Frank Marshall Davis: Obama’s Communist Mentor on the Catholic Church

Frank Marshall Davis

He blasted big business, Wall Street, big oil, General Motors, “excess profits,” “millionaires” and the “wealthy.”

He called out the “corporation executive” for not paying his “fair” share.

He attacked “GOP” tax cuts that “spare the rich” and “benefit millionaires.”

He advocated wealth redistribution from greedy “corporations” to “health insurance” and “public works projects.”

He described himself as “progressive,” while his detractors accused him of being a communist.

He adopted slogans like “Forward” and “Change.” He wanted to transform America through what he called “fundamental change.”

He was skeptical of preachers and their effect on God-and-gun clinging Americans, and saw the Catholic Church as an obstacle to his vision for the state. He argued that Christians should support his ideas and enthusiastically sought the support of the “social justice” Religious Left. Moreover, many people were unclear about his personal religious beliefs, including whether he was a Christian.

Who is this man?

If you answered “Barack Obama,” you’re only half right. The answer is Frank Marshall Davis, Hawaii mentor to a young Barack Obama, and Communist Party member 47544.

Davis was introduced to a nine-year-old Obama in the fall of 1970 by Obama’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who was seeking a black-male role model or father figure to mentor his grandson. He and the young Obama met many times throughout the 1970s, often for hours at a time late into evenings. Obama refers to Davis literally dozens of times in every part of his bestselling memoirs, Dreams from My Father.

Long ignored, Davis is the subject of my new book—and Catholics should pay attention, given that Davis had some choice words for them and their church. Not unlike the young man he mentored, Barack Obama, Davis saw the Catholic Church as an obstacle to his vision for the state.

Frank Marshall Davis’s vision was a very far-left one. He pushed the federal government to adopt socialist policies, with more and more power concentrated in Washington. He wanted the United States to go the direction of the Soviet Union. And Davis understood that the one institution standing in the way most vehemently was the Roman Catholic Church. “The Catholic hierarchy,” he sneered, had launched a “holy war against communism.”

Indeed it had—and deservedly so. Nothing anywhere in the world persecuted the religious—and people generally—quite like communism. The Church correctly saw Soviet communism as truly, genuinely evil. But Frank Marshall Davis fully disagreed, and he would target the Church as an obstacle to his plans to fundamentally change America.

And so, Davis targeted the Church in commentaries he wrote for the Chicago Star, the Communist Party publication of which he was the founding editor-in-chief from 1946-48.

In one commentary, a July 20, 1946 piece titled, “A-Bombs for Russia,” Davis began by expressing his admiration for Stalin’s Russia: “I salute the Soviet Union,” stated Davis. “I admire Russia for wiping out an economic system which permitted a handful of rich to exploit and beat gold from the millions of plain people…. As one who believes in freedom and democracy for all, I honor the Red nation.”

Yet, as Davis hailed Joe Stalin’s state for its alleged freedom and democracy, there was something else he didn’t admire: It was the “Big Money Boys” and so-called “prostitute press [that] brazenly solicits public hate for [the Soviet Union].” Among those that Davis listed as “hate evangelists” was Cardinal Francis Spellman, who, by Davis’s estimation, longed to “knock out Russia” by bombing it to the Stone Age.

Said Davis: “We’ve got to make the plain people realize that those hate evangelists preaching war against Russia are their enemies, and that peace, freedom and democracy can come only from forcing official America to work in harmony with the Soviet Union.”

Yes, that is, Stalin’s Soviet Union—which, according to Frank Marshall Davis, wanted peace.

Who was obstructing that peace? Davis blamed Harry Truman, the Marshall Plan, Wall Street, big business, capitalism, the press, and the likes of Cardinal Spellman and the Catholic Church. Not only were these sources “hate evangelists,” according to Frank Marshall Davis, but they were the new “Pontius Pilates.”

Davis portrayed communism and the Soviet Union as friendly to Christianity; thus, those opposing Soviet communism were, in the words of Frank Marshall Davis, modern-day “Pontius Pilates.”

A painful illustration of this thinking was a September 29, 1949 column that Davis wrote for the Honolulu Record, the Communist Party publication for Hawaii, which he wrote for from 1949-57. Titled, “Challenge to the Church,” Davis imagined Judgment Day, where anti-communist Christians would be called to account for their transgressions: “On your Judgment Day, when the Lord will ask you for an account of your stewardship, will … your answer be, ‘Lord I was too busy Redbaiting?”

And the Catholic Church especially deserved a good scourging. “The Christian churches, and the Catholic church in particular,” preached Barack Obama’s mentor, “are making a grievous error in their shortsighted belief that the major enemy of Christianity is Communism.”

Not a communist in Moscow would have agreed with Frank Marshall Davis, and the late Lenin would have laughed him out of the country—or thanked him for his efforts.

Not only was Soviet Russia not anti-religious, said Davis, but it had saved the world from Hitler’s “anti-Christian paganism.” Really, Christians worldwide should pay homage to Stalin. Instead, they were blinded by their anti-communist bigotry.

Here, as in so many of these cases, Davis, not unlike Barack Obama, was a man of the far left making appeals to the “social justice” Religious Left for support, especially liberal Protestants.

And when the Catholic Church did not accommodate his plans and policies for the state, Frank Marshall Davis, like Barack Obama, simply told the Church that it was wrong and didn’t bend. Imagine that.

That said, I’d like to conclude with two final examples on Davis and the Church, including, ironically, one where Davis actually agreed with the Church, albeit for curious reasons.

Another Catholic target of Davis was Archbishop Stepinac of Yugloslavia. The suffering Stepinac was persecuted in a classic communist show trail, a terrible miscarriage of justice. Frank Marshall Davis, however, portrayed it the other way around, as did the Kremlin and the international communist movement. In a September 1949 article titled, “Cold War in Church,” written for the Honolulu Record, Davis dismissed Stepinac’s persecution as a “lie” and “propaganda.” That is, lies and propaganda from Rome, from America, from the West. As always, Frank Marshall Davis took the side of the Soviet Union against the Roman Catholic Church.

There was, however, one instance where Davis surprisingly agreed with the Church. It came in his June 11, 1953 column, where Davis curiously found himself allied with Pope Pius XII, one of the most stalwart anti-communists of the 20th century. The reason? Pius XII opposed the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who had been correctly charged with giving atomic secrets to the Soviets.

Of course, Pius XII opposed the Rosenbergs’ execution most likely because he was loyal to his Church’s teachings against capital punishment. Frank Marshall Davis, however, opposed the Rosenbergs’ execution because he was loyal to the Kremlin. That’s what it finally took for Frank Marshall Davis to agree with the Catholic Church.

In sum, mentors matter. We all know that. We can’t say for certain that Barack Obama got his views—and intransigence—on the Catholic Church from Frank Marshall Davis. As a scholar, that’s something I can’t definitively state. But it’s certainly notable, and perhaps not coincidental, that both men saw the Catholic Church as an obstacle to their vision for the state. What Obama’s mentor believed seems to at least merit our interest.

Paul Kengor

By

Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of many books including The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and, most recently, 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative (2014).

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  • JM Cabaniss

    It is a minor point and not pertinent to your comments on Obama’s mentor, but your assessment of Pius XII’s opposition to the execution of the Rosenbergs cannot be because he was “loyal to his Church’s teaching against capital punishment” because no such teaching existed. He had himself observed that “as long as a man is without guilt, his life is
    untouchable…God is the sole lord of the life of a man not
    guilty of a crime punishable by the death penalty.” (To the San Luca Medical-Biological Union, 1944) His opposition was specific to the case, not generic to the punishment.

    • givelifeachance2

      On the contrary, this is not a minor point, because it demonstrates how the author seems to go out of his way to wind up praising Davis with faint damns. There iare many worse things to say about Davis and his life as a communist operative, and communist recruiting, and his sexual perversions, and his perverse mentoring of Obama, all very well documented. To be reticent at this point on Davis is to become part of the fog.

  • Allendale

    Marxism is really radical Christianity minus of course Christ. It is really an attempt to allow agnostics, atheists and others to embrace the teachings of the Gospels.It gives them emotional solace.if not social justice. What is interesting is that while the Left accuses Christians of mindless devotions, they themselves have deified communist icons such as Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao etc. and have demonstrated an orthodox devotion and acceptance that exceeds the fervor of most religious believers.Frank Davis was a miserable and dangerous person. So is Obama.

    • http://theraineyview.wordpress.com/ Serena

      Marxism is Christianity with a megagovernment in place of Christ and with the sacrifice of the counterrevolutionary in place of the self-sacrifice of Christ. By substituting the love of power for the power of love, Marxism inverts the message of Christianity.

      • Kid Charlemagne

        Exactly

    • Rouxfus

      Communism is certainly *not* simply Christianity minus Christ. That is a facile calumny against Christianity and a dangerous way to think about it.

      + In Christianity, we believe in One God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It holds that God endowed man with the sense faculties and reasoning abilities in order to come to an understand (always limited because we are finite and He is infinite) His Creation and Himself.
      – In Communism, there is no supernatural dimension. Its conception of reality is bound by what man can understand through the sense and reasoning faculties. Anything beyond the abilities of man to prove or disprove with science and philosophy is denied as part of the non-existent supernatural domain.

      + In Christianity all human beings have equal dignity before God.
      – In Communism, all human beings have no dignity before the all-powerful State, the collective.

      + In Christianity human beings have a natural right to property granted to them by God as stewards of His creation; however Christians are encouraged to share what they have, in their free will choice, with those in need in a sanctifying and salvific transaction of love.
      – In Communism property is owned by all collectively and what a person produces from their labor will be seized, with no choice, no free will, no act of love, and distributed to those in need.

      + In Christianity, God is truth. Truth is celebrated, cherished, sought for it’s own sake. No Truth (even scientific truth) can ever be in conflict with the Faith because the Truth *is* God (as Christ our Savior asserted, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.) Truth is never “politically incorrect”. God reveals truth to us through our sense faculties and our ability to employ reason to make sense of the data our senses provide us (scientific method) and sometimes He reveals truth directly, as in the utterances of the prophets, Sacred Scripture, and Jesus’ own words passed down through us in Scripture or Tradition. The Apostolic Church has the authority to determine whether some truth is in accord with the teachings of the Apostles which it is charged with protecting, preserving and promulgating. God who is Truth is unchangeable so Truth never changes.
      – In Communism “truth” is that which advances the interests and power of the collective or the State. The ruling party in the Communist community determines the truth. As the interests and needs of the collective change, “truth” is subject to change and capricious definition.

      + Christians believe that faith can be proposed but never imposed. Faith is a free-will choice to believe in God and the teachings of the Church He founded for our salvation and help.
      – Communists brook no dissent from the party line. Those who do not accept the materialist world view are re-educated, isolated, or eliminated from existence.

      I could go on and on. To sum up, Communism is a devilish impersonation of Christian belief. Communism is in no ways compatible with Christianity. There is very little overlap in its understanding of the world or man’s role in it. It seeks to destroy those who do not adopt it’s materialist view.

  • Bill

    Wow! What a hatchet piece. Unworthy of a “Catholic” organization.

    • DontMakeMeComeDownThere

      Can you be more specific? Other than the correction by JM Cabaniss below, which seems correct, where exactly does this misrepresent the Church or Davis?

      Dr. Kengor is right – why Davis is off limits is another huge scandal of the media who refused to vet this president and his influences.

    • Ford Oxaal

      This topic is central to Catholics. I have never heard of Davis, have you? Nor do I have any reason to think the author is making this up. Is that what you are trying to say, that the author is making this up? Judging simply by his actions, Obama is a radical anti-Catholic statist. This article sheds light on how this came to be. Why is that “unworthy”?

      • givelifeachance2

        Shocking that you have not heard of Davis, and testament to the power of the marxstream media.

        • sajetreh

          This is a very naive sentiment that Catholics have a hard choice to make. It is clear that the HHS mandate is a direct attack against religious freedom. One party is against it and will immediately start to repeal it. Any third party vote is a vote for democrats and is irresponsible. If you really stand for “givelifeachance” you must defeat the democrats who support death in mass and have no respect for life.

          • givelifeachance2

            Romney: “Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had said that he did not have the authority to grant an exemption for Catholic Charities from the state’s anti-discrimination laws, but he indicated that he would be sympathetic to legislation advancing that goal. However, leaders of the state legislature warned that a Church bid for an exemption would be unsuccessful, leaving the bishops no other option but a court battle.”

        • Ford Oxaal

          Ha ha — “marxstream media” — we don’t ingest much of that either. But I think we hit a milestone with Ryan openly saying in front of a huge television audience that he believes life starts at conception. I think the tide is turning, and the abortionists, like the Shakers, are slowly going extinct.

    • msmischief

      And what on earth makes severe but justified condemnation a “hatchet piece”?

  • sajetreh

    Communism is the age old nemesis of The Tower of Babel. Allendale has it right. Radical Christianity minus Christ. Man’s desire for utopia without personal sacrifice. Just the sacrifice of others according to the intellectual elite. Hold steady people of God. Our reward is in the afterlife of our time together here on earth.

  • Rev. George W. Rutler

    It is certainly would be wrong to say that Pius XII requested mercy for the Rosenbergs because “he was loyal to his Church’s teaching against capital punishment.” In addition to the Pope’s defense of capital punishment in his 1944 address, he said the same on 14 September 1952 in an address to the First international Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System. The Pope invoked St. Paul, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas on the right of the state to execute offenders, and this right has never been denied, not even in the new Catechism, prudential commentary notwithstanding. In a 1944 audience, Pius XII told Churchill that he desired full punishment for war criminals and he thoroughly approved of the Nuremberg executions, as he also approved of the hanging for war crimes of Monsignor Jozef Tiso, head of the Slovak State after the war. His request for clemency for the Rosenbergs, expressed in “L’Osservatore Romano” and conveyed to President Eisenhower, was on the grounds that they had children.

    • GrahamCombs

      Thank you Father Rutler for this clarification on the Church’s teaching on capital punishment. This is a discussion that seems slated for the ship breaking yards of the Church as one view now dominates. I watch your (erratically scheduled) talks on EWTN online. I suspect you don’t have the time but it is too bad you don’t do something for the network on Church history which is a subject as a recent convert that I find fascinating. Much of history is surprising, but the history of salvation in particular is a history of surprise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1620315309 Laura Vale

    Did Stanley Dunham just “happen” to come across this man as a black mentor for Barack Obama? I find the whole initial situation quite strange. I want to know more about Stanley. Why are Obama’s grandparents’ lives such a mystery? Where did they get their power, influence and money to promote Barack? It is obvious Barack was being groomed for “something” from a very young age, but everything about these grandparents is nebulous and one is hard-pressed to find anything about them or Barack’s youth. Why on earth would “they” make his grandparents such a hidden entity?

    • Wilson

      Frank was the real daddy. It will be irrefutable eventually. Hint: In a speech the little devil said that his father had served in the military during the 1939-1945 war. a few moments later, it corrected itself to say his “grandfather”. Ole Frank did serve in a colored unit of the U. S. Army.

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  • rpdch

    I now know to ignore this writer. Read the last paragraph where he basically admits the whole article is pure conjecture. Not worthy of this website.

    • Augustus

      Your dismissive response to this article reveals a shallow grasp of the implications suggestive of the author’s research. Obama himself acknowledged the debt he owed Davis. The fact that their views are similar suggests that they occupy the same intellectual universe. What the author was saying in the last paragraph was that, as a scholar, he could not say with certainty how much Davis influenced Obama compared to other possible influences in his life. His honesty as a scholar does not make his research any less revealing about the kind of people who formed Obama’s worldview. (If social science and the liberal arts were held to the same standard as hard science as you seem to demand, much of what has been published by scholars of all political persuasions and none at all, would end up in the trash.) Your refusal to understand the implications only reveals your eagerness to ignore relevant facts that challenge your settled perception of Obama.

  • im4truth4all

    Actually, Frank Marshall Davis is most probably obama’s real father. An excellent dvd called “Dreams from my real father” lays it all out. If you look at Davis’ picture he bears an uncanny resembleance to obama.

    • shuana searcy

      I watched this documentary and I thought it was a bunch of bull. You cannot assign paternity to a person based on who they resemble. Another conspiracy theory to rile the america people. Fact is I think this is quite ludrious .

      .

  • Kid Charlemagne

    If you find this article disagreeable, you’re insane. Period, end of story. Insane. Obama is turning your government into a drug dealer and getting your fellow citizens hooked on it like codependent crack fiends. If you can’t see the peril in that, you are insane, or hopelessly ignorant.

  • Nohbo

    What are you smoking? Communism IS anti-religion. Soviet Union banned religious holidays for the public, which is why they celebrate Christmas on New Years. Majority of Russians are Russian Ortodox, which is a faith similar to Christianity. Pull your head out of your arse and do your research.

    • CatholicMinnesotan

      Uhmm, Russian Orthodoxy is a Christian faith, very similar to Roman Catholicism. It is not a faith “similar to Christianity”, but actually is part of said group of faiths

      • Bert Perryman

        Neither are Christian both are Cults.

        • IrishEddieOHara

          Obviously you are another in a long line of Jack Chick fanatics who mindlessly parrot what the anti-Catholic bigots tell you to believe. I know this because I used to believe the same thing as you just said, having been brainwashed by my Bob Jones Fundamentalist teachers and preachers for decades before I actually (by the grace of God) read the Early Fathers of the Church and realized that the Church (Catholic and Orthodox) is found in the first century.

          No sign of your Evangelical Fundamentalism can be found, however. How you think that the ancient faith given to the Apostles by Christ Himself is a “cult” (aka in line with JW and Mormonism theology) is beyond me, but I do have a pretty good idea — i.e., that you are completely ignorant of Christian history and have the strange idea that I once held that Christianity (“true Christianity” that is) started in 1517 with Luther.

          I hope you will do some serious study of Christian history. Ignorant bigotry is an ugly thing to expose publicly.

  • Charles

    Once again, the inscrutable mystery that is not represented in this article nor the reports I’ve seen about Davis, remains the very real fact that where else in Davis’ ideal world could he have maintained without official sanction his right to espouse his nonsensical polemics?
    I somewhat question if that dysfunction mutated in BHO’s administration as to how information, or more abptly disinformation (think Susan Rice and Benghazi terror attack) is crafted?
    Secondly, did Davis ever consider how disillusioned faux ex-patriotes like Lee Harvey Oswald ever faired when they migrated to the Soviet Vahalla? Back with tail between legs rather quickly.
    If Davis were alive today, he’d be just another angry, ill-educated-about-his-faith stealth Jihadist, looking for disciples in a prison, on a corner or a Manhattan or San Francisco cocktail party

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.myers.9216778 Jim Myers

    The Catholic church and Christianity in general has such an abysmally horrible history that I find the idea of the church criticizing any form of government rather akin to one executioner criticizing another for not lopping off the head in one clean chop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gail-Formosa/100001174560853 Gail Formosa

    shared

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  • benettfreeman

    “big business, Wall Street, big oil, General Motors, excess profits, millionaires and the wealthy.”

    Anyone who criticises these things is closer to being objectively correct than someone who makes apologies for them.

    What the above article ignores completely, and may have been contrived to ignore, is that Obama is in league with these elements, not opposed to them.

    There is nothing radical about Obama.

    http://consentient.wordpress.com

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  • donna

    davis was “fooling around” with BO’s mother when she was a young teen. There are fairly distasteful photos of her at age 16 in s&m costumes on floor of his home. Now may be photo shopped but no one is denying she was involved with him. Her father was alleged to have come up with paying BO Sr. to marry her at 17 as she was pregnant with davis’ child. Fr. Rulter’s clarification of Church’s teaching on capital punishment most welcomed it has generated no end of trouble in public discourse over issues of abortion for a long time. It is shocking to me that very few Catholics are able to accurately explain teaching. St. John Paul specifically stated faithful were free to form their own conclusion about issue.

  • Joe Burns

    Thank you Father Rutler for your in-depth explanation of Pius XII’s teaching on capital punishment. The author’s casual reference to “the Church’s teaching on capital punishment” should have been caught by an editor; it jumped out as a clear error, but I very much like the article overall. It’s amazing that so few people still seem not to know about Obama’s communist mentor. Thank you, Paul Kengor.

  • Bert Perryman

    Being a Catholic does not make you a Christian any more then going to Burger KIng makes you a burger. Catholicism is a Cult and Hitler was a Jesuit Priest and a devout Catholic.
    The Catholic Church has caused more people to go to Hell then any other thing in the world. They at one time told thier catholic members not to read the Holy Word of God, and no wonder, they knew if they did they would discover the Truth that as a Catholic they were Lost.and that they were counting on their own works to save their souls instead of the Blood of Jesus Christ.Jesus Christ cried out from the Cross it is FINISHED. The Catholic Church tries to tell others who is a Saint , when the Bible proclaims all that have been Born Again are Saints( they don’t need a man to canonize them after they die) It is a good time for All you Catholics to Repent of your sins and ask God to forgive you and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heat and become a child of God , by being Born Again. Get your name written down in The Lambs Book of Life while there is still time The Rapture of the true Church is about to take place , All who have been Born Again are the True Church.

    • IrishEddieOHara

      Do us all a favor and go read some history so you don’t look like an ignorant boob in public!

      BTW — I will debate you anywhere, anytime, on what you have said, but I doubt you have the stones for it. Every time I debate a Fundamentalist like you, I wind up scaring them off because I, as a convert to the Catholic faith from mindless Fundamentalism such as yours, KNOW my scriptures and KNOW how to show the Catholic faith from Scripture.

      That usually sends folks like you runnin’ for the tall grass!

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