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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

Passive-aggressive Christianity

Posted by Skeptigator on December 8, 2008

Flag of the Episcopal Church

Flag of the Episcopal Church

I occasionally peruse a local afternoon newspapers website for interesting local interest articles and I stumbled upon Kevin Leininger’s recent column, Viewing Episcopal split through historical lens, discussing the split within the Anglican Church over the issue of homosexuality.

I thought it was a good article and I usually enjoy his articles, I don’t often agree with him, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

What struck me however was the very last sentence,

And don’t tell me all of this just illustrates how silly and dangerous organized religion is. The record of organized atheism – Nazism, Communism, etc. – makes the Inquisition look tame.*

My first thought was, “What? What does that have to do with his article”. Since we are editorializing here, let me do my own. Why does the author feel its necessary to include this? On it’s face the comment really had nothing to do with the article which was specifically about a doctrinal division of a specific denomination and how it is coming to grips with living in the modern world.  But with a little further thought I think this textbook passive-aggressive swipe at an entire block of people betrays a certain doubt within the author himself. As an atheist, I’m reading this article with some interest but I never thought to myself, “This is why atheism is better” since I know atheism says *nothing* about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality (or anything for that matter).

I think that this little swipe also offers a bit of an insight into (at least) one believer’s mind and his belief that the *entire world* is shaded by those who believe in a god and those that do not. It’s the same boring Us vs. Them mentality. What this bit of lazy journalism exposes is the fact that there is a fundamental lack of perspective by the author. It is an implicit (or inferred?) approval of a black and white world and not the much more complicated grey world we actually live in, you know the Real World.

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend the basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life" - Adolf Hitler, Feb. 1st, 1933.

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend the basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life" - Adolf Hitler, Feb. 1st, 1933.

The author’s wife’s church, Catholic, was so grossly complicit in the Nazi regime that it should be an well-known embarrassment. And don’t get me started on the Catholic radio host, Charles Coughlin. Communism and particularly the Stalinist brand is a textbook example of ideology that exerts an enormous amount of control over people. I dare say that Stalin’s suppression of all religious activity had little to do with his disbelief in a god but more to do with the threat to his absolute control that the Church could wield. 

Any ideology that suppresses Free Inquiry should be fought, for if a belief is to be found to be true and good it should always and constantly be subjected to questioning. What many within “organized atheist movements” such as Secular Humanism have a problem with is the fact that Political and Economic ideologies are constantly argued over however any kind of critical examination of religious Ideology seems to be considered at best “bad form”.

Look at how many of the faithful simply demonize the dissenting opinions. Lienenger mentions specifically the Inquisition as if this is the only egregious example of  religious tyranny and that the truth or falsity of something is tied directly to its body count. Perhaps he meant to end it with the following:

And don’t tell me all of this just illustrates how silly and dangerous organized religious is. The record of organized atheism – Nazism, Communism, etc. – makes the Inquisition, the Crusades, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, The Troubles in Ireland, the witch hunts of the 17th/18th century, Jonestown Massacre, Heaven’s Gate, 80% of all conflict in the Middle East and Apartheid look tame

If your religion is worth believing in, it should be open to examination. It will then be found to be deserving of it’s following or found to be lacking. The split within the Episcopal Church highlights exactly that process because many within that particular sect have found it’s doctrines to be lacking and I personally think the Episcopal Church should be applauded for even having the discussion.

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* This statement is riddled with logical fallacies making the statement almost a joke. It’s most obvious is one called Tu quoque (you too). It’s a fancy way of saying, “Because there is an example of wrong on the other side of an argument, I am therefore allowed to engage in it as well” or “Because you have no evidence I therefore need none as well”. This fallacy is almost always accompanied by a straw man logical fallacy in which the “wrong” attributed to the other side of an argument is not an actual example of the other sides arguments.

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Posted in FreeThought, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Now What? (A Response to Andy’s Personal Question)

Posted by mikebftw on June 13, 2008

(This is my response to Andy’s post from a few days ago.)

I’m a little envious of Andy’s brother for being able to handle a mixed-belief relationship so neatly, honestly, and openly. Surely it has to do with the character of the people involved, but there’s also a situational element that we shouldn’t overlook. That is to say, both participants came into the relationship with (I presume, from Andy’s description) existing, articulated worldviews. From this standpoint, as long as they were honest with each other, they couldn’t fail.

However, what happens when the order of events is reversed: first comes the relationship, then the worldviews? This best describes my relationship with my wife. We were both raised in Catholicism, but we weren’t exactly regular churchgoers at the time of our wedding. Being Catholic was simply a portion of our individual identities, and provided a base set of beliefs that we took for granted (i.e. there is a God, the basic Christian narrative is true, etc.), but to which we didn’t really commit much thought or effort. Originally, I was the one who suggested we get married in a church, but I was motivated more by the idea of “doing the right thing” than a particular closeness to the church or its doctrine. (We ended up getting married on a beach in a civil ceremony.) As most engaged couples hopefully do, we had several conversations regarding what kind of lifestyle we wanted together, how we would raise our children, and so forth. While we never committed to a stringently religious lifestyle, we did agree on raising our children as we were raised, in the Catholic church.

We had been married for about a year when I really started engaging in and scrutinizing my belief system. I have to admit that when you come to the realization of your naturalistic worldview, there’s nothing scarier than anticipating how your loved ones will react. So many questions came to mind – Am I a fraud for this? Am I still the same person she wanted to marry? What about our kids – can we find a compromise, or will one of us have to watch our children raised in a way that we completely disagree with? Again, we were never the most religious couple, but I still felt this kind of anxiety – I can’t imagine what a more devout couple would have to go through.

So, how does one deal with a mid-relationship change in beliefs? My personal experience is a work in progress. The first step is to appeal to the qualities necessary to make any relationship work: honesty, compromise, and a sense of humor. Honesty can be difficult, especially given the negative attitude toward atheism that dominates American culture. It’s just plain scary to face how the most important person in your life will react – it feels like you have more to lose in that moment than you know how to deal with. However, if your relationship is built on trust, you owe it to yourself and your partner to be completely honest. If you’re in the middle of a relationship, hopefully you’ve mastered the art of compromise by this point, so applying it to your beliefs is a logical transition. For my relationship, a sense of humor has always been most important. My wife and I have a knack for knocking each other down a peg if one of us is taking ourself too seriously. Presently, she likes to refer to our freethinker group as FWAC, as in “Fort Wayne Atheist Club,” pronounced “fwhack,” despite my insistence on calling it FreeThought Fort Wayne. She also (rightfully) makes fun of my sometimes nerd-a-rific interest in all things scientific. Meanwhile, I have found ways to tactfully poke fun at the sillier aspects of her beliefs, not in a mean-spirited way, but in a “funny ’cause it’s true” kind of way – like Dane Cook did.

Posted in FreeThought, Philosophy, Religion | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »