David R. Carlin Jr.

David R. Carlin Jr. is a politician and sociologist who served as a Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate. His books include "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion" and "The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America." Carlin is a current professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island at Newport.

recent articles

Catholic Feelings of Inferiority

In a recent article for InsideCatholic, I argued that churches that turn toward theological liberalism soon begin going downhill in terms of their membership. As these churches adhere to less and less of traditional Christian doctrine and morality, their membership shrinks. For a church to become theologically liberal is to opt for institutional suicide, or … Read more

Liberal Protestantism and Liberal Catholicism

Catholic liberals (by which I mean theological liberals, not political liberals) never cease to amaze me. On the one hand, they appear to have a sincere devotion to their religion. On the other, they campaign for moral and theological changes that, if carried into effect, would tend to destroy their Church. Why do I say … Read more

Gay Marriage and Natural Kinds

What does Aristotle have to do with same-sex marriage? Aristotle held that the human race, in addition to being divided into male and female, was also divided into slave and free. This latter division was not merely conventional or legal; like the male-female division, it was a product of nature. Just as nature had made … Read more

Can President Obama Unite the United States?

Now that Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States, one hopes he will be able to carry through on his campaign promise of bringing all kinds of Americans together — red states and blue states, Republicans and Democrats, whites and blacks, liberals and conservatives, men and women, young and old. Heaven knows … Read more

Obama’s Ambition

I have noticed that there are certain similarities between the life histories of Sen. Barack Obama and myself (even though I’m old enough to be his father). For one, we were both community organizers — he in Chicago in the 1980s; I in Cranston, Rhode Island, about 1970. As community organizers, we were both inspired … Read more

Chris Matthews on Metaphysics

In my old age I have developed some new vices, the two worst being my bad habit of playing solitaire on my computer and my even worse habit of watching and listening to talking heads on cable TV, like Chris Matthews. Matthews is not the worst of them, and sometimes he’s pretty good. When watching … Read more

Obama’s Military Judgment

Although a Democrat, I have no intention of voting for Sen. Barack Obama in November. My primary objection has to do with his position on abortion, an extreme leftwing position. Not only does he have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record in the U.S. Senate, but when he was in the Illinois Senate he voted … Read more

Racial Prejudice in the 2008 Campaign

Racism has raised its ugly head in the presidential campaign. More exactly, talk about racism has raised its ugly head. Given that it’s a Democratic year — or, at least, should be a Democratic year — the difficult question has presented itself: Why isn’t Sen. Barack Obama way ahead of Sen. John McCain in the … Read more

Why I’m Not a Republican

Although I’m a lifelong Democrat, a former Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate, and in 1992 a Democratic nominee for the United States House of Representatives, I have for many years now denounced in writing the policies of the national Democratic Party. I have even written a book of denunciation: Can a Catholic … Read more

Joe Biden and the Bishops

  Joe Biden’s voting record on abortion in the United States Senate is likely to cause heartburn for two groups of people: ardent pro-choicers and Catholic bishops. Biden is a Catholic; and yet for the last ten years, according to the National Right to Life Committee, he has voted the “wrong” way 88.5 percent of … Read more

Bill-and-Hill vs. Obama

Freud once asked, “What do women want?” And he found it a difficult question to answer. Let’s narrow the question down to a particular woman, and we’ll find the question somewhat easier: “What does Hillary want?” And while we’re at it, we may as well add: “What does Bill want?” — for of course they … Read more

Is Gay Marriage Good for Families?

In connection with the same-sex marriage controversy now burning in California, I read the following about a priest from a famous gay-friendly parish in Pasadena: The Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, who has been blessing same-sex unions for 16 years, told the San Jose Mercury News this month that she … Read more

Obama, Patriotism, and Cosmopolitanism

Speaking in Independence, Missouri, on June 30, Sen. Barack Obama gave what may be called his “I am a patriot” speech. He said that “the question of who is — or is not — a patriot all too often poisons our political debate.” He then displayed his own patriotic credentials by declaring, “Throughout my life, … Read more

Christianity and the Politicians

If conservative politicians in the United States wish to connect their politics with conservative religion (and why shouldn’t they?), they should at least take the trouble to become religiously informed. I say this because of an astonishing bit of religious ignorance I came across the other evening. This past Monday, I happened to be watching … Read more

Thick and Thin Religions

When thinking about religion it is often helpful to bear in mind a distinction between “thick” religions and “thin” religions. This distinction can help us understand why American Catholicism went into decline about 40 years ago. By a “thick” religion I mean one that requires its adherents to do and to believe many things. And … Read more

A Sociologist against Women’s Ordination

The old saying “Roma locuta est, causa finita est“ apparently doesn’t hold as much water as it did once upon a time. Although Rome has clearly said that women will never be admitted to the priesthood, discussion about the desirability of ordaining women continues. A case in point is a featured article in Commonweal on … Read more

Pro-Gay, Anti-Christianity

A learned friend of mine recently wrote an op-ed piece for a newspaper in which she argued that the drive for same-sex marriage is not simply about same-sex marriage; it is also about winning moral approval for homosexuality. If society, acting through the state, tells us that homosexuals can marry one another, then it is … Read more

A Psychological Impossibility

In Victorian England, Thomas Henry Huxley was the most determined and ardent defender of Darwinism, thereby earning himself the nickname “Darwin’s bulldog.” By parity of reasoning, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League might be called “the pope’s bulldog.” Hardly an insult, let alone an injury, is aimed at the Catholic religion without Donohue’s nipping at … Read more

Four Degrees of Feminism

If Hillary Clinton were elected president, she’d be the second feminist to hold that office. The first was her husband Bill. (If this seems a questionable proposition, hold on. I’ll defend it later.) But “feminism” is an equivocal term, having at least four distinct but related meanings, each of them indicative of a somewhat more … Read more

Obama’s Out-of-Date Categories

With his now notorious remarks about the way “bitter” small-town folks “cling” to their religion and guns while disliking immigrants, Barack Obama has taken us — at least those of us old enough to remember — for a stroll down memory lane, back to the 1950s, when it was taken for granted among liberals that … Read more

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