SL Letter of the Day: Catholic Schooled


I'll just leave this here for your amusement Dan

Jesus Loves Me But He Can't Stand You…
Even when religious people are being nice, they're still kind of assholes. Well, 90-some % of them, anyway.
They have no idea how arrogant they sound. They're right about you and you have to believe it and behave accordingly. Well, my life doesn't follow their myths and superstitions. And I'm happier than I ever was when I was forced into your religion as a child. I have also discovered the universe your religion repeatedly murdered people for imagining. We can see it with our own eyes now and it is just one example of how wrong your religion can be. If it could be so very wrong about something as big as creation itself, it doesn't know shit about healthy and knowledgeable human behavior.
They really stretched out that old white-t-shirt pic. Trying to make Dan look worse, I guess? Didn't really work, Catholic League.
Oddly it is incredibly important to me that I been seen as legally married in the eyes of Thor.
Bill Donohue must have had quite the chuckle at the little "wife" slur he aimed at you, Dan. Were there anyone else at all in the small lonely room that smells of old man farts and dementia where Donohue plies his trade, they might have laughed, too, in the way one sadly laughs and shakes one's head at a tragically absurd dead-ender in a Beckett play.
@5 I'm totally hoping "legally married in the eyes of Thor" becomes a thing. TO THE MEME MINES!
"Another St. Paul" !?! The sickest fuck in the history of catholicism! (And, of course, the real father of catholicism, which has very little to do with Jesus's supposed message, and everything to do with Paul's sexual frustrations.)

How can anyone wish that to anyone else? Doesn't sound very christian to me.

Is live and let live not a Christian value? Or at least a family value? V.S. seems genuinely nice, but there's still the distinct sense that she feels her happiness is the only kind worth pursuing. Takes all kinds: you have the Pope, Dan has Chord Overstreet, the rest of us are free to pick somewhere in between or beyond.
V.S. is a bigot. A nice bogot, but a bigot nonetheless. I have catholic friends who are pro-equality, and they do not believe that the catholic church is infallible on every issue. They are straight people who are ready to leave the church if denied communion for thier lack of bigotry.

Papal resignation linked to inquiry into 'Vatican gay officials', says paper

Pope's staff decline to confirm or deny La Repubblica claims linking 'Vatileaks' affair and discovery of 'blackmailed gay clergy'…
no. the catholic church is not infallible. it is the pope who is infallible on matters of faith and morals. but ONLY if he is speaking ex cathedra. this rarely happens: the last time was 1870 on the assumption of the blessed virgin mary. papal bulls, letters and encyclicals are not the same thing.

just wanted to clear that up.
Are you serious??
I was so hoping Dan would publish some letters from his "fans" in the Catholic League. Less than 100? I'm a bit disappointed. VS is so sure she has all the answers. It is kind of sad that she can't see how important diversity and acceptance is, in the grand scheme of things. Nice dialog though.
Who, then, in the Savage mythology, are Nessarose and Shell?
So Danny.

Now that your life isn't limited and your rights are not being violated is your life any better?

Your "marriage" any richer?

Does Terry your Washington State approved "husband" meet your needs any better than Terry your BF did?
Do you no longer insist on the right to commit adultery?
Do you no longer feel the need to post videos of beefcake and make a show of oogling at other men?
Did your "husband" magically sprout a fuckable hole or do you still have to douche and disinfect the shit out before you can "love" your spouse the "natural" "normal" way you are innately wired to do?
Will you and Terry's "love" be making any babies?

Did the legislature of Washington State override biology?

Is it working for you yet?

Once again, even if you are unable to throw off the god millstone around your neck, primacy of conscience trumps the pope. This is why the many gays who, despite all, still feel an affinity for the Catholic church, can enter into loving, sexual, same-sex relationships and take communion without theoretical consequence.
...This teaching that personal conscience is the ultimate guide in all our moral activity was clearly taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, probably the greatest Catholic theologian, in the 13th century. Aquinas held that an erroneous conscience was morally binding and that one is without moral fault in following it provided one has already made every reasonable effort to form a right moral judgment.
And John Paul II:
People are obliged to follow their conscience in all circumstances and cannot be forced to act against it.
And Papa Rat hisself (as a priest in 1968):
"Above the pope as an expression of the binding claim of church authority,” writes Ratzinger, “stands one’s own conscience, which has to be obeyed first of all, if need be against the demands of church authority."
@ 3 & 8 & 9 - She was just proselytizing, it's as simple as that. Christian churches teach that good Christians make other people become Christians.

I've been thinking about the stance so many of the Christian churches take on civil rights issues (no birth control, no abortion, no gays) a lot lately and with the perspective I gained from a documentary I watched recently (Selling God - it's honestly just okay but it does have an approach I hadn't seen before) I no longer think it's a matter of fear or anger or hate. I think it's simpler than that.

I think it's about money.

The reason it is so important to Christian churches that their members proselytize is that it brings in more members. And more members means more money for the important stuff
(like soon-to-be-Ex-Pope Benny's Prada slippers). So why wouldn't they extend that to the need for their members to breed? Birth control and abortions fly in the face of that. And how many times have we heard the argument that gay people shouldn't get to get married because they can't procreate?
Per @8, "You could become another St. Paul" sounds like a threat. Or maybe something a bunch of singing oompah-loompas would warn against.

The only Saint I want to emulate is St. Andrew. And only once in a while to spice things up.

I'm in love with this exchange. While the woman is so blinded by her religion, apparently, that she doesn't somehow realize, as Pope Peabrain said, just how arrogant and condescending she's being, she at least seems to genuinely have Dan's 'salvation' at heart. The Thor comparison is dead on, and manages even to come off semi-respectful, vs a slam. While she's likely too embedded in having been religiously brainwashed, I like to think exchanges like this at least have a chance, however infinitesimal, of making the person THINK, and ponder their own stance - for maybe the first time - much as I (naively) hoped for the Brian Brown dinner debate thing.

@ 16 -
Because lesbians and gay men cannot marry in most states, they have no right to:

-Accidental death benefit for the surviving spouse of a government employee;
-Appointment as guardian of a minor;
-Award of child custody in divorce proceedings;
-Beneficial owner status of corporate securities;
-Bill of Rights benefits for victims and witnesses;
-Burial of service member's dependents;
-Certificates of occupation;
-Consent to post-mortem examination;
-Continuation of rights under existing homestead leases;
-Control, division, acquisition, and disposition of community property
-Criminal injuries compensation;
-Death benefit for surviving spouse for government employee
-Disclosure of vital statistics records;
-Division of property after dissolution of marriage;
-Eligibility for housing opportunity allowance program of the -Housing, Finance and Development Corporation;
-Exemption from claims of Department of Human Services for social services payments, financial assistance, or burial payments;
-Exemption from conveyance tax;
-Exemption from regulation of condominium sales to owner-occupants;
-Funeral leave for government employees;
-Homes of totally disable veterans exempt from property taxes;
-Income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption, and estimates;
-Inheritance of land patents;
-Insurance licenses, coverage, eligibility, and benefits organization of mutual benefits society;
-Legal status with partner’s children;
-Making, revoking, and objecting to anatomical gifts;
-Making partner medical decisions;
-Nonresident tuition deferential waiver;
-Notice of guardian ad litem proceedings;
-Notice of probate proceedings;
-Payment of wages to a relative of deceased employee;
-Payment of worker's compensation benefits after death;
-Permission to make arrangements for burial or cremation;
-Proof of business partnership;
-Public assistance from the Department of Human Services;
-Qualification at a facility for the elderly;
-Real property exemption from attachment or execution;
-Right of survivorship to custodial trust;
-Right to be notified of parole or escape of inmate;
-Right to change names;
-Right to enter into pre-marital agreement;
-Right to file action for nonsupport;
-Right to inherit property;
-Right to purchase leases and cash freehold agreements concerning the management and disposition of public land;
-Right to sue for tort and death by wrongful act;
-Right to support after divorce;
-Right to support from spouse;
-Rights and proceedings for involuntary hospitalization and treatment;
-Rights by way of dour or courtesy;
-Rights to notice, protection, benefits, and inheritance under the uniform probate code;
-Sole interest in property;
-Spousal privilege and confidential marriage communications;
-Spousal immigration benefits;
-Status of children;
-Support payments in divorce action;
-Tax relief for natural disaster losses;
-Vacation allowance on termination of public employment by death;
-Veterans' preference to spouse in public employment;
-In vitro fertilization coverage;
-Waiver of fees for certified copies and searches of vital statistics.

I dunno about you, but having access to all of that (just like straight folks) would make me pretty darned happy. ;)

(info courtesy PFLAG)

Btw, the This American Life bit about his mother is about my favorite thing Dan's ever done. Stuns every time.

I just can't believe Bill Donohue has 79 followers. He always makes me think of Kathy Griffin's line: "When is the media gonna figure out that the 'Catholic League' is ONE GUY with a fax machine?!"
@18, I came to the same conclusion. There is no Biblical base for many of the Church's teachings, but it makes total sense if you look at it from a power and money perspective. The Pope wants Catholics to outbreed everyone else, so the Church becomes more powerful. It has nothing to do with faith or God, and everything to do with power and control. Which is pretty ironic, since church corruption was a big reason Jesus was supposedly sent to earth to begin with.
@ 23 - 0.0 ROFL OMG I had never heard that before! You just made my night! =D
79 e-mails was the best they could offer? With all of the Catholics in the US, they should have crashed your email server. Could it be that most Catholics find Bill Donohue as odious as the rest of humanity? In any event, the conversation you had with V.S. (who is a lovely person I am sure) is the reason I don't have the same conversation with my lovely (and very religious) sister. No matter how logical your argument, it always comes down to, "if you just open your heart to Jesus, he will heal you and make you better." The idea that one doesn't want or need to change just doesn't occur to these people.
VS is not a nice person unless the bar for nice is set so low that the only measure is that a lack of profanity and naked insults constitutes nice. You are still dead as a doornail even if your strangler washed his hands and got a manicure before donning the finest calfskin gloves. VS is all about appearing to be nice. The good cop playing off the nasty bad cops.

I got a distinctly Stepford Wife vibe from dear sweet relentlessly obtuse VS. Fuck her, fuck the church, fuck her pope and fuck Bill Donohue and his rape apologist Catholic League.
God bless Tim Minchin, er excuse me, Thor bless Tim Minchin and Dan.
Come on! Your husband? You can't really believe in your heart and soul that you are legally married in the eyes of God?

Wow! This was so rude, and you handled it with such calm humor, Dan. I'm about to attend (tonight!) the marriage of two women who have been together for 32 years. Thirty...two...years. They can finally be married, but still not in the eyes of the entire country. How dare V.S. say "Come on! Your husband?" I'll say it for you. Go to hell V.S.
This exchange kind of breaks my heart, mostly because she really believes what she is saying. I left the fold of the Catholic church for a more progressive fold (ELCA Lutheran) because I couldn't believe what I was saying any more. I have friends who have stayed, but who find themselves making conscience decisions to reject church teaching on a pretty regular basis (and who are totally excited that I, a woman, am on a path toward ordination in my denomination). The Catholic Leaguers I have known tend to be pious, zealous, and totally out of touch with reality, including the reality of the typical person in the pew beside them, who has used artificial birth control (likely while having premarital sex), favors same-sex marriage, and has a 50/50 shot of being pro-choice. The Catholic church needs to change or it will fade into obscurity, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

That actually goes for most mainline Protestant denominations, too, except it is generally different issues leading to their irrelevancy.
I'm thinking the best response to unsolicited spiritual advice would be unsolicited sex advice.
Would it be bad to say that you've got the patience of a Saint? ;)
@ 24 - I'm honestly a little embarrassed it's not a conclusion I reached sooner. It was one of those "well don't I feel stupid?" moments.

It's not just the Catholics, though. The Evangelicals are working from a very similar playbook. They have books and seminars and the like teaching their members how to proselytize effectively and by saying that abortion is murder and that most forms of birth control function by inducing abortion (see: any "personhood" bill ever) they are ensuring big families in their flock just as surely as the Catholic church.

And the methods of some of the Evangelicals are particularly repulsive: did you catch Dan's post about Kevin Swanson? He said that he had been told by "certain doctors and certain scientists" that "they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies that are embedded into the womb. They're just like dead babies."

Now, there's not a shred of truth in that statement. It ignores both how birth control pills function and how uteri function. But for people who don't have that information, his comment was a chilling act of cruelty. "And the wombs of women ... have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies." Disgusting.

@ 31 - Seandr, you always make me smile. =)
Oh, and I wanted to say that you handled that exchange, which did contain some very rude comments couched as caring, with a great deal of grace and aplomb, Dan. Kudos!
Dan, I'm sorry this woman rejected the legitimacy of your marriage. I've encountered people who questioned how atheists could have a "real" marriage, and it is a miracle nobody died. I applaud your patience with this bigot.
Ewww. Being loved by the chaste is kind of like being psychically molested. They are like stalkers who think if you just got to know them and understand their love everything would be wonderful. They use the government and impose laws to shove their love on the rest of us. Ick, ick, ick.
Actually what Dan should take offense to is the accusation that he savaged the Pope. EWWWWWW!
#16 you sound very bitter. Does the fact that some gay guys beat you to the alter really bother you that much? It's really very sad.
I agree - not really a nice person.

I have a lot of religious relatives and a few religious friends. Because I am a nice person, this afternoon when my friend was going on and on about how she was taking her problem to the Lord in prayer rather than developing a reality-based plan, I didn't say "Oh, come on. You don't really believe in your heart that prayer works!". I said "um hum" and "I'm so glad you felt better after that" and such like. Because her faith is important to her, and gives her comfort, and helps her get through her day with some joy and serenity. Who the hell am I to throw a shit pie in the middle of that? Her beliefs and practices that don't hurt others are none of my business. Her beliefs and practices that I feel do hurt others I will work against.

That's what nice people do.
I wonder what the figures are for people rediscovering religion after they've become atheist. I bet they're about on par with those "ex-gay" therapy success rates. That's all I could think after reading this woman's naive and condescending messages to Dan. Nothing engenders arrogance like religion, and this woman seems to have gotten plenty of it.
VS's first letter demonstrates the heart & soul of Christianities' scam. 1- You're a sinner, just by being human. 2- Jesus has the cure.

It's like addicting newborns to heroin and then selling them methadone for the rest of their life.

Gee, here's a concept: We're born neutral. Not good, not bad, just a baby. The only way you become a sinner is by people convincing you're a sinner. Otherwise, you just want what everyone else wants: some food, some warmth, the embrace of someone who loves you.
Bill Donohue has a very punchable face.
I love the This American Life piece, as a lapsed Catholic it always strikes home every time I hear it. My best friend's mother says that lapsed Catholics are the nicest people she knows.
Thor would never discriminate against people who consider themselves married! If Marvel has taught us anything, it's that he's very accepting! Overly accepting, even:…
If we're talking about Thor as in movie Thor, then it's very important to me that I be acknowledged to not be married in his eyes (as indeed, I am not married in anyone's eyes), so that he knows I'm available. Ahem.

Although, given Dan's monogamish relationship, I guess that's not an issue anyway. Thor-marriage for everyone (who wishes it)!
Wracked with guilt- every last bible-thumper on earth feels they're guilty of something. Therefore, EVERYBODY feels guilty, because they do.
@40- I have no more thought of rediscovering Jeebus than I do of rediscovering my true calling as a straight man. Been there once, which is sufficient for several lifetimes, thank all xtians very much.
You have more patience than I, Dan Savage. Kudos.
A distinction that might have been useful to make, and helpful to V.S.'s understanding, would have been to draw a distinction between "legal marriage" (that is, civil marriage) and marriage in the RCC, which is guess is 'sacramental marriage.'

I'm thinking of your reply, Dan, to the incredulous "You can't really believe in your heart and soul that you are legally married in the eyes of God?"

Something along the lines of "I was legally married in 2006 in B.C. and that marriage is now legally recognized by the state of Washington, where I reside. I acknowledge that I am not married in the Sacramental and religious sense of being married in the Roman Catholic Church. And its important for you to realize that the struggle for marriage equality that gays and lesbians are engaged in is for the right to CIVIL (that is, legal) marriage.

No churches will be in any way required to acknowledge or perform same sex marriages, so if the Roman Catholic Church chooses to continue to refuse to perform or recognize same sex marriages, they will totally be within their rights, even when DOMA is overturned."
Late to the game. That was I patient response, Dan. Well done.

I was very sorry to read yours and Terry's marriage being dismissed. That was very rude. Polite but unkind.

Even back when I was amongst the Evangelical fold, I abhorred evangelizing. The whole if you love them then you must save them, made me sick to my stomach. I think to love someone is to respect them. It is treating them with the same kind of respect that I want for myself. But, sadly, most things I see being done in churches have nothing to do with loving ones neighbor, but has everything to do with money, power, and control.
Religious people, like VS, have much to learn. They need to learn what I've been taught. "To accept that atheism accepts the natural world as all there is. To live without god beliefs is intellectually stimulating. To find one's own purpose and be responsible for one's own life is exciting. To be free of the imagined surveillance of good and evil spirits is liberating. To seek a peaceful world through work and friendship and civic action is life-affirming." Then they can have a mutually respectful conversation.
Oh, Bill Donohue is such a card. But, really, he is quite raging with envy that you were invited - the gall - to the White House! I can see him stomping his foot from the unfairness of it all.

Anyway, enough of him. You were amazingly polite in your exchange with V.S. who is so convinced that she's the expert on God and the only religion that matters after she swallowed the party-line that we are all born with the stain of Original Sin. Sorry, lady, but babies aren't sinners and, as they grow older, the ONLY way they become sinners is to do something bad: stealing, raping and killing come to mind without thinking. Having sex ... uh ... NO. Being gay ... equally NO.

I wish someone would immerse V.S. in the reality of the IGBP. Or make her watch that heartbreaking video by Austin last week. That's what enforced rigid religiosity does to people, so V.S. don't go around claiming that confession is the answer.

[I walked away from the RCC when I was 14 because a priest asked me in the confessional whether I had any dirty thoughts. I guess he really wanted to know what they were, huh. But I lied and said "No". Ever since then I've rejected the intrusive role of RCC priests as intercessors between me and God. Sorry, guys, I don't need you or your frightening brainwashing.]
See, folks? Mr. Savage can have meaningful, polite discussions with people who engage with him politely and intelligently. He'll only have his readers name a sex act after you if you call him a dog-raper.

As for many in this thread; it is perfectly possible to "accept the natural world as it is" and still be religious. Issues of sin are not something that we can prove the way we can prove the laws of the material world, so if a Catholic is a snob "on a high horse" for defending her own positions, then what does that make the rest of us?
Glad you shut her up, Dan.
V.S. your number one mistake is presuming that God shares your prejudices. Try looking -- really, honestly, deeply looking -- at the vastness and variety that is the known universe, from the tiniest subatomic particle to the most enormous galaxy, from the virus to the human mind contemplating it, and then dare to say to me with a straight face that God thinks just like you do.

By the way, if these people that you refer to struggle and fall, then they haven't truly changed. They are just trying very, very hard to be something other than what they are. If they were truly changed it wouldn't BE a struggle. Duh.
Speaking as someone who went to Catholic school for 13 year s& spent many of those days being bullied, & told how she was, was "wrong"..just, thanks, Dan, for your grace & patience.
I'm so glad that my Catholic mother-in-law is very much live and let live. She goes to church, but doesn't care that her son doesn't (and is married to a Jew). She's sweet as pie to my gay brother. Not all Catholics are crazy.
Wonderful tribute to your mother Dan. I too watched someone dying painfully: my 35 yo brother falling to cancer. He, who had no trouble swearing, did the opposite of your mother and his last words were a polite and understated "ho, bummer". Before that, I watched him and my parents becoming frenetically more attached to the Catholic God and the hope of a miracle. And now - 6 years later - I see my parents firmly attached to the idea of him happily on Heaven, keeping an eye on us until we all meet up there.

I see how much comfort the belief in God has given to my brother in his last months, and continues to give to my parents, and I am grateful for it. But what came down on me, as I watched my brother decaying into a talking skeleton, is that the belief in God doesn't just bring relief - it also brings a huge, phenomenal, visceral, amount of fear.

My brother was not just extremely sorry that he was dying, he was terrified of dying. He believed until very late in the possibility of a miracle, that God was just testing his strength, and that he would pass the test and come out on the other side to lead a life of virtue and holiness. He sometimes dreamed Jesus had come to cure him, only to wake up to the nightmare of reality. I don't know if at some point he realised the miracle wouldn't come, and if so what to conclude from the apathy of an omnipotent and omnipresent God. Because my brother was a really nice guy but not a saint, and (thank goodness) didn't take the Bible literally. But did he, in his last days when the Bible hardly ever left his hands and God hardly ever left his lips, did he worry about that the times he lied to his father, the day he stole a few coins, that time he cheated on his girlfriend, all those Sundays when he didn't go to church? Did he worry that - actually - he was not going to Heaven but to Hell? That his cancer might not be a test, but a punishment? Do my parents ever worry about that even now? I don't know because I have never asked them, and I am not planning too. But I do wonder if, on balance, the effect of God on the lives of my religious loved-ones may be on side of increasing their pain rather than on reducing it. And that, Dan, makes me really angry.
I really don't understand the "you can live Chaste" thing. Priests don't, or we wouldn't have all this sex scandal. Years ago, I was reading about some personality (I don't remember who) in the 1400 or 1500's. Rumor had it, he was found in bed with another man. That is when I realized that being Gay was in-born and a completely natural part of humans. NOT a choice. Otherwise who would choose to do something that could end up getting your burned at the stake? (Which was how it was punished in those days.) Sex is an imperative to humans and it will find its way. Those that live chaste are lying--to themselves and everyone else.
Wow, @56 - Plural: you just competely blew my mind. I'm so, so sorry for your loss - 35 is crazy young - so tragic. I, too, watched a loved one die of cancer, and at the time (10 yrs ago), it's hard for me to believe now because I'm such a staunch atheist, but I was still not free of my childhood Catholic brainwashing, and after an adulthood of not really paying it much mind, I returned to it full force, out of sheer terror and desperation, kneeling by my bedside each night, pleading with the imaginary friend, the magical sorcerer, to make the cancer go away. (Which, needless to say, didn't work.)

But your brother's story gives the evil of religion a whole other perspective I hadn't previously pondered: tormenting the sick, themselves, into wondering if perhaps they haven't measured up, if the miracle doesn't come, that perhaps they don't deserve it, that the sickness is in fact, a message - a punishment. I share your anger, really, your fury, about this. Your story reveals the lie, that religion ultimately does far more and far deeper harm than good; that for every person supposedly comforted, there are many tormented and abused, who don't fucking deserve it, who did nothing wrong.

How about we worship a central banker-sponsored organized religion, instead? One that worships the environment and Mother Nature... not that it really cares about those things... it's just easier to get people on board with the program.

First, let's attack existing organized religions... to pave the way for our socially engineered conversion!
That person Dan was exchanging emails with was probably a convert. They're the worst.
Dan - that was very kind and gracious of you.
Judge not, lest ye be judged, VS.

Dan, you're amazing.
I'd like to ask those who say marriage belongs to the church: Who married Adam and Eve? What church did they go to?
I'd like to ask those who say marriage belongs to the church: Who married Adam and Eve? What church did they go to?
Oops, so sorry for the double post...
By the way, that song is ostensibly about the Pope, but it's clearly an indictment of Bill Donohue himself, because he is for all intents and purposes exactly the sort of person (namely, brain-dead apologist for an institutional rape system and the people who staff it) that the full set of lyrics directly address.
"And my life shouldn't be limited and my rights shouldn't be violated because the pope disapproves."

Or because any religious (or non-religious) person disapproves.

Amen to that.
@16: Wow. You are So Mad. You don't usually spew this much anger on Slog. Something about this exchange must have really set you off. I wonder what it was? :D
@18 and @24: And in addition to money and power, don't forget the benefit to the church patriarchy caused by diverting the time and talents of the most pious women (other than the very small number who become nuns) to pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing on a massive scale (compared to the average American family size). I've known many of these very pious women, women so in love with the Catholic Church that, if they weren't fucking exhausted from rearing families of six, seven, eight children, they might have the energy to foment for changes to the antiquated, foolish, and ultimately corrupting rules regarding who can become a priest.
@49 Kim in Portland -

"To accept that atheism accepts the natural world as all there is. To live without god beliefs is intellectually stimulating. To find one's own purpose and be responsible for one's own life is exciting. To be free of the imagined surveillance of good and evil spirits is liberating. To seek a peaceful world through work and friendship and civic action is life-affirming."

Thanks for saying that so well.