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

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

The Failure of Our Gay Marriage Arguments

Unless you’re willing to assert that homosexual behavior is immoral or unnatural (or both), you’ll have a hard time making an effective case against same-sex marriage (SSM). It won’t be impossible, just exceedingly difficult. Perhaps you’ll be able to reinforce the convictions of those who, like yourself, are already opposed to SSM. But you won’t … Read more

Long Live Absurdity

Everywhere except in the field of jurisprudence, the reductio ad absurdum is accepted as a logical argument. The reductio always takes this form: If you can show that a certain premise leads to an absurd conclusion, then there is something radically wrong with the premise, and you then either have to reject the premise or at least … Read more

Not-So-Strange Bedfellows

I’m a lifelong Democrat who is now badly disillusioned with the Democratic Party. Why? Because the party has become America’s anti-Christian party, a party that is dominated not just by atheists and agnostics (the agnostics being of that species whose skepticism is the virtual equivalent of atheism), but by atheists and agnostics having an anti-religion … Read more

Having A Frank Conversation About Race

If we are to have, as Attorney-General Eric Holder suggested more than a year ago, a national “frank conversation about race,” the first thing that needs to be said is that such a conversation is virtually impossible. Why? Because those who are on the “conservative” side in this discussion will be accused of either racism … Read more

Quasi-Religions

Two basic needs that we human beings have are the need for meaning and the need for morality. We need to feel that our lives are meaningful, that they have a purpose. And we need to have an authoritative moral code that tells us what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad. Absent … Read more

Same-Sex Marriage and the Voice of Nature

   When America’s pro-abortion forces won their great victory of January 1973 — the Roe v. Wade ruling of the United States Supreme Court — they were not surprised to see that religious and moral conservatives were immediately outraged. Similarly, white supremacists were immediately outraged when the Court handed down its Brown v. Board of … Read more

Debating ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

It’s a heated debate: Should Congress go along with the request — recently made by President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that was adopted by Congress and President Bill Clinton in 1993? Should … Read more

Our Society’s Common Values

If a society is going to hold together and not fall apart, it needs a values consensus; that is, a system of values that almost everybody in the society agrees with. It is not necessary that everybody’s behavior actually conform to these values. There will, of course, be a certain amount — perhaps even a … Read more

Health Care and Resentment

  The great national controversy about health care is, I submit, about something more than health care. Man-in-the-street conservatives (as opposed to conservative intellectuals) feel — and feel very correctly — that they are viewed with great disdain and contempt by upper-middle-class liberals who, thanks to the elections of 2006 and 2008, happen to be … Read more

The Racism Myth

Listening to the radio the other day, I heard a professor from one of America’s more distinguished institutions of higher learning explain what is motivating the “angry mobs” who have been raucously denouncing President Obama’s health-care plans: racism. When asked for evidence, the professor offered this: Some of the angry people made it plain that … Read more

The Inevitability of Legislating from the Bench

  The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court reminded us once again of the never-ending debate as to whether judges should “legislate from the bench.” Political conservatives, of course, say that they must not. The job of judges, we are told, is to judge … Read more

Iconoclasm and the Sexual Revolution

Today’s lesson is on how to turn Catholics into semi-Catholics and non-Catholics. If you would like to destroy a prevailing system of beliefs and values, there are two ways of doing it: Persecution is one way, seduction the other. In the century or so following the start of the Protestant Reformation, persecution often proved effective. … Read more

The Dangerous Politics of the Sotomayor Nomination

There are many ways to play the game of politics in America. Two of the most time-honored are the race/ethnic game and the ideological game. That is, you can play politics by making an appeal to certain ethnic/racial groups or by appealing to certain ideological groups. In 2008, the brilliant Obama campaign strategy combined both … Read more

Cicero, Catiline, and the American Left

One of the unfortunate byproducts of the fact that, for many years now, nobody has studied Latin in school is this: Hardly anybody remembers Cicero and the conspiracy of Catiline. If we could remember this, it would be helpful in thinking about what those on the American Right call “enhanced interrogation” and those on the … Read more

The Mind of Father Jenkins

I am not personally acquainted with the Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., the current president at the University of Notre Dame (where I was a graduate student in philosophy nearly a half-century ago). Not possessing an intimate knowledge of the workings of his mind, I can only speculate as to what he was thinking when he … Read more

Newman and the Two Arnolds

  Matthew Arnold was the son of Dr. Thomas Arnold, the legendary headmaster of Rugby, who many decades after his death had the misfortune to be one of the four figures held up to ridicule in Lytton Strachey’s landmark book, Eminent Victorians. (The other three were Florence Nightingale, Cardinal Manning, and General "Chinese" Gordon). Matthew, … Read more

Dealing Cynically with the U.S. Constitution

It’s funny the things that sometimes irritate you. At the moment I am greatly — some might say unreasonably — irritated by a bill that passed the United States last week. If this bill becomes law, it will expand the number of seats in the United States House of Representatives from 435 to 437 — … Read more

Why Catholics Don’t Read the Bible

A few years ago I wrote a book that was very pessimistic about the future of the Church in the United States. American Catholicism is a religion, I argued, in a state of probably irreversible decline. It is on the road, not to total disappearance exactly, but to a reduced state in which it will … Read more

Bernie Madoff, Victim

Poor Bernie Madoff! He’s not a bad guy. He was operating according to the prevailing rules of present-day morality. He was bringing a lot of happiness to a lot of people, including himself. And then he ran into a streak of bad luck. Unfortunate things happened — surprising things, things beyond his expectation or control; … Read more

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