So long Michael Coren, newest member of the thought police

May 03, 2015

Image of vase of wilted roses

So Michael Coren has become Anglican. Not surprising at this point, considering his about-face in 2014 on the issue of homosexual relationships, but still a sad and disappointing twist in the life story of a man whose words and books inspired many Catholics in Canada and elsewhere.

In particular, one revelation rather stunned me: that he has been quietly attending the Anglican church for about a year.

What this really means to me is that Michael Coren knowingly misled his Catholic audience. He continued functioning publicly as a Catholic apologist, writing articles for Catholic publications and circulating on the Catholic speaking circuit, without disclosing this very pertinent bit of information that would surely have given many of his Catholic promoters serious pause. Did Coren see no conflict between his public role as an outspoken Catholic and his Sunday attendance at another church?

And then, once the news gets out, no apology or explanation of this strange revelation. Instead, Coren seems fixated on the negative reaction that his life and opinion changes have provoked among his former close allies, friends and supporters, many of them Catholics.

As if they have no reason to feel betrayed, bitter and even insulted by Coren's dishonesty about his spiritual journey towards Anglicanism, or his sneery, hostile and dismissive attitude towards those among whom he used to belong?

Indeed, Coren's Twitter feed is peppered with sarcastic and even mocking remarks about those who have reacted negatively to his news. One example:

Coren apparently thinks he is taking the high road and choosing 'love rather than hate'. But he obviously has a big bone to pick with those whom he calls "right-wing" now. Anyone who demonstrates criticism of Coren with regard to his views on homosexuality (or now his conversion) is being caricatured into a sad, closed-minded hater. As if the proper reaction to his revelations was a burst of applause?

Nothing new there, of course. Being a conservative is already synonymous with being a "hater" in the liberal media, so Coren has only joined the 95% of other journalists who always thought this way.

But what hurts is that this is coming from Coren. It's like your brother, whom you love, suddenly turning and slapping you in the face.

Does Coren really believe that Catholics are "haters"?

As for Coren's rather rapid change of opinions and his conversion, it's really hard to wrap my head around it all. How does one publish a book in 2012 called Why Catholics Are Right, and a book in 2013 called The Future of Catholicism, then reverse on foundational Catholic teaching about same-sex relationships in 2014 and leave the Church altogether by early 2015?

I have a hard time believing that he truly believes the "hate' argument, although he is clinging to this argument as his main reason. Any Catholic knows that this is just a lie - Catholics do not hate those with same-sex attraction. Surely Coren knows this too.

The Catholic teaching on sexuality is grounded both in theology and in the physical reality of human bodies and human life. It is not just Biblical, it also makes rational sense and respects and upholds the human rights of every person, including children. Catholic teaching is not in any way rooted in any kind of animus towards LGBTQ persons. An author of several books on Catholicism has got to be very familiar with that truth.

Choosing to put someone else first

So I suspect that there is more to this story than meets the eye, and that there is some more personal cause for Coren's sea change. Perhaps we will learn of it in time. Perhaps not. But he would be far from the first person in history who changed his mind for such reasons.

In fact, it happens all the time. Someone we love has an abortion, and suddenly we find it hard to be against abortion in all cases. Someone we know has a divorce, and suddenly we rationalize why divorce can be a good thing.

In my life, one of the biggest such changes I've witnessed happened to one of my friends. She is a convert to the Catholic faith, close friends with a prominent priest, and has lived much of her long life as a practising Catholic.

Here is how her faith was tested: her beloved son made some bad choices. He had an affair, divorced his dear wife of 25 years (with whom he had two grown sons), married the much-younger woman with whom he had the affair, and had a new baby with her.

Well, as many have and many will do, when they see the choice as between being a Catholic and being a mother, the choice is made for the latter. So the mother, now in her late eighties, has become very modern in supporting divorce and remarriage, and she has welcomed this new family that her son has created for himself. She even used the words of Pope Francis to support her new opinions: "who am I to judge?"

I smell a rat...ionalization

In general, people are far less rational than we think we are. When faced with challenging personal circumstances, principles often fail us and emotion swings our opinions the other way. Rationalizations tend to follow.

And from over here, what I smell is that Coren's "right-wing hate" argument reeks of rationalization, not of authentic first-cause.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that Coren is using the "hate" argument to stop any kind of inquiry or real debate about his actual reasons for switching opinions. Red flag: it just isn't possible to say anything against his new opinions without being labelled hateful.

Sadly, this kind of rhetorical spin does mark the complete assimilation of Michael Coren into the new thought police of today. Like the rest of them, he now demands complete acceptance and even outright celebration from everyone, on threat of being labelled a hate-filled bigot otherwise.

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