Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Teaching America to fear Christians

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 29, 2024

Are you terrified by “the peril of the theocratic future toward which the country has been hurtling?”

Neither am I. But Linda Greenhouse is. That fear is the latest fashion on the radical left.

In a remarkable piece of alarmist propaganda, responding to the Alabama court decision that ruled a frozen embryo has legal rights, the New York Times columnist lamented that the US today “is awash in religiosity when it comes to human reproduction.” I confess that I hadn’t noticed. The public debate—at least as conducted in outlets like the New York Times tends to begin and end with the invocation of the word “choice.” If religion is mentioned, it is only to claim that all arguments against abortion are based on sectarian belief and therefore must be suppressed.

Greenhouse tells us: “Rhetoric about the ‘sanctity of unborn life,’ in the words of Alabama’s constitution, has for too long been cost-free, a politician’s cheap thrill.” You’ll notice here the implicit message that a politician who uses that rhetoric should pay a cost. If a pro-life columnist said the same sort of thing, it would immediately be cited as an invitation to violence.

Greenhouse does briefly acknowledge that the court’s decision was based on an amendment to Alabama’s constitution, ratified by the state’s voters, which designates any fertilized human embryo as a human being. (This by the way is an elementary biological fact, but Greenhouse & Co. have been successful over the years in their campaign to classify it as a religious belief.) If an embryo is a human being, then the embryos stored in IVF facilities are by definition human beings. Regardless of the judges’ personal beliefs, the Alabama court had no real choice; the decision was based on the clear language of the state’s constitution.

The Greenhouse column, however, is only one example of a new leftist rhetorical initiative: an effort to portray Christians as a danger to democracy. The phrase “Christian nationalism” has been tossed around constantly in the past few weeks, often in reference to the Alabama decision. Once the goal of the radical left was to push Christians out of the public debate on abortion. Now the more ambitious goal is to shove Christians out of the public debate altogether.

Sadly, politicians in Alabama seem to have been spooked by this artificial uproar, and so have rushed to pass new legislation barring prosecution of anyone who destroys an embryo in the course of IVF treatment. Such legislation would appear to conflict with the same pro-life amendment to the state constitution. It would also provide carte blanche to unscrupulous practitioners of the extremely lucrative IVF business. Abortionists have grown rich in large part because their political defenders have ensured that they are not subject to the same sort of government oversight that regulates the work of, say, dentists—or for that matter hairdressers. Now we can expect a concerted effort to provide the same legal immunity for those engaged in various forms of assisted reproduction.

But back to Linda Greenhouse. It takes a special sort of perspective to look at a cut-and-dried court decision—a decision required by a constitutional amendment—an amendment backed by the populace of the state—and see in that decision a danger of “theocratic” rule. You might wonder how Greenhouse acquired that perspective. What is her background?

Well, before she became a Times columnist, Greenhouse was a Times reporter. Her particular beat? The Supreme Court. For years, in what was then regarded as America’s most authoritative newspaper, Linda Greenhouse offered analysis of what the US Constitution says, and how it might be interpreted, on issues such as abortion. Now, seeing how she reasons when she is no longer inhibited by any pretense of objectivity, you can see more clearly how her work in the trenches as a reporter prepared the ground for her campaign today as a propagandist.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Mar. 02, 2024 10:42 AM ET USA

    A great moral theologian said: social engineering begins with verbal engineering hence the deceitful "corruption of language" which seeks to mask disorder and evil. Greenhouse and her company are the nihilists of Dostoyevsky's The Demons?the Possessed who rage when reminded there is a moral order and moral boundaries. It's not an accident that Christians are attacked because this is the battle of the Evil One and albeit left-handed, a reminder where the truth is so the Lie attacks full of rage.

  • Posted by: feedback - Mar. 02, 2024 2:25 AM ET USA

    Because of the relentless anti life and anti Christian propaganda work of Greenhouse and her ilk, many Americans have no concept of the beginning of human life. And the result is widespread corruption of language ("reproductive healthcare," "a woman's right to her body," etc.) and mass destruction of human life in its earliest stages. Our Catholic Bishops really need to step in strong and united with a genuinely Catholic teaching on IVF.

  • Posted by: miketimmer499385 - Mar. 01, 2024 8:49 AM ET USA

    Linda Greenhouses's "constitutionalism' has always been of the variety on display here. Fortunately my eyes have been spared from reading any of her thoughts on Dobbs. I would not be surprised if she might attribute the failures of the destruction of life squad to her absence at the helm of the ship since her retirement.