John Martignoni

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Several months ago I was driving around California, listening to talk radio, when I stumbled upon a man who swore that prayer works.

I listened and listened and listened, scoffing with each word. I couldn’t understand how this Catholic dude was so certain in his faith, when so many things seem (in my opinion) to point toward his wrongheadedness. I mean, God? Really? When we live in a world of cancer and ISIS and heart attacks and Al Queda and suicide bombings and on and on? C’mon.

But John Martignoni kept talking, kept pushing, kept insisting. And, at that moment, I thought to myself, “This guy would make an awesome Quaz.” So here we are …

John is the founder of the Bible Christian Society, an apostolate “dedicated to explaining and defending the Scriptural foundations of the Catholic faith.” He also hosts EWTN’s Open Line program every Monday at 3 pm Eastern/12 pm Pacific, and is big enough that there’s a website out there dedicated to well, thrashing everything he says. Now that’s oomph.

One can follow John on Twitter here, and visit the Bible Christian Society here.

John Martignoni, you’ve been blessed with the 213th Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So John, I really appreciate you doing this. And I want to start with this: A couple of nights ago I was driving home, listening to your radio program, and a caller was talking about how everything was falling apart in his life, and he prayed and prayed and prayed, but nothing had improved. And he asked you, “Is there more I can be doing?” And your answer, more or less, was “God answers prayers by either saying no, yes or you won’t know what the answer is—but He’ll answer.” Which really had me scratching my head. Because, if that’s the case, aren’t you saying, “Prayer is a waste of time—because you’ll likely get the same results by flipping a coin?”

JOHN MARTIGNONI: Jeff, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to be Quazed. I am truly humbled.

Now, regarding your question, your analogy of prayer to flipping a coin is a bit flawed, and I think it is because you don’t view God as a person, but rather as some sort of impersonal “force” that’s out there somewhere—if He exists at all. A Christian, however, views God as a person and He relates to us in a personal manner.

A better analogy would be a child asking his parents for a particular birthday gift. Do you believe he has the exact same odds of getting that birthday gift as he would if he didn’t ask his parents but simply flipped a coin instead? Was he wasting his time by asking his parents for what he wanted? I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you would say the child has a better chance of receiving what he wants if he asks his parents for it than if he didn’t ask his parents and simply flipped a coin, right? Just so the Christian in prayer.

To continue along those lines, what if the child asks for something that is potentially harmful to him? What if a 6-year old asked for a .357 magnum for his birthday? Would the parents go ahead and give him that potentially harmful gift for his birthday? No, of course they wouldn’t. What if that 6-year old asks for a .357 magnum every year for the next 10 years or so, and still doesn’t get it? But, come his 22nd birthday, his parents get him a .357 magnum. His request was finally answered, but way way after he wanted it to be answered. Or, maybe instead of a .357 magnum, his parents bought him a deer rifle because he was really into hunting. Prayer answered—he got a gun—but just not in the exact way in which it was asked for. Or, maybe he never got his .357 magnum, or anything at all like it, ever.

Just so God in answering prayer. Sometimes the person will get what he/she asked for immediately. Sometimes he/she will get it, but much later. Sometimes he/she will get it, but in a different form than how it has been asked for. And, sometimes he/she will never get it.

God knows better than we do what is good for us. Quite often we unknowingly ask for that which will actually harm us. A lot of people pray to win the lottery. But a lot of people who win the lottery have their lives ruined and end up wishing they had never won it. The fact is, Christians look at things from a different perspective than atheists/agnostics. For a Christian, the proper perspective is an eternal one, not a temporal one (Matthew 6:19-21). If you are praying for something, and God knows that if you get this particular thing it will end up ruining your soul and putting you on the path to Hell, should He give it to you? Yes or no?

Now, I know the folks who don’t believe in Hell and Heaven and Satan and God will scoff at this particular point, but for the sake of argument, let’s say that Heaven and Hell—eternal bliss and eternal pain—do indeed exist. Should a parent give his or her child a birthday gift that will give the child short-term pleasure but that could result in serious injury or death? Should God give someone something they ask for if it will give that person temporal pleasure but result in the damnation of their soul?

No, prayer is not the same as flipping a coin. Just as a child asking his parents for a particular birthday gift is not the same as flipping a coin. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer is no, sometimes the answer is not now, and sometimes the answer is yes, but not quite in the way you wanted. But it does require faith—the faith of a child in a parent to protect them and look after them and do what is best for them.

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J.P.: I’m gonna say something you clearly disagree with, and I’d love to hear why I’m wrong. Namely, I feel like churches use faith as the ultimate weapon. If something great happens—See! Faith pays off! If something awful happens—You just need to have faith! If someone dies, even though you prayed and prayed—Hey, God works in mysterious ways! If you win the lottery—God is rewarding you! To me, there’s another word for it. Well, two words: Shit happens. But the church seems to sell people on the power of faith for all circumstances. I just don’t buy it. Again—why am I wrong?

J.M.: Actually, I agree with you, in part. You appear to be making an assumption, though, that Catholic Christians are like many of the Christians you probably see on TV or hear on the radio. Not necessarily so. There are a lot of ministers on the airwaves who preach what is known as a “Health and Wealth” gospel. The focus is on God wanting you to be healthy and wealthy in this life. If you are, it’s because you have faith and, if you’re not, well, it’s your fault because you don’t have enough faith. Send me $25 and I’ll pray for you to get that faith. So, yes, I would not buy what those folks are selling.

For the Catholic Christian, however, faith is not a weapon that necessarily yields material benefits or temporal cures. Faith does have power for all circumstances, but again, it is more about the eternal perspective than the temporal perspective. Faith is indeed a powerful weapon, especially when wielded with hope and the ultimate weapon—love. But it is a weapon that yields victories in the spiritual realm for those who wield it, not the material realm. Jesus promised His followers that they could count on suffering in this world (see Matthew 5:11-12; 10:21-23; 24:9; Luke 9:23-25; John 15:18-19; amongst others). Being healthy and wealthy in this life are not bad things, but they are not the goal. Living a long time in this life is not a bad thing, but it is not the goal. The goal is to get to Heaven, and to take as many people with you as possible. Quite often, as we see in the case of the wealthy young man (Matthew 19:16-22), material things can keep you from Jesus. The material can become your god and lead you away from the spiritual; lead you away from the one true God.

So faith does indeed have power in all circumstances, but if someone is trying to tell you that if you just have faith then everything will be all peaches and cream, then they are selling you a bill of goods.

One other thing: I find it interesting in your question that you recognize that there is bad (“shit”) and there is good (that which happens when the shit isn’t). You also seem to have a sense of right and wrong that you use to judge things. Well, why do you recognize some things as being good and some as being bad? Right or wrong? Aren’t those value judgments? Aren’t those type of judgments entirely subjective sans God? I mean, who are you to say that a minister using “faith as the ultimate weapon” is not a good thing? What if that minister feels it’s okay to do that? What if that is a legitimate bearing on his particular moral compass? By what right do you pass judgment on him? In other words, if morality is entirely subjective, which it is without God, then why does something like what you described bother you? Isn’t it okay for those ministers to use faith that way if they think it’s okay to do it? Just something to think about …

J.P.: Here’s what I know. You’re on the radio, you love Jesus, you’re the founder and president of the Bible Christian Society. But how did this happen. Womb to now? Where are you from? When did you first start thinking about God and religion? When did you realize this was what you’d do for your career?

J.M.: Well, I’ll give a short summary here, but if someone wants to have some of the details filled in, they can click on My Conversion Story.

Anyway, I was born in Huntsville, Alabama—home of the space program. I was raised Catholic, but learned little about my faith growing up. I basically left the faith when I went off to the University of Alabama and was pretty much a hellion for about 13 years or so—breaking many Commandments many times over. I received a Bachelor’s degree in corporate finance and then an MBA. My goal was to be a millionaire by 30. Went to work in the defense industry as a cost analyst. Got tired of that. After several years, went back to school (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) to work on a PhD in finance. Didn’t like it and left the program after one year, but during that year I had come back to the faith through a series of “coincidences.” Went to work for a year as a finance instructor at the University of North Alabama. Then volunteered for Covenant House (they work with runaway and throwaway teens living on the street) in Anchorage for about eight months until the cold got to me in mid-December. Left Alaska for Guatemala with the intent of spending three months learning Spanish at an intensive language school and then working for Covenant House in Guatemala City. After two months, I got some unfriendlies in my system, lost 15 pounds in three weeks and had to come home to the United States for medical treatment.

Landed in Birmingham, Alabama, and got a job working in the investments division of a bank. Stayed in banking for a few years, but gave that up to go to work for a Salesian ministry (the Salesians are an order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church—like the Jesuits, Franciscans, and such) in a poor area of Birmingham as their business manager. I oversaw the workings of two youth oratories, a free food pantry, free medical/legal clinic, free furniture warehouse, a job training program and other such programs aimed at helping the poor, and particularly, the children of the poor. One day I heard a particularly vile anti-Catholic program airing on the radio that was being broadcast by an evangelical station in Birmingham. I called to complain and that they should allow a Catholic to come on and respond. They ignored me. I don’t like being ignored. I wrote them a letter threatening to picket the station, boycott their sponsors, and other such things until they allowed a Catholic on to respond to that program. I didn’t mean me, but that’s the way it eventually worked out. I went on their station’s afternoon live show for an hour and a half one day and caused quite a stir. The response to that hour and a half led, several months later, to me having a one-hour-per-week live program, talking about the Catholic faith, on that very same station—the largest Evangelical station in Alabama.

The response to my weekly radio program led to two things happening:

1) My being invited to speak at local parishes about the Catholic faith and the Bible. Some of my talks were recorded and wound up being aired on several Catholic stations around the country through EWTN Global Catholic Radio. People started calling, wanting copies of the talks. Then they started calling asking if I could travel to their state to speak to their parish. An apologetics apostolate (ministry) was born—the Bible Christian Society. It just kept snowballing until I was traveling all over the country and sending out tens of thousands of tapes/CDs all over the world each year.

2) A full-blown Catholic radio station came to Birmingham about a year later and I wound up as the general manager of the station. I did that for about four years, but the Bible Christian Society was taking up so much of my time,that I went full-time with that in January of 2003.

I was on my own with the Bible Christian Society for about six years when the bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham asked me to become his Director of Evangelization (2009). So, I do that, but I still also run the Bible Christian Society—traveling to give talks and distributing CDs and mp3s and writing an email newsletter that has more than 30,000 subscribers in over 70 countries—and I run the Catholic radio station in town, and on Monday afternoons, 2-3 pm (Central), I host a radio program on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network, which is now on about 250 stations around the country. One of which you heard me on.

And, between all of that, I managed to fit in a wife and four beautiful kids.

Now, when it comes to knowing I would be doing this for my career, I tell people that I never planned to do it—I still don’t—but that I got dragged into it kicking and screaming. But, since I find myself with the responsibility of having people who want to hear what I have to say and who want to read what I write, I am taking the responsibility seriously and doing the best I can with the little I’ve been given, for as long as God gives me the opportunity.

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J.P.: You devote yourself to teaching Catholicism, and trying to get others to follow. But how do you know you’re right? Hell, there are hundreds of other clergy from hundreds of other branches of Christianity and different religions who are equally certain they’re right. So … what if you’re wrong? I mean, surely you must admit to the possibility, no?

J.M.: Well, I know I am right because everything I teach is in conformity with the faith of the Catholic Church. They are also in conformity with reason. I know the Catholic Church is right based on logic, common sense and the evidence of history and science. When it comes to Christianity, you are indeed right—there are actually tens of thousands of Protestant denominations, each of whom are certain they are right. I have dealt with a couple thousand or so Protestants firsthand over the last several years, all of whom believe they are right and I (i.e., my Catholic beliefs) am wrong. They cannot answer my arguments, though. I even have a YouTube series entitled: Questions Protestants Can’t Answer.

I always ask questions of anyone who believes the Catholic Church is wrong—questions that are based on the aforementioned common sense, logic and history (as well as biblical questions), that Protestants cannot answer in a consistent manner. Just a quick example, a series of questions I would ask Protestants goes like this: How long ago did Jesus live? Two thousand years ago. Did Jesus found a church? Yes. How many churches did Jesus found? One. Can the one church Jesus founded 2,000 years ago in Israel be the Presbyterian Church of America? Um … hello? No, it can’t be. The Lutheran Church? The Anglican Church? The Methodist Church? And so on. The answer to all of those questions, based on history, common sense, and logic, is no. In other words, none of those Protestant churches can be the church Jesus founded in Israel 2,000 years ago. So we can eliminate a lot of this nonsense of tens of thousands of churches by just using some good ol’ fashioned common sense. I have a number of such questions that I ask, that have never been answered in a consistent manner. I follow the same strategy with atheists/agnostics as well.

So, no, after going through the arguments—using logic, common sense, history, Scripture, and science—I do not admit to the possibility that I could be wrong, as long as my beliefs are in accord with the teachings of the Church. I didn’t mention this above in my “bio,” but when I first came back into the Church after being out for so long, I asked a lot of questions and I did a lot of doubting. I rejected a number of Church teachings. But, upon thoughtful examination of what the Church teaches and why, I discovered that all of the evidence points to one and only one rational conclusion—the Catholic Church is right in what it teaches, and it teaches that Jesus is God and that He loves us so much that He was willing to die for us on the cross in order to save us. I believe that if someone is truly open to hearing the truth, and they thoughtfully, rationally, and carefully examine the evidence the Church presents on her own behalf, that they will come to the same conclusion that I have arrived at after years of searching. The Catholic Church is not afraid of being questioned. What I so often find, though, is that people ask questions not wanting to hear the answers and they do not respond logically and rationally to the answers that are given. Rather, they quite often attack those who provide the answers.

However, one thing I tell each and every person who challenges me is that I will carefully listen to and evaluate their arguments, if they will do the same with mine. And I tell them that if they can prove to me that the Catholic Church is wrong on any single one of its doctrines … just one … then I will renounce my faith, because it wouldn’t make sense to belong to a church that could teach error. After all, could a church founded by God, teach error? And I am absolutely serious when I tell them that. Truth does not fear error, it is the other way around.

Now, I have a question for you: You say you are an agnostic, but doesn’t that means that you basically give lip service to the idea that God “might” exist, but you essentially live and behave as an atheist? Agnostic in theory, atheist in practice? That has been the case with every one of a number of agnostics I’ve come across. So, my question for you is: If you are truly open to the possibility that God exists, then isn’t the answer to the question of whether or not there is a God, the most important thing you could be searching for, since the ramifications could be quite eternal? Are you then, earnestly seeking that answer? [Jeff’s answer: I call myself an agnostic to be nice and because it’s possible aliens harvested eggs or something. But when it comes to the idea that this one all-knowing being loves us, but sends us to hell if we don’t believe and accept. Well, I’m an atheist]

With Janel, his wife.

With Janel, his wife.

J.P.: I know many people who believe, strongly, that we need to teach God and the Ten Commandments in our public schools. This strikes me as an awful idea—as an agnostic Jew, I don’t need my kids learning this stuff from a public school teacher. What’s your take?

J.M.: Let’s see, you’re opposed to having public school kids learn that lying is wrong, that murder is wrong, that stealing is wrong, that adultery is wrong and that honoring your mother and father is right? Those are all things you would oppose being taught to public school kids? I do indeed think the public schools should be teaching the Ten Commandments. Of course, the teachers need to be properly instructed on how to teach them, but I do indeed they need to be taught. Furthermore, I think the intellectual/philosophical proofs of God’s existence should be taught. I think the public school kids ought to have all of the information available to them about the arguments for God, and against God, in order to make a decision as to what they are going to believe and why they believe it. Do you not believe it is a good thing to have as much information as possible when making a decision, and particularly a decision as important as this one? [Jeff’s answer: I don’t think it’s the place for public school—period]

Again, as an agnostic—which means, as I understand it, that you are open to the possibility of there being a God—why is your default position an atheistic one rather than a theistic one? If the Judeo/Christian God does indeed exist, then shouldn’t His Commandments be talked about in public school?

J.P.: So the Bible is the word of God. But it was, by all accounts, written down by man. Meaning, God didn’t send the book—he sent the messages, which were inscribed. If this is the case, John, and if man is fallible, isn’t it possible the Bible contains mistakes, and perhaps we shouldn’t take it quite so literally?

J.M.: The Bible was indeed written down by man. Man is indeed fallible. However, God inspired the authors to write what they wrote. God is the primary author, and man is the secondary author. If there is a God and He is who He says He is, then no, the Bible cannot contain mistakes, as God does not make any mistakes. There are passages of the Bible that we may have trouble understanding and that might be confusing to us, and that we may have trouble reconciling—the Church Fathers have recognized this for 2,000 years—but that does not mean there are mistakes in the Bible. It just means that there are holes in our understanding of the Bible. It just means that sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to uncover the meaning in any given passage.

The evidence to back up what I just said about God inspiring man to write an inerrant Bible is way too involved to get into in a venue such as this, but suffice it to say, once again, that my belief in this matter is based on logic, common sense, history and science. It is not, as some would believe, simply blind faith. Blind faith is not the faith of Catholicism. For the honest inquirer, I would be happy to spend time to give the reasoning behind my statements here.

J.P.: Why don’t churches deal more with climate change? It strikes me as a natural fit—God’s creation being destroyed by man. No?

J.M.: Well, first of all, climate change is always occurring. Sometimes the world is in a cycle of warming, sometimes it is in a cycle of cooling. Not much the church, or anyone else, can do about that, is there? But, I suspect you are referring to so-called man-made climate change, which, until just a few years ago, was commonly known as “global warming.” Ever ask yourself why the purveyors of this crap changed the verbiage? Maybe because the evidence of global warming was melting away, and also that there was little to no proof that the supposed global warming was being caused by man?

By the way, are you aware that the models that are used by these purveyors of climatic doom—the ones that predict what the temperature is going to be 50 years from now and so on—are models that are written down by man? And, if man is fallible, isn’t it possible the models contain mistakes and perhaps we shouldn’t take them quite so literally? I mean, if the models that are used by the weathermen today cannot always predict within even a few degrees what the temperature is going to be one week from now, how is it that basically those same models are said to be capable of absolutely predicting within a half a degree what the temperature is going to be 50 years from now? Let’s talk blind faith, shall we?

But, let’s say the earth is warming and that this warming is proven to be indisputably caused by man. So what? Why is that necessarily a bad thing? What if that turns out to be actually preventing another ice age? That would be a good thing, wouldn’t it? Another thing, did you know that the oceans were actually about 100 feet or so higher than they are now something like 100 million years ago? Doesn’t that mean that the earth was a lot hotter then than it is now? Somehow, though, life survived and the earth survived. So, why is global warming a bad thing?

So sorry, but I’m not drinking the global warming/climate change Kool-Aid. I thought it was pretty funny last summer when the ship that went down to the Antarctic to prove to the world that global warming was occurring got stuck in an ice flow that was much wider and thicker than anything recorded down there in a long time. Global warming crusader ship stranded in record ice flow. I think the word is ironic.

However, just because I don’t buy the global warming garbage doesn’t mean I don’t believe man should be a good steward of the earth. He should be, and indeed, the church teaches as much. Pope Francis has made several statements in this regard, as did Popes Benedict and John Paul II. In fact, Pope Francis is coming out with an encyclical letter in the near future on the stewardship of the earth. Why, he might even buy into the whole global warming thing, I don’t know. But whatever his point of view on it, this encyclical will be about taking care of our planet. So, yes, the church cares about the environment as well as the people that live in it. That’s why we want an environment that can sustain life for our future generations, and why we want our future generations to have life. So we fight against the rape of the earth and the murder of our future generations in the womb. To be morally-consistent, we believe one must do both.

J.P.: John, have you at all changed your thoughts since the Pope came out with his position on climate change?

J.M.: When the Pope speaks authoritatively on matters of faith and morals, we are, as Catholics, obliged to give it the assent of faith. The same, however, does not hold true when the Pope speaks on matters outside of faith and morals—science, math, politics, economics, etc. When it comes to man-made global warming, that is not a matter of faith and morals.  The Pope has his opinion on that specific issue, and I respect his opinion, however, it is just that—an opinion. I will hear it and respectfully consider it. However, since this is an issue of science, not faith and morals, we are free to disagree with him on this matter. As for my thoughts on the matter, I will consider changing my mind when the meteorological models can accurately predict the high and low temperatures of every day for the next month here in Birmingham, within one degree.  When they are able to do that, then I will believe they might, one day, be able to accurately—within a degree or two—predict what the average world-wide temperature will be in 50 years. Until then, though, I’m not buying it.

Family shot back in 2006

Family shot back in 2006

J.P.: I’m the great-grandson of Holocaust victims. My great-grandma was killed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz for one reason: She was Jewish. Hence, I just can’t believe you’d want to convert Jews (millions of whom have similar stories) to Christianity. After all they’ve been through, after the struggles for survival. It just seems, well, messed up. Tell me why I’m wrong?

J.M.: Well, to consider converting to Catholicism as if it would somehow be adding to the suffering of the Holocaust is a bit “messed up,” don’t you think? Are you aware that all of the first Christians, for a number of years after Jesus’ death, were Jews? Christianity is not a departure from Judaism, it is a fulfillment of. That’s why someone who is Jewish and familiar with the synagogue service is actually more at home in a Catholic Mass than most non-Catholic Christians are. Also, you might want to read the story of St. Edith Stein. She was a Jewish philosopher in Germany in the 1920s and 30s. She was a student/colleague of Husserl and Heidegger. Brilliant mind. She wound up converting to Catholicism and becoming a nun. She didn’t think it too terribly burdensome and painful to do so. She died at Auschwitz.

If the Catholic Faith is true, than convincing someone of that truth no more adds to the suffering of the Holocaust than convincing someone of some mathematical or scientific truth does. Think about this. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the Catholic Church is right about God and about Jesus and about salvation and the Bible and all the other things it teaches that Jews would disagree with from a theological point of view. Would it be an act of charity to share that truth with the Jewish people, or would it be “messed up”? Which is the greater act: to share truth with others, or to keep it to yourself and refuse to share it with others? Now, you may not agree that it is the truth, but that is not the point. The point is, we believe it is the truth. Given that belief, how should a moral person act?

The concern of the Catholic who is attempting to convert a Jew, or a Muslim, or an atheist, or an agnostic, or a Mormon, or a Baptist, or anyone else is the salvation of one’s soul. The Catholic believes that a person, any person, has the best chance of salvation in and through the Catholic Church. Given that belief, it is out of love that we reach out to anyone and everyone to share the wonders of our faith with them. You might disagree with our arguments, or find them un-persuasive, but you cannot disagree with the reason behind our making them and presenting them to one and all. It is done out of love.

J.P.: I don’t see any good reason why homosexuality is sinful. Like, none. I mean, is it an anal sex thing? Because the gays I know are kind, compassionate loving, good parents, great role models. And it seems like the Catholic church has taken the sinful role of damning quality people to hell for no real good reason.

J.M.: Well, if there is no God, then there is nothing that is sinful, right? However, even if there is no God, it can still be argued that same-sex acts are contra nature. From a Darwinian perspective, what is the number one law of nature? Survival of the species, right? Well, for the survival of the species, nature has designed men and women in a complementary fashion for the purpose of procreation—for the purpose of the continued existence of the species. I mean, pretty much anyone with a modicum of intelligence can look at a man’s body and a woman’s body and come to the conclusion that nature designed them to join together. Do you come to the same conclusion, however, about two men’s bodies and two women’s bodies? No, you don’t. In other words, the joining of two men’s bodies is contra nature. It is a priori unnatural. It runs counter to the design of nature and, by extension, to nature’s No. 1 law—the survival of the species. And, sorry to be a bit graphic here, but can you name me a doctor who believes it is a healthy thing for someone to rub human feces (“shit”) on their sexual organs? Or, to get it all over your fingers and hands? Is that healthy? Would you consider fisting, especially between two men, a healthy act of love? Is it an act of love to ignore the health risks of such a lifestyle? Do you know the incidence of AIDS, rectal cancer, tuberculosis, and many other diseases among males who are same-sex attracted?

And, when it comes to two women, that, too, is a priori unnatural. For starters, two women cannot join together—they are missing something that is rather important in the joining process.

Suffice it to say, that same-sex activity is contra nature. And, if there is a God of nature, then it is contrary to the God of nature.

So, if doing something that is contrary to the design of nature and contrary to the design of nature’s God—and it’s also something that can be very harmful to a person’s health—isn’t “sinful,” then I don’t know what is.

But, I wish to correct you on something—the Catholic Church doesn’t condemn anyone to Hell. We choose our own paths in this life. The Church simply warns folks of where certain choices might land them. This is not done out of spite or malice or hatred, it is done out of love. Believing what we believe, it would be the most heinous act of hate and/or indifference toward our fellow man to say nothing, would it not. Whether someone is “kind, compassionate, loving, good parents, great role models,” or not is not the point. There are many people who commit many and varied types of sins—great and small—who could be described in the same manner. Going to Heaven or going to Hell is about accepting God or rejecting God. And it’s about repenting and asking for forgiveness for the sins we do commit. And with God, it’s sort of an all-or-nothing thing. You can’t say, “Well, yeah, I’ll accept God on this, but I reject Him on that.” It’s all in.

Finally, I find it quite curious that you would describe anything anyone does as being “sinful.” If there is no God, then nothing the Catholic Church does is sinful, as there is no such thing as sin. So by what moral authority do you call the Catholic Church “sinful” in its teachings on homosexuality? [Jeff’s note: Why does a God-like creature need to determine right v. wrong? Why is it impossible for humanity to devise such a system?]

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• Five reasons one should make Birmingham, Alabama his/her next vacation spot?: 1) It’s only 90 minutes from Huntsville, Alabama, which is God’s country; 2) It’s on the Robert Trent Jones golf trail—some of the best golf courses anywhere; 3) Some of the best micro breweries around; 4) Home of EWTN Television and Radio—largest religious broadcasting network in the world; 5) The incredibly beautiful Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is close by in Hanceville, Alabama, just 45 minutes north.

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Don Drysdale, Ted Cruz, Benjamin Netanyahu, The A-Team, Snoop Dogg, chopped carrots, Carson City, Black Friday, Guy Laroche: 1) Benjamin Netanyahu (anybody who can run a country surrounded on all sides by folks who want to kill you has got somethin’ going on); 2) Don Drysdale (if you had Fergie Jenkins on the list instead of Drysdale, I might have had to make him No. 1 and Netanyahu No. 2); 3) The A-Team (I love it when a plan comes together); 4) chopped carrots (can’t go wrong with carrots); 5) Carson City (always loved the Ponderosa); 6) Ted Cruz (better than your average politician, but still a politician); 7) Snoop Dogg (don’t much care for his music, but got nothing against him on a personal level); 8) Guy Laroche (don’t know who he is, but he’s got to be better than #9); 9) Black Friday.

• I hate doing my laundry. Any advice?: Join a nudist colony.

• Best joke you know?: An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders one beer. The second one orders half a beer. The third one orders a quarter of a beer. The fourth one orders an eighth of a beer and so on. After the 8th or 9th order, the bartender pours two beers and says, “You guys ought to know your limits.”

• What’s the most confusing Bible verse you’ve come across?: Well, I don’t know if “confusing” is the right word as much as “difficult” is. There are a number of Bible verses that can be difficult to understand, but I guess one that I have wondered about and that no one really has a good handle on exactly what is being talked about, is 1 Corinthians 15:29—baptizing on behalf of the dead. People have their theories as to what is being mentioned here, but no one knows for sure.

• Who wins in a 12-round boxing match between you and Dr. Oz? What’s the outcome?: Well, I don’t know who Dr. Oz is, but if he could go 12 rounds, then he would win, because I would probably need an oxygen tent after three.

• One question you would ask Roger Ebert were he here right now?: How did you come back from the dead?

• Why is dropping the occasional curse such a bad thing? I love cursing: I used to love cursing as well, especially on the golf course. Even had one guy who saved a particular “off color” message I left on his answering machine for a couple of years and he would play it every so often for friends because it was so creative in its use of cuss words that it would leave ‘em laughing. Anyway, why is cursing a bad thing? Well, first of all, if there is no God, which means there is no objective standard of good or bad, then cursing is neither a bad thing or a good thing, right? However, if there is a God, and you believe in Him, then you might want to pay attention to what He says, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this ought not to be so.” (James 3:10) If you wish to imitate Christ with your life, then cursing is not really the way to do it, is it? After all, from what well within a person does cursing generally spring? Somewhere that is positive and joyful and content? Or somewhere that is a bit dark, a bit negative, maybe a bit angry? So, the question is, is one imitating Christ through cursing? If no, then don’t do it. If yes, then have at it.

• What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received? (and I don’t mean “the gift of Christ.” I’m talking a physical possession): A really awesome chess set for Christmas when I was 12-years old. I was a big Bobby Fischer fan.

• In exactly 23 words, can you make a sensible argument why butter tastes better than Nutella?: No, I can’t.

56 thoughts on “John Martignoni”

  1. Sorry, didn’t read this quaz. I’m done with the convoluted “logic” of the religious to justify their intolerance and paranoia. I just don’t have any patience for it anymore.

    1. You refuse to read a post because you prejudge it as intolerant and paranoid. Hm. Who’s being intolerant? There is nothing so scary that it can’t be read once. Maybe not more than once, but once.

    2. Give it at least a skim, Ted. There isn’t any intolerance or paranoia in there from either side of the aisle. 🙂 I have often shirked at some of these “get to know…” articles, but this one was well done.

  2. Regarding the cursing thing; my 2c worth, I’m not sure if John would agree or not. 1) Cursing is bad because it’s wishing ill against another person (or worse yet to an object). It is at best a waste of time and at worst a spreading of ill-will and hatred throughout the world. (I’m reminded of the story of a Native American who was puzzled why the European settler would wish gunpowder that would not light to go to eternal fire.) 2) Any cursing that involves the name of God — including the name of Jesus — falls under the category of “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” And I’ve always wondered, when somebody cuts loose, how they would react if some Voice responded, “Yes? Can I help you?” We are supposed to pray to God, not demand of God. Much less do the functional equivalent of a three-year old saying, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” (etc.)

  3. Wonderful article! Jeff Pearlman, thanks so much for letting John introduce himself here and for letting him explain his faith openly and uncensored. This is above and beyond the generosity I’ve seen in other forums.
    John Martignoni, thanks for sharing your faith here. I was really impressed with some of your answers and your rationale.

  4. Rick Fidelis Reed

    Jeff your interview here of John should be in the dictionary under an example of fair&balanced.
    I appreciated so much you straight forward questions.

  5. So if I can show the Catholic Church was ever wrong with one of its doctrines, he’ll give up the church? How about when the Catholic Church condemned Galileo’s heliocentrism theory as false and contrary to scripture? Or how about the Catholic Church advocating and paying for armed warfare in the Crusades? My guess is that Martignoni would say that the Church doesn’t do those things anymore. The problem with that is that, years from now, when someone proves that current Church policies are wrong, he would just say that the (now) current polices are no longer in place.

    As for his view on homosexuality, the Bible has no passage where Jesus condemns homosexuality. In fact, there are some passages in the Bible where Jesus appears to approve of homosexuality (Matthew 8:5-13 and Matthew 19:4-12) if you read between the lines. The Bible is replete with references, however, approving of slavery. Even Jesus speaks of slaves needing to be severely punished if they knowingly refused to their duties, but only lightly punished if they did not realize they were doing wrong (Luke 12:47-48). Based on the Bible passages approving slavery, shouldn’t Maritnoni approve of slavery? If not, why not? And if you can’t trust or follow Bible passages on slavery, why should you trust or follow Bible passages on homosexuality, most of which do not disapprove of homosexuality but instead disapprove of homosexual rape.

    I was raised in the Catholic Church, but got out a long time ago once I understood what it (and all religions) really stood for.

    1. Well, with all due respect, Arnold, but I don’t think you are aware of what the Catholic Church “really” stands for. I say that because from what you’ve written here, it’s obvious you don’t really have a very good understanding of the Galileo situation, or the Crusades, or about the Bible. Furthermore, your “guess” about what I would say is wrong. If you would like a serious conversation on any of these topics, I would be happy to oblige. The first question I would ask you is this: You do realize that the Middle East and North Africa were all once completely Catholic and that they were conquered, by the sword, and forcibly converted by Muslims, right? Which means the Crusades were, essentially, a response to the armed aggression of Islam against Christendom. Are you aware of that?

      1. Of course, I am aware of that John. Are you saying that killing is okay as long as it is in a fight to retake lands that were lost in war? The Crusades were not a fight to defend Christendom, that fight was already lost. It was a new series of wars to try to take back land that had been lost.

        I am no fan of Islam either, but after Islam conquered the Middle East, they brought social justice, education, and other reforms to the people who lived there. They allowed Christians to move about freely in their lands and to visit Christian holy sites. Muhammed had a code of conduct for his armies that included not killing women, children, and innocents (such as religious leaders) and no destruction of livestock, orchards, and wells. The Crusaders, with Church sanction, massacred Muslims and Jews alike. They even turned on others of their faith and sacked Constantinople. Did you know that Jews fought alongside Muslims to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders? This is not to say that Muslims never committed atrocities. Certainly they did and Muhammed’s policies have been perverted just as badly as Jesus’ policies over the centuries. But the Church does not get to excuse its atrocities by pointing to the atrocities of others.

        All of this misses the main point though. The Catholic Church’s doctrines have been wrong many times. The Church has even apologized for many of these things, such as the treatment of Galileo, some actions in the Crusades, its involvement with African slave trade, its contempt of other religions and cultures, and for its silence and inactivity against the Holocaust. Do you not agree that the doctrines that eventually led to these apologies were wrong? If so, are these past shameful wrong doctrines and policies now excused because the Church apologized? And what is happening today that the Church will have to apologize for in the future? Certainly its policy of protecting pedophile priests and for laundering mob money. And while I know you disagree, I would bet that someday the Church will apologize for its doctrine of fostering shame and hate toward gays and gay marriage.

        If Jesus Christ returned to Earth today, he would be ashamed of the Catholic condemnation of gays and gay marriage and really ashamed of wars being fought in God’s name. The Jesus I read about had a message of love for all and never denounced homosexuality even when he may have had a chance to do so in the Matthew verses. I have no doubt Jesus would say let people love and marry who they want because love is the most important thing of all.

      2. Just a quick note, Arnold: the “treatment of Galileo”, “some actions in the Crusades”, [sinful behavior of individuals in the Church who acted against Church doctrines], are not “Church doctrines”. (Your history falls apart after that, as does your mischaracterization of the Church’s stance on “gays” [persons vs. actions], etc.)
        An apology for the wrong doings of individuals within it would be expected from Christ’s Church. You’d expect nothing less. That doesn’t make the Church wrong…it means there are sinners in it.

      3. Sorry, I could not pass this one up. Arnold said, “As for his view on homosexuality, the Bible has no passage where Jesus condemns homosexuality.” And then follows with, “I am no fan of Islam either, but after Islam conquered the Middle East, they brought social justice…”.
        Homosexuality…Islam…social justice… Care to explain Islam’s “social justice” to the families of the homosexuals they’ve been tossing off the roof tops? While the Church is against the *act* of homosexual “intercourse”, it’s doctrines are clearly *for* the *persons* with same sex attractions. At least anyone claiming to be Catholic and killing homosexuals (if such a person is doing that) would be acting against Catholic doctrine. What is Islam’s doctrine on killing homosexuals?

      4. Islam’s doctrines on homosexuality are abysmal. Not sure what your point there is. Are you saying that because Islam’s doctrine on homosexuality is even worse than the Catholic Church’s, that make the Church doctrine on homosexuality okay?

        As for Galileo, the Church officially decreed that heliocentrism was false and contrary to scripture, then when Galileo refused to abandon his beliefs on it, he was tried and convicted of heresy. Would not an official decree of the Church be their doctrine?

        But lets get to your issue of sinful acts by Church people vs. Church doctrine. It is altogether convenient for the Church to later say that the people who guide Church policy and doctrine committed sinful acts, but because the Church later decided they were wrong, their acts were not Church policy or doctrine. That way Church doctrine is never accountable for the acts committed by its leaders (such as Papal Bulls that sanctioned slavery). Years from now, when the Catholic Church accepts that homosexuality is not a sin and that gays should be allowed to be married, would they say that the current view on homosexuality was simply a wrongful act by church leaders or that their doctrine was wrong?

      5. My point in mentioning Islam’s doctrine on homosexuality was to show the illogic in claiming that Islam brought “social justice” to the lands it took by force, as you claimed.

        The Catholic Church’s doctrine on homosexuals
        doesn’t need to be compared to Islam to be seen for what it is. The Church’s doctrine is this: “[Homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Do you think
        the Church’s doctrine there is “okay”?

        In regard to the *act* of having same-sex “intercourse”, the Church teaches that the *act* is disordered. The *person* however, is
        still to be respected and loved.

        Galileo was told not to push heliocentrism as “proven truth” when it was, at that time, not proven. It was only yet a theory. He was never condemned of formal heresy, only of being “vehemently suspected of heresy”. There’s a difference. And no, a decision made during a trial is not a doctrine. Here are a couple articles that give the actual historical facts on Galileo:

        The Church doesn’t “later decide” that people who sin are wrong. The Church has been teaching that certain acts are sinful for 2,000 years. If people commit those acts, they are wrong the instant they commit those acts. The Church doesn’t just make up doctrine as it goes along. I’m not sure what Papal Bull you are talking about when you say it “sanctioned slavery”, but if your history there is as sloppy as it is regarding Galileo, then I bet there is more to it than you give, and you are either misleading people out of ignorance, or out of malice. Perhaps you could link to this Papal Bull so we can all read it in context?

        Before you toss around “doctrines” of the Church, maybe you could spend some time finding out what they actually are, and what “doctrine” actually means to theChurch.
        I’ll end my responses here and leave you with the same invitation John gave you earlier. You contact my privately and I’ll discuss whatever you want. Please be able to provide actual evidence for any assertions you make.

      6. My point about Islamic social justice reforms was that Islam wasn’t the monster that John was making it out to be. The fact that their social justice reforms a millennia ago did not include justice for homosexuals doesn’t change that fact.

        I get that you want to limit Catholic doctrine to just what Jesus taught because if it includes what Church leaders have advocated over the centuries, the Church does not look so good. However, let’s look at what you claim is the Church doctrine on homosexuality. “[Homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and
        sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should
        be avoided.” If that is in fact, Church doctrine, should not Catholics be working to include sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws and to ensure that gays are entitled to the civil right (not religious right) of marriage? Instead, the Catholic Church has funded efforts to prevent gays from being protected against discrimination and being able to marry. Should not Catholics allow the hiring of Catholic gays for jobs within the Church instead of claiming the right not to hire them because they are gay? Nobody is saying that the Catholic Church should perform gay marriages, but pursuant to this “compassionate” Church doctrine, why would the Church object to allowing gays to be married civilly or within other religions that have no problem with gay marriage?

        As for the Papal Bulls on slavery that you are unfamiliar with, Pope Nicholas V issued a Papal Bull (Dum Diversas) on June 18, 1452, authorizing the Portuguese king to conquer the Saracens and pagans and consign them to perpetual servitude. He followed this up in 1454 with another Papal Bull (Romanus Pontifex) giving the Portuguese king dominion over other African lands and permitting him to enslave those peoples as well. These Papal Bulls were reconfirmed by later Papal Bulls by other popes until Pope Paul II denounced the idea of treating natives of conquered lands as slaves in 1573. You can read more about it here…

        You are correct that Galileo was found guilty of being “vehemently suspect of heresy” and not “heresy”. Are you saying that this minor distinction justifies the Church’s actions as to Galileo? He was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life and required to “abjure, curse and detest” his “opinions” on heliocentrism. You say that Galileo was told not to push heliocentrism as proven fact when it had not been proven. However, Galileo had defended his “opinion” with scientific facts that the Church ignored because they contradicted Holy Scripture. Regardless, do you deny that the Church punished Galileo for advocating heliocentrism?

        With regard to your limiting Church doctrine to the teachings of Jesus and not what the Church has advocated over the centuries, I have already noted above in response to John, two areas of Jesus’ teachings that are significant. One where Jesus says to accept eunuchs born of a woman’s womb, i.e., homosexuals (Matthew 19:12), and another where Jesus condones slavery and the beating of slaves (Luke 12:47-48). The response to these will be that I have not interpreted those gospel sections correctly and therein lies the problem. Each of has our interpretation of what Jesus said and neither of us has objective proof of what Jesus actually meant, only our beliefs as to what he meant. So you will believe what you wish to believe and I will believe what I wish to believe. I am fine with that. What I am not fine with is people forcing their religious beliefs upon others, which is what the Catholic Church (and almost every religion) has a long history of and is contrary to the central concept of our Constitution.

      7. Arnold, first I apologize because I said I would end my responses, but here I am yet again. Second, thanks for pointing me to the pertinent Papal Bull. I am familiar with it.

        I just wanted to clarify something real quick: Dum Diversus (et al.) was not a general edict to enslave people in what we modern folk know as slavery. The position was no different than
        giving a life sentence to criminals with hard labor to pay back society for their evil deeds, just like the American prisons do (or used to). As I noted above, your conclusion is a result of sloppy history…either misleading people in ignorance, or out of malice. (Did you happen to notice the website you linked to already has an agenda against the Church? I prefer more neutral sources, and I recommend you seek those out.)

        I highly recommend you check out at least that first link I provided you on Galileo and the Church (actual historical information). “…S]cientific facts that the Church ignored because they contradicted Holy Scripture…”. Seriously? That’s not the statement of someone familiar with the actual history.

        The reason the Church is against gay “marriage” is because, as John mentioned in the Quaz (above) the Church loves them and is concerned for their eternal destination. ” You might disagree with our arguments, or find them un-persuasive, but you cannot disagree with the reason behind our making them and presenting them to one and all. It is done out of love” (J. Martignoni, see article above)
        Okay this really is my last response. I wish you well and hope that God blesses you immeasurably in this life and the next.

      8. In the UK homosexuals were acknowledged that they were discriminated against in lifelong homosexual partners that ended in death. The surviving partner had no right in regard to the deceased’s estate, and could be excluded by family members who did not agree with their lifestyle. Some even lost their homes. Tis was redressed with a law setting up civil partnerships (something only available to homosexuals by the way). This was often referred to as marriage by participating couples.
        For some it was not enough. They said they were still being discriminated against and demanded a marriage. There were,however some homosexuals who felt that civil partnerships were enough and were against the introduction gay marriage. unfortunately the law road roughshot over their wishes.

      9. You are mistaken. Copernicus had already proposed the heliocentric solar system with no negative consequences. The Galileo affair involved a battle of prideful men, not church teaching.

      10. It’s actually a Good Thing that the Church did not rush to accept Copernicus’ heliocentrism… because that, too, was false. Copernicus positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets rotating around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform speeds. I suspect that no one today believes that to be the case!

      11. Actually, the Crusades were indeed a fight to defend Christendom. And, just so you know, the Crusades did take back land that had been lost to Islam. At least, for a while. But, your comments seem to infer that the Muslims were no longer threatening Christendom. Is that what you are saying? Did the Muslim armies say, “Hey, we’ve got the Middle East and North Africa, let’s stop there?” They were intent on conquering all of Europe. Were it not for the Crusades setting back the advance of Islam, you might be a Muslim right now. The Crusades helped to save Western Civilization. In addition to being an ongoing threat to Christian lands, the Muslims were attacking and robbing and killing pilgrims to the Holy Land. Christians were not allowed to move about freely as you stated.

        Regarding Mohammed’s code of conduct for his armies, are you aware that Mohammed got his start by sending his followers to rob caravans? That Islam’s own holy books say that Mohammed personally beheaded the Jewish captives of one of the cities he captured? That after a Muslim conquest you either converted, died, or paid the jizyah? The Crusaders did not have “Church sanction” to murder anyone. The entire 4th Crusade, the one that sacked Constantinople, was excommunicated. Were there sinners in the Crusades who committed sins? Absolutely. As there are sinners in every time and every place.

        Now, as to the Church’s doctrines being “wrong many times.” That simply is not true. The Church apologized for the sinful actions of its members that were contrary to its teachings – it did not apologize for its “doctrines.” The actions of members of the Church have been wrong and sinful, but the action of a person – even of a Church official or even the Pope – do not constitute doctrine. A doctrine is a formal teaching of the Church as given to the Church by Jesus Christ Himself. It is not, nor has it ever been, “doctrine” for bishops to protect pedophile priests. That is a sin. To call that a doctrine of the Church is done out of either ignorance or maliciousness. You have apparently read a lot of propaganda about the Church that is not quite as factual as you seem to think. The Church’s “silence and inactivity” during the Holocaust? Really?! If you’re interested in the facts regarding the Pope and the Church during the Holocaust, you might want to read this article, authored by a prominent member of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, in 1963: Besides, on the one hand, you condemn the Church for resisting Islam and on the other hand you condemn the Church for supposedly not resisting fascism. You can’t have it both ways.

        Regarding “fostering shame and hate towards gays,” the Church does nothing of the kind. Does it call homosexual activity sinful? Yes. Does it say that there is no such thing as same-sex “marriage?” Yes. Does disagreeing with those who say otherwise constitute hatred? No. To suggest otherwise is shameful. By your reasoning, the Church must foster shame and hate towards every man and woman alive today because every man and woman sins, and the Church calls us out on every single one of those sins. Jesus Himself told us what a marriage is – and how it has been from the beginning – “For this reason a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one.” A marriage, according to Jesus, is one man and one woman. Jesus also never denounced chemical warfare, does that mean He would approve of it? He never denounced nuclear war. Does that mean He would approve of it? I get that you are angry with the Church and hate folks like me, but you are being quite closed minded and intolerant of a belief system that you really do not understand, as is painfully obvious by your comments here.

        But, as you say, all of this is missing the point. Let’s go back to your very first statement. Name one doctrine – not one sin of the Church’s members – one doctrine of the Church, one teaching of the Church, that is wrong.

      12. Sorry to disappoint you, but I do not hate you or people like you, though it does not surprise me that you would jump to that conclusion because someone disagrees with you. I don’t come by my views through propaganda, but through growing up going to catechism every week, many history classes in high school and college and my own research on issues that interest me. I still have many family members who belong to the Catholic Church and while I will sometimes debate various Church policies and doctrines with them, this never devolves into hate.

        Speaking of history, you should really study the history of the Crusades. They did not only target Middle Eastern lands taken by the Muslims, but were also against pagans in Northern Europe, heretics in France, other Christian political leaders they did not approve of, and the Byzantine Empire. The first Crusade resulted in the massacre of Jews. You seem fixated on proving that the Muslims were worse. That is no justification for the atrocities sanctioned by the Church in the Crusades.

        With regard to homosexuality, the official Church position that it is a sin and gays should not be allowed to marry has fostered others to discriminate against and hate gays. Church policy and the Bible have long been used to justify denying gays the same civil rights that are enjoyed by others. That does not seen very Christian to me.

        We disagree on what constitutes Church doctrine. I believe it encompasses everything that Church leaders sanction as official policy of the Church. However, since you believe it only encompasses the teachings of Jesus, what does Jesus say about homosexuality. Nowhere does he specifically denounce homosexuality. However in Matthew 19:12, Jesus states: “For there are eunuchs who are born thus from their mothers womb, and there are eunuchs who are made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who are eunuchs for the kingdom of heavens sake. Let those who can accept it, accept it.” In the context of the discussion in that Chapter, the most plausible understanding of eunuchs born of their mother’s womb is that they are homosexuals, who along with eunuchs made by men (by having testicles removed) and eunuchs for the kingdom of heavens (monk), all describe men who were not interested in women.

        While on the subject of what Jesus said, what about Luke 12:47-48: “And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” These are among many passages in the Bible that sanction slavery and have been used for millennia to justify slavery. Should not Jesus have decried slavery when he had the chance? Or at the very least, should he have not decried the beating of slaves? Instead he is telling slaves to know their master’s will or they will be beaten and that they should be beaten regardless of whether the slave knows he is doing wrong. So is this Church doctrine because it was among the teachings of Jesus? As I assume you do not believe that Church doctrine approves of slavery, I am genuinely interested in why you believe it isn’t given this and many other passages in the Bible that approve of slavery.

      13. My apologies for the delayed response…the past week was rather hectic and has kept me busy elsewhere. Anyway, no, it is not a disappointment to hear that you don’t hate people like me…I really appreciate that. Look, to cut to the chase, is the history of the Church filled with lots of bad things done by Catholics – and not just the laity, but the clergy as well? Absolutely. But you know what? The Church is filled with sinners. And you know what sinners do? They sin. But, sin has never been proclaimed as the doctrinal teaching of the Church, no matter what your opinion may be. Sorry, but you do not get to declare, by your authority, what the doctrinal teaching of the Church is and what it isn’t. Besides, I notice you focus exclusively on things that you consider to be bad (what moral standard do you use for deciding what is bad, though?). But what about all the good things that Catholics have done for the last 2000 years? What about the hospital/health care system, the leper colonies, the university system, the support for science and scientific research, the care for the poor, the sick, the suffering, the widowed, the orphaned, and the dying? You mention Galileo, but what about Bishop Robert Grosseteste, Friar Roger Bacon, Georgius Agricola, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Francois Viete, Renee Descartes, Archdeacon Nicolaus Copernicus, Andreas Vesalius, Andre-Marie Ampere, Antoine Lavoisier, Giovanni Borelli, Blaise Pascal, Abbot Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Fr. George LeMaitre, and thousands upon thousands more scientists and mathematicians? Yes, we have our sinners, but we have our saints, too. If you believe the actions of sinners counts as Church doctrine, then why do you not also believe that the actions of saints counts as Church doctrine? That wouldn’t fit the narrative, though, would it?

        And to repeat, yes, nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus directly condemn homosexuality, but neither does he directly condemn nuclear war or chemical warfare – so, by your logic, would you say he approves of those things? Jesus does, however, define marriage. And, he defines it as it was “from the beginning” as being between one man and one woman. Sorry, but no wiggle room there for same sex “marriage.” Furthermore, it is pretty difficult to get around Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1.

        And, no, the “most plausible” understanding of the passage about the eunuchs “born thus from their mothers womb” is not that they were homosexuals. Never before the last few decades did anyone understand that passage in such a manner. For one thing, there is no evidence – none! – that homosexuals are born as homosexuals. There is, however, evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, the context of the passage is not about “men who were not interested in women,” the context of the passage is the permanency of marriage – between a man and a woman. Some men do not marry because they were born with some sort of physical malformation of the genitals, and thus were eunuchs from birth; some do not marry because their genitals were removed by men; and some men do not marry because they took a vow of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. But, those who take a vow of celibacy do not do so because they are “not interested in women.” To take a vow of celibacy in that situation is not much of a sacrifice then, is it? No, the men who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom are indeed interested in women, yet they decide to follow a lifestyle where they can be anxious about the affairs of the Lord with their undivided attention. So, your conjecture about the context fails scrutiny.

        Regarding Jesus and slavery, who are you to say what Jesus should or should not have done? Do you know the mind of God? By what authority do you pass judgment on Jesus, on Scripture, and on the Catholic Church? Do the passages from the Bible that you cite “sanction” slavery, or do they merely recognize that slavery exists as an institution? Are you not aware of Paul’s Letter to Philemon, where he exhorts Philemon to free his slave and to treat him as a brother rather than as a slave? Are you not aware of the passage that in Christ Jesus there is no Jew and no Greek no male and no female no slave and no free because we are all one? You are so much like a Sola Scriptura Protestant. Cherry-picking this or that verse so that you can Interpret the Bible to say whatever you want it to say. I find it fascinating that on the one hand you contend that because Jesus didn’t specifically denounce slavery that that signifies He approved of it, but on the other hand you contend that because he didn’t denounce homosexuality, that that signifies He did approve of it.

        Look, you have an animus against the Catholic Church. I get that. But here’s the thing, cutting to the chase again: Do you believe in God or not? If you don’t, then what the heck is your problem with Catholics doing and teaching whatever they want to do and teach? If you do believe in God, then do you believe in the Judeo/Christian God Who has revealed Himself throughout history, or some other god, or a god of your own design – a god you are comfortable with? Whatever answer you come up with here, you have no argument for condemning Catholics for not approving of homosexuality. Because no matter your answer, you still have no moral authority to judge us as being wrong on this, do you?

    2. My friend,

      I can tell from your comments here, and below, that you are very passionate about your beliefs. As a friendly gesture, I would like to offer the following suggestions to help you plug some holes in your argument:

      Please use caution when quoting verses from the Bible, as your personal interpretation has flaws. This is a trap that many fall into, and has resulted in, regrettably, many fallacies and atrocities to be committed in the name of God. In particular, you quote Matthew 8:5-13 and Matthew 19:4-12 as endorsements of homosexuality (and somewhat by extension, same-sex marriage). While I am not sure how the story of how the Centurion’s faith healed his servant applies to homosexuality, I would argue that context shoots holes in your use of Matthew 19:4-12. Matthew 3 says that Jesus was tested on whether or not a man can divorce his wife. When Jesus says
      that you can’t divorce, and that if you do and remarry you commit adultery, the reaction is that if you can’t dissolve marriage, it is better to not marry. Jesus’ response is that eunuchs, and those who act like them, don’t marry. In essence, Jesus was saying you can marry, and have sex with, one woman, or you can live like a eunuch who doesn’t marry or have sex. I am afraid this kind of contradicts your argument.

      Another example of context error is your use of Luke 12:47-48 to say that Jesus condoned slavery. Luke 12:35-48 is a parable about a servant being watchful for his master’s return. The verses that you quote are discussing the difference in punishment for willful disobedience and ignorant disobedience. It in no way condones slavery, but instead is describing the consequences of not doing as god expects in terms that his audience can understand. This parable is particularly worrisome for someone like myself, who is a young Catholic, has some knowledge and understanding of Christ’s teaching, but is too proud/stubborn to leave his sinful ways behind. Please pray for me, because if I understand the parable correctly, my punishment could be more harsh than yours, if I disobey with correct understanding, while you commit the same mistakes with bad information.
      I hope this information helps you, and will pray that one day you will find the graces you need to find your way back to the Church. Peace be with you.

      1. It would appear that JP is acting like the “devil’s advocate” but it appears that he is actually a Christian and just making JM expound on his own belief. At any any rate, I did enjoy the exchanges.,

  6. I loved this article and wish I could have heard it live. Good for you John! You”re definitely doing your part to educate and evangelize our world.

  7. Suzanne Graf Slupesky Beck

    WOW, I’m impressed with both of you! Well done and respectful, even tho you disagree. THAT’s impressive and very cool!

  8. I am absolutely blown away by both of you! You both have the patience of Job (whoops, sorry, Jeff! Uh, the patience of Netanyahu!) What a wonderful respect, mutual trust and friendship you have. Why don’t you do a nightly newscast! I bet it would be a breath of fresh air, truly fair and balanced. BTW – The Catholic Church teaches that it’s not a sin to have same-sex attraction. It’s not a sin to be TEMPTED. Even Jesus was TEMPTED. It’s a sin if you act on a temptation. The crusades were akin to the Allies rescuing Poland from the Nazis, even tho’ some of the soldiers on both sides committed crimes. The Catholic Church is filled with sinners, so everyone’s welcome! The prayer is, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Even the Pope said, “Pray for me. I’m a sinner.” I love the Catholic Church!!!!!! :o)

  9. John, Great responses and arguments! The Catholic Church is the One and Only Church Founded by Jesus Christ! It is the Bride of Christ and Jesus doesn’t have any girlfriends! History, Logic and Reason and Science provides the absolute Proof ! One only need add the Gift of Faith!

  10. Thanks for hosting this great discussion Mr. Pearlman. And Mr. Martignoni,
    thank you for your amazing insight; I learned a lot. Bookmarking this for future reference.

  11. “What I so often find, though, is that people ask questions not wanting to hear the answers and they do not respond logically and rationally to the answers that are given. Rather, they quite often attack those who provide the answers.” Boy, is that ever the truth! (BTW, I was stationed at RSA during the 1980s, attended church on-post; sorry I didn’t realize that EWTN was developing just down the road!)

  12. Jeff, thanks for putting this entire piece online. I think all “sides” need to calmly hear each other’s arguments, about everything. Thanks for doing that here.
    John, thanks for the answers. I learned a lot. I like what Archbishop Sheen point out: the first words that the writer of Genesis has God utter are, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Like THEY agreed, in love, that making man was a great thing after all that creation work! That’s exactly what married couples are saying when they say yes to new life. To me, that’s another little testament to one-man-one-woman in marriage. The yes-to-life aspect. Thank you both.

  13. The back and forth was awesome. Kudos Mr. Pearlman for a true question/answer format regarding a topic that is usually heated, confrontational, and divisive and that usually ends in some sort of character assassination. It is a pleasure to see what I took as a mutual respect between two men of opposing views. May God bless the both of you.

  14. Awesome interview….both sides. Nod to JM, great “apologetics “. You should probably do this for a living. Anyway, got me interested…

  15. Very good interview and thank you Jeff for allowing John to answer your queries. It was very kind of you to allow him this forum to show the true Catholic Church. Bless you.

  16. Thank you for this; God bless you both and you’re in my prayers. I have a question and thought to add about the prayer part; I understand the analogy of a child asking his parents for a gun. But sometimes what one prays for , is surely good and God’s will- for example, praying to God that a loved one repent of sinful ways, or seek treatment for their drug or drinking or any other harmful addiction. In that case God is limited because He gave everyone free will, so that person will keep acting however they want to act. I’ve prayed this way for people and in a case or two, think it may have helped, but mostly , it does nothing. So in that situation, is it just as effective as “flipping a coin”, since God can’t interfere with another’s free will anyway? Since He loves that person more than i ever could, He’s probably already doing what He can to inspire that person to turn to Him, so what’s the point of me praying anyway- does that actually help? Then again that can apply to anything, since God knows what we need first anyway– sometimes i do wonder what’s the point of any prayer of petition ( as opposed to prayers of praise, thanksgiving , or contrition)- but i do go on praying anyway since there’s nothing else i can do about a lot of things, and the Bible does tell us to always be praying. I’m a fan of yours, John Martignoni- don’t know if you actually will read/respond to this, but I’d be so appreciative if you do!

    1. Rei, sorry, but I do not have all of the answers. As finite beings, we simply are not capable of fully comprehending an infinite God. Scripture says His ways are far above our ways. That is where trust and faith and hope come in. We do certain things – like pray for others – not necessarily because we will see that our prayers are “successful,” but because the One we trust and believe and hope in tells us that it is a good thing to pray for others. Exactly how the mechanism of prayer works, I don’t know. For example, if I am praying for someone to be healed of cancer, and God knows whether or not they will be healed, then what impact does my prayer have? I don’t exactly know. But, if we knew God’s mind and how God works in every single instance, then we wouldn’t need faith, would we? The other thing is, we may think something is “surely good,” but we don’t see and know all that God sees and knows, so we just have to keep trusting. Jesus prayed that He could avoid “this cup” – His crucifixion. Surely it would have been a good thing if Jesus wasn’t crucified, right? Maybe for Jesus, but not for us. Maybe a conversion at this time might be a superficial one and may not last. Maybe a conversion a year from now or 5 years from now might be better for that person…who knows?! All we can do is be faithful and keep on praying.

      1. Thank you John! Yeah sometimes my head feels like it will explode from trying to figure it all out, and i know the best thing is to just surrender and trust, not easy for someone like me. One of my biggest prayers is that my trust in Him will increase, be complete–another thing i think , is surely good for me now, so i could be alleviated from much anxiety. But i see where He’s teaching me patience and a lot of other things; even maybe that my anxiety might always be a “thorn in my flesh” but I sure hope that’s not the case. May God keep blessing your ministry!

  17. Thank you Jeff for being open to discussion on this subject, a rare occurrence in the media today. Your heart is in a good place and will only get better with the perspective of searching for truth wherever it may lead.
    Thank you John for your steadfastness to the truth and your willingness to defend it to the bitter end, if necessary. I’m sure your answers have planted many seeds and/or rained down much needed water to those seeds already on fertile ground.

  18. Thank you, Mr. Pearlman, for allowing John and his message the space in your .com.
    And thank you, John, for continuing to defend the Faith with logic, common sense, history, and science. May God bless you both!

  19. First off, I must commend and offer a big kudos to Jeff Pearlman for his fair and honest approach to this interview. Rarely is this type of treatment seen in interviews of this nature.

    John as usual, presented himself magnificently.

    My post is in response to some posts on the Galileo/Copernicus affair.

    The speech Pope John Paul II gave to the Pontifical Academy of Science was more of a personal reflection on his part and the church regarding the Galileo affair. No where has the church officially recanted or un-condemn any of the condemnations of Galileo’s assertions. Or for that matter that the church ever recanted the condemnations as official heresy the notion that the earth moves and that the sun is the center of the universe. Both have been condemned as heresy. Interestingly, all the evidence and arguments Galileo presented at his trial ……modern science today admits is false. Not one is true, though modern science believes the earth moves and is not the center the universe.

    Interestingly as well, Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in 1990 gave a speech to university students in Parma Italy saying that the church was right in condemning Galileo. He pointed out that we are in the age of Einstein’s relativity theory and it is quite possible the church was right and Galileo was wrong. He came to this realization because as he states, relativity cannot tell whether the sun is going around the earth or whether the earth is going around the sun. He then quotes scientific philosopher Ernst Bloch, talking about the theory of relativity and how that disallows science to make any claims that the earth goes around the sun. It can say it is a possibility ….but that’s all it can do in this age of scientific relativity. Einstein himself in his book admits there is no way to tell. Yet modern science shoves only one of the 2 possibilities down society’s throat.

    Interestingly as well, nobody till Ernst Mach in the late 1800s applied this relativity to the universe. Which is…..instead of the earth rotating in a universe that doesn’t move, we could have the universe rotating around the earth that doesn’t move….and we could have the same thing. However, the 1887 MM experiment and thousands of other interferometer experiments after does confirm that earth is static and motionless. This is until Einstein’s 1905 STR theory comes in to explain away the devastating results of the MM Experiment.

    Ratzinger in 1961 also remarked that the main reason for the prelates gathering in Vat II basically was to addressed the Galileo affair and the modern world. But the affair never made it to the main discussions.

    In his farewell speech, Pope Benedict XVI said there were many factors for the motivation of Vat II, however, in his speech…he only mentions the Galileo affair,….which was not addressed.
    Hmmmm….Holy Spirit at work?

  20. Thank you Jeff and John for a very good interview. Since John was unable to answer the last question about butter vs Nutella, here is my crack at it:
    Butter tastes better than Nutella because butter comes from cows, and because chocolate must be added to hazelnuts to make Nutella taste better. (23 words :P)

  21. Roscoe Bonsweenie

    Jeff, stopped reading this when you made the first reply to John about God “sends us to hell if we don’t believe and accept”.

    Think of it this way, if you believe and accept, you will discover the presence of God (and it takes a lot of work), if you do not believe you do not discover the presence of God.
    Presence of God = heaven.
    Not presence of God = hell.

    So, you don’t get so much “sent to hell” but not being in God’s presence is hell.

    Hope that helps.

    ps. to me an atheist has given up trying and is not even willing to believe that a God exists. (From a pure logic standpoint, that’s pretty ignorant since you can’t prove a negative). An agnostic, on the other hand, is at least willing to believe God is in the realm of possibilities but just needs to find a bit more proof.

    So long as one is looking (i.e. thinking), there is hope.

  22. I am a fan of John Martignoni and thank you for not only giving him an opportunity to respond to your questions, but leaving his answers unedited, in their entirety. I, too, am a Catholic Christrian who is strong in my faith. I have an uncle who is agnostic, and we will banter back and forth on religion and faith. I find the evidence for God overwhelming. You don’t need to be Catholic to experience God. My life hasn’t been easy, but faith has kept me strong, enabling me to persevere. I have felt God’s presence, and it causes me to wish that experience for everyone. When you have a gift, you want to share it. I can’t help but feel pity for those who do not believe or know God. They don’t realize the love, joy, peace, and hope they are missing out on.

  23. John Martignoni says: “When the Pope speaks authoritatively on matters of faith and morals, we are, as Catholics, obliged to give it the assent of faith. The same, however, does not hold true when the Pope speaks on matters outside of faith and morals—science, math, politics, economics, etc. When it comes to man-made global warming, that is not a matter of faith and morals. The Pope has his opinion on that specific issue, and I respect his opinion, however, it is just that—an opinion. I will hear it and respectfully consider it.”

    Look at that statement. What Martignoni doesn’t tell you is that the Roman Catholic Church claims the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ.” What that means is that Catholics believe that in telling Peter to feed his sheep, Christ was entrusting to the papacy the full responsibility of caring for the Church. Christ did not qualify that statement by telling Peter to care for His sheep in only faith and morals – Martignoni declares that to be the case and expects you to accept it, even while he knows that millions are guided by the Pope’s opinions and they follow him in much more than just faith and morals. Martignoni is being disingenuous here. Peter was to set an example, and be a shining light in all areas of human concern as a representative of Christ. The Roman Pope has the same responsibility. Martignoni and the Roman Catholic Church realize that men are wicked, so they give themselves an out by painting the picture that while the Pope is to lead the world for Christ, he’s also allowed to be wicked as a person, and it’s up to you to figure it out. It’s the same excuse Martignoni will give you for the sexual predators in his church who are to this day allowed to continue to molest children.

    The truth is it’s God’s word alone and Jesus Christ, not wicked men and not a wicked church bearing wicked fruit we are to follow. John Martignoni is lost, don’t follow his teachings.

    Learn more at:

  24. It’s interesting to see John faced with the same conundrum he always puts to others:
    unless you are infallible you must admit you could be wrong. Why can’t John admit this; does he think he is infallible? I know he claims his church is infallible, but how can a fallible man make an infallible determination on whether or not the church is indeed infallible? Just wondering. The honest answer, of course, is yes I could be wrong; now let me back up what I believe. John’s answer seems to be…because the Catholic Church says so. Why would anyone take that


    1 Peter 3:15-16New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

    15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence.[a] Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.

  26. Gerry
    In logic, that is called a ‘straw-man fallacy’.
    All of the things he repudiated are repudiated by consistent Protestants.
    Not to mention that if the Protestant Reformation is so bad, and the cause of such evils, how is it possible that it came out of Roman Catholicism? This is the anit-Protestantism I told you about that makes me un-interested in listening to him. I think that Rome was put under Church discipline in the Reformation, and she has still not repented of her sins. If the Roman church rejects the elevation of Mary, the priestcraft, the works-based salvation, and the un-Biblical reverence for the Pope and such leaders, not to mention the syncretism it practices in pagan cultures, the incorrect doctrine of the eucharist, the disdain for Scripture as the final authority, and the ordination of ministers who aren’t even Christians . . . if the Church repents of these things, then call me, and I’ll visit St. Francis and see if they have actually started believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Until then . . .
    Show original message
    This is a pastor friend of mine.How would you respond to this

  27. I like the ‘Big Bang Theory’ argument. A Belgian Catholic Priest first proposed the Big Bang Theory in the early 1900s. Most scientists agree with it. Now, HERE is the question: Since Science teaches that every happening must have a cause or catalyst, WHAT caused that ball of energy to exist and then go ‘BANG’ and start the universe? Science cannot answer. Christianity CAN answer: GOD ALMIGHTY, THE CREATOR OF EVERYTHING. The real reasons Atheists and such deny God’s existence are these: 1.God teaches right and wrong, which they don’t want to be ‘regulated’ by. 2. The Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said ( not an exact quote)” God can fill the empty soul, but He cannot touch the soul that is filled with oneself”. Atheists and such are their own false gods, which will fail them at the judgment after earthly death. “They have built their houses on loose sand and the wave is coming which will wash them away”.

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