Religion

Catholicism for Non-Catholics

Today in the Boston Globe, there is an essay written by Beverly Beckham about her disappointment in her church (Catholic) for displaying such open ignorance and hostility toward gays. She talks about how true Catholics would accept and love everyone as Jesus would have done. What a nice thought, and one I’ve heard a lot: True Baptists/Muslims/etc. would never kill/discriminate/hate others. Is that the truth, though?

She states

What would Jesus do? He would not draw a line in the sand and say, ”Cross it and I reject you.”

Oddly enough, Jesus would do exactly that. Revelations 20:15: “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” If you doubt, even a bit, that Jesus existed, he will give you an eternity of pain and torture. That’s quite a nasty line to draw.Life without Jesus (Hell)

It would be nice if everyone in the Catholic church felt the same about gays as Ms. Beckham, but that’s just not going to happen. So why does she stay in that church? She admits she finds comfort in other aspects of the religion — why not just take those and run? If you’re going to pick and choose your ideology, maybe off-the-shelf religion isn’t for you. Yet Ms. Beckham and thousands of others continue to deliver their money, time, and faith to an organization that obviously does not represent their true beliefs.

Is the fact that not even Catholics agree with Catholicism a sign that we’re winning the fight for rationality, or is it just further proof of the incredibly powerful hold a religion can have on its followers?

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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8 Comments

  1. In short… no… it does not mean one is winning anything. There hasn't been a single time in history when all Catholics agreed about what "Jesus said". Even his own disciples differed on his teachings. The Bible says one thing there and another thing there… Religion for most people is not just a single definition, which makes it incredible difficult to attack with any success rate. One can find it easy to attack some specific part, like the whole Ark deal, but it becomes increasingly difficult to convince people that the entire picture is wrong, or that their specific interperetation of the belief system is wrong. If one doesn't agree with the main Vatican Catholic teachings, there are a whole heaping helping of splinter groups within the holy see that have interperetation that might fit your ideals.

  2. But isn't Rebecca's point that people stick with the Vatican despite disagreeing with their teachings? They don't splinter, offshoot, or join someone else because religion has such a power over them that they can't.

  3. Yes, nsetzer . . . in the past, religions have splintered when there is a difference in opinion concerning an important tenet, with both factions very firm in their stances and deeply invested in their beliefs. In this case, I'm seeing more and more people who disagree with the leader of their religion but who do not seem at all comfortable with the idea of no longer being a part of that religion. They seem to not be interested in any part of religion except a fuzzy feeling of an all-loving god-spirit and some lingering religious traditions that are more like comfortable habits. They aren't calling for a schism, but rather choose to just shake their heads and quietly fume.

  4. Rebecca, I agree..I know a professed Catholic who wasn't familiar with the dogma about the communion wafer and wine being transformed into *actual* blood and flesh….but , it gives her a nice, warm ,fuzzy feeling to belong to the group..let alone the business of pedophile priests…

  5. A similar nagging question is how I began to examine my faith. I just couldn't reconcile the fact that the church put the life of an unborn fetus above that of the mother carrying it. Once the examination started I found more questions including the one in this post about the treatment of gays/lesbians within the church. No one was able to give me a satisfactory answer for any of them.

    For about two years now I have been god-free.

    I hope that more people will start to recognize and try to answer the questions in front of them. I also hope that they will see through the myth of the "true religionist" who would never do such a thing.

  6. Are these the same creationist people who say that if one aspect of something is wrong the concept is wrong in its entirety? Contradictions like this are what realy upset me. You can't have it both ways–is it right or wrong? And if it's wrong, why stick with it?

  7. It's a fine point, but the Book of Revelation is ascribed to John of Patmos, not Jesus. A literalist Christian might agree with St John that he was inspired by God, and reason that since Jesus is part of God in Christian belief, therefore it really was Jesus saying that nasty stuff in Revelations about a lake of fire.

    Anyone other than a literalist Christian (including, by the way, Martin Luther who had tremendous disdain for this book) would instead say that a book about a vision of Jesus can say what it likes about lakes of fire, but it's John of Patmos talking not J.C.

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