Surely We’re All Being Punk’d? The Catholic Church Is A Spoof, Right?

An idiotic outpouring of homophobic bile is always a surefire way of prompting me to write a blog post, so here we are. Today’s post, though perhaps a day late and dollar short, has been instigated by comments made by Cardinal Keith O’Brien in a column he wrote for last Saturday’s Telegraph; that’s the decrepit virgin in charge of the Scottish branch of the Catholic church for those of you who always get your bigots mixed up. The column saw him rallying against the government’s upcoming consultation on whether same-sex marriage should be introduced in England and Wales. If you happen to read it, don’t worry if you start to hear a screechy tuneless pitch; you’ve not suddenly developed an unexpected case of tinnitus, it’s just me playing the world’s tiniest violin in sympathy.

In his column, O’Brien unsurprisingly plays the “won’t somebody think of the children!” card, i.e. kids need a mother and a father to grow up to be normal, whatever normal is. First of all, this is being rather presumptuous of him, as many gay couples, like their heterosexual counterparts, won’t want children. Secondly, many unfortunate straight couples who are married can’t have children, though I guess that’s just part of the Big G’s glorious plan, huh, O’Brien?

He also cites that “the evidence” for heterosexual couples being the better environment to bring up children in “is overwhelming and unequivocal”. While he was busy making broad, sweeping statements he must have overlooked all those cases of child abuse that have occurred over the years to children in their own home, at the hands of their own heterosexual parents. Also, since families that are made up of homosexual couples are about as common as hen teeth, the evidence for the effect of children brought up in that particular environment is close to non-existent, so a valid comparison can hardly be made yet.

Apart from anything else, surely popping out sproggs isn’t the only reason to get married? I would like to think the primary reason most people get married is because they wish to cement the loving relationship they have found and nurtured. Children are of course part of the equation for some people, however it’s a rather sad indictment of marriage to say it’s solely about the children since this reduces us to little more than breeding machines rather than fully fledged individuals. O’Brien also comes perilously close to playing the “gay relationships are just as heinous as bestiality” card, like the good little bigot he is, but instead settles for the slightly less offensive polygamy comparison.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a conflicted opinion about gay marriage: since I am a total heathen, I have no intention of having a religious ceremony when I get married, but when bigots claim that the Bible, God or Jesus are against gay people being able to marry I always find this line of argument rather dubious, especially when there are many other biblical rules that are conveniently overlooked. Apart from anything else, it smacks slightly of cutting your nose off to spite your face. Surely expanding the flock and thus helping to perpetuate the existence of your religious faith should be the long-term focus? Additionally, having gays and lesbians in your churches will mean they always look great with fabulous floral altar displays as well as being structurally sound, which may distract the congregation from the fact that all your priests are child-molesting monsters. Aren’t comments based on sweeping statements and stereotypes fun?

Cardinal O’Brien goes on to decry this potential redefining of what a marriage is, though as historian Greg Jenner points out in his brilliant Huffington Post riposte, marriage has had a number of different societal uses over the centuries, and more importantly, the concept predates Christianity. You should definitely read Greg’s article, as it’s a great example of what somebody with an education and a working brain would write, revealing an informed opinion, rather than the sort of thing that somebody who gets all their information from an unverified, 2,000 year-old book, riddled questionable “facts”.

For its sheer comedy value and highlighting his apparent lack of any self-awareness, the following paragraph is possibly my favourite from the entire column:

“Will that teacher’s right to hold and teach [that marriage should only ever be between a man and a woman] be respected or will it be removed? Will both teacher and pupils simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs? “

A few things: 1) A tyranny of tolerance? Wasn’t it Jesus, ya know, your guy, Cardinal, who told his followers to love and accept everyone? 2) A teacher should be teaching facts based on evidence and encouraging their pupils to think for themselves, however, I do realise this may be a novel concept to someone who believes in unquestionable truths such as the Immaculate Conception 3) “state-imposed orthodoxy”? Two words: Roman Inquisition.

Religious people in this day and age generally leave me a little perplexed, but gay religious people even more so. While some would say it is perhaps unfair to brand religion as a hotbed for homophobia, a significant proportion of homophobia does comes from religious people using their faith as justification. It may not technically be religion’s fault, since many religious people aren’t homophobic in the slightest, however, when faith is in the mix it is rather difficult and awkward when you are essentially arguing against an invisible, unprovable entity.

Personally, I’ve always been of the mindset that if God exists, then, being an omnipotent and omniscient being, why couldn’t he make his message infallible and incorruptible by us mere mortals? If, for the sake of argument, we say God does exist then either he doesn’t care about gays, so why worship him, or alternatively he agrees with the homophobes, so again, why worship him? In other words: why are there gay people with a faith?

A brain that is geared towards happily accepting the far-fetched concept of God is unsurprisingly going to skip obvious lines of reason when it comes to other matters, such as seeing your fellow man as essentially the same as you, rather than some demonic caricature. If you can’t see the problem with worshiping a so-called loving deity that allows relentless, countless and indiscriminate cases of disease, famine and war to effect innocent people and children – for God’s sake, think of the children! – justifying it as him working in mysterious ways or it being a test of your faith then you are either more forgiving than I, or simply feel the desperate need to believe. Perhaps I expect too much from my omnipotent super beings? More fool me, I guess.

Anyway, to end on a light-hearted note, I shall leave you with Margaret Cho’s hilarious take on the Catholic church and the death of the previous pope, reinforcing that Catholicism, and in particular the Church and Pope, should always be treated like the joke they are. Skip to around the minute mark for the good shit.

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