Summary of today’s show: Canadian author Michael Coren rejoins us for our 300th show to discuss his new book “Heresy” in which he tackles the ten big myths and lies told about Christians and Christianity. Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams talk with Michael about debating atheists on the existence of Jesus; why Christians care about whether gays can marry; the lie that Hitler was a Christian supported by Christians; why abortion isn’t about conservative politics, but about life; and that assisted suicide really is a slippery slope.
Listen to the show:
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams
Today’s guest(s): Michael Coren
Links from today’s show:
- Michael Coren’s website
- Program #0061 for Thursday, June 2, 2011: Michael Coren
- Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity
Today’s topics: Michael Coren’s new book “Heresy”
1st segment: Scot announced that this is the 300th episode of the show. Fr. Matt said he just came back from Rio for World Youth Day preparations. He just got back on Sunday. They went to prepare for World Youth Day in 2013. Fr. Matt said it’s a very beautiful city. They are well on the way to preparing for the Olympics and World Cup as well. He said this isn’t the Rio of the 80s that was plagued by gangs and drugs and fear. They are one of the fastest rising economies in the world.
2nd segment: Scot read from Michael’s book: If a lie is told enough it takes on the veneer of truth. He then listed several of the lies about Christianity that Coren addresses in his book.
Scot asked Michael about the success of his previous book, “Why Catholics are Right?” He said he was stunned by the success. He had been called by the head of his publisher who told him the book had been selling well and wanted him to do another one. It occurred to Michael to apply the same sort of popular and sometimes funny arguments to the greater Christian world. The first book was mainly a defense of the Catholic Church while the second is a direct response to the general lies faced by any Christian on a daily basis. He said people often don’t think there is anti-Christianity, but anyone who is a Christian feels the constant barrage of anti-Christian comments. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to face such persecution because we have to stand up for truth. The Christian response is with respect and firmness that something is not true.
Scot said many of these lies are not necessarily new arguments, but in this generation we often haven’t been given the tools to respond. The first chapter is dedicated to the responding to the lie that Jesus wasn’t a real person, but is like Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Whether Jesus is the Messiah or not is a matter of faith, but that he actually lived is beyond intelligent dispute. Yet, many intellectuals spread that lie. Michael’s proof in the book comes from non-Christian sources among Romans for instance.
Michael said he deals with the intellectual argument for the claims of Jesus as Messiah. But at the basic level, he always meets people who are otherwise clever who think Jesus didn’t exist. There is abundant an client writing attesting to the fact of Jesus existing, like Pliny and Josephus. There is much more evidence for the existence of Jesus than for any other ancient figure, like Aristotle or Socrates. In the 19th century, lots of the rationalists were shocked at new scholarship proving the existence of Christ.
Michael said he debates atheists a lot because he finds it fun and easy. He often cuts off atheists who equate Santa and Jesus and tells them he won’t debate if they’re going to insult him with holding on to a childish fantasy, like Santa. Jesus is a mature belief system that requires an adult attitude. Scot said many atheists make a sport of mocking Christians, but nobody calls them on it for not similarly criticizing other religions. Michael said Jon Stewart recently made an extremely offensive joke about Christianity but would never similarly attack Islam. If you attack Christians, no one’s going to try to cut your head off. But standing up as a Christian can get you prosecuted. In Canada there have been almost 300 prosecutions of people who said that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. These comedians are not cutting-edge, but they’re in a very comfortable area.
Michael said the idea that I shouldn’t care about gay people marrying is like saying I shouldn’t care about apartheid because it doesn’t affect me. But marriage is about children and gay marriage is a giant social experiment with the lives of the most vulnerable and we’ll be paying for it in 20 to 30 years. Michael said what he just said, if he said it in Canada, would lead him to civil prosecution under hate speech laws.
Scot said Michael deals in his book with the lie that Hitler was Christian and that Christianity is complicit in the Holocaust. Michael said the National Socialists wanted to replace Church with party, Messiah with Fuhrer. The Nazis hated Jews and Christianity for giving the world Jesus. This is throughout their writings. Hitler sometimes lied to Christians to make them think they were safe, but Hitler’s goons attacked and killed monasteries full of innocent monks. While many Nazis were baptized Catholics, it doesn’t mean they were actually Catholic in practice. We belittle the horror of Nazism by claiming they were Christians.
3rd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Daniel O’Shae from Melrose, MA
If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.
4th segment: Scot said Michael talks about in his book the lie that Christians are obsessed in an unhealthy way with abortion, being simple-minded. But in many ways, science is on the side of pro-lifers. Michael said there’s nothing wrong with having a simple mind and an open mind as opposed to empty headed. Abortion is not just a faith issue. If someone’s spouse died, it would be a terrible thing objectively. It would hurt the most for the surviving spouse. Christians feel the horror of abortion more because we are part of an institution given by God and we are part and parcel of it. The unborn child is absolutely unique from the moment of conception. There is no other definition for the beginning of human life. It’s not a potential life; it’s a life. We don’t look like an unborn child, but we also don’t look like a 3-year-old. It’s not part of the mother. No woman has to raise a child, but no woman has a right to kill a child. It’s not just a woman’s issue, because every child has a father. But the aborted children are predominantly female, handicapped, and black. These are the most needy and least powerful.
Scot quotes Michael as writing that choice is a good thing for freedom. Choice is good. Of course, the culture says being against choice makes you a bad person, but all sorts of choices are negative or harmful and we would never use the word choice in those instances. We wouldn’t speak of the choice to kill or to lie. Scot says this a great way to respond to those who put all choices forward as an unalloyed good. Michael said sometimes No is the right answer. We certainly don’t give choices to everyone for every circumstance. Scot said we’ve dehumanized the unborn over the years, calling it a fetus. One way to respond is putting a face on the victims of abortion.
Michael shared a story of Rose who lived in Eastern Europe at the turn of the 19th century. She was just married and her village decided they had to move because they were Jewish and the Russians were persecuting them. She found out she was pregnant and told her village she was expecting. The leader of the clan who had worldly experience told her that she wouldn’t make the trip, would slow them down, and perhaps kill them all. He wanted her to abort the child. She couldn’t accept it. A very old woman told her to do what she thought was right. So she carried on and as they traveled she was able to make it well. When they reached the sea, the captain of a ship they tried to hire said the sailors wouldn’t allow her onboard out of superstition. But when he saw her, she was hidden on board and they made their way to England. They settled in London and she gave birth to Michael’s great-grandfather.
Abortion is not about rights or conservatism. It’s about giving children life.
Scot said in Massachusetts we’re dealing with physician-assisted suicide. He asked Michael how we should respond. Michael said this is an issue we can still win. He said it’s not about someone who’s in terrible agony, saying please let me go. When Michael’s dad had a stroke, the doctors also found the return of a cancer. They advised that they should not take steps. This is not euthanasia. Euthanasia is taking an active part in ending life. He said the victim of euthanasia is, for example, a 70-year-old women whose husband died, who has arthritis, lives in a nursing home, is somewhat lonely, and the kids are paying lots of money to keep her. She doesn’t enjoy life, she misses her husband, and knows her grandkids don’t like visiting her. Culture tells her that she’s worthless. Eventually she thinks it’s time to go. Are we claiming that this is unbiased choice? Is someone wanting to die because she’s in pain really thinking clearly?
We should put all the money we spend on abortion and put it into palliative care. So much can be done, but instead of dealing with the issues, we try to kill the issues. We’re not putting people out of their misery, but we’re putting them out of our misery. Michael recalled a Canadian girl with cerebral palsy whose father killed her. Who are we to judge the quality of life of others? Perhaps many of the disabled are doing less harm to others because they’re abusing or hurting others.
Scot said Michael argues that the financial consequences of living longer and requiring more health care at the end of life, but the idea that financial concerns aren’t involved is naïve in the extreme. In addition some slopes are indeed slippery, which we’ve seen in places like the Netherlands where assisted suicide has become “mercy” killing of the mentally ill and others without terminal illnesses. Michael said the assisted suicide review boards are made up of people who are pro-suicide. They often cover up what happens. In the Netherlands, there was a devout Catholic nun who they claimed wanted to die, when in fact she had no desire to kill herself. In another case, a doctor checked a patient into the hospital and came back the next day to find out that other doctors euthanized her. The first rule of being a doctor is “Do no harm”. Now we are training doctors to kill whether unborn babies or the old and ill. Scot said in the Netherlands, we find elderly people refusing to go to the hospital out of fear.
In response to those who say were are hysterical, Michael said it is not hysterical to defend beliefs that are unchanged from history. He’s not doing this out of personal interest. He’s doing it all out of love.
Scot said in the US, the topic of legalizing assisted suicide has come up 127 times and it’s only been passed 3 times. Michael said even if the other side starts to win, we still need to fight it. He said there are no lost causes. Good always wins eventually.
Michael encouraged people to let him know what they think of his books by writing to him from his website.