Monday, March 8, 2010

The Pope's Silence: Fundamentalists Running Wild

You know, I really wish that it wasn't necessary to write stuff like this. It is not a pleasant task to dwell on how immoral the world's largest religious denomination's hierarchy is, while at the same time noticing that other denominations and religions are, well, even worse!

Here's how the Catholic News Agency described a recent meeting of Pope Benedict and Ugandan Bishops at the Vatican in early March 2010: "Pope Benedict XVI met with the bishops of Uganda this morning in the Vatican on the occasion of their “ad Limina” visit to the Holy See. He urged them to be strong in renewing evangelization in the east African country and resisting "the seduction of a materialistic culture of individualism.'"

By "materialistic" culture, the Pope does NOT actually mean money or a possession-centered culture; as we all can see, the religious love money as much or more than the rest of us. How much money does the Vatican have, anyway? What the Pope actually means by a materialistic culture is one that is reality-based and not supernaturalism-based.

Great advice, huh? Who needs reality? Who needs a morality based on whether a behavior makes the world a better place? Not the Pope, apparently. He thinks we should just obey him since he has the direct line to God, like so many others.

And no, this is not the specific point of this little article. There is quite a miserable thing going on right now in Uganda that the Pope made no mention of in his meeting with the Ugandans.

From the AFP: Hundreds of anti-AIDS campaigners on Monday urged Ugandan lawmakers to reject a proposed anti-gay law calling for tough penalties against homosexuality, including the death penalty.

Around 400 activists presented parliament speaker Edward Ssekandi with a petition, criticising the bill as a violation of Uganda's constitution... But the parliament speaker said the bill had to undergo the due process...

The bill, which has sparked widespread international condemnation, would criminalise public discussion of homosexuality and could penalise an individual who knowingly rents property to a homosexual. It also calls for the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", in cases of rape of a minor by a person of the same sex, or where one partner carries the virus that can cause AIDS (Ed.'s note: The law does not equally apply to heterosexuals). Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, punishable by life imprisonment in some instances.


So while the bill to seriously criminalize homosexuality is working its way through the Ugandan government, the Pope chose to say nothing about it during his visit with the Ugandan Bishops.

Why?

Could it be that the Pope thought that opposing the law might somehow lose the Church some followers in Uganda or lessen the Church's influence with the government? We know from past actions that he is not afraid to interfere with the legislative process in various counties. In the past he's called gay parenting "child abuse." He opposes efforts to legalize gay marriage around the world. He's not usually reticent on such important matters.

Actually, the reason does not matter. What matters is that the Pope had a chance to do something good in the "materialistic" real world but chose instead to only address irrelevant spiritual concerns.

And here is the kicker: The Pope's crime is only silence; by speaking out, he might actually have helped some poor soul.

Other religious denominations however, such as fundamentalist Protestants and Muslims, are actually promoting the law that could imprison or kill gays. They are not fringe believers; they are in the Ugandan mainstream politically and are supported by a number of American Christian fundamentalist preachers and politicians too. While the American supporters are not directly promoting the "kill the gays" law, they are also not denouncing and disowning their protege's from Uganda.

Once upon a time, the US supported religious fanatics in Afghanistan who opposed the USSR. That turned out badly. Now we are supporting Christian fanatics in Uganda and the ugliness has already begun.

We never learn.

The Pope's silence is bad; and that's religion's best face on the subject. What a disgrace.
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