Catholic Answers Forum -- Truth or Censorship?

In mid-June 2012, I registered at Catholic Answers forums.  It seemed like a "conservative" forum, which advertises itself as saying that "Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity."  Being a traditional Catholic, I was pleased and looked forward to having open, intelligent conversations with my fellow Catholics, both "traditional" and "neoconservative" alike.  For awhile, my expectations were realized, but to my dismay, I found some of my threads being closed without explanation.

The "final straw" came in early August.  I was pursuing the Internet and came across a disturbing blog post by Father John Zuhlsdorf:

I was rather incensed, both as a traditional Catholic and as an American.  "How, why, or could a Catholic seminary, which purports to be a 'higher' institution of education, be spying on its students' Internet activities without their knowledge, permission or consent?"  As the new fall term was approaching, I decided to post on CAF a version on my "For seminarians" post which you can find to the right.  My goal was to educate seminarians on the use of the Tor browser and other privacy tools so that they could visit traditional Catholic sites without some modernistic prelate harassing or bullying them, or worse yet, denying them the Sacrament of Orders!

Would the Holy Father approve of such illicit activities?!  If so, let him say that publicly, but if he does not approve (and, I doubt that he would publicly approve of Catholic seminaries disobeying the civil laws of their country), then there is probably little that he can do to protect seminarians, which means that they need to protect themselves.  Most of them are not "Internet savvy," hence, the "Tor browser," which is designed to take care of everything for you.  Besides, Rome moves too slow to deal with such issues!

My new thread in the "Vocation" subform on CAF was not meant with approval!  My fellow forum members were incensed and I received all negative replies to my post.  Within a few hours, my post was deleted.  (A post on how to avoid censorship gets deleted!!!)  I decided to complain to the moderators of the forum, but as CAF is so over-moderated to begin with, a dozen or so moderators were listed.  Not knowing which moderator to complain to, I complained to all of them.  Most did not reply, but several did, and I had some "lively" conversations with a few of them.  None of the conversations were "heated"; probably of the magnitude which one would find on the floor of the US Senate.

Five days later I was banned after another forum member accused me of being "anti-Semitic," a claim that I was not able to respond to (I was planning on ignoring her comment) as it was (and is) absolutely false.  (I have absolutely nothing against Jews, and as I have posted elsewhere on this blog, there are some "very clear Catholic paths" for any Jew or non-Jew to get to Heaven.)  However, as I was banned from the board within an hour or so of the comment, it gave the appearance that I was unable to respond.

I appealed my forum ban to the board administrators.  Jo Benedict (her real name?) replied to me, stating:
In your private message to me you derided CAF and its staff as “not American” and “not Catholic.”  These actions demonstrate that you are either unable or unwilling to cooperate, and therefore the account had to be closed.
It is not quite true that I referred to CAF as being "not American" and "not Catholic," rather, I referred to their actions as being "not American" and "not Catholic."  Later on, Therese Martin, an "Administrator," confirmed my ban and told me not to "re-register."  I told her that I would not, even though it would be quite easy for me to do so.

Previously, on August 16, I had called the Catholic Answers' offices in California and asked to speak directly with Karl Keating about the matter; instead, I got transferred to "Nathan," and after leaving a voice mail message for him, he never returned my phone call.  It was only after I had called the CA offices that the CAF moderators began sending me emails.

Here is my reply to Jo Benedict (sent on August 17):
Ms Benedict,

I sent PMs to all of the Moderators at the same time, so no, all of the messages were sent prior to Mr. Casey responding to me.  And no, I did accept Mr. Casey's response.  And yes, I do believe that the level of censorship that I am seeing on the CA forums is neither "American" nor "Catholic."  This is something that I hope to speak with Mr. Keating about directly someday here soon.  (I made a call to "Nathan," and hopefully, he will call me back.)  Please understand that I understand that Catholic Answers owns the forums and not me (I have my own blog), and so while I do not agree with the level of censorship that is present on "your" (or, rather, Mr. Keating's) board, that is completely different from my acceptance of it.  I do accept it and am more than willing to abide by it!

Please understand that I will also not re-register at CAF.  I understand that doing such can easily be done by simply changing one's IP address (especially, via  proxy), email, and alias, which will give the appearance of a completely new user, but I am not that type of individual, and so, in that respect, be assured of both my "ableness and willingness to cooperate" with that directive.

I would very much appreciate it if you could forward this email to Mr. Keating.  I look forward to speaking with him someday here soon.  He may call me anytime at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.

Thank you.
My real cell phone number (update -- removed cell phone number due to privacy concerns), by the way.  Finally, here is my reply to Therese Martin (sent on August 20):
Ms. Martin,

That's fine.  Please forward this email to Mr. Keating.  I am preparing a post for my blog, and I wish, in charity, to give Mr. Keating a chance to discuss this issue with me prior to my blog post.  I do not want anything to be indexed in Google or any of the other search engines that is unfair to Catholic Answers, and especially, without giving the President of Catholic Answers a chance to read my blog post (in advance, if he wishes) and respond to such before the post is made available on the Internet.

Thank you.

Below is a letter which I emailed Mr. Keating on August 16, 2012.  He never replied to me, even after emailing several times via his forum staff and website.  I informed him that if I did not hear from him by September 1 that I would publish my letter to him on my blog.  My purpose was to give Mr. Keating the time necessary to discuss this matter; evidently, he does not feel that I am "important" enough to talk to.  (So much for the "least of my brethren".)  Today is Saturday, September 1, 2012, and so I am beginning to prepare my blog post, which will take several days to complete.  I will post the completion date at the bottom when I am finished.  (Update -- it only took a single day.)  Here is my email to Mr. Keating:
Dear Mr. Keating,
I have listened to many debates between Christian apologists and other "opponents" over the years, more than I can even remember. More than anyone else, I have listened to Dr. William Lane Craig and his many debates with atheist apologists. Dr. Craig is very, very open, and like you, he runs his own message board, which I post on. However, unlike the CAF message board, Dr. Craig allows anyone whatsoever, atheists included, to fully express their thoughts and ideas without censorship and moderation, as long as they are civil and cordial with each other. As I am sure that Dr. Craig himself would agree with, "Truth can defend itself," and hence, it does not need to "defend" itself behind a wall of censorship.

I am a confessing Roman Catholic, and so, I disagree with Dr. Craig on many points. I have, however, listened to some of your debates over the years as well, and as with Dr. Craig's debates, both you and your various opponents are each allowed to express your own individual viewpoints in a moderated forum where you each come together to discuss an agreed-upon issue. You present arguments, evidence, and reason to support what you believe to be the Truth, but each side is allowed to present his/her own arguments without interpretation and without moderation, as long as the agreed-upon rules of the debate are followed.

Such a Tradition is both wholly American and wholly Catholic. Saint Paul himself used to have such debates, as did the Church fathers, even into the era of medieval scholasticism, right up to our present day. In carrying on that Tradition, we can advance the Kingdom of Heaven through the tools of logic, reason and evidence and present to our "audience" that Roman Catholicism is the One True Faith, "outside of which no one at all will be saved." Our listeners may disagree, but such is their prerogative.

It is my hope to speak with you personally about this someday.

Very Truly Yours,

I will be happy to remove this blog post from my site if the following three conditions are met:

1)  The CAF forum owners must publicly commit to a censor-free message board.  As long as an individual user is not posting obscene, vulgar, malicious, hateful, spam, commercial, etc., messages, that person will be allowed to express his/her own viewpoints, as long as those views are expressed in the appropriate sub-forum and conform to proper Internet message board etiquette.

2)  All accounts at the CAF message board that were banned prior to September 1, 2012 must be fully restored to normal posting privileges, a kind of "site-wide" amnesty on the part of Mr. Keating.  No negative impacts to the CAF message board will result from this action.  Most banned users have already moved on to other message boards or have simply re-registered at CAF using a different IP address, email, alias, etc., and so are posting there already.  (CAF acknowledges this implicitly, stating on their main page that "Here you can join over 300,000 members from around the world," yet at the bottom of the page, it is stated that there are 353,700 members -- as of September 1, 2012.)

3)  CAF will make a public promise to all of its forum members that no post will be deleted or thread will be closed which is not offensive, vulgar, hateful, spam, commercialistic, etc.  Users will be free to express their viewpoints as long as they are doing so in a cordial, respectful, organized, and responsible manner.

If Mr. Keating agrees to these three demands, then he can email me on the "Welcome" page or call me at the number above, and I will reply to him.  So, if you, dear reader, try to return to this page and find it gone, then you'll know why!

In promoting active censorship, Catholic Answers is engaging in a subtle "black hatter-ship" of the Internet.  For if you, dear reader, enter any query into Google which has anything to do with Catholicism, it is likely that you'll get a "" hit on the first page of your search results, likely, one that is near the top of the listings.  And, yet, this search result, while popular, is the product of subtle and systematic censorship.  Whether he deliberately intends it or not, Mr. Keating is using his CAF message board as a "feeder" into his main Catholic Answers web site, which, of course, increases Internet traffic to his site, sales, donations, etc.

Now, some will claim that I am being hypocritical here!  They will say that Catholic princes during the Middle Ages invoked all sorts of censorship against those viewpoints that were contrary to the Catholic religion, and so, they will say that "those who live in glass houses..."  Therefore, they (especially, the neo-cons) will say that I have no right to tell CAF, an organization which operates with the permission and guidance of its diocese, that they should not be censoring viewpoints which are contrary to the One True Faith & Church.

Well, they are right, to an extent!  Catholic princes did invoke censorship and would often punish those individuals who made public affirmations against the Catholic Faith.  If such a public heretic were obstinate in his/her denial of Catholic doctrine, that person could be imprisoned or even put to death by public immolation.  And, I agree that individuals living during the middle ages who were born into Catholic kingdoms did not have the right to profess anything but the Catholic religion.  Such is a historical fact.

It is also a historical fact that nearly everyone (some 90 to 95%) could not read!  Within the "third estate," that of the peasant class, the percentage of illiteracy was even higher, around 98 to 99%.  Most peasants were just trying to survive "day-by-day."  They inherited their Catholic faith from their parents and from the Church through sacramental Baptism.  For the vast majority of them, they had neither the time nor the interest to engage in "theological pursuits."

That's what the universities were for!  And, prior to the Protestant Revolt/Reformation, all of those higher centers of learning were fully Catholic, with no exceptions whatsoever.  To be admitted, a student needed to be able to read and write, especially in Latin, which was the language of the Academy at that time.  (It still is, to a small extent.)  After being admitted, the universities were quite open to discuss and debate almost anything, after a student "earned his stripes" (society, of course, needed women to be doing "womanly things" if society was going to continue to survive), as long as the "conversations" stayed within the universities.  Galileo found this out, the "hard way" (even though he almost certainly knew "what was coming to him.")

So, in other to protect the "common good" not only of his society and its public order but also the "salvation of souls," a Catholic prince would often suppress ideas that were (and are) contrary to the One True Faith & Church, outside of which no one at all will be saved.  For him to do otherwise would have been a disaster, as what occurred when Father Martin Luther encouraged people to "think for themselves," and from his rebellion countless rebellions followed, and today, we are still fighting and at the same time are irreparably destroying the environment which sustains us.

For better or worse (the latter, to be sure), "times have changed."  While censorship outside of the medieval universities may have served a lawful and moral purpose, in our time, the exact opposite will nearly always be the case.  Virtually everyone in our technological society can read and those who can't do not spend their time reading Internet message boards or blogs such as this.  In this respect, literate persons can think and decide for themselves what they do (and do not) believe; they do not need anyone to "tell" them what they do (or do not) believe.

The above is not an invitation to subjectivism!  It is, rather, an acknowledgment that the One True Faith can stand on its "own two feet."  Anyone who visits my other posts on this blog will find evidence, reasoning, and argument for what I consider to be the ultimate and absolute Truth.  Individuals can, of course, disagree with me but doing so does absolutely nothing to change what is, ultimately, the Truth.

To conclude with the purpose of this blog post, does an organization such as Catholic Answers represent your values either as a Catholic or as an American???  Not mine, to be sure.  I am not going to give the few dollars which I have to any organization who feels the need to "defend" the Truth by oppressing beliefs which are contrary to it.  The Truth does not such "helps"; it can defend itself!  You are, of course, free to give your monies to whomever you want to, but at least you should know the facts about those people who are the ones who are, ultimately, going to spend your money.

Of course, I do not believe that the United States, as a nation, will fare well at the Last Judgment, especially, with the legal protections which we offer to the unborn.  Such a judgment is, however, solely in the Hands of Jesus Christ.  Having said that, it is undeniable that the deists of the Enlightenment have helped the Catholic Church further the Kingdom of Christ, at least in America.  For it is an undeniable historical fact that the Catholics who came to America in the 19th-century were sometimes persecuted, including, a schoolboy who was paddled for refusing to read from the King James Bible.  It has been the 1st Amendment and not the WASPs which has allowed our Faith to survive and prosper, after the disaster of the French Revolution.

America does not need censorship and neither does the Catholic Church and neither does Catholic Answers.

All They want is YOUR Money.

See for yourself:

Note my comment at the bottom (under "None").  Catholic Answers wants to keep their 6-figure salaries.  They might as well as become atheists and deny the existence of human free will; after all, Pope Francis in the above article states that people, under some circumstances, are incapable of "controlling their actions".

Date posted:  September 1, 2012
April 30, 2013 update -- removed personal information; Catholic Answers never replied to me.
August 7, 2016 update -- added link showing Catholic Answers embrace of Catholic modernism.