Devout spies, cont’d

In your post about the Nicholsons, Heather, I hope you didn’t forget the case of Robert Hanssen, sometimes deemed the very worst Soviet mole ever, who was deep into ultraconservative Catholicism. (Wikipedia: “The Opus Dei priest who heard Robert’s confession told him to give the money to charity as an act of penance. Hanssen told his wife that he gave the money to Mother Teresa, but it is unknown if he actually did so.”) I’ll be the first to admit that none of these cases amount to much as an affirmative argument — there’s no reason to think that of the next 100 enthusiasts for Opus Dei you meet, even one is at risk of becoming a Hanssen-style Kremlin spy — just that the oft-mooted prophylactic effect of religious enthusiasm against world-league personal misbehavior doesn’t seem to work very well.

About Walter Olson

Fellow at a think tank in the Northeast specializing in law. Websites include overlawyered.com. Former columnist for Reason and Times Online (U.K.), contributor to National Review, etc.
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