Bigotry Can Be Really Expensive

So, the highest ranking of the Catholic clergy in Scotland, Keith Cardinal O’Brien, has put his foot down. He’s going to stand for marriage before it disappears off the face of the planet. And he’s going to do it the way the Catholic Church has traditionally fought: by asking for your money. He told the Sunday Times (emphasis mine):

“Marriage is under threat and politicians need to know the Catholic Church will bear any burden and meeting any cost in its defense. . . We will use this opportunity to remind Catholics of the importance of marriage as a union of a man and a woman and to urge them to be generous in contributing to a special collection which will be used to support initiatives in defense of marriage.

Apparently, this declaration was accompanied with threats of “unprecedented backlash” if his demands were not met. I presume he’s talking about a Crusade or something.

Seriously, what does Cardinal O’Brien think he’s going to do? Threaten to “disestablish” the church from the state like the Church of England did last month? Is the Church going to take its toys and go home? What, exactly, do they think they’re threatening?

Actually, no, I like this plan. Both the Church of England and the Catholic Church of Scotland can turn their back on government, stop meddling in the affairs of state, and leave the secular authorities to make policy that has nothing to do with myths or the desires of the invisible sky pixie.

Seriously, I don’t know how this can be seen as anything but a blatant plea for money at a time when the Church is trying to make up for the corruption and money laundering they just got caught at. I’m not suggesting that the Red Cap Mafia and the Pope aren’t actually, really, and truly squigged out by queers. They are. But if they can parlay that general sense of unease into financial gain through creative interpretations of reality, why pass up the chance?

It’s time that the Church gives up on this. I know I keep saying this about a lot of institutions that oppose gay marriage, but it remains true. They’re fighting a losing battle. While Cardinal O’Brien is calling for people to open their wallets to God, mock gay weddings are happening outside of the Scottish Parliament.

The thing is, they won’t give up on this. They think this is the perfect, unchangable (see how many opinions haven’t altered), and most of all loving word of the Lord. They’re convinced that in order to show any sort of love, they must by nature discriminate, because it’s the will of their probably-fictional ultimate patriarch.

And I find that a little sad. That says quite a bit about the speaker that they see no difference between “love” and “tough love”, that they cannot see the ultimate being as being capable of not discriminating. As per usual, Fred Clark puts it better. He’s speaking to evangelicals, but it applies here to cardinals and the CoE as well:

“Conservative evangelicals reading this are now convinced that what I’m saying here is that we need to reinvent God according to our own preferences. They think I’m saying we need tochange what God is really like and who God really is in order to make the idea of God more popular — more palatable and more acceptable…

What they’re really saying — what they’re really confessing — is that they believe that the actual truth about God is, in fact, unpalatable and unacceptable. They believe that God’s actual character is, in fact, distasteful — that God is exclusive, condemning and oppressive. And that any attempt to portray God as otherwise is a liberal lie.”

The thing is, it’s very easy to believe that. I consider the god he’s referring to here to be a genocidal megalomaniac with all of the maturity of the Squire of Gothos and all the loving kindness of Anthony Freemont. But I also don’t worship such a creature. For a thing to be worthy of worship, it needs to demonstrate that through actions, not just the endless Biblical refrain reminding us of god’s goodness.

Clark, John Shore, a number of my friends, and a whole lot of other people have decided that if love and goodness are essential characteristics of god, then anything that contradicts that must, by its nature, be false. That one cannot be both loving and discriminatory, cannot claim to respect people while pleading for money to prevent their equality, cannot simultaneously obey a doctrine that calls for treating people well and publicly call their relationships “grotesque.” Cardinal O’Brien wants to have it both ways, express his love and disgust at once, and is pathetically pleading that you give money to his organization so that he can impose that sort of twisted logic on others.

Pat Robertson recently said that we can ignore certain things in the Bible. No, really, he did. He was referring to slavery, but it puts him in the awkward position of having to now explain why we can ignore the slavery stuff and not the much more spurious gay stuff. The Catholic Church and the Church of England are not going to put themselves in that position by claiming that you can ignore parts of the Bible, but they are now left in the even more awkward position of having to explain how their loving god demands oppression and inequality.

The best and easiest solution is to stop pretending to know what a creature that is highly unlikely to actually exist wants, but baring that, applying our minds to the task of alleviating human suffering rather than perpetuating it is the only moral option. And for the FSM’s sake (pasta be upon him) stop with these sad, sad calls for money and empty threats. You’re not fooling anyone.

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