I’m not sure the best way to start an opinion piece is announcing your own longstanding boredom with the subject, and yet how often one sees that very thing – as in Chris Orlet’s sparkling-fresh commentary on (groan) the new atheists in the American Spectator.
I long ago lost interest in the God Wars, the bombastic clashes between Christians and the New Atheists over whether the Man Upstairs exists, whether He is good or evil, whether Judeo-Christianity has been a blessing or a curse. Put simply, whether Christopher Hitchens is resting in peace or roasting on a spit.
Oh haha, it’s all so funny, such a weary joke. Why is that then? Why are we supposed to simply take it for granted that criticism of religion and theism is wrongheaded and adolescent? No really, why? It’s not as if religion makes nothing happen! It’s not as if it’s just obviously defanged and harmless, let alone obviously beneficial and without bad side effects.
And as for adolescent, how cheap is that stupid cheap shot in the last sentence?
Today, when I hear snide comments from atheists – who often assume I too am an unbeliever because my knuckles do not drag the ground – I spontaneously slip into Defender of the Faith mode. I wait patiently while he (for it is almost always a he) rants about the Inquisition, the trial of Galileo, the pedophile priest scandals, the pope’s silence during the Holocaust, and a thousand years of Jewish pogroms.
Well that’s enormously big of him, isn’t it. Note the same assumption, made slightly more explicit – all that is so passé, so uncool to talk about. Why? Why would it be?
And by the way no it’s not almost always a he. Hello “it’s more of a guy thing” yet again.
He admits all that, he says generously, but there’s more to it.
How, for instance, can one overlook the role faith communities have played in health care? In my city nearly all the hospitals are run by religious organizations like the St. Louis-based Franciscan Sisters of Mary, who operate 18 nonprofit hospitals in four states, partner with more than 40 rural hospitals, and run two nursing homes. The Mercy Health Ministry, also headquartered here, operates 28 hospitals throughout Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. (Fly-over states. Who cares, right?) Franciscan nuns also founded nearby St. Anthony’s Hospital, while the Jesuits run a local medical school whose doctors treat mostly inner-city patients.
Oh jeezis that’s a terrifying fact, and he doesn’t even realize it. He doesn’t even realize that this is not benevolence or charity but a takeover, and a way to impose religious rules on helpless captive people. This is the only way the Catholic church can force its stinking theocratic anti-human rules on unwilling people: by grabbing up all the hospitals. It’s horrifying that Orlet is ignorant enough of the consequences that he boasts of the completeness of the takeover. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt in assuming it’s ignorance as opposed to deliberate indifference.
Perhaps the largest provider of social service programs in our area is Catholic Charities. What do they do? What don’t they do? Their programs provide shelter, counseling, and education to battered women, as well as treatment to women with addictions and mental illness. Their professional counseling agencies offer education and mental health services. There is day and residential treatment for troubled youth, including diagnosis, treatment, education, and healthcare. For families, Catholic Charities provides expectant parent counseling, and foster care, adoption, and residential services.
All of it Catholic. Notice that it apparently doesn’t even cross his mind that Catholic “counseling and education” to battered women might have some flaws, as might all the rest of the services he lists.
I am still waiting for a single atheist group to open a hospital or school, offer free health clinics, beds for the homeless, food for the hungry, or transportation for the elderly. I have yet to see worshipers of the flying spaghetti monster establish a prison ministry or send their members overseas to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
The issue isn’t atheist groups, it’s secular groups, and of course there are secular groups that do all those things. Apparently Orlet prefers his charities to have theistic strings attached.