Meanwhile on the Religious Front…

Being a recovering Catholic, from time to time I tune into (Ir)Relevant Radio, from the far right wing of the cathedral.  I do this so you won’t have too.  Sometimes I also get a blog post idea or two.  But frankly, it turns my stomach so fast that I usually turn it off before I get enough information to actually write a post.

In the minute and half that I was able to listen over the past few days, I caught two snippets that actually go together and explain in a nutshell what is wrong with much of religion in our society currently and why I no longer hold any truck with those folks.

Today some joker named Joshua McCaig was on discussing “Catholic politicians in public life” on the Drew Hystriani show (if you listen for even a few minutes, if you can stomach it,  you will know why I call him that).

McCaig, Mr. Religious Liberty, according to the link above, was going about how Catholic politicians should honor their home faith by forcing it on everyone else through legislation and such.  The idea that someone (presumably someone like Tim Kaine) who would follow Catholic rules in their own life, but not force those rules on others, is just wrong.  Several times in the few minutes I stand listening, McCaig said that things are “black and white, no gray areas.”  Follow the church’s teachings and that is all.  At one point he mentioned that he started a Catholic Bar Association, because he can’t fathom why lawyers, lawyers of all people, can’t understand that these issues are black and white!

I had to give up when they took a call and the caller breathlessly praised Mike Pence for basically preaching the gospel while running for office.  Couldn’t take it any more and I bailed.

But in those two minutes, I got enough to go on for quite a while.

Let’s start with hubris.  The clown thinks he knows the mind of god so well that everything is “black and white.”  He knows god’s answer for EVERYTHING! Every time!  Wow, pretty amazing!  Better than Jesus even!  That would be enough to turn a thinking person from religion, but there is so much more.

How about a different kind of hubris, chutzpah (which was once defined as someone killing their parents and begging the court for mercy because they are an orphan.)  Here is a guy saying that Catholic politicians have to enforce Catholic orthodoxy on the country — and then says he is in favor of “religious liberty.”  This is a new definition of liberty: “To force my ideas on you.”  And he wonders why lawyers don’t understand?

Now, when he said that being a Catholic politician was simple, “because it is black and white” he is really speaking in a short hand code.  What he really means is that you just have to vote against abortion at all times and none of the rest of it matters.

So, I wanted to call in and ask him, what would the Catholic position be on, say, voting to limit the liability of companies that made deadly products, like say, lead paint?  Surely the church would be in favor of people making amends for their actions when they hurt other people.  Surely allowing rich people to walk away from their obligations — in exchange for a few campaign contributions would not be pleasing to god.  Or would it Mr. McCaig?  You seem to know god’s mind perfectly.  Is there a politician anywhere in any party that follows Catholic teachings completely?  I would say the Republicans here in Wisconsin with their pay to play system fall a bit short.  And I am sure McCaig thinks those immoral Democrats are not worthy either.

Let god make the laws directly!  Who needs politicians!

The pay to play issue just broke wide open here in Wisconsin, but what about more mundane things?  We appear not to have enough money to fund our schools and fix our roads.  Republicans cut $300 from our university system and now are short about a billion in road funds.  So, what is the Catholic position on this Mr. McCaig?  Take more money from roads to fund schools?  Bad roads can kill people, so maybe close the schools completely to fix the roads?  Or perhaps the solution is to raise taxes to take care of both.  Jesus said god had no problem with taxes.  Please tell us what god thinks about this Mr. McCaig!  It must be a simple black and white answer!

I could go on, but I know you understand.  There is no politician anywhere who follows the line of any church or religion from top to bottom.  We know that religious people cherry pick, and religious politicians most of all.

Finally, to switch subjects just slightly, I caught a snippet a few days ago where a lady had called into a program and she was looking for an “ethical” doctor.  What she meant was a doctor who would not only recommend only church approved treatment options not only to her, but to everyone the doctor saw.  In other words, a doctor who would not recommend or prescribe birth control to her or anyone.

I should probably make this a separate blog post, but here goes.

“Religious” reasoning is not the same as “ethical” reasoning, lady.  Religious reasoning may include ethical principals, but ultimately religious rules are just that, rules for no real rhyme or reason.  Wearing a hat (for women) or not wearing one (for men) are religious rules with no ethical import.  Sure there are reasons, but they are reasons that are only meaningful to those who follow the religion.  Hat or no hat, makes no difference ethically.

I will not say that using birth control has no ethical import, but I am sure any open minded ethicist can make a good case for the use of birth control, here is a listing of a few considerations.  It is also true that not all churches, or even all Christian churches oppose contraception, so the Catholic argument doesn’t even apply to all Christians.

This lady — and McCaig — both want to take their narrow understanding of what god wants and to force it on everyone, no matter what the conscience of those other people might tell them.  They both are completely cocksure that they know every thing god thinks, wants and demands and wants to force that view and those actions on the rest of us.  That is not ethical thinking or even religious thinking.

It is fascism, pure and simple.  Calling fascism “religious liberty” is just polishing a turd.



  1. says

    Religious reasoning may include ethical principals, but ultimately religious rules are just that, rules for no real rhyme or reason.

    I disagree. Religion embeds some ethical precepts, but they pre-existed religion. The simple observation that people don’t like being killed is all you need to establish an injunction against murder (see Hamurrabi’s code) Religion’s role in ethics is to bypass epistemological debate and moral nihilism by substituting authority. It picks up litmus tests like “no pork!” So the authoritarians can see it’s working. Any morality or ethical thinking in religion was appropriated from outside to make it more credible. “Ooh! Shall do no murder sounds good! These christians figured out something that eluded the Babylonians!”

    • says

      Actually, I think we are saying the same thing. Certainly religions “steal” ethical precepts. For example, “thou shalt not kill.” But then, rather than using ethical reasoning when necessary, some “rule from god” is made up to justify why, for example capital punishment and war are not a problem, but abortion is.

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