For years, the Catholic Television Network (EWTN) has had a show called The Journey Home. My parents used to watch this show when I was a child, for the few years that we had a dish before we tore the roof off the house. To the best of my recollection, the purpose of the show is to display how Catholicism is an awesome religion because so many people convert to it. When I found out that all the episodes are available online, I decided to watch them and review them. It’s undeniable that people convert to Catholicism; my question is, do they have good reasons? How many of them started as some form of Christian in the first place? How many came from other religions? How many were atheists or skeptics? Why did they convert, and would the answer to that question be a convincing reason for a skeptic?
If you decide to watch these episodes with me, you may notice that I ignore a lot of things I could respond to. The target audience is Catholics, and this is clear from the very first minute that Marcus Grodi begins speaking. These stories aren’t necessarily meant to convince a skeptic, but to strengthen the faith of a Catholic, or possibly convince a non-Catholic Christian to convert, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Nonetheless, I’d like to see if this collection of conversion stories contains any compelling reasons for a skeptic to convert.
The third episode is titled “Kristine Franklin: A Non-Denominational Missionary Who Became A Catholic – The Journey Home Program” and aired September 19, 1997. It can be viewed online here.
As is fast becoming the main theme, the guest, Kristine Franklin, was already a Christian. Her “mother was a very devout Christian who loved Jesus with all of her heart.” By her own admission, she was taught Christianity “from the day I was born”. Marcus Grodi praises this, saying that Catholics cannot just let children decide on their own, but must teach them the truth from the very beginning. (Contrast this with what atheist parents often want to do, which is to teach their children how to think, and expect that to lead them to an atheistic conclusion.)
Unsurprisingly, she later became a missionary, spreading the Word of God in the Catholic country of Guatemala – she was of the brand of Christian that thinks Catholics aren’t Christians and don’t have the Gospel. Given her background, it’s completely predictable that she would become Catholic! If this show were ever to hope to convince skeptics, or even religious non-Christians, they need to showcase people coming from that background and giving reasons that aren’t just “Christianity is true, and Catholicism is the oldest form of Christianity, so obviously it’s the best”.
I hope that the more modern videos (these are from 1997, after all) just have that whole section edited out. For the first commercial break of this episode, there were commercials rather than a couple minutes of black screen, but there’s no more footage after the second commercial break starts, meaning the last few minutes of the episode are missing.
Though it is unrelated to the purpose of this program, or my watching it, there is something Kristine says that stood out to me and I cannot leave unchallenged. She says that Catholics who leave Catholicism don’t know what they are leaving. In many cases, this is perhaps true, but it is certainly not my experience, nor the experience of others I know who left. In particular, I have one friend who left Catholicism specifically because I taught her more about what the Catholic Church really teaches, more about what it really is. She and I both left not out of ignorance, but precisely because we knew what we were leaving.
So far, our breakdown of the guests’ religious state before conversion looks like this.
- Serious Christian: 3
- Lax Christian: 0
- Non-Christian, but religious: 0
- Non-believer, but not very skeptical: 0
- Skeptic: 0