I think today will be about religion, for that’s most of the articles I have.
If there’s a religion that takes the silver medal in the “I’m Offended” category after Islam, it’s Catholicism. Who is a bigger religious crybaby than Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, a man who had a public tantrum when the Empire State Building refused to switch on blue and white lights in honor of Mother Teresa?
And so a bunch of what I presume are Catholics, or at least Christians, are upset at my comparison of ISIS with the Inquisition in my New Republic piece, which was in fact called “If ISIS Is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic.” Oy, to compare ISIS with Catholics! How dare I do that?
But of course I was not comparing the violence of those faiths, but making the point that faiths that can do bad things aren’t necessarily faiths that are “false.” Here’s what I said about Catholicism:
Well, if ISIS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Catholic. The fact is that there are no defensible criteria for whether a faith is “true,” since all faiths are man-made and accrete doctrine—said to come from God, but itself man-made—that becomes integral to those faiths.
. . . ISIS has an extreme and fundamentalist interpretation of Muslim doctrine. But in exactly the same way, dogma about the immorality of abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, and divorce have become part of Catholicism. They are theological interpretations of scripture that appeal to some people’s sense of morality. Others disagree. Whose faith is “truer”?
That’s it. The article was almost entirely about the cowardice of branding ISIS as “not a true form of Islam.” Catholicism was just a comparison, though I still see Catholicism as, among all widespread faiths, the most dangerous, misguided, and harmful—next to Islam.
But what I said was enough to make the front pages at a site called NewsBusters, which a reader described to me as “a nasty, conservative, right-wing, cry-baby website.’ And indeed it was. No matter that I was going after Islam: if you bruise Catholic sentiments in the process, they get all up in your face. And, in fact, the article, by one Tom Johnson (!), singled out the quotes above. But what is really funny are the readers’ comments:
Here are some of them (there are some supportive ones, too). I love this first string of comments:
LOL! I made a bogus comparison—the Inquisition didn’t behead people! CrankyHuman hasn’t read the Old Testament, either. Don’t the Christians know their Scripture?
Of course men are the ultimate problem, as they are with all human-created institutions that do harm. But if they hadn’t invented relgiion, we’d be better off. And get this: ATHEISM TEACHES IT IS OKAY TO KILL BABIES. I weep for my country. And where is Massimo Pigliucci when we need him to dissect that last syllogism?
Some comments were supportive:
Three supportive comments in a row!
Here’s The Argument from Muslima:
And the argument from Atheist Regimes. Has this person even read Marx and Engels? I think he means the regimes of Lenin and Stalin:
And, of course, there’s the inevitable defense of irrationality: I believe because it is absurd.
The Argument from the Printing Press!:
There wouid be no prnted books without religion! We’d still have scribes! And no buildings! I love the final sentence which says it’s useless to criticize irrationality because it won’t make anyone more rational. I wonder how women, blacks, and gays made progress on the path to equality?
Finally, Missing the Point:
I’m not sure what the guy means by the first sentence; perhaps he (or she) meant that that immorality is inherent in Catholicism. I won’t argue that point, because it’s dreadful either way.
Does this bother me? Not a bit. It’s hilarious! If you anger such people, you know you’re on the side of the angels (well, metaphorically speaking).
But what is distressing is that the U.S. (not so much Europe) is festering with these people, who worship a God for which there is no evidence. In response to “panzerakc,” what would be missing from the world without religion would be a huge dollop of the divisiveness—an absence of the doctrines that separate human from human, and still lead them to kill each other.