What do former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and progressive loony tune Amanda Marcotte have in common?
They both think Catholic Church leaders are motivated by financial gain.
Bannon, who returned recently to the helm of Breitbart News after a brief stint at the White House, accused the U.S. bishops this week of supporting immigration reform efforts, especially the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, because they're hungry to fill pews with immigrant donors.
"The Catholic Church has been terrible about DACA," Bannon, who is himself a Catholic, said in a "60 Minutes" interview that will air later this month. "The bishops have been terrible about this."
He added, "You know why. Because unable to really — to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens — they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. It's obvious on the face of it. That's what the entire Catholic bishops condemning. They have an economic interest, they have an economic interest in unlimited immigration — unlimited illegal immigration."
WATCH: @CharlieRose talks with Steve Bannon in his first extensive interview since leaving Trump admin: https://t.co/Wx8n23hIvF @60Minutes pic.twitter.com/FmNjO7ANEk— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) September 7, 2017
The majority of those affected by DACA come from Central and South America. Most of them are likely Roman Catholics, but there is no data on Mass attendance rates or tithing habits — or on how much the various Catholic dioceses discount education for the poorer ones in Catholic schools.
Bannon's remarks are eerily similar to when Marcotte, who works now for Salon, wrote on Dec. 26, 2006 that the Church opposes abortion and contraception because it wants, "to force women to bear more tithing Catholics."
At around the time that she wrote this, she worked as a blogger for former Sen. John Edwards', D-N.C., doomed presidential campaign. Marcotte resigned eventually after pressure mounted on the Democratic presidential candidate to downscale his stable of popish conspiracy theorists. Edwards himself said her remarks "personally offended me."
The big difference between Bannon and Marcotte is that the Breitbart chief's remarks don't deal with a definite matter of Catholic doctrine (i.e. faith and morals). As Bannon correctly noted in his interview with CBS News' Charlie Rose, his remarks dealt only with political positions shared by many U.S. bishops.
On Thursday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, responded directly to Bannon, saying in an interview on the Catholic Channel on Sirius XM, "I don't really care to go into what I think is a preposterous and rather insulting statement that the only reason we bishops care for immigrants is for the economic because we want to fill our churches and get more money."
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also dismissed Bannon's comments, saying in an official statement Thursday evening that the Breitbart News chief was way off the mark.
"It is preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn't central to Catholic teaching," USCCB spokesman James Rogers said in a statement made available to the Washington Examiner.
"It comes directly from Jesus Himself in Matthew 25, 'For I was hungry and you gave me food … a stranger and you welcomed me.' Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome. This isn't Catholic partisanship. The Bible is clear: welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith," the statement added. "Our pro-immigration stance is based on fidelity to God's word and honors the American dream. For anyone to suggest that it is out of sordid motives of statistics or financial gain is outrageous and insulting."
Bannon should probably listen more and speculate less.
He could've pushed back on the bishops with something rooted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or, you know, some sort of scriptural argument. He chose instead to hang his hat on a shadowy tithing conspiracy theory. This puts him in league with Marcotte, which, depending on your politics, is either sort of neat or deeply, horrifically, tragically embarrassing.