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Dec 02 2013

Dolan: Catholics ‘Outmarketed’ on Marriage Equality

As it becomes more and more obvious that the enemies of equality are going to lose on same-sex marriage, just as they have lost every other battle for equality over the last couple centuries, they’re straining to figure out why. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York takes a shot at it:

Gregory noted that Illinois just became the latest U.S. state to legalize gay marriage and asked, “Regardless of the church teachings, do you think this is evolving in such a way that it’s ultimately going to be legal everywhere?”

Or, he asked, will there be “a backlash” against gay marriage?

“I think I’d be a Pollyanna to say that there doesn’t seem to be kind of a stampede to do this,” Dolan said. “I regret that.”

Asked why the church is losing the argument on gay marriage, Dolan responded, “Well, I think maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes. We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay.”

He said the church supports “traditional marriage and is not “anti-anybody,” adding, “When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle.”

I know, right? Just like the opponents of interracial marriage were “caricatured” as racist when they were just supporting “traditional marriage.” And the opponents of ending slavery were “caricatured” as racist when they were just defending tradition. And the opponents of women’s suffrage were “caricatured” as sexist when they were just defending tradition. Or…you really are bigoted just as all those others were and you’re losing because you should be losing.

37 comments

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  1. 1
    doublereed

    What the hell is he talking about? A majority of Catholics support same-sex marriage. Or at least a majority of them do. Catholic marketing obviously goes the other way.

    Oh wait, what he really means is that people disagree with the decrepit men in charge of the church.

  2. 2
    raven

    Why does god need a space ship?

    Why does god need a market consuling firm?

    Oh wait, what he really means is that people disagree with the decrepit men in charge of the church.

    The Catholic church is a top down organization. The members exist to support the church and priests, not the other way around. Other than that, they aren’t important.

  3. 3
    D. C. Sessions

    Last I checked, the Church never really got on board with the whole “democracy” thing either. For about 1700 years, it’s been Church policy to make deals with the Powers That Be and count on “trickle-down religion.” Constantine sort of set the policy there, and that’s how it went up until at least the 17th Century.

    It’s pretty clear that they’re still in that mode whenever they can manage it.

  4. 4
    colnago80

    What should concern Dolan is that many of the states where SSM either was approved by the legislature or by popular vote, had Catholic governors (Maryland, New York, Maine, and Washington State), in addition to Vice-President Biden. The threats to deny them the sacraments apparently had no effect.

  5. 5
    acroyear

    talk about reactionary – their whole solution to the child abuse scandal, even to this day long after it has been exposed, continues to show that they never conceded in the war started between Henry II and Thomas Becket.

  6. 6
    gshelley

    He also forgot to explain why being a supporter of “traditional” man woman marriage means you must oppose SSM

  7. 7
    scienceavenger

    Asked why the church is losing the argument on gay marriage, Dolan responded, “Well, I think maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes. We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay.”

    Riiiight, it has nothing to do with the fact that the arguments defending your position are possibly the worst on balance of any issue in our body politic. Compared to the anti-gay marriage crowd, the YECs look downright rational.

  8. 8
    doublereed

    The Catholic church is a top down organization. The members exist to support the church and priests, not the other way around. Other than that, they aren’t important.

    They like to think they are. But the fact is that as more people leave the church, the hierarchy becomes more irrelevant than they already are.

    Frankly, I don’t even understand what church hierarchies do.

  9. 9
    Modusoperandi

    He’s right. They need better marketing. And maybe a telethon, where they can have all the stories of the many, many Traditional Marriages™ that have been destroyed by gay marriage. Oh, and interviews with all the children who were adopted by gay couples rather than, as God inteneded, have no parents at all.

    doublereed “Frankly, I don’t even understand what church hierarchies do.”
    Hierarchy maintains hierarchy.

  10. 10
    Chiroptera

    Okay, add caricature to the list of words whose meanings conservatives don’t understand.

  11. 11
    cjcolucci

    Last time I looked, churches have had millenia of practice teaching people from childhood onward, in both organized and informal ways, what the creator and sustainer of the universe wants, and the awful, everlasting consequences of not doing what He wants. Often with government help. And they bleat about the power of Hollywood?

  12. 12
    John Pieret

    One very good way to market something is to have a good product.

    Making silly arguments that SSM will somehow harm “traditional marriage” is a very poor product. Most people look at it, turn it over, check out how it works and see it’s crap.

    The “marketing” that gay people did was to show that they are everyone else’s friends, relations and co-workers. “Selling” someone people they already like and love is a very good product. They’ve already looked at them and seen that they are worth buying.

  13. 13
    jnorris

    John Pieret, at # 12, got it right. It ain’t a problem with marketing when the product stinks and everyone knows it. If Cardinal Dolan has a really good argument against SSM, then he’s about 20 years too late telling us. The Roman Catholic hierarchy is so out of touch they really are living in the 14th century.

  14. 14
    jonathangray

    you’re losing because you should be losing

    History has a direction? That’s a very religious notion.

  15. 15
    Michael Heath

    you’re losing because you should be losing

    jonathangray misrepresents:

    History has a direction? That’s a very religious notion.

    It’s humanity’s objectively moral progress towards equal protection. And that’s largely occurring due to the decline of religious thinking.

    You’re losing troll, and all the lies from you and your ilk aren’t stopping that trend from occurring.

  16. 16
    gertzedek

    History has a direction? That’s a very religious notion.

    Simply because someone is non-religious does not prevent them from having moral convictions, nor does the lack of a supernatural source for morality imply a total moral relativity. I happen to be a religious person (of the Jewish persuasion), yet, independent from my religious convictions, I hold the moral belief that denying equal rights or opportunity on the basis of sex or sexual orientation is an absolute wrong. This is despite the fact that, not only does that idea not find its basis in my religion, it is in contradiction to the teachings of said religion (if not my particular religious leaders). If a man can hold a secular moral belief despite his religion, how much easier would it be for a man who has no religion to get in the way?

  17. 17
    jonathangray

    Michael Heath:

    It’s humanity’s objectively moral progress towards equal protection.

    Even if this progress could be regarded as somehow objectively moral, there’s absolutely no reason to believe it will continue uninterrupted. Why should it? The universe doesn’t exist for our benefit.

    gertzedek:

    Simply because someone is non-religious does not prevent them from having moral convictions,

    Obviously not.

    nor does the lack of a supernatural source for morality imply a total moral relativity.

    Perhaps not. But it surely does mean the atheist has no grounds for believing that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”, that we Sith Lords are doomed to lose in the end.

    I happen to be a religious person (of the Jewish persuasion), yet, independent from my religious convictions, I hold the moral belief that denying equal rights or opportunity on the basis of sex or sexual orientation is an absolute wrong. This is despite the fact that, not only does that idea not find its basis in my religion, it is in contradiction to the teachings of said religion

    If you’re happy to hold an ethical belief that contradicts your religion, in what sense are you religious? What are your “religious convictions”? (“I’m not really a Jew, just Jew-ish. I don’t go the whole hog” – Jonathan Miller XD)

  18. 18
    Al Dente

    The idea that religion, or at least Catholicism, is moral good is obviously wrong if people like Dolan are religious leaders. Someone who brazenly lies about his church’s homophobia cannot be morally good. Plus Dolan must think everyone listening to his lies must be ignorant or stupid.

  19. 19
    doublereed

    Perhaps not. But it surely does mean the atheist has no grounds for believing that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”, that we Sith Lords are doomed to lose in the end.

    The hell are you talking about? The atheist can separate grounds for believing that statement. You don’t need supernatural forces at all to believe that.

    Point out that slavery used to be ubiquitous, as was the idea that women-are-property. Not only is slavery illegal in every country now, but the idea of women being property is seen as a great injustice across the globe suddenly. Things change, change quite rapidly, and change forever. You can still hold beliefs about the tendency and trends of history (and the extrapolations thereof) without supernatural forces to guide it.

    This is despite the fact that, not only does that idea not find its basis in my religion, it is in contradiction to the teachings of said religion (if not my particular religious leaders).

    So it sounds like your religion has absolutely no bearing on your morals whatsoever. Superfluous. So I may sound crass, but what’s the point of the religious part? I mean, I’m Jewish too, but I’m not religious by any means. Jews are generally accepting of Atheist Jews (due to many Jews renouncing God after the Holocaust), so it’s not like you’re missing out on social things.

    So there’s no point to it. You may as well drop the sky-god, deistic, or just-world nonsense and accept your secularism wholesale. And because of the way being Jewish works, you still get to keep your Jewish Identity. Believe me, it’s a sweet deal.

  20. 20
    doublereed

    By the way, what I just did there? Totally legit. Jews can proselytize to other Jews XD

  21. 21
    Anri

    jonathangray @ 17:

    Even if this progress could be regarded as somehow objectively moral, there’s absolutely no reason to believe it will continue uninterrupted. Why should it? The universe doesn’t exist for our benefit.

    Can you tell the difference, social-justice-wise, between the current day and, say, the 1860′s? Or the 1960′s, for that matter?

    If you can’t, you’re an idiot, and if you can, you’re being dishonest. Take your pick, keeping in mind that these are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories.

    Morality does not have to be objective to make life better. The universe does not have to care one whit for humanity or anything else for society to improve. Please go back to PHIL 1001 and actually pay attention this time instead of just reading the Cliff Notes.
    Or even better, don’t.

  22. 22
    abb3w

    @1,

    What the hell is he talking about? A majority of Catholics support same-sex marriage. Or at least a majority of them do..

    Of course, a significant chunk of that majority of self-identified Catholics tend to be those who attend Church monthly or more seldom. (See GSS data; this isn’t limited to Catholics.) More devout Catholics (especially bishops) tend to discount the value of opinions from the C&E crowd.

  23. 23
    Ichthyic

    Compared to the anti-gay marriage crowd, the YECs look downright rational.

    huh. now that I think about it… you’re right. at least the YECs HAVE an argument to make, when you push an anti SSM for how, exactly, SSM “hurts” them… they got nothing. just empty space.

  24. 24
    Ichthyic

    More devout Catholics (especially bishops) tend to discount the value of opinions from the C&E crowd.

    but if the vast majority of Catholics are indeed the “C&E” crowd…

    that must mean Catholicism is pretty much dead.

    oops.

    time for Buddy Christ?

  25. 25
    Ichthyic

    History has a direction? That’s a very religious notion.

    history has patterns. how the fuck is that a religious notion??

  26. 26
    Ichthyic

    Even if this progress could be regarded as somehow objectively moral, there’s absolutely no reason to believe it will continue uninterrupted. Why should it? The universe doesn’t exist for our benefit.

    this is a singular failure on your part to apply deductive reasoning.

    part the first: you notice a repeating pattern, like say, the sun appears over the horizon to the East each day.

    anyone that can apply deductive reasoning would make a reasonable and testable hypothesis that the same pattern will happen again the next day.

    you, OTOH, evidently are unable to.

    strange that.

  27. 27
    jonathangray

    doublereed:

    Point out that slavery used to be ubiquitous, as was the idea that women-are-property. Not only is slavery illegal in every country now, but the idea of women being property is seen as a great injustice across the globe suddenly. Things change, change quite rapidly, and change forever. You can still hold beliefs about the tendency and trends of history (and the extrapolations thereof) without supernatural forces to guide it.

    How do you know these changes are “forever”? You don’t; you just hope they are — that these trends can be extrapolated unto infinity. (Hope, of course, is one of the theological virtues.) There might be an unexpected paradigm shift. Or suppose a Western country were to suffer traumatic economic, political or social collapse. Perfectly possible. Just how long do you think, say, feminism would survive Mogadishu?

    Anri:

    Morality does not have to be objective to make life better. The universe does not have to care one whit for humanity or anything else for society to improve.

    I wasn’t saying that. I was saying that, given a godless uncaring universe, there is no reason to believe society will inevitably “improve” indefinitely — that, as Ed puts it, we reactionaries will lose because we should lose.

    Ichthyic:

    part the first: you notice a repeating pattern, like say, the sun appears over the horizon to the East each day.

    anyone that can apply deductive reasoning would make a reasonable and testable hypothesis that the same pattern will happen again the next day.

    A citizen of the later Roman Empire might have reasoned that since the Pax Romana had endured for so many centuries, it would endure indefinately. He would have been wrong. Civilisations don’t last forever and those that arise in their place can have radically different value-systems. Why should modern Western liberal democracy be any different?

    [Reading progressive blogs and fora, it's curious how conservatives and reactionaries are routinely mocked as dinosaurs doomed to extinction, ageing demographically-dwindling uneducated anomalies on the wrong side of history … Why then do progressives spend so many internet hours obsessively picking over these knuckle-draggers' comically irrelevant sayings and doings? Why such hysterical vituperation directed at such a pathetic enemy? (Actual online comment by a liberal: "I believe these people are stupidest and most dangerous people on the planet. But it would be lying if I said I didn’t share some of their ideas: for exemple, I think that if prior to, or after the second world war, we killed all the reactionaries and other fascists-friendly people, we would’ve prevented the situation we are in today and be way further in term of technology, medicine, economy, social and global peace… People who prone social darwinism are the people who don’t invent or change shit, except for the worse, and I mean the worse periods in humanity’s History like the Middle Age or WWII. Moreover they are dangerous, racist, retrograde people who should be killed.") Progressives seem to be haunted by these losers' evil, all-pervasive power: society always seems to be teetering on the brink of theocracy or fascism and anyway even the most seemingly tolerant arrangements are actually shot through with hidden insidious structures of racist patriarchal heteronormative oppression and privilege …]

  28. 28
    doublereed

    How do you know these changes are “forever”? You don’t; you just hope they are — that these trends can be extrapolated unto infinity. (Hope, of course, is one of the theological virtues.) There might be an unexpected paradigm shift. Or suppose a Western country were to suffer traumatic economic, political or social collapse. Perfectly possible. Just how long do you think, say, feminism would survive Mogadishu?

    I don’t know. You can believe that though without any sort of supernatural force involved or magical thinking. Knowledge is not required. Look up Bayesian Reasoning. You’re demanding more evidence than is necessary. People are allowed to be incorrect about things.

    I have no idea what you mean by feminism surviving Mogadishu. What does that mean? Plenty of Western countries have suffer traumatic experiences, but in the large scheme of things, have actually been relatively short periods of time. While the ‘rebounding’ can actually be surprisingly quick.

  29. 29
    colnago80

    Re Gray @ #27

    Ole Johnathan may be correct but recent history does not appear favorable. It should be noted that, after the passage of SSM acts in Spain and Canada, conservative administrations now control both countries and it appears that they are adverse to repealing the laws.

  30. 30
    doublereed

    I think you’re misunderstanding the conversation jonathan. ‘Belief’ is not about possibilities, but probabilities. So unless you’re saying that you believe they are wrong, it’s not really an argument about anything. And even if you say that such beliefs are wrong, that’s totally okay, because people believe wrong things all the time. It’s really not that uncommon.

    When you say things are “Perfectly Possible” I wonder what you mean? Do you think it’s possible that we institute slavery in the next decade? Century? I don’t know. But unless you’re saying that you find such a case likely, it’s rather irrelevant to the conversation, don’t you think? What exactly do you believe? Do you just throw up your arms and refuse to say anything? Is that more reasonable?

    The real point is that perfectly reasonable people can extrapolate trends from history and believe things about the future without believing in anything magical or supernatural guiding it (much like we may be able to guess certain processes of evolution without believing there’s anything magical or supernatural guiding it). That’s about it. It sounds like you’re trying to argue that no reasonable person can do this. Which is a little bizarre.

  31. 31
    doublereed

    By the way, there are plenty of other examples of things changing suddenly and forever, this is a rather inspiring article that gives some examples:

    Slavery was ubiquitous for millennia. Until it was outlawed in every country on Earth.

    Humans had never left the Earth. Until we achieved the first manned orbit and the first manned moon landing in a single decade.

    Smallpox occasionally decimated human populations for thousands of years. Until it was eradicated.

    The human species was always too weak to render itself extinct. Until we discovered the nuclear chain reaction and manufactured thousands of atomic bombs.

    Religion had a grip on 99.5% or more of humanity until 1900, and then the rate of religious adherence plummeted to 85% by the end of the century. Whole nations became mostly atheistic, largely because for the first time the state provided people some basic stability and security. (Some nations became atheistic because of atheistic dictators, others because they provided security and stability to their citizens.)

    Much has changed in the past few decades, and much will change in the coming years. Sometimes it’s good to check if the chain can still hold you. Do not be tamed by the tug of history. Maybe with a few new tools and techniques you can just get up and walk away — to a place you’ve never seen before.

  32. 32
    Michael Heath

    lesswrong quoted by doublereed:

    Whole nations became mostly atheistic, largely because for the first time the state provided people some basic stability and security.

    Financial security is certainly a critically important factor, but it’s not the only one observed. We also required the rise of rationalism and science as well.

    And as we learn more about the origins of religious thinking, we increasingly find that to achieve reason we have to overcome some defective thinking propensities we’ve acquired through both the culture and through inheritance.

  33. 33
    jonathangray

    doublereed:

    I don’t know. You can believe that though without any sort of supernatural force involved or magical thinking. Knowledge is not required. Look up Bayesian Reasoning. You’re demanding more evidence than is necessary. People are allowed to be incorrect about things.

    ‘Belief’ is not about possibilities, but probabilities. So unless you’re saying that you believe they are wrong, it’s not really an argument about anything. And even if you say that such beliefs are wrong, that’s totally okay, because people believe wrong things all the time. It’s really not that uncommon.

    When you say things are “Perfectly Possible” I wonder what you mean? Do you think it’s possible that we institute slavery in the next decade? Century? I don’t know. But unless you’re saying that you find such a case likely, it’s rather irrelevant to the conversation, don’t you think? What exactly do you believe? Do you just throw up your arms and refuse to say anything? Is that more reasonable?

    The real point is that perfectly reasonable people can extrapolate trends from history and believe things about the future without believing in anything magical or supernatural guiding it (much like we may be able to guess certain processes of evolution without believing there’s anything magical or supernatural guiding it). That’s about it. It sounds like you’re trying to argue that no reasonable person can do this. Which is a little bizarre.

    I’m not a progressive — I believe progressivism is misguided and will most likely lead to social dysfunction (anarchy and/or tyranny) before eventually collapsing, most likely being replaced by more robust structures characterised by a reassertion of traditional gender roles, authoritarian politics, respect for religious and tribalist instincts etc — and which could very well include something recognisable as slavery.

    That doesn’t mean I regard progressivism as intrinsically irrational. If someone were to say what you’ve just said — a heavily qualified statement to the effect that the evidence suggests progressivism is here to stay for the forseeable future but that we can’t know with 100% certainty — then I would think they’re wrong (that they’ve misread the signs of the times, perhaps are ignorant of evidence to the contrary or fail to appreciate its full import), but I certainly wouldn’t accuse them or magical thinking or para-religious delusion. The thing is, you didn’t say that originally — you came out with an emphatic categorical asssertion that progressivist trends were “forever”. I don’t think that is a reasonable position, any more than it would be reasonable for me to assert that the triumph of reaction was historically inevitable. People who talk about historical inevitability, whether Marx or Fukuyama or an evangelical Protestant predicting the date of the Apocalypse, inevitably end up looking foolish.

    By the way, there are plenty of other examples of things changing suddenly and forever … :

    Oy, there you go again!

    You cannot reasonably claim slavery and religious belief will never return on a large scale. To compare their relatively recent decline with the elimination of smallpox is surely a category error — smallpox cannot return from the dead; slavery and religion could return with a vengeance tomorrow if enough people thought it a good idea.

    As for spaceflight, again I don’t think you can usefully compare specific scientific or technical developments with the course of social trends in history. (And I would point out that while the moon landings were in a sense an ‘irreversible’ achievement, there’s no reason why they couldn’t become irrelevant in terms of their impact on quotidian human consciousness. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, they might as well as never happened. (There’s a beautiful passage in The Book of the New Sun in which the protaginist stares uncomprehendingly at an ancient painting of a strangely-armoured knight standing in a desert wasteland, bearing a staff with a strange stiff banner, his features covered by a golden mirrored visor with no eye-holes or ventilation slits.))

    And as for this:

    The human species was always too weak to render itself extinct. Until we discovered the nuclear chain reaction and manufactured thousands of atomic bombs.

    Yay, progress!

  34. 34
    jonathangray

    [Oops -- that should be "… might as well have never happened …"]

  35. 35
    jonathangray

    What really strikes me as magical or para-religious thinking is Ed’s original statement that rightists are losing because they “should be losing”. How can an atheist believe a cause’s moral righteousness guarantees its success? Or if a cause does in fact succeed, how can he believe that its success is down to its righteousness?

    I am told that science has disproved certain beliefs generally regarded in progressive circles as ‘racist’. Very well, let’s say these racist beliefs have indeed been conclusively debunked. But if that’s the case, it’s not because the universe has a humane liberal distaste for racism — it’s just a happy accident, a remarkable piece of good fortune that reality in this instance accords with liberal sentiments. It didn’t have to be so. (Indeed if Darwin’s theory of evolution is right, what modern racists call ‘race realism’ or ‘human biodiversity’ could become true — a subset of the human species could evolve into a different intelligent species. Perhaps more intelligent, perhaps less. What then? Is reality bigoted?

    “Even if it were true that evolution, or the teaching of evolution, encouraged immorality, that would not imply that the theory of evolution was false. It is quite astonishing how many people cannot grasp this simple point of logic. The fallacy is so common it even has a name, the argumentum ad consequentiam — X is true (or false) because of how much I like (or dislike) its consequences.” – Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth

  36. 36
    doublereed

    To compare their relatively recent decline with the elimination of smallpox is surely a category error — smallpox cannot return from the dead; slavery and religion could return with a vengeance tomorrow if enough people thought it a good idea.

    Ah, I see the problem.

    Let me ask you this then. Yes, if enough people thought it was a good idea slavery would come back. But that’s not just a small ‘if.’ I don’t think you understand just how big an ‘if’ that actually is.

    You seem to be asserting that society just does whatever people capriciously decide. Except we’re not actually capricious, we’re humans developed by biology, society, and culture.

    So the question I ask you is what evidence do you have that slavery comes back? You’re asserting that it’s possible, but is it? I think this question may be more complicated than you realize.

    Anyway, my emphatic categorization was more of an hypothetical than my actual beliefs. I’m not actually sure, but I definitely think you can make a solid bayesian rational argument for it. And I took Ed’s take statement more as a “fuck you” rather than a statement of way history works.

  37. 37
    abb3w

    @24, Ichthyic:

    but if the vast majority of Catholics are indeed the “C&E” crowd… that must mean Catholicism is pretty much dead

    More a half-vast majority. They are a majority of US Catholic gay marriage supporters. However, of US overall self-identified Catholics, The GSS suggests (skipping some statistics weasel-wording) that C&E level is somewhere between 40% and 60%. That still leaves their devout comparably numerous with Baptists overall, however.

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