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Jan 25 2012

Advice to 15% of Catholics: So just f’n quit already!

According to a Vanity Fair – slash – 60 Minutes poll, 15% of Catholics believe the world would be a better place without religion. 1% of Evangelicals and 5% of Protestants, too.

Chart: "Which comes closest to your view?"

Of course, the same poll showed that 28% of respondents, of all education levels, thought the United States has more than a billion residents. I can’t help but think the problem is entirely of culture and education — as in too much culture, enculturating people into Catholicism even though they don’t believe themselves, and too little education, where people simply cannot recognize the gaps in their knowledge of the world. That’s honestly the only way I could see someone labelling themselves as a “Catholic”, e.g. culturally, while believing that their religion should not exist.

An honest piece of advice to these 15% of Catholic adherents: just quit. Get out. You do not have to continue to adhere to the Catholic ways of life to believe what you believe. You do not have to stay in the Catholic denomination. You could switch to another denomination, one that has less of a problem with priests living resplendent lives while claiming poverty is a virtue, or having to receive your catechism from a man who may very well have been shuffled to his position after having been caught diddling kids in another district.

You can quit. You can quit and live a happy, healthy, full and pious life. Sure, the kiddy-fiddlers and the corpulent greedy bastards who claim to have a direct pipeline to God might “excommunicate” you, might claim that you’re going to Hell. But even if you still believe in Hell, and still believe in a just and righteous God, why would you believe these people who visibly break that God’s commandments over and over again when you break from their ranks?

And if you’re Catholic only because you like the community, but don’t actually believe in any of the Bible, much less believe in a higher power, then welcome to our community. You’re an atheist, and you are welcome to break bread with us.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Amadan

    On a related note: Archbishop of Dublin Urges Lapsed Catholics to Leave”

    A lot of it has to do with schools: the RCC’s dominant position is being taken away from them by the Minister for Education so I suppose they want to make sure that the True Believers don’t their little darling’s place taken by some fair-weather Catholic who (as Maupassant elegantly put it) “only go to church five times in their life, and have to be carried for two of them”.

  2. 2
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    You can quit. You can quit and live a happy, healthy, full and pious life.
    You can. I did. There are literally millions of us.

    God might “excommunicate” you, might claim that you’re going to Hell
    You just need to ask yourself a simple question, and be ready for an honest answer. “How do they know?”

  3. 3
    allenglendenning

    Just guessing but could those Christians who agree the world would be a better place without religion be those people who insist that THEIR faith is not a religion? Its truth. Its spirituality. Its the one true GOD. Everyone else’s beleifs are religion and those we can do without.

  4. 4
    glenmorangie10

    Inertia. I expect that all of that 15%, and a good portion of the other self-identifiers, do not attend mass, don’t share the church’s views on central tenets, but hold on to the title anyway.

    I was that 15%. I rejected the concept of a personal god in my teens, the possibility of any sense of spiritual experience or fulfillment through church attendance, confidence in the Catholic hierarchy, belief in any particular divine connection between the church and a deity, in my early twenties. Still, I called myself a Catholic. I laughed about it, was self-deprecating, disrespectful, sacrilegious, and contemptuous. I had no distinctly Catholic faith, belief, values or world view. My ethics were humanist, my outlook rational (in everything major but this). Still, I was a Catholic.

    I didn’t give up entirely on my last remaining shadow of hope for the church and my place in it until my early thirties. That hope lay in my assumption that the church built and maintained a sense of community. It was then that I learned more about the “Catholic” community organizations in my home diocese. They were of course just groups of community volunteers, who got nothing from the church in the form of money or manpower, but who the church expected to perform on command. If they gave any money to the church, however they expressed their expectation that it would be used for a particular purpose, that money went into the diocese account, to be used as the diocese saw fit. Guess how that ended, when the inevitable wave of abuse allegations rolled over our part of the world? Properties left to the church to be used for the benefit of the community were suddenly up for sale. Donated money became settlement money. They could call it a pillar of our community all day long; at the end of the day, it was a corporation with bills to pay.

    The shattering of that last illusion ended my ridiculous clinging to the nostalgia of my Catholicism. Plenty of these people may be close too. Or they may just keep clinging to the dubious joy of being Catholic in nothing but name.

  5. 5
    Paul Davidson

    Would have been interesting if muslims would have been included. Guessing they would have scored closest to evangelicals.

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    Paul: considering one of the tenets of Sharia law is that apostasy is punishable by death, um… yeah.

  7. 7
    Paul Davidson

    American taliban is alive and well :)

  8. 8
    N. Nescio

    Former Roman Catholic here. Agreed with #3 – you CAN quit. It’s not always easy.

    Years and years ago, after coming to the painful realization that my faith wasn’t worth a pair of dingo’s kidneys, I wrote to the nearest archbishop, requesting excommunication. Received a brief reply that completely hand-waved away my request. So I swiped some consecrated hosts and made nachos. Jesus makes TERRIBLE nachos. Wiped my ass with one and flushed it, just to be on the safe side. Jesus makes lousy toilet paper, too. Preached heresy to fellow Catholics by pointing out the ridiculous history of the Trinity, the translation error that made the Virgin Mary ‘virgin’, and chipped in for a buddy’s girlfriend to get an abortion. Wrote the archbishop again, informing him of the preceding. No reply.

    As for fears of hell – all these years of people telling me that I’m going to be tortured forever after I die, and Ol’ Jehovah hasn’t said word one to me about it. I wonder why that is?

  9. 9
    Greggorey

    It seems that it would be easier to just ban Catholics from listening to John Lennon than to actually change anything.

  10. 10
    Aliasalpha

    Maybe that 15% are like the dara o’briain type catholic.

    How do you go about being excommunicated anyway? I was thinking it might be a good present to give my best friend for his birthday this year if I can arrange it

  11. 11
    Riptide

    You have to realize something about a certain kind of Protestant–particularly Southern Baptist. Some of them, at least, think that following Jesus isn’t a “religion”. When I told one of my elder relatives I wasn’t religious, she said “You don’t need religion, son, you just need to believe in Jesus.”

    To which I replied: http://i.minus.com/ief4IssyX.gif

    So when at least some of these people said “the world would be a better place with no religion,” that’s probably what they meant. Why they didn’t answer 3 is beyond me.

  12. 12
    markr1957

    As a very lapsed Catholic I fully agree that the world can only get better with less religion. Oddly the RCC doesn’t appear to have a voluntary excommunication service, and I still have to try and avoid dyin so the Morons don’t ‘join’ me into their crowd of dead converts.
    As for a religion-free (and miracle-free) Jeebus all that seems to be left is a man who finally figured out that poor people have poor babies, and suggested that if you don’t want your kids to have the same shit life you’re having then don’t have kids, you fucking idiots. Sadly some fucking priest religionized the good idea and turned it into an impossible goal, so instead of enjoying yourself with non-reproductive sex they made the rules say you can’t have any sex, in the full knowledge that it would never happen, making every living human a ‘sinner’. Fuck all religion.

  13. 13
    Bill in SoCal

    Jason,

    Thanks for posting the graphic. I’ll be sharing it in a Church History seminary class that I teach.

    You’re a smug, confident atheist. Probably the best kind of atheist if you are one. You’re exactly the kind of godless person the scriptures describe – nothing new under the sun. Not profound, just sort of sad.

    I agree with your assessment of the dismal education Christians (both real and cultural) have about the depths of their faith. That’s an indictment of people, though…not the faith itself.

    Your reduction of church leaders to pedophiles, corpulent and greedy is just as ignorant. That’s like me saying all atheists are arrogant bastards. “May very well” is a reach. “Most probably not” is the truth. By the way…who says they have a direct pipeline to God? And who says that they are to be followed because of their personal perfection? Your ignorance about all of these things makes me wonder how I woke up to a world full of bloggers who think they can talk about things they know so little about.

    Can I break bread with you if I remain religious?

    Bill in SoCal

  14. 14
    Jason Thibeault

    I contend, in fact, that believing you know everything about how the universe was created, despite all the contradictions to actual evidence, is the smug position of our two, where scientific curiosity is the far more humble. But you are welcome to use this infographic in order to further mislead your students about reality. Maybe it will resonate with some of them.

    Have a pleasant day!

  15. 15
    Anthony K

    Thanks to science, bread comes pre-sliced now. No need for breaking. (Or, if you still prefer to divide it yourself, you can purchase a variant of the sword Jesus came to bring; it’s called a bread knife, and it’s much more suited to making toast than setting father against son.)

    Can I get a ‘best kind of atheist’ award too, Bill in SoCal?

  1. 16
    Religious Attitudes Poll « An Apostate's Chapel

    [...] Vanity Fair/60 Minutes recently conducted a poll that yielded some interesting results: [...]

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