Greetings Jessica,

You bring up a lot of good points here with censorship, but I'm going to play Devil's advocate on your position.

What would you say if I replied, "Hasn't the Catholic Church practiced censorship throughout its history?"

What about 100 years prior to Martin Luther, The Church burned Jan Hus advocating for communion in both kinds, which the memory of what happened to Hus caused Luther to refrain from public debate during the reformation?

Didn't the Church have an Index of forbidden books?

One might argue that this idea of freedom of conscience and the dignity of conscience is a Classical Liberal idea, but traditionally the Church has promoted "error has no rights."

How would you respond?

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Jan 27, 2022·edited Jan 27, 2022Author

Thank you for the thought-provoking questions, Phillip. I would argue that any censorship practiced by any entity has had the opposite of its intended effect. Your example of Luther shows that the extreme censorship of Hus resulted in fear and silence on Luther's part. This probably had the effect of people being MORE interested in Luther's position since he wasn't allowed to speak. As to the index of forbidden books, this, too, has had the opposite effect. There are a great number of secular articles which focus on these forbidden books as well as other censorship within the church, showing that people are naturally drawn to things from which they are forbidden. The unfaithful are drawn to the censored books rather than the Bible. While error may have no rights, I do not think that censorship is the avenue to correcting errors. Education and combatting errors through MORE conversation seems to work better. While censorship should be practiced to a certain degree, for example, not allowing a five-year-old to watch an R rated movie, I think that complete censorship usually has the opposite effect from what is intended. In addition, the root of the problem of censorship is the person or entity doing the censoring. Those who practice censorship rarely have good intentions, though the Catholic Church may be the exception. But even with Catholic censorship, the result is that people are drawn to what is censored and attack the Church based on 'what they are hiding or keeping from us'. It would be much more effective to come face to face with errors and offer an explanation of why they are wrong. Censorship in itself is not wrong, especially self-censorship. The issue is both the intention of the censor and the unintended result of censorship.

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