Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Downfall of Religion

I believe, during the last two elections, that the issue of religion has gotten more play politically than at any other time. I'm not trying to compare the last two elections to something akin to when Kennedy was elected and the anti-Catholic backlash that was evident then, however I think the importance of someone's moral beliefs, their personal religion and the role that plays in their election/re-election efforts has never been so great.

I can not tell you how wrong I think that is. Even more wrong, when churches involve themselves in politics. Political figures being refused communion for holding certain political views about freedoms that should be granted in our society is just the beginning, and low and behold, we've moved one step further down the path.

Politicians who support issues like abortion and gay rights have been banned from speaking at Catholic churches in the Phoenix Diocese.
Olmsted's decision followed a policy passed last year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Olmsted is among a number of Catholic bishops nationwide who have chosen to take a strict interpretation of the June 2004 statement called "Catholics in Political Life."

The church, my church, any church, does not belong in politics. Its mission is to educate, to comfort, to allow for communication with God, to bring people together. Lately, all the church has been doing is pushing people apart. This pains me as a Catholic.

I have a great idea for the Phoenix Diocese, or any other diocese who wants to ban politicians from speaking. BAN THEM ALL. They do NOT belong in the house of God. Do I even have to mention how eerily similar this is to Jesus tossing the money lenders out on their ear? People shilling for votes do not belong in church. Their are plenty of opportunities for Catholics and other religious people, to educate themselves on where a certain candidate might stand on an issue and decide for whom to vote.

I will continue to fight for the real Catholicsm to make itself known. A religion that should be following the words of Jesus and loving everyone, having compassion for everyone and welcoming everyone into Communion with Him. I think Jesus will have a few strong words for the fakers that are in charge of the churches across the world at this point in time.

Hat Tip-- Ya Gotta Be Kidding. Good to see you back Z.


Blogger Dave Justus said...

I don't think that moral beliefs are more important to voters now than at other times. Certainly a public personna (at the very least) of morality has always been needed for a politician.

I also disagree with your assertion that churches should not be involved with politics. Both Religion and Politics are going to be concerned with right and wrong, moral and immoral.

As a result, the two will have to interact, and at times come into conflict. One of the cricisms against the Catholic Church, for example, is that it did not do enough to condemn Facism before and during WWII. One of the Catholic Churches greatest triumphs was it's opposition to Communism and it's contribution to the end of the Soviet Union. Similarly Religion has played a role in political issues ranging from Abolition to Women's sufferage.

Any religion that had nothing to offer to individuals regarding the moral and ethical issues we face, and which we must make political decision on would be a very empty, and useless religion.

I do think that there is a diffence between personal morality, what we should do individualy, and public law, what we should try and enforce everyone would do. There should be a vast gap between those two spheres. However, Religions have just as much right, and need, to speak to where that gap should be, and what belongs in each camp, as other Philosophical strands do.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

The whole problem with your arguement is that you are seeing the Catholic church or religion in general as having a purpose other than spirtual education and communion with God. You might think it has that purpose, THEY might think it has that purpose, but it does not. Teach your adherents right and wrong, morality, what is right in God's eyes, how to lead a good life. Condemning communism, ignoring fascism, these are roles of bureacracies, not churches. That is the problem with the Catholic chruch.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

If communism and facism are wrong, or more particularly if individual governments who embrace these philosophies act in immoral ways, then how could a group that claims to have be the source of moral guidance not condemn them and be legitimate?

Hitler was an evil man, if that term has any meaning at all. What he did, the policies he embraced, and the philosophy he championed were morally wrong. The Catholic Church should have clearly and loudly condemned those policies and philosophies.

You seem to want a religion that will make no demands upon you. That is fine I suppose, but I would find such a religion pretty meaningless.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

You are wrong there Dave. My religion does make demands on me. It tells me what is right and wrong in God's eyes and teaches me the consequences of my actions. It shows me how to be closer to God and that I must struggle to be a good person and to live my life in the way the Jesus lived his, if at all possible. Those are pretty serious demands. I fail sometimes, sometimes I don't.
However, I think the natural end of the line to condemning obvious evil, as an organization, is to allow political causes to infiltrate and corrupt the organization as a whole. That has happened to Catholic Church. If they weren't so worried about the 'organization' and its survival, perhaps we would have seen more open prosecution of the sexual predators in its midst. Instead, Bishops used the 'allowance' that its ok to lie to parishoners if its in 'the best interest of the church'.
If the church teaches you correctly, Catholics worldwide would be condemning Hitler, fascism, communism etc--there would be no need for the organization as a whole to do that.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

"If the church teaches you correctly, Catholics worldwide would be condemning Hitler, fascism, communism etc--there would be no need for the organization as a whole to do that."

I have a certain amount of agreement with that concept. On the other hand, communism in particular took some very positive concepts that the Church supported (helping those less fortunate than you, everyone being equal, etc.) and perverted them with totalitarianism. While Soviet Communism obviously was an declared opponant of Religion, at the same time it tried to co-opt some of the trapings of religion itself.

As a result, I think it correct for the Church to have taken the stand that it did against Soviet Communism. To make it clear that this was not a belief system that was compatible with Christianity (different, non-totalitarian communism may be compatible with Christianity/Catholicism)

Another example is Slavery. I don't know what the Catholic Church had to say about slavery, or when or if it condemned that institution, but I believe Churches should have condemned it. It is a moral sin to own a slave, and it was a moral sin to not try and reform society in such a way as to make slavery illegal.

Obviously many parallels have been made between Slavery and Abortion (which is of course mostly what this issue is about) and I don't know that they are entirely fair comparisons. However, if you believe, as the Catholic Church claims, that a fetus is a person and abortion is murder (neither of which I believe personally) than the need to alter society to make abortion illegal is obvious, and not doing so is a sin. Saying that the Catholic Church can not teach that, not because it is wrong, but because it is outside of the scope of what they should teach, which is what you are saying, seems nonsensical to me.

Churches can, and must, teach what is moral and immoral. It is their sole purpose. Sometimes morality requires action in the political sphere. I think in fact that it often does.

My morality isn't guided by the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter, but my morality certainly does guide my political actions. If I were to accept that Catholicism was the moral authority that should guide me, then of course I would expect it's teachings to have political implications, and yes, at times to directly advocate political causes.

Out of curiousity, were you offended or angered by the Pope's anti-war stance before the Iraq war? Or is it only innapropriate for the Pope to be political when you disagree with the Pope?

3:56 PM  
Blogger Katinula said...

"Saying that the Catholic Church can not teach that, not because it is wrong, but because it is outside of the scope of what they should teach, which is what you are saying, seems nonsensical to me."
I'm not saying they can not teach it, they should be teaching what is right and what is wrong. I just think involving the church in politics or having political figures speaking there is wrong. If they teach it, there is no need--parishoners are already aware of what is right and wrong and can act accordingly.
I look to my church for this education, sometimes I follow it and sometimes I don't. I struggle everyday with that.
As for the Pope and the condemning of the war, I found it useless and meaningless. Honestly, if you aren't Catholic, why would you care about the Pope's opinion? As a Catholic, I look for his opinion personally, but as a figurehead announcing the 'church's' stance, like it should mean something to non-Catholics, is a bit absurd. But having historically used the church as an organization, it is now expected that the church as an organization will weigh in on every situation that merits an opinion. I dont think this will change.
I'm not denying the good that the church has done by condemning things, or the bad it has done by not. I'm just saying, if it was more concerned with its true purpose instead of advancing some kind of agenda, it would have alot less problems than it has today, and I think, would have led alot more people into communion with God.

To sum it up, its not the education--that I favor of course. I look to my church for that. It is the advancement of political causes as an organization, which invites corruption. The church says 'abortion is wrong. It is the killing one of God's children'. After that discussion, what need is there for anything more?

8:55 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I'm not Catholic, but that last bit is something I have never understood about many Catholics.

One the one hand, they have this whole respect for authority thing and reverence for the Pope.

On the other, a complete willingness to ignore fundamental Catholic beliefs on abortion, birth control etc. that the Catholic Church has said are non-negotiable.

If I was Catholic and pro-abortion I would feel obliged to drop one or the other of those beliefs. I don't think you can be both, but many seem to want to straddle that divide.

Like I said, something I cannot understand.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Katinula said...

Firstly, i understand your confusion, but most catholics who are pro-choice fall into the 'immoral not illegal' category. Initially, you dont leave what you believe in because you sin...likes like saying 'i'll just do things my own way'. No, everyone sins, everyone asks forgiveness.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Sure, I don't think that someone who has had an abortion can't be Catholic, I get the whole forgivness thing.

And I can accept the argument that abortion is wrong, but not the Government's business (although given Catholic theology that is hard to justify as a Catholic, since my understanding is the it is sinful for society to allow such things, much like it would be sinful for society to allow slavery)

But there are some, probably a vocal minority, who think that Abortion is ok and who also think they can be Catholic. They are not asking for forgiveness, they are claiming that the Church is wrong.

I can accept that they may be right, the Church may well be wrong. If though they don't believe the Church is right though, since Church authority is central to Catholicism why do they remain?

8:52 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

I can't answer that honestly. There are many things I dont think the church is right about--gays, women priests, etc-- but my Catholism is such a part of who I am and what I believe that leaving for me is not an option. I would never say never, but I know I would feel lost without it because it has shaped so much about me and I think probably most Catholics feel that way. Andrew Sullivan is a pretty good example. He rails at the church for being anti-gay, but he stays, because he believes that one day it might change, and more importantly, he believes in the spirtual lessons of the church.
I guess its hard to leave something you believe in because you feel they are are more inclined to try and right the wrong, then to leave for easier shores.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

That is entirely fair. I'm am certainly not being critical of your choices.

Like I said, it is something I don't 'get' not something I think is wrong.

3:29 PM  
Blogger z said...

Ah, a conversation after my own heart. haha.
Of course I think you're both wrong.
The Christian church, prior to Martin Luther was pretty much Catholic. They dominated politics, micromanaged serf's (can you say virtual slave?) lives and burned people that argued with them.
They thought they were very moral.
They were certainly in charge, and VERY wealthy.
As mankind's place in the cosmos became more clearly defined and irrefutable, the Church lost some luster, splintered (as it previously had around 1054 during the East/West Schism)and moved away from it's centrally controlled Roman authority.
This hardly kept it out of politics. Or made it more moral. They kept burning and torturing scientists, humanists and free thinkers everywhere.
The Luther clan followed suit with vim and vigor.
Now, the same crap goes on. Religions control politicians who wish to capture their voting block. Appealing to the sheep-thought that most Christians exhibit it's easy enough for religious leaders to buy the seats for compliant political leaders.
Now if all that isn't bad enough, people on the street debate the "morality" of issues based on edicts, dogmas and politacal leanings.
They rarely, it seems, debate the morality of a woman's right to choose. Unless it concerns the lack of that right altogether.
So, should we burn women who chose the path of immorality by having abortions? Shoot the Dr.s? The clinic workers?
(Notice, the impregnator is seemingly immune. Pre-maritial sex is apparently less sinful than getting pregnant. Odd, as it still takes two to tango).
Let's face it. Religion is rarely moral. It's power motivated. Religious leaders stand to profit greatly by preying on the fear of death of most people. Promise paradise, ask for cash and threaten eternal burning for non-compliance. Sounds like a very god-like plan to me.
Same thing with governments. Prey on the masses fear of "the enemy", promise them a paradise of SUV's, burgers and cheap Walmart watches and threaten incarceration or execution for non-compliance.
It's a power grab, a control issue, a money maker.
The question of morality is a farce. You can learn that from your mom and dad who probably know that killing Bobby across the street is "bad."
religion...bah, humbug.

11:08 PM  

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