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My Take: Catholic bishops against the common good
The American Catholic bishops celebrating Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
April 15th, 2012
08:00 PM ET

My Take: Catholic bishops against the common good

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN)–The U.S. Catholic bishops who claim, increasingly incredibly, to speak on behalf of American Catholics hit a new low last week when they released a self-serving statement called “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” As this title intimates, the supposed subject is religious liberty, but the real matter at hand is contraception and (for those who have ears to hear) the rapidly eroding moral authority of U.S. priests and bishops.

On Easter Sunday, Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CBS that the controversial Health and Human Services contraception rule represents a “radical intrusion” of government into "the internal life of the Church.” On Thursday, 15 of his fellow Catholic clerics (all male) took another sloshy step into the muck and mire of the politics of fear.

In “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” there is talk of religious liberty as the “first freedom” and a tip of the cap to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. But first and foremost there is anxiety. “Our freedoms are threatened,” these clerics cry. “Religious liberty is under attack.”

But what freedoms are these clerics being denied? The freedom to say Mass?  To pray the Rosary?  No and no. The U.S. government is not forcing celibate priests to have sex, or to condone condoms. The freedom these clerics are being denied is the freedom to ignore the laws of the land in which they live.

When I first heard of the HHS rule requiring all employers to pay for birth control for their employees, I thought it should include, on First Amendment grounds, an exemption for Catholic churches. And in fact it did.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Moreover, when Catholic bishops and priests opposed the contraception mandate, HHS modified its rule, exempting not only Catholic churches but also Catholic-affiliated hospitals, universities, and social service agencies. (For these organizations, employees would receive contraceptive coverage from insurance companies separately from the policies purchased by their employers).

Once the Obama administration presented this compromise, I thought Catholic clerics would withdraw their objections. I was wrong. Instead they acted like political hacks rather than spiritual authorities, doubling down on the invective and serving up to the American public an even deeper draught of petty partisanship.

The bishops refer repeatedly in their statement to “civil society.” But think for a moment of the sort of "civil society" we would have if religious people were exempt from any law they deemed “unjust” for religious reasons.

Mormon employers who object to same-sex marriages could deny life insurance benefits to same-sex couples.

Jehovah’s Witnesses who object to blood transfusions could deny health care coverage for blood transfusions.

Christian Scientists who oppose the use of conventional medicine could refuse to cover their employees for anything other than Christian Science treatments.

And Roman Catholics could demand (as the bishops do in this statement) state financing for foster care programs that refuse to place foster children with same-sex parents.

As the Roman Catholic Church has taught for millennia, human beings are not isolated atoms. We live together in society, and we come together to pass laws to make our societies function. Virtually every law is coercive, and care must be taken not to violate the religious liberties of individual citizens. But care must also be taken to preserve the common good.

In their statement, Catholic bishops accused American political leaders of launching “an attack on civil society.” They also attempted to cloak themselves in the mantle of Dr. King. But theirs is a vision of an uncivil society, and their cause has nothing to do with the civil rights movement.

The civil rights movement succeeded because its cause was just, and because its leaders were able to mobilize millions of Americans to bring an end to the injustice of segregation. The effort by male Roman Catholic leaders to deny contraception coverage to female employees who want it does not bear even a passing resemblance to that cause. And even the bishops behind this so-called "movement" must admit that it is failing to mobilize even American Catholics themselves.

At least since the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, Catholics worldwide have been asking, “Who is the Roman Catholic Church?” Is it the hierarchy–a collection of priests, bishops, and cardinals overseen by a pope? Or is it the "People of God" in the pews whom these leaders are ordained to serve?

In recent years, this question has jumped by necessity from the realm of Catholic theology into the rough and tumble of American politics. Does American Catholicism oppose contraception? It depends on who speaks for the Church. The 98% of American Catholic women who have used contraception?  Or the 15 male clerics who issued this statement?

According to “Catholics for Choice,” which has published a rejoinder to "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty," “The bishops have failed to convince Catholics in the pews to follow their prohibitions on contraception. Now, they want the government to grant them the legal right to require each of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to set aside our own guaranteed freedom from government-sanctioned religious interference in our lives."

The bishops' statement gives lip service to “civil society” and the “common good,” but what these 15 clerics are trying to do here is destructive of both. To participate in civil society is to get your way sometimes and not others. To seek the common good is to sacrifice your own interests at times to those of others.

I will admit that the HHS contraception rule does ask these Catholic clerics to sacrifice something. But what is this sacrifice? Simply to allow the women who work for their organizations to be offered contraceptive coverage by their insurers. To refuse this sacrifice is not to uphold civil society. It is to refuse to participate in it.

Toward the end of their statement, the 15 bishops who signed this statement called on every U.S. Catholic to join in a “great national campaign” on behalf of religious liberty. More specifically, they called for a “Fortnight for Freedom” concluding with the Fourth of July when U.S. dioceses can celebrate both religious liberty and martyrs who have died for the Catholic cause.

As Independence Day approaches, I have a prediction. I predict that rank-and-file American Catholics will ignore this call. They will see that the issue at hand has more to do with women’s health than with religious liberty. And in the spirit of Vatican II, which referred to the church as the “People of God,” they will refuse to allow these 15 men to speak for them. Whatever moral capital U.S. bishops have in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the nation for decades will be insufficient to win over lay Catholics to what has been for at least a half a century a lost cause.

These 15 clerics write that American Catholics “must have the courage not to obey” unjust laws.  I think the courage called for today is something else—the courage not to obey those who no longer speak for them.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Health care • Leaders • Politics • Religious liberty • United States

soundoff (783 Responses)
  1. Prayers are not healthy for living children

    Atheism changes things..

    April 17, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  2. b4bigbang

    And yet ANOTHER QUAKE, this one in Chile!
    Get ready folks; we are living in the last days!!
    Prophesied by the Lord in the Gospels!!

    April 17, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Al

      Wow. Jesus was a carpenter, fisherman, and a geologist. I did not know that.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      b4bigbang, pick a date, any date, and I will bet you the value of all your possessions that the world, pretty much as we know it today, will still exist. You, and anyone else who believes in any end-times myth, are fill of sh!t!!

      April 17, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      know what all he end of days prophesies have in common? they've all been wrong. LOL.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • Primewonk

      Paging Harold Camping. Harold Camping, please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone for an emergency message from your god.

      April 17, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • TR6

      @b4bigbang:”And yet ANOTHER QUAKE, this one in Chile!
      Get ready folks; we are living in the last days!!”

      The one thing almost all of the “the end is near” folks have in common is that they don’t “sell everything they own and give it to the poor” although they highly recommend that you do. All talk and no action, remember Harold Camping?

      April 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  3. dlo1036

    Bootyfunk...is it lonely where you are? Do you have anything interesting or scholarly to add? Or have you moved on to troll another day?

    You are what is wrong with America, the ignorant simpleton...not because of your views, but because you are a know-it-all antagonist. People can not engage in meaningful conversations with viruses like you floating about.

    April 17, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      that's a bit harsh. no, didn't move on, just ate dinner with my lovely fiance. you sound mad. are you? LOL.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      and btw, you're post is definitely scholarly. haha. you sound like the typical religious fanatic that can't think for himself. baaaaaah goes the sheep...

      April 17, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  4. Early_Republic

    Stephen- they do speak for me, and I will obey, because I have faith.

    April 17, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  5. EJ

    You are correct, people's health care shouldn't be dictated by another's religion. It is completely within one's right to work, or not to work, for the RCC in America. For the government to mandate that church funds finance practices long understood to go against church doctrine sets a horrific anti-first amendment precedent. And Church officials are being attacked by societal sub-groups for wanting to open a religious dialouge? For looking out for the interests of its faithful? I'm sorry, but who are the bigots again?

    Any woman wishing to use contraceptives or pursue an abortion is free under the law to seek them out. The church is not deploying armed guards or using scare tactics. It is peacefully asserting its own religious right. I am quite disappointed in the author for supporting such an obvious violation of human rights.

    Although we shouldn't be surprised...Catholics have been the soft targets for bigotry in this country for centuries.

    April 17, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      should businesses be able to choose who to hire based on race?

      April 17, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      soft targets? lol. you make yourselves targets by pushing your beliefs on other people. leave others alone and it's likely they'll leave you alone.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Primewonk

      " For the government to mandate that church funds finance practices long understood to go against church doctrine sets a horrific anti-first amendment precedent."

      And this, of course, is a prototypical fundiot (fundamentalist îdiot) tea bagger lie. Churches were always exempt. Businesses; however, should have to follow the same rules. But Obama caved and exempted even these businesses.

      April 17, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • TR6

      When the catholic church chooses to run a business it must abide by the rules of business and does not get any special dispensation because of its bronze age beliefs

      April 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  6. 3rdSign

    Life is full of choices.
    1. If you don't believe in the same things that Catholics believe, then don't attend a Catholic church.
    2. If you want to teach at a Catholic school, remember that it is a Catholic school run by the Catholic church. If you don't agree with the doctrines of the church, then the public schools are always in need of good teachers.
    3. A Catholic school, as noted in 2 above, is run by the Catholic church. If you are not Catholic and choose to enroll your child in Catholic school, then don't be surprised when you child is taught catholic traditions and expected to attend mass. Otherwise, an alternative choice of schools may be best.
    4. Contraception, other than natural family planning is contrary to church teaching. If you are a member of the church and disagree with the church doctrine regarding contraception, one might do well to rethink the reasons why they choose to be Catholic. Likewise, if you are employed by the church and expect the church to provide or help pay for insurance that covers contraception or abortion services, then you should be mindful that the churches position on these topics are well known. Seeking employment elsewhere could be an option.

    April 17, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Clark1355

      I agree with everything you said but have a few comments:

      1. Keep silly things like "Intelligent design" out of PUBLIC schools.
      2. Why are we even debating gay marriage? Oh yeah because christians won't keep their religious views where they belong.
      3. You sound like an intelligent person so I have to ask if it bothers you that women cant be priests? And dont explain to me why I understand the church's view on it. I want to know how this does not bother someone that is probably pretty smart and knows the difference between right and wrong. And what about gays? You guys understand that its perfectly normal to be gay right? If happens in nature I dont know if you are aware of that. Or what about evolution? I also dont see how anyone can believe in evolution and still have such a strong relationship with ANY church. The Earth is not 10,000 years old. Adam and Eve did not exist. The gospels were written at least 70 years after christ died. And in Greek! Dont you people see this is a huge racket??

      April 17, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Clark1355

      One last thing. Catholic schools do not have better teachers than public. This is not even close Im sorry. Ask yourself would a good teacher work at a public school for $75,000 or a private one for $35,000. I taught for 10 years dont argue with me there is nothing anyone can say about it. Catholic schools are good at getting rid of riff-raff and winning football games.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • TR6

      Yes, when a person joins a religion the person should abide by the rules of the religion and not whine for special dispensations.

      And when a religion runs a business it should abide by the rules of business and not whine for special dispensations.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  7. Reality

    To be fair:

    Putting the kibosh on all religions in less than 500 words:

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    April 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Reality

      No clerics, imams, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired. Time for Stevey P to find honest work.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  8. Reality

    Based on the following, Stevey P again fails to do a thorough review of the situation.

    "Twenty-one states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage, usually for religious reasons, for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (administrative rule), Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia."

    http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/insurance-coverage-for-contraception-state-laws.aspx
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    April 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      @Reality: yes, but wouldn't a federal mandate over-rule all those 21 states' rules/laws?

      April 17, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      as well it should. because you run a business and have an employee doesn't mean you can shove your religious views down his throat.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • Reality

      The US Supreme Court will probably have the final say. Recently they have favored religious liberty and freedom in such cases.

      To wit:

      http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/supreme-court-backs-church-in-landmark-religious-liberty-case/

      "The government must stay out of hiring and firing decisions by a religious organization, even if a minister sues for employment discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

      Religious freedom groups praised the decision, and especially the fact that it came from a unanimous court."

      April 17, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  9. karen

    (B) RULES RELATING TO PAYMENTS—The notice described in subparagraph (A), any advertising used by the issuer with respect to the plan, any information provided by the Exchange, and any other information specified by the Secretary shall provide information only with respect to the total amount of the combined payments for [abo_rtions other than in cases of ra_pe, in_cest, or the life of the mother]

    April 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  10. karen

    (B) RULES RELATING TO PAYMENTS—The notice described in subparagraph (A), any advertising used by the issuer with respect to the plan, any information provided by the Exchange, and any other information specified by the Secretary shall provide information only with respect to the total amount of the combined payments for [abortions other than in cases of ra -pe, incest, or the life of the mother]

    April 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  11. Robert

    Since most of these fantasies about 'what Catholics believe' are not valid, and so far we haven't seen the actual cites to validate them, so they are not technically 'refutable'. Of course it is easy to mine the Catechism for things along these lines but nothing like what Colin's list says - at best he is taking authentic teachings and extrapolating them to ridiculous extremes, which is both invalid argumentation and uncharitable. The bottom line is his list is largely the product of his own rhetoric, not a serious engagement with educated Catholics. It really isn't too terribly clever, and it certainly doesn't 'prove' (or 'disprove') anything.
    RM

    April 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Colin

      Ok, Roert, let me ask you a few questions.

      1. Do you believe that the Catholic God created the Universe?

      2. Do you believe that God answers prayers?

      3. Do you believe in the Catholic ritual of communion?

      If the answer is yes to all three, you DO agree with virtually my entire post. It's just when I strip it of its self-serving nomenclature (using the term "divine" or "sacred" instead of "magic" for example) and call a spade a spade that the complete inanity of Catholicism is laid bare.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Robert

      Colin,
      I suspect we have very different understandings of what is meant by 'creation', 'prayer', and 'communion', but be that as it may.

      1. Do you believe that the Catholic God created the Universe? I believe that God is responsible for the creation of the universe, yes.

      2. Do you believe that God answers prayers? I believe that prayer is a way of communicating with God. I believe he listens, and yes answers, in His own way.

      3. Do you believe in the Catholic ritual of communion? I believe in the Sacrament of Eucharist, yes. The 'ritual of communion' is something much different of course - I accept it, but it's not a 'belief' in the same way or on the same order as the Eucharist.

      "If the answer is yes to all three, you DO agree with virtually my entire post." So the rest of your post - about papal infallability, and OT atrocities, and Lot's daughters, and the authors of the Bible, and Hindus and Greeks, and original sin, and skeptics going to hell –had nothing to do with your main point? If they were just irrelevent asides, then how were anything more than just gratuitious swipes at Catholics? Or are you contending that answering those three questions is sufficient to infer one's beliefs on all those other issues? Surely not.
      RM

      April 17, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • b4bigbang

      The atheists posting here are being TROUNCED by Rom Catholic 'Robert'.
      If the atheists posting here now aren't the 'A' team, then all i can say is you better send them in before you lose the game!

      April 17, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      trounced? lol.

      atheism has views based on logic, fact and evidence - christian views are based on faith and whatever some nutty shepherds wrote down in the bronze/iron age. see a difference? you have zero evidence to back up your claims. and the bible is full of WRONG information. i know you don't like it when atheists point out errors in your rule book or disgusting views (g.a.y.s, non-virgin brides and disobedient children should be killed).

      simply put, God doesn't make sense. not any more than all the other religions, who also thought their god(s) were the right one(s) too. there is no more evidence that Jesus existed than Hercules. grow up, let go of the fairy tales and lead a grown up life.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Modmon

      It is literally impossible for facts to be beaten by lies. Facts are real. Lies are just lies.
      Your god has been proven time and time again to not exist.
      If you want the "A" team to debate with you, you have to debate honestly or you will have lost before you began.
      In a debate, there are rules to follow. If you just want to chant bible passages at us, most will ignore you or make fun of you.

      Here, some of us examine your words. Many religious people are completely incapable of doing this in a rational way, so it's like shooting fish in a barrel. We have actual facts. You don't. Anything we say can be verified. Anything you say is likely to be bald-faced lies that you may be too blind to question.
      Then we have to try to get you to take an honest look at what you're saying. Most of you can't.
      We try to help, but you view it as a threat to your teddy-bear delusions.
      Laugh it up. No one has ever beaten the truth with lies and a disregard for clear facts.
      It's been thousands of years and no god has ever existed no matter the stories that were made up.
      We can check every story, every description of every god and examine all the facts in the universe.
      No gods exist. Nothing supernatural exists. No magic. No Santa Claus god. No Jesus. Just hallucinating fundies.
      I don't have time for this beyond a few minutes now and again. You cannot win. Your god does not exist.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:43 am |
  12. Kevin

    The size of that dude's mug in the by-line profile pic should us everything we need to know about the author, his level of professional self-esteem, and what level sound reasoning we should expect from the content. Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I wasted a few minutes and read the article. Sadly, it confirmed that they're inversely proportional.

    April 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      funny thing is, this guy usually writes pro-christianity dribble....

      April 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Modmon

      Kevin, your ad hominem attack on the author shows me that you have no rebuttal to anything he said but want to discredit him somehow, yet the only way you can do this is to pretend that his picture has something to do with what he said.
      That's just pathetic.
      Look at yourself in the mirror. Would you like it if someone said false things like that about you just because of your face? Why didn't you just say that he's ugly and his momma dresses him funny? Because that's how unintelligent you sound.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • Kevin

      Modmon – Oh, I have no desire to refute the author's simplistic trolling for outrage. One can only hope to fight the good fight, and a CNN Blog on religion is certainly not the place to start. A fact clearly demonstrated by the majority of the comments, including yours.

      My statement was neither ad hominem nor an attack on his appearance, but a legitimate and astute comment that his choice of profile picture, one that is over-sized and jarring, reflects the quality and tone of his writing. The quality of his personal appearance is irrelevant and not mentioned by me.

      April 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  13. Colin

    Gerald, I don't answer your points because they are too inept to bother with.

    Robert, to address your points.

    1. Complete misunderstanding of the doctrine of infallibility as taught by the Church.

    Not so. The Catholic Catechism maintains (i) that [the Catholic] God communicates directly with the Pope and (ii) that when he speaks “from the chair” people are obliged to believe him. A great example was the immaculate conception of Mary, which is a totally fabricated Catholic position dreamed up by the Vatican because science was beginning to show that both parents contribute to a child’s physical attributes. Likewise, the ascension of Mary, helium balloon like into Heaven. Childish nonsense. By the way, how can one “have to believe” something.

    2. Mosty [sic] Catholics are not ‘blissfully blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and heralding the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs’. We know this to be true, of course. Also, where is this a Church teaching?

    The point is, Catholicism is no more likely true than Islam, Hinduism, Taoism or any of the 10,000 other non-fact based religions this planet has known. A point the RCC seems incapable of grasping.

    3. We do not ‘begrudgingly accept evolution’, it's official Church teaching, and does not negate the concept of Original Sin, only requires a more developed understanding of it than a literal Adam & Eve/Genesis.

    For about 1900 years, the RC taught that Genesis WAS literal. It was only after Darwin and others proved it was wrong that the RCC began to try squirm out of it. There is no “deeper understanding” of original sin. Jesus supposedly dying to save us from original sin is based squarely on a myth. It must be horrible knowing that the whole central dogma of your “most cherished belief” is based on a Bronze Age Jewish myth.

    4. We do not believe that “being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic” – simply that one is true and one is not. Are you contending that there is a Church teaching that actually says this? We believe that we “are monotheistic” because we believe in only one god – lists of devils, angels etc are irrelevant.

    Catholics believe in 3 gods (father, son, Holy Spirit) the Virgin Mary – itself based on a sloppy translation, she was not a virgin- thousands of angels, saints, demons. If that is not polytheism, what is?

    5. We do not‘ bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah” since we attribute atrocities to men, not God. I don’t know the Catechism section attributing anything to Allah, btw.

    The point is, you ignore the numerous crimes you supposedly “all loving” god condoned or committed in the bible. Unless of course you think it is ok to murder thousands of Egyptian babies

    6. We don't 'laugh at' Hindu or Greek beliefs, simply believe they are in error. Of course they are all matters of faith, but we don't use our belief in their inaccuracy to justify the accuracy of our own. If we did, you'd have a point – since we don't this is just another attempt to make it all sound silly, without really saying anything.

    See point 2

    7. We don’t “criticize gays as sinners”, but consider ho.mos.exual acts sinful. There is a big distinction. We also do “have a problem with Lot etc [insert your favorite OT freakshow here]” – are you saying there is a Church teaching saying it's all good, no problem?.

    That’s like saying you don’t consider swimmers sinners, but consider swimming a sin. Gutless and non-committal, especially given that many priests are closeted gays.

    8. We don’t “believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Iron Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty simply because of their healthy skepticism”. Are you citing a Church teaching that says 'healthy skepticism' is a mortal sin or something?

    I am saying that the church values blind gullibility above skepticism, as it must to maintain itself.

    9. We manifestly do not “totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner.” Aside from the fact that I would think the very fact that even by your admission the Church does 'accept scientific breakthroughs inconsistent with established doctrine' would actually be a selling point for the Church, I am again interested in which cite from official Church teaching requires it to resist all scientific 'breakthroughs'. The ridiculous misunderstanding/misrepresentation of the transubstantiation issue is emblamatic [sic] of the entire approach of this 'list' – the 'magic hand signals' do not 'convince' Catholics that a change had taken place because of 'the priests' magic powers'. If you're going to argue with Church teaching, at least start by articulating it properly. That's not even close.

    Ok, the bread and wine is converted into the body and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because of the DIVINE powers of the priest. Is that any less ridiculous?

    10. Does official Church teaching "define 0.01% as a "high success rate"? The balance of this remark reveals a completely immature understanding of prayer and again, has nothing to do with 'Church teaching' but instead just slanders a stereotype.

    Great, how do you explain the billions of unanswered prayers and millions who’s prayers went unanswered at Lourdes.

    11. We manifestly do not “accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them”, a point which our more ardent Protestant brothers are quite vocal about.

    Ok, who wrote them?

    April 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      LOVE, love, love the response to geraldine. Perfect!

      April 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      very well said, colin.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Robert

      Colin,
      To be clear, I am not trying to prove any Catholic belief to you, or win some theological argument. I’m just trying to make clear that your representation of ‘what Catholics believe’ is inaccurate. You deliberately frame your statements in terms of ridicule and derision, your prerogative of course but it does nothing to strengthen the force of your ‘arguments’; you use either extreme extrapolations or rudimentary understandings to obscure more complex truths about these beliefs; and you do tend to recast your ‘points’ when they don’t really hold up. Your contempt for the Church and its beliefs is quite clear, but its venom poisons your arguments and ends up making them less persuasive.
      1. Now at least you are confining yourself to two actual examples where infallibility was invoked – your earlier version of this point was trying to retroactively apply it in cases where it clearly never was applied. Infallibility does not apply to ‘anything Church doctrine has ever included or any pope has said’. Likewise, infallibility has nothing to do with the personal conduct or political actions of popes, this is also clearly articulated in the actual doctrine, so conduct/misconduct of past popes is not proof for/against infallibility either. Hence, my contention that you do not really understand the teaching on infallibility. As to the Immaculate Conception (which refers to the conception of Mary, not Jesus – you know that right? And it has nothing to do with her physical attributes, so your ‘rationale’ imputed to the Vatican for this makes little sense) or the Assumption, you’ve established that you think they’re nonsense. Catholics will readily admit they are unprovable, articles accepted on faith. Do you think this is a startling revelation?
      2. The RCC Catechism actually perceives the work of God in most other religions, and is not at all ‘incapable of grasping’ that Truth exists in them as well. One can be raised in a religious tradition as an accident of birth. You claimed that Catholics are ‘blind to (or ignore)’ this fact – that’s simply not true.
      3. Yes, the Church adjusted its understanding of the world and God’s creation in light of scientific discovery. Yes, it was a slow process and a conservative Church hierarchy resisted it, but in the end is proved itself capable of growing in understanding. Most of us see that as a positive feature. Your characterization of our ‘most cherished belief’ is childish at best and disingenuous at worst – I find it hard to believe you’re not capable of conceiving of a more intellectually and philosophically mature conception of what exactly ‘original sin’ is (the Catechism is a good start for your research), and what Christ’s role is. You claimed that evolution invalidates Catholic understanding of man’s relationship with God – that’s simply not true. The Church in fact proclaims the opposite.
      4. Polytheism = belief in many gods. Monotheism = belief in one god. Catholicism =belief in one God (manifested in Three Persons). Why is that so difficult? You may choose to consider Mary, Satan, angels etc ‘gods’, but Catholics don’t.
      5. We don’t ‘ignore’ the various examples of atrocities in the OT, we try to understand them. I have no problem believing the majority of the OT examples you cite are the result of human or natural action imputed to God, and I don’t think it is at odds with Catholic doctrine to believe so. Again, your claim that Catholics ‘just ignore’ this is just not true.
      6. You still haven’t really made a point here. Saying that ‘Catholicism is based on faith, so are all other religions, therefore its wrong’ is not a valid logical argument. Saying ‘it’s just as (un)likely to be true as any other’ may or may not be true (how do you quantify that?), but it’s also not a very useful point to make, since objectively it does nothing to prove/disprove its claims.
      7. Your original point was that Catholics supposedly ‘have no problem’ with the conduct of various OT figures, another ridiculous falsehood, and that supposedly this means that it’s somehow hypocritical to condemn behaviors in the contemporary world. Please cite the ‘Catholic teaching’ that says there’s no problem with Lot’s conduct, etc. Otherwise, pls retire this ‘point’ as well. The issue of Church teaching on h.omos.exuality is very clear, sorry if you find it ‘gutless and noncommittal’ to consider the actor independently of the action – personally I think that’s a far more ‘gutsy’ approach than the caricature you’d prefer we have.
      8. “I’m saying…” – please don’t change what you’re saying because it doesn’t hold up. You said the Church teaches that skeptics go to Hell. Yet you had a Cardinal of the Church only last week publicly saying that athiests can go to Heaven. So clearly, what you said is just not true. Also, you have provided no cite evidencing that the Church ‘values gullibility above skepticism’. Again, your characterization of ‘what the Church teaches’ simply isn’t true.
      9. Again you slide away from defending your original point, which was that Catholics ‘totally reject any scientific breakthrough inconsistent with established doctrine’. The truth is much more nuanced and you know that, so don’t let your effort not to appear ‘gutless’ make you look like a fool. And you know it is not the ‘powers of the priest’ that bring about transubstantiation, and yes, it’s already ‘less ridiculous’ than your previous framing, so that’s progress. If OTOH your only point was to prove that ‘Catholics believe in crazy stuff not provable by science’ – well, congratulations. A little late to the party.
      10. I don’t think prayer operates the way you think it does (nor, indeed, the way most people think it does, on this point I will agree with you, most people’s conception of it doesn’t make sense). I don’t think it is measured in terms of success/failure ratios (as in got/didn’t get what I asked for). The purpose of prayer is communication and communion, not get/don’t get. Again, I think you’ll find most Catholic teaching is more consistent with this view than the go/no go model you claim it teaches.
      11. We certainly have ‘more than the slightest idea’ who wrote many of the books – we don’t know exact names, but contemporary scholarship can tell us a great deal about the kinds of persons who must have written them – dates, communities, professions, educational background, audience, cultural context, etc. And if anything, Catholic bible scholarship is generally attacked by our Protestant brothers for being too willing to question the literal biblical accounts or ask questions about the authors. Again, you’re just wrong here.

      If you want to engage honestly and intellectually on matters of Church teaching, do it straight. If your sole point is ‘Catholics believe a lot of crazy stuff unprovable by science’ – well, yeah. Big news there. If you choose instead to deliberately misrepresent ‘Church teaching’ in ways obviously meant to belittle believers, it runs the risk of coming across as a self-indulgent exercise in ego-stroking. Snide remarks and hokey stick figure representations of what you think Catholics believe don’t help your case, and reveal more about the teller than the tale.
      RM

      April 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      Robert, your "logic" has so many holes in it, it's difficult to know where to start...

      April 17, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      you're ridiculous.

      "Yet you had a Cardinal of the Church only last week publicly saying that athiests can go to Heaven"

      that's right, one guy. now go talk to the other cardinals and see what they say. or any church goer. 99% think atheists go to hell. maybe because it says so in the bible?

      Wherefore I say unto you that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

      And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speakest against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him, either in this world, neither in the world to come.
      –Matthew 12:31-32

      time to read your bible - cause you obviously don't know what it says.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • Modmon

      Robert's trying his best to be a Catholic apologist. He's trying pretty hard, but he doesn't know how to refute anything in a credible way, probably because he can't. Nothing about the RCC is credible. Who cares about their derivative lies?
      It's all based on their descriptions of their god, which are easily refuted. Without a god, all their efforts and words are empty.

      April 17, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Robert

      @bootyfunk, I'm just pointing out previous inaccurate characterization of 'what Catholics' believe'. Since we've clearly dropped most of those original 'points', I assume there's no evidence to support them as originally framed, so I'm not overly concerned about what you 'think' about my logic. I think Colin's attempt to reframe his case in terms fo first principles and core beliefs is much better than your constant self-congratulatory mockery.
      Since Cardinals are officials of the Church, I think their interpretation of Church teaching is more accurate than yours. Interesting and not a little ironic that it's you reduced to throwing around random Bible quotes out of context, something I have yet to do. Catholics are not Fundamentalists, (who btw are the ones you and others clearly would rather be arguing against).
      @Modmom all I am 'refuting' are mischaracterizations of Catholic belief, I'm not trying to 'prove' anything about their validity. That's a matter of faith, we readily admit that, so how do you think you're on to some startling revelation here? You obviously feel passionately about the issue and that's fine, but you haven't really done much more than say 'you can't prove it so its ridiculous' - a valid opinion, but not necessarily a compelling 'argument'.
      RM

      April 17, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Colin

      Robert – I am well aware of the supposed distinction between infallible and "normal" doctrinal pronunciations. What I don't get is how the RCC can state something as a fact (e.g. Adam and Eve) and excommunicate and even kill people for having a different belief and then pretend away 1900 years of history by "changing its mind". How is that idea of "thou shalt believe" any different to a from the chair pronunciation? As recently as a year or two ago, the Pope invoked papal infallibility in dictating to the church in Australia that women could not be priests. So, how is that any different to a "normal" rule of the church?

      Limbo is another perfect example. It was in Catholic Catechism as objectiverly true for years, until Ratzinger just eradicated it – in a face saving manner, of course. Bang – an entire magic kingdom full of dead, unbaptized babies, eradicated. Silly stuff. How many after death kingdoms are there now? Do they all still have layers and hierachys? Silly, childish, Peter Pan stuff based on not a shred of evidence.

      Look, can you not see that the Church cannot make facts (or magic gods) up just by speaking from the chair or otherwsie including it in catechism? Facts are facts. How can one evn "have to" believe something – that is as silly as dictating that they "have to" be tall.

      In what year was the ex-communication of Gallileo finally revoked?

      2. "The RCC Catechism actually perceives the work of God in most other religions," But your god, right? That's they key – they are REALLY just a bit mistaken and the Catholics are right. All other religions, in worshiping Vishnu, Krishna, Allah, the snake gods of the Australian Aboriginals etc. are really just worshiping your god. Funny that 99% of them reject or have never heard of Jesus Christ. You can be as politically correct as you like, but come end of the day, other religions are inconsistent with Catholic doctrine and many specifically reject it – AND they are just as valid as Catholicism.

      In a dark room without features, any groping guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

      3. The CRR rejected evolution until it was painted into a corner. It THEN "adjusted" as you put it. So, why is Genesis still in the Bible? Why is thestory of Gilgamesh, woops, I mean Noah still taught? Likewise, it will one day soon have to alter its position on ho.mo$exuality and the role of women.

      If the RCC could be so spectacularly wrong for thousands of years and only change when proved wrong, how can you have any faith in its other stories? Did Abraham and Moses really exist, did Exodus really happen? Of course not – most are agreed on this now. Probably 90% of the events claimed in the bible never happened. Do you really believe, as an adult, in the stories of Noah and Exodus? That is pure mythology, but the RCC still maintains it, just in a watered down fashion.

      4. One god, three manifestations – that is one reason Muslims rejected Christianity – they saw this as polytheist. If a being is immortal and has supernatural powers, as you Catholics believe for Mary, satan etc. how is that different to a god, albiet an inferior on to the " boss" god, like Zeus or God? When you make the whole thing up,, you can call them one god, three manifestations or three godss – it is all word games – but the fact remains that Catholicism is polytheistic.

      Did you know the RCC still, in the 21st Century, has full time exorcists? Ever wondered why devils and demons only ever possess the mentally ill? Why are the well adjusted immune to their demonic layovers? For the same reason that God never cures amputees with a miracle. Your god has to hide, always around the next corner, just out of sight.

      5. I like that. When something " good" happens its god, when something bad happens its man. Hmmm, what about the Passover and the murder o finnocent Egyptian babies, an act attributed directlly to God – and the plagues (after God himself hardened the Pharoh's heart). Be honetst, it is all myth, reflective of the times. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration. Alternatively, if one believes the Bible is the word of God, one must accept that God is a sick, violent ba.stard.

      6. We are back to " we were lucky enough to get it right". You weren' t. you got 99% of it wrong, including the fable of original sin. Never happened.

      7. Why then, does the bible laud Lot as a hero? Was God wrong when he wrote it? Whay was his wife turned into salt (another silly myth, btw) and not lot. Your distinction between gay people and gay activiteis is just flat silly, as I pointed out. What I don't understand is why the RC is so anti-gay, given that the % of closeted gays must be much higher in the RC, given that they are all men who swaer never to touch a woman. Why do you still, in your catechism, compare them to people who have $ex with animals? That is cruel and reflects little understanding.

      8. Ok, this is my favorite. I wish the RC would get its posiiton straight. If it says that now, it is different to what Jesus, St. Paul, the Patriachs and 2000 years of church history has taught. If that is the case, then, why believe? But, it is not the case and you know it. The RC still maintains the fires of hell nonsense for non-believers. What was the first comandment again?

      9. You have a demonstrated history of rejecting science that shows your doctrine to be garbage. Again, in what year was galileo " pardoned" . Ever heard of Giordano Bruno? Hom.o$exuality is NOT genetic, right? Copernicus was never threatened because he showed the Earth is not the ceter of the Universe, right?

      Your ability to defend the notion that a priest can magically transform grocery store bread and wine into flesh and blood astounds me – and shows the deep blinding effect religion can have on otherwsie smart people. I suppose you alos believe that your god is simultaneously watching and reading the minds of the World's 7 billion people 24 hours a day, right? Silly stuff.

      10. A glimmer of hope that rational thought may have a chance with you. Congratulations. Now turn the same healthy skepticism toward the other supernatural components of your belief and see how they do. You know the RCC still officially believes in the magic powers (or divine powers, if you prefer the more euphamistic term) of Lourdes, Fatima and, even more silly, Guadaloupe, right? Myths, legeds and silly childish stories.

      11. Yes, it can tell us a lot about them – that they wrote to promote their theology – not to accurately report facts. That is part of the reason the 4 gosples can ony get their facts straight when they copy each other. Heck, compare Matthew and Luke on Jesus' birth – totally different and inconsistent. Or on the geneology of Jesus, or on how Judas died, or on the passion story – all different -some added centuries later (the end of Mark or the story in John of the adultress, for example). The RCC's official position o nthe 4 authors of the gospel is 100% flat wrong and it ignores the contradictions.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • gerald

      "Bootyfunk

      Robert, your "logic" has so many holes in it, it's difficult to know where to start..."

      This from someone who says "hardly empty" = full.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Robert

      Colin,
      1. I get it - you don't understand how the Church can change its position on things. If you can't conceive of Church as an ongoing process, an evolving expression of the relationship between God and man, made up of people capable of error and correction, I understand you're inability to accept it. 'Have to believe' simply means that Catholics are to accept these beliefs as true in order to identify themselves as Catholic. They are free not to, of course, it's a choice. It’s not at all a.nalogous to 'have to be tall' or anything like that.
      I don't believe Galileo was ever excommunicated, so there was no need to revoke it. The Church has, however, publicly admitted its error in the handling of that matter.
      2. There is no 'my God', there's just God. All religions are an attempt to know Him. In your dark room, all 360 guesses are valid as guesses, yes, but only one of them is right. So one is by definition 'more valid' than the other 359. Believers in any religion are free to believe theirs is 'right'. The difference is you are saying there's no door at all. I'm saying there are no walls.
      3. Genesis, Noah/Gilgamesh, etc are not in the Bible as scientific treatises or historical doc uments, but to provide instruction and insight into the evolution of Man's understanding of his relationship with God. Shouldn't be that hard for you to understand. Our understanding of the purpose of these stories has changed as our understanding of the world and the past grows - this is entirely compatible with many lines of current Catholic teaching.
      4. God alone has creative power. It is the essence, the existence, the 'I Am' from which all other things (Mary etc) proceed. You can continue to think of God in terms of Zeus or Thor, that's not what Catholic understanding of God is even remotely like.
      5. Again you try to reframe your original argument. I said nothing about 'attributing good things to God and bad to man'. Only that many of the OT actions you mention were attributed to God by their authors, in a more primitive worldview. You can certainly prove it is a product of man, and the Church would agree with you. Your contention that it is 'bereft of divine inspiration' is, however, not ‘proven’ by that fact.
      6. You are so far from your original point here. Is your contention that all religions are equally valid, or equally invalid? How do you declare definitively that the Church as it understands things today has '99% of it wrong'? Because others believe differently (your original point)? And I'm curious what the 1% is?
      7. Are you really so unable to understand this? The Bible doesn't 'laud' him, it just reports his story. God didn't write it, men did (though yes, the Church believes the Bible writers were inspired by God, this explicitly does not mean 'dictated' or 'ghostwritten'). Given that we are open to the idea that these stories are intended more as metaphor than reporting, the bit about Lot's wife has an obvious role. I know it's easier for you to argue these if you pretend we accept them literally, but we don't so you can let go of that line of attack, it doesn't work here. On the issue of 'gays', again, if you can't distinguish between action and actor, that's your limitation, not mine.
      8. Your original point was that Catholics believe 'healthy skepticism' leads to H.ell. We've established that this is not the case. When you're ready to move on, feel free. You can at least feel free to drop that point next time you nail your '11 points' manifesto to this particular door. Note, 'blasphemy', 'apostasy', "rejection' are not the same as 'healthy skepticism'.
      9. Your original contention was 'Catholics reject science' (patently untrue), what you really mean is they don't accept it fast enough for you or in the way you do. Nor does this 'show doctrine to be garbage'. You haven't demonstrated any logical linkage at all between those two propositions. Personally I think the fact that the Church is able to adapt doctrine to continued expansion of human knowledge is a point in the Church's favor. The Church reasoning as I understand it now is quite open to the idea that h.omos.exual orientation is at least in part, if not all, genetically determined, or at least, not 'chosen'.
      10. Don't worry Colin I am constantly evaluating the components of my faith and 'seeing how they do', and I do so in a process of rational inquiry and logical argument (which, ironically enough, was taught to me by the Church).
      11. The RCC does not 'ignore' the differences in the accounts - that would be impossible to do. If it really were such a de-vious cabal of control freaks, it would long ago have 'infallibly' 'corrected' the Bible to remove those troubling bits. The fact that it hasn't, but instead honestly addresses them, is again a point in its favor, quite frankly.

      Nevertheless I am glad to see you have at least abandoned the more egregious characterizations and assumptions embodied in your original ’11 points’, that’s a glimmer of hope right back at you.
      RM

      April 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Colin

      o 1. I get it – you don't understand how the Church can change its position on things. If you can't conceive of Church as an ongoing process, an evolving expression of the relationship between God and man, made up of people capable of error and correction, I understand you're inability to accept it. 'Have to believe' simply means that Catholics are to accept these beliefs as true in order to identify themselves as Catholic. They are free not to, of course, it's a choice. It’s not at all a.nalogous to 'have to be tall' or anything like that.
      I don't believe Galileo was ever excommunicated, so there was no need to revoke it. The Church has, however, publicly admitted its error in the handling of that matter.
      o
      o So, given what you say, what is the difference between a Catholic belief that is from the chair and one that is not? Either way, the individual is called upon to accept what the RCC says without question. That is a fundamental characteristic of the RCC – you are morally obliged to “believe.” That is impossible. At best, you can be obliged to pretend to believe. What you really believe is a different matter. If the RCC told you, from the chair or otherwise, that you had to believe that Tokyo was the capital of France, could you do it? Well, I have the same problem with all supernatural aspects of Catholicism.
      So, what exactly did Galileo do that so offended the church? He, along with Copernicus, Brahe, Keppler and Bruno, first suggested that the 3 story, planar cosmology of St Paul was wrong. So, instead of adapting, the RCC threatened them all and even killed one.
      o
      2. There is no 'my God', there's just God. All religions are an attempt to know Him. In your dark room, all 360 guesses are valid as guesses, yes, but only one of them is right. So one is by definition 'more valid' than the other 359. Believers in any religion are free to believe theirs is 'right'. The difference is you are saying there's no door at all. I'm saying there are no walls.
      o
      o So, putting aside political correctness, you are still saying that Catholics are right and all others are wrong. Sorry, the World is bigger than you. Unless you can point to something that objectively shows that Catholics are right and Theravada Buddhists, Hindus, Mahayana Buddhists, Sikhs, Taoists, Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Methodists, Protestants, Mormons, Scientologists, Amish, Daoists, Shintos etc,, etc., etc., are all wrong, shut up and take you place in the audience of various beliefs. Knock off the “we’re right and they’re all wrong nonsense”. Nobody believes you but other Catholics.
      o
      o
      3. Genesis, Noah/Gilgamesh, etc are not in the Bible as scientific treatises or historical docu.ments, but to provide instruction and insight into the evolution of Man's understanding of his relationship with God. Shouldn't be that hard for you to understand. Our understanding of the purpose of these stories has changed as our understanding of the world and the past grows – this is entirely compatible with many lines of current Catholic teaching.
      o
      o Once again, you are sweeping under the mat 2000 years of Catholicism. Point me to one Catholic source that said Noah’s Ark, Adam and Eve etc. was mythology prior to science proving it to be so. You can’t, because there is none. Your statement that “it is simple to provide instruction” is a nothing short of a bald faced lie. For 2,000 years it was “true.” Now you have to squirm in your seat and pretend the RCC always knew it was mythology. Total BS.
      o
      4. God alone has creative power. It is the essence, the existence, the 'I Am' from which all other things (Mary etc) proceed. You can continue to think of God in terms of Zeus or Thor, that's not what Catholic understanding of God is even remotely like.
      God is in my wallet, if I define him as a credit card. When you make the whole thing up, you can give him whatever magic powers (or “divine” powers or “sacred” powers, if that makes you more comfortable) and personality traits you wish – vengeful, loving, jealous, mean, sadistic, caring etc.
      o
      5. Again you try to reframe your original argument. I said nothing about 'attributing good things to God and bad to man'. Only that many of the OT actions you mention were attributed to God by their authors, in a more primitive worldview. You can certainly prove it is a product of man, and the Church would agree with you. Your contention that it is 'bereft of divine inspiration' is, however, not ‘proven’ by that fact.
      o
      o There is not one sentence in the bible, from “In the beginning” to “Amen” that suggests it is anything but late Iron Age Palestinian mythology. Hardly the work of a being capable of creating the entire Universe.
      o
      6. You are so far from your original point here. Is your contention that all religions are equally valid, or equally invalid? How do you declare definitively that the Church as it understands things today has '99% of it wrong'? Because others believe differently (your original point)? And I'm curious what the 1% is?
      o
      o To be honest, I suspect that close to 99% of the Bible is totally fabricated. If that is an exaggeration, it is not much of one. One can safely write off Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Numbers as Jewish myth. The same is pretty much true of the rest of the TaNaK. Even when Christianity kicks in, we know now it is most likely myth. Paul’s letters, for e.g. (the roughly 50% that are not forged) are inconsistent with Acts. M,M,L and J contradict each other. Doesn’t sound like th e tome of a god to me.
      o
      7. Are you really so unable to understand this? The Bible doesn't 'laud' him, it just reports his story. God didn't write it, men did (though yes, the Church believes the Bible writers were inspired by God, this explicitly does not mean 'dictated' or 'ghostwritten'). Given that we are open to the idea that these stories are intended more as metaphor than reporting, the bit about Lot's wife has an obvious role. I know it's easier for you to argue these if you pretend we accept them literally, but we don't so you can let go of that line of attack, it doesn't work here. On the issue of 'gays', again, if you can't distinguish between action and actor, that's your limitation, not mine.
      o
      o In my entire life, I have never heard any Catholic writing that denounces or criticizes Lot for engaging in drunken inc.est with his own daughters, or for throwing his own daughter to a mob to be gang-ra.ped. Perhaps you can point me to one. Every time the myth of Sodom and Gomorrah is cited by the RCC, it is to criticize gays.
      o
      8. Your original point was that Catholics believe 'healthy skepticism' leads to H.ell. We've established that this is not the case. When you're ready to move on, feel free. You can at least feel free to drop that point next time you nail your '11 points' manifesto to this particular door. Note, 'blasphemy', 'apostasy', "rejection' are not the same as 'healthy skepticism'.
      o
      o No, we have not “established” that. I have heard my entire life that a rejection of the Catholic god leads to hell. Blasphemy is a silly concept. How can an all powerful god be defamed or offended? Apostasy is a rejection of the Catholic god. That is my point. Apostasy leads to hell in your childish doctrine.
      o
      9. Your original contention was 'Catholics reject science' (patently untrue), what you really mean is they don't accept it fast enough for you or in the way you do. Nor does this 'show doctrine to be garbage'. You haven't demonstrated any logical linkage at all between those two propositions. Personally I think the fact that the Church is able to adapt doctrine to continued expansion of human knowledge is a point in the Church's favor. The Church reasoning as I understand it now is quite open to the idea that h.omos.exual orientation is at least in part, if not all, genetically determined, or at least, not 'chosen'.
      o
      o As late as the late 20th century, JP II tried to restrict Stephen Hawkins in his research. You get frightened by science and always have been, because it shows your core doctrines to be nonsense. Prove me wrong. Cite a Catholic source per-1950 that accepted evolution.
      o
      10. Don't worry Colin I am constantly evaluating the components of my faith and 'seeing how they do', and I do so in a process of rational inquiry and logical argument (which, ironically enough, was taught to me by the Church).
      o
      o I was educated in a Catholic school. They did a good job. The problem was that they did do a good job and I could not believe in their myths any longer, given what they taught me in science class.
      o
      11. The RCC does not 'ignore' the differences in the accounts – that would be impossible to do. If it really were such a de-vious cabal of control freaks, it would long ago have 'infallibly' 'corrected' the Bible to remove those troubling bits. The fact that it hasn't, but instead honestly addresses them, is again a point in its favor, quite frankly.

      Not so. It does ignore them. I have never read a Catholic docu.ment that confronts and resolves them, but feel free to point me to one.
      Nevertheless I am glad to see you have at least abandoned the more egregious characterizations and assumptions embodied in your original ’11 points’, that’s a glimmer of hope right back at you.
      RM\
      Actually, I remain convinced that there is hope for you. The penetrating light of logic and reason can only be ignored for so long. You will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the refreshing clarity of atheism, despite your reticence. Now, repeat after me, “ There is no god, it is all mythology, there is no god, it is all mythology” – 

      April 18, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Robert

      Colin,
      Sorry, my reply appears to have posted as a 'new post' further down the line (p. 7). If you're interested you can find it there, the system won't let me repost it here.
      Best,
      RM

      April 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  14. karen

    No mention by cnn or the administration on the mandated abortion surcharge that will be included in obamacare. No matter if you want to contribute or not. Your money will go to supporting abortions. Thanks cnn for keeping us ignorant of this fact.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      yeah, and what about blood transfusions? jehovah's witness don't believe in blood transfusions but our taxes go to medical treatments that include blood transfusions. how terrible!

      and according to christian science, ALL medical treatment is bad. there goes more wasteful spending of taxes.

      do you see how ridiculous it is that someone's religious beliefs should be able to dictate someone else's medical treatment?

      April 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @karen

      Took me 2 seconds of searching to find what you were referring to, and also to see that it is completely false.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/02/obamacare-abortion-surcharge_n_1397564.html

      Try taking a look and not being such a transparently partisan idiot.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • karen

      Hey booty the last time checked, insurance money us not specifically allocated for blood transfusions. There is not a separate fund designated for this purpose. Regardless if you see ir as logical or not, people need to be informed.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • karen

      Hawaii, you take your information from a partisan media source? Taken from the healthplan itself...to follow

      April 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Still waiting karen. Or is it that you saw that each state is required to have an insurance that expressly does not cover abortions, or the fact that the abortion surcharge will be stated upon enrollment, thereby allowing the person to switch? Is it not the evil piece of socialism that you thought?

      April 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • karen

      (II) shall estimate such costs as if such coverage

      were included for the entire population covered;

      and

      (III) may not estimate such a cost at less

      than $1 per enrollee, per month

      April 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Whining about the abortion issue does not prevent abortions from happening. If a woman wants one bad enough, she will get it and then the cost to your precious heath care system goes up again because backyard abortions are life threatening and everyone breathing has the right to life. Would you support your health care covering abortion if the woman was ra.ped or her life was endangered or it was an 'oops' that simply leads in to the fact that the parents can't afford to feed another child (and not all contraception works all the time)? There are numerous reasons a woman would opt for an abortion, noen of which would be anyone's business...what she does with her body is her business...if you don't like the idea of abortions, don't get one but don't be so ignorant to deny someone else that right. Your government spends more on the military than they do abortions...get your whining priorities right!

      April 17, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @karen

      So you post that the surcharge is there. But you forget to mention the points that I brought up. The fact that each of the states MUST have at least one insurance plan that will specifically NOT cover abortions, and as such the surcharge will not apply. The surcharge is only applied to insurance plans that will cover abortions. Also, the fact that abortions would be covered under a certain plan is stated clearly in the enrollment process.

      April 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • karen

      Clarity and transparency are lacking. I doubt it will Ve easy to see. I don't think our federal money should pay for anyone's abortions. I do believe that people need to know that this us occurring.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Now you're just being dishonest. The surcharge will go to the insurance company, not the federal government. Government money is not used for abortion except in cases of ra-pe, inc-est, and if the life of the mother is threatened by the pregnancy. It also says clearly in the law that if abortion is covered it must be put among the list of what is covered during the enrollment process.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • kway

      Lies. Federal money is currently being used to pay for abortions for illegal immigrants.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Cite your sources on that.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  15. A known Filipino

    I agree with this article. Again right wing and left wing and center wing people are all prejudiced in their own way

    April 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  16. PrimeNumber

    Mr. Prothero, in Hollywood when they have no ideas or talent, they have a default. They can mock religion, the clergy, the pope. After all, the churches teach tough stuff and most people can't stand that. Hollywood and other media simply use the anti-religion thing to keep the bucks coming in with little effort at all. Now, Prothero, history may not be your schtick. So you won't recall Stalin'sfamous papal irrelevance remark "How many legions has the Pope?" John Paul 2, you won't realize, brought down the Soviet empire. How's that for irrelevance. But now you are writing in the American media. When journalists have nothing to say, they- often and loud- default to "The Pope's Irrelevant ! The Bishops are Irrelevant". Well, sir, if that's irrelevance, what would relevance look like. But just remember: secksuality originates in the groin, not the mind. YOur applauding audience is "thinking" out of its pants. THe bishops, being men without women, are free to think with their brains.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "After all, the churches teach tough stuff and most people can't stand that."

      yes, that g.a.y.s should be killed, along with non-virgin brides and disobedient children. the church teaches its disgusting brand of prejudice under the seemingly benevolent guide of religion.

      "THe bishops, being men without women, are free to think with their brains."

      and they get to decide on women's issues without a woman even being present. LOL.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  17. Mn

    5

    April 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Mab

      That's the most coherent thing you've said so far. Congratulations.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      better to unclasp your hands and go put them to use. prayer does nada.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • just sayin

      Using hands without inspiration or proper instruction is totally useless.
      A good man prays
      A great man acts on prayer
      God bless

      April 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      so i guess my volunteering at the homeless shelter weekly does nothing. good to know.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      DO NOT FEED THIS REPITIVE SIMPLETON TROLL!

      April 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  19. GodsPeople

    I'm trying to figure out exactly why CNN calls this the "Belief Blog." What it should be called is the "Slam Beliefs Blog," because all of their articles slam belief in general and Christianity in particular.

    April 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • chubby rain

      "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers."

      Isn't CNN then helping you on your way to heaven?

      April 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i guess it's called he belief blog because 90% of the stories are pro-christianity. even the pro-atheism stories are only pseudo-pro. and you guys bring this on yourself. stop defending child molesters and trying to control women's rights and you may not have so many people angry with you...

      April 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      @chubby rain: Maybe. If so, I'll happily take the help. All sinful humans could use it.

      @bootyfunk: I don't remember asking for input from the idiot gallery.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      LOL. you believe in an imaginary friend in the sky and you're calling someone an idiot? LOL.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • portland tony

      That's why we get (sometimes) a good discussion of the various aspects of comparitive religion. There are a lot of one line simpletons who comment here. But, on the other hand, there are many wise Biblical scholars who also comment.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  20. Bootyfunk

    i love it! hope the catholics keep hammering women's rights. 95% of catholic women have used birth control. lol. keep pushing your archaic belief system on the modern world. and then keep asking why your pews are empty. lol.

    April 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      now I'm on my way to the zoo to get buttfunked by a gorilla or two.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      oh you dirty doppleganger! i would never have s.ex with a gorilla - i prefer pandas.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • gerald

      prejudice loves ignorance.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      what did i say that wasn't true? try attacking the argument instead of the arguer. ad hominem.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Ellie

      Hur hur hur you so funny.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • gerald

      1) you are confused about what is and isn't a right.
      2) You are confused about what Catholicism keeps hammering away at. While Catholicism in this country has opposed birth control it has not hammered away at anyone's right to buy it nor at the right of private companies and even state insurances to provide it. It as ONLY hammere away at being forced to pay for it in it's own heath plans and those of Catholic employers who object on conscience. These are the facts. Further I went to mass last sunday and the pews are hardly empty. As for ad hom and insults you are certainly an expert.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @gerald

      If these employers do not want to offer it to their employees outside the church, then they should not be hiring in an organization that is not the church. The church itself has always had the exemption, and will continue to have the exemption.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • gerald

      Hawaiin, the church will continue to have an exception? Welcome to the conversion. Glad you awoke from your slumber of the last six months. Do a search for obama and mandate and catch of on the news God bless ya Mr. Winkle.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Not sure what point you are trying to make. I have been wide awake for the past 26 years. You, on the other hand, need to get your head out of your self-righteous condescending ass.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      @gerald
      churches aren't forced to pay for birth control. the insurance companies have to offer it. the church is out of it, so you're wrong there.

      also, church attendance not down? here's 3 stories off the first page on a search for church attendance:
      http://www.examiner.com/bible-studies-in-providence/why-church-attendance-is-down
      http://www.ts-si.org/politics/29750-church-attendance-down-but-religion-motivates-voters
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/church-attendance-down-congregations-getting-older-report-says/2011/09/29/gIQA7jjvAL_story.html

      April 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • gerald

      I didn't say attendance wasn't down. You said the pews were empty. Yet I highly doubt you have been in a Catholic Church recently.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • gerald

      By the way, the CC did not agree to obama"s compromise and so the latest is that he is going ahead with his first plan> But even if he weren"t where do you think the money would come from? the goodness of the profit taking insurance companies heart? NO THEY WOULD RAISE THEIR RATES> OUTCOME THE SAME>>

      April 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if the CC didn't agree to the compromise, which would take the decision out of their hands, then they get what they deserve. people's health care shouldn't be dictated by another's religion.

      also, you sound confused. you agree that church attendance is down - but the pews are full? LOL. that makes as much sense as any of your posts, i guess.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • gerald

      Wow booty "hardly empty" = full. Man you need some reading and comprehension skills. I believe they have them in any third grade class in the country. Why don't you sit in for a couple of weeks.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:20 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.