"The Vatican issued a new set of rules Thursday to respond to the worldwide clerical abuse scandal, cracking down on priests who rape and molest minors and the mentally disabled." The document also states that ordaining a woman is a sin on the same level. That's right, anyone who ordains a woman is, to the Catholic Church, as bad as someone who sexually molests children. The actual sin, is ordaining anyone whom a bishop* has not given the okay to ordain, but since that permission will never be granted for a woman (and I use the word "never" consciously, given the context under which the action is described in the aforementioned document), that sin will always be as great as the destruction of a child's life. Of course, women and children always get lumped in together, and the Catholic Church has a pretty bad record with both. This is pretty offensive stuff, but it's unsurprising given that the Church is run by men.
Here's the point of this post, and weirdly, it's not to kvetch about the Catholic Church: I can't post this to Facebook. My first instinct on hearing the news this morning, was to put up a link on Facebook, and say "Oh look, The Dudes in Rome have done it again." I've done so before, when an American nun was excommunicated because she told a pregnant women that she was allowed control over her own body, to save her own life. I framed it as a feminist issue, because it is. I posted a link to an article about the case to my profile.
Catholics don't have a lock on denying women agency over their own bodies. In fact, most of the American anti-choice agitators are Protestant. Moreover, religious people aren't the only ones who openly practice misogyny. My point, when posting about the nun, is that anytime you have a group of (mostly) men running something, women are going to get the short end of the stick. That's the way it works. It could be sexual harassment in publishing, the Catholic Church, or the Canadian government. Of course, with a total lack of female voices in positions of power, the Catholic Church will commit especially egregious crimes against women. This does not mean that religious people are bad. This is one of the responses I got, however, on Facebook.
A dude missing the irony gene decided to tell me what is and is not a feminist issue. "I don't see this as a feminism issue at all," he said. "It's another notch in the RCC's hypocrisy belt. I still say draw the line: You either condemn the entire organization, or you endorse their behaviour." He went on to say "Focusing on the feminist slant only imposes a different form of oppressive discourse." Yep, if I'm interested in how women are treated, I'm imposing an oppressive discourse. The commenter's basic argument was that the Church, not the men who run it, are the source of oppression. Rather obviously, I disagree.
This went back and forth for hours but it's not isolated. I've seen people trash religion all over, even on the pages of people who are deeply committed to their faith. I've read of someone being "disappointed" that a celebrity they liked is an active Catholic. It's en vogue to paint people who believe in God (however you define that god) as stupid and/or evil, in part due to a mindset Terry Eagleton calls "Ditchkins" in his excellent Reason, Faith, and Revolution. The Dawkins/Hitchens school takes dogmatic -- and weirdly evangelical -- atheism as a higher calling. I have seen a form of hate spewed forth from Dogmatic Atheists directed to the religious, that I have not seen from those who are practicing Catholics, Jews, or Muslims (and yes, I count all these among my friends) in the other direction. Frankly, I'm fucking sick of it, and I call it out whenever I see it. Atheism and evil are not mutually exclusive.
I've been everything from a baptized COS Presbyterian, child atheist, LDS church attending friend, atheist again, Wiccan,** possible Jew, to finally agnostic. The thread that runs through my life, is that atheism never lasts long. I always come back to knowing that there's something out there, and I think it's bigger than me. I don't know what "God" is, but I think it's a mistake to discount it because evolution is real. I also think some atheists make a huge mistake in engaging in a form of bigoty because it's fashionable. There are certainly horrible things done in the name of religion, but in the absence of God, a lot of horrible things would still have happened and continue to happen.
So I won't post this to Facebook, because frankly I don't feel like reading all the misdirected hate.
Fight the real enemy.
* Archbishop? Cardinal? I'm not really sure who gets to make these decisions.
**It was the 90s. I was 19. Most of my cohort was Wiccan at some point.