Jesus Gone Wild! It’s time to separate church and state, once and for all
Part 1 of 2.
I tripped across a provocative headline in the Wall Street Journal the other day: “They Need to be Liberated from Their God.” Turns out the story was about Mosab Hassan Yousef and his spying on Hamas. Which was a little disappointing. There’s no doubt that Palestinian Muslims need to be liberated from their god, but given the recent explosion in documented attacks by US Christians on their fellow Americans (as well as on reason and basic common sense), I thought perhaps the WSJ was going to be the first mainstream “news” outlet to do a story on Jesus Gone Wild!
I keep a running tab of stories that strike my interest. Taken individually, each might suggest a particular narrow social pathology, which is to be expected in a nation of 300 million. But over time they accumulate into a gestalt, with all the small pictures adding up to a disturbing big picture. For instance:
(AFP) – Mar 21, 2009
LUANDA (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI issued a warning against witchcraft Saturday during his visit to Angola, after calling on African leaders to battle corruption and drawing a tough line against abortion.
YAOUNDE, March 17 (Reuters) – Pope Benedict on Tuesday reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS as he started a visit to Africa, where more than 25 million people have died from the disease in recent decades.
“It (AIDS) cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem,” he said in response to a question about the Church’s widely contested position against the use of condoms.
The disease has killed more than 25 million people since the early 1980s, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and some 22.5 million Africans are living with HIV.
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo
A Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
The girl, aged nine, who lives in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, became pregnant with twins.
It is alleged that she had been sexually assaulted over a number of years by her stepfather.
The excommunication applies to the child’s mother and the doctors involved in the procedure.
The pregnancy was terminated on Wednesday.
Abortion is only permitted in Brazil in cases of rape and where the mother’s life is at risk and doctors say the girl’s case met both these conditions.
Police believe that the girl at the centre of the case had been sexually abused by her step-father since she was six years old.
A reader contacted me last week, saying that last year, in the heat of the presidential campaign, the Mormons had posthumously baptized Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. Baptizing the dead of other faiths, secretly and without the consent of their families, is a common Mormon practice. For the past fifteen years the Mormons have caused quite a stir by forcibly baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims – in other words, converting them to Mormonism – despite strong objections from the Jewish community.
Thus, it’s hardly a stretch to imagine the Mormons’ doing this to Obama’s mother. Still, I had no proof. Then yesterday, I received a document. It’s allegedly a screen capture of the registration-only section of the Mormon-run Web site, FamilySearch.org. In that screen capture, excerpted above, is clearly the name and correct date of birth and death of Barack Obama’s mother (Stanley Ann Dunham, born 29 Nov 1942 in Kansas, died 07 Nov 1995) and the date of her alleged post-death baptism by the Mormons.
Last week, a standing policy of the Archdiocese of Denver denied a child from enrolling in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School for kindergarten next year because the student’s parents are lesbians.
Currently the student is in the school’s preschool program and will be allowed to finish the year, according to Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
“It’s clear if they only accept students with perfect parents, they would have almost nobody,” said Beth Osnes, an organizer for the protest. “I know they have the right to, but why would they want to?”
Inside the church, the Rev. Bill Breslin addressed the issue in his sermon. He also posted his comments on his blog.
“If a child of gay parents comes to our school, and we teach that gay marriage is against the will of God, then the child will think that we are saying their parents are bad,” Breslin said on his blog. “We don’t want to put any child in that tough position.”
Please note: this is happening in the People’s Republic of Freakin’ Boulder!
That’s some big picture, huh? It’s gotten so bad that even former president Jimmy Carter, a man as responsible as any for introducing the poison of evangelical influence into the mainstream of modern politics, has had enough.
Of course, you live here. You read the news. That a lot of Christians are out of control isn’t a real revelation, is it? But lately, the goddamned Catholic Church has been making an unusually immoral and anti-Constitutional nuisance of itself. For instance:
- The Catholic Church is ending its long-standing relationship with St. Charles Medical Center in Bend over a surgical birth-control technique. Note, that’s Saint Charles the place is named after.
- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a directive for Catholic health care that insists on inflicting artificial “life” sustaining techniques on dying (or functionally dead) patients despite the wishes of the patients or their families.
- And it doesn’t matter whether you’re even Catholic or not – all you have to do is be in the building.
- 300,000 Terri Schiavos, anyone? Let’s face it, the opinion of one reactionary geezer in Rome has now trumped centuries of ethical progress.
Still, we’re talking about their facilities and they’re paying the bills, and they have the right to control their operations the way they see fit, no? Well, maybe, maybe not. Ignoring the wishes of the patient, especially when those wishes are legally expressed in something like a living will, that’s pretty appalling, but I guess you could make the argument.
Even if you won that argument, though, get a load of the latest shenanigans from our friendly Catholic Bishops, who have now offered their “help” in wrangling an outcome in the Senate. You know, because that would make democracy better and stuff.
The Roman Catholic bishops signaled Thursday that if agreement is reached with House leaders on anti-abortion language, the church would work to get the votes needed to protect the provisions in the Senate — and thereby advance the shared goal with Democrats of health care reform.
“We would strongly urge everyone, Democratic and Republican, to vote to waive the point of order,” Richard Doerflinger, an associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told POLITICO. “Whether it would be enough to get to 60 votes, I can’t predict. We would certainly try.”
“I think it’s something we should explore,” said Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), a longtime opponent of abortion. “It could be something that could carry out the bishops’ objective.”
In November, the bishops drove a tough bargain, winning an amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that would severely restrict the ability of even private companies to provide abortion coverage under new state insurance exchanges. That House deal — since weakened by the Senate — is what the bishops want to revive now as part of Obama’s final push on health care. But to survive the Senate, any revisions would need 60 votes to overcome points of order under the expedited reconciliation procedures being contemplated.
David Dayen observes, astutely enough, that “the Catholic bishops want to show a measure of dominance over the US government.” His nuanced look at the tactical knife fight of this particular backroom liturgical drama is helpful to those trying to understand how sausage law gets made.
Meanwhile, those of us out here beyond the Beltway can perhaps be forgiven for saying “wait a sec – back the truck up.” An organized cabal of Roman Catholic aparatchiks are so far up Congress’s ass that they’re openly discussing how they’re going to inject Vatican dogma into a US health care bill?
The Constitution is clear that what you believe is your business, and I have no problem with that. But when your beliefs inspire actions that hurt the innocent, that systematically victimize those who believe other things, then I start to care. When those beliefs fuel actions that harm me and impinge on my freedoms, well, that’s the point where it becomes self-defense, isn’t it?