No no, not Trump. Me.
I wasn’t always an anti-religious bigot. Even though i lost my faith in my early teens, i thought of myself as an agnostic, never felt any animosity toward religion, and continued to think of it as largely a good thing. Hell, i even routinely donated money to churches and their charitable causes.
And then in the nineties i read Paul Monette’s Becoming a Man: Half a Life and, after initially being shocked at the harshness of his criticism of the Roman Catholic church of his youth, realized that he was quite right, that the root of anti-gay prejudice in this country was the Christian church. This was sobering, and at that point i began to be less favorably disposed.
And then, in 2008, came California’s Prop 8 in which the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches dumped tens of millions of dollars into advertising that relied on utter mendacity like the claim that failure to pass the proposition would result in clergy being forced to marry gays when in fact they would merely be permitted to perform gay marriages.
My outrage at these lies transformed me overnight into a radical, anti-religious atheist who has since seized every opportunity to bash the Christian religion, most especially the Roman Catholics, a task made easy by their egregious behavior like our Archbishop’s letters to the Senate arguing against the ENDA on the grounds that ending employment discrimination against gays would just encourage their sin.
So i’ve foamed and spewed for seven years, most recently in my previous post, which i intended as a Swiftean satire in the model of “A Modest Proposal” but which unfortunately was so good that it sounded like i really believed it.
Which, on some level of vicious mean-spiritedness, i guess i did. After all, everything i wrote there was true. The down side is that i ignored some critically important additional truths.
For example, it is self evident that the Bible calls for stoning for all the offenses i listed. What i didn’t mention is that even the most fervent Christians today do not seem to be running around stoning sinners. I’ll even give ’em enough credit to admit that i don’t honestly believe that more than a minuscule minority even want to stone sinners anymore.
And yes, it’s certainly true that as soon as the Roman Catholics in this country were able, they fostered legislation restricting the sale of contraceptives. But again, i didn’t mention that by now, not only can you buy contraceptives everywhere in the country, but also, in a peasant revolt that i find sublime, the Roman Catholic laity are nearly universal in their use of them, so much so that the hierarchy has pretty much entirely given up this fight and stopped railing against their use.
Which leads to the really important fact i left out of that post, that what we have seen over the last several hundred years in Europe and the Americas is a continual decline in the power of the Christian church. They haven’t been able to execute folks for heresy since the early part of the nineteenth century (Spain, 1820’s). In the wake of Roe vs. Wade the Roman Catholic church continues its fight against allowing women to control their own reproduction, but it continues to lose almost all of its battles. Likewise, the areas in which the Protestant churches have been able to prohibit the sale of alcohol have grown continually smaller over my lifetime, to the point that only small pockets of purity remain.
But the most dramatic change has been in gay rights, starting in Europe but spreading to this country. Nowhere is this more evident than in the erosion of restrictions against gay marriage that culminated in last spring’s Supreme Court decision legalizing it for the entire nation.
There are no longer Christian theocracies, Ireland and the United States being the last two to fall, so although there will of course be skirmishes in pockets of resistance like Salt Lake City, the battle has been won. I do not have to worry about letting more Catholics and Muslims into the country because they will never have the power to deny me my rights even in parts of the country where they might constitute the majority of the citizenry.
What’s to prevent them from doing that in parts of a democratic country where they are a majority, you ask? Ummm, the same thing that prevents their religion from being declared illegal in the areas where they are not a majority – protection of minorities under the rule of law. Which in this country, thank God, trumps religion.
The war is over and i have won. The fastest growing religious group in this country is the Nones, and our cities are dotted with boarded up, abandoned churches. I do reserve the right to strap on a flight suit, jump on my Segway, and carry a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” three times around St. Mary’s Cathedral, but i’ll no longer write posts denouncing the religious right’s futile attempts to delay the inevitable.
No indeed. The next time our hateful Archbishop makes one of his pitiful attempts to encroach on the rights of non-Catholics, i’ll just obey the exhortation of that fine revolutionary called Jesus of Nazareth and turn the other cheek, basking in the realization that if i do this, then i, for one, can no longer be called a bigot.
But only because i’ve stopped railing against them. I’ve barely set foot on the road to forgiveness.
Meanwhile, some sweetness and light.