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Logical fallacies and Sean Hannity

I have listened to Sean Hannity's radio program for about the last four years or so. For the most part, politically he and I have been on the same page. But there have been times when he has ventured into talking about his Catholicism and his knowledge ( or lack thereof) that I have just had to wince. Worse, there were times I had to simply turn off the radio so that my children wouldn't hear some of the blatant lapses in his knowledge base regarding his Catholic faith. I have also turned down the radio during some of Sean's infamous "shoot outs." I want my children to know that to really score points in a debate, one has to do it through compelling, persuasive and logical argumentation presented in a gracious manner, and not simply by outshouting your opposition!

Last week Sean Hannity debated Father Thomas Euteneuer from Human Life International on his television program.

This was in response to Father Euteneuer's article about Sean Hannity's Gospel.


In an age of sophisticated dissent against Christ and His Church, the purity of the Ancient Faith needs defense so that people do not put their faith in "another gospel," says St. Paul (Gal 1:7). In the face of modern challenges to the Faith, Catholics who have a high profile in media, culture and government have a very grave responsibility to witness it correctly; otherwise, they will be held accountable in heaven for their anti-witness which affects the faith of millions.


If apologies are the order of the day, then the repentance I would like to hear out of Sean Hannity's mouth is for his shameless—even scandalous—promotion of birth control. Yes, I have heard him personally say, "I have no problem with birth control. It's a good thing." (Another bit of profound theological reasoning.) Given the size of his audience and the importance of his status in pop culture,
Hannity's anti-witness to a fundamental tenet of Catholic moral doctrine is just devastating for the faith of others who may be weak or vacillating in this area. His impact is greater, and so his judgment will be stricter. "To those who have been given more, more will be required…"


The moral of the story is that Catholic men and women in the media need to be truly Catholic or at least stop being hypocrites. We have enough pretenders to the title of Catholic in public life without being treated to superficial assessments of profound moral issues. Rules are important, but Lent is not about rule-breaking, it's about conversion of heart; and on the most important moral issues of our day, public Catholics like Hannity have no right to profess "another gospel," or the faith of millions—and indeed their own souls—are in serious jeopardy.



What transpired on the Hannity and Combs show during that interview with Father Euteneuer was just a train wreck - for Mr. Hannity.

For the sake of debate, I would say that the topic that Father Euteneur was coming on to defend was the part I put in bold print above. Indeed as the confrontation starts Father Euteneuer talks about his concern about making heresies public.

Almost out of the gate Hannity ignores the topic of the argument to ask Father if he knows what Sean Hannity's educational background is? That's a red herring. It doesn't matter what his background is. It is totally off topic and not to the point of the discussion which is his anti-Catholic witness to a basic tenant of the Catholic faith. He leaves that red herring for another one, pretty much insinuating that Father Euteneuer had something to do with the priest scandal. How absurd!!

Hannity takes the next leap that birth control will stop abortion. Luckily Father Euteneuer knows his stats on that one. A large percentage of abortions occur because birth control fails!. But Hannity doesn't let the facts stop him as he leaps to the next logical fallacy, the false dilemma, i.e. would Father rather have non Catholics use birth control or have abortions?! Look how far have Hannity has tried to distance himself from the topic of the discussion!

But he doesn't stop there. He takes another foolish venture into the idea that the church teaches birth control too! Of course he is referring to NFP but he totally betrays to any well catechized Catholic that he has never read Humanae Vitae or heard of The Theology of the Body. It's fascinating to me that a man who spends every Thursday afternoon mocking the common folks on the street corners for not recognizing Dick Cheney from a photograph doesn't understand some of the basic high school nuances of Catholic moral theology.

He ends with blasting Father Euteneuer for "chasing" Catholics out of the church and once again for the sex abuse scandal. He never takes ownership for any of his own bad behavior. He never mentions once the fine work Father Euteneuer's organization does for life issues.

I wish Father Euteneuer could have been a more persuasive debate opponent, but he probably isn't use to dealing with some of the illogical and arrogant twists of logic that Mr. Hannity employs. He should hang around on debate boards and blogs more where that sort of thing is more the norm.

He did say that if Hannity came to his church, he would not give him communion. It's nice to see a public cleric with some intestinal fortitude.

But I find this whole thing to be very freeing in a way. I can now turn my radio dial to Michael Medved's show in the afternoon and quit caring about whatever is happening on the Hannity show. If and when Sean apologizes I might reconsider. But somehow I don't think that will happen anytime soon.




FYI Gerald Augustinus at The Cafeteria is Closed has the transcript.

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