Lying for Jesus: A Faustian Bargain

June 5, 2012 by Mark Shea

When I criticize Live Action for lying to Planned Parenthood, I can typically be guaranteed that I will hear that I am

a) secretly supportive of Planned Parenthood because I am criticizing Catholic Folk Heros who have saved more lives with a single video than I have in my whole worthless life


b) I am, as one reader told me, “about one step removed from the Pharisees who were angry at the disciples for plucking the grains of wheat on the Sabbath”.

The notion, of course, is that I am majoring in minors, [getting a PhD in A-B-C,] straining at gnats and swallowing camels, fretting about trivial fibs while children are being slaughtered, etc. The implicit accusation that immediately comes up is that to oppose Live Actions lies for Jesus is to be in the exact same moral category as the kind of moral idiot who would rat out the Jews in the cellar to the Gestapo in order to keep one’s precious morality pure. And besides, the complaint goes, it’s not *really* lying. As my reader said, “Calling every falsehood “lying” is like calling every killing “murder.”

Ahem. Last things first. Let’s stop with the euphemisms and with the attempt to pretend that show up at somebody’s door with a fake name and a fake purpose is anything but lying. Trying to euphemize it by some other name is exactly like trying to euphemize torture as “enhanced interrogation” or abortion as “tissue extraction”. When even the *defenders* of Live Action call it lying (as my friend Peter Kreeft did), it’s lying.

That said, let’s make another distinction: plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath is not intrinsically evil. Lying is. I’m perfectly aware of what the intention is: stopping abortion. And I applaud the intention. But lying is still lying. Now, I am perfectly aware that lying, while intrinsically immoral, is not always a grave sin. All sorts of things enter in. There are lies that are fibs. There is the matter of freedom and understanding and culpability. I get all that. And I get that the goal is a noble: hasten the day when salt is sowed on the ground where the last Planned Parenthood clinic has been razed and abortion is a thing of the past. I fully support that goal and praise Live Action for desiring to achieve it.

But here’s the problem: All sin consists of the attempt to achieve some good end by disordered means: and attempting to establish truth by lying is profoundly disordered and will only end in mischief and damage to the faith to the prolife cause.

So I think that before the discussion get too abstract it’s important to ask what real good is even being accomplished by Live Action’s lies. People immediately rush to the Nazis at the Door Scenario and fall into the delusion that lives are being saved by Live Action lies to Planned Parenthood employees.

Understand this: not one. single. life has been saved by Live Action’s lies. Not a single abortion has been prevented. All that happened is that PP is temporarily embarrassed and prolifers get a thrill for a day or two.

After that, PP fights back and says “Those videos were edited and LA is lying.” And right there is the problem: because Live Action has openly acknowledged that they *were* lying about their identity and purpose. So Planned Parenthood then appeals to people on the fence about abortion and says, “Why should you trust self-confessed liars?” And their supporters, who might include some future Bernard Nathanson or other troubled conscience, look at the spectacle and join the herd in the comboxes denouncing Christians as liars–a hard point to argue when they are in fact lying. Indeed, while Christians desperately want to tell themselves that Live Action’s “stings” have been devastating to Planned Parenthood, the reality is that flagscows of the Left like the Nation are *exulting* in Live Action’s tactics and celebrating “the genius of Cecile Richards” for taking this gold-engraved opportunity to shout “Look! Christianist liars are persecuting Planned Parenthood!” and driving donations way up.

More than that, though, you have the *deeply* corrupting reality that defenders of Live Action–Christian defenders!–spend massive amounts of energy, not asking “How can we act with integrity?” but “How can we justify lying? How can we figure out some way to tempt a Planned Parenthood clerk to commit a mortal sin?”

Saying “They were going to do it anyway” is morally insane. Saying “We must do evil that good may come of it” is morally insane. Indeed, even arguing that good has come of it is morally insane. Because at the end of the day, all we really have is some video footage which is being argued about by two groups of people who are documentably liars–and in this particular case, only one of those group specifically confessed to lying in order to make the video. People who think this is going to persuade fence sitter or persuade anybody outside the zealously prolife camp have simply lost touch with reality. People who think that a Christian message about the gospel as the Truth can be founded on lies are insane.

And that’s the most insane part of this: in the end, this tactic leaves the Christian community burning itself up in the insane pursuit of justification for lying and tempting people to grave sin that produced not *one* good outcome (unless prolife schadenfreude [Gr harm joy] over a minor PP embarrassment is now Priority One for the prolife movement), while Planned Parenthood is enjoying increased funding from donors by sending out fundraising letters saying, “Christianist Prolifers are Lying about Us”.

This is why I say consequentialism such as Lying for Jesus is a Faustian Bargain. You lose your soul and get *nothing* in return. Sorry, but Augustine, Aquinas and the Catechism are right. Lying is intrinsically immoral and fundamentally corrupting of human relationships. And before you try, yet again, to euphemize these lies as “acting” or “role playing” or “fiction”: no, this is not “acting” or “role playing” or “fiction”. Those speech acts involve the fundamental reality that the the audience is willingly and knowingly suspending disbelief and knows the actors are acting and the writer is telling a tale. This. was. *lying*. Christians are bloody fools to defend it.

And, by the way, they would be fools to defende it even *if* it had worked. But that they are wasting breath defending it when it is not just wrong but destructive of the prolife cause is double folly.

I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of acting in worldly fashion. For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:2-5

Allowing the ‘Selling Baby Parts’ Brouhaha to Distract from What Needs to Be Done

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it’s a capital crime, it will get you the death penalty, to convey a death threat that results in a homicide—the civil equivalent of a mortal sin.

  • Guy A gets drunk, threatens to kill Guy B;
  • Guy C conveys Guy A’s death threat to Guy B;
  • Guy A may think better of it after he’s sobered up; the only proportional punishment for his threat, would be to threaten him in return, but not to kill him;
  • But still, Guy B takes preemptive action, kills Guy A.
  • Guy C, who didn’t have any direct hand in the homicide, is guilty of a captial offense in Massachusetts, he’s subject to the death penalty.

Now change the context, from the temporary mortality of the body, to the permanent, potential mortality of the soul:

What if Dr. Bernard Nathanson had been on the verge of ceasing to perform abortions. I have some new, exciting forum for showing the world what a terrible guy Dr. Bernard is—it’s nothing new, Dr. Nathanson hasn’t changed anything, it’s all about the art of persuasion except, I’m not acting to persuade him, the most important person, the principal in this situation.

So I tempt Dr. Nathanson to perform some abortions, not really to prevent abortion, but to make some abstract point about the terrible abortionists. For a week, Dr. N. refrains from his intended course of repentance, but eventually he stops aborting.

Am I guilty of part of the deaths of the perhaps hundreds of children he aborts during that week?

In Catholic moral theology, I am guilty of mortal sin because another has committed mortal sin at my prompting.

There’s nothing new about Dr. Nathanson’s activities, nor about the fact that everyone knows what’s going on: It’s a baby, smartie. It’s homicide against a pre-born person.

What’s in danger of happening is that we so over-emphasize the art of persuasion (known in the ancient world as rhetoric), that we risk losing our focus on crucial issues in the domain of logic (dialectics).

You can search Google for “selling baby parts” from the first day of this millenium (1/1/200) to the last day of June, 2015, before the recent controversy broke. Google no longer lists the number of hits, but it’s probably in the 100,000s, if not millions. This phenomenon has been known for decades by anyone who cared to be aware of it.

I own the book Beyond Abortion: A Chronicle of Fetal Experimentation by Suzanne M. Rini. It was published in 1993. It didn’t sell very well.

Everyone who would be concerned, already knew this was going on. The big difference is that the young man (whom I know personally, he’s been to my house) found a new forum for presenting the information.

So now we’re in the environment of Rodney King being beaten on camera by rogue cops. Can’t We All Just Get Along? This is a media issue.

The problem with our overemphasis on the rhetorical implications is that we’ve forgotten a fundamental fact: There wouldn’t be aborted babies to be fodder for the body parts market if Catholics and Evangelicals would keep in mind certain facts about contraception:

  • The Pill doesn’t prevent abortions, it feeds them. The Alan Guttmacher Institute proved this decades ago. It was enshrined into “law” in 1989 in PPFA v Casey.
  • The Pill doesn’t work, it has a “method failure rate” of 9%, one pregnancy every 11 menstrual cycles, belief in its efficacy is one of the chief secular superstitions, it’s the engine of the sexual revolution, (“you say it like it’s a bad thing“), it enabled women to discover they don’t need men hence, it prompted a significant increase in divorce, vastly increasing the misery of already born children.
  • Pro-life opinion in the US, now a majority but useless because “pro-life” women are going to go to abortion businesses when they’re under stress, isn’t going to increase, especially, we’re not going to persuade the elites of abortion’s disadvantages, until Evangelicals get on board with the official Catholic Church in pointing up how contraception is wrecking our society.

We have allowed the selling baby parts brouhaha, in the domain of the art of persuasion, to divert us from logically focusing on what needs to be done to discourage abortion.

In the process, we’ve forgotten, if we ever knew, that we don’t make progress by tempting the opposition to show its worst side.




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Fr. Robert Barron: 7 Deadly Sins, 7 Lively Virtues: 2. Envy

What If a New Constitutional Convention Overthrows the Federal Reserve Act because of Lois Lerner?

texasFFAconventionMediaStaffI heard a man speak on Tony Brown’s Journal in the 1980s, on the thesis that the Federal Reserve System is a vast tax-farming scheme, creating monies out of nothing, loaning them to the United States, charging interest that must be repaid with taxes. It sounds paranoiac, until you learn that the Federal Reserve Act was closely associated with the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution establishing the Federal Income Tax.

Now that Texas is close to pushing us over the top of the number of states required to ask Congress to call a Constitutional Convention, what might happen if Congress fails to take action over Lois Lerner? The Convention might try to abolish the IRS but, in the process, overthrow the whole financial system.

Never mind, the media would ignore it, the Executive would then get away with refusing to enforce it. No worries.

Children Will Be Required to Turn in Their Parents

pioneryTen pages of Google search returns for “children turned in their parents” show no historical awareness today of the phenomenon, common in the Nazi and Communist eras.


Yet history as prophecy gives a complete picture of what will happen, when a radical ideology takes complete control of education, away from the parents, their first teachers in the family.RO-1979-pioneers

Time to start exercising self-censorship, so your young people don’t end up orphans under the state control of "the new family".

A Barbarian not Lacking in Wit (Manzoni on Shakespeare)


Romeo e Giulietta

In his Lettre to Chauvet, Alessandro Manzoni’s entire argument on historical drama revolves around Shakespeare, his ability to represent his characters truthfully, conveying the psychology and passions of real life. In the first draft of his Lettre, written in Paris, Manzoni had criticized only one aspect of Shakespeare’s theatre: his mixing the serious and the comic. But in his letter to Fauriel of 12 September 1822, he revised this idea, admitting the possibility of such a mix in a writer with poetic genius. Moreover, in his novel Manzoni was to represent a social and historical world in which the serious and the comic were connected, unlike in tragedy.

IpromessiSposiIn Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed, “The Promised Espoused”, 1827), there is more than one allusion to Shakespeare. For example, the Innominato’s anguished self-questioning on the afterlife (while on the verge of suicide) recalls Hamlet’s doubts. An explicit reference to Shakespeare occurs towards the end of Chapter VII of the novel when, referring to the moments preceding the “surprise wedding” and the experience of its protagonists, Manzoni writes: Tra il primo pensiero d’una impresa terribile e l’esecuzione di essa (ha ditto un barbaro non privo d’ingegno), l’intervallo è un sogno, pieno di fantasmi e di paure. [Among the first thoughts of a terrible business and running it (it has been said, a barbarian not devoid of wit), the range is a dream, full of ghosts and fears.] Manzoni was referring here to Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar (Act II, scene i), but describes Shakespeare (in brackets) with reference to Voltaire, who considered the English poet vulgar, even though a genius. Charles Swan, the first English translator of Manzoni’s novel, did not perceive the irony here, angrily thinking that Manzoni he was insulting the great Shakespeare. Manzoni had to clarify his meaning in a letter to him.


“L’Innominato”, the Unnamed, with Cardinal Federico Borromeo

Can Marriage Be Destroyed?

Thesis: It is said (G.K. Chesterton, The Superstition of Divorce), “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.”

Antithesis: But, it is objected (Robert R. Reilly, The New Gnosticism of the Homosexual Movement), “The problem is that acting against the ends of marriage will tend to destroy it.”

WWSTS – What would St.Thomas Say? (Synthesis)

Doesn’t It Hurt Your Eyes to Look at That?


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The Other Side of Structuring Violations (IRS Asset Seizure For No Crime)

 Structuring Violations Laws (Assets Seizure for Consistently ‘Suspicious’ Deposits Just Below $10k) Were Originally Passed Because Professional Credit-Card-Fraud & Drug Organized Crime Is Nearly Impossible To Break.

 A “Mule” for a top money laundering operation was only caught because a substitute check-cashing clerk he had romanced found him making $2,995 transactions in two different cities.

TransNationalImpactOfFinacialCrimes I made a “top secret” movie of a lecture before a Veterans’ group, “I’d tell you a secret, but then I’d have to kill you” sort of thing, the lecture title was “The Transnational Impact of Financial Crimes”, basically it was a law-enforcement insider’s account of how the top professional credit-card thieves operate. I wasn’t allowed to film the lecturer’s slideshow, all I have to show for it is the audio track, but still, it’s pretty informative.

This comes up with the recent story of an honest, small merchant, Lyndon McLellan of L&M General Store & Grill in Fairmont, North Carolina, whose assets were summarily seized by the IRS to the tune of over $100,000 because he had made the mistake of allowing his niece to make cash deposits in amounts just below the reporting limit of $10,000. McLellan’s bank asked him to make such deposits because it would save the bank added work; then the Feds showed up at the poor guy’s shop, having seized his whole bank account, an egregious excess in what has become a government shakedown, economic sector amounting to hundreds of millions in seized assets that will never be recovered by innocent victims.

The general outlines of the “secret” crime movie are that the real pros at wholesale credit card theft are ex-Soviet intelligence agents, formerly in the business of disrupting whole economies and overthrowing countries, who were thrown out of work with the fall of Communism; they plead the excuse that they don’t have any other craft than illegal variants on the spy trade. This comes at a pivotal time in the development of computers when the law can never begin to keep up with the challenges of ever-proliferating technology. The Red Fellows have an extremely sophisticated, highly organized extension of the old “cell” system in which a spy would only know 2 others, who would directly interact in a kind of honeycomb system, so that if one person were caught, all the others could escape except for the two other immediate persons known to the apprehendee.

carderPlanetTheir organization, known as variously as the International Carder’s Alliance, the Shadow Crew and other names, is highly articulated and structurally anonymous. Rather than the theft of your credit card resulting in immediate loss to you, your stolen information is bundled on a wholesale level with perhaps 10,000s of other victims, your pilfered data will sit in an information depot for more than a year, before you might hear that your whole bank, credit card company, medical records or contents of some other supposedly secure system has been compromised. The latent stolen information is activated all at once, the cashing-in period taking only two days at the most, the transactions are instantaneously competed at the speed of light and the principals flee the country before law enforcement knows anything about the long-planned “harvest”. The Red Fellows’ organization is so sophisticated that it is nearly impossible for law enforcement to crack, and when they do come close to catching low level individuals, the penalties are so paltry in comparison with the great profitability and ease of the crime that controls are nearly totally ineffective. The bosses are invincible, untouchable, rajahs of a perfect white-collar criminal empire.


As the story relates to the seizure of L&M General Store’s assets due to Structuring Violations about suspicious deposits, one of the most successful convictions of an actual criminal related to the law’s original purpose, involved an operation in which cash was converted from more portable instruments such as money orders, just below a $3,000 reporting threshold. One small link in the credit-card theft chain was a man, we’ll call Nikolai Pantera, (The Panther), not his real name, whose specialized job was to travel between check-cashing stores up and down the west coast, cashing money orders for $2,995. These had been securely shipped from the next lower level in the money processing chain, the receipts guaranteeing against loss with virtually no risk.

americangreed-cybercrime4Nikolai was apparently rather good looking and something of a ladies’ man. He was making coochey-coo with a teller at a certain city’s check-cashing branch. The woman was not a regular employee, she was a substitute, called a Rover in the check cashing industry, she traveled between cities at a regional level, she finished work in one city, traveled to another city close by (Clackamas, OR). Nikolai then shows up at the same company, he doesn’t recognize his girlfriend from his 5-minute love affair; the substitute teller then recognizes him, blows the whistle, the panther is now caged.

The IRS’ abuse of Structuring Violation laws is typical only of the tendency of a system originally founded on good principles to run to excess. At this time in governmental history, many notorious abuses are piling up in federal prosecutions, (such as the destruction of Arthur Anderson on the pretext of their involvement with Enron, they were innocent but 10,000s of jobs were lost). The political system is hamstrung by its own corruption involving lobbyists, special interest influence and the high cost of elections, so that there will be no effective controls until the system careens out of control with a structural scandal like Lois Lerner at the IRS.

That only typifies a system which is fundamentally corrupt. The international carders and shadow gangs are just one facet of a larger, hidden crime milieu in which there is lack of functional distinction between governmental secret services, corporate intelligence and organized crime; they have more in common with each other than with the above-ground economy and their victims

This is shown by the story of how Usama bin Laden was located: A former-Soviet intelligence veteran hacked Al Quaeda, he wanted to be accepted by them, they shamed him, he put a fake moustache on bin Laden’s picture, but to make his revenge stick, he turned bin Laden in to a “legitimate” intelligence service. Without organized cyber-crime, bin Laden might never have been caught. Who watches the watchers?

Don_Adams_Get_SmartI once saw G. Gordon Liddy speaking at California State University, Sacramento. He had been on the road for a while, had a touch of laryngitis, his voice was raised a bit in pitch so that his normal baritone had strayed into the tenor range, unfortunately, he suddenly sounded a lot like Don Adams of Get Smart. As a smart-aleck kid, I stepped up to the microphone during questions and answers, asked Mr. Liddy, “Is the character of Get Smart based on your persona, or vice-versa?” Mr. Liddy started responding innocuously to the question, the audience meanwhile had started laughing, Liddy suddenly realized he was being ridiculed, he looked around for me and shouted out “Where is that guy?”, but I had disappeared into the crowd without his really noticing me.