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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: July 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Letter to Catholics

Dear Catholic,

On July 17, 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Los Angeles archdiocese made a settlement with 508 child sex abuse victims of a record $660 million. Cardinal Roger Mahoney and his lawyers decided at the last moment not to allow the case to go to trial. Mahoney made a hollow apology to the victims yet made no apologies for his or his archdiocese’s involvement. While it may be true that Mahoney did not personally molest these 508 children, he did make it possible for these priests to continue at their positions and also worked to cover up these despicable acts.

As we all know by now, these 508 victims represent only the tip of the iceberg. This phenomenon of pedophilia seems to be present in Catholic churches around the globe. The John Jay Report found accusations against some 4,392 priests in the U.S. which accounts for about 4% of all the priests in the U.S. While this seems like a very low number of priests who actually did the crime itself, the Catholic Church as a whole has been complicit in covering up this behavior for decades. The Catholic Church has shamelessly hid behind the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (?) claiming that the church had the right not to make documents available to investigators.

I know as a good Catholic you are very busy making sure that you impose your religious beliefs on the rest of us and are busy battling the atheists, the homosexuals, and the “secular progressives” but could you pause for just a moment to pull the plank out of your eye first? How can you in good conscious tell individuals who they should marry, lecture us about the evils of birth control, or lobby the government to use its power to deny the terminally ill his or her right to a dignified death, while simultaneously supporting such a morally bankrupt organization from top to bottom with your tithes and offering? Do you really want to contribute to the legal defense of these despicable individuals? If you have financially supported the Catholic Church, the blood of the innocent is on your hands (as many of these victims have committed suicide).

I know that your Pope (one who was instrumental in keeping these allegations secret) has recently stated that the only way to heaven is through the Catholic Church (this just seems so wrong on so many levels). If you must continue to hold on to this irrational god belief, wouldn’t a just and fair god forgive you for not contributing to the very organization that makes him/her/it look so terrible? Why would this all knowing being expect you to go through some sort of middle man rather than speaking to him/her/it directly? Surely, a boycott on this corrupt organization would not mean boycotting heaven?

I know that many of you who read this may be offended (especially Catholics) but let me ask you this: if this was any other organization doing the same thing, would you not demand reform if not abolishment of said organization?

But if you must continue to go to confession do me one favor: when the holy father asks you to confess your sins, tell him “you go first!”

Yours truly,

Stephen Littau
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Double Standard for Muslim Prayer in Schools?

Christian conservatives are rightly outraged at the accommodations being made for Muslim students at a San Diego elementary school. Due to the increase of Muslim students in the student body, Carver Elementary has decided to set aside 15 minutes of the day for Muslim students to pray while the rest of the students are free to read or write. While it is somewhat amusing to see Christian conservatives have another set of religious beliefs forced upon their school children for a change, clearly the actions of Carver Elementary violate the establishment clause and take a wrecking ball to the Jeffersonian wall between church and state. Those of us who wish to preserve this important principle should be just as outraged about school administrators facilitating Islamic religious practices as any other religious entanglements. This leads me to ask many of the same questions Christian conservatives are asking: where is the ACLU, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), or the other civil rights organizations which normally are right in the middle of these church/state battles?

I suppose it’s possible that these organizations have not had time to mobilize on this case yet. But for every day these organizations fail to enter the debate, it gives credence to the Christian conservatives who believe these organizations only object to church/state violations when Christians are involved. According to this article in The Union Tribune, these groups are “monitoring” the situation. But what is there to monitor? The ACLU website features several other cases they are involved with which are very similar to the Carver case with one difference: the church/state violations are being committed by Christians. There isn’t as much as a mention of the Carver case on the ACLU website. Surely they will get around to it.

This Carver Elementary case has the potential to undo much of the gains the ACLU and the FFRF has made in upholding church/state separation. The Tribune article points out:

In a letter, the religious-rights organization urged the district to broaden its accommodations to Christians and Jews by setting aside separate classrooms for daily prayer and to permit rabbis, priests and other religious figures to lead children in worship on campuses.

A lawyer representing the district said those ideas would violate the Constitution's prohibition against government establishment of religion.

Once one religious group gets its special treatment, all the others want to be accommodated as well (which seems only fair). Priests, rabbis, Southern Baptist/ Mormon/Jehovah’s Witness/Pentecostal preachers, Scientology cooks…where will it end? There are only two ways to uphold church/state separation in government schools: either allow any and every religious group on campus or allow none (I prefer the latter).

Of course there is one way to avoid this controversy altogether: school choice. If it is so important for one’s children to pray at certain times a day or that certain religious rituals are practiced, why not get government out of the equation altogether? Religion is too personal to be imposed on others who wish not to take part.
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