Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #22

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).


Claim #22: I am a Catholic because only the Catholic Church is marked out by the four marks*

In opening this chapter, Kreeft states, “The Nicene Creed identifies the Church of Christ by four marks: she is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Only (the Catholic church) fits that description” (p. 75). Kreeft then expounds on RC-ism’s claims to these four marks:

  • One – The Roman Catholic church was established by Christ and has existed without interruption to the present day. All other churches have broken away from the RCC, never vice versa. The RCC has taught the same theological and moral dogmas since it was established.
  • Holy – Although the RC church has included many scandalously notorious sinners, including “a couple” of popes, the church is the source of holiness via its sacraments. As in the previous chapter, Kreeft again cites Thomas More, referencing More’s fictitious dialogue in the theatrical production, A Man for All Seasons, as an example of personal holiness attained through the holy RC church.
  • Catholic/Universal – “Catholic” means Universal and only the RCC can claim to be Universal in multiple senses: “for all men, for all the world, for all times, for all cultures, and teaching all that Christ and the apostles taught” (p. 76).
  • Apostolic – Only the RCC can trace its lineage directly back to St. Peter via apostolic succession.

Since only the RC church has these four marks of authenticity according to Kreeft, he exhorts the reader to go to Christ via His Body that he instituted, the Roman Catholic church. Because other Christian churches are deficient to a great degree, Kreeft asks the Protestant reader, “Why settle for a little lifeboat when you can have the whole (RC) ark?” (p. 78).


The Nicene Creed (325 AD) is not God-breathed Scripture, but let’s see if the RCC is distinguished by the creed’s four marks of authenticity:

One – After Christianity was legalized and then adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire, the early church became increasingly institutionalized according to the Roman imperial model. Religion was imposed rather than a choice. The church was “one” according to imperial and magisterial fiat. The genuine church, in contrast, is composed of all those who have freely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone as taught by the New Testament church and God’s Word. In that sense, the true church of genuine believers is one. In historical contradiction to Kreeft’s assertions, the institutional pseudo-church had a major divide with the East-West Schism of 1054 and the Roman church specifically experienced the Western Schism of 1378-1417, with its three competing popes. The RCC has changed its theological and moral dogmas regularly as we previously examined in chapter 5 (see here). Many conservative Catholics consider pope Francis a heretic for his doctrine-bending “reforms.” The notion of Roman Catholicism as a united monolith is a fraudulent mirage.

Holy – The RCC is unholy because it teaches a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The genuine church composed of all born-again believers is “holy” (Greek: ἅγιος/hágios), separated unto Christ. Kreeft concedes that “a couple” of popes were scoundrels, but even Catholic historians will admit there were MANY examples of papal and episcopal corruption. Kreeft once again presents Thomas More as an example of saintly holiness when history records that in his role as Lord High Chancellor of England he oversaw the bloody persecution of Protestant believers.

Catholic/Universal – For a millennia, Roman Catholicism gained “converts” throughout the world via the tip of sword and spear aka forced baptisms. Jesus Christ did not teach compulsory “faith.” Genuine believers are located throughout the world as a result of the sowing of the genuine Gospel. The term, “Roman Catholic” is actually a dichotomy, i.e., location specific, yet Universal. Does not compute.

Apostolic – There is no Scriptural evidence for the papacy, for Peter as the first pope, or for Peter ever being in Rome. Neither do we find in Scripture any support for apostolic succession. Jesus specifically warned against the type of church hierarchy created by Roman Catholicism:

“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” – Matthew 20: 25-28.

The genuine church of Christ is apostolic in that it proclaims the same Gospel and doctrines as taught by the apostles according to the New Testament. The apostate Roman church supplants Scripture with its specious “sacred traditions” that were never taught by Jesus Christ or His apostles.

The Nicene Creed is not Scripture, but we do see that the Roman church actually does NOT have the four marks specified by the creed, while the Body of genuine evangelical believers does. Once again, Kreeft closes a chapter by disparaging Gospel Christianity. Why do so many evangelicals view critical examinations of Roman Catholicism and its false gospel as distasteful, unseemly, and repugnant when Catholic apologists are always quite willing to disparage Gospel Christianity?

*The fallacy of the claim is obviously key, but any editor worth his/her salt would have changed this to “I am a Catholic because only the Catholic Church is distinguished by the four marks.”

Next week: Claim #23: I am a Catholic for the reason Walker Percy gave: “What else is there?”

Throwback Thursday: James White: What goes through Ravi Zacharias’ head?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 14, 2016 and has been revised. Ravi Zacharias was a very popular Christian apologist who was highly revered by many evangelicals. Following his death in May 2020, it was discovered that Ravi had led a double-life for many years, preying on women as a serial adulterer and as a serial sexual predator. But Ravi had been openly engaged in spiritual adultery for decades, suggesting to his many admirers that Roman Catholicism with its false gospel was a Christian entity.


Back in October of last year, I ran across a You Tube video of Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias (photo left), speaking at a seminar. At the start of the video, a young street evangelist asks Ravi if Roman Catholicism is a cult or an apostate church? For five minutes, Ravi dances around the question without giving the young man a forthright answer. I was angered. Does Rome teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone or does it not? Why was Ravi so reluctant to be straightforward? Why the hesitancy? Why the deference to Rome? Meanwhile, Catholic apologists do not hesitate to proclaim their church is the one true church and that its gospel of sacramental grace and merit is the only authorized way to God.

For Ravi’s video and my reaction, see here.

Praise God, I see that I’m not the only one who was flabbergasted by Ravi’s non-reply to the street evangelist! Yesterday, I stumbled across Christian apologist, James White’s (photo right) 2/3/15 reaction to the very same video. Click on the link below. White’s critique of Ravi’s comments begins at the 29:40 mark and ends at the 47:37 mark.

Roman Catholicism

I can personally attest to the fact that Ravi has referred to several Roman Catholics with great praise and admiration in his talks and writings including St. Francis, G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Henri Nouwen. I would not be surprised if there have been many others. I see Ravi’s also scheduled to appear at the “Together 2016” ecumenifest this weekend, which will also include a video from pope Francis.

Ravi is a wonderful speaker and he’s pointed many to Christ but, unfortunately, he’s also muddied the Gospel of grace by embracing as Christians those who teach salvation by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments. But there is only one Gospel. No one benefits when evangelicals turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the deadly errors of Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Praise God for James R. White and other evangelical apologists who are still able to discern a false gospel from the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #12, “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”

“I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” (2:31)
Written by Gene Clark
Produced by Terry Melcher
From “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Columbia Records, June 21, 1965. Also released as the B-side of the “All I Really Want to Do” 45-single on June 14, 1965

Song #12 on our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown has garnered increasing respect and admiration over time. Gene Clark was the Byrds’ primary songwriter during his short tenure with the band from 1964 to 1966. Most of his songs were laments over broken romances, including “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better.” This gem was released as the humble B-side of the single, “All I Really Want to Do,” but acquired a following of its own and managed to peak at #103 on the Billboard charts.

Over the decades, “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” has become increasingly recognized by fans and music critics alike as one of the Byrds’ best songs from their early period. The recording has a high degree of musical energy with Crosby’s rhythm guitar, McGuinn’s jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker lead guitar, Hillman’s bass, and Clarke’s drums synchronically driving the beat. Clark’s lyric, “I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when your gone,” ambivalently masks a degree of pain, regret, and uncertainty over the romantic betrayal and upcoming breakup. Music critic, Mark Deming, wrote that the use of the word “probably” in the refrain lends the track a depth of subtext that was unusual for a pop song in the mid-1960s. “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” definitely sounds like a 1965 pop record in contrast to several of the Byrds’ time-transcendent hits, but it’s a great 1965 pop tune.

“I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” has been covered by many artists, but most importantly by Tom Petty on his 1989 solo album, “Full Moon Fever,” which introduced a new generation to the song (and to the Byrds) and boosted its cachet tremendously. Rolling Stone magazine actually ranked “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” as song #234 on its 2006 list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” quite a feat for a humble B-side.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #116

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under. Yup, we actually have a full complement of sermons this week, although they’re full-service videos from the churches’ Facebook pages rather than edited YouTube versions.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Luke 18:35-43 on “What the Blind Man Saw.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from The Romans Road on “The Best Gift Ever.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, December 12th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – What the Blind Man Saw. The sermon begins at the 8:30 mark.

Pastor Cody Andrews – The Best Gift Ever. The sermon begins at the 29:00 mark.

Cheesy random thoughts

I’ve had several rather insignificant blogging ideas rattling around in my brain, but no time to put them together because of the grueling, six-week leaf campaign. With no more tarps to pull and 12 days off from work I was finally able to create this cheesy excuse for a post.

The Best Cheez-It?

Back in February 2020, I published a taste test pitting Sunshine/Kellogg’s Cheez-It crackers against Nabisco’s Cheese Nips crackers, with Cheez-It winning the contest by a cracker crumb. See here. I subsequently found out Nabisco discontinued making Cheese Nips at some point in 2020. I continued to buy regular Cheez-Its at the Pittsford Wegman’s grocery, but when I visited the Wegman’s in nearby Penfield, I noticed they stocked Extra Cheesy Cheez-Its. Man, that’s some serious cheese flavor! But after awhile, the extra cheese got to be too much. I’ve found that a nice compromise is the Cheddar Jack variety of Cheez-Its. There’s extra cheddar flavor, but it’s not overpowering like Extra Cheesy.

Vanilla Coke or Pepsi Cream Soda Cola?

Readers of this blog know I’m a fan of Vanilla Coke. It was in short supply because of the pandemic, but returned to Wegman’s shelves in April 2021. This past September, I noticed Pepsi introduced its limited edition “Soda Shop Cream Soda Cola.” Curious, I bought a twelve-pack. Well, folks, the comparison wasn’t even close. Vanilla Coke has it all over the Pepsi pretender. Not much cola or vanilla flavor in Pepsi’s product. Other customers must have had the same reaction because Wegman’s pulled it off of their shelves.

Death of My Asus Chromebook

Maybe about six years ago, our PC died and our son steered us toward a Chromebook. They’re relatively inexpensive and start up as soon as you open the screen. Easy peasy. We got an Asus Chromebook with a 15.6″ screen (photo left). I initially didn’t like the Chromebook. What? No delete key! And I didn’t like not having a mouse. When I was laid off in September 2019, I liked the Chromebook even less because it didn’t have Word and Excel software that I would need for my résumé and job-search data. I learned shortly thereafter that Chromebook has free Word and Excel equivalents via the Google cloud. Cool! I also learned how to hook up my Chromebook to our printer when I needed a résumé hard-copy. I was pleased with my Chromebook until a month ago when one of the screen hinges (yellow circle) started making a clicking sound. I knew that wasn’t good. Asus’ screen hinges are extremely cheesy/flimsy. The problem got steadily worse and in a few days my Chromebook was no longer even operational with the screen starting to crack. I went to Staples to buy a new one, but their selection was very small. I then went to Target up the road and bought a 14″ HP Chromebook (photo right). The great thing about Chromebook is I turned on the HP and signed into Google and all of my favorites came up as if I was still on the the Asus. I was a little concerned about the smaller screen when I bought it, but the 14″ is actually preferable; less bulky and cumbersome and just as easy to read. In this case, smaller is better. HP’s long and substantial screen hinge design is heads and tails over Asus’ cheesy, flimsy hinges. Blogging on the couch with the light 14″ HP Chromebook on my lap is a pleasure.

Venerating St. Ives?

I get it. Men don’t usually talk about personal care products, but I really like St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Wash. Hey, everyone showers, right, and we all have to use some kind of soap. Well, Wegman’s took the St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter body wash off their shelves for some dumb reason. I googled it and Target appeared to sell it. I made a trip to Target and bought two bottles. Cool. BTW, I googled St. Ives and discovered Ives/Yves is a canonized Roman Catholic “saint” who lived in Brittany from 1253 to 1303. Should I boycott St. Ives products because they’re named after a RC saint? Sounds very fundamentalish to me.

Polish American Studies

Readers of this blog may recall a 2018 post in which I recounted how I had turned an interest in my Polish heritage into an idol. See here. The best of the many publications I received in my Polish-American craze was “Polish American Studies” put out by the Polish American Historical Association. I recently had an interest in getting back into Polish/Polish-American history (on a much smaller scale than previously), so I submitted my membership application to PAHA again and received my first issue of the Polish American Studies journal. Fascinating articles.

Sweeter Than Sweet

Speaking of sodas, in my trips down Wegman’s soda aisle, I had regularly caught glimpses of Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry soda. Curious, I googled it and found out that the Loganberry drink (it’s actually non-carbonated) got its start at the now-defunct Crystal Beach Amusement Park in Fort Erie, Canada on the shores of Lake Erie, a 13-mile drive from Buffalo. Ah, so Aunt Rosie’s is a regional offering! Cool. I bought a 12-pack and taste tested it. It has a delicious flavor (the loganberry is a hybrid of the blackberry and raspberry), but, man, it’s sweet! A 12-ounce can of Coke has a whopping 39 grams (9.75 teaspoons) of sugar, but a can of Aunt Rosie’s beats that with 46 grams (11.5 teaspoons) of sugar, aka diabetes in a can.

The period goes inside the quotation marks

“The period goes here.

“…not here”.

Call it a pet peeve, but I read quite a bit and I’m amazed at how many writers, editors, and publishers get this grammar rule wrong.

Copy Cats!

I’ve noticed how politicians and political pundits now begin every other sentence with, “Look, …” Some PR/Communications guru must have written a book extolling the word for conveying bold assertiveness, but to me it’s kind of condescending and impolite. I don’t appreciate someone admonishing me to “Look” or “Listen” when they’re beginning to tell me something. The fact that everyone has jumped on the “Look, …” bandwagon is comical.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 12/25/21

It’s unconscionable that Donald Trump was invited to speak at a “church service” to forward his political agenda, but it all makes perfect sense to Pastor Robert Jeffress, one of the leading exponents of American Christian Nationalism.

Pope Francis continues to tighten the screws on the Latin mass, the cherished bastion of conservative and traditionalist Catholics.

It looks like this “controversy” over two paintings depicting George Floyd as Jesus Christ has run out of steam, with the president of the Catholic university being scrutinized offering nebulous apologies all-around and directing that a third painting not be displayed.

Pope Francis’ remarks condemning violence against women are ironic given how Catholic nuns were abused and instructed to practice self-mortification/extreme asceticism/self-harm at RC convents for 1000 years.

This article states that “24 percent of U.S. adults described themselves as born-again or evangelical, down 6 percentage points from 2007.” The terms, “born-again” and “evangelical” have become almost meaningless. The percentage of Americans who have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is undoubtedly significantly less than 24%.

The movies, “The Exorcist” and “The Omen,” have a special significance for me because the Lord used them to kindle an interest in spiritual things 45 years ago. Believers know from the Bible that demonic activity and possession are real. The Roman Catholic church is Satan’s counterfeit church and a major hub of demonic activity. For decades, I’ve said that the most dangerous character in exorcist horror films was the Catholic priest with his false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Genuine Christians differ in their views regarding Christmas. The Puritans who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early-17th century refused to celebrate it. Their rationale? The Roman Catholic church had “christianized” the pagan celebration of Saturnalia into the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The word “Christmas” itself is a shortening of the Roman Catholic “Christ mass” held on December 25th. Several of the customs and practices of Saturnalia were adapted as part of the Christmas celebration. I personally don’t go out of my way to celebrate Christmas, but I also don’t crusade against it. I guess I would say I’m “Christmas neutral.” Christmas is largely a non-religious cultural event in the minds of today’s secular celebrators. Most of those who do view Christmas as a religious holiday to some degree have not trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. However, Christmas can be used as an opportunity for genuine believers to spread the Gospel. People who would not consider attending church any other day may consider going to church on Christmas week and Easter. Our unsaved oldest son and his family came over for Christmas Eve dinner last night and I read aloud Luke 2 prior to the meal. Genuine Christians can sincerely celebrate the incarnation of God the Son in good faith in spite of the pagan and Catholic origins of Christmas. Each individual believer must follow the Lord’s leading on this issue without condemning those who have a different view.

Several years ago, a zealous Christmas-hating blogger uncharitably insisted that I was not saved because I was Christmas-neutral. If Christmas-hating proselytizers desire to be consistent, they should also hate and soapbox against other cultural practices with pagan roots such as birthday celebrations, wedding rings, many funerary practices, celebrating New Year’s Eve/Day and Valentine’s Day, and covering the mouth while yawning, a pagan superstition. They should picket the many U.S. courthouses that are adorned with a statue of the Roman goddess, Justitia (“Justice”). Christmas-hating believers who criticize others should refrain from using the names of the days of the week or the months of the year because they all honor pagan gods. They should also move out of towns and cities named after Catholic saints such as St. Louis and San Francisco. You may object to a single strand of Christmas tree tinsel in your home, and that’s absolutely fine with me, just don’t come down on other believers because they don’t share the exact same militantly anti-Christmas view as you.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #21

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Some might counsel, “Give apologetics debates a rest on this particular weekend, with many believers celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.” It is precisely because of Jesus Christ and His genuine Good News! that I continue with this series today.


Claim #21: I am a Catholic because of the personality of the church’s saints

In this slightly-longer-than-one-page chapter, Kreeft appeals to the alleged holy and winsome character of Roman Catholicism’s canonized saints as a “proof” of the RCC’s authenticity as the “one true church.” States Kreeft, “Saints are books to be read. What do you read in them? The same thing you read in the Bible: Jesus. Saints are little Christs…You understand Jesus a little better every time you meet a saint. And you understand the saints better when you know and love Jesus better” (pp.73 -74). Among the nine allegedly exemplary saints Kreeft mentions are Thomas More, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Teresa of Ávila, and Thérèse of Lisieux.


The canonization of allegedly über-holy people to sainthood after they are deceased is a Roman Catholic invention found nowhere in the Bible. In contrast, God’s Word proclaims every person who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is a “saint” (Greek: hagios: “consecrated one”).

“To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:7

Salvation is not by sacramental grace and attempting to be a holy person by obeying the Ten Commandments as Catholicism teaches. Can’t be done. We are all sinners. No one can possibly merit Heaven. The Good News! proclaimed in the New Testament is that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Only after we have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, can we follow Him as Lord.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find genuine believers praying to dead people as Catholics are taught to pray to interceding and mediating saints. Jesus Christ is the ONLY Mediator.

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

Certain Roman Catholic saints are either officially designated as patrons of an occupation or a cause or are adopted as patron saints by popular consensus. The long list of Catholic patron saints is a thinly-veiled appropriation of ancient Rome’s pantheon of patron gods. See my relevant post here.

Kreeft appeals to the holy and winsome character of nine saints, so let’s take a brief look at the four I previously mentioned.

Thomas More served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain beginning in 1529 until King Henry VIII severed ties with the Vatican in 1532. In his capacity as Lord High Chancellor, More oversaw the inquisition and persecution of Protestants. History records that at least six Protestants were burned at the stake for heresy at More’s direction. Hundreds more were threatened or tortured.

In obedience to Vatican II teaching, Mother Teresa didn’t try to convert Hindus and Muslims in her care, but encouraged them to be “better” Hindus and Muslims:

In an interview with Christian News a nun who worked with Mother Teresa was asked the following in regards to the Hindus they worked with, “These people are waiting to die. What are you telling them to prepare them for death and eternity?” She replied candidly, “We tell them to pray to their Bhagwan, to their gods.” – from The Myth Of Mother Teresa by Tim Challies

It’s very regrettable that many undiscerning evangelical pastors also cite Mother Teresa as an “exemplary Christian.” See my myth-busting post on Mother Teresa here.

Teresa of Ávila was a Spanish “mystic” nun who experienced ecstatic trances and claimed to levitate and to receive regular visitations from Jesus Christ. Teresa was both anorexic* and bulimic, using food deprivation as self-mortifying “sanctification.” She ingested twigs of olive trees to induce vomiting.

Thérèse of Lisieux was also an anorexic given to extreme asceticism and self-mortification/self-harm. Both Teresa of Ávila and Thérèse of Lisieux were psychologically ill, religious hysterics.

Upon closer examination, none of these four people were exemplary and none believed in the genuine Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

In regards to a few other popular “saints,” we know Ignatius Loyola founded the Jesuits specifically to counter by whatever means possible the glorious Gospel preached by the Reformers. Loyola’s fellow Jesuit, Francis Xavier, initiated the torturous Goa Inquisition in India. “Saint” Junipero Serra oversaw the Inquisition in what would become California. How many other Catholic canonized “saints” participated in the bloody and torturous Inquisition?

Objective examinations of Catholic “saints” reveal they were not “little Christs.” Many were zealous persecutors who authorized violence against non-conformists, non-Catholics, and Protestant believers while others were mentally-ill ascetics.

At the end of the chapter, Kreeft chides Protestants for being “afraid” and “embarrassed” with regards to RC-ism’s “saints.” Utter nonsense. I have absolutely nothing to be afraid or embarrassed about when it comes to RC-ism’s fraudulent and blasphemous saintology.

*Anorexia mirabilis is the term used by medical historians for the anorexia/eating disorder affecting Catholic nuns and religious women in the Middle Ages.

Next week: Claim #22: I am a Catholic because only the Catholic Church is marked out by the four marks

Throwback Thursday: Patriotic saint or fascist collaborator?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 25, 2016 and has been revised.


Over the past several years, we ‘ve seen many challenges to religious freedom. Individuals and groups have made headlines in their opposition to federal mandates which interfere with religious beliefs. We’ll undoubtedly see further assaults on religious freedoms in the future.

The Catholic church has been an outspoken defender of religious freedoms during this current controversy. The relics of saints Thomas More and John Fisher recently concluded their tour of several U.S. cities as part of the church’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign. More and Fisher were executed by King Henry VIII in the 16th century because of their refusal to acknowledge the king as the leader of the breakaway Church of England. But the Catholic church conveniently forgets to mention that in the same era when More and Fisher were killed, hundreds of thousands of Protestants were put to death as heretics by civil authorities in league with the church in countries where Catholicism dominated. While he was Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, Thomas More zealously persecuted Protestants. When Donald Trump first made his negative remarks regarding Muslims last December, journalists were quick to remind us that Catholic immigrants had once been the target of nativist Protestants in 19th and 20th century America. What the pundits failed to mention was that anti-Catholicism in the United States was at least partially a reaction to the suppression and persecution of non-Catholics in Catholic countries. See my earlier post here.

Several days ago, I saw the article below about Croatia overturning the 1946 conviction of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac as a fascist, pro-Nazi collaborator. No one can deny that Stepinac was an early supporter of the murderous Catholic Ustase. Few Americans are familiar with the story of the bloody Ustase and their alliance with Nazi Germany. See here. But Croatians who currently campaign for Stepinac’s canonization view him as a patriot and supporter of Croatian independence rather than as a patron of fascist intolerance. Survivors of the Ustase and their families are understandably outraged at the canonization efforts on behalf of Stepinac.

But Stepinac and the Ustase weren’t alone. There were many other fascist movements in 20th century Europe that had the full and enthusiastic support of the Catholic church including:

  • Francisco Franco and Nacionalcatolicismo in Spain
  • Antonio Salazar and Estado Novo in Portugal
  • Benito Mussolini and the Partito Popolare Italiano in Italy
  • Engelbert Dollfuss and Austrofacism in Austria
  • Jozef Tiso and the Slovak People’s Party in the Slovak Republic
  • Leon Degrelle and the Rexists in Belgium
  • Philippe Petain and Vichy France
  • The Endecja and post-Pilsudski Sanacja in Poland

For the purposes of this post I won’t digress into Catholic falangism that sprouted up throughout all of Latin America.

The church used its strong connections with fascist, pro-Catholic regimes to restrict and oppress non-Catholic religious groups, but only seventy-years after the peak of clerical fascism in Europe, the Catholic church portrays itself as the defender of religious freedom. Yes, European clerical fascism is water over the dam at this point, but there’s an irony here that should not be missed or forgotten.

Croatia overturns conviction of WW2 ‘collaborator’ Cardinal Stepinac

Note from 2021: Cognizant of the inevitable PR backlash, pope Francis has pragmatically blocked the repeated efforts of Croatian Catholics to canonize fascist collaborator, Aloysius Stepinac.

The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #13, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”

Fasten your seatbelts, friends, because with song #13 on our The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, we’re about to go deeper into country music than many of you have ever gone before.

“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” (2:33)
Written by Bob Dylan
Produced by Gary Usher
From “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” Columbia Records, August 30, 1968

At the start of 1968, the Byrds were in a quandary. With the firing of David Crosby during “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” sessions, the band was down to only two members, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. An acquaintance of Hillman’s, Gram Parsons, was invited to audition and was subsequently hired.

For the band’s next project, McGuinn envisioned a double-album sampling the entire spectrum of American music, from early Appalachian jug tunes to the electronic Moog synthesizer. But Parsons had an agenda of his own and also had an enthusiastic ally in Hillman, who had brought some country-flavored compositions to the band’s previous album. Parsons convinced McGuinn that the band should fly to Nashville to record an entire album of straight-ahead, hardcore, country music tunes.

“We’d hired a pianist, but we got George Jones in a rhinestone suit!” – Roger McGuinn

It was both a courageous and foolhardy move. The youth culture hated redneck country music and country music fans hated rock ‘n’ roll “hippies.” But Parsons had an “evangelistic zeal” to “convert” rock audiences to country music.

Columbia Records had sent the Byrds some unreleased Dylan demos from his “Woodstock sessions,” and the Byrds opted to cover “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” adding a decidedly country twist. Don’t bother trying to figure out the obtuse, nonsensical lyrics, but the song has an infectious melody and chorus. McGuinn sings a good lead, but it’s Nashville session player, Lloyd Green, on pedal steel guitar, who makes this recording as country as anything they were playing down at the Grand Ole Oprey.

Newcomer Parsons dominated the Nashville sessions to the point that he argued the band should change its name to “Gram Parsons and the Byrds.” Cooler heads prevailed and Parsons’ lead vocals were later expunged on three songs and replaced with McGuinn’s. Parsons, in essence, fired himself from the band two months prior to the release of “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” by refusing to tour apartheid-divided South Africa with the other Byrds.

“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” was released as an early single on April 2, 1968, but rock ‘n’ roll AM Top 40 radio listeners weren’t ready for it. The song peaked at only #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, some folks definitely did take notice. “Sweetheart” is now revered as a historic, pioneering, seminal album that ushered in country-rock just as Parsons had envisioned. The LP was released a full seven months ahead of Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline.” Despite its initial cool reception, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” easily deserves the #13 spot in our countdown of the Byrds’ Top 25 Songs.

Following “Sweetheart,” the Byrds pulled back from hardcore country and settled into a country-rock compromise.

Trivia: Dylan released his own version of “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” three years later in 1971 in which he annoyedly name-checked McGuinn for transposing the lyric, “Pick up your money, pack up your tent” to “Pack up your money, pick up your tent.”

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #115

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we have a new sermon from one of the brethren down under. Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaches from Luke 18:15-34 on “Can You Be Saved Without Being a Disciple?” This sermon was delivered on Sunday, December 5th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Can You Be Saved Without Being a Disciple? – The sermon begins at the 17:45 mark.