The Religious Insanity Files - June 2002

by Sean Prophet


In my writings about religions, I recognize that I may at times come from an extreme, perhaps fanatical place. I am angry, even emotional in my stance. In the words of Barry Goldwater, spoken at the 1964 Republican convention, "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." In a more perfect world, with open belief systems, perhaps there would be a place for more respect and a more reasoned dialogue. Right now, however, it's time to recognize the insanity of the fruits of the world's religions. These religious belief systems are closed and not interested in taking into account other points of view. Closed belief systems are at the top of the slippery slope that leads to religious hatred and the heinous actions that ensue. While I champion the rights of people to believe what they want, the world must wake up to this cause-and-effect reality. -SP

SAUDI "VICE SQUAD" TARGETS 'NON-REGULATION' WOMEN'S CLOAKS - Factories producing cloaks that do not conform to strict religious rules can be shut down and the cloaks burned. Violations include sequins, colored strips of fabric along the cuffs, and exterior pockets. "Decent" women are required to wear the black head to toe cloaks, and are not allowed any decoration or other fabric that might draw attention.

ARDINAL CONSIDERS MONUMENTAL SHIFT IN POLICY - In the wake of the monumental Catholic sex scandal involving over 70 priests, Cardinal Roger Mahony in April cited the example of Eastern Catholic Churches, with their married priesthood, in support of ending the Catholic mandate for priestly celibacy. Shortly thereafter, the frail Pope John Paul II declared this to be a dead issue, and he would not approve the shift saying, "The value of celibacy as a complete gift of self to the Lord and his Church must be carefully safeguarded," I wonder if the pope thinks it' was a gift to the abused children as well. For the sake of all those caught up in the Catholic faith, let's hope that a successor is named soon, and that his attitude reflects a more practical approach.

SPEAKING OF PRIESTLY SEXUALITY - These two photos, published in a book about Mardi Gras, show a New Orleans priest looking kind of gay, relaxing and hanging out with a couple of guys who also look gay. No abuse or sexual misconduct was alleged, but the priest was forced to resign anyway.

The church forces priests to be celibate, and dismisses them if they appear to be gay. Then society arrests and disgraces them when they turn to children. Tragic as this has been for many betrayed youngsters, I think the priests here are also victims, both of a despicable church hierarchy, and a morally confused membership. It seems that parishioners will only be satisfiied when their priests appear to live lives of sexual frustration and inner turmoil. Only then can the congregation feel O.K. about being the "miserable sinners" that they are--at least someone appears to be upholding this twisted sense of "virtue". Priests: don't walk, run from this mess. I think the day is coming when there won't be any priests left. Then the congregations can either disband, break from Rome and/or learn to lead themselves and come to grips with their own sexuality and humanity.

DETROIT DOMINICAN ORDER RESORTS TO TV ADVERTISING - It seems not so many women are signing up to be nuns these days. So the Dominican order put together recruiting ads on TV. So far it seems to be working, the ads have generated about 100 telephone responses per week, compared to 4 before the campaign. No word on if anyone's signed up. If there's any truth in advertising, the pitch would go something like this: "Come and join the Dominican order, serve the poor, tend the sick, spend your life in prayer, and learn to be happy while fighting against every cell and gland in your body." Well, old habits die hard--no pun intended. It's no mystery why women aren't breaking down the convent doors--It's the celibacy, stupid.

EVEN RELIGIOUS LEADERS THINK GEORGE W.'S GONE TOO FAR - "He went from a kind of post-Sept. 11 pluralism to presidential evangelism today," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "This man now seems to have an enormous difficulty separating his personal religious commitment from his public policy positions." Other religious leaders also say they are concerned about the president's language. "I think it's very dangerous," said the Rev. Arthur Caliandro, senior minister of Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan and co-chairman of the Partnership of Faith, a coalition of leading clergy members in New York.

PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES A SELF-DECLARED "HUMBLE SINNER" - This from the most powerful man in the world. Is he a preacher-president or a president-preacher. Does it matter?