Michael Moore and the leftist religious tradition.

12 10 2009

I saw “Capitalism: A Love Story” on Thursday and was pleasantly surprised to see this:

In the film he interviews several Catholic priests, who explain their belief that capitalism and the free market, by emphasising greed and the self over community, go against the Bible’s basic tenets. One priest, Dick Preston, tells Moore: “Capitalism is evil, immoral and contrary to the teachings of Jesus.” Moore also describes his own Catholic upbringing and includes a skit where free-market slogans are dubbed inappropriately – and hilariously – over scenes from a movie of Jesus’s life.

It appears that these scenes have given rise to a historical teachable moment:

Though recent US political history seems to have been dominated by the rise of evangelical conservatism and its powerful grip on the Republican party, there is a parallel tradition of leftwing priests in America, especially with Catholics. “Catholics have always had a strong tradition in labour and union issues in America. There is not much in laissez-faire capitalism that is actually backed up by Catholic teaching,” said Professor David O’Brien, a faith and culture expert at the University of Dayton, Ohio.

Cardinal James Gibbons was a famous advocate of union rights in the early 20th century. Daniel and Philip Berrigan were brothers and radical priests who opposed the Vietnam war. The black civil rights movement was led by clergy, most famously by Dr Martin Luther King.

You know historical understanding has gotten to a low point in this country when someone has to remind us that Martin Luther King was actually a reverend.

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