Friday, April 13, 2012

My (satirical-but-all-too-true?) Version of the Bishop's anti-Obama "Statement."

What follows is not the 12 page original “Statement on Religious Liberty” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. But here's my (satirical-but-all-too-true?) version of the bishop's anti-Obama "statement."

We are Catholics who are using politics masquerading as religion to forward our agenda. We are also Americans when it suits our political purposes as laid out for us by a number of influential (mostly unknown) far right Republican Party activists we the American Bishops look to for guidance on how to remain relevant even after we presided over a worldwide pedophilia ring.

These activists who guide and manipulate us were inspired by the late Richard John Neuhaus (a convert to far right papist Catholicism who equated America with Hitler’s Germany because of legal abortion), and today we are led by Professor Robert George of Princeton University (and former John McCain advisor and anti-Obama Republican activist who accused President Obama of being in favor of infanticide) who has picked up where Neuhaus left off.

Robert George came up with something called the Manhattan Declaration that was co-authored with far right evangelical activist Charles Colson that called for civil disobedience against the government but more specifically against President Obama, someone Professor George has been working to defeat and discredit from the time he worked for McCain.

To be far right Tea Party Catholic and American should mean not having to choose between celibacy and child molestation on the one hand and making sweeping political “moral” pronouncements written for us by Professor Robert George and other Republican Party far right evangelical-style activists on the other hand. Our allegiances to both making political statements as a means to destroy the first black American president and also to cover up a decades-long war on innocent children are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow Republican Party and Tea Party citizens for the common good of all who wish to defeat President Obama in the next election by whatever means, including making the unfounded charge of his being “against religion.”

Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that the power of the Church in the United States to oppress women, children and gays is being sadly weakened. He worries that we'll get kicked out of here just as the people of Ireland finally got sick of us there. He called the bishops’ right to do one thing yet say another  the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is.

Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms: the freedom for women to be baby-making vessels following the glorious tradition of the Church that sat back and denounced condoms and thus condemned millions to death from AIDS.

Religious Liberty Under Attack—Concrete Examples, Consider the following:

HHS mandate for contraception has been met with our vigorous and united opposition. We demand that women must have plenty of children to turn over to our tender care and nurturing. In an unprecedented way, the federal government will force religious institutions to abide by the laws of the land as regards women’s rights. This is unacceptable.

Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services

Notwithstanding years of excellent performance by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require us to provide or refer for contraceptive services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief no matter how crazy that belief is.

Religious Liberty Is More Than Freedom of Worship

Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home with our dozens of children. It is also about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of the Republican Party, the Tea Party and the Koch brothers' takeover of America via the Supreme Court without having to compromise our faith in Ayn Rand, who was crucified, raised and ascended that American corporations might be saved by us.

Without religious liberty properly understood, all Republicans will suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, civil rights, and social services that Fox News-watching Americans make every day to keep America ignorant of science and progress.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society where rich and connected white men rule women and minorities -- or whether the state alone will determine who has rights. All far right and religious right Republicans make their contribution to our common life, and they do not need the permission of the President Obama and his death panels to have access to children to molest, women to bully and gay people to discriminate against.

So this is not just a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an issue that binds together every American reactionary misogynist homophobic right winger that hates our not-born-here Muslim, communist, socialist, infanticide-loving “president.”

It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law to protect women that makes us bishops subject to the law rather than to our Bronze Age mythology. In the face of an unjust law that deprives WE THE BISHPOPS of the RIGHT to deprive women, children and gay Americans of their civil liberties an accommodation is not to be sought.

We the Bishops know that by raising a possibility of civil disobedience we can grab a headline or two make religious liberty a campaign issue and thereby do our bit to get a Republican Mormon elected while holding our noses because of course not long ago we would have had him burned at the stake.

The Lord Jesus came to liberate us from the dominion of sin and so he put Us Bishops in charge of women and gay people and children. We ask nothing less than that the Constitution and laws of the United States, which recognize our right to operate an anti-democratic institution within a democracy, be respected.

Finally to our brother bishops, let us exhort each other with fraternal charity to be bold, clear, and insistent in denying that we have been part of a cover-up of crimes against children, women, minorities and gay people by warning against threats to the rights of us bishops to boss the American's around (including those "Catholics" who no longer obey us) who work in the multiform-billion dollar institutions we control. Let us attempt to be the “conscience of the state,” to use Rev. King’s words against the first black American president.

In the aftermath of the decision on contraceptive mandates, many others who hate President Obama spoke out forcefully sensing that "religious liberty" is a good and useful smokescreen to defeat that man with.

A Fortnight for Freedom

We suggest that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More and the Vigil of the Upcoming Republican National Convention—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom to get rid of Obama by any means”—a great hymn of prayer for our country.

We invite you to join us in an urgent prayer for religious liberty by which we mean the defeat of President Obama, no matter what.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer, speaker, political activist and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back


Steve D said...

All together now: a one an' a two...

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

I suggest a day to celebrate religious freedom. How about July 30? That's the day Konrad von Marburg was assassinated in 1233. Konrad was probably the nastiest of the inquisitors to meet that fate. There's some debate about the others, but Konrad was an outright sadist.

C Woods said...

This was great ---"all-too-true" says it all.

I didn't grow up Catholic, although I was married to two recovering Catholics (not at the same time, of course) but over the past several years, I find myself drawn to learning about Catholic history.

I started by reading "Mistress of the Vatican" about the woman who pretty-much ruled the vatican during the papacy of Innocent X. I knew the church had been corrupt, but until I read this book, I had no idea to what extent. Since then, I have either watched documentaries and/or read books about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Borgias, the Magdalene Sisters and other topics.

Frankly, it is difficult to me to understand how anyone can remain Catholic today after all of the recent revelations about pedophilia, the Magdalene Sisters' laundries (where women were held in virtual slavery), the church's stances on an all-male hierarchy, birth control, gays, etc.

How can anyone believe the church is not more interested in protecting their control of female bodies than in protecting the rights of victims, especially children?

I can only guess that the fear of hell or torture is the only thing that kept most people Catholic throughout history.

I' seem to be picking on only the Catholics here. In my opinion most other religions or Christian sects have behaved just as badly at times. Perhaps it is just the cumulative effect that make the Catholics seem so much nastier. Their recent behaviors just continue the Catholic traditions of the past in one form or other.

JCF said...

C Woods, you know the Parable of the Blind (People) and the Elephant? [Each blind person says what an elephant looks like, based upon one different, small area that each one touches]

It's like that for many (if not most) Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic Church "looks like" their individual parish, their particular priest. Not the heirarchy far away (as they perceive it).

We who see the Big Picture (and an ugly one it is), must try to undersand those w/ a (beloved) Smaller Picture.

Frank Schaeffer said...

Hi C Woods, yes I agree, it seems almost impossible for me to understand why all Roman Catholics don't do what most of the Irish Catholics have done which is to just quit. The church has "lost" Ireland which is like saying that Texas now hates eating beef! If that can happen, and it has, the RC days are numbered. F

EditNetwork said...

This is a great and refreshing essay; thank you. Just a quick typo alert, if you can revise easily: Professor Gorge (3rd graf) should be Professor George, and WE THE BISHPOPS has an extra letter (7th graf from end).

dianedp said...

I find it so hypocritical that the bishops can decide to participate in civil disobedience yet have scathing words for those of us they called 'cafeteria Catholics'.

I left the church a year ago. I woke up decided that those who were supposed to be the moral authority of the church were so corrupt and vile, that I could not participate in the religion any more.
And now I watch this farce? I made the best decision of my life last year. I will fight the church and will not let them affect my life any longer.

Peter said...

Frank - while you are free, of course, to use the term "far right" as many times as you wish, the irony is that the Conference of Catholic Bishops was supporting "progressive" causes (rights of workers, universal health care, federal safety net, treatment of immigrants) long before you reinvented yourself.

Steve D said...

Peter said: "the Conference of Catholic Bishops was supporting "progressive" causes (rights of workers, universal health care, federal safety net, treatment of immigrants) long before you reinvented yourself."

Yes they were - a hundred years ago. And a thousand years ago the Islamic world was enlightened and tolerant. A hundred years ago, Wisconsin led the Progressive movement. Now it's a reactionary and intellectually sclerotic state with a drooling idiot for a governor.

What the Catholic Church once WAS is only a greater reproach to what it has become.

Peter said...

No, Steve. This week they were criticizing Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan. And the other positions have been prominent over the last twenty years, together with opposition to war, capital punishment, abortion, and contraception. It's called a consistent pro-life ethic, based on a religious tradition, which may or may not agree in every case with the dogma promoted on this page and in the secular echo chambers. However, it's much easier to dismiss it as "Bronze Age mythology" rather than to actually engage the issues.

Steve D said...

I am not in the least pro-life. I would gladly have joined in the mission to get Bin Ladin and I think commuting the sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal was a gross miscarriage of justice. I eat hamburgers without qualm.

The label "pro-life" is a dishonest spin on "anti-abortion." And it has put its users into grotesque positions. Having reversed its historical support for capital punishment, what exactly can the Vatican call on to support its positions on homosexuality or abortion (which isn't even mentioned in the Bible)? Scripture? Scripture plainly endorses capital punishment. Historical teachings? Same there. So having ignored Scripture and its own teachings on capital punishment, exactly what does the Church hope to claim for its authority on other issues?