The oldest and I dare say the cheapest card to play when your character and sophistication are under attack is to portray yourself as a victim. Individuals, politicians, corporations and even religious groups will declare themselves the victim of unjustified, immoral, unethical vilification when they know they’ve either screwed up big, or that their reasoning and relevancy is questionable.
The Roman Catholic Church has certainly not had an easy time of it the last few years. In almost every country in the world, the Church’s efforts to protect and hide pedophile, child molesting clergy has been exposed and has brought shame to a religious institution that is supposed to be promoting ethics and morality.
Survey after survey tells us that on the question of birth control, more than 90% of all Roman Catholics completely ignore the Church’s opposition to contraception. While most other major religious faiths in the world feel compelled to wrestle with ancient ideas, values and traditions related to gender equality and human sexuality, the Vatican still insists that 2,000 year religious doctrines cannot be reconsidered in light of new knowledge of the human condition.
The way our ancestors understood God’s commandments and teachings is binding for all time. Promoting new insights into old ideas is nothing less than an act of heresy. The scribes and clerics who wrote our sacred books knew God’s thinking better than any of us possibly can. Besides, for reason we can’t explain, we’re quite sure that God only wanted to communicate the Divine will with people in Biblical times, not now. And remember, religion isn’t really about promoting and celebrating God’s love in the world, it’s all about sustaining the power of clergy and institutions like the Roman Catholic Church.
So what does one do when you know you look and sound like a broken record that is no longer relevant? Portray yourself the victim of cruel and unjust politicians or fanciful social causes and ill-informed people who just aren’t as familiar with the will of God as you are.
The Catholic Church has always employed non-Catholics to work in their schools, hospitals and social service agencies. Those people have always been provided with health insurance. The Catholic Church previously never micro-managed how their employees lived their personal lives or utilized their health insurance. But now that health care reform requires that all insurance include coverage for birth control and abortion, the Church couldn’t resist having a very dramatic public hissy-fit and proclaiming to the world that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, the Catholic Church as being denied religious freedom. Oh really, is that what this is all about? A President concerned about the needs and rights of women and working Americans is guilty of perpetrating war on religious freedom? Interesting storyline.
So, does that mean that if they could the Catholic Church would prefer to only hire Roman Catholics who obey all Church doctrine? They can’t do that because they know that they’ll never find enough people to fill all the jobs they have. If the Church can’t enforce religious doctrine, I guess they think they can embarrass the government into doing it for them.
(BTW, following the Church’s logic, can I as someone who observes Jewish dietary laws, insist that my employees, Jewish and not, refrain from utilizing the salaries I pay them to buy pork and shellfish?)
We should not be surprised by the challenges confronting an institution that insists on such literate and rigid interpretations of the two thousand-year old story of the life and times of Jesus Christ: Because Jesus and his 12 disciples were all celibate men, only celibate men can be priests today. Human sexuality, a perfectly natural human instinct that gives life joy and meaning, is “original sin.” Ergo, it’s bad enough we (the Church) have to allow heterosexuals to have intercourse for the purpose or procreation, we’re certainly not going to give homosexuality a green light.
And after all, who would question the expertise of a group of supposedly celibate men in skirts when it comes to human sexuality?
The propaganda film below is meant to inspire American Catholics to vote for social conservatives in the next election. Considering that the IRS prohibits churches and non-profit groups from taking positions in elections, I would hope this video inspires the IRS to take the Church’s tax exempt status away. Of course, that will never happen. BTW, do you think that a Muslim group would enjoy the same ‘protection’ from prosecution if they produced a similar propaganda video advocating their political position?
BTW, if you are an atheist or cynic who thinks that this Jew is a hypocrite for knocking another ancient religious tradition, I offer you a brilliant article to read by a Rabbi I consider one of my teachers, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson. His ideas about the Bible and the role of religion are a far cry away from the parochial, self-serving theology and dogma of most orthodox approaches to God and sacred texts. Ideally, the Bible is should not a book ‘don’ts’, but as Rabbi Artson points out, it is a book of loving ‘do’s.’