This chapter from our chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s seminal book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (1996), explores the broad consequences of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, including the erosion of public confidence in the American political system. The book is available at Kindle here, and is available to read for free here.
Chapter 16: Things Are Seldom What They Seem
“So, as the pope visits the Rocky Mountains this week, his teachings and policies on birth control can no longer be seen merely as the business of Catholics…. [they] could now instead lead to the death of us all.”
Georgie Anne Geyer
August 10, 1993
Most Americans have a very positive image of the pope and the Roman Catholic Church as can been seen from the study discussed in the preceding chapter. But as syndicated columnist Georgie Ann Geyer points out, this man has already taken steps that may very well cause your premature death and the premature deaths of loved ones. His behavior shows that he has no regard for your life or mine—for our souls, perhaps, but not for our lives, and especially not for our children’s lives.
Geyer correctly observes that the pope is a threat to everyone on the planet. He is our enemy. Yet we have this very positive image of Pope John Paul II (the most admired world leader with a favorability rating of 88 percent) and an equally positive image of his institution (the most admired political institution in the U.S. with a favorability rating of 89 percent). How can this be? How can our images be so far removed from reality? The fact is, there is a broad array of images retained by Americans that have been distorted by the Vatican to advance its own interests.
Since I began my study of the Roman Catholic Church, as it relates to population growth control, some 26 years ago, I have been amazed at the intensity of Vatican activity in the U.S. On numerous occasions, I have observed some activity (usually but not always a political activity) that did not seem reasonable. I would be offered explanations which, upon reflection, would not hold water. When I’ve explored these things, I would often find the Church deeply involved, seeking some gain or other.
In the U.S., the Catholic Church is a $200 billion operation, composed of millions of highly organized workers with an intense sense of mission, a long history of political manipulation, and a superb track record of getting their way. Before I began my study, I had a very different idea of what church and religion meant, having been raised as a Methodist. I was completely unprepared for what I found. Many of the tears in America’s social fabric are the result of Vatican attempts to advance its power, control, influence, wealth or security—at the expense of Americans and American institutions. Rarely was there evidence of Vatican involvement in these activities on the surface, but upon probing, the role of the Vatican became evident. Usually it also became evident that considerable effort had been made to mask the fact that the Vatican was a significant actor. But before presenting specific instances of such activities, a question should be considered.
How Far Will the Vatican Go?
How far is the Vatican willing to go to insure its survival? Some readers may be offended, but this is a valid question. In America, we have the freedom of inquiry and we should exercise it or we are sure to lose it. This is one of the most important unknowns Americans now face. If the Vatican will secretly kill the Rockefeller Commission and NSSM 200 initiatives which definitively showed that overpopulation threatens the security-survival of every American, what will it not do? Will it manipulate the initiation of U.S. warfare with other countries to divert attention from the overpopulation problem? Will it prompt a civil war in the U.S., fulfilling the prediction of President Grant, in order to undermine America’s capacity to confront the overpopulation problem? Will it promote disintegration of the American social fabric to save the Papacy?
Thus far, the Vatican has had so much success at shutting down all serious efforts to control population growth that draconian actions have not yet been necessary. But what if the NSSM 200 recommendations had been implemented? Most likely, the Vatican would have done whatever it felt necessary to successfully intervene; perhaps, merely conspiring to force the resignation of a president would have been sufficient. Had they not intervened, self-destruction of the Vatican already might have been complete by now.
The Pastoral Plan’s Broad Consequences
Few Americans appreciate how much the bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities has changed America. Every community has been changed by it. Every person in America is living his/her life differently from what he/she would have had this plan not been implemented. Many of our elected representatives at all levels of government would have been different. Many positive changes in our lives, that probably would have occurred had the Rockefeller Commission and NSSM 200 recommendations been implemented, did not occur.
For example, almost surely there would be less crime, the welfare burden would be reduced and the drug problem would be smaller if the recommendations had been implemented. Why? Because family planning education would be much more widespread and integrated naturally into our pattern of family values; contraception would be encouraged; and safe, legal abortion would be much more readily available to all women. Unplanned births, about 50 percent of all U.S. births since 1975, would have been reduced dramatically. The number of poverty stricken adolescents, and men and women in their early twenties, would be much less than it is today.
Also, many negative changes in our lives have resulted from the initiatives undertaken by the bishops as a part of their Plan. The costs to us all have been enormous. Throughout the remainder of this chapter, examples of these changes will be offered. My first two books on this topic contain many more.
As Byrnes concluded in his study, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference (USCC) have been consumed by the abortion issue and this Plan since they were created 27 years ago. They have committed an enormous amount of energy, organization, direction and resources to the abortion and other population-related issues. This commitment has brought serious consequences throughout our society.
One of the more profound accomplishments of this Plan is the takeover of the Republican Party by the Vatican. In a July 28, 1994 Los Angeles Times wire service story, Jack Nelson describes the maneuvers of the Religious Right so that this takeover is all but an accomplished fact. According to Nelson, “GOP moderates have remained passive on the sidelines, unwilling to fight…”
On September 11, 1995, author, journalist and broadcaster, Bill Moyers, was given the American Jewish Committee Religious Liberty Award. In his acceptance remarks, “Echoes of the Crusades: The Radical Religious Right’s Holy War on American Freedom,” Moyers gives his assessment of the influence of the Religious Right: “They control the Republican Party, the House of Representatives and the Senate…”[265a]
But who are the Religious Right? The Spring 1994 issue of Conscience, the journal of Catholics For a Free Choice, exploded the myth that the Religious Right is a Protestant movement. It was designed, created and controlled by Catholics in response to the Pastoral Plan. These Catholics recruited opportunistic Protestants to give the appearance that Protestants were the instigators. The leadership is Catholic but the followers are often Protestant. The development of the Religious Right is described in some detail in the two books noted above, published 12 and 10 years ago, respectively. Also discussed is the Vatican takeover of the Republican Party already well underway at the time of their publication.
Even when the Pastoral Plan was first approved by the bishops, the National Catholic Reporter recognized that the plan would lead to a Vatican controlled political party in the United States and the newspaper went on record with this prediction. Rather than creating its own political party, the Vatican chose to seize control of the Republican Party.
The Christian Coalition Takeover of the Republican Party
A survey by Campaigns & Elections magazine reported [in 1994] that the Christian Right exercised complete domination of Republican parties in 13 states and considerable control in 18 others.[266a] These facts shocked moderate Republicans and Democrats alike. It was no longer possible for the Coalition to keep its stealth campaign hidden.
At the Christian Coalition’s 1995 “Road to Victory” Conference, Pat Robertson revealed his dream when the Coalition was founded in 1991. Writes Joseph L. Conn for Church & State:
His wish list was far from modest: a conservative majority in both houses of Congress, 30 state governorships in conservative hands and a conservative in the White House, all by 1996, and working control of one of the major political parties by 1994. During his September 8 speech, Robertson gleefully recalled those goals and boasted that his movement is not only on track, it’s ahead of schedule on some points….[266b]
A Church & State editorial on the Conference reported: “Pat Robertson triumphantly recounted the great distance the Christian Coalition has traveled in a short amount of time: ‘I said we would have a significant voice—actually I said something else, but Ralph [Reed] said I can’t say that because we got press—I said we would have a significant voice in one of the political parties by 1994 and looks like we made that one.’ Robertson reminded the audience of the findings of the poll conducted by Campaigns & Elections, which had shocked so many. What did Coalition Executive Director Reed want Robertson to keep under wraps? Five years ago the TV preacher said, ‘we want…as soon as possible to see a working majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996.'”[266c]
“Throughout the…conference, organizational leaders, activists and political hangers-on made it clear that the Christian Coalition is not just another interest group in American public life. It is a highly partisan religio-political army wielding a disproportionate influence in U.S. politics.”[266b]
Rob Boston writing for Church & State after attending the September 8-9, 1995 “Road to Victory” Conference in Washington, D.C.: “…once again Reed and Robertson are being less than honest. Christian Coalition activists, in fact, have formed a partisan machine that aims to seize control of the Republican Party and place Coalition allies in public office.” Deception is openly touted: “At breakout sessions, conference participants were schooled in the art of concealing their ties to the Christian Coalition, in a continuing pattern of ‘stealth politics.'” Boston reports, “Speaker Cathe Halford, training director for the Texas Christian Coalition, declared: ‘You all know we’re in a war, we’re in a spiritual war, a war for our culture, however you want to say it…. Don’t get intimidated that this is a big political machine you’re part of. Just try to focus on those people as your neighbors.'”[266d]
Boston described one session, “Building a Neighborhood Organization”: “In fact, the session had little to do with neighborhood activism; it was devoted to explaining how to get at least one Christian Coalition operative in every county precinct and how to compile information on voters, with an eye toward turning out those who are likely to support Christian Coalition candidates on election day.”[266d] This is the heart of the Coalition strategy.
The results thus far: According to a report prepared by Americans United and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, 198 members of the U.S. Congress vote with the Christian Coalition at least 86 percent of the time. At a press conference, Lynn criticized the “tangled—and growing—links between the Christian Coalition and the Republican Party…the Christian Coalition now calls the shots for a major political party.”[266b]
Arthur Jones of the National Catholic Reporter, concludes: “Robertson and Reed have emerged as a cunningly dynamic duo that understands the weaknesses of the soft underbelly of the U.S. democratic system…”[266e] The weakness, of course, is that a determined minority can identify voters in great numbers who will vote its way if they get to the polls, then by insuring that all vote, it can sway the majority of elections. However, given the enormous Catholic commitment to the Christian Coalition one must wonder who actually discovered this soft underbelly.
The implications of this takeover for American politics at the national, state and local levels are enormous, affecting us all. Thousands of politicians at all levels whose positions have opposed the Vatican have been victims of the plan, significantly changing the American political landscape. No politician has benefited more than Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. This fact is documented elsewhere.-
As noted earlier, the ultimate objective of the Vatican’s political machine is passage of the Human Life Amendment (HLA). As Jack Nelson pointed out, “the 1992 GOP platform called for a ‘human life amendment’ to the Constitution, outlawing abortion in all circumstances.” It should be noted that the HLA need not be enforced to meet the needs of the Vatican. The Vatican requires only that the civil law not conflict with canon law. Then papal authority and civil authority are not pitted against one another. It is only legal abortion that threatens Papal authority.
We all have the illusion, carefully crafted by Papal propaganda, that “lives of the unborn” and “morality” are the issues. This is simply not so. It is survival of the Catholic institution and Papal power that is the issue, not the “lives of the unborn” or anything else. All countries in Latin America (all are Catholic) have higher abortion rates than the U.S. Nothing is said by the Church there. If abortion were the real issue, the Church would be speaking out even louder in Latin America than in the U.S. Only in the U.S., where it is legal, is it an important issue for the Church. Of course, few American Protestants are aware of this fact.
Protest Disappears from Protestants
Another major accomplishment of the Pastoral Plan has been its effect on Protestantism in America. The Plan has taken the protest out of the Protestant movement. Until the Pastoral Plan, Protestant denominations had no reservations about protesting or criticizing the Catholic Church. The plan specifically targeted the Protestant Churches to silence them. The bishops succeeded.
For example, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has 14.7 million members and is one of the most powerful Protestant denominations. In the early 1980s, a rift began to develop between fundamentalist and moderate Baptists which did not concern theology as much as it did an authoritarian style of ministry. The Catholic Church has an extremely authoritarian style of ministry. Nothing is left by the Papacy for lay interpretation. At the Baptist Convention’s June 1988 meeting in San Antonio, a heated debate took place over an idea profoundly basic to all of Baptist heritage: the freedom of believers to experience God without priests, institutions or creeds acting as intermediaries.” “The priesthood of the believer” is a Protestant doctrine that lay people have direct access to God and need no priestly intermediary to interpret Scripture. This is exactly the opposite of Roman Catholic belief. Baptist Convention delegates voted to invest more authority in pastors. Enraged moderates marched to the Alamo and tore up the resolution in protest. The moderates argued it would make the denomination more Catholic than Baptist.
In journalist Bill Moyers’s public affairs television series, “God and Politics Part II,” aired on December 16, 1987, the relationship between the Baptist rift and the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life activities became evident. It is obvious that the victory of the Baptist fundamentalists benefits the Papacy. Any split like that of the Baptists weakens the potential of a Protestant response to challenges to American democracy by the Vatican. However, in this schism, the Vatican benefits in another important way. As the so-called “conservatives” gain the upper hand in the SBC, the Baptists then enter the Catholic column on the abortion issue. The Pastoral Plan calls for the recruitment of as many non-Catholics as possible so as to mask the fact that this plan is a Catholic initiative. The bishops can now speak for 14.7 million Baptists on this issue and will wield the additional political power derived from this arrangement.
During Moyers’s interview of Paul Pressler, Texas State Appellate Court Judge from Houston who engineered the split in the SBC, the Catholic connection to the Baptist rift became clear. During the interview, Moyers brought to light that Judge Pressler is on the board of directors of the Council on National Policy, along with fanatical Religious Right Catholics—Richard Viguerie, Phyllis Schlafly and Joseph Coors.
The Council on National Policy is one of the many Religious Right organizations created in response to the 1975 Pastoral Plan. By 1979, the Bishops had identified their man to engineer the Baptist rift—no doubt with a lot of the bishops’ help—Judge Pressler. According to Dr. Daniel Vestal, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Midland, Texas, “I listened to a tape that Judge Pressler produced, in which he basically recounted the political plan and strategy [for conservative takeover of the SBC] that he set forth back in 1979.” As Bill Moyers pressed the Judge on his relationship with the Council on National Policy—which promotes the adoption of Papal policy—the judge broke off the interview and refused to answer further questions. The Judge had been exposed—as had been the real actors behind the Baptist rift.
The Pope’s Ecumenical Movement
The “ecumenical movement” is the pope’s most important stratagem to silence Protestant criticism of Vatican interference in American government policy making. How does it work?
The extensive fragmentation of the Christian Church has resulted in a heavy burden of guilt for Protestants. The reason? This fragmentation is patently un-Christian. It flies in the face of the religion’s fundamental principles, a constant reminder that Christ’s followers reject His teachings. Protestants generally believe that unification of all Christians must be achieved if they are to live as true Christians. Guilt motivates them to strive for unity. As one New Orleans Protestant commented, “If we’re going to call ourselves Christians, we have to live like it.”
Criticism of one branch of Christianity by another results in disunity. Protestants have been very sensitive to this fact for much of this century. As a result, the ecumenical movement has served to silence any criticism of the Catholic Church by Protestant denominations. The outcome—complete institutional protection for the Catholic Church—compliments of well-meaning Protestants.
This reality has not been lost on the Vatican. When the Bishops Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities was promulgated, Rome preempted the ecumenical initiative and began making major investments to promote ecumenism. In the last few years, Vatican interests in ecumenism have escalated sharply. “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” issued in March 1994 as an unofficial document, called on these two groups to recognize each other as Christians and to work together on common issues, such as abortion and pornography.
Adelle M. Banks reports for the Religion News Service:
The declaration was signed by such prominent evangelical leaders as Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright. Catholic signers included Fr. Richard Neuhaus, director of the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York, theologian Michael Novak, a winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, Archbishop Francis Stafford of Denver, and Jesuit Fr. Avery Dulles of Fordham University.
Introducing the document last March, Neuhaus contended that not since the 16th century have Protestants and Catholics ‘joined in a declaration so clear in respect to their common faith and common responsibility.’ While calling the document unofficial, Neuhaus said he had ‘been in contact with appropriate parties at the Holy See and they have given their strongest encouragement for the project.'[273a]
However, many key evangelicals, including the Rev. John Ankerberg, R.C. Sproul and the Rev. D. James Kennedy, balked, declaring that the document ought never have been written.[273a] Evangelical signers were some of the least influential in the movement while their Catholic counterparts represented the very top of the American hierarchy. This was a major initiative of the Vatican to promote the illusion that ecumenism is advancing in America. But it was only partially successful.
“That All They May Be One”
On May 30, 1995, the pope issued his 12th encyclical, Ut Unum Sint, “That All They May Be One,” which is dedicated to the promotion of ecumenism. The message: The pope is eager to bring separated Christians back together. The encyclical was warmly received in the United States by the National Council of Churches, the nation’s largest ecumenical organization. Its General Secretary, Rev. Joan B. Campbell responded: “The encyclical itself is a testament to the very spirit of Christian unity which we seek.”[273b] This is precisely the response the Vatican sought. The encyclical offered the hope that unity was possible, encouraging Protestants to make every effort for its achievement—including suppressing all criticism of the Catholic Church from Protestant ranks.
Encyclicals are major declarations for Catholic clergy and the faithful. However, this one is distinctly different. It is specifically addressed to all Christians[273b] for reasons that will become apparent.
The National Catholic Register’s Jean-Marie Guenois summarizes the encyclical. She quotes the pope:
Could not the real but imperfect communion existing between us persuade Church leaders and their theologians to engage with me in a patient and fraternal dialogue on this subject, a dialogue in which, leaving useless controversies behind, we could listen to one another, keeping before us only the will of Christ for His Church and allowing ourselves to be deeply moved by His plea ‘that they may all be one…so that the world may believe that You have sent Me?’
Guenois continues: “Ut Unum Sint consists of three chapters, the first on the Roman Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism, the second on the fruits of dialogue and the third on the way to the future.” The third chapter “focuses on the importance of Christian unity for the work of evangelization.” His message: We should not be wasting our energy attacking each other. We should concentrate our efforts on evangelization. Guenois continues: “While eager to preserve the Magisterium, he does express a sense of urgency about bringing Christians back together. He states bluntly in the encyclical that division among Christians ‘impedes the very work of Christ.’…The very fact of calling oneself a Christian means desiring to be one with others of the same name, the Pope writes: ‘To believe in Christ means to desire unity.'”[273c]
The pope goes much further. In the encyclical’s point #40, the pope writes:
Relations between Christians are not aimed merely at mutual knowledge, common prayer, and dialogue. They presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical cooperation at all levels: pastoral, cultural, and social…Moreover, ecumenical cooperation is a true school of ecumenism, a dynamic road to unity. Unity of action leads to the full unity of faith…In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved.[273d]
Recalling that the pope prepared this encyclical for all Christians, his intent can only be described as “thinly veiled.” He calls not only for Protestants to be silent about Vatican political manipulations in America so they can be the good Christians that God wants them to be, but also to cooperate with the Catholic Church in accomplishing its political agenda.
No Protestant leader protested the encyclical, though its intentions must have been clear to many. It received no negative press in the United States whatsoever. The pope’s strategy is working. (It should be noted that in this encyclical, just as in Evangelium Vitae, the pope glorifies martyrdom. The message: the most wonderful thing one can do with one’s life is to give it up in the defense of the Holy Mother Church: “This communion is already perfect in what we consider the highest point of the life of grace, ‘martyria’ unto death, the truest communion possible with Christ…” Why all the emphasis on martyrdom?)[273d]
An example of changed attitudes appears on the front page of the August 6, 1995 edition of the National Catholic Register in an article: “Catholic-Baptist ties show signs of new life: Southern Baptists and Catholics show signs of rapprochement.” At the 1995 Southern Baptist Convention, Father Frank Ruff, a Catholic priest who attended his first Southern Baptist Convention in 1967, was asked to speak. It was a ground-breaking occasion. As a field representative for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs, his request to address the previous year’s convention had been politely turned down.[273e]
Ecumenism compromises Protestant Americans. The resulting silence has effectively shut down public debate of Vatican interference in American public policy making, gravely jeopardizing the security of all Americans as described in detail in the NSSM 200 report. The Vatican has skillfully advanced the case that an attack on the pope and the Catholic Church is an attack on all Christianity. America is certain to be in deep trouble if Protestant denominations accept this proposition. This would mean that they give the papal interpretation of the defense of Christianity a higher priority than the defense of the United States and its democracy. The outcome would be catastrophic for us all.
All of the major Protestant denominations have been affected by the Pastoral Plan and its ecumenical movement in significant ways. The Catholic Church has identified individuals who are anti-abortion, or simply opportunistic, in all of the denominations and has aided these individuals to rise to power within their denominations. The Church has helped create the illusion that the vocal anti-abortion minorities in the various denominations are the spokesmen for the denominations. More important, all criticism of the Catholic Church has been silenced, a vital outcome for the Vatican. The Protestant press which held the Vatican imposition of the Papal agenda in check in this country for 175 years has been neutralized. This arrangement has permitted the Vatican to influence American policy-making to a greater degree than would have been possible otherwise. All of our lives have been significantly affected.
Erosion of Confidence in Our Political System
The Pastoral Plan has had far-reaching effects on American political institutions, including the executive, legislative and judicial branches, which were specifically identified as targets in the plan. Organized as a result of the plan, there are thousands of Catholics working in national, state and local governments who are responsive to the leadership of the Vatican, some out of religious belief, others simply out of opportunism. Doubtless a majority of the Catholics in our governments are “Kennedy Catholics.” However, many are not and serve in the government to advance the interests of the Church. These Catholics have played havoc with American policy-making and the implementation of policy, especially in population growth control related matters. There are also opportunistic non-Catholics in our governments who serve the Vatican for personal gain or are zealots opposed to abortion and contribute to the Vatican effort.
Our government institutions are intended to protect or advance the interests of Americans. However, we have this highly organized group of Papal loyalists who do everything possible within the institutions that employ them to protect and advance Papal interests, at the expense of American interests. We have patriotic Americans pulling one way in their respective institutions in order to complete the assigned missions of their institutions. Then we have the papists pulling the other way. Some examples from Bernstein’s TIME magazine article will be presented later.
This constant struggle erodes public confidence and trust in these institutions because most people are unaware of the conflict taking place between papists and patriotic Americans. For 19 years I have personally witnessed this conflict, particularly within institutions that are concerned with family planning, abortion and population growth control, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare (DHEW), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Indeed, the patriots themselves are often not aware that they are involved in a conflict with the Catholic Church, which is represented by one or more of their coworkers. This constant tug-of-war is destroying the effectiveness of these institutions. Very few people recognize this serious problem—total gridlock on some issues is caused by it.
Some of the most competent people in America take positions in our government, elected and appointed officials and civil servants alike, only to leave prematurely out of disgust because they find themselves caught up in this tug-of-war, either knowingly or unknowingly, and are unable to efficiently perform the duties they were elected, appointed, or hired to do. Nothing has contributed more to the loss of the best and brightest from public service than the bishops’ agenda. Others do not seek public service because of cynicism developed as a result of their own observations of this tug-of-war.
The bishops have had no reservations about corrupting these institutions to advance Papal security interests. The intervention described in the Pastoral Plan is massive and far reaching, and efficiency has suffered significantly, affecting us all. From the bishops’ perspective, this is a small price to pay to save the Papacy from extinction.
One of the best examples is the presidency. When President Clinton was elected, it was clear from routinely reading an array of conservative Catholic periodicals during the course of the following year that conservative Catholics were in a state of shock. They simply could not believe this had happened.
Almost immediately, a multitude of stories began to appear in these periodicals which were obviously intended to undermine Clinton’s credibility. It soon became evident that conservative Catholics were going to do everything possible to insure that there would be no second term for President Clinton. No concern was shown for potentially lasting damage to the institution of the American presidency itself. Within days of Clinton’s election, open warfare was launched against the American presidency.
As soon as President Clinton took office, he was hounded by charges that were intended to embarrass him and to serve to weaken his ability to govern effectively. None of these charges, even if they were true, would result in his removal from office. However, they did serve to weaken Clinton’s credibility and capability to govern. The charges served to destroy faith in President Clinton and promote cynicism toward him.
Rush Limbaugh appeared out of nowhere. There is a never before witnessed steady attack from every direction—from the floor of the House, the floor of the Senate, from radio and television talk shows, and newspaper and magazine reporters and columnists. It is an ugly, bitter, brutal, vicious attack such as Americans have seldom if ever seen a sitting president endure before. The conservative Catholic press and conservative Catholic journalists led the charge and have been the most aggressive of all.
Not surprising, Clinton’s disapproval ratings have risen steadily and approximated 50 percent in mid-1994, the highest ever for a sitting president. This assault has been so intense and destructive, it is threatening to undermine the institution of the presidency itself. Cynicism toward our government has grown. Trust in our government has fallen.
Inevitably the President’s ability to govern has diminished. If he does not govern well, he will be defeated in the next election. The zealots who want Clinton out of office seem to have no concern about destruction of the institution of the presidency itself. Who are these zealots? Nearly all identify with the Religious Right. Exceptions are ambitious men like Robert Dole who hungers to be the next president. The Religious Right is the design of conservative Catholics who were activated by the Pastoral Plan to advance Papal security-survival interests.
The tug-of-war taking place in our governmental institutions remains mostly unseen by the public. When a battle is perceived, such as the highly visible “Whitewater Affair,” the underlying motivation is seldom understood. For example, on the August 8, 1994 “CBS Evening News,” Dan Rather, in a segment on Whitewater referred to “the anti-Clinton activists” and the “Get Clinton Movement.” However, no mention was made of the underlying motivation or engine of this movement. He makes no connection with the Religious Right or the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan. Though Rather made no attempt to explain what is really driving the anti-Clinton campaign, we are often misled in similar circumstances.
These tugs-of-war are occurring also in our private institutions and international organizations—especially those related to population growth control—with many of the same negative consequences, undermining organizational commitment and effectiveness.
Disinformation Creates Wrong Perceptions
We are all exposed to a flow of information pointing toward the gravely threatening problem of overpopulation. But for over two decades now, surprisingly little concern for the gravity of the problem has been exhibited except by a small group of people in the field, and more recently by a growing number of environmentalists. Since the early 1970s, observers in the field have recognized that there is also a steady flow of disinformation. But they have had little reason to think that this flow is organized in any fashion, or organized and motivated by any particular institution. There are a number of individuals who have excelled in what could be called “disinformation enrichment.” Three in particular come to mind: Herman Kahn, Julian Simon and Ben Wattenberg. None of them had gained distinction in the field before suddenly finding themselves at the center of the world stage disputing the work of thousands of scientists who had collectively concluded that the world is in deep trouble because of its unprecedented and uncontrolled population growth.
Herman Kahn was the first of the three. I remember watching in the 1970s with amazement as he would offer one unsound argument after the other, outrightly ignoring all of the best data available. All along I wondered how it is possible that this man would be given this incredible world platform from which to speak. How could he be taken seriously by the media, when he was scoffed at by the world scientific community? He was almost completely alone. It just did not make sense.
Next, along came the publication of an article by Julian Simon titled “Resources, Population, Environment” in Science in 1980. This article dismissed the idea that the world has a population problem. That this article could appear in the most prestigious scientific journal in America was astounding. This article had nothing to do with science and was based on fiction as much as fact; it was a dishonest attempt to undermine the argument that the world has a population problem. The article was met with disbelief in the scientific community.
Then, along came Simon with his book, The Ultimate Resource, in 1981. Simon attempts to make the case that it is not possible to have overpopulation; that people are the ultimate resource, and the more the better. Simon is an economist. In this book, Simon intermingles fact with fantasy throughout and misrepresents his material as fact. It was one misrepresentation of reality after the other. Simon was ridiculed by the scientific community. I could not believe that Princeton University Press had published this book. How could Simon have possibly placed this book with this publisher? This was a very serious setback for the population growth control movement. Princeton University had put its prestige behind this intellectually dishonest treatment of the issue of population growth.
At this point it became clear to me that there had to be corruption involved in the publication of the Science article and of the book as well. To corrupt these institutions takes a lot of influence. Who has the motivation to corrupt in this way? The institution with the most to gain by publication of these fantasies is the Vatican. Is it capable of such corruption? Certainly, if the stakes are high enough, the history of the institution suggests that they will stop at nothing.
With the publication of his article in Science and his book, Simon found himself at the center of the world stage. His articles and his message began to appear everywhere in newspapers and magazines. For example, in June 1981, he published a lengthy article in the Atlantic Monthly magazine, with the theme that nature is boundless. Then in August, 1981, he published another lengthy article in the Atlantic Monthly attempting to make the case: the more people the better.[277a] He became a sought after public speaker and appeared often on television and radio.
No one had ever done so much to undermine public confidence in the argument advanced by the world’s scientists that humanity faces a serious overpopulation problem. Years of scientific education went down the tubes. Of course, we would all like to believe that overpopulation is not a serious problem. Simon’s position, the Vatican’s position, caught on like wildfire. Simon’s work and its apparent widespread acceptance by “scientists” caused great confusion which persists today.
Not enough people realized that Simon’s support came almost entirely from the religious right. Simon wrote his book while at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. While he was there, support of his work on his book came from the Heritage Foundation, a Vatican-leaning organization created in line with the bishops’ Pastoral Plan.
Simon was a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation when he headed a 21-member panel of “scientists” commissioned by Heritage to re-examine the 1980 Global 2000 report, which President Carter had ordered the State Department and Council on Environmental Quality to prepare, exploring probable changes in the world’s population, natural resources and environment through the end of the century. The report, issued after a year-long study, expressed deep concern about continued rapid global population growth and its contribution to the depletion of natural resources and destruction of the environment.
Simon released the Heritage panel’s findings at the 1982 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, chalking up another remarkable Vatican accomplishment. In 1984, Simon teamed up with Herman Kahn to place a book with the scientific publisher, Basil Blackwell.[277b] This 585-page book was devoted to refuting the Global 2000 report.
In March 1985, I received a telling letter from Roger Conner, Executive Director of the American Federation for Immigration Reform. It read:
Maybe the Heritage Foundation has finally gotten rid of Julian Simon after all. He has now started his own group, written up in the enclosed column.
Patrick Burns, our director of research and publications, has called the new group’s telephone number and discovered that it is housed in an exclusive girls’ finishing school financed by Opus Dei—an extremely right wing Catholic organization.
I doubt that we’ve heard the last of Julian.
To learn of Simon’s close ties to the Catholic Church did not surprise me. Let’s examine some of his own words. In a September 15, 1986 letter widely distributed to journalists, Simon introduces his new organization, the Committee on Population and Economy: “Next time you work on a story concerning population, please call Committee on Population and Economy to get our point of view.” In his “prospectus” he states, “The general purpose of the Committee on Population and Economy is to celebrate human life and its increase. We, plus the appended list of persons who have affiliated with us in some capacity—intend to promote belief in the value and sanctity of human life. And we hope to increase understanding that an additional human being tends to benefit rather than harm others economically.”
His “partial list of general goals” includes: “Educate the public to the good news that the physical limits of our environment are receding rather than advancing…. Publicize such scientific findings as those which indicate that in the long run, on average an additional human being increases the standard of living of other people rather than detracts from it, and that there is no connection between population growth or size or density and the propensity of countries toward war and violence. These findings contradict assertions without supporting evidence by the U.S. State Department and the CIA, assertions apparently made simply because they seem reasonable.” Perhaps Simon is referring to NSSM 200 here.
Simon lists “Some specific tactical objectives: Disseminate writings…. Provide an organizational address that the media can turn to when they seek a ‘contrasting’ viewpoint to the Population Crisis Committee, Population Institute…and so on. As with other issues, when a population news issue arises, newspaper reporters automatically turn to organizations who make that issue their business. In the absence of an organization that speaks in favor of human life and against a doomsday view of our future, the journalist is likely simply to resort to no one…. Offer an alternate source of information to the Population Resource Center which now ‘briefs’ government officials in a supposedly neutral fashion about population issues…. Comment…on bills now before the Congress that would mandate U.S. and world “population stabilization” and that would create staffs and programs to achieve that end…. ‘Infiltrate’ church, environmental, and other groups that currently make pronouncements in favor of population control in order to provide another viewpoint.”
Apparently, Simon is referring to infiltration of Protestant churches, as such discussion is forbidden in the Catholic Church. He goes on to say, “The organization will use all available education means to promote its beliefs…”
Simon lists specific planned activities: “Issue a series of articles, written for popular reading at the level of magazine articles or newspaper op-ed pieces, dealing with various aspects of our subject…. This series will be sent to our list of newspaper and television journalists who cover population and the environment, many of whom we believe to be interested and who may diffuse our message.” We must assume that he is referring to the Catholic journalists Pope John II referred to in addressing the International Catholic Press Union and the International Catholic Association for Radio and Television in his message, “Mass Media Need Catholic Presence,” referred to earlier.
He continues, “The environmentalist and population-control organizations have developed into an effective tool the letter-to-the-editor, wherever news stories appear. We wish to create a grass-roots organization with this as one of its central tasks, both in communities and on college campuses. The present state of public belief was largely created by a deluge of communications of all sorts over two decades. It will be easier for us than it was for them…”
This statement is most telling. For some who have closely followed letters-to-the-editor and op-ed columns in several different newspapers for the last decade or two, it has been evident that an organized campaign advancing the Papal position on population and abortion has been underway for a long time. Simon refers to that highly successful campaign here. Unfortunately, most readers are occasional readers and have not recognized this fact.
Simon continues, “Yet a large volume of material will be necessary to establish the legitimacy of our message…as well as to hammer home our message to the public at large. A speakers’ bureau may also be part of such a grass-roots organization…. We will also maintain a list of high-level scholarly speakers whom we can recommend to the media when they seek interviews on television and radio for the press.”
The language used by Simon identifies his employer. His repeated use of the term, “value and sanctity of human life,” is rather suggestive. However, more conclusive evidence is evident in his list of persons he says “have indicated their desire to be associated with the project.” This list includes Judie Brown of the American Life League, as well as representatives of the American Enterprise Institute, The Rockford Institute, The Cato Institute, and The Heritage Foundation—all of which are identified with the Religious Right and emerged in response to the Pastoral Plan—and Georgetown University.
The highly sophisticated and prolific propaganda machine created by the bishops, which includes Simon’s organization, has been effective in creating illusions which serve to counter the realities we all see with our own eyes. These realities would, in the absence of Vatican inspired propaganda, be used to make decisions to support a more effective response to the overpopulation threat to American and world security. Today, the pope is winning this war because the massive propaganda efforts on his behalf have confused the American people. Such propaganda has killed the American political will to confront the population problem. But, given the stakes for the Vatican, we should not be surprised.
With propaganda machinery in place, the Vatican set out to create many wrong perceptions, serving to undermine the scientific consensus that world overpopulation is a grave problem for the U.S. These wrong perceptions and illusions, of course, serve as obstacles to a constructive response. Why? The constructive responses almost always include controls on population growth and immigration, threatening Vatican survival.
Wrong Perceptions—Greenhouse Effect Leads the List
Perhaps the most threatening consequence of overpopulation to the Vatican is the greenhouse effect. This consequence is terribly hard to ignore. People cannot help but take notice: wild swings in the weather, large intense storms, rising temperatures and droughts.
In June 1988, one of the nation’s leading climatologists, Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, declared himself “99 percent certain that the greenhouse effect is upon us.” At a U.S. Senate hearing, he stated, “The greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate.” During 1988, the United States sweltered in a heat wave and drought. News analysts warned, as Newsweek put it, “This year’s weather was merely the foretaste of a warming trend that will, by the next century, cause unprecedented disruption in the environment, not just of the United States but of the world…. This decade has seen the four hottest years of the last century and the first five months of 1988 are the warmest on record.”
The greenhouse effect is caused by an increase in the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other gases, including methane, nitrous oxides, and low-altitude ozone—all a result of human activity. The more humans, the more activity, naturally. This signals the inexorable links among population growth, energy consumption, and global warming. These increased levels act as a blanket which prevents heat received from the sun from being radiated back into space.
The atmospheric carbon dioxide level has risen 27 percent since the early 1800s, and 20 percent since 1960. The level is expected to double by the third quarter of the next century. If the buildup of other greenhouse gases such as methane is considered, the same effects could occur in 50 years or less.
“Most greenhouse effect forecasts call for rising sea levels, less rainfall in the interiors of continents, and hotter summers,” journalist Monte Basgall reported in July 1988. “The most unsettling scenarios include an increase in severe storms, and heat and drought conditions extreme enough to force population migrations.”
Other science writers made equally dire forecasts: “Conditions in Southern California will resemble Death Valley.” “The central United States will become a desert, if predictions hold true…. Three of the big models predict extreme drought to the point there will be no ability to have agricultural production in Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska.” These are important food growing regions and their loss, along with other areas certain to be affected, will mean serious food shortages in the United States. It is unlikely that we will be able to feed even our current population. North Carolina State University’s James Woodman believes that a climate that includes higher temperatures, elevated levels of ozone, and extreme variations in precipitation could only be bad for agriculture.
If the Earth’s population, industrialization, and emissions continue to grow at present rates, a six-degree increase in temperature is expected by mid-century—a temperature level last occurring two million years ago. “The potential for economic, political and social destruction is extraordinary,” said biologist George Woodwell. “Who could have imagined man himself rendering the earth uninhabitable?”
As Newsweek’s Jerry Adler and Mary Hager observed, “Trusting to luck is a risky strategy with the fate of the world at stake…. The web of life is unraveling around us…. The continuing thread of these environmental threats is the element of irreversibility.”
Norman D. Newell and Leslie Marcus have studied the positive relationship between population growth and the greenhouse effect for the period 1958-83 and found that the steady increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has closely paralleled the growth of world human population, with an amazing correlation of 0.9985. The authors suggest that this relationship is so precise that carbon dioxide measurements should probably replace inaccurate census taking.
According to Stephen H. Schneider, a climatologist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, what he and his colleagues fear the most is rapid change. Without action, they say, the change will happen so swiftly that all forms of life will be seriously disrupted.
The greenhouse effect clearly has the potential of being lethal to our life-support systems. All of this new information on the greenhouse effect cited above appeared in the American press in 1987 and 1988. A reasonable person would expect that the American people and our government would have reacted to this alarming new information. What has happened instead?
On May 6, 1989, White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu, a devout Catholic, rejected a proposal by William Reilly, who was at that time administrator of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and others who wanted U.S. representatives to call for an international convention on the greenhouse effect. Reilly and the others believed it would be a strong symbolic move for President Bush to urge a convention of nations to develop a framework for agreement on ways to combat the greenhouse effect. This move was killed by the White House.
On May 8, 1989, the Bush administration admitted that its Office of Management and Budget had changed conclusions about global warming data in the Congressional testimony of Dr. Hansen, over his protests. The budget office edited his text to soften the conclusions and make the prospects of change appear more uncertain.
When the information cited above began appearing in 1987 and 1988, immediately we began seeing counterpoint articles to confuse the public, as well as comments from scientists not directly involved with this issue. These counterpoint articles (and numerous letters-to-the-editor) were written by people who had little or no expertise in this field. Credentials were rarely mentioned. However, there was no controversy among the most competent people in the field.
The Vatican’s vast disinformation effort gave the impression to the public that there was much controversy among the scientists themselves with respect to the need to begin addressing this problem, including international communications in meetings like the one proposed by EPA Administrator, Reilly. There has been no further action on the proposed meeting, which is most certainly opposed by the pope, as it would mean the release of additional convincing evidence that we face a grave threat from overpopulation. The bottom line: nothing at all has happened.
We don’t hear much about the greenhouse effect anymore. The pope’s disinformation campaign is working. The public perception of the greenhouse effect is one of confusion, which has resulted in paralysis, the goal of this disinformation effort.