Robert A. Sungenis (born ca. 1955) is an American Traditionalist Catholic known for his Catholic apologetics and his advocacy of a pseudoscientific belief that the Earth is the center of the universe and conspiracy theories. He has made statements about Jews and Judaism which have been criticized as being antisemitic, which he denies. Sungenis is a member of the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, a Catholic Young Earth creationist group.
Life and career
Robert Sungenis was brought up in a Roman Catholic household and converted to become a Protestant as a young man. He obtained his B.A. in religion from George Washington University in 1979, an M.A. in theology from Westminster Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian and Reformed Christian seminary located in Glenside, Pennsylvania, in 1982. He reverted to Roman Catholicism in 1992.
After his conversion back to Roman Catholicism, Sungenis became known as a Traditionalist Catholic. He wrote Not By Faith Alone, a book of apologetics, explaining his view of the Catholic Church's doctrine of justification and his critique of the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone.
Jews and Judaism
Sungenis' writings include antisemitic ideas, sources, and claims about the Jews and Judaism and have been sharply criticized by fellow Catholics and by the Southern Poverty Law Center, as has the publishing company he founded and uses to publish his books, Catholic Apologetics International. In 2002, he said it was a fact that no one had ever proven that 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust and that demographic statistics show no real difference in the number of Jews living before and after World War II (see Historical Jewish population comparisons). According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he also "repeated a series of ancient anti-Semitic canards" and later wrote about the involvement of Jews and Israel in a Zionist Satanic conspiracy aimed at Satan ruling the world.
In 2006 Sungenis campaigned against a sentence in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA) which at that time read, "Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them." Sungenis believed it implied that the Jews can be saved without believing in Jesus, and people who read the forum began repeating his complaint to Catholic authorities. In the summer of 2008, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to remove the sentence and replace it with a quote from the Epistle to the Romans: "To the Jewish people, whom God first chose to hear his word, belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ". Jewish leaders complained that the change was antisemitic. Monsignor Daniel Kutys said that the sentence was changed because of the confusion Sungenis' blog was generating, and also said that the change was made to skirt the issue rather address it directly.
In 2014 Sungenis stated that he would no longer write about Jewish issues that are political in nature and that he would remove content about Jews and Judaism, but he still maintained that the Jews as an ethnic group do not have a covenant with God. In 2014, during an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network about his geocentrism movie, he was asked about people describing him as denying the holocaust and being antisemitic. He said: "I had to make a public statement, and I made two separate statements -- 'I believe in the holocaust (you know), I love the Jewish people, I’m not an anti-semite.'"
According to Sungenis, he became interested in the pseudoscientific belief of geocentrism around 2002 after he read the book, Geocentricity by Gerardus D. Bouw. Sungenis became an advocate for the idea by 2006. He believes that the earth does not rotate and has offered $1,000 via his group, Catholic Apologetics International, to anyone who could prove that the Earth moves around the Sun.
By 2011, he was the leader of a small group of conservative Roman Catholics who were advocating for the Roman Catholic Church to go back to the stance it took in condemning Galileo and which viewed the heliocentric model as part of a conspiracy to undermine the authority of the church in society more generally. He self-published a three-volume book called Galileo Was Wrong and runs a blog called Galileo Was Wrong in which he promotes these ideas.
In 2014, Sungenis, along with Rick Delano, was an executive producer of The Principle, a documentary which advocates for his ideas about geocentrism. The movie features interviews with Lawrence Krauss, Michio Kaku, Max Tegmark, Julian Barbour, and George F. R. Ellis, and was narrated by Kate Mulgrew, and was briefly in the news in 2014 when Mulgrew and the physicists said that the filmmakers did not honestly explain the purpose of their film to them. The release date of the film was October 24, 2014 when it was screened at the Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Illinois, according to the distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures. As of April 30, 2015 the film had grossed $89,543.
- Burke, Daniel (September 13, 2008). "Catechism Edit 'Troubling,' Jewish Leaders Say Deletion of Passage on Moses in Catholic Handbook Questioned". The Washington Post. pp. B09.
- Sungenis, Robert. "The Case Against Theistic Evolution". Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation.
- Wilkin, Bob (Autumn 2003). "A Response to Robert Sungenis' Not by Faith Alone" (PDF). Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society: 3–16.
- Sefton, Drew (March 30, 2006). "In this View, the Sun Revolves around the Earth". Religion News Service via The Times-News.
- Madrid, P. (1994). Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic. Basilica Press. ISBN 978-0-9642610-8-2.
- On CIU, see:
*"Unaccredited Universities". Foreigncredits.com. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
* Brown, George (2004), "Protecting Australia's Higher Education System: A Proactive Versus Reactive Approach in Review (1999–2004)", in Carmichael, Rob (ed.), Proceedings of the Australian Universities Quality Forum 2004, Australian Universities Quality Agency, pp. 89–98, CiteSeerX 10.1.1.117.9504, ISBN 1877090336
*States have had lists of unaccredited institutions which include CIU.
*Maine: "Maine DOE - List of Non-Accredited Schools - C". Maine Department of Education. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
*Michigan: "Colleges and universities not accredited by an accrediting body of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation" (PDF). State of Michigan. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 28, 2011. (no longer being maintained)
*Texas: "THECB - Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas". Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- Hutchens, S. M. (September–October 1998), "Faith Without Ethics, Book Review", Touchstone Magazine, 11 (5)
- "The Dirty Dozen". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Winter 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-10.
- Weitzman, Mark (2015-12-09). "9. Antisemitism and the Radical Catholic Traditionalist Movement". In Rosenfeld, Alvin H. (ed.). Deciphering the New Antisemitism. Indiana University Press. pp. 268–270. ISBN 978-0-253-01869-4.
- Gettys, Travis. "Why are geocentrists trying to undo centuries worth of accepted science? (Hint: The Jews)". RawStory. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- Lipman, Jennifer. "Speaker row cancels Catholic conference". The Jewish Chronicle Online. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- Cork, William J. (2002). "Robert Sungenis". Antisemitism and the Catholic Right. Archived from the original on December 4, 2002.
- Beiting, Christopher (July–August 2016). "Another New Gnosticism: Review of The New Geocentrists By Karl Keating. Rasselas House". New Oxford Review.
- Strand, Paul (24 October 2014). "Shocker! Does the Universe Revolve Around Earth?". Christian Broadcasting Network News. See video beginning at around 7:00 for the question, then his answer.
- Collins, Loren (2012-10-30). Bullspotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781616146351.
- Wiesner, Matthew P. (January–February 2015). "Modern Geocentrism: A Case Study of Pseudoscience in Astronomy". Skeptical Inquirer. 39 (1).
- Brachear, Manya A. (July 4, 2011). "Catholic movement condemns Galileo". Chicago Tribune.
- Lecher, Colin (May 7, 2014). "The Conspiracy Theorist Who Duped The World's Biggest Physicists". Popular Science.
- Barker, Andrew (23 January 2015). "Film Review: 'The Principle'". Variety.
- Winograd, David (8 April 2014). "Star Trek's Kate Mulgrew Says She Was Duped on Film Narration". TIME. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- "Why Physicists Are in a Film Promoting an Earth-Centered Universe". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
- "'THE PRINCIPLE - Rocky Mountain Pictures to Distribute Highly-Anticipated Documentary, Theatrically in North America. Film Set To Open in Chicago on October 24". PR Web. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "The Principle (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 February 2017.