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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. Colin

    As an atheist, I love it when the Catholic Church takes an unpopular position on social issues, based on what it believes to be the wishes of its sky-fairy. Saying things like, don't kill or don't steal doesn't challange anybody. However, when a person disagrees with the Catholic hierachy on an issue such as abortion, contraception, divorce or ho.mo$exuality, they are forced to make a choice between their own views and those of the Church.

    Most often, they follow their own views and this opens a door for them to question other Catholic beliefs, including the supernatural nonsense.

    That, coupled with the molestation scandle has been a tremendous gift to we atheists as we try to help Catholics emerge from their silly superst.itions. How I wish Ratzinger was only 40 years old.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Lisa Anthony

    So the bishop's are against women's health? How is it that forcing a Catholic employer such as me to pay for my employee's contraception – an action that I find deeply offensive - is protecting women's health? Is pregnancy now a disease? I thought it was a miracle. The bishops are advocating for my right to practice my religion without government coercion, as I have been able to do prior to the present administration. How is that self-serving on their part?

    What an incredibly poorly supported and ill judged essay. This is what Boston University considers a religion scholar? I would have guessed the author had little or no knowledge of Catholic doctrine or teaching. Certainly he has no affinity for it. Shameful.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • J.W

      Why do we need to keep have babies? Do we want our country to become overpopulated? And contraception is used for other things besides preventing pregnancy.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Colin

      Tend to agree with Lisa. I have never been convinced that contraception was a health issue.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • J.W

      Perhaps it isnt always a health issue, but I think it many times is.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Nonimus

      While I disagree with the Administrative Rule on contraception on principle, i.e. the administration shouldn't be dictating Health Insurance rules anyway, I think the Bishops are incorrect in their argument.

      First, there are many things that they de facto support, which go against their religion, I would think, e.g. death penalty, freedom of religion (doesn't the first commandment contradict the first amendment?), war, divorce, gambling, ... not direct enough? what about medication for STDs? what about prescriptions for Viagra, or Mehadone, or Oxycontin, or cosmetic surgery, or circu.mcisions, or ... etc.
      The idea of religious freedom, and all freedoms, is always balanced against the rights of others. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. You can't shout "Fire" in a crowded theater. As Prothero was saying, we don't allow all sorts of crazy religious practices, when it comes to impacting other people, think human sacrifice, slavery, torture, faith healing (to the exclusion of life saving medical help), etc.
      In other words, you are free to do what you religion demands, as long as it doesn't violate the law.

      Second, they always had and still have the option to not offer health insurance at all. What's the problem?
      If they have a hard time hiring people without providing a health plan, tough luck... or perhaps simply raise their wages/salaries to compensate for private, or employee co-op plans, and assist them with getting their own insurance.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • gerald

      JW – The Catholic Church is not against using contraceptives for other legitimate reasons such as controlling painful cyles. Cardinal Dolan, the head of the USCCB made this point a couple of months ago.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • gerald

      NOminal – The fact is there are some provisions for people who have religous objections to certain practices. As far as I know Jehoviah's Witnesses do not go to war. I don't know of anyone who is forcing me to pay for viagra, though I don't think you assumption that the Catholic Church would be against that is correct. Catholic Hospitals treat all sorts of diseases no matter how the individual contracted them. Catholic hospitals provide more beds for aids victims than any other organization so your std point is rather ridiculous. It is clear to see why you would agree with the author since your post has the same liberal nonsense that his article does. Have a nice day.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • sam stone

      So, Lisa, are you under the impression that the only use for birth control is preventing pregnancy? Do you consider heavy periods to be sinful?

      April 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      gerald: so, how do you propose denying funding them for preventing pregnancy, but not for other issues (heavy cycles)? do you propose an official to go around each month to measure the cycles?

      April 16, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • gerald

      Sam,

      That could be discussed if we weren't dealing with the current issue. I am quite sure the Bishops would be willing to have that conversation when this one gets settled. But now that you have been informed stop posting ignorance.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Cheryl

      Lisa, in what way is contraception NOT a women's health issue? Perhaps you should do your research into women's health status in history before contraception was readily available. While you are at it, take a look at what many of those same women sufferred just to get out from under the oppressive religious and political policies that branded them powerless, and as little more than their husbands' possessions. I, for one, am not interested in going backwards in time by supporting this assinine position.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @gerald,
      I'm saying, that in a larger sense, the Catholic Church is already supporting many things that they don't agree with through taxes, companies they do business with, premiums that they pay to insurance companies, etc.
      The line they are drawing is somewhat arbitrary, since they aren't in fact forced to provide health insurance to their employees at all.

      April 16, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Steve

      To everyone saying "why should I be forced to pay for birth control if I don't believe in it" My reply is "the same way my and many others who don't believe in religion tax dollars go to faith based initiatives for years and years" And any opposition to those initiatives has been met by Religious groups with harsh critisism.

      April 24, 2012 at 6:07 am |
    • Elizabeth

      Thank you, Lisa. Well said.

      I am a Catholic woman, and I agree with my bishops.

      April 30, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  3. gerald

    Let's see now. The Nazi government imposes a mandate requiring all german citicens to pay for gassing of Jews. Now Mr. Protheo is not actually gassing Jews so he would be fine with paying for it I guess?

    April 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Prothero would probably not be in favor of gassing Jews. But he would be blind to the fact that he is taking one small step in that direction. Few people take the time to think such issues through to their ultimate grounds.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • gerald

      That is exactly my point. THe Catholic Church is not in favor of arificial contreaception, especially those that induce abortions. Yet apparently it is not imoral for us to have to pay for them. Well if he is against gassing Jews but the government mandates he pays for it then it would not be immoral by his thinking to go ahead and pay for it.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I don't want to pay for the US to go to war. So what do you suggest I do about that? Should there be a provision for me not to pay some of my taxes?

      April 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      Quakers are believers in non violence, but they still fund DoD through their taxes

      April 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      You know you've lost the argument before its even begun when you have to make a Nazi reference...

      April 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • gerald

      faceinpalm do look up analogy in the dictionary> it"s in the a"s

      April 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Is that REALLY the best you can do, geraldine? Tell people to look up 'analogy'?

      Pathetic.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You need to shorten that skirt, geraldine. And shave your legs, dear.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @gerald – way to miss the point. If you have to invoke the Nazi's to try and make an analogy, you've lost the argument – because you have none. If you have to resort to ridiculous extremes, you obviously can't convey your point in any rational matter. Nice fail.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  4. Robert

    Colin, your post doesn't come across as indicating a very mature understanding of Catholicism. Attacking strawman-caricatures of medieval-era Catholics is good sport, but not very useful for addressing contemporary issues. I know there are Catholics who may fit your stereotype, but there are just as many who don't. I suppose it's just easier to ridicule the silly ones to entertain the blogsphere minions, than to engage the more thoughtful types.
    RM

    April 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Colin

      Can you be more specific Robert? What points in my post do you disagree with?

      April 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • gerald

      Don't waste your time with Colin. He never goes very deep in a conversation and certainly won't acknowledge anything you have to say.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • just sayin

      So colin wants Robert to "strain" sewage to find the most disgusting parts ? God bless

      April 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Colin

      Just Sayin – that is actually a pretty good insult, "starin sewerage to find the most disgusting parts". I'll be using that iin the future.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Don't worry @gerald or @Robert – most Catholics can never actually debate the points he raises – since they are fairly well based on the catechism. Instead, like most defensive Catholics, you just resort to ad hominem attacks. Sad, but expected.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Robert

      @faceplam,
      I've actually tried twice to post a rather lengthy reply to you, but the system appears to be hanging it as it doesn't show up. I will try again,

      April 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      You likely have banned words as part of larger words. For example, you can't directly type tit as part of any word, so you'd have to write, as an example, consti tution or consti.tution.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  5. LR

    I think that the solution is simple. If you want contraception, buy it yourself.

    April 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  6. Wake up

    The lies and crimes of the Catholic Church and their promotion of the False Jesus Myth is unforgivable. They know this and constantly suppress it, the real Christ. I wonder if that was the real revelation of the Fatima apparition and why it has been kept secret. Many have gotten around this heinous wall and known the true Christ. Noticed how the Church is never uplifted by the saints? Its always the little people that get the communication. The Catholic Church is Doomed. I hope what replaces it will show the truth. Can't hold it back. It is unstoppable and they know it. See the fear in their eyes.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Jon from Atlanta

      I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Unstoppable, you say? Only fifty years ago, Stalin sarcastically asked "How many legions does the Pope have?" The election of John Paul 2 brought down the Soviet Empire. According to National Geographic, MILLIONS of Russians have had themselves baptized into the faith since that time. The Catholic Church has always outlasted it's enemies and is usually there to bury them.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Wake up

      Wait to see what happens next. The Church only has 2 more popes left and its gone. John Paul was a good guy but he did not expose the lies. Now there is the Rat Pope. The pope of darkness.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      "The Catholic Church has always outlasted it's enemies and is usually there to bury them."

      And given the history of the church, has often had to pull its knife out of its enemies' backs.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    Reality

    • The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

    • Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

    Sum Dude routinely updates the list of forbidden words/fragments.

    Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation".

    And said moderators still have not solved the chronological placement of comments once the number of comments gets above about 100. They recently have taken to dividing the comments in batches of 50 or so, for some strange reason. Maybe they did this to solve the chronology problem only to make comment reviews beyond the tedious.
    Zeb’s alphabetical listing

    o “bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN "awaiting moderation" filter:
    Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
    You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
    ––
    ar-se.....as in Car-se, etc.
    ba-stard
    co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
    co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
    cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
    cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
    do-uche
    ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
    ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
    fu-ck......!
    ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
    ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
    jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
    ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
    ji-sm
    koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
    nip-ple
    pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
    pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
    ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
    se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
    sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
    sh-it
    sl-ut
    sn-atch
    sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
    ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
    tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
    va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
    who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
    wt-f....also!!!!!!!

    There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
    -–
    Allowed words / not blocked at all:
    anal
    anus
    ass
    boob
    crap
    damn
    execute
    hell
    kill
    masturbation
    murder
    penis
    pubic
    raping (ra-pe is not ok)
    shat (sh-@t is not ok)
    sphincter
    testes
    testicles

    The CNN / WordPress filter also filters your EMAIL address and NAME as well – so you might want to check those

    April 16, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Wake up

      It is a PROGRAM! Learn to get around it.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  8. PrimeNumber

    "The effort by male Roman Catholic leaders to deny contraception coverage to female employees........." If Prothero is going to write opinions about the Bishops falsly framing things, he needs to be either more honest or simply know more. This rhetoric about "the Bishops vs. Women " is childish. How do I know? Since I was a wee lad in the '60's Catholic teaching has been clear. Men also, are to avoid artificial means of contraception. M*astur*bation has always been seen as a violation of natural law. Tell it all, Prothero, and stop inadequately framing the issue. But that's a lot to ask of someone doing journalism these days.

    April 16, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      I find it ironic that the LARGEST abuse scandal of the past century was caused by these closeted deviants, yet somehow some still believe thier opinions are relevant.

      These men are the sickest of the sick, and abomination against both modernity and rationality.

      I too have known them for decades, and I am flabergasted by those who claim to have seen them as long, yet apparently have never seen them for what they are.

      Give your soul to them if you will, but spare your children and grand children or they shall hate you for it.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      @William "These men are the sickest of the sick, and abomination against both modernity and rationality" I agree with your statement, but not its subject. To me the sickest of the sick are the pedos themselves. Most catholics are extremely angry with the SPECIFIC bishops who covered up the pedos' antics. This is the rational approach. To blame all bisops for this is betrays an underlying prejudice. Prejudices are not rational. BTW, at this moment, CNN is reporting on a s*x scandal in the CIA.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      William, even the largest organizations that are going after such Priest have stated that it is between 1.5% to possibly 4% of the total priesthood. I would hold that there are a higher percentage of closeted racist in the White and Black community but are all of them Klan and Black Panther members?

      April 16, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • just sayin

      We should line up the Bishops before a firing squad and be done with them.
      God Bless

      April 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Prime and Mark

      You both seem reasonably intelligent.

      Are either of you going to claim all that should have been done is now done?

      Are either of you now of the belief that the behaviors have stopped?

      Do either of you doubt a greater underlying conspiracy to bury the truth than has already been uncovered?

      I am aware of other scandals, and do NOT view them as a sacred trust being violated.

      These men harmed CHILDREN by using YOUR religion.

      You should want their heads on a paltter more than I do.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    Bigotry (a real burden for the mankind)

    All false religions are bigoted. The members of false religions, at least those of them, which take seriously their religion, love only members of their own religion or people, which they want to convert.

    This nasty behaviour you find among Catholics, Muslims, Anabaptists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, false Protestants, etc..

    The problem is that the false religions see Grace as their PROPERTY. As soon as you have joined their religion you participate in infinite Grace, which dispenses you from correct behaviour in daily life.

    Let us take the Islam as an example:

    Sura Al-Fatiha (Sura 1):

    1 In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
    2 Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
    3 The Beneficent, the Merciful.
    4 Master of the Day of Judgment,
    5 Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.
    6 Show us the straight path,
    7 The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.

    The first Sura sounds even Christian (Allah is called merciful), but let us consider that this is not the only Sura of the Koran.

    The whole context of the Koran makes it clear that the first Sura is related only to Muslim believers. Allah is merciful and gracious only towards Muslims or people, which want to convert to Islam.

    This bigotry could be endured, if Islam would mean love and righteousness in daily life (a true Christian shall be full of love and righteousness to everybody independent from belief, color, nationality, status, etc. in daily life). Regretably a good Muslim is yet a Muslim, which keeps the 5 pillars of Islam, independent from practical love and righteousness:

    – Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad;
    – Establishment of the daily prayers;
    – Concern for and almsgiving to the needy;
    – Self-purification through fasting; and
    – The pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.

    The 5 pillars of Islam have not much to do with rightousness, excepted almsgiving (whereby, I would like to know, if a Muslim would give alms to a poor Christian, or if he would regard his poverty as a curse of Allah?).

    The mean trick of all these is that you become a participant of grace yet by keeping the 5 pillars, independent from your daily behaviour. You may think like this (if you are a Muslim): I have tried to convert my workmate to Islam, but he refuses. He is now under the wrath of Allah, who will throw him into hell finally. Why should I love this nasty disbeliever, which is not loved by Allah? Why should I give him any good hints and advices? Why should I talk with him? Why should I be concerned about his security? Why should I help him, if he is in need? Allah doesn't love this infidel individual, hence I am allowed to hate him too.

    The same att-itude have got Catholics, Anabaptist, Mormons, etc..

    They keep certain rituals of their believe and by that they are participants of infinite Grace, which allows them to treat their infidel fellow human beings, which they regard as disbelievers, very ill. They feel not obliged to show love and rightousness to their fellow human beings.

    How works a true Christian, in contrast:

    A Christian knows that at Judgement Day he will get judget according to his works. Only if he has lived a life of love and rightousness he will finally enter heaven. A Christian loves everybody, independent form belief, color, nationality, status, etc.. He loves people, even if they are no Christians and even if they don't want to become Christians. A true Christian doesn't regard God's Grace as his property, but shares it with his fellow human beings. The Christian sees always himself as that one, who is required by God to behave correctly. A Christian oversees the sins of his fellow human beings and behaves friendly and kindly despite their sins (of course, if people harm one another, the Christian has to intervene and to stop the wrongdoer).

    Yet a true Christians will hold on to the truth and confess it to everybody:

    The gospel: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    The man, who believes that and gets baptized (or remembers his infant baptism), will receive the power of the Holy Spirit to love his fellow human beings and to behave righteous.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  10. EricOfManchester

    Can anyone here guess the origin of this quote?

    "I am freeing man from the restraints of an intelligence that has taken charge, from the dirty and degrading self-mortification of a false vision called conscience and morality, and from the demands of a freedom and independence which only a very few can bear.”

    April 16, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      I don't know. But it might have been Bertrand Russell. Anyway, it's author sounds like someone who has been burned by a libertine way of living.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Hitler

      April 16, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    We should wonder sometimes, why at all the Reformation took place in Europe. The Reformation was an epochal event, which changed Europe completely up to now.

    One of the reasons, why Prof. Dr. Martin Luther (University of Wittenberg/Germany) started the Reformation, was the wicked papacy.

    According to the Bible actually Jesus Christ himself shall be the invisible head of the Church. This office the pope has stolen. One could remark, let the pope just be the highest human secretary of the Church and Christ still may be the invisible head. Papacy could be endured, if the pope would really be merely the highest human administrator of the Church organisation.

    Yet in fact the pope is the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church and this cannot be tolerated.

    What is the problem about that?

    The first Christian Church was the Church of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Church). It was a really good and Christian Church, where people could find health for soul and body. This Church consisted mainly ot the Churches of Italy, Egypt, Greece, Palestine and Syria. Clerics of these Churches met sometimes on free international (ecu-menical) Councils, where they freely discussed complicated matters of the doctrine. The ecu-menical Councils were not predetermined by a lousy pope, but let by the Holy Spirit. The outcome of such Councils was indeed the divine decision and these decisions are still valid today after so many centuries.

    Nothing is more blasphemous than a predetermined council, because it is pure hypocrisy. Imagine Obama would predetermine all decisions of the Congress and the Senate. It would be ridiculous, if they would still meet. Predetermined councils are a lie in itself, because they conceal the absolut power of the "pope-rat(z)". All Catholics are ruled by one ridiculous individual from Bavaria, which doesn't understand the Bible.

    At a predetermined council the bishops only gather to let sth. through on the nod. How shall the Holy Spirit influence such a council of hypocrisy? It is impossible. The Spirit is completely extinguished on such a council.

    The real Church is a spiritual body in a real sense. No human being is able to lead this spiritual organism, but merely Christ or the Spirit, which are powerful, divine persons.

    Hence, it is clear that the Roman Catholic Church had to corrupt totally in the course of history, because a human dwarf (the pope) tried to lead her and failed totally lacking any divine abilities to lead Christ's body. The RCC has become a pi-sspot of heresies.

    In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we condemn the Roman Catholic Church. There, you can find no health, but merely damnation. She has become the cursed harlot of the Revelation, which will finally get destroyed by the Most High.

    Dear Catholic, Muslim, Mormon, Rebaptizer, etc. forsake your false cult, church or religion and join the loveable, meek and humble Jesus from Nazareth, become a Protestant Christian.

    Here is my love in Christ: In contrast to the pope Luther teached the true gospel. What is that?

    Luther once was a Roman Catholic Abbot (even a supervisor of several monasteries). As a child Luther got baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. He never got baptized again.

    The Roman Catholic Church had added on someting to the baptism: Righteousness by good works. This was totally wrong and Luther rejected that doctrine. Luther started to reform the RCC. The congregations of the RCC, which accepted Luther's reform, became the Evangelical Church of Germany. Luther teached that a believer shall always live a life of righteousness by the power of his first baptism (mostly infant baptism) and if he has sinned again the believer shall exercise privat confession and return to his first baptism, but not try to get righteousness by good works (to say a rosary, to do a pilgrimage, buy indulgence and the like).

    What happens at baptism?

    God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification. We get metaphysically connected with Christ's death and resurrection by baptism (look Romans 6). In a narrower sense we can only believe in Christ in connection with the sacramental baptism. At baptism we die and resurrect with Jesus. Our sins get atoned by his death and we get a new life of righteousness by his resurrection. This is the true and powerful faith, which restores sinners. After baptism we are dead for the sin and in Christ. We have died and resurrected together with him. Day by day we overcome our sinful body by the power of baptism. We daily invite Jesus to be our meek and humble ruler.

    This is the doctrine on baptism by Luther, St. Paul, Bonhoeffer and the Early Church.

    April 16, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  12. reason

    All superstition goes against the common good. Educate yourself and others on what anthropologists, archeologists and religious historians seeking the truth have to say about where god came from:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=360]

    April 16, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Russ

      @ reason: this video relies heavily on the Wellhausen doc.umentary hypothesis. do some research. this 19th c as.sertion fails on multiple basic points:

      1) archeology: the largest problem for Wellhausen advocates

      a) Dead Sea Scrolls: When Wellhausen wrote, the earliest Hebrew manuscripts were 900 AD. By 1950, the Dead Scrolls had seriously shortened his potential timeline for the 'merging' of sources (1st c BC-AD), with no evidence that such a thing ever happened. not only that, the Scrolls demonstrated the faithful transmission of content (virtually unchanged in a millennium).

      b) absolutely ZERO archeological evidence has been found of separate sources. ZERO.

      c) "no evidence for Israel in 1200" – nope. Look up Merneptah Stele.

      2) Wellhausen did not begin with the evidence/sources. He came with an as.sumption of multiple sources and brought it to bear on the evidence. Again, there's ZERO evidence for his schema. This is a self-fulfilling speculation.

      3) Wellhausen began with the as.sumption that there is no such thing as the miraculous. That is contrary to the basic teaching of the text in explaining its own origins. Again, self-fulfilling prophecy.

      4) The exercise of dividing up the pas.sages is simply speculation. As CS Lewis noted: "There used to be English scholars who were prepared to cut up Henry VI between half a dozen authors and as.sign his share to each. We don't do that now... Everywhere, except in theology, there has been a vigorous growth of skepticism about skepticism itself."

      5) check out Rodney Stark's "Discovering God: the Origins of the Great Religions & the Evolution of Belief." Here's an agnostic sociologist bringing a wealth of evidence to bear & killing the myth that ancient religion was a muddle of various animistic superst.ition...
      "Despite decades of faulty reports that early religions were crude muddles of superst.ition, it turns out that the primitive humans had surprisingly sophisticated notions about God and creation."
      In other words, monotheism has a much longer history than just 600 BC.

      SUM: Occam's razor, anyone? one simple answer – or an exceedingly complex conglomeration of redactors?

      April 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    April 16, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes otherwise intelligent and rational people into believing they can talk to an imaginary super friend.

      April 16, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • just sayin

      When an atheist type steals the name atheism is not healthy for children and other living things a wonderful Truth is proclaimed. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things.

      April 16, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Jimbo

      I don't think anyone stole anything. The point the commenter is trying to make is that people change for the worse when they think they can talk to someone who is not there.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!!.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • just sayin

      Yes it do. God bless

      April 16, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Jesus

      “Yes it do.”

      More lies and desperation proving my post correct. What an idiot.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  14. Reality

    Based on the following, Stevey P again fails 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 6:36 am |
    • Reality

      Oops, make that "SteveyP again fails to do a thorough review."

      April 16, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  15. Reality

    Beyond religion and politics:

    The reality of contraception and STD control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-
    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

    1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by:

    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    April 16, 2012 at 6:30 am |
  16. truth

    John 15 >>
    Aramaic Bible in Plain English
    18“And if the world hates you, know that it hated me before you.” 19“And if you had been from the world, the world would have loved its own; but you are not from the world, but I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.” 20“Remember the word that I have spoken to you, that there is no servant greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they have kept my word, they will also keep yours.” 21“They will do all these things among you because of my name, because they do not know him who has sent me.” 22“If I did not come speaking with them, they would have no sin, but now there is no covering for their sin.” 23“Whoever hates me hates my Father also.” 24“If I had not done the works in their sight which no other man had done, they would not have sin, 25That the word which is written in their law maybe fulfilled: 'They hated me for nothing.' But now they have seen and hated me and my Father also.”

    April 16, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • sam stone

      wow. a quote from a book. i tell you this, nothing is more convincing than edited translated bronze age hearsay

      April 16, 2012 at 5:40 am |
  17. Daniel Hazzard

    Religions need to adapt and accommodate.
    Jehovah's Witnesses blood transfusion confusion

    Jehovahs Witnesses take blood products now in 2012.
    They take all fractions of blood.This includes hemoglobin, albumin, clotting factors, cryosupernatant and cryopoor too, and many, many, others.
    If one adds up all the blood fractions the JWs takes, it equals a whole unit of blood. Any, many of these fractions are made from thousands upon thousands of units of donated blood.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses can take Bovine *cows blood* as long as it is euphemistically called synthetic Hemopure.
    Jehovah's Witnesses now accept every fraction of blood except the membrane of the red blood cell. JWs now accept blood transfusions.
    The fact that the JW blood issue is so unclear is downright dangerous in the emergency room.
    -
    Danny Haszard

    April 16, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • Jay

      This is 100% UNTRUE.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  18. Christianity is not healthy for firs and spruces

    Axes change things.

    April 16, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • jim

      Are you threatening to kill christians with an axe?

      April 16, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  19. CNN and it's bloggers are hacks

    Steve,

    You are the hack. Once again CNN shows their anti-religous, and specifically anti-Catholic bigotry by even publishing this. Sure, "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero," but after reading countless blogs wit the same bias there's only one conclusion to reach. Is it possible to have a more partisan and misleading view of the facts? I really doubt it. I'm not even going to leave a lengthy comment. There are no words for how misleading, uninformed, and vitrol-filled this blog is.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      anti-religious? what a joke. 85% of the articles are pro religion, not anti. cry more please.

      April 16, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • chief

      so you are basically taking the typical catholic position..... anyone that doesnt agree with you is wrong.... just looking at that picture at the top does it for me .... about 20 chubby so-called celibate white guys in dresses and funny hats mocking God by their self imposed holiness

      April 16, 2012 at 5:37 am |
    • sam stone

      feeling a bit paranoid today?

      April 16, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  20. Colin

    Ten signs you are a Catholic.

    1. You believe that the pope has personal, mental conversations with God and is infallible when he elects to speak “from the chair” on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. geocentricity, immaculate conception, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.

    2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) 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.

    3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.

    4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does it make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their various life-after-death lands (limbo, purgatory, heaven, hell) with magic-sacred powers of some kind.

    5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your own Iron Age mythology.

    6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.

    7. You criticize gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Abraham, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of kings to save his own skin.

    8. You 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 (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.

    9. You will 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. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over grocery store bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus, because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” if you prefer a less embaressing term).

    10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.

    11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.

    Heavens, I could not fit them into ten. But, I'll bet your average Catholic can shut their eyes and pretend 11 = 10. Given the childish garbage they believe, that should be easy.

    April 16, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Jim

      Wow someone needs to get a life and some prozac. Who would waste that much of there life thinking about any of this? Colin take a chill pill man, and guess what no body gives a crap what you think. Your life is meaningless and when you end yourself no one will miss you.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Colin, keep up the good work! You make way more sense than The Babble or Pope-A-Dope.

      See Jim, you are wrong.

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

      good post. catholics hate the truth, as do all christian cults. facts are dangerous.

      April 16, 2012 at 4:54 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Your life is meaningless and when you end yourself no one will miss you."

      nice post, christian. jesus would approve, no doubt, of your suggesting he commit suicide.

      April 16, 2012 at 4:56 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Jim: Jealous that you are not capable of writing anything like that unless it involves hate or buybullical crap? You need to respect Colin...at least he had the nerve to fight for your country!

      April 16, 2012 at 5:42 am |
    • Jim

      Who says IM a christian butt breath bootyfunk!!!

      April 16, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • boocat

      Jim – just a tad hostile, aren't you? get back on your meds...

      April 16, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • sam

      Butt breath...seriously? LOL We just reached a new low, I see.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • gerald

      As a Catholic for more than fifty years, having studied the faith greatly I can tell you that all of these 10 are false. I.e. I am not offended at all that Colin denies God. I feel bad for him but I am hardly offended.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @gerald – As an ex-Catholic well versed in catholic catechism, I challenge you to pick a single one and tell us why it is wrong. Do you have an actual argument? Doesn't seem like it.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Over It

      gerald,

      I was Catholic for nearly 50 years too (including 12 years of Catholic school). Colin is quite correct.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Robert

      @facepalm, you really believe this list, as written, is representative of the Catholic faith? Only the most fundamentalist, Mel Gibson or SSPX types, maybe. Bears little resemblance to most Catholics I know, or to the education I got in Catholic schools. As I told Colin, there are valid points for argument raised here, but they are framed so poorly as to undercut his point, primarily to make them seem more extreme/silly and thus more easily ridiculed for the self-congratulating audience.
      RM

      April 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @Robert – I agree that most people don't know that this is what the RCC teaches, but it is very consistent with the catechism. Is your argument really that Catholics are ignorant of what their Church teaches!?!? Please, just ONE example where anything on Colin's list is inconsistent with official Catholic teaching. "I think they said something different in Sunday school" really isn't a valid counter argument.

      Since you seem to be having a rough go of this, let me start you off. Please explain how point #9 is inconsistent with official Church teaching on transubstantiation.

      I won't be holding my breath.

      April 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Robert, gerald ... are you there?

      <chirpping crickets>

      April 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Robert

      I've actually tried twice to post a lengthy reply, but it doesn't seem to be appearing.

      April 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Robert, Go back to your post, if you can, and look for these:

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-nthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sn-atch
      sp-ank
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-oon
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      April 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Robert

      @facepalm, itThis isn't really an honest attempt to articulate Church teachings and take issue with them intellectually - this is an attempt to ridicule Catholic beliefs by willful distortion.

      It might be more helpful if Colin actually cited an official Catholic 'teaching' for each of his points. In most cases I am sure the official reference he has in mind is quite differently articulated than he has done here.

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

      Please, @facepalm, these are not considered articulations of Church teachings, they are silly caricatures of Catholic stereotypes, worded to massage the author's own sense of enlightened superiority. It may well be that Colin (or you) are deeply versed, thoughtful scholars in Catholic teaching, but nothing here evidences it at all, nor evidences any real experience with thoughful, prayerful contemporary Catholics, at least as I know them.
      RM

      April 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • gerald

      Face,

      Glad you have all day to sit at the computer. I don't. Robert was wonderfully articulate on all points and I concur with him. As for the religious intollerance that most of the articles imply apparently you are not as up on the Catechism as you once were or you would know that Paragraphs 816 through around 847 clearly refute all his points about intolerance. Bendict XVI wrote a wonderful book called "Truth and Tolerance". You should read it some time.

      April 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • gerald

      By the way. I have gone through and refuted every one of Colin's "points" some time in the last 5 years that he has reposted them over and over and over again on every Catholic related thread as Robert did so well in the past and it was ignored. Prejudice loves ignorance. Casting pearls and the like.

      April 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • gerald

      Chirp Chirp

      April 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      gerald, you may have replied to colin but you certainly did not refute his points. But please do entertain us one more time with your response...

      April 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Geraldine couldn't refute anything effectively if his life depended on it.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      1. Complete misunderstanding of the doctrine of infallibility as taught by the Church.
      – No, it isn't. The church changed the definition of infallibility rather recently to cover up the fact that previously infallible statements were, in fact, highly fallible, You're ignoring the fact that the church rewrote history.

      2. Mosty 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?
      -Where your born almost exclusively defines what you believe in. See Kluegel, 1980. So, Colin is correct.

      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.
      -I'll concede that Collin is incorrect – official church teaching, that all humans are descended from one person who was actually names Adam and one persona actually named EVe is entirely incompatible with the theory of evolution. http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution

      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.
      -So, Collin is correct, you can't explain why polytheism is wrong. You just claim 'because it is'. Please actually refute what was wrote.

      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.
      -I see how you completely ignore the main points of this argument – that your god slaughtered infants to try and make a point. Nice omnipotent deity. Can you actually refute the whole comment? And the catechism does make reference to Allah, saying that the Catholic God and Allah are one in the same. But since Islam reject the trinity and divinity of Jesus, this is an absurd position.

      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.
      -Again, you miss the point. Your mythology makes sense, while others don't. Why is yours correct? Just because? Why do you reject other mythologies. You don't address the point – you just say that your right. That's not an argument or rebuttal at all.

      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?.
      -So, someone who sins isn't a sinner? Right. Fail. Again, you miss the point. The church teaches that incest and polygamy is wrong, but ignores the multiple biblical examples of polygamy and incest.

      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?
      -Are you really suggesting that those who aren't Catholic will not be sent to hell according to church doctrine? the only loophole is if one died intending to be a Catholic.

      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 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.
      -Your church rejects evolution. You can't claim that evolution is valid for every organism but humans – that's not evolution. That's the kind of asinine teaching you get when theologians try to marry religion and science.

      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.
      -"From the catechism. Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." Since multiple studies have shown prayer to be ineffective, how is Colin's statement wrong again? Fail.

      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.
      -Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. So, do you know who wrote the bible? How is Colin's statement wrong? Can you actually address the point.

      So, to summarize, you either don't address Colin's points or simply state 'I'm correct'. You don't actually refute a single one of his points. Nice try.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • *facepalm*

      " Prejudice loves ignorance."

      And you love pointless ad hominem attacks. Very Christian of you. Glad you like to defend the catholic church by insulting others. Hypocrite.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Robert

      o Hello @facepalm, sorry I missed your reply.and just noticed it. First, please bear in mind I am challenging his characterization of Catholics / Catholic teaching, not specifically defending doctrine. In this regard I’ve actually addressed his points to the extent that he has redefined or abandoned arguing several of them in order to shift the discussion away from the dramatic overstatements and collective ad hominems the characterized his original list.
      1. The church changed the definition of infallibility rather recently…You're ignoring the fact that the church rewrote history. – Hardly, I’ve acknowledged that papal infallibility (the kind specifically referenced by Colin) is a relatively recent doctrine. If you have a cite for a ‘previous definition’ that was ‘changed recently’, I would be very happy to see it. Infallibility in this context has a very specific meaning, you can’t just apply it generically to ‘anytime the Church claimed it was right’.
      2. Where your born almost exclusively defines what you believe in. See Kluegel, 1980. So, Colin is correct. – No, Colin’s point was that Catholics ‘are blind to or ignore’ this fact. That’s not true.
      3. I'll concede that Collin is incorrect – I appreciate your candor and honesty there.
      4. So, Collin is correct, you can't explain why polytheism is wrong. Please actually refute what was wrote. - What was ‘wrote’ was that Catholics believe ‘polytheism is ‘sillier’ (whatever that means) than monotheism’. Believing it is incorrect is not the same as thinking its ‘silly’. If he has said ‘Catholics believe polytheism is wrong, but they can’t prove why monotheism is more correct’, he’d have a sound argument. Instead, he has offered an ad hominem.
      5. I see how you completely ignore the main points of this argument – that your god slaughtered infants to try and make a point. – I didn’t ignore it, I said that this was likely attributed to God by early Biblical authors, a position consistent with much contemporary Catholic understanding.
      And the catechism does make reference to Allah, saying that the Catholic God and Allah are one in the same. – But the Catechism does not say ‘deplore the atrocities of Allah’, which Colin contended are Catholic ‘teachings’. Also, it is not at all inconsistent to contend the Allah and God are both human understandings of the same Truth.
      6. Your mythology makes sense, while others don't. Why is yours correct? - I believe mine is correct from my current understanding (grounded in my own circ umstance and rational inquiry). I equally understand how a Hindu can feel the same way, and reason without error to that conclusion. Which is why I and Catholics don’t ‘laugh at’ other beliefs (Colin’s original point, refuted) but are in fact open to the belief that God works through them all.
      7. So, someone who sins isn't a sinner? – No. But inclination to sin is not the same as sin. And there is still a distinction between the sin, and the sinner. Are you really that dense?
      The church teaches that incest and polygamy is wrong, but ignores the multiple biblical examples of polygamy and incest. – How do you get the impression that the Church ‘ignores’ these examples? They’re printed in its founding doc ument! They’re read in its services! You seem to think recording = endorsement. I know you are smarter than that.
      8. Are you really suggesting that those who aren't Catholic will not be sent to hell according to church doctrine? – According to Catholic doctrine, only God knows who will ‘be sent to Hell’.
      9. Your church rejects evolution. – Several Popes have confirmed evolution, much to the dismay and condemnation of our Fundamentalist brethren. Go argue with them.
      10. "From the catechism. Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." Since multiple studies have shown prayer to be ineffective, how is Colin's statement wrong again? - Where does it define ‘effective’? I missed the part that says ‘and he’ll give you everything you request’. Like Colin, this sounds like an immature, go/no go understanding of prayer as device rather than process.
      11. So, do you know who wrote the bible? How is Colin's statement wrong? Can you actually address the point. – I did. We know an awful lot about who wrote the Bible, actually, much of it based on Catholic scholarship. That helps us inform our understanding of the text in ways impossible to earlier generations or Church leaders. Again, you’re arguing against a strawman here, if you want to argue with 6,000 Young Earth Creationists, Catholics are not your target.
      Face it, most of Colin’s representations of ‘what Catholics believe’ were sweeping generalizations and stereotypes, amplified to make them seem more ridiculous and thus easier to ‘refute’ or belittle. There’s plenty you can refuse to accept about Catholic teachings, but it seems to me it should be just as easy to dispute it honestly rather than resort to hysterical mockery.
      RM

      April 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
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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.