Tag Archive | "hypocrisy"

The Tale of the Juvenile Chief Justice and the Boy with the Messy Room


After three hours of an emotional roller-coaster that went from balling to boring at every turn, Chief Justice Renato Corona steered the impeachment trial toward an upside down loop that made everyone breathless. He said that he would waive his right to secrecy on all his bank accounts, domestic and foreign, but only under one condition: all of his accusers in Congress should do it with him.

Reactions in the court of public opinion varied. Some thought that Corona was brave, a hero for having the courage to challenge government corruption by putting his own integrity on the line. Others, myself included, thought that far from heroic, the dilatory tactic betrayed cowardice, and by involving others, he revealed his fear of facing justice alone.

But while people were split on Corona’s conditional waiver, his subsequent walkout, and the drama that followed, practically brought supporters and critics to a consensus. Guilty or innocent, Corona should have known better than to walk out of an ongoing hearing, and for an acting Chief Justice his actions were just too unprofessional.

But I believe “unprofessional” would be putting it too kindly. The walkout, and everything that led up to and followed after it, deserves a different description, another adjective that Corona would surely disapprove of — childish.

Even before the consensus on the unprofessionalism of Corona’s walkout, people agreed that Corona was anything but a public speaker. He spoke like a university freshman, sometimes even worse than a high school student, and his communication skills — or lack thereof — did not suit someone who was supposedly the greatest judge of the land. How could someone embody all the complexities of justice when he couldn’t even articulate simple sentences well? And his ineptitude knew no borders — he spoke poorly as much in English as he did in his native tongue.

His sophomoric skills at communication was consistent with his argumentation skills, and as language books invariably teach, sloppy speaking is a symptom of sloppy thinking. For starters, Corona’s speech was so unnecessarily long that he resembled a student struggling to find fillers for his essay to reach a minimum wordcount: “Mr. Corona, in 10,000 words, why should we acquit you?”

His speech so closely resembled the papers of so many seatmates I peer-reviewed in composition classes. More than building a defense that rested on facts, his speech was like the all-too-common “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” assignment, complete with long and cliche descriptions of characters that was only appropriate in the context of a classroom.

And discovering that his speech would not save him from conviction, Corona used one of the most common tactics a student resorted to in front of a teacher who failed him — crying. I’m sure he was under a lot of mental and emotional stress, but I expected more from the way he so confidently spoke about what he’d do before the hearing. And I don’t think it’s too much to set a higher standard of dignity and decency from a chief justice.

As I’ve said, opinions are still split on Corona’s conditional waiver. If you think it’s such a dignified idea, I hope to change your mind by showing you how childish Corona’s move actually is. Think of two brothers who each have a dirty room. Mom is trying to discipline them by assigning them the cleaning as a chore instead of leaving it to a helper like she usually does.

Unfortunately for the younger one, big brother is having his summer vacation at camp, and he would have to be the first to taste this bitter medicine. Just doing it despite the perceived unfairness would no doubt make Mom and Dad proud, but the boy is just not there yet. At his level of maturity, it would not be unexpected to hear him say something like this:

“But mom, it’s so unfair! Kuya is having the time of his life while I’m stuck here, and worse, you’re forcing me to clean my room!”

Mom and Dad try to convince the boy, offering him to remove his grounded status — earlier the boy did not tell his parents that his uncle gave him some cash, breaking the promise that he’d tell them if such a thing happened. Excited about the possibility of going out to play, the boy reluctantly agrees to clean his room but only under one condition: he would only do it once Kuya got back, and they would have to do it together.

It would take a couple of months before Kuya got back from camp, which meant that the parents would have to live with two messy rooms instead of one. Mom and Dad would have none of it, and it showed in their faces. So the boy, wanting to avoid an argument against grownups he just can’t win, stormed out of his folks’ room, trying to rush outside the house. Too bad for the boy: his parents used the intercom to tell their security guard to lock the gate.

The boy would now surely get the talking of his life, and knowing this, he resorted to one of the all-purpose tricks that got him out of school or homework: he pretended to be sick. Mom and Dad had barely resisted the boy’s babyface as he made his conditional offer, but now he was a babyfaced boy whose asthma was acting up, a condition he’s had for a long time. The parents just could not resist their child, and it would border on child abuse to force him to speak despite his sickness.

I’m sure you’ve made all the connections necessary to relate this to Corona’s behavior, and the logic of the boy, at least in terms of manipulating his parents to get the result that he wanted is surely commendable. But in Corona’s case, a commendation is not in order for one simple reason: he’s chief justice of the Philippines, not some bratty boy.

To make our analogy fit more closely, we can add one detail to the story of the boy with the messy room: the parents are the progressive kind that would respect their children’s privacy, allowing them to not only keep the doors locked but also to keep the bedroom keys. For the parents to check whether the chore has been done, the boy would have to unlock his room to reveal it.

In this version of the boy story, the parents don’t know whether any of the rooms is messy, which is why they wanted to find out. The boy is still grounded for the summer, with big brother in camp, and the revelation of a clean room would grant him his freedom. All he has to do is unlock his door.

But the boy, despite all that he could gain from such a simple action, refused to do so unless his big brother faced the music of a possibly messy room with him. Tell me. Do you think little CJ has a clean room?

___

Note: I think little CJ’s room is messy — and so is big brother’s — but this is my personal opinion; the Filipino Freethinkers do not have an official position on the Corona trial.

Image credits: 1, 2

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Lady Gaga vs. the Bible: An Obscene-Off


Lady Gaga will perform in the Philippines, but not if some bigots can help it. Biblemode Youth Philippines has gone on Bible Mode, calling for the blasphemous concert to be canceled. Their protest leader, former Congressman Benny Abante, threatened to file a lawsuit if she sings “Judas,” a performance protesters consider obscene, and therefore, illegal.

Penal Censorship

Former Manila Mayor Jose Atienza agrees, saying that such obscenity is punishable by six months to six years in prison under the Revised Penal Code. According to Article 201 — which was also used against Mideo Cruz’s Jesus-Penis-Juxtaposition in Polyteismo — obscenity applies to immoral displays that

(1) glorify criminals or condone crimes;

(2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography;

(3) offend any race or religion;

(4) tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and

(5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts.

Judas vs. Jesus

The music video of “Judas” depicts “Jesus and his disciples as a motorcycle gang and tells the story of Jesus’ betrayal, with Lady Gaga playing the role of Jesus’ girlfriend, who is torn between her loyalty to Jesus and her love for Judas.”

Out of the 5 criteria for obscenity, “Judas” is guilty — by my judgment — of just one: (3) offending any race or religion. (1) doesn’t count (unless the motorcycle gang Jesus belonged to was a criminal one). Nor does (2) because beyond the stunts and gimmicks, many people actually like her music. (4) is arguable but unlikely. And (5) refers to laws, public order, and other supposedly non-sectarian rules — not the doctrines and opinions of a single sect or religion.

Fans vs. Fanatics

Lady Gaga is no stranger to such controversy — South Koreans protested to prevent infecting the youth with “homosexuality and pornography,” and in Indonesia, the Islamic Defenders Front said “they were ready to die to stop the concert.”

But should the concert be canceled — like in Indonesia — or censored — like what could happen here — it’s not Lady Gaga who’ll be affected most — it’s the fans. The right to freedom of expression implies the right to freely access artistic expressions in their uncensored form. To defend their right to enjoy an artist they admire — and to protect the ideals of free speech in general — Lady Gaga’s fans should counter-protest, and I’m suggesting this is how they do it.

Gaga vs. Bible

They should file a case against Biblemode Youth Philippines for giving the youth access to the most obscene artistic expression ever made: the Bible. Compared to the Bible, a Lady Gaga concert looks like an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. No one will dispute this, at least not anyone who has read the Bible — cover to cover, not just homily material. The Bible is so obscene that other than criterion (4), it is guilty of violating criteria (1), (3), and (5) many times over, and of (2) as well — unless you consider “being terrified of God” as a valid purpose.

The Bible is full of obscenity, filled with verses and verses not only of sex and violence, but every form of injustice, intolerance, and incitement of hatred against women, LGBTs, and even children.

I know many of you won’t read the Bible — especially if you’re a Bible-thumping Christian like Manny Pacquiao — so I’ll list just one example for each criterion of obscenity (except the fourth) to prove that more than Lady Gaga, the Bible is deserving of censorship, if not banning.

(1) glorify criminals or condone crimes

The Bible has many graphic stories that depict and even condone slavery, murder, genocide, torture, infanticide, and other atrocities that any non-psychopathic person would consider criminal. Here’s one.

To gain Saul’s approval, not to mention his daughter, Michal, David and his men not only killed a hundred Philistines, they also performed postmortem circumcisions, offering the Philistine foreskins — the 100 they individually counted — as bride price.

(2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography

Banging on a door, some wicked men wanted to gang rape a man, who was a guest in the house. The hospitable homeowner offered his own daughter and the guest’s concubine to be gang raped instead.

The wicked men didn’t agree, so the homeowner pushed the concubine out from the house into the wicked men. Gang rape ensues. The next morning the homeowner, finding the concubine dead, did the sensible thing and chopped up her body, limb from limb, into twelve parts before mailing them to all the areas of Israel.

Does the story have any other purpose “but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography”? And even if this did teach some moral lesson (pray tell, what?), the violence is just too gratuitous for an allegory.

(3) offend any race or religion and (5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts.

God hates the Midianites because they worship Baal of Peor. He told Moses to kill all Midianite leaders, or else, he’ll keep punishing them with a plague. So Moses ordered Israel’s judges to kill Israelites who converted to Baal worship.

One day, an Israelite man brought a Midianite woman into camp. Phinehas, not a judge, followed the couple into their tent. As they were having interracial interreligion sex, Phinehas thrust a sphere through both of their bodies. (Talk about double penetration.) For taking things into his own hands instead of letting the state (judges) enforce the law, God rewarded Phinehas and stopped His plague.

Child Pornography

Any one of these stories depicts something more immoral than any stunt Lady Gaga could pull, and this is but a small sample of similar stories scattered in both the Old and New Testament. What’s worse, the Bible does more than depict immorality — it condones and even justifies it.

Yet with all the pornography and gratuitous violence in the Bible, it’s probably the easiest book for anyone to access — children included. (It’s a good thing children generally think the Bible is boring. That old copy at home won’t be so dusty if the children knew there was enough sex and gore in it to make most video games dull in comparison.)

Some may argue that the stories aren’t so bad when read in context. But imagine what would happen if a fundamentalist studio were to show a movie depicting these scenes. Would it get a PG rating from the MTRCB? Would it be any different if there was narration that put the scenes into context? And what difference does putting it in book form make? Didn’t fundamentalist groups also call for the censorship of Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code, and the novels of Jose Rizal?

I’d be interested to see the outcome of such a case should Lady Gaga fans follow my suggestion. If they don’t, maybe it’s FF that should challenge the Bible’s immunity to censorship. In any case, somebody should do it. Think of the children.

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Bigotymology: What it Really Means to Be a Bigot (Like Sotto, Pacquiao, and the CBCP)


Whenever I listen to Senator Sotto on the RH Bill, Manny Pacquiao on homosexuality, and the CBCP on pretty much everything, one word uncontrollably comes to mind: bigot. The impulse is almost as strong as God bless you! follows a sneeze.

In Catholic Philippines, it seems that some people can’t help sneezing, the most recent being former beauty queen Miriam Quiambao. And always, freethinkers everywhere can’t but say bigot! in response.

Recently, some conservatives have gone on the defensive, because intolerance is no longer as fashionable as it used to be back in the good old Dark Ages. Conservative cohorts of the CBCP are arguing that anti-LGBT Christians are being called bigots just because “it’s so cool” (it’s actually so mainstream that it’s not) and that their accusers are equally deserving of the accusation:

But you know, it’s so ‘cool’ these days to call Christianity bigotry… It’s funny, though, how those who scream and call for tolerance are the very same people who are the first to call ‘foul’ when their own beliefs, behaviors and/or lifestyles are challenged…

Let’s face it, anti-Catholicism/anti-Christianity is the last acceptable prejudice. Tolerance is only real when it goes both ways. The LGBT crowd have their own beliefs, let Miriam have hers.

In other words, calling out Christian bigotry is just as intolerant and prejudiced as being anti-LGBT in particular and anti-conservative-Christian in general. Thus, the critics themselves have become the bigots.

But is this true? Is harsh criticism of the Christian perspective a form of bigotry? If both progressives and conservatives can correctly call each other bigots, has the term bigot become meaningless? What does it really mean to be a bigot?

These questions are important to me because I’m guilty of being one of the first to call bigot! — sometimes even before whole sentences are formed — and I belong to an organization that recently gave out a Bigot of the Year award.

To answer them, I studied the word bigot: how it is defined, how it was formed, how it was originally used, and how related words clarify its meaning. By the end of this post, you’ll know who you can call a bigot and whether doing so makes you one.

Bigotefinition

The dictionary defines bigot as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”

No one can be faulted for being opinionated, but bigotry lies not merely in having opinions but being devoted to them. Obstinate devotion means you believe something “in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion.”

You might think that we’ve finally hit the nail on the head, but reason is another problematic word: everyone has their own criteria for what is rational, so it’s easy to accuse anyone of bigotry simply because you cannot persuade them with your reasoning.

When it comes to the second half of the definition, conservatives can deflect charges of hatred and intolerance with the usual excuses: “We hate the sin, not the sinner.” (Although there’s absolutely no excuse for inciting violence, the way Pacquiao recently did.)

At this point, some might think that “obstinate devotion” can equally apply to progressives, but this won’t be the case if you understand what it means to be devoted.  Devotion is more than mere commitment; it implies “religious fervor,” an act of “private worship.”

A bigot isn’t just passionate about an opinion — holding the opinion is a form of worship, a prayer to God. And as you’ll soon find out, it’s by God that we’ll separate the merely opinionated from the blatantly bigoted.

Bigotymology

There are three theories about bigot’s origin. The first is that it’s based on Visigothus, the name of a people in southern Gaul. The second is that it’s from the Germanic oath, “by God.” The third — my favorite — is that it came from the Spanish, bigote or mustache.

There’s not much evidence to support any theory, but they think the third is the strongest “by virtue of it not having any evidence against it.” (Maybe I’ll send them some articles on Sotto and pics of his signature ‘stache to cement the third theory’s position.)

Anyway, without no clear origin, we can focus on its original usage. Bigot was first used in the late 16th century to mean “sanctimonious person, religious hypocrite.” Bigotry (based on the French bigoterie) came in the late 17th century to mean “sanctimoniousness.”

A sanctimonious person is “hypocritically pious or devout” — he projects a righteous image through religiosity, a self-righteousness that is contradicted by his own actions. As hypothetical examples, consider an outwardly pious politician involved in the rape of Pepsi Paloma or a Bible-thumping boxer involved in an affair with Krista Ranillo.

Compared to its current usage, the earlier one lost this sanctimonious sense of hypocrisy, while retaining, however subtly, the sense of religiosity. In the original usage, a bigot projects a religious image through behavior; in the current one, he does so using belief.

It is this strong sense of religious belief that characterizes a bigot. This becomes even clearer when we examine bigot in relation to words with similar meanings.

Bigotesaurus

Searching Roget’s International Thesaurus (1922) online returns three words strongly-related to bigotry: credulity, certainty, and obstinateness. These words — and other related ones — illuminate how a bigot believes. As you look at the words below, think about whether it applies more or less to progressives or conservatives. I highlighted ones that are particularly revealing.

CREDULITY, credulousness &c. adj.; gullibility, cullibility [obs.]; gross credulity, infatuation; self-delusion, self-deception; superstition; one’s blind side; bigotry (obstinacy); hyperorthodoxy
BE CREDULOUS &c. adj.; jurare in verba magistri [L.]; follow implicitly; swallow, swallow whole, gulp · down; take on trust; take for -granted, - gospel; take on faith;

CERTAINTY; necessity [See Necessity]; certitude, sureness, surety, assurance; dead -, moral- certainty; infallibleness &c. adj.; infallibility, reliability, reliableness; indubitableness, inevitableness, unquestionableness.
gospel, scripture, church, pope, court of final appeal; res adjudicata, [L.], res judicata [L.]; ultimatum.
FACT; positive fact, matter of fact; fait accompli [F.].
BIGOTRY, positiveness, dogmatism, dogmatization; fanaticism.

OBSTINATENESS
BE OBSTINATE &c. adj.; stickle, take no denial, fly in the face of facts; opinionate [rare], be wedded to an opinion, hug a belief;
creed-bound; prepossessed, infatuated; stiff-backed, stiff-necked, stiff-hearted; hard-mouthed, hidebound; unyielding; impervious, impracticable, impersuasible, impersuadable, unpersuadable; untractable, intractable; incorrigible, deaf to advice, impervious to reason; crotchety [See Caprice] BIGOTRY, intolerance

A bigot is credulous: he believes things strongly, even superstition, to the point of self-deception because he takes things on faith.

A bigot is certain: he believes with such sureness the infallibility of his chosen authority to the point of dogmatism and fanaticism.

A bigot is obstinate: he believes even in the face of contradictory facts because he is married to his opinion and bound by his creed.

To a bigot, it’s not the opinion itself that has power; it’s the authority figure from whom the bigot received the opinion. Whether you believe by authority — especially religious ones — is ultimately what determines whether a believer is a bigot.

Bigotefinition Revisited;

I actually made a mistake and checked the thesaurus too early, entirely forgetting that the dictionary also provided related words: synonyms and antonyms, which can better define the boundaries of a word’s meaning. My dictionary lists the following related words:

Synonyms: dogmatist, dogmatizer, partisan (also partizan), sectarian
Related Words: doctrinaire, fanatic, purist; jingoist, nationalist; racialist, racist, supremacist; chauvinist, sexist
Near Antonyms: freethinker, latitudinarian, liberal

There’s so many here that we can use, but the first synonym and near antonym are more than enough.  A dogmatist takes dogma as fact, forming opinion based on it; A freethinker denies religious dogma, forming opinions independent of authority. Both form opinions; what differentiates them is whether they’re based on dogma. A bigot is a dogmatist, not a freethinker.

If the Bigote Fits

Let’s go back to our original question. Is harsh criticism of the Christian perspective a form of bigotry? If the criticisms are based on reason and not infallible dogma, then no. Criticizing Christianity, however harshly, is not a form of bigotry.

The term bigot has not lost its meaning. When examined closely, it correctly applies to only one side of the debate: the right (conservative) side.

Although both sides hold their opinions strongly, only one side does so because of their credulity, certainty, and obstinacy to believe the Bible and every authority that claims to represent their God.

Yet it’s not enough to call someone a bigot and just leave it at that. It’s better to explain why you think certain people are bigots — or at least hold bigoted beliefs. Doing so raises awareness not only of bad opinions but also of better opinions and the ways in which they are formed.

And who knows? Maybe someday Sotto or Paquiao or the CBCP will finally listen and learn. Even bigots deserve compassion. Remember: hate bigotry, not the bigot.

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God: I am on Raymart Santiago’s Side


Raymart Santiago, together with Claudine Barreto, close friends, and family, called a press conference yesterday to present undeniable proof of their innocence despite lack of CCTV footage.

In a statement read by Atty. Alex Avisado, legal counsel of Santiago, God corroborated Santiago’s recent statements:

“My most precious child, Raymart Santiago, has recently said that I, God, whose name shall not be taken in vain except when one is really, really in trouble, am on his side. This is the Truth.

“I was in Heaven talking to Jesus when I heard Raymart’s pious prayer. I appeared in the airport as the Holy Spirit where I witnessed — swear to Myself — Mon Tulfo hurting and harassing Raymart and his family, like the Pharoah persecuting My people. Tulfo totally started it.

“As with Moses, I gave Raymart, the strength to overcome Tulfo’s persecution and protect his loved ones. Raymart’s strength and righteousness is proof that I was on his side. He is a faithful servant, like Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow. And also a good actor.

Santiago hopes the statement convinces fellow Christians of his innocence and Tulfo’s guilt. “We may not have CCTV footage,” said Santiago, “but our faith in God’s Word is more than enough. If God is on our side, He can’t be on Tulfo’s.”

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Catholic Revolution Against Prejudice (CRAP) Supports Miriam Quiambao


Miriam Quiambao offended many LGBT individuals with her allegedly homophobic statements at a recent episode of Bottomline. She later apologized through Twitter with such tweets as

“Homosexuality is not a sin but it is a lie from the devil.”

Despite her apology, many individuals and organizations continue to criticize Quiambao, calling the apology an even worse insult. But one organization has released a statement showing their support for the former beauty queen.*

The statement was written by Jose Shamalan, spokesperson of the Catholic Revolution Against Prejudice (CRAP). “Miriam’s recent tweet [that homosexuality is a lie from the devil] clearly shows that she loves the LGBT community,” said Shamalan. “She’s not prejudiced against Mr. Bemz Benedito or any LGBT person,” he wrote. “How can it be prejudice if her opinion is already formed before she even met Mr. Benedito? Miriam obviously respects and accepts Mr. Benedito. She just doesn’t think it’s right to call him a ‘Miss’.”

Aside from defending Quiambao, Shamalan reiterated her sentiments. “Indeed, homosexuality is not a sin,” said Shamalan. “It is just a transgression against God’s moral law. Although it is OK to react with strong disgust and hatred toward this behavior, homosexuals are not abominations.”

Shamalan also called for tolerance and equality toward LGBTs. “They deserve equal rights to marry someone they choose that is of the opposite sex.”

The CRAP statement closed with a message for the LGBT community. “God’s love is inclusive,” said Shamalan. “The gates of Heaven are wide open to each and every homosexual who changes their ways.”

Image from https://www.facebook.com/media/albums/?id=552172613

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In Their Hearts: Bishop Bacani and the Secret Religiosity of Secular Individuals


I’ve been outed. In a recent interview, Bishop Bacani revealed the truth that although I identify as an atheist, I actually believe in God:

Bacani insists that many atheists still believe in God and just don’t know it:

These so-called atheists love with a great altruism, they really love their fellow man and even have a passion for justice and what is right and good,” he said. “Those people really believe in God in their hearts, but they will not admit that (emphasis added).
– Bishop Bacani, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)

In short, if I do good, my actions betray the fact that I’m more religious than I realize — I’m really a theist in my heart.

I wouldn’t have admitted it to myself without the help of Bacani, so I feel indebted to him. And as a good theist, who believes in God in his heart, I’ll return the favor by paying it forward.

In the spirit of great altruism — and justice, and what is right and good — I will help some who work in the non-religious sector realize that they are more religious than they know or choose to admit.

These so-called parents, teachers, and other authority figures, who betray the trust of the children under their care by sexually abusing them — they’re really Catholic priests in their hearts.

These so-called crime syndicates, corrupt government officials and military personnel, who abuse their power to commit and cover up their crimes — they’re really Catholic bishops in their hearts.

These so-called dictators, such as the late Kim Jong Il, who coerce their followers to fear and obey them and to believe that what they say is Truth — they’re really Popes in their hearts.

And what about so-called Bishop Bacani? Although he likes to meddle in legislation, he’s actually more political than he realizes. Because the way he parades his piety and makes a show of moral superiority, while showing nothing but prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry toward those who don’t accept his Truth — Bishop Bacani is really a Senate Majority leader in his heart.

—-

* There are so-called Catholic priests and bishops who refuse to spread the Church’s anti-women, anti-science, and anti-choice dogma, and instead choose to focus on helping parishioners with the things that will truly help them in life. These so-called Catholic leaders may not know it, but it’s obvious that they’re actually nuns in their hearts.

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Dear Princess Celestia…


They got Lot drunk and did WHAT!?!?!?!

One classic rhetoric the Catholic Church loves to throw around is that “secular media” is a leading cause of moral degradation in kids today. This includes just about everything on TV that isn’t treating their priests and bishops with outright adulation, or isn’t airing on EWTN.

You’ve seen the effects of this mindset on Dan Brown’s films, and the MTRCB’s conservative streak.

But you’ve got to ask yourself: Is secular, non-religious media really a poison that addles and corrodes the bonds of community? I’ve decided to take another look at my anti-depression medication, a potent cocktail that’s helped me through some rough spots over the last few months.

Fillies and gentlecolts, my drug of choice:

We’re looking at the Generation 4 incarnation of the show, which was created by Lauren Faust. Despite its exceedingly cute appearance and tone, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic garnered a large following far beyond its target audience thanks to its animation quality, pop culture references (The Big Lebowski, anyone?), song numbers, character depth, and witty humor.

Yes. I am a Brony.

One other aspect of the show that shines is its presentation of the various issues that little girls will face as they grow up, and providing them with creative ways of handling these problems while learning from the experience. It takes some pretty good script writing to teach kids how to deal with the resident Alpha bitch, without becoming one themselves.

We’ll take a closer look at the lessons FiM imparts, as narrated in the friendship report at the end of each episode, and compare them with the traditional “values” the Catholic Church proclaims.

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: Love and accept people for who they are.

Dear Princess Celestia,

My friends and I have all learned an important lesson this week: Never judge a book by its cover. Someone may look unusual, or funny, or scary. But you have to look past that and learn who they are inside. Real friends don’t care what your “cover” is; It’s the “contents” of a pony that count. And a good friend, like a good book, is something that will last forever.

Bridle Gossip

Dear Princess Celestia,

When you first sent me to Ponyville, I didn’t know anything about friendship. I met somepony tonight who was having the same problem – your sister, Princess Luna! She taught me that one of the best things you can do with friendship is to give it to others, and help them find it themselves! And I’m happy to report that all of Ponyville has learned that even though somepony seems a little intimidating, even scary, when you offer them your friendship, you’ll discover a whole new pony underneath. And even if my Star Swirl bearded costume didn’t go over, this still turned out to be the best Nightmare Night ever!

Luna Eclipsed

The Church: You should have been aborted!

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: Compromise and tolerance.

Twilight Sparkle: Dear Princess Celestia,

Friendship is a wondrous and powerful thing. Even the worst of enemies can become friends. You need understanding and compromise. You’ve got to share. You’ve got to care —

Pinkie Pie: Hey! That’s what I said!

Over a Barrel

The Church: Selective intolerance

The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care. The Vatican and Pope John Paul II are speaking out against the growing number of places that recognize same-sex marriages.

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: Generosity and selflessness.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned a great lesson about friendship. Well, you might think that it would feel good to get lots and lots of stuff, but it doesn’t feel nearly as good as giving something special to somepony you really care about. But I learned that it truly is better to give than to receive, and that kindness and generosity are what lead to true friendship. And that’s more valuable than anything in the world.

Secret of my Excess

The Church: Yo Dawg…

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: True friends never give up on you.

Dearest Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that it’s hard to accept when some pony you like wants to spend time with some pony who is not so nice. Though it’s impossible to control who your friends hang out with, it is possible to control your own behavior. Just continue to be a good friend. In the end, the difference between a false friend and one that is true will surely come to light.

Griffon the Brush-Off

Dear Princess Celestia,

I used to think the most important traits to look for in a pet, or any best friend, were all physical competitive abilities. But now I can see how short-sighted and shallow that was. Today I learned what the most important quality really is. A certain kind of spirit. A stick-to-it-ive-ness. A never give up, can-do attitude that’s the mark of a real winner. And this tortoise has it.

May the Best Pet Win!

The Church: It’s alright to be buddy-buddy with a serial divorcee (http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/primaries/candidates/newt-gingrich) or an accessory to the enactment of Martial Law, as long as they tow the party line against reproductive health.

______________________________________________________________________


Friendship is Magic:
Be honest with your friends and loved ones.

Dear Princess Celestia,

This is Spike, writing to you about my adventures. This week, I learned that being jealous, and telling lies gets you nowhere in friendship. I also learned that there’s plenty of love for every friend to share.

Owl’s Well that Ends Well

The Church:What child abuse?

The report found that Bishop John Magee – who stood down in March 2009 after serving as bishop of Cloyne since 1987 – falsely told the government and the health service that his diocese was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities.

It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisers by creating two different accounts of a meeting with a priest suspected of abusing a child, one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files.

______________________________________________________________________

It’s a sad state of affairs when a cartoon does a far better job at teaching our kids about the right set of values, than a 2000-year old institution that regularly claims the moral high ground.

…and failing spectacularly at almost every opportunity.

If there is one thing that Equestrians and the RCC can agree on, it’s that their leadership has its share of sexually deprived, power-tripping weirdos.

But at least Princess Celestia/Molestia actually does her job, ruling all ponyfolk with (relative) benevolence and wisdom. She just has some unusual tastes.

On a parting note, I recommend Friendship is Magic as good viewing for the non-theists ponyfolk out there looking for wholesome, educational programs for their kids.

Just stay the hell away from the “Cupcakes,” unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Posted in Humor, PersonalComments (4)

Mother Teresa: Blessed Billionaire, Holy Hypocrite


Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.

— Christopher Hitchens

The Catholic Church is in a position to truly help the poor. If they wanted to, they could feed the 14.2 million hungry Filipinos for more than a month. If they wanted to, they could feed the 1.88 million Filipinos who almost always have nothing to eat for almost a year. If they wanted to, they could send a significant amount to the victims of Sendong — a donation that would exceed even the total of their many second collections — greatly helping the victims recover, rebuild, and prepare themselves for potential disasters.

But it seems like the CBCP doesn’t want to. Whatever their motivation for hoarding wealth, we know that their billions are kept invested in corporations, helping rich businessmen become even richer. And as their wealth continues to grow, the poor and hungry continue to suffer.

Well-meaning Catholics could notice this selfishness and ask: “Why can’t the CBCP be more like Mother Teresa?” Well, they already are. And based on their many similarities, no one else would make a better patron saint for the CBCP.

The CBCP claims that theirs is a Church of the Poor. This is a lie. The Catholic Church is a Church of Poverty. What’s the difference? The former would get the poor out of poverty; the latter would keep them in it. This is best exemplified by a true saint of poverty: Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Saint of Suffering

Who should Catholics emulate in serving the poor? Next to Jesus, the top answer Catholics would give is probably “Mother Teresa.” She has been honored by both secular and religious organizations with awards and adoration. Beatified in 2003, she is only one miracle short of canonization. It may come as a surprise to many that she isn’t already a saint, and most Catholics would agree that she deserves to be one.

Billionaires Mother Teresa and Cardinal Sin having a good laugh.

But this is only because what they know of her life is even less than what they know about the Catholic Church. In the same way that many are ignorant of the Church’s past atrocities and present scandals most Catholics remain unaware of Mother Teresa’s unsaintly actions.

These actions are based on what a former member of her order called a flawed “theology of suffering.” In Mother Teresa’s words: “The most beautiful gift for a person is that he can participate in the sufferings of Christ.” Therefore, the Catholic who suffers the most is closest to Christ. When you remove suffering, you remove Christ. Instead of minimizing their suffering, Mother Teresa ensured it. Alleviating suffering, let alone eliminating it, was out of the question. Seen from this perspective, her behavior toward her patients makes sense.

Instead of curing them, Mother Teresa gave the bare minimum of treatment, resulting in suffering for most and death for some. She gave insufficient or outdated medicine, reused old syringes, and gave cold baths to all patients, even those who could find comfort in a warm one. She’d refuse to install elevators for the disabled, even when the city government offered to pay for it. Instead of hiring competent doctors, she’d rely on incompetent volunteers because she believed strongly that ignorance was more valuable than expertise (Livemore 93, 156).

Instead of being true hospitals or hospices, the establishments run by Mother Teresa were more like prisons at best: The patients, if they were well enough to escape, probably would. At worst, they were torture chambers. She’d refuse to give painkillers even to dying patients who were suffering unbearable pain. Instead of using painkillers, she’d comfort patients by saying, “You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you.” One poor patient replied, “Then tell your Jesus to stop kissing me.”

Holy Hypocrite

What makes all this worse is the fact that Mother Teresa had the resources to make things better. Estimates of donations reach the millions — even billions — of dollars. Unfortunately, we can never be sure. In the same way that Mother Teresa’s atrocities remain a secret, Missionaries of Charity remains the only charitable organization in India that refuses to reveal how much money they have and how they spend it:

Missionaries doesn’t keep a tab on the financial transactions that take place. No one other than the sisters knows where the money that is donated is spent.

One such sister is Susan Shields, a former member of Mother Teresa’s order for nine and a half years (emphasis mine):

Our bank account was already the size of a great fortune and increased with every postal service delivery. Around $50 million had collected in one checking account in the Bronx… The donations rolled in and were deposited in the bank, but they had no effect on our ascetic lives or on the lives of the poor we were trying to help… For Mother, it was the spiritual well-being of the poor that mattered most. [Hitchens 31]

That million-dollar bank account in the Bronx was only one of the many bank accounts owned by Mother Teresa around the world. She has admitted to establishing 500 convents in over a hundred countries. So it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Mother Teresa was running a billion-dollar business.

And while the convents and bank accounts benefit from more donations, her hospices remain unfit even for the poorest of the poor — definitely unfit for a billionaire like Mother Teresa. Instead of using one of her own establishments when she herself got sick, she flew first class on Air India to a clinic in the United States.

This hypocrisy pervades her entire order. Dr. Collette Livemore, once known as Sister Tobit, served as a Missionary of Charity for eleven years. But she was disillusioned by many experiences, such as one that she had in Manila (emphasis mine):

One day, when we were having afternoon tea, there was an urgent knock at the door. The portress reported, “A little boy is having trouble breathing.” I started to get up because I had access to the Tahanan medicines and thought I should go to help.

“Sit down, Tobit [Livemore], there is no hurry. We are not running an emergency hospital,” the superior reminded me. I thought to myself, Is afternoon tea more important than assisting the boy and giving comfort to his parents? Yet I obediently waited until after tea to get some salbutamol to relieve his distress. [Livemore 105]

Order of Obedience

Livemore continued to struggle. “I still did not fully accept that obedience to our superior considered more important than our service to the poor.” But she continued trying to help despite the order’s strict rules. Once, she tried to aid a dying child but was scolded for it because no new admissions were supposed to be made on a Thursday. For actions like these, she was removed from an important position.

You had to keep quiet, you had to suppress your intellect. Mother said that God uses the weak to confound the strong and the unintelligent to confound the knowledgeable, so it was almost lack of faith to try and use your head.

She was replaced by someone who was more obedient and, well, more ignorant:

Some of the superiors in the MCs were thrown into positions of power with little education or preparation, yet they were responsible for hundreds of people and many resources. Because Mother believed that God used the weak to confound the strong and intelligent, the Society acted almost as if preparing someone for a managerial role betrayed a lack of faith. The Society showed the same lack of logic by expecting God to make up for ignorance and lack of training in the medical work.

Despite this, Livemore continued to do her best to help. She believed that “if you see another person suffering, it becomes your business right then and there. You can’t just turn away and pretend that you don’t see.”

Blessed Billionaire

So who should Catholics emulate in serving the poor? I hope you agree: Dr. Collette Livemore would be a far better answer than Mother Teresa. Actually, so would most decent human beings.

Like Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, the CBCP claims to be on a mission of service to the poor. Both use this claim to collect millions in donations. Both have succeeded. Not in their missions, but in collecting millions.

I encourage all Catholics to ask Mother Teresa to pray for the MC and the CBCP to use their billions in service of the poor. It wouldn’t erase all the evil she committed on Earth, but at least such a miracle would finally make her a saint in Heaven. Unless, of course, the Vatican has an issue with canonizing an atheist.

Posted in Religion, SocietyComments (27)

CBCP: Church of the Poor or Conference of Pharisees?


Following the way of the Lord, we opt to be a Church of the Poor which demands evangelical poverty of us all, and harness the transformative power of the poor among us towards the justice and love of God in this world.

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

I recently wrote an open letter to the CBCP, asking them to donate a billion pesos to the victims of Sendong.

Many agreed with its message, but some protested. The most common response of these CBCP apologists is to challenge me to help the Sendong victims myself — and even drop everything and volunteer in CDO — as if the CBCP would be excused from fulfilling my request if I fail to fulfill theirs.

This kind of argument is a logical fallacy known as tu quoque: “a very common fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser.”

Another logical fallacy these apologists commit is the straw man — attempting to refute my argument by attacking a position I never had in the first place. In my open letter — and in the follow-up post criticizing second collections held by billionaires — I don’t simply say that the CBCP should donate a billion to Sendong victims just because they could do so.

My position is that the CBCP should do so because if they don’t, they will be inconsistent with their self-identification as a Church of the Poor. In other words, they’ll be hypocrites.

I won’t dignify their straw man – tu quoque combo by telling you how much I’ve donated or how I’ve helped the Sendong victims. But I can assure you that (1) I’ve never claimed to represent God, (2) I am not guided by a mission statement that mandates service to the poor, and (3) I don’t have 18 billion pesos in investments.

The CBCP, on the other hand, claims to represent an all-good God, claims to be a Church of the Poor, and has 18 billion pesos they could use to prove both claims.

And not only are they failing to do what they could and should, they’re asking others to sacrifice — skimping on parties, skipping on fireworks — when they clearly can’t do the same (at least not with their billions).

Good Samaritans or Modern-day Pharisees?

The hypocrisy of the CBCP reminds me of a group of religious leaders in the New Testament known as the Pharisees (emphasis mine):

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Jesus denounced the Pharisees for not practicing what they preach. Don’t the bishops commit the same when they ask Catholics to share their wealth while these bishops hoard theirs?

Jesus denounced the Pharisees for acting like kings with their fancy clothes and important titles such as “Rabbi” and “Father.” How many times have you seen a Catholic kneel before an extravagantly dressed archbishop, respectfully address him as “your excellency” or “the most reverend” or “father,” and kiss the expensive gold ring on his finger?

The billionaires of the CBCP may have failed to follow Jesus’ teaching about selling their riches and serving the poor, but they’re doing an excellent job spreading Jesus’ teaching about the hypocrisy of religious leaders. As they say, the best way to teach is by example.

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Billionaire Archbishop Holds Second Collection for Sendong Victims


Last night, Archbishop Luis Tagle ordered all priests, rectors, and chaplains in Manila to hold a second collection for the victims of Sendong:

“In the spirit of Christian solidarity, I request that a second collection be made at all Masses in all parishes, shrines, and communities in the Archdiocese of Manila from today until Christmas Day,” he said.

This is good news. But when you consider the fact that Manila is the richest archdiocese in the Philippines with P17.26 billion invested in stocks, you have to ask: Shouldn’t they be doing more?

The Billions of Bishop Tagle

For starters, they can sell a fraction of their shares and send money directly to the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and the Diocese of Iligan. As far as I know, these churches aren’t as fortunate to have stock investments of their own.

Anything short of this would cast doubt on Tagle’s statement that the calamity “saddens us and breaks our hearts.” Tagle would also be a hypocrite. How can someone encourage people to have simple Christmas parties or remember “Jesus who became poor” while he has P17 billion he could share?

If he truly wants to “make our Christmas this year more meaningful by our solidarity with each other,” Archbishop Tagle should answer my open letter and donate to the Sendong victims.

I urge all Catholics to remind the clergy of their vow of poverty and mission of charity. Before holding even more second collections, Catholics should demand a first collection from their bishops first.

***

Before giving to that second (and first) collection, please consider visiting these pages to learn how you can really help Sendong victims:

Posted in Religion, SocietyComments (76)

Anti-RH Facebook Page Lies About Their Lying


Yesterday, I wrote about how an anti-RH group tried to do a demonstration in SB park without a permit. An anti-RH reader (we probably have a few) responded to the post by doing what the anti-RH seem to do best — lie about it:

[aj] You might have read the news from a certain group of people who thinks [sic] they are smart and support RH that the Anti-RH group that went on vigil last night did not have a permit to rally. I won’t post their site, but let me tell you that this is an outright lie. These guys are liars of the highest order and would heckle their way into any decent discussion. The truth is that the pro-life side had a permit issued by the baranggay. The other side also had a permit – coming from Vice mayor Herbert Bautista who is pro RH. So para walang gulo, the vigil was just held somewhere else near the area, pero hindi po totoo na wala tayong permit at nagsinungaling tayo tungkol sa permit natin.

So I issued a simple challenge:

Simple. Just post a scan of the permit and the matter will be settled. But of course, as I wrote, all you showed us was an endorsement letter — not a permit.

Why do you need to lie, AJ? Were you at the site when the endorsement letter was shown to the SB Park officers? Were you at the site when they couldn’t produce a permit and had to leave?

I told them to post a link of the scan as a comment on my original post. I won’t hold my breath.

To our anti-RH readers, for the sake of Truth (which you seem to have a monopoly on), I humbly ask that you accept this challenge.

Sincerely, a writer of the Site-That-Cannot-Be-Named, a Son of Liar the Old Snake, Red.

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (9)

British Court: Catholic Priests Are Employees of the Catholic Church


Who is the boss of Catholic priests? The layman and the laity would answer without hesitation: the Catholic Church. But for the Catholic Church — and the lawyers that defend them in abuse cases — the answer is not so obvious. Are they self-employed? Or maybe employed by a higher power?

Whatever the case, the Church’s lawyers are sure of one thing: Catholic priests are not employed by the Catholic Church.

Because if the abusive priests are employed by the Church, then the Church as employers can be held liable for crimes committed by priests. The we’re-not-the-boss argument has been the foundation of the Church’s defense in sex abuse cases all over the world. Refute this and you break down the walls that protect churches from prosecution — all the way up to the Vatican.

And this is precisely what happened on Tuesday:

A British court has ruled that Roman Catholic priests are equivalent to employees, a decision that could pave the way for victims of sexual abuse to win damages from the church…

Tuesday’s ruling involved a 47-year-old woman who says she was sexually assaulted by the Rev. Wilfred Baldwin when she was living in a Catholic children’s home in Portsmouth, in southern England.

The church argued that Baldwin was not an employee, an argument rejected by Justice Alistair MacDuff.

The judge noted that Baldwin was appointed by and on behalf of the diocese to do their work. “He had immense power handed to him by the defendants,” the judge wrote in the ruling. “It was they who appointed him to the position of trust which (if the allegations be proved) he so abused.

The woman’s case is being tried in December, when another judge will have to make a further decision about the church’s liability, MacDuff said. “I only have to decide whether the nature of the relationship is one to which vicarious liability may — I emphasize ‘may’ — attach,” he wrote.

Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that holds employers responsible for the actions of employees in some circumstances.

Proving that priests are employed by the Church is just the first step. But if vicarious liability is attached, it will completely demolish the we’re-not-the-boss defense in this case, setting the precedent for hundreds of sex abuse cases all over the world, paving the way for prosecutors to face the final boss: Pope Benedict XVI.

Until then, victims of clerical sex abuse will continue to suffer, the public will remain ignorant of the covered up crimes, and the Catholic Church will continue denying responsibility, blaming its employees and their victims (like a boss).

Posted in ReligionComments (1)

Sin, Smallpox, and Sympathy: Why the Church Will Continue to Let Mothers Die


11 deaths a day. From a mere statistic it has become a mantra of the reproductive health (RH) movement. No matter how often it is repeated, 11 deaths a day still moves many to action and some to tears.

Yet the anti-RH — led by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and anti-choice Catholic organizations — doesn’t seem to care about 11 deaths a day. Some, such as Senator Sotto and his supporters, have more disparaging reactions, ranging from mere denial to outright ridicule.

Invariably, the anti-RH believe they are never responsible for 11 deaths a day. Yet even if they eventually realize that their anti-contraceptive position is indirectly responsible for thousands of maternal deaths — and even more due to AIDS and hunger, casualties that can also be minimized by effective contraception and sexual education — the realization wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Because for these anti-RH conservative Catholics, protecting human lives is not as important as respecting God. The act of disrespecting God — and the Church that claims to represent him — is called blasphemy:

Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God – inwardly or outwardly – words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name… The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ’s Church, the saints, and sacred things.
Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Gravity of Blasphemy

St. Thomas Aquinas, whose teachings also form the basis for opposing the RH bill, taught that blasphemy is a mortal sin punishable by death. For Aquinas, there’s no contradiction in killing someone for blasphemy, because he believed that blasphemy was even worse than murder:

If we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one’s neighbor. On the other hand, if we compare them in respect of the harm wrought by them, murder is the graver sin, for murder does more harm to one’s neighbor, than blasphemy does to God. Since, however, the gravity of a sin depends on the intention of the evil will, rather than on the effect of the deed, as was shown above, it follows that, as the blasphemer intends to do harm to God’s honor, absolutely speaking, he sins more grievously that the murderer.

— St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

If blasphemy is worse than murder itself, it is surely worse than merely letting mortals die. So it doesn’t matter if maternal deaths — or deaths due to poverty and AIDS — do infinitely more damage to people and the families they leave behind; no damage can be dealt to an immortal deity. What matters to Aquinas is the intention, not the effect; the gravity of the sin, not its actual consequences. Blasphemy must be avoided at all costs — even if the cost is suffering and death.

The Speckled Monster in Montreal

In 1885, one of the most horrible examples of avoiding blasphemy at the cost of human lives happened during the smallpox epidemic in Montreal, Canada. Smallpox was also called the “red death” and the “speckled monster” because of how it stained and ultimately killed its victims:

No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal –the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

— Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death

Although he wrote one of the most poetic descriptions of the disease, Poe was wrong about one thing: It was not fear of their appearance that kept the diseased from the aid and sympathy of their neighbors. It was dogma — the fear of blasphemy.

If the Catholic Church hadn’t used dogma to meddle with the government trying to contain the disease, many lives would have been saved. As James H. Marsh, editor in chief of The Canadian Encyclopedia, wrote, this is the real tragedy:

Smallpox is one of the most contagious and loathsome diseases ever to menace humanity. But the real tragedy of the smallpox epidemic in Montreal was that it was preventable. The practice of vaccination, developed by Edward Jenner in England in 1796, was so widespread and so successful that it was widely believed that the disease had been eradicated.

Deaths that can be prevented. By a scientific solution. That has already become so widespread and successful. Sound familiar?

Red Death and Reproductive Health

When it comes to the Catholic Church, history often repeats itself. Contraception is not the first scientific solution to a serious problem that bishops have blocked because they considered it blasphemous. Many examples of this meddling are recorded in Andrew Dickson White’s History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. The book chronicles how the Church prevented progress in several sciences — geography, astronomy, geology, archeology, anthropology, biology, meteorology, chemistry, physics, medicine, and many others.

In each instance, the story would be the same:

  1. Someone proposes a theory that is contrary to Church teaching — dogma, doctrine, or tradition.
  2. The Church does everything in its power — blackmail, torture, murder — to oppose inquiry into and development of the theory.
  3. Accepting or even considering the theory becomes difficult — especially when reputations and lives are at stake.
  4. After unnecessary delay, the scientific community — and then society in general — accepts the theory and develops it further.
  5. After even more delay, from years to centuries, the Church finally accepts the theory.

This pattern is especially pernicious when the Church hinders progress in Medicine. When it comes to medical progress, delay is measured not only in time wasted but in lives lost. The smallpox epidemic in Montreal struck me especially because it’s so similar to our RH experience. Below is White’s account interspersed with my comments, comparing Montreal’s experience with ours:

In that year [1885] the smallpox broke out with great virulence in Montreal. The Protestant population escaped almost entirely by vaccination; but multitudes of their Catholic fellow-citizens, under some vague survival of the old orthodox ideas [1 paste below the early protestant theological basis of the old orthodox ideas], refused vaccination; and suffered fearfully.

Many who have escaped Catholic brainwashing already use contraception effectively. More than their conservative counterparts, contraception users are capable of reaching their desired family size, avoiding HIV and AIDS, avoiding induced abortions, and preventing infant and maternal deaths.

When at last the plague became so serious that travel and trade fell off greatly and quarantine began to be established in neighboring cities, an effort was made to enforce compulsory vaccination. The result was, that large numbers of the Catholic working population resisted and even threatened bloodshed.

11 maternal deaths a day, 500,000 induced abortions a year, and 7 new HIV cases a day should be enough to convince us: the RH bill is badly needed. And unlike vaccination, contraception will not even be compulsory. Yet the resistance was just as intense: from misinformation and fear mongering to threats of revolution and civil disobedience.

The clergy at first tolerated and even encouraged this conduct [threatening bloodshed]: the Abbe Filiatrault, priest of St. James’s Church, declared in a sermon that, “if we are afflicted with smallpox, it is because we had a carnival last winter, feasting the flesh, which has offended the Lord; … it is to punish our pride that God has sent us smallpox.”

This is no different from religious leaders saying that HIV and AIDS are god’s punishment for promiscuity, homosexuality, and even contraception. This also reminds me of an anti-RH lecture, wherein the lecturer said that the disaster in Japan was sent by God to punish them for having population control.

The clerical press went further: the _Etendard_ exhorted the faithful to take up arms rather than submit to vaccination, and at least one of the secular papers was forced to pander to the same sentiment.

Rather than cooperate, the anti-RH threatened to react with revolution, civil disobedience, or by not paying taxes. And instead of just one secular paper pandering to the anti-RH, I’ve read several columnists and cartoonists whose opinion seems to be based on nothing but Catholic bias.

The Board of Health struggled against this superstition, and addressed a circular to the Catholic clergy, imploring them to recommend vaccination; but, though two or three complied with this request, the great majority were either silent or openly hostile.

Instead of helping the DOH educate those at risk, the CBCP and anti-choice organizations instead give out misinformation about contraceptives: they don’t work, they all cause cancer, they are abortifacients. They even said the RH Bill is worse than corruption.

The Oblate Fathers, whose church was situated in the very heart of the infected district, continued to denounce vaccination; the faithful were exhorted to rely on devotional exercises of various sorts; under the sanction of the hierarchy a great procession was ordered with a solemn appeal to the Virgin [2], and the use of the rosary was carefully specified.

By the time rosary was recommended, prayer had already been shown to be ineffective in other parts of the world. Inoculation and vaccination, on the other hand, had already saved countless lives. [3]

Maternal deaths, abortions, HIV, poverty — what does the Church recommend to solve today’s problems? Prayer. Faith, abstinence, natural family planning — we’ve tried these solutions and they’ve been shown to be inadequate at best, and outright failures at worst. And instead of just praying for solutions, the Catholic Church is even asking its flock to pray against the RH Bill, the most valid solution in sight.

Meantime, the disease, which had nearly died out among the Protestants, raged with ever-increasing virulence among the Catholics; and, the truth becoming more and more clear, even to the most devout, proper measures were at last enforced and the plague was stayed, though not until there had been a fearful waste of life among these simple-hearted believers, and germs of skepticism planted in the hearts of their children which will bear fruit for generations to come.

Like the other stories in White’s book, there was a happy ending for Montreal. But not before they paid the price. Smallpox is considered by many to be the most devastating disease known to man, killing more people than all other infectious diseases combined. The Catholic Church may not have known the extent of the devastation and the effects of their dogmatism then. But history and hindsight are now on their side.

True Blasphemy

They have a chance to learn from the smallpox tragedy for which they were indirectly responsible. But it seems they are content to continue committing the same mistakes. How much suffering and death must humanity pay before the Catholic Church finally learns that protecting human lives is more important than respecting an immortal God? And if there were a God, and if that God were good, I’m sure she’d agree.

If there were a good God, she’d take more offense at the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy: claiming to have the Truth while they continue to lie about contraception; claiming to be against corruption while they’re in cahoots with corrupt officials; claiming to be against poverty while they have billions they choose not to use for the poor; claiming to be experts on morality while they cover up and coddle clerical child abusers.

These hypocrites are the earthly representation of divine truth and righteousness? Now that’s blasphemy.
______________

[1] Theological Opposition to Inoculation and Vaccination

Below are excerpts from History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom showing how dogma made it difficult to accept inoculation and vaccination:

Rev. Edward Massey, who in 1772 preached and published a sermon entitled _The Dangerous and Sinful Practice of Inoculation_. In this he declared that Job’s distemper was probably confluent smallpox; that he had been inoculated doubtless by the devil; that diseases are sent by Providence for the punishment of sin; and that the proposed attempt to prevent them is “a diabolical operation.”

Not less vigorous was the sermon of the Rev. Mr. Delafaye, entitled _Inoculation an Indefensible Practice_.

A large body of ministers joined in denouncing the new practice as “flying in the face of Providence,” and “endeavouring to baffle a Divine judgment.”
Having thus settled his case for this world, they proceeded to settle it for the next, insisting that “for a man to infect a family in the morning with smallpox and to pray to God in the evening against the disease is blasphemy”; that the smallpox is “a judgment of God on the sins of the people,” and that “to avert it is but to provoke him more”; that inoculation is “an encroachment on the prerogatives of Jehovah, whose right it is to wound and smite.”

Among the mass of scriptural texts most remote from any possible bearing on the subject one was employed which was equally cogent against any use of healing means in any disease–the words of Hosea: “He hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”

So bitter was this opposition that Dr. Boylston’s life was in danger; it was considered unsafe for him to be out of his house in the evening; a lighted grenade was even thrown into the house of Cotton Mather, who had favoured the new practice, and had sheltered another clergyman who had submitted himself to it.

“It was good that Satan should be dispossessed of his habitation which he had taken up in men in our Lord’s day, but it was not lawful that the children of the Pharisees should cast him out by the help of Beelzebub. We must always have an eye to the matter of what we do as well as the result, if we intend to keep a good conscience toward God.” But the facts were too strong; the new practice made its way in the New World as in the Old, though bitter opposition continued, and in no small degree on vague scriptural grounds, for more than twenty years longer.

The steady evolution of scientific medicine brings us next to Jenner’s discovery of vaccination. Here, too, sundry vague survivals of theological ideas caused many of the clergy to side with retrograde physicians. Perhaps the most virulent of Jenner’s enemies was one of his professional brethren, Dr. Moseley, who placed on the title-page of his book, _Lues Bovilla_, the motto, referring to Jenner and his followers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”: this book of Dr. Moseley was especially indorsed by the Bishop of Dromore. In 1798 an Anti-vaccination Society was formed by physicians and clergymen, who called on the people of Boston to suppress vaccination, as “bidding defiance to Heaven itself, even to the will of God,” and declared that “the law of God prohibits the practice.” As late as 1803 the Rev. Dr. Ramsden thundered against vaccination in a sermon before the University of Cambridge, mingling texts of Scripture with calumnies against Jenner;

[2] The Church’s Failed Smallpox Solution: Devotion to Mother Mary

At high mass, yesterday, in the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Rev. Father Emard read the Papal decree, which is considered as applying to the smallpox epidemic in Montreal, and which was issued by his Holiness Pope Leo XIII… The decree alludes to the ravages of epidemic and plagues among the faithful throughout the world last year, and impresses upon Roman Catholics the efficiency of prayer in crushing these regrettable calamities.

New York Times Archives

To Mary, therefore, we must fly – to her whom rightly and justly the Church entitles the dispenser of saving, aiding, and protecting gifts – that she, graciously hearkening to our prayers, may grant us the help they besought, and drive far from us the unclean plague.

Leo XIII

[3] The Effectiveness of Vaccination

In Berlin, during the eight years following 1783, over four thousand children died of the smallpox; while during the eight years following 1814, after vaccination had been largely adopted, out of a larger number of deaths there were but five hundred and thirty-five from this disease. In Wurtemberg, during the twenty-four years following 1772, one in thirteen of all the children died of smallpox, while during the eleven years after 1822 there died of it only one in sixteen hundred. In Copenhagen, during twelve years before the introduction of vaccination, fifty-five hundred persons died of smallpox, and during the sixteen years after its introduction only one hundred and fifty-eight persons died of it throughout all Denmark. In Vienna, where the average yearly mortality from this disease had been over eight hundred, it was steadily and rapidly reduced, until in 1803 it had fallen to less than thirty; and in London, formerly so afflicted by this scourge, out of all her inhabitants there died of it in 1890 but one. As to the world at large, the result is summed up by one of the most honoured English physicians of our time, in the declaration that “Jenner has saved, is now saving, and will continue to save in all coming ages, more lives in one generation than were destroyed in all the wars of Napoleon.”

— Andrew Dickson White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom

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Bound by Belief: Are Catholics Obliged to Obey?


And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

– Matthew 16:19

A reader of my post on primacy of conscience had an issue with my use of the word “bound” when I implicitly concluded that Catholics are bound to obey the Church. His main objection was that together with my use of “prison” in the title, “bound” implied that the Church took away the freedom of Catholics to make up their own minds. He concluded that because a Catholic can refuse to obey the Church on certain things, he is not bound.

I’ll explain here that my usage of the term is accurate and the objection is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of obligations.

Bound by Duty

One of the synonyms of “obligated” or “obliged” is “duty bound.” Also, “bound” has several dictionary definitions, but I used (and use) the following one in bold:

bound 3 (bound)

v.

Past tense and past participle of bind.

adj.

1. Confined by bonds; tied: bound and gagged hostages.

2. Being under legal or moral obligation: bound by my promise.

The reader’s objection is probably due to his thinking that I meant “bound” in the first sense: confined and tied like gagged hostages. This is not what I meant, but I am aware of this connotation, which is an added bonus. But even without this there are several valid reasons to use “bound” instead of the alternatives.

Bound by Church Law

First, the Church itself is fond of using this term, and in the way that I meant it (obligation). Here are two examples taken from my post on primacy alone:

The Church’s Magisterium also teaches the faithful specific particular precepts and requires that they consider them in conscience as morally binding.

– Pope John Paul II

Above the pope as an expression of the binding claim of church authority, stands one’s own conscience, which has to be obeyed first of all, if need be against the demands of church authority.

– Pope Benedict XVI

And don’t forget the bible verse I quoted to start this post, one of the pillars of Church authority. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common in Jewish legal lexicon:

The phrase “to bind” and “to loose” was often used by the Jews. It meant to prohibit and to permit. To bind a thing was to forbid it; to loose it, to allow it to be done… When Jesus gave this power to the apostles, he meant that whatsoever they forbade in the church should have divine authority; whatever they permitted, or commanded, should also have divine authority – that is, should be bound or loosed in heaven, or meet the approbation of God.

The Catholic Church, which has “what is claimed to be the oldest continuously functioning internal legal system in Western Europe”, sees this as Jesus giving them the authority to enforce God’s laws, laws written in the Code of Canon Law.

Bound by Civil Law

To this day the term is still used not only in Church law but in civil law as well, although in a different sense. Instead of forbidding, “binding” implies obligations [emphasis mine]:

What then are legal obligations? They are legal requirements with which law’s subjects are bound to conform. An obligatory act or omission is something the law renders non-optional. Since people plainly can violate their legal obligations, “non-optional” does not mean that they are physically compelled to perform, nor even that law leaves them without any eligible alternative. On the contrary, people often calculate whether or not to perform their legal duties.

This shows us that although binding obligations are non-optional, it does not mean physical coercion or absence of alternatives is necessary. The reader’s objection to my usage of bound is based on the misunderstanding that binding necessitates removal of all alternatives. On the contrary, a person can be bound and still have alternatives.

Bound by Belief

Consider theft. A buyer is bound by legal obligation to pay the seller the right amount. This obligation is binding; it’s non-optional. This does not mean the buyer is not free to ignore the obligation. He can try to pay less, pay more, pay with something else, or not pay at all, which leads to certain sanctions. But there are sanctions precisely because there is a prior binding obligation to pay.

In the same way, Catholics are bound to believe the Church. Again, being bound does not mean the Catholic is not free to ignore the obligation: he is free to dissent. But like theft, doing so involves sanctions — heresy, exclusion from communion, etc. — precisely because there is a binding obligation.

So being bound to believe (or obey) does not necessarily mean a Catholic cannot dissent (or disobey). Catholics are free to disobey, but they are not free to disobey without consequences. It is in this sense that they are bound. Thus, my original usage of the term is valid. But so is the connotation of the word: being tied and gagged like hostages.

When hostages are physically prevented from escape, their freedom is obviously limited. But what if the hostages are not physically tied? What if the kidnapper threatens the hostage with something else (killing the hostage, killing a loved one, torture, blackmail, etc.)? The hostage may not be physically prevented from trying to escape (in the sense that he can attempt it) but the effect is just the same.

Now consider clerical child abuse. A child who is raped by a priest is not physically prevented from telling the authorities. Nor is the child’s family. But through Crimen Solicitationis, which details a Church policy to silence victims and coverup abuses, threats of excommunication and eternal damnation were used to silence the victims and their families. They were gagged into silence because they were bound to believe.

Because to many believers, eternal damnation is the worst possible fate — far worse than kidnapping or torture or death. I brought this up because the sanctions for doubting dogmatic teachings are similar to those used to silence the victims of clerical child abuse.

The problem with such sanctions when it comes to religious belief is it puts the believer’s motivation into question. Surely, it is possible that a believer obeys the Church completely out of their own volition. But when threats of eternal damnation and rewards of eternal life are at stake, can you really say that a believer is not bound to believe?

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