Extra! Extra! Pope smooches imam!

The Freethinker brought this to my attention:

Apparently the BBC wouldn’t risk reproducing the image on their website, and even Benetton removed it from theirs. The ad is part of a campaign pitting “world leaders who are often at loggerheads, such as President Obama and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, locking lips.” What’s so controversial about that?

I don’t know if the imam’s people went apeshit over the ad, but you can just imagine those pasty fellows over at the Vatican pulling their hair out over it. No respect for the Holy Father! Lolz.

I think it’s pretty hilarious, and I long for the day the religions can no longer throw their weight around in defense of “the feelings of believers.” Considering that Catholics are spoonfed homophobia from a young age as part of their church’s doctrine, I don’t think they have the right to have such “feelings” respected.

It’s not us, it’s them

I was having a conversation with a tweep this morning about a religious friend we have in common. Our friend is a rabbi. We both made sure to mention what a wonderful person she is, and then my tweep commented that she’s glad the rabbi accepts her, godlessness and all.

Then it dawned on me: Why is it the job of the religious to accept/not accept the non-religious? Who gave them such authority? (Nobody – they just claimed it for themselves without asking us.) My tweep and I were in agreement: it’s not us, it’s them. They’re the ones who believe weird things without evidence, not us. We’re normal.

Sometimes people who believe in weird things like gods happen to be exquisite human beings, too. Who woulda thunk it?


Are Catholics mentally deficient?

The short answer is, “No.” Now for the long answer.

Miranda Celeste Hale has a post at Ex-Catholic Girl arguing against PZ Myers’ comment that Tony Blair must be “mentally deficient” for converting to Catholicism. Hale, who grew up Catholic (hence the name of her blog), argues that Blair’s conversion was rather “ethically questionable.”

Choosing to remain a member of and to support an institution that is as backwards, unethical, bigoted, and dangerous as the Catholic church marks one as, to varying degrees, ethically questionable, not mentally deficient. And to bring it back to Blair, I’d argue that choosing, as an adult, to become a member of the Church, marks one as much more ethically questionable than an individual who was raised Catholic and never managed to escape their childhood religious indoctrination.

That’s clearly a good distinction to make, one which recognizes the difference between having a belief system thrust upon you from your earliest days and choosing one of your own free will. None of us are to blame for the destruction others have wrought in our minds while we were too young to oppose it. But she has raised a question more provocative than Myers’ claim that Catholics are mentally deficient:

…choosing to remain a member of such a corrupt and dangerous institution does indicate that one is ethically questionable, at the very least.

This goes beyond the basic cognitive dissonance that plagues most believers throughout their lives. Is it ethical to belong to a religious organization that does such harm?

I’m guessing the answer from a person like Tony Blair would be, “But the Church does much good which outweighs the harm.” Indeed this was the gist of his debate with Christopher Hitchens, which inspired Myers’ barb, which inspired Hale’s retort, which inpired this post.

Living in Italy, most of the people I know formally belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Most of them are probably not believers in the true sense, although a few are. I have no doubt that they who are think their church is “the light of the world.” The majority try not to think about these things at all. Very few are openly opposed to the Church’s moral bankruptcy, of which a fraction have taken matters into their own hands and debaptized themselves. Apparently, they could no longer reconcile themselves to such an obviously incoherent worldview.