Marjorie Taylor Greene feuds with conservative Catholics over ‘Satan’ remarks
WASHINGTON (RNS) – A conservative Catholic activist is calling for Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to be sanctioned by House leadership for a recent interview in which she cited bishops lending aid to immigrants as an example of “Satan controlling the church”.
Greene, who has drawn widespread criticism for voicing conspiracy theories, made the remarks during an hour-long interview with Church Militant, a Detroit-based right-wing Catholic website chastised by her own diocese and condemned by his detractors for inflammatory rhetoric decried as racist. and homophobic.
At the start of the interview, which was titled “Marjorie for the Pope,” Church Militant leader Michael Voris asked the lawmaker about the Catholic Church‘s longstanding support for undocumented immigrants. Voris expressed frustration with Catholics helping migrants at the border and pointed to Catholic Relief Services.
Greene, a longtime critic of existing border policies, described these efforts as “Satan controlling the Church.”
“The church is not doing its job, and it is not adhering to the teachings of Christ and it is not adhering to what the Word of God says we are supposed to do,” she said.
Greene did not specify a specific part of Catholic teaching that she thinks church leaders violate by helping immigrants. She went on to say that Christians should love others – but argued that Christian love should be used to promote American interests, not ‘globalist politics’, and accused Catholic church leaders of doing harm to American taxpayers.
“Yes, we’re supposed to like each other,” she said. “But their definition of what it means to love each other means destroying our laws. It means completely perverting what our Constitution says.
Greene’s rhetoric stands in stark contrast to remarks by Pope Francis, who has made supporting immigrants a staple of his papacy. The Pope traveled to the US-Mexico border and funded Mexico-based projects to help migrants. In 2015, he praised Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley for her work helping immigrants along the border, an initiative Voris seemed to mention in her interview with Greene.
Additionally, Francis has openly argued with former President Donald Trump over his planned wall along the US-Mexico border, at one point saying he was prepared to confront the president directly on the issue.
Greene, for his part, was one of two lawmakers who chanted “build the wall” — a reference to Trump’s border proposal — during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address earlier this year.
On Wednesday, Bill Donohue, leader of the conservative Catholic League group, lambasted Greene for his remarks.
“She needs to apologize to Catholics immediately,” he said. “She’s a disgrace.”
Donohue said his group plans to contact House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy about the issue, and Donohue encouraged readers to contact Greene’s communications director.
Representatives for McCarthy did not immediately return a request for comment.
Greene fired back in a lengthy statement posted on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, defending her comments and insisting that Donohue should apologize to her instead. She described herself as a ‘cradle Catholic’ who stopped attending Catholic services after having children, citing concerns about the child sex abuse crisis. (Greene was reportedly baptized around 2011 at North Point Community Church, an evangelical Protestant mega-church based in Alpharetta, Georgia.)
“Just to be clear, bishops, when I said ‘controlled by Satan’, I wasn’t talking about the Catholic Church. I was talking about you,” Greene wrote. “The Catholic Church must drive out these monsters instead of lecturing the people that its own bishops have driven out. I refuse to use kinder, gentler language than Bill Donohue might prefer when talking about his filthy, corrupt friends, who enriched him with donations from ordinary Catholics.
Greene, who reportedly texted Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows ahead of Biden’s inauguration about imposing the ‘Marshall Act’ to keep Trump in power, then doubled down on his criticism of clerics who help immigrants.
“Bishops are also busy destroying our nation by using taxpayers’ money to advocate for illegal invasion across our borders,” she said. “They dare to disguise Democratic vandalism and anarchy as somehow ‘religious,’ which perhaps explains their distaste for me.”
The debate continued Thursday, when Donohue sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee demanding that Greene be disciplined.
“Now is the time for her to be reprimanded or censured,” Donohue wrote. “Her irresponsible behavior has already led to her being removed from committee assignments. As a result, her push for anti-Catholicism now demands stronger sanctions against her.
California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, who is Catholic, criticized Greene from the House floor on Thursday, call his “sectarian” remarks.
Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor and Republican strategist, also called his comments “unfortunate.”
“We must love one another – that is Jesus’ mandate to the church,” he said.
A representative from Catholic Relief Services sent Religion News Service a statement rebutting Greene and Voris’ characterization of the group’s work. They said CRS does not resettle refugees or undocumented migrants, but rather “assists the poor and vulnerable overseas”.
“We focused on addressing the issues that are forcing people out of their homes before it happens,” the statement said. “The root cause of migration is often violence and poverty that push people into the unknown in search of security and stability. By creating jobs and working to reduce violence, families can stay in their communities and not have to uproot themselves just to survive.
The back-and-forth hinted at slow cracks in conservative Catholic circles, where Donohue has often been a prominent voice in the past.
Greene, whose views associated with the QAnon movement have been decried as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim and led to her being stripped of committee duties shortly after taking office in 2021, has become a famous figure this year. among far-right Catholics.
In addition to his interview with Church Militant, Greene spoke in February at an event hosted by Nick Fuentes, a white, Catholic nationalist whose supporters often chant “Christ is King!” while holding crucifixes aloft.
“My name is Marjorie Taylor Greene, I am the King’s Daughter, the one true living God, Alpha and Omega, our Heavenly Father, and I am a forgiven sinner, washed clean in the blood of our Savior Jesus- Christ,” she said in her address to the group.
When the attendees began to sing “Christ Is King,” she replied, “Amen – Christ Is King.”
Greene later distanced herself from Fuentes and his group America First, insisting she was unaware of their views. During Greene’s presentation, Fuentes credited Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right activist who is now a contributor to Church Militant, with brokering her appearance.
Representatives of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, which encompasses most of the Greene District, declined to comment.