Handling Anti-Catholic Attacks


#1

Yesterday, on at least three threads, a now-banned anti-Catholic attacked Catholic teaching and practice with a combination of willful ignorance, arrogance, sarcasm and general contumely.

So here’s the thread:

How do we:

  1. diagnose a poster as contumacious before an engagement deteriorates into a shouting match?

  2. determine the unasked question or the unspoken assumption, when somebody comes on with the usual accusations about the Church?

  3. develop the skill of returning the “soft” answer to an insult or assault?

  4. disarm an attacker without returning fire?


#2

I was experiencing this yesterday. As I was thinking about your post, I went and checked and I believe I know who you are referencing since he now shows as “banned”.

I think most important, before engaging in a forum “debate” would be to pray first. We are only instruments of the Holy Spirit and cannot ourselves change anyone’s way of thinking.

When posts first begin, it’s very hard to “diagnose” another’s intention through forums. Are they sincere in their questions? Do they have a malicious intent? It’s only after several posts does one start to see patterns of obstinance whether justified or not.

If a person is not open minded to learn each other’s Faith they more than likely do not even try to understand your point of view.

I try to overlook the first signs of an attack which might be a mistake on my part. I try to use “friendly” language in my replies to show I’m sincere in trying to understand the other’s point of view or to see if I’ve made a mistake.

It’s important to stay with one issue at a time, from what I’ve read. That’s hard to do face to face much less in a forum.

If you’ve honestly responded to questions, it’s only fair to get them to respond of some of your questions.

I fault myself for not just giving up sooner. The thought had crossed my mind when the person refused to answer any questions put forth and only belittled the responses given to his questions with no explanations.

The person yesterday didn’t have time to read anything on the early fathers or read back through a thread to see they were mistaken about addressing certain points after stating they had already addressed that. The reason, I assume, they did not have time was because they were working 3 different threads and not being open minded to anything coming from a Catholic perspective. Again, there’s not much you can do if they don’t even pay any attention to anything you offer just because of their contempt for your Faith.

In my last post to them, I did say it seemed as though they were disrespecting those who were trying to answer his questions and it also seemed they were only interested in bashing Catholicism. I asked them to kindly stop and represented my answers and questions they had deliberately avoided.

I am open to pointers from those who are more experienced with these situations.:shrug:


#3

I also considered “disengaging” once I saw what he was all about. But I wanted Catholic responses posted for the benefit of other readers, not just for his benefit. This particular guy didn’t seem able to discern between defending what he believed and shooting down what we believe. He’ll probably spend years talking about how he got banned from a Catholic board “simply for preaching the Gospel.” I don’t think there’s an easy solution. He was right about one thing: it’s overwhelming to be in the minority on a board where a dozen adversaries are posting to you all at once.


#4

Yup. You know EXACTLY who it was.

I think most important, before engaging in a forum “debate” would be to pray first. We are only instruments of the Holy Spirit and cannot ourselves change anyone’s way of thinking.

I TRY to remember to do this but I’m such a smart-alec, I often skip this step. :tsktsk:

When posts first begin, it’s very hard to “diagnose” another’s intention through forums. Are they sincere in their questions? Do they have a malicious intent? It’s only after several posts does one start to see patterns of obstinance whether justified or not.

If a person is not open minded to learn each other’s Faith they more than likely do not even try to understand your point of view.

I try to overlook the first signs of an attack which might be a mistake on my part. I try to use “friendly” language in my replies to show I’m sincere in trying to understand the other’s point of view or to see if I’ve made a mistake.

I do this also – especially because I KNOW what kind of anti-Catholic background some people have. It goes REALLY deep. But sometimes we should be able to make the diagnosis earlier than we do, e.g., when somebody responds to a carefully-thought-out post with, “I’m sorry, but the word of God is the best I can do.” Or how about yesterday’s memorable dialog:

Catholic: How many Catholics are there?
Anti-C: Too many.

Admittedly, this was when our interlocutor had already been runniing around for a couple of hours one step short of screaming “Antichrist!” “Whore of Babylon!” “Synagogue of Satan!”

It’s important to stay with one issue at a time, from what I’ve read. That’s hard to do face to face much less in a forum.

If you’ve honestly responded to questions, it’s only fair to get them to respond of some of your questions.

YES! But we can certainly make stronger efforts at this.

What we may encounter in such a case (as yesterday’s interchange so vividly demonstrated) can be: “SEE! Catholics CAN’T answer ANY of these questions!” Maybe dealing with that particular ploy could use a thread of its own.

I fault myself for not just giving up sooner. The thought had crossed my mind when the person refused to answer any questions put forth and only belittled the responses given to his questions with no explanations.

We live in hope. Even if the only hope is that you can lower the heat on someone’s hate by half a degree.

The person yesterday didn’t have time to read anything on the early fathers or read back through a thread to see they were mistaken about addressing certain points after stating they had already addressed that. The reason, I assume, they did not have time was because they were working 3 different threads and not being open minded to anything coming from a Catholic perspective. Again, there’s not much you can do if they don’t even pay any attention to anything you offer just because of their contempt for your Faith.

In a one-on-one, you could simply refuse to engage in further dialog until the person had appropriately responded to your point. But in a forum free-for-all you have 8 people picking different aspects of the argument and throwing you off.

You make really good points.


#5

You are correct. But in this case he was posting on at LEAST 4 threads at once. Sniping, slashing, but never actually engaging.

I agree with you that to some extent we CAN and perhaps SHOULD reasonably entertain these wildmen for the sake of vulnerable bystanders.

The word P-A-T-H-O-L-O-G-Y occurred to me more than once in this case. I’m not sure whether it was in reference to our voluble interlocutor or to myself for continuing to respond.

Late in the day I DID call him on his allegation that whenever he cited Scripture by chapter & verse, we ignored him. I took the time to review all of his posts on that thread and confronted him with the fact that he had posted only ONE reference to Scripture in 42 posts – and that reference had been brought to the discussion by someone else.

But that was a day late and a dollar short, so to speak.


#6
  1. Experience. Although, perhaps we don’t. If we can give an orthodox Catholic response with love, it will be to the edification of someone.

  2. Experience. Get inside their head (mind that first step, it’s a doozy!). What are they asking on the surface? Is this one of the hot-button issues? Is this something that radically distinguishes a Catholic from a secular humanist? Protestant? Orthodox? Why did he use that example? Would another example have sufficed? Is this thread really about committing a mortal sin under duress, or more about the Church’s discipline of meatless Fridays?

  3. Experience. Try not to respond. Don’t feed the trolls. In the Prayer Intention forum, one member gave us the “Poster’s Prayer”. It was pretty good. Try sticking to the issues, don’t respond to “ad hominen” or “ad ecclesiam” attacks. If that’s all the person is spewing out, the thread will die.

  4. Experience. Also, you don’t disarm a kamikaze fighter. Luckily, these flames are easier to endure than real ones…

So, my advice is pray, and then get in there. Don’t be afraid, but don’t feed the trolls.


#7

Such people with their sheer bigotry and hatred for the Catholic Church really get on my nerves. It’s when they come in and refuse to learn that it really bothers me. People who come in with anti-Catholic attitudes but who are willing to learn don’t bother me nowhere near as much.


#8

a poster as contumacious before an engagement deteriorates into a shouting match?

  1. determine the unasked question or the unspoken assumption, when somebody comes on with the usual accusations about the Church?

  2. develop the skill of returning the “soft” answer to an insult or assault?

  3. disarm an attacker without returning fire?1. Geeze! Had to look up that adjective that you used. Who are you, William F. Buckley? :smiley: :rotfl: :rotfl:

contumacious

adjective
wilfully obstinate; stubbornly disobedient; “a contumaceous witness is subject to punishment”

Anyway, I think that experience will teach us how to recognize such people, but I still prefer to enter any discussion with anew person by giving them the benefit of the doubt, at least until they prove me wrong.

  1. I don’t really think you can although those of us who come from a n-C background for whatever reason can often see where they are going because we have seen and heard it so many times. I know that in most cases I can, but again, that’s based on long experience.

  2. This is a tough one…especially on internet forums. In person it might be different, (and should be), but for some reason, perhaps the anonymity of the internet I guess, this often gets out of hand. But I also think that that is also the reason that many opponents to Catholic teaching come in with guns blazing to begin with.

My own effort is always to respond with facts and scripture and do my best to go easy on the rhetoric, which I have found serves little purpose one way or the other from either side. Most often it’s the rhetoric of our opponents that draws the same from Catholics. Either way, I still feel that the answers that are factual and concise are the best responses.

  1. This one is probably a pipe dream. You cannot disarm an opponent who will not release their weapon, and I know of no argumentative “judo” that will work on that.

All I can do is offer facts, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit. I find it best to pray for those who oppose us and remember them at Mass.


#9

" I don’t think there’s an easy solution. He was right about one thing: it’s overwhelming to be in the minority on a board where a dozen adversaries are posting to you all at once.Lemme just respond to that bolded part.

I too think I know who our banned guy is and frankly, I could be way wrong, but I strongly suspect that he wasn’t tossed from our beloved forums just for what he said in any current post, but for being someone who has come in here before and been banned for this and worse and then dishonestly circumvented the ban to return to promote his a-C agenda.

This is something that I really have issues with, because I feel that Christians have an obligation to witness to their faith by honesty in their actions and if you agree to a forum’s rules then along with that you also agree that if you break said rules and are banned that you are righteous enough to honor that and not further violate the rules and circumvent the ban.

How is that a witness of honesty and Christ-like behavior? :shrug:

I sure won’t do it, because I value who I am in Christ, and I don’t recommend it to any other believer.


#10

In answer to the specific “How do we”, I would say that often we will see someone who will consistantly refuse to answer a direct question, or just pick and choose which questions they will answer. I’ve seen a couple like that just lately. Also it seems that their language is intended to inflame your response and thus grant him the “moral high ground”.
my 2c

  1. determine the unasked question or the unspoken assumption, when somebody comes on with the usual accusations about the Church?

This can be tricky because it depends on how the person poses thier accusations. Often times, when an obstinate person comes here with a blatently false understanding of the Church teachings and anti-cathalic attitude, it is because they wish to evangelize us. More than anything I believe that is most often the unstated agenda.
Many times I’ve seen posters who are undoubtedly young in their faith, and have been taught about the “Evil Catholics”. But once confronted with the facts of Church teaching they tend to soften - or they go away. Very few will stay around once they see that we know (or at least try to know) our faith and defend it with facts.
Finally I suggest to anyone who fears some new person is disengenuous, click on their name and look up their posts on various threads. Their views and general attitude will become clear quite quickly by looking at their responses on different threads.

  1. develop the skill of returning the “soft” answer to an insult or assault?
  1. disarm an attacker without returning fire?

This is the tough one isn’t it. Often times there will be multiple answers to the same question and the tones ofthe answers can vary widely.
Often times the best thing is to pause before responding and “count to 10” as they say.

Also Praying before responding can be a good way to improve your answer.

Something like:

THE POSTER’S PRAYER
Almighty Father, I your humble servant, ask you to enlighten me so as to be a good communicator of Your love in each word I post.
Send your Holy Spirit to me this day and guide me in Your truth.
Guide my hand in all posts I write, that I may communicate clearly and in all charity to others.
Help me remain calm when others speak ill of You, or Your Church.
Give me the insight to understand how and where I can be of help to others through my posting.
Give me the right words to touch the hearts of others and draw them closer to the fullness of faith in You through Your Church.
I ask this in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sorry If I babble too much…

Peace
James


#11

#12

Another point is that we can easily become angry at a person who honestly doesn’t understand what they’re saying. Suppose some new guy asks, “Why do Catholics worship the dead?” It’s easy to explode at such an outrageous claim, but stop and consider, this person may be an 18 year old who’s merely repeating what Mom and Dad told him about Catholicism and simply has no idea that it isn’t true. “We don’t” is a much better response than, “How dare you spew such lies from the pit of hell …”


#13

Good observations all. I note that you are still working towards achieving some of them, as are we all.


#14

#15

[SIGN]Amen[/SIGN] As others have said: assume good will until otherwise confirmed.

One point I would make about challenges to the Marian dogmas:

Do NOT tell an anti-Catholic, anti-Mary person that they should accept a Marian dogma because Our Lady herself appeared at Lourdes or Fatima to confirm this or that.

Any use of an apparition as “evidence” will be thrown back in your face. Besides – as everyone posting on this thread knows very well – the Church does not formulate ANY doctrine in response to private revelations.


#16

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