials quashed several attempts to have me speak. When I wrote politely to Neil Levesque of Saint Anselm’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics, which was directly responsible for the ban, asking for information about why I was banned, he had a corrupt cop from the Goffstown, New Hampshire police department threaten me with arrest if I contacted Levesque again. Apparently these bishops, the Saint Anselm administrators, and other Catholics like them believe that there is an exemption in the obligation to be charitable when it comes to those whose political views are unacceptable.
That’s all right. I don’t have any interest in going where I’m not wanted, and if I’m not welcome in the Catholic Church because of what I say about Islam, so be it, because what I say about Islam is true and accurate. Certainly there is a concerted effort to read people who don’t believe that Islam is a religion of peace out of the Catholic Church, with the Saudi-funded Bridges Initiative at Georgetown University (a Catholic University) claiming that a minority of Catholics have negative views of Islam because my books are sold in Catholic bookstores. (Bridges’ high regard for accuracy can be seen in its claim that I am affiliated with the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI); I do not have that honor.) If any Catholics have negative views of Islam, it is not because of me, but because of Osama bin Laden, and Anwar al-Awlaki, and Mohamed Atta, and Nidal Hasan, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and Ibrahim Simpson and Nadir Soofi, and Syed Rizwan Farouk and Tashfeen Malik, and other Islamic jihadis in the U.S. and around the world.
There needs to be a realistic and searching discussion about Islamic doctrine and its implications. That discussion needs to be held both inside the Catholic Church and outside it. But Catholic clerics such as McManus, Swetland and their ilk appear content to defame and run rather than engage in it.