Obama: Ally of the Diabolical

That’s how Michael Voris, self-knighted champion of Real Catholicism, describes the president.  In this worldview, President Obama is quite literally, if unwittingly allying himself with Satan’s ultimate desire to overturn the divinely-ordained natural order, destroy the Church, enthrone chaos, and establish the diabolical worship of Satan in place of God.  Obama is in league with the demonic, an agent of the devil.  Voris derives this conclusion from Obama’s “war against what is natural,” his plan to unravel the natural order, “the reversal of that which is natural, the metaphysical beauty of existence.”  Obama “does all this at the service of his master, for he is in possession of the diabolical mind.”

I hasten to say this “theological” vision of the American political landscape  is not representative of the religion which Voris prides himself on defending with sword and fire.   Why bother with him, then?  His influence is close to nil, but he’s not alone in thinking this way about the president and about politics, and he articulates this outlook with remarkable clarity and conciseness.

Voris may seem especially “out there” when it comes to religious and political commentary, but what he says fits well within the trend of conceiving President Obama as an ” enemy other.”  Yesterday I wrote about Princeton professor Robert George’s assertions that Obama offers a political model that is radically at odds with the “historic, traditional, American, constitutional model” of the country.  Rick Santorum, who like Voris sees the hand of Satan attacking America, has proposed that Obama is motivated by a phony theology not based on the Bible.  And of course we all remember the demands for Obama’s birth certificate and speculations about his real religion.

Having said all this, I would be remiss to downplay the differences between Obama’s worldview and the vision of the universe as seen by Catholicism, the religion to which Voris, George, Santorum, and I belong.  Obviously Obama calls good what Catholics call evil, and wrong what they call good.  The principles that guide Obama are not the principles of our church, which is not surprising: Obama isn’t a Catholic.  He’s a fairly secular Christian, as far as I can tell.  His policies have created enmity between him and some Catholics, and I personally disagree with him about a great number of things, but I wouldn’t call him un-American or an agent of satanic powers.  He seems, in his better moments, to want to do the right thing.  He’d have done much worse in the past few years if he actually were in possession of an unnatural, diabolical mind.

For reasons I haven’t entirely figured out, Obama provokes what I might call theo-political overreach.  On the one hand you have Voris, fighting desperately for a purified Church to stand against the onslaughts of Obama and the rest of the devil’s agents.  On the other you have the reactionary utopian dream of Taylor Marshall, who imagines an America that’s fully Catholic, has no separation of Church and State, in which the religious signs and observances of Catholicism would be incorporated into the country’s political life, and in which sins contrary to the natural law would be criminalized.  Perhaps Voris and Marshall would have promoted their theological politics with the same fervency had McCain won the election.  I can’t rule that out, but both of them are clearly reacting to the Obama presidency.  With Catholicism front and center in this election season, I’m curious to see what kind of sway, if any, these theo-political worldviews have upon culture, discourse, and the presidential election.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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56 Responses

  1. Sam says:

    Surely you’re not that confused about where this sort of nonsense comes from.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      I know where some of it comes from, but I tread carefully when speculating about people’s underlying motivations.

      • Sam says:

        Varying percentages of fear, anger, racism, and hostility. They’re afraid of what they’re defining as the other, they’re angry that they’re own ideas aren’t as popular as they once were, they don’t like seeing somebody black doing anything, and they’re hostile to everything that’s happening. It’s how you end up at this madness.

        • Tony says:

          In my opinion, the “fear” and “anger” is less about “the other” as such and more about the political identification of the other as the same. For example, to describe Obama as a cultural Muslim is not necessarily to turn him into a diabolical scapegoat; it may simply be a way of rejecting implicit claims about what American Christianity is and has been. Maybe “seeing somebody black” makes the diabolical aspect easier, but that needn’t obscure the content of the theological atmosphere. You see the something similar in Evangelical objections to Mormons who, according to public reason, are the same sort of Christians.

          Anyway, the word “other” covers too much ground in these debates. Robert George says something about a “different model” and is lumped in with the diabolical usage because both can be said to identify an “enemy other.” Surely there is a difference?

        • Kyle Cupp says:

          I’m very doubtful that racism has anything to do with the Catholic theo-political reaction to Obama. Fear, anger, and hostility yes, but racism doesn’t make any sense. Catholicism is a global institution and community, having adherents from every race.

          • Sam says:

            From a church that has no history of minority leadership? From a church looking at a Protestent president? From an older white man from an earlier generation in which blacks were not generally in positions to have political influence? It is at least worth considering the possibility that race is playing a role in the overwhelming reaction to Obama, given this obvious difference.

          • Liberty60 says:

            We should also keep in mind that this is the American Catholic Church we are talking about;

            American Catholics are a bit different than others. And in recent years, the American Church has moved much closer to its Protestant Evangelical neighbors, and away from the Catholicism as practiced by other cultures.

            The Church that embraced labor, that opposed the death penalty, that was critical and skeptical of warmaking; that Church barely exists in America today.

            Full disclosure of bias- I left the American Catholic Church to join the Episcopals for those reasons among others.

          • Rodak says:

            “Catholicism is a global institution and community, having adherents from every race.”

            All that means is that a Catholic can’t be racist qua Catholic. Certainly you don’t believe that Catholicism cures racism, any more than, say, the Southern Baptist confession cures it?

          • Kyle Cupp says:

            American Catholics are a bit different than others. And in recent years, the American Church has moved much closer to its Protestant Evangelical neighbors, and away from the Catholicism as practiced by other cultures.

            The Church that embraced labor, that opposed the death penalty, that was critical and skeptical of warmaking; that Church barely exists in America today.

            Alliances have been made in the culture wars, but, if the USCCB is any indication, the U.S. Church leadership still embraces labor, opposes the death penalty, and is critical and skeptical of war-making. Lay Catholics, in large part, don’t follow the bishops on much of anything. Right-wing types ignore or dismiss the bishops on these and other “progressive” issues. Left-wing Catholics blast them for all the typical culture war issues. Everyone is still appalled at their handling of the sex abuse.

          • Kyle Cupp says:

            From a church that has no history of minority leadership?

            Are you speaking of the pope specifically? The bishops? The U.S. bishops?

          • Kyle Cupp says:

            @Rodak – No. Being Catholic doesn’t cure one of racism. I would say that to be racist is to be anti-catholic.

          • LaurNo says:

            Kyle, I can only speak anecdotally but the many Catholic churches I’ve attended over the years did not have one black priest, nor nuns when I was young. There were a few students at the neighborhood schools I attended and that was it. I couldn’t say about the bishops but I’d bet there aren’t many.

  2. Tod Kelly says:

    One of the things I have noticed about people in general, but especially about people who are political junkies, is that we have a tendency to believe that anything happening today that we are observing in real time carries a level of importance second only to the very creation of our State or the second coming of our Father.

    This never changes.

    In the same way no one really makes a retroactive argument that Reagan or Clinton destroyed our Constitution and enslaved our entire population in work detention camps, no one will think these things about Obama in 10 years. They will, however, makes the similar claims about their then-current opposition – and they will believe them as fiercely as Voris does his own claims about Obama today.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      Quit dispelling my irrational fears about my political opponents, Tod! 😉

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      Thinking about this some more, it occurs to me that most people have very poor memories of the political landscape. Reactionaries like Voris have to appeal to the here and now by warning of a present evil and looming threat. What I find interesting with the present moment is the particular character of the religious rhetoric, not so much its passion, but the way it depicts the world and present history in light of the decline of religious influence on the culture and the State.

    • Mark A says:

      Agreed on all counts though I’m very upset that you beat me to this observation. I still remember the vehemence with which the republican faithful went after Bill Clinton following the Monica Lewinski affair (pun intended) along with all the vitriol around travelgate and the failed healthcare overhaul (not to mention the Vince Foster conspiracies). Now everybody thinks of him as level-headed centrist.

      Even George W. (who has only been out of office for 3 years) was once considered the embodiment of everything wrong with the Republican party. Only now is it dawning on everyone that he was actually a high-spending, big government liberal.

      Go figure.

      • Sam says:


        Respectfully, given the history of Republicans when they’ve assumed control of government and particular the White House, the notion that liberals are “high-spending, big government” is ludicrous. Conservatives are at least as bad, except they’re given a pass because the things they do to explode the budget are supported by the same conservatives who believe that liberals are the only ones capable of out-of-control spending.

      • Jeff says:

        Even George W. (who has only been out of office for 3 years) was once considered the embodiment of everything wrong with the Republican party. Only now is it dawning on everyone that he was actually a high-spending, big government liberal.

        I guess I’m not “everyone”. I still think he was a crappy President, with a war criminal for a Vice President. He wasn’t As Bad As Santorum or Perry, which is faint praise. He was, in no way, shape or form, “liberal”.

        • Kimmi says:

          Not as bad as Pratt, either.

        • Mark A says:

          You can call him a war criminal but Democrats and Republicans alike (Obama included) lined up right behind him in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. On top of that, the bulk of his domestic legislation would have made Boehner’s head explode if proposed by Obama. This is just a sample: No Child Left Behind (usurpation of states’ rights), The Medicare Prescription Drug package ($400 billion liability over ten years), The 2005 Transportation Bill ($284 billion on mostly earmarks, including the “bridge to nowhere”), the first stimulus package PLUS the financial industry bailout.

          Sorry, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck……

          • Mark A says:

            Correction – it was the veep you called a war criminal. My apologies for making the mistake of applying that charge to George W. My argument still stands in that there was very little opposition from either party during the run-up.

            PS I’m not making a case for or against the “crappy President” allegation. Just that his record is nearly indistinguishable from that of many Democrats. Thanks for understanding!

          • Kimmi says:

            It’s evident you don’t drive through the poorest state in the Union much. I do, it’s got fantastic hiking.

            Nixon was the last liberal president. He made the EPA. whatever the FUCK Bush let LOBBYists write was not liberal. Lobbyists writing legislation (includign the infamous credit card legislation that made foreclosures easier than getting rid of credit card debt) is sheer corporatism (should I say fascism? heheh?)

          • Mark A says:


            I provided 5 clear examples of legislation signed by Bush that I believe more closely resemble Democratic party ideals than Republican ones. How about I retract my ‘liberal’ accusation and simply state that George W failed to adhere to fundamental conservative principles? Interpret it as you will. Others can call him ‘crappy’ but that’s a subjective term and open to debate. I just don’t think Democrats have a leg to stand on by suggesting he was too far to the right idealogically.

            Since you brought up the point about lobbyists I think it is only fair to note that Obama is not without his corporate underwriters as well. The Healthcare ‘reform’ he championed and signed is certainly a boon to insurance companies. Surely the auto industry bailout is indicative of corporatism at it’s most batant? If not, we must be referencing vastly different definitions.

            Lastly, no I don’t have cause to drive through Mississippi with much frequency and cannot comment on what sounds like an abundance of great hiking spots.

          • Kimmi says:

            Okay. Let’s all say that GWB wasn’t a True Conservative (it’s surely true. accusing him of fascism is putting him in as a moderate anyhow — that’s a disease of the center). I’d VOTE for a true conservative like Arlen Spector! (Or Thornburgh, if you doubt Arlen’s bona fides).

            the healthcare bill was written to give insurance companies (and other “partners”) incentive to sign on. I’d have liked single-payer. But it’ll fix a couple of Big Problems.

            The auto insurance bailout is a less clear case of corporatism — put simply, it’s a national security issue. Also, Obama did a far better job of clearing out the stupid from Detroit (they’re hiring engineers again!!). GM may not have won the hand when they built the Volt, but they raised morale and made some damn good PR for a road-ready prototype (we got charging stations around here! even in non-uni parking lots!)

          • Kimmi says:

            p.s. it’s WV which is the poorest state in the country. MS at least has a city to speak of.
            and WV is getting mentioned because of dear old Byrd. 79’s an engineering marvel. I vote we keep what marvels we got, and build more of them.

          • Mark A says:

            Thanks for the reminder. I didn’t mean to indicate that EVERY Democrat and Republican supported the Iraq invasion. Certainly a sizable percentage of Democrats.

            Sadly, the 79 reference is lost on me.

          • Kimmi says:

            ahh… that’d be I-79, the interstate through the mountains. you mentioned earmarked highway money. Byrd’s state costs a TON to run roads through. It’s a miracle any are paved — and a good deal aren’t!

  3. Kimmi says:

    Let me know when you’re watching the Pratts. I think they deserve more watching than most people know about, in terms of theo-political ideology.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Kimmi.

      • Kimmi says:

        sorry. Romney’s family. Aka the people who took over after John Smith.
        In catholic terms, it would be like hiring a prominent Borgia to run Florence or Venice.

        • Kimmi says:

          well, borgia when borgia were influential, at any rate.
          huntsman’s the decent one of the family — governs like an old fashioned Republican. I kinda miss them — no matter how much I disagreed with them, they weren’t in it for graft and favoritism, unlike SOME people I might mention.

  4. Tony says:

    Obama has long inspired “theo-political overreach.” Check out The Immanent Frame blog archives from late 2008 through 2009. He may have even committed it himself:

    Obama’s vision has proved itself to be at once “unapologetically Christian and unapologetically liberal.” In a decisive departure from the liberal secularism or secular liberalism that dominated his party and much of the left intelligentsia, he compellingly argued and successfully exemplified to a vast majority of the American audience that ultimately voted for him that there was a single way to test the integrity and efficacy of his agenda and its execution, namely that “faith ought to inform his politics and that of the nation as a whole.”

    Surely it is not unexpected that even the most inarticulate conservative Catholics may object to the claim that Obama’s “deep pragmatism” and truly Christian practice are identical — a claim that certainly has been in the air for some time.

    From another article:

    Hidden from most of the electorate, Obama’s theological inclinations are well known to scholars of American religion. Heralding a “civil religious revival,” sociologist R. Stephen Warner cites Obama’s belief in the power of ideals to draw Americans “toward their better natures” and the “awesome God that he knows is worshiped in both blue and red states.” Philip Gorski articulates a similar argument on The Immanent Frame, pointing to the prominence of racial reconciliation in Obama’s religious speech.

  5. Mike Schilling says:

    The White House would no longer have a basketball court

    This guy has never been to a Catholic high school.

  6. Proctor says:

    Oh you know American Catholics so well even though you are not Catholic. So you were… now your not… Over the past five years the church as been going back to it’s roots and away from the liberal leanings. If you really want Jesus you can get him in the Eucharist only at your local Catholic church.
    As for your president… he is not Christian. You can tell by one of the first things he did when he entered office was he signed a bill to reversed a previous bill that now allows our taxpayer dollars to be given to the UN to assure other countries can give abortions overseas. As it says in the Bible… you can tell by the fruit… A good tree doesn’t give bad fruit and a bad tree doesn’t give good fruit… His fruit is rotten.

  7. Christopher says:

    Sam: Never had minority leadership? Wow, you are ignorant. The Church has had, and currently does have, minority leadership in every facet of the Church. The man, called “The Pillar of Western Christianity” was an African. (Augustine of Hippo). The papacy has been primarily Italian until recent times for obvious reasons. If you cannot deduce the reason, there is no point in talking with you.

    • Sam says:


      You’re right, my apologies. A church with millions of American adherents has had, during its history in this nation, 12 African-American bishops (4 of whom are retired), as well as another 8 African-American bishops who have since passed away. That’s so many! Maybe we can get a parade together to celebrate? There are, according to Wikipedia, 195 dioceses.

      My point is simply that it remains possible that older white men are hostile to Obama at least in part because of his race. He is, simply put, the most powerful black man they’ve ever come across, and their response seems likely informed by this reality, at least to some small degree. Unless you’d like me to believe that race is something that couldn’t possibly be an explaining characteristic, which is something I’d consider if it weren’t for all of the other evils that the Catholic hierarchy has not only endorsed, but encouraged.

      • Tony says:

        And yet the USCCB is begging for an excuse to support Obamacare. The only impediments to full support have been federal funding of abortion (Stupak) and contraception coverage. Preserving the status quo on both issues would have guaranteed the support of most American bishops. Is race likely to have made an difference on either topic? Why?

        You’re seriously misinterpreting the American Catholic hierarchy if you think the majority of its members are interested in supporting the political ideas or rhetoric of Taylor Marshall or Michael Voris.

        • Sam says:

          How many Republican Senators (or conservative congregants) has the USCCB considered withholding communion from for their opposition to these things?

          • Tony says:

            For opposition to Obamacare? Not anywhere close to the same category as support for abortion. Anyway, what’s the charge you’ve been making — conscious/unconscious discrimination against Blacks or political partisanship? You’re mixing your accusations and culprits big time and you don’t seem to have much idea about who does what within the Catholic Church.

          • Sam says:

            I believe both issues are being discussed on both threads. I have argued that race may have something to do with the Bishops response to Obama. I have also cited fear, anger, and hostility as possible explanations.

          • Tony says:

            In my opinion, your unfounded “may have” is much more dangerous politically — because immediately more persuasive and popular — than the combined views of Marshall and Voris.

          • Sam says:

            Given what the Bishops have been a party to over the last fifty years, why do you draw the line at the possibility that race is motivating at least some of their response to the president?

          • Tony says:

            Because the response you’re talking about only really exists in this one dispute over contraception and religious freedom. My point above is that you are superimposing the “withholding communion” issue (which could be interpreted as a partisan issue) on this recent reaction to one relatively insignificant aspect of Obamacare (that the USCCB would likely otherwise support). But even the much more vehemently disputed communion issue has nothing to do with race because, as you sort of point out, Catholic Democrats are mostly White.

          • Sam says:


            The original question was about what was informing the hostility to the president. I trotted out four possible explanations: fear, anger, hostility, and racism. Christopher responded to my suggestion of racism by pointing out that, very occasionally, dark(er) skinned people have mattered to the church (although he ignored mentioning Jesus himself, for reasons I cannot fathom). I was dismissive of this.

            From there, we pivoted into a conversation about USCCB, which I chose to respond about with the communion point. I thought we had changed topics. But let me re-iterate: I believe those four things are informing the response of some Catholics to Obama generally, and that the church takes its conservative aligned ideals much more seriously than it takes its liberal aligned ideals.

    • Fnord says:

      Because the Church and people in it have always been realistic in thinking about and portraying the ethnicity of the church fathers centuries after the fact. I look at the portraits of Augustine through history, and I see an awful lot of white men.

      And I’m not sure that the primacy of Italians in the papacy until 1978 is a good signal that the Church is embracing global culture.

      Over half of the College of Cardinals comes from Europe, despite Europe accounting for only about a quarter of world-wide Catholics (of course, part of that is the fact that Italy is still hugely over-represented). It’s not just Europe, with it’s historical ties to the Church. The United States has about 70 million Catholics, and 18 cardinals. Brazil has more than twice as many baptized Catholics, 150 million Catholics, the largest Catholic population in the world, but only a little over half as many cardinals (10). Mexico has a larger Catholic population than the US, but only 4 cardinals. And it’s not based on geography, either; there are more cardinals from the United States than the entire continent of Africa, despite Africa having three times the land area (and more than double the number of baptized Catholics).

  8. Religions need to adapt and accommodate.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses blood transfusion confusion

    Jehovahs Witnesses take blood products now in 2012.
    They take all fractions of blood.This includes hemoglobin, albumin, clotting factors, cryosupernatant and cryopoor too, and many, many, others.
    If one adds up all the blood fractions the JWs takes, it equals a whole unit of blood. Any, many of these fractions are made from thousands upon thousands of units of donated blood.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses can take Bovine *cows blood* as long as it is euphemistically called synthetic Hemopure.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses now accept every fraction of blood except the membrane of the red blood cell. JWs now accept blood transfusions.
    The fact that the JW blood issue is so unclear is downright dangerous in the emergency room.

    Danny Haszard

  9. LaurNo says:

    For reasons you can’t imagine? Sometimes the obvious IS the reason.