Seventh-day Adventists who are frightened by the American "Religious Right"--politically active Christians who are socially conservative--have just gained an ally in an unexpected location: The Vatican.
According to an Associated Press article by Rachel Zoll posted yesterday, a Jesuit-run, Vatican-approved magazine "condemned the way some American evangelicals and their Roman Catholic supporters mix religion and politics, saying their worldview promotes division and hatred."
The journal, La Civilta Cattolica ("Catholic Civilization"), is edited by a Jesuit priest, Antonio Spadaro, who is said to be very close to Pope Francis. Articles in La Civilta Cattolica are reviewed and approved by the Vatican Secretariat of State, and under Francis, who is also a Jesuit, the publication has become an unofficial mouthpiece of the Pope. So there can be no question that Spadaro's views closely track those of the Pope.
Spadaro notes that American Catholics and Evangelicals have found common cause in recent decades around issues such as “abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values." But Spadaro disapproves: "Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.”
I have not been able to access the article on La Civilta's website, but according to Breitbart's Thomas Williams, Spadaro showed special contempt for us white southerners, writing that "it is 'these religious groups that are composed mainly of whites from the deep American South' that push conflicts and justify belligerence, while favoring the Old Testament 'rather than be guided by the incisive look, full of love, of Jesus in the Gospels.'"
Spadaro's fulmination was aimed in part at America's Catholic bishops, who have fought against same-sex marriage, for exemptions to the Obamacare requirement to provide "morning after" birth control pills, and for exemptions to laws requiring adoption agencies to consider same-sex adopting parents. Spadaro writes that "erosion of religious liberty is clearly a grave threat," but warned against mounting a defense of religious liberty in "fundamentalist terms" (whatever that means).
Spadaro's rant was too much for many American Catholics. Dr. Samuel Gregg wrote an article entitled "On that strange, disturbing and anti-American Civilta Cattolica article." Dr. Gregg condemns Spadaro's strange equating of American fundamentalists with ISIS:
"As far as I am aware, American self-described fundamentalists are not destroying 2000 year-old architectural treasures, decapitating Muslims, crucifying Middle Eastern Christians, promoting vile anti-Semitic literature, or slaughtering octogenarian French priests."
Perhaps the Pope is most upset because southern white Christian voters do not care a whit about purported man-made global warming:
"Various links are also made between climate change skepticism, the faith of white southern Christians (comments which, if applied to other racial groups, would be denounced by some as verging on bigotry), and apocalyptic thinking among some American Evangelicals."
Spadaro's argument that American conservative Christians are "Manichean" in their outlook is not true, notes Dr. Gregg, nor has the issue-oriented alliance between Catholics and Evangelical Protestants "a shred of theocratic aspiration."
But if you're a Seventh-day Adventist who believes that the American Religious Right is “a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state," take heart: Pope Francis and his Jesuit brothers are on your side.