What he said:

Theology is also awesomely sophisticated and complex, and I think it’s an indicator of the intelligence of the men (mostly) behind it that they have erected such a fantastically intricate collection of rationalizations for such deeply absurd ideas.

PZ Myers
Sunday Sacrilege: Cant Can’t

A great take on “sophisticated” theology and its clash with evolutionary biology. Team PZ!

What she said:

A charming elderly gentleman, whom my parents had long known, proceeded to the lectern to lead us in prayer. I wish I’d paid more attention, for I cannot now remember how he led up to the fateful words asking God to help us in the fight against “the rise of secularism and the aggressive atheists”.

[…]I took my chance to ask him what he meant. And he meant it as a fight all right. But the really scary thing was what he thought we wicked secularists were up to – we apparently want to prevent him worshipping, destroy his faith and banish Christianity from the face of the earth. I explained that I don’t want to stop him worshipping or destroy his faith.

As a secularist, I am quite happy if people carry on with their religious practices as long as these do not give them special privileges in the affairs of state. As a humanist, I think we should rely on ourselves, not on an invented god. As an atheist, I would be delighted if people stopped believing in their various gods, and stopped believing their religion was right and everyone else’s wrong. But I do not want to fight them over it unless they try to impose it upon the rest of us.

Fighting talk in church
Sue Blackmore

When pro-life really means pro-death (or: anti-woman)

For all my pro-life readers out there, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this case: Hospital Nun Excommuniated for Allowing Abortion.

The background:  last year, a woman in Phoenix received an abortion in a Catholic hospital.  This patient was 11 weeks pregnant, and had a severe life-threatening condition that would have killed her had she not received the procedure.  Before the abortion, her case was reviewed and scrutinized by a hospital ethics committee, and they all decided that this was the right and life-saving thing to do in this situation.

So looking at this particular case, what is the appropriate pro-“life” response to a situation like this?  I can already hear one of my (rabid) pro-life friends respond to me by saying, “God is in control, and you should trust him to save both the mother and child.”  (Usually this platitude is followed up by a vague reference of a story of a friend-of-a-friend who had a negative diagnosis but continued on with a pregnancy to have a positive result.)  And you know, saying that “God is in control” sounds really nice  — but when faced with impending death, I wonder how willing you’d be to take a bet on dogma over reality.

The reality in this woman’s life was that she was going to die unless she had an abortion.  It probably wasn’t a happy choice for her to have to make, but it was a choice she was glad to be able to have medically available.

It’s situations like these that remind me of the importance of being able to trust women when it comes to reproductive issues.  If a lawmaker passed a law in Arizona’s capital that outlawed all abortions, where would that have left this woman and her family?  Sure, passing such a law may have made the lawmaker score big points with his conservative donors, but his feigned concern over preserving “life” would have meant DEATH for this woman.

As horrible as you may think abortion is, it’s cases like these that convince me that these procedures need to ALWAYS be available for women to consult.  I’m so tired of hearing the anti-choice talking point that most abortions are done out of “convenience,” as if a woman wakes up one day — 7 months pregnant — and decides she doesn’t want to go through with mamahood.

But I digress.  The moral dilemma over this Arizona woman’s story doesn’t just stop with her decision.  The local Catholic church decided to righteously weigh in on the situation, and the role a Catholic nun played in the saga:

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, indicated in a statement that the Roman Catholic involved was “automatically excommunicated” because of the action. The Catholic Church allows the termination of a pregnancy only as a secondary effect of other treatments, such as radiation of a cancerous uterus.

“I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese,” Olmsted said in a statement sent to The Arizona Republic. “I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition.

“An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.”

For those of you keeping track at home:

  • Repeatedly rape and take advantage of young children in your charge = a transfer to another parish, the covering up of your crimes, intimidation of your accusers, promotion, etc…
  • Save the life of a woman by performing a legal medical procedure = EXCOMMUNICATION

Just stunning.  How can anyone want to continue to be a part of a such a corrupt (and misogynistic) institution?

What he said:

Earlier this week in the Star Phoenix there was a letter to the Editor where the author attempted to condone (or at least badly explain) the pedophilic priest epidemic by blaming the “sexual pollution” of our day and age.

Today, the paper published this letter of response, which I just love.  Here’s the letter’s forceful conclusion:

The only sexual pollution society needs to be rid of are the pedophiles who use the confessional as a torture chamber and those who support them, financially and otherwise.

Both letters are worth the read!  Here’s hoping the author of the latter will join ranks with us Freethinkers in town.

What he said, part 2:

re: Catholic child-abuse sex scandal — PZ Myers, on why we should (always!) “tell on the church”:

So this is our sacrilege for the day: speak the truth, decry the crimes of those in authority, challenge the dogma that says we are sinful beings redeemed by the suffering of another.

Sunday Sacrilege: The greatest blasphemy of them all

What he said:

Richard Dawkins, on whether the Pope should resign:

No, Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice – the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution – while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears.

from Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope

Pope fail

While a cardinal at the Vatican, Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope, wrote a 2001 letter instructing bishops worldwide to report all cases of abuse to his office and keep church investigations secret under threat of excommunication. The Vatican insists the secrecy rules serve only to protect the integrity of the church’s investigations, and should not be taken to mean the church should not tell police of their members’ crimes.

But victims’ advocates in Ireland and the United States said the pope again failed to make it clear whether the church considers the secular law a higher priority than canon law when seeking to stop a pedophile priest.

Papal letter fails to calm anger over Irish abuses