“Why America needs to confront the Vatican”

@ the site, churchandstate.org.uk, they have reposted some parts of Dr Stephen D Mumford’s book, “American Democracy and the Vatican”. The book was first published in 1984 during the Reagan administration. In it, Mumford describes how the Vatican – the Catholic establishment – worked to influence public policy and public opinion. For example, prior to Reagan, people were becoming more aware and concerned about global overpopulation. During Reagan’s term, that all came to an end – along with concern for the environment and concern for women’s equality (the Equal Right’s Amendment was defeated in 1982).

A few paragraphs:

If the stakes are high for the Church as an institution, they are critical for all nations and people, including Americans. That world popula­tion growth poses a serious security threat has been well established.[2] Under the Carter Administration, the National Security Council first acknowledged this threat,[3] which was subsequently reaffirmed.[4] The election of President Reagan has introduced an administration that is the most Catholic in American history. His first National Security Advisor, Richard Allen, a Catholic, halted within the Council further discussion of population growth as a national security threat. His second National Security Advisor, William Clark, a Catholic, announced that the Carter council had “erred” in this determination and that this “error” must be corrected. Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, a Catholic, ignores any intelligence that would indicate that overpopulation is a security threat. Alexander Haig, a Catholic who was Reagan’s first secretary of state, supported the Carter council’s position on this issue but, according to Haig, was drummed out of office by his Catholic colleagues. His replacement, George Shultz, a Catholic, remains silent in this regard.

Margaret Heckler, a Catholic, as secretary of Housing and Human Services, is responsible for the U.S. government’s support of domestic family-planning services. She is both anti-abortion and supportive of the administration’s restrictions on family-planning services. Attor­ney-General William French Smith, a Catholic, is responsible for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and for the execution of U.S. immigration laws. The attorney-general has chosen to give little atten­tion to this responsibility and to ignore the fact that our bishops and thousands of clergy commit a felony every time they aid or abet an ille­gal alien (90 percent of our illegal aliens are Catholic). The mathe­matical odds of this arrangement happening by chance are fantastically low in this nation which is only 20 percent Catholic. The Church has managed to cover all key highest level positions that would be con­cerned with the population growth and security issue….

The successes of the Church have occurred despite a large unsatis­fied demand for family planning. Among countries studied by the World Fertility Survey, typically one-half of the fertile married women who want no more children are not using any method of contracep­tion. On the Indian subcontinent these levels exceed 90 percent. As a rule, one-third to one-half of those interviewed reported that their last child was unwanted.[7] Worldwide, more than two in three women at risk of pregnancy (about 450 million out of 670 million women) lack access to modem contraceptive methods.

The decline of the world population growth control effort of the past couple of years has coincided with the activities of Pope John Paul II and his Vatican. Virtually every American is familiar with his position on family planning and population growth control: “The will of God and the law of reason demand an unrelenting fight against immoral contraception.” His position has been well covered by the American press. It is indeed unfortunate that the actions of the Vatican to intervene in our national affairs have not been equally publicized. This silence of the American press has given the Vatican enormous power to undermine family planning worldwide. The Church is completely candid about its implorable opposition to birth control and professes that it will do everything possible to accomplish its purposes.

The Vatican has called on its bishops, all of whom are completely loyal (though they may appear at certain moments to be otherwise) to thwart efforts for population growth control. The Church, through its two thousand years of experience, has learned that responsiveness to the chain of command in this truly monolithic organization can best be guaranteed by selecting persons for leadership positions who have an intense lust for power….

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On the one hand, this could read as a bigoted opinion. People are supposed to be tolerant of other’s religions, etc. The problem in that the Catholic religion is extremely powerful and adversely affects many inside and outside of their religion.

I have problems with their insistence on the superiority of men, and the adverse long-term effects on the planet of their anti-birth-control stance.

Army Reserve Manual & Religious Extremism

I saw this article @ DailyMail 

Army Reserve training material lists Catholics, evangelical Christians and some Jews in ‘religious extremism’ category along with the KKK, Hamas and Al Qaeda

  • Pentagon based conclusions on Southern Poverty Law Center report

A slideshow presentation shown to US Army Reserve recruits classifies Christians, including both evangelicals and Roman Catholics, as religious extremists, placing them in the same category as skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan, Hamas and Al Qaeda.

The presentation also warned that members of the military are prohibited from taking leadership roles in any organization the Pentagon considers ‘extremist,’ and from distributing the organization’s literature, whether on or off a military installation…. (snip)

Later in the slideshow is a list of groups that exemplify ‘religious extremism.’

Included are ‘evangelical Christianity,’ ‘Catholicism,’ ‘Ultra-Orthodox’ Judaism, and ‘Islamophobia.’

Most of the list is populated by more widely accepted examples of religious extremist groups, including Al Qaeda, Sunni Muslims, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2304739/Army-Reserve-training-material-lists-Catholics-evangelical-Christians-Jews-religious-extremism-category-KKK-Hamas-Al-Qaeda.html#ixzz2PhCcOY5y 
RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM: These groups were all lumped together in a slideshow for US Army Reserve recruits EXTREMIST ORGANIZATIONS: The presentation described groups like the religious organizations as advocating force, violence or extremist causesPresenters were instructed to tel recruits that soldiers may not take leadership positions in any group the military considers 'extremist'

I see it as a move in the right direction – though it was rather a shock to those who see extremism by most Christians to be normal and even good. I’ve noticed Catholic writers  argue that it’s terrible that people are using peer pressure and “bullying” to convince others that gay marriage should be legal. Meanwhile, the author turns a blind eye to the bullying by the Catholic and other Christians who bully gays to death. Churches have as their foundation peer pressure.

Father John Hollowell argues:

I just want you to know that if this is your sign [a pro-gay-equality symbol many shared on Facebook] then you are actively supporting my persecution, torture, imprisonment, etc.  Perhaps you know that already, and perhaps that warms your heart, but I wanted to make sure we’re all on the same page here….

Because this man only sees the persecution done TO Catholics but never BY Catholics.

Meanwhile, another Catholic writer glories in the Inquisition – says it was one of the

“Ten Great Things About Catholicism” and wants to bring it back. Either these people don’t know anything about the extent that Catholics killed people for not believing what they were ‘supposed’ to believe – or they think that it was all fine and good to kill, torture and threaten people. But either way, the Catholics and the Evangelical type of Christians who think it is somehow their duty to kill or convert others should be seen as hate groups. It’s absurd for Catholics, esp. to claim victimhood when there are over a billion of them and their power, money and influence are as strong as they are.

For the liberal Catholics who are not extreme and do not push extreme views – they would be better off calling themselves something else, and giving their money directly to the needy.

In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren’t people

Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren’t people – which is fine, of course, except that it seems that they were probably negligent in the case. And then there is the matter where they have the people around entire world worked up against birth control because a couple of cells must surely be a person already, what with having the DNA code combination. And the problems of the Church contributing to all of the nonsense that abortion is murder (throwing guilt in people’s faces). And problems of the Church contributing to the world’s overpopulation, the lack of women’s agency over their lives, the increased stress on people and society. And there are the women who have to die if they are in a Catholic hospital which won’t perform an abortion to save the women’s life – even if the fetus has died already.

It would be nice if the Catholic Church were forced to dissolve. Not likely with their trillions of dollars. Though if the Catholics around the world wised up to the hypocrisy and stopped contributing, it would be a start.

The Redemption of Sinead O’Connor

I’ll have to admit that while I knew about Sinead O’Connor tearing up a photo of the Pope – I did not understand the real significance. It’s been 20 years. Since then I have found out about the Magdalene Laundries and a lot of other information.

This article from the Atlantic explains what went mostly unsaid / not discussed:

banner_oconnor.jpg

(Snip)…Almost entirely overlooked in the controversy was the text of O’Connor’s protest—a Bob Marley song, “War,” with lyrics taken from a speech by Haile Selassie. O’Connor had replaced out-of-date lyrics about apartheid African regimes with the phrase “child abuse, yeah,” repeated twice with spine-stiffening venom.

Also inexplicably ignored were O’Connor’s own words, in an interview published in Time a month after herSNL appearance:

It’s not the man, obviously—it’s the office and the symbol of the organization that he represents… In Ireland we see our people are manifesting the highest incidence in Europe of child abuse. This is a direct result of the fact that they’re not in contact with their history as Irish people and the fact that in the schools, the priests have been beating the shit out of the children for years and sexually abusing them. This is the example that’s been set for the people of Ireland. They have been controlled by the church, the very people who authorized what was done to them, who gave permission for what was done to them.

Her interviewer seemed confused by the connection O’Connor was making between the Catholic Church and child abuse, so O’Connor opened up about her own history of abuse:

Sexual and physical. Psychological. Spiritual. Emotional. Verbal. I went to school every day covered in bruises, boils, sties and face welts, you name it. Nobody ever said a bloody word or did a thing. Naturally I was very angered by the whole thing, and I had to find out why it happened… The thing that helped me most was the 12-step group, the Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families. My mother was a Valium addict. What happened to me is a direct result of what happened to my mother and what happened to her in her house and in school.

The interviewer remained skeptical of O’Connor’s characterization of Irish schools as playgrounds and training grounds for child abusers, and the interview moved on to different topics.

(Snip)

“The sheer scale and longevity of the torment inflected on defenceless children—over 800 known abusers in over 200 Catholic institutions during a period of 35 years—should alone make it clear that it was not accidental or opportunistic but systematic,” the Irish Times wrote upon reviewing the Ryan Report. “Abuse was not a failure of the system. It was the system.”

At age 15, Sinead O’Connor was caught shoplifting and was sent to an institution much like those investigated in the Commission Report, a Magdalene laundry full of teenage girls who had been judged too promiscuous or uncooperative for civil society. “We worked in the basement, washing priests’ clothes in sinks with cold water and bars of soap,” O’Connor has written of her experience. “We studied math and typing. We had limited contact with our families. We earned no wages. One of the nuns, at least, was kind to me and gave me my first guitar.” On the grounds of one Dublin Magdalene laundry, a mass grave was uncovered which included 22 unidentified bodies. These institutions have since caught the eye of the United Nations Committee against Torture.

After 18 months, with the help of her father, O’Connor escaped from this brutal system. Very quickly, her voice carried her to stardom. Her former captors were the “enemy” O’Connor spoke of when, as a 25-year-old with a once-in-a-lifetime live television audience, she tore the picture of the Pope and exhorted her viewers to “fight” him. The picture she tore, in fact, had belonged to her abusive mother, then already dead. “The photo itself had been on my mother’s bedroom wall since the day the fucker was enthroned in 1978,” she told the Irish magazine Hot Press in 2010.

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Women as Priests

A slideshow posted at the New York Times site

Women as Priests

by JUDITH LEVITT

REFORMERS within the Roman Catholic Church have been calling for the ordination of women as priests. The Vatican, however, refuses to consider the possibility and uses its power to silence those who speak out. Catholic clergy in Europe, Australia and the United States who have voiced public support for female ordination have been either dismissed or threatened with removal from administrative posts within the church.

For those who disobey the prohibition, the consequences are swift and severe. In 2008, the Vatican decreed that any woman who sought ordination, or a bishop who conferred holy orders on her, would be immediately “punished with excommunication.” It went a step further in 2010, categorizing any such attempt as delicta graviora — a grave crime against the church — the same category as priests who sexually abuse children.

Despite the official church position, clergy and laity have been fighting for the ordination of women since the early 1970s, hoping to expand upon the Vatican II reforms. And according to a 2010 poll by The New York Times and CBS, 59 percent of American Catholics favor the ordination of women…. (snip)

I photographed priests and bishops of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement to alter my own deep-seated perception of priests as male. I tried to capture their devotion and conviction and pay tribute to their efforts to reform the church.

Pantheism and the Vatican

“The Vatican gave Pantheism further prominence in a Papal encyclical of 2009 and a New Year’s Day statement on January 1, 2010, criticizing Naturalistic Pantheism for denying the superiority of humans over nature and “seeing the source of man’s salvation in nature”.

Einstein wrote, “We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul (“Beseeltheit”) as it reveals itself in man and animal.”

From Wikipedia – Pantheism

I think it’s weird that the Catholic Church with all of it’s power bothers to criticize Pantheism. Pantheists certainly don’t care what “the Vatican” thinks about what they think – except to be amused. If “the Vatican” did agree with Pantheists – he would not be able to say because it would undo their power. So he has to just keep being ridiculous no matter how little sense his ideas make.

It’s absurd to say that humans are superior over nature. We need nature / we are nature – just like the rest of nature. And there is nothing the matter with nature, anyway – for us to be so much “better” than. What a denial of reality. We are made up of the elements of nature. We are born and die just like other mammals. Sheesh.

“Seeing the source of man’s salvation in nature.”

Seeing as how dependent on nature we are (being a part of nature and all) – nature is all that can ‘save’ us.

The church – esp. the original sin nonsense would have us believe that animals (us) should live outside of nature – that we need to be saved from being animals – being mortal – being alive. Also absurd.

War on Sex & BIrth Control = War on Women

This – mostly Catholic – but also Fundamentalist – idea that women should not have access to birth control as part of their health insurance and that women should be harassed if they want to get an abortion is anti-sex and anti-women. The message is essentially the old Original Sin thing.

The idea that sex is bad and that women are responsible for every ‘bad’ thing  – esp. for men’s “passions” – the temptresses, etc. is so archaic. If the church put it in those terms – and came out and said they thought sex is ‘bad’ – most people wound not accept it. But to say that birth control is evil – even for married people is essentially to say that married people should not be having sex. And here I thought when conservatives wanted to teach abstinence in schools that they were talking about BEFORE marriage – not ones entire life – including marriage.

If couples do the suggested Catholic method – (avoiding sex around the time of ovulation – to avoid pregnancy) then they are not having sex when women are the most likely to enjoy it. For men – it doesn’t matter – they don’t have monthly cycles and ups and downs. So it’s mostly a problem for women – it’s a matter of saying that women shouldn’t expect to enjoy sex. Although men enjoy sex more when women enjoy sex.

It is all so absurd – the idea that sex is bad – that ‘passions’ are sinful. For Pete’s sake – sex is how life continues. I cannot reconcile the idea that sex is bad – but life is good. Life is good and sex is good – or at least sex can be good. Sex is a lot better when women are allowed to have agency and control over their bodies. Sex is bad when men expect to control women and have no sense about women’s feelings. Sex is bad when men think that it is all about them.

It’s odd when priests can’t let go of the idea of controlling women sexually – including being consumed with being anti-abortion & anti-birth-control.

Nobody in their right mind (at least nobody who enjoys sex) could think that it is reasonable for adults who enjoy sex to NOT use birth control…. and/or to think that people are going to spend their entire adult lives only having sex when women are NOT aroused (except for the 2 times when their children are conceived). It’s delusional, non-rational, and basically insane.

15 Bible Texts that Malign Women

I noticed this post on Alternet – that is from the Blog Away Point (by

Valerie Tarico) – 15 Bible Texts Reveal Why “God’s Own Party” is at War with Women.

The essay is a relevant collection of Bible quotes that malign women. Some such as these have been used in modern day fundamentalist types of churches to keep women from teaching and taking an active role in church.

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 1 Timothy 2: 11-2

&

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

These and other such quotes are no doubt how Catholics justify their all-male hierarchy.

Also from Away Point:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17

If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. Exodus 21:7

… As futurist Sara Robinson has pointed out, traditional rules that govern male-female relationships are grounded more in property rights than civil rights.

… Some people don’t welcome change. Since the beginnings of the 20th Century, fundamentalist Christians have been engaged in what they see as spiritual warfare against secularists and modernist Christians. Both of their foes have embraced discoveries in fields such as linguistics, archeology, psychology, biology and physics – all of which call into question the heart of conservative religion and culture. Biblical scholars now challenge such “fundamentals” as a historical Adam, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and the special status that Abraham’s God gave to straight males. Fundamentalists are fighting desperately to hang on to certainties and privileges they once saw as an Abrahamic birthright. If they can’t keep women in line; it’s all over. The future ends up in the hands of cultural creatives, scientists, artists, inquiring minds, and girls. It’s horrifying.

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People are admonished not to condemn other’s religions – but what about when other’s religions condemn them – certainly we have a right to condemn that. I think so, anyway.

This business about respecting other’s religions would be different thing if those religions respected women and considered us equals. To respect such a misogynist religion is to respect misogyny, itself.

Limbaugh and Priests Against Women

“…Limbaugh has a decades-old persecution complex about women who hold any power in our society, and he feels no compunction about attacking them in extremely personal ways — even sexually — when they make him angry.” – Media Matters (“Meet The Three Women Rush Limbaugh Has DegradedSince Sandra Fluke”)

It doesn’t seem to take much – or anything – to make Limbaugh angry at women.

Here he has had a platform on Radio and TV where he can spew his hate against women. He has thousands or millions or listeners and then complains because of the influence of the “mainstream media.”

There is a Catholic priest who, as a response to Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood suggesting that women “Have a Say” about birth control – posted his own video. He tries to suggest the Catholic Church has little influence – and that the “mainstream media” is against them and for Planned Parenthood.

He rails against what he says are the lies of Planned Parenthood – without being specific. Meanwhile – he drops lies of his own – such as linking abortion and breast cancer. He characterizes the Catholic Church as a “Sleeping giant – no longer content to remain silent”.

It was not my impression that they have been silent. They have been protesting away at Planned Parenthood for awhile. Their vitriolic and polemic attacks stir up people who end up encouraging the idea as well as the result of abortion providers being murdered. This suggesting that abortion (and apparently birth-control, too) is murder is the way to get people riled up against something – paint the opposition as some exaggerated form of evil.

The priest considers this to be “the great battle of our age”. Unfortunately, he seems to be getting a lot of positive attention from right-wing extremist groups.

Sunrises, Gods & Goddesses, & Sex

Where I live, I have a good view to the east. I usually take a walk first thing in the morning – and it is often around the time the sun is rising. I’ve taken hundreds of sunrise photos. (My header photo is of a sunset I took while on vacation).

My religion has evolved to where it basically involves being happy to be alive and appreciating the awesome world that I find myself in. I count my blessings which include having wonderful parents, husband, & grown children. I try to live simply; I meditate and practice yoga.

My philosophy is partly based on a liberal understanding of Christianity (minus the divinity part), along with some Jungian, feminist, and other readings. I strive for a somewhat Universal understanding – I am interested in ideas from India, China, & Japan – especially as they relate to our relationship with the earth and with each other.

It has taken me awhile – but I have come to appreciate the way that sex is integrated into the religions of India. The idea of sex and especially the yoni (vagina) representing life, is so basic and sensible. Temples have at their core a room that is based on the idea of the womb. Carved, stylized yonis with a lingam (phallas shape) within the yoni – as a symbol of life are normal and everyday artifacts. And of course – what simpler way to represent life? The Egyptian ankh symbol was likely based on the same idea.

The more I have learned about this way of understanding the world, and the more the acceptance and appreciation of the symbols of sex as life become integrated into my mind, the more I see that Christianity and especially Catholicism is messed up.

I have enjoyed reading Elaine Pagels books The Gnostic Gospels (1979), & Adam, Eve and the Serpent (1988), which have helped put into perspective what happened early in Christianity. Basically that while there were people who embraced spirituality and equality with women, the ones who won were the ones who wanted to squash women’s influence. The ones who won were more interested in creating an authoritarian model that demanded obedience as opposed to a more inclusive model based on love and acceptance. Many ‘heretics’ were killed along the way.

To this day we have those who are interested in using religion to dominate and control – to keep men elevated and women subservient. That would include the fundamentalists who demand a ‘literal’ (cough) interpretation of the Bible as well as the Catholics with their Pope who has decided that birth control is evil. While the vast majority of Christian denominations adapted and made women more equal partners, the Catholics remain inflexible.

Many denominations in the 70s and 80s moved to have more inclusive language – such as describing God not as He – but as the creator. Five hundred years ago, various (non-Catholic) Christians began thinking of God as more abstract than physical. The maleness of God has remained important to the Catholic hierarchy – with the Pope saying that it would be a different religion if (the) God(s) were not male.

The fundamentalists and Catholics – while they may be saving the patriarchal nature of their religion – are becoming more and more polarizing as many of the rest of us see that the patriarchy is not the model we wish to follow. I think that where there could have been more liberal Christians, the effect of the extremists is to encourage people such as myself to abandon Christianity altogether and look for something more reasonable and women-friendly.

What women like myself are discovering is that there is a whole world of Goddesses that I, for one, grew up knowing little about. The Greek Goddesses we typically learn about had been made subservient (for the most part) by the Greeks as they imposed patriarchal concepts long ago – as well as in their retelling by an educational system that wanted to promote male power over women.

To find out about the Goddess(es) who were thought of as being the creator(s) of the world, etc. you need to find out about the Goddesses before they were dominated and recast as inferior beings.

Nearly all of the artifacts representing humans prior to about 6000 years ago were of women. It is no coincidence that 4000 BCE marks the time when fundamentalists say that the world began. What happened at the “fall” was that the Earth Mother, Eve (along with a symbol of the earth – the snake) were denigrated and demonized. Men asserted their power over women. Men also began taking credit for life, itself. Many men don’t want to give that up. (Santorum and Limbaugh to name two).