Michael Voris is an alt-right Catholic who is targeting the Roman Catholic Church through his organization called Church Militant. This is an overview of a questionable organization out of Michigan that has engaged in trolling, bullying, and more to win the culture wars from the “liberal Catholics.”
“The only way to run a country is by benevolent dictatorship, a Catholic monarch who protects his people from themselves and bestows on them what they need, not necessarily what they want.”
Voris goes on to say that Church Militant will engage in war “against your evil ideologies in politics, colleges, health care, the news media, the courts and entertainment. You bet your sweet evil-mindedness that we are going to battle you to the death.“
Michael Voris on Catholics going to war.
“The power of propaganda is to say something enough times that it becomes the big lie.”
“The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it.”
45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
Matthew 25:45 NRSVCE
Catholic Church in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Dan Schutte is a well known individual who has written a lot of modern Catholic hymns. He is a former Jesuit who has penned such classics as “Here I am Lord” and “Sing a New Song.” On April 27, 2018 Dan Schutte was scheduled to hold a concert at Visitation Parish in Kansas City, Missouri. All was going well until an alt-right Catholic organization learned of the event. They charged in a post that Dan Schutte was gay and pressed Bishop James Johnston to move the concert. Church Militant claimed that the well known Catholic hymn “Here I am Lord” is the “anthem” of gay Catholics. Dan Schutte’s letter of suitability by the Chancellor of the University of San Francisco was rejected. Due to a technicality of not being able to get another letter the event was moved to another venue. The situation was written about in the National Catholic Reporter and it even led to an editorial calling on Catholic Bishops to speak out on the issue of fake news. In the editorial the Catholic news source stated the following.
In late February and early March as Kansas City organizers began promoting the event, Church Militant, a Michigan-based organization that has a very narrow agenda and an oversized social media presence, got wind of it and posted misleading and questionable assertions about Schutte and the event. The website blazed in its headline that Schutte is “an ex-Jesuit” and wrote that Schutte is “widely believed to be an active homosexual.” It called one of Schutte’s best-know hymns, “Here I Am Lord,” a “gay anthem.”
Without naming sources, Church Militant claimed that “locals wrote to the diocese expressing concern, and Catholics responded strongly.” The website claimed “Catholics” were “pushing back” against the performance. Two days after its first report, the website reported that the pressure it helped stir up had convinced the diocese to move the concert out of Visitation Parish.
The local diocesan spokesman disputed Church Militant’s claims, telling NCR that Johnston had made his decision days before Church Militant began writing about the concert and that the diocese “received a few [complaints], but not a barrage as was reported.”
The editorial goes on to say the following.
Writing to the clergy in his diocese, Johnston said, “Speculation by Church Militant and by others on social media as to why the event was cancelled … has caused controversy among the faithful on social media and elsewhere.”
“The speculation about Mr. Schutte and about the diocese’s reasons for cancelling this event has been uninformed and too often uncharitable both to Mr. Schutte and Visitation Parish,” he wrote.
Johnston’s response is disappointing and disheartening.
By using a questionable technicality to bar Schutte from singing in Visitation Parish, Johnston planted in the minds of many the belief that he bowed to the pressure of Church Militant-inspired activism and that is deeply regrettable.
Church Militant is one of those all-too-common entities that poses as a news organization but is really in the business of fake news. Journalism aspires to enlighten and inform. Church Militant aims to obscure and tear down. The purpose of Church Militant — and other fake news sites and certain Catholic bloggers — is to hurt people and organizations.
That was one story about how an alternative news website known for “Catholic fake news” deals with one situation. Recently in San Diego, California there was another story that again involved the website Church Militant.
In the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego is St. John the Evangelist. St. John the Evangelist lies in the gay community of the city. St. John the Evangelist was also the home of Aaron Bianco a gay man in a secular marriage recognized by California to another man who did administrative responsibilities and helped run the parish. But tragically Aaron became a target from the alt-right “Catholic” news media. Aaron knew well how the gay community was disenfranchised and hurt by the Catholic church and religion. In his administrative role he worked hard to build bridges with former Catholics who are gay and tell them that they could call St. John the Evangelist home. At the time the congregation only consisted of about 40 people and mostly the elderly. Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego who is motivated by Pope Francis met with Aaron Bianco and encouraged him to create a ministry to gay people in the community and invite them to church. Aaron enthusiastically agreed and worked the local parish priest Father Dolan to create a strategy that would reach the LGBTQ community in the local area. The community started to grow and gays who were nervous slowly started to attend.
This did not sit well with a couple of Catholic traditionalists, or fundamentalist Catholics. They claimed that Aaron Bianco was opposed to the rosary and that he locked out the group. The alt-right “Catholic” news source Church Militant was tipped off earlier in 2018. In August of 2018 Church Militant claimed that Aaron Bianco and “liberal” Catholics were opposed to traditionalists in the Catholic faith and were persecuting them. Church Militant and other alt-right Catholic sources such as LifeSite News waged a campaign. The campaign against Aaron Bianco by alt-right “Catholic” groups lasted over a year and a half. In that time period several of these “Catholic” organizations allegedly engaged in intimidation, destruction of property, bullying doxing, and even death threats in a way that shocked people. The campaign stepped up when Catholic Priest Father Dolan was promoted in the San Diego Archdiocese and became auxiliary bishop. That left Aaron Bianco to run the parish. During that time Aaron received threats in anonymous phone calls. Threatening notes were left on his windshield of his car, and in another instance his tires were slashed. When the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on child sex abuse was released a number of people continued their campaign claiming that the Catholic child sex abuse crisis occurred because of gays being in the priesthood. Those who advocate that view have never read the Pennsylvania report which also details sexual abuse in many different forms to include heterosexual as well. I read part of the report and wrote about it in, “As the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal Unfolds in Pennsylvania Let’s Remember the Sex Abuse Scandal in Sovereign Grace Ministries. The Complicity of The Gospel Coalition, and D.A Carson Defending Mahaney by Attacking Someone Who was Raped at 13.”
As the “Catholic” alt-right groups kept on their campaign of harassment someone tried to set fire to part of the church. On another occasion someone broke in and spray painted “No Fags” on the wall of a conference room. The hate mail and the anonymous phone calls continued. The San Diego Police and the FBI were contacted over this escalation. At the website Church Militant they dragged out pictures of Aaron Bianco’s deceased mother and trolled him online. The companion alt-right site Lifestite News allegedly released Aaron Bianco’s contact information and address online. With that the campaign forced Aaron to quit and leave. He was fearful for his life. This story got the attention of the New York Times, and other media which you can read here, here, here, and here. The National Catholic Reporter also wrote about this troubling situation here, here and here. Yet for Michael Voris this was just another campaign to “defend the church.”
Who is Michael Voris?
Church Militant would not be the organization it is without a personality such as Michael Voris. So its important to understand Voris, his upbringing and past in order to understand this controversial entity. According to Wikipedia Michael Voris was born in Big Spring, Texas. For college he attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and graduated in 1983. His degree was in communications with a focus on history and politics. He briefly attended St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York during the 1980’s. He then withdrew and was a television anchor, producer and reporter from 1983 until 1986 at different CBS affiliates in New York, Duluth, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. While living in New York City he embraced being gay and became active in the gay culture. In 1989 Michael Voris became a news reporter and producer for Fox in Detroit in 1989 where he won four Emmy Awards for production between 1992 and 1996.
It was the death of two people close to Michael that tipped him to the alt-right side of Catholicism. His brother had a heart attack in 2003 in his late 40’s and his mother died from stomach cancer in 2004. Michael says that he went from a lukewarm Catholic to an aggressive one who also was an advocate for the church. He wanted to save Catholicism and America from moral decay and liberals. In time he embraced the alt-right view of the environment, “liberals”, abortion, gays, and politics. Michael Voris today has claimed that Donald Trump is a modern day Constantine. The United States according to Michael Voris has never had a legitimate discussion on what the right religion is. Voris is also a workaholic and works up to 18 hours a day in creating programs for St. Michaels Media. He also picked an STB degree from the Angelicum in Rome through Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Michael is not married and is single.
An Overview of Church Militant
Michael Voris was a guest speaker of different Catholic parishes in the Detroit, Michigan area. At the time he also was a host on the Michigan Catholic Radio network. In 2006 Michael started the digital television study called St. Michael’s Media in Ferndale, Michigan. What triggered Michael in broadcasting was the release of Dan Brown’s fictional book The Da Vinci Code into a major motion picture staring Tom Hanks. Voris attacked what Dan Brown wrote about the Catholic church and the founder of St. Michael’s Media decided to take on other issues. What Voris then did was turn his broadcasting into a full time platform. He withdrew his retirement and cashed it in to fund the expansion of his broadcasting. Voris began hosting “The One True Faith” in 2006 and began hosting a Catholic talk radio news show called “News and Views Weekly” in 2007. His work was supported by the Catholic church and the Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri Raymond Leo Burke endorsed his work. Voris work started to take off and was carried by markets in the United States and then abroad in Canada and some Catholic countries like the Philippines. Eventually Voris started to partner with “RealCatholicTV.com”
When the 2008 Credit Crisis hit St. Michaels’ Media was affected as it received a lot of donations and was subsidized by them. The organization ran out of operating funds and the staff that stayed lived on unemployment compensation for a year to 18 months. This crisis affected St. Michael’s Media until 2011. It was in 2011 that the Catholic church started to see the problems with Michael Voris’ media outlet. Citing Catholic Code of Canon Law the Detroit Archdiocese stated that they did not have authority to use the word Catholic in their broadcasts or organization. As a result in 2012 “RealCatholicTV.com” was changed to “Church Militant.”
Church Militant took up the banner of the culture wars and frequently publishes about abortion, homosexuality, birth control, the environment, “liberal Catholics,” a corrupt Pope who is changing doctrine and many other like minded topics. Church Militant as a part of its process has also allegedly outed gay people and those deemed not orthodox. It also has waded into politics. It was a proponent of the belief that individuals within the Hillary Clinton campaign practiced Satanism. And it supported an effort to have the FBI investigate Hillary Clinton for her email scandals. Its on a constant campaign to take back the Supreme Court and was a solid supporter of Neil Gorsorch. Church Militant has also been a defender of traditionalist Catholics as well.
From 2006 until 2016 the network experienced some solid growth. Its studio went from 2,500 square feet in 2006 to 6,500 square feet in 2012 to 10,000 square feet in 2017. In the spring of 2017 it employed at least 35 employees and inside the organization it hosts a regular rosary. Its modern technology could rival what exists in any modern news television station. On Facebook it is liked by 197,000 people, on YouTube 80,000 people subscribe and on Twitter it has close to 20,000 followers. Marc Brammer a traditionalist Catholic who doesn’t believe in the Second Vatican Council has been a strong financial supporter. Church Militant also offers subscriber services and sells merchandise as well. You can actually take a cruise with Michael Voris and other Church Militant fans in the Caribbean this upcoming February 9 to 16, 2019 for $1,304.00. Church Militant is protected under the 501(c)(3) status. If you want to read some articles about Church Militant you can do so below.
- Detroit Free Press, “A look inside the Church Militant headquarters.”
- Detroit Free Press, “How a right-wing Ferndale fringe group is building a multimedia empire.“
- National Catholic Reporter, “No ‘church of nice’ for Church Militant.”
- New York Times, “‘Church Militant’ Theology Is Put to New, and Politicized, Use”
- Dayton Daily News Opinion, “Opinion: “Militant” anti-gay activist seeks to divide Catholic flock”
- Washington Post, “The 2018 Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis brings new energy — and anti-gay activists — into the survivors’ movement“
- Catholic Answers, “The Church Militant or the Church Belligerent?”
- NBC News, “How the Catholic ‘alt-right’ aims to purge LGBTQ members from the church.”
- National Catholic Reporter, “Church Militant’s nonsense not authentically Catholic.”
How the Roman Catholic Church Views Church Militant
Early on the Catholic church and the predecessor to Church Militant got along well and it was promoted. But the Catholic church started to push back against Voris and there was deep tension in the Detroit Archdiocese. In 2011 the Detroit Archdiocese proclaimed that Michael Voris does not represent the Catholic faith. The Detroit Archdiocese issued two statements about Voris’ organization. You can read them here and here. That led to the changing of the name to Church Militant and Voris attacking the Detroit Archdiocese through his media outlet. In the course of time Voris has faced push back from the Catholic church. His comments about Jews led for a planned talk in Scranton, Pennsylvania to be canceled. The challenge that exists is how do you deny someone the attention that they crave. Its a difficult bind for the Catholic church because you don’t want to give someone attention they crave, and yet you can’t ignore the falsehoods and flaws they are proclaiming.
In April of 2013 Voris declared war on Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan. What did Dolan do that was so offensive? He gave Catholic communion to Vice President Joseph Biden at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. You can read some good commentary on a Catholic blog here. In 2015 Church Militant went after the planned World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in claiming that the leadership supported Planned Parenthood. In response the Philadelphia Archdiocese issued the following statement. “The Lepanto Institute and Church Militant have proven once again that they are not interested in presenting information in any useful way. Neither the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia 2015 nor any of its leadership supports Planned Parenthood. The sole desire of both Lepanto and Church Militant is to create division, confusion, and conflict within the Church. Actions of that nature run contrary to Christian tradition. Their reports are not to be taken seriously.”
In 2016 information emerged that Michael Voris engaged in gay sexual relationships earlier in life. He claimed that the New York Archdiocese planned to smear him and slander his name about his past. In a statement to the Catholic Herald the Archdiocese claimed that information was not true. Michael Voris outed himself at Church Militant and claimed that he was lost, confused, and unsure of himself. But after he found the true faith and became Catholic he stopped being gay. Here is some Catholic commentary on this situation that I think is fairly balanced. And here is some traditionalist material to give another perspective. Today the Roman Catholic church still has spoken from time to time in trying to remind people that Voris does not represent them.
The Threat of Fake News by Sites Such as Church Militant
This blog really doesn’t have any sympathy for fake news sites as they exist. In reading, researching and examining facts I am noticing more and more popping up. Websites like Church Militant spread a warped view of things and have an agenda that is vile. I have no problem with people speaking up and saying difficult things. I do that at this blog from time to time. What I do have a problem with is organizations like Church Militant and other like minded ones spreading conspiracy theories in how they function. What Church Militant is actually doing is poisoning the well. I would think Catholics inside the church would be upset and floored that they are saying and doing things that threaten many aspects of their faith. Due to some issues and situations I bumped into recently I plan to do a post about the issues with conspiracy theories.
The Wondering Eagle’s Analysis – Alt-right Nationalism and Duplicating Protestant Fundamentalism
This blog would like to state many things after researching and writing this topic. First of all let me state in reading and spending a good chunk of time reading Church Militant I feel like I need to take a shower for a couple of days. My mind feels like it was raped. But in all honesty I would like to pose the question, how is what Michael Voris doing anything that is different then what Ken Ham, James Dobson, Robert Jeffres do in the fringes of Protestant evangelicalism? Michael Voris reminds me of the alt-right Catholic Jim Bakker. Now only if he could wear Tammy Faye’s makeup then his “Truth Vortex” would improve significantly. But does the Catholic church need to duplicate the fundamentalism baggage from people like Michael Voris?
I am going to be extremely blunt in what I say next. Honestly when I read Michael Voris going after gays, attacking them and then outing himself the following conclusion is formed in my mind. I believe that Michael Voris is a gay man who can’t accept it, and who out of anger attacks gays because he hates himself. In addition to being the alt-right Jim Bakker I also think that in the course of time, Michael Voris will be the Catholic alt-right Ted Haggard. If you remember the Colorado Springs evangelical was caught up in a gay prostitute scandal in 2006. But Michael Voris as a narcissist will welcome the attention and claim he is being persecuted. Its an old playbook and its one that he will likely use.
One of the strengths to the Roman Catholic church is that the organization is a strong believer of science, psychology, and education. Its a very intellectual organization. This intellectualism comes across in organizations such as the Jesuits who run many established universities across the United States. Organizations like Church Militant lack intellectualism and are more about propaganda. This is the problem with the internet in that it can give anyone and everyone a platform to speak their mind. The Catholic church needs to embrace intellectualism as I see that as being one of its strong attributes. When I see how Michael Voris operates I am reminded of Mark Noll’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” I very much see what Noll wrote applying to Voris as well.
What many Catholics are going to need to do is to learn how to think and process information for themselves. They need to realize that Michael Voris has a limited, narrow agenda. In the end this is a man who is conflicted because of his sexuality and that angst is what drives some of this behavior. The Catholic church is struggling with the child sex abuse crisis. Yes and unlike what Michael Voris says its not due to the presence of gays in the priesthood. Yes some priests have molested and abused boys. But there are also a number a heterosexual priests who victimized girls and more. Sexual abuse happens in all contexts both gay and straight. Michael Voris chooses to ignore this information. That alone should speak volumes to his agenda. The National Catholic Reporter is correct, what needs to happen is that Bishops need to speak about the problem of fake news and they need to address it frequently. Just as HIV was a public health situation in the 1980’s and crack in the 1990’s and opioids today; I would also add the issue of fake news to that list of public issues today. Why? The internet is an essential part of daily life. You need the internet to pay your bills, look for a job, and so much more. To abuse that internet platform is a major public health issue that needs to be addressed. To misinform people and to do so intentionally is disturbing. That is not called news instead it is called propaganda. That is why I also used the quote from Joseph Goebbels up above. In a final note if there are stories about Church Militant behind the scenes involving finances or more; this blog is willing to publish them and give those people a platform.