Thursday, July 7, 2016

No religion has a monopoly on evil

“The accusations against the priests are just Satan’s way of testing our faith in the Church.” This was said to me recently by a woman who described herself as a “devout Catholic.” It was in response to my expressing surprise at her attachment; I had somewhat tactlessly asked whether her devotion to her church wasn’t shaken by all the reports about pedophile priests.
In the previous article we discussed a Nigerian group, Boko Haram, who believes Allah blesses their crimes – kidnapping, bombings and worse – committed against both their own people and the rest of us “infidels.”
Last month, a court in Sudan sentenced to death Meriam Ibrahim for her ‘crime’ of refusing to embrace Islam - the religion of her father, who abandoned her when she was six. While Sudanese officials claim they have since changed their minds and will release her “soon,” she reportedly gave birth last week while still in prison, chained to a bed. The Sudanese officials no doubt prostrate themselves before Allah the merciful several times a day.
And Canadian Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar was murdered by Muslims while visiting Pakistan in May, for being the wrong type of Muslim. No doubt the murderers devoutly believe that Allah was smiling on them.
People have odd definitions of faith. Five hundred years ago, there were South Americans who believed they were pleasing their god by cutting open a prisoner and holding his still beating heart up to the sun.
A common misconception is,
“Faith is believing what you can’t prove.”
Actually the correct word for that would be “credulity.” Even kids who believe in the Tooth Fairy do better than that. Their faith is at least based on evidence – the money that appears under their pillow – plus the confidence (misplaced, in this case) that their parents wouldn’t lie to them. The devout Catholic woman who thinks the pedophile reports are an attack on her faith doesn’t have even that much ammunition. She simply chooses to blind herself, to believe that the accounts of pedophile priests are all lies, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, she has purposely blinded herself to the Church’s own account of its history.
Let’s be honest: pedophiles are everywhere, they show up in every organization, every walk of life. What makes the Catholic Church so reprehensible is not simply their having pedophiles in their priesthood, nor even the vast number of them; but their organized, systematic hiding and protecting of those pedophile priests.
The Catholic Church claims it was started by Jesus. History reliably records, however, that it came into existence three centuries later, and there is a simple, logical test that proves it: If the Church were started by Jesus, wouldn’t they still be holding to Jesus’ teachings?
  • ‘The meek shall inherit the earth.’ (Matthew 5: 5) [The Church teaches that the meek will inherit heaven.]
  • ‘Call no man on earth father.’ (Matthew 23:9) [The Church insists on calling its clergy “Father.”]
  • ‘Go in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and many are they who enter in through it.’ (Matthew 7:13) [The Church believes their being largest makes them true; Jesus said the opposite.]
  • ‘No one comes to the father except through me.’ (John 14:6) [The Church teaches its followers to approach God through various ‘saints.’]
  • ‘All who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ (Matthew 26:52) [The Church has a sordid history of preaching her followers into wars, not talking them out of it.]
  • ‘"This cup," He said, "is the new Covenant ratified by my blood which is to be poured out on your behalf.”’(Luke 22:20) [While the Greek in Matthew 26:27 has Jesus saying ‘this cup is my blood’ he no more meant that the wine in the cup was literally his blood than that the cup was literally a covenant. The cup was a cup, the wine in it was wine. But the Church teaches that the wine in the cup changes into Jesus’ actual blood.]
  • ‘Any man who divorces his wife for any cause except her unfaithfulness, and marries another woman, commits adultery.’ (Matthew 19:9) [The Church does not permit divorce on any grounds, even unfaithfulness.]
  • ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, I having selected you from the world, the world hates you. (John 5:19) [The Church is up to her elbows in the world, believing she can fix it from within. The pope even recently polled the world to find out what teachings his Church should change.]
Jesus, Paul, Peter and John all warned of an apostasy that would infect Christianity. It began even before the early Christians were dead. (1 John 2:18) While the Bible explained that congregations needed oversight - episkopos (1 Peter 5:2) egocentric men within the congregation turned episkopos into a title: Bishop. Soon, there were bishops competing to tell other bishops what to do, just at the same time as there were schisms within the Roman Empire itself. 200 years after Jesus death, assassination of Roman emperor Severous Alexander resulted in a century long tug-of-war over who was in charge. In several cases there were multiple claimants to the throne at the same time.
Some of those emperors, such as Diocletian, hated Christians and fed them to the lions in the arena. Others, such asMaxentius, believed they could use Christian support to bolster their rule. By 312, support for Constantine was rising. He claimed to have seen a vision of a cross with the catchy slogan ‘In this sign you will conquer’ right before going into battle against Maxentius, and it was that ‘conversion’ – and the subsequent bloody victory – that resulted in catholicizing, bringing together, the disparate parts of so-called Christianity.
And thus the Catholic Church was born. But does it make any sense that Jesus, having taught his followers to abjure the sword, would have suddenly changed his mind and encouraged Constantine to take up the sword? This was nothing more than political maneuvering.
The history of the Catholic Church from that time to this is no less ugly. And other religions have ugly skeletons in their closets, as well. We’ll get to those in the next piece in this series.
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