Catholic Support for Robert Spencer

From a book review in the National Catholic Register:

Robert Spencer, perhaps the foremost Catholic expert on Islam in our country, has written a new book entitled Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam (Catholic Answers, 2013). Spencer has advised the highest levels of the military on the Islamic threat to the United States, and has authored several books for the general public on the topic of Islam, including Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith.

Spencer’s Catholicism was discussed in February  (he’s a deacon in a Greek Melkite diocese). He has indeed advised “the highest levels of the military”, but so have a number of other problematic individuals. I’ve found Spencer’s polemical comments on the subject of Islam to be slapdash and blustering, rather than what one might expect from “the foremost Catholic expert on Islam” in the USA. When inaccuracies are brought to his attention, he either lashes out with accusations of support for Islamic extremism, or he quietly deletes material from his website without making corrections (see here and here). He also also of course identifies completely Pamela Geller, whose anti-Obama diatribes include birtherism.

The review of Spencer’s book is by “Opus Dei Father C. J. McCloskey”, a man described by the New Republic as “priest to Washington’s conservative establishment” and by Slate as “the Catholic church’s K Street lobbyist”. According to a Beliefnet profile,

McCloskey is credited with facilitating the conversions of such luminaries as failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, “Crossfire” co-host Robert Novak, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, conservative book publisher Alfred Regnery, economist and commentator Larry Kudlow, and one-time New York gubernatorial candidate Lewis Lehrman. Abortion doctor-turned-pro-lifer Bernard Nathanson was tutored by McCloskey, as was indicted Tyco International counsel Mark Belnick.

C. John McCloskey is also close to Rick Santorum; some sites further claim that he facilitated Newt Gingrich’s conversion, although McCloskey’s name does not appear in Gingrich’s conversion narrative.

Spencer’s book comes with a designated website, where there are other endorsements: from Scott Hahn of Franciscan University of Steubenville (“shows us how to take Islam seriously without falling into alarmism, hatred, or bigotry”), Patrick Madrid (“calm, lucid, accurate, and uncompromising”), Robert R. Reilly (“his usual clarity and insight”), and William Kilpatrick (“must reading not only for Catholics but for all Christians”).

Spencer’s publisher, Catholic Answers, was founded in 1979, originally to oppose fundamentalist anti-Catholicism.