The Recovering Catholic

Life after leaving the Church

Here comes the new Pope, same as the old Pope

As an ex-Catholic, I keep my eye on important developments in the church when I can. So now they have a new Pope. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, AKA Pope Francis I has his first day in the job today

I don’t envy him, given that he has to contend with the ongoing sex scandal fallout, financial corruption and dissent within the church.  It was a surprising result, I honestly hadn’t expected them to go New World on this one, and I had thought they would have picked a younger man. My take on things below the fold:

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Pope says ‘Nope’, resigns

Shock news from the tinpot dictatorship state of the Vatican: The Pope, old ‘Benny the Rat’ himself, is resigning due to infirmary and old age.

So, nothing to do with the covering-up-child-rapist-priests thing then; or the killing-millions-in-Africa-because-of-opposition-to-condoms thing; or the hateful-bigotry-against-gay-people thing .

This is apparently the first Papal resgination since 1415, so it’s a pretty big deal, I suppose.

Well, I’m not a Catholic any more, but I was raised as one and I remember the day Ratzinger was elected. A collective sigh of ‘oh for f**k’s sake’ echoed through the halls of my Catholic school which was mostly hoping for a more liberal Pontiff. I for one am not exactly upset to see the old sod leave. In his time, the world has come face to face with the true rotten roots of the crumbling edifice of the Catholic Church and its corrupt hierarchy.

The problem is that another rich old guy, who has connived his way to the top just like Ratzinger did, will take his place via the incomprehensible power-politics of ‘being chosen by the Holy Spirit’. If only the ‘Holy Spirit’ would decide it’s time to close shop altogether, and sell off the obscene wealth of  the Church to actually feed the world.

I suppose I wish him well in his retirement, I don’t begrudge an old man some rest and peace, even if I think his views are a source of global hatred, evil, greed and death. I bid him farewell with the ever-relevant Tim Minchin:

Gay couples and discriminatory B&Bs

As I had a few moments to spare from my intense studying, I felt I really had to blog about a recent court case in the UK.

For those of you who aren’t based in the UK, B&B stands for Bed and Breakfast. You often pay for a room in someone’s house and they give you breakfast as part of the deal. It is always a business with rooms separate from the owner’s part of the house and should not be confused with lodgers and other such arrangements. Basically a guest-house/small hotel set-up.

Recently, the UK has seen two major court cases where male gay couples have tried to book a double room, only to be turned away. One involved a couple from Bristol who had booked a room at a place in Cornwall, only to be turned away when the owners, a Mr and Mrs Bull, realised that they weren’t married. Apparently they have a policy about allowing non-married couples to stay in a double room due to their belief that any sex outside of marriage was sinful. The couple are actually civil partners, but y’know. They’re gay so it doesn’t count as marriage in this context, apparently.

First off, as a married woman I am appalled that couples (gay/straight/asexual etc.) would be turned away due to their marital status! That in itself is discrimination in my mind. The court case hinged on the fact that the couple were gay and the judge who rejected the Bull’s appeal request stated that a homosexual couple “cannot comply with the restriction because each party is of the same sex and therefore cannot marry”. Fair enough, but if the UK law does change and marriage is open to all, I still strongly believe that the B&B owners would be in the wrong as a business.

The more recent case that has just been decided involved a male gay couple from Cambridgeshire who tried to book a room at a B&B in Berkshire. In the original story the owner of the B&B stated that it was against her policy to allow same-sex couples to share a room and that:

They gave me no prior warning and I couldn’t offer them another room as I was fully booked.

I don’t see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I’ve held for years just because the government should force it on me.

I am not a hotel, I am a guest house and this is a private house

Why should they have given you prior warning? These were law-abiding citizens who just wanted a bed for the night. I mean really. How dare they be so inconsiderate to your feelings. You poor delicate thing. The court ruled in favour of the couple. No surprise there. But the owner couldn’t resist getting another dig in:

We believe a person should be free to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage under their own roof without living in fear of the law. Equality laws have gone too far when they start to intrude into a family home

You know what? I’m going to spell this out very clearly because every time some bigot of a B&B owner pedals this rubbish, my blood boils. YOU ARE NOT A FAMILY HOME! You are a business. As a business, you are bound by UK law to provide an equal service to all.

Imagine if she had said this about a black couple, or a mixed race couple. People wouldn’t stand for it. “Oh no, I can’t have a darkie in my B&B! What would the neighbours think?” or “I don’t think a white man should be with a black woman so they can’t stay here. That’s my sincere belief”. Piss off. Excuse my language but these fictitious (or not so much for people back in the 50s and 60s and today) quotes wouldn’t fly in a court of law, so why should homophobic ones, even if they are based on religion?

When you open a business, you must accept that you will have people use your facilities who may test your worldview on things. Tough. If you don’t want that experience, don’t be a business. Simple. Don’t go whinging to the Christian Institute (who will back any pathetic case about religious discrimination and always lose) for some publicity and assistance. The CI are very good at making these stories appear everywhere in the British press. Some woman wouldn’t take her cross off even though it was company policy to not wear jewelery. Some guy refused to counsel a gay couple as part of his job requirements. Some other woman refused to marry a gay couple, even though she was a state appointed registrar. Who are these people? Why do they think that the law doesn’t apply to them?

If I carried on like this as an atheist, I wouldn’t last two seconds in a job. If I moaned that my employer has loads of religious Christmas offerings, or huffed about the fact that most departments in my place of work have a Bible in their offices for certain swearing of oaths, or griped about other such things, I’d be out. If I was Christian and complained about all the LGBT campaigns that the equality department advertise, I apparently would be listened to by the Christian Institute. It is just unfair and laughable how skewed the world is towards the religious. Of course, they end up losing their cases in court but not before they’ve been interviewed and featured on every news channel possible. It is quite sickening.

There. I’ve had my moan. Next time you hear someone in the UK carrying on about their faith and their right to have their religion, if they’re running a business, you call them out on it. It is illegal.

Blog Hiatus

Hello all,
This is just a quick note to say that there may be some interruptions in my ability to blog regularly for a while. I’ve just started a new postgraduate course, which I’m trying to fit around my full-time job too, so I’m pretty busy these days. If something really interesting/important/annoying comes along, I will probably post a quick link to it, but don’t expect regular updates from me any time soon.

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my earlier posts! Best wishes, and see you around.

Dehumanizing atheists

From Michael Nugent, of Atheist Ireland:

The Catholic Church makes a distinction between being human and being fully human, and it does not consider atheists to be fully human. It believes that being fully human requires a relationship with its imaginary God, and that by excluding this from our philosophy we are not fully human.

The concept of people not being ‘fully human’ because they have different religious beliefs is a dangerous one. I don’t want to Godwin myself in my own post, but it is sort of how Hitler thought of the Jews, isn’t it?

Various statments at all levels of the Catholic hierarchy suggest or explicitly state that atheists, or even all non-Catholics, are somehow less than fully human. This is even taught in schools. I remember hearing similar sentiments at my old Catholic school, which led to fear, distrust and hatred of those of other religions or no religion at all. A partial list of such dehumanizing quotations from Popes, Bishops and Catholic schools can be found on Michael Nugent’s blog here. One example:

Cardinal Murphy O’Connor: “I think what I said was true, of course whether a person is atheist or any other…there is in fact, in my view, something not totally human, if they leave out the transcendent. If they leave out an aspect of what I believe everyone was made for, which is, uh, a search for transcendent meaning, we call it God. Now if you say that has no place, then I feel that it is a diminishment of what it is to be a human, because to be human in the sense I believe humanity is directed because made by God, I think if you leave that out then you are not fully human.”

To this charge of being less than human, I have only one thing to say:

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Stephen Fry vs Catholicism

This is an old video from an Intelligence Squared debate, which has recently been shared by some of my Facebook friends, and it is worth watching. The inimitable Stephen Fry demolishes the Catholic Church as eloquently as ever.

The full debate featuring Christopher Hitchens arguing against, and Anne Widdecombe arguing for the Catholic position can be found here:

AB of C admits harming LGBT

From PinkNews:

In one of his last major public lectures before he steps down later this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, admits the Church of England’s attitude to gay relationships has often been harmful to people on the receiving end of its message.

Well, yes. It’s great to see Williams finally saying the CofE was wrong to not support LGBT equality, but it seems to be too little too late. It is typical of the spinelessness shown by Williams during his tenure as Archbishop that he didn’t take a stand on this issue for years, and only now mentions it when he knows he will be retiring soon.

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We are going to die

A wonderful quotation from Richard Dawkins, drawn by the amazing Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils. I find that accepting death without the false hope of an afterlife means that I can truly appreciate this life here and now, and Dawkins sums that idea up well here:

And on the third day…

From Cyanide and Happiness:

Vilification and vile views

From Pink News:

Vatican diplomat Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (who bizarrely sits on the UN: please can we stop pretending that this tinpot ‘state’ is a real country?), thinks that homophobic bigots people oppsed to same-sex marriage are being ‘vilified’ for their views:

“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex. When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature … they are stigmatised and worse – they are vilified, and prosecuted,” Archbishop Tomasi said.

Nope. Wrong. To begin with, if you don’t want people to hate your beliefs, then maybe you should not have such hateful beliefs. But more importantly, I don’t care what people believe in their own minds, or preach in their own churches. The problem comes in when religious leaders try to use the state law to enforce their beliefs on everyone else, including people who are not even members of their religion.

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