This week, bishops from the Victorian Catholic Church distributed 80,000 copies of a pastoral letter, condemning same-sex marriage. I have never read such a load of bigoted, small-minded, passive-aggressive drivel in all my life.
The letter reveals the Catholic Church in all its hatefulness, pettiness, out-dated, wrong-headed, unsupported thinking and purely evil desire to control the lives, not only of its followers, but all of us.
Who the hell are these bishops that they think they have a right to demand our government continue to discriminate against a group of Australians who desire nothing more than to be able to marry the person they love in a civil ceremony?
With this letter, the Victorian bishops have brought their church even further into disrepute. Australian Catholics should be ashamed to be associated with this cabal of pre-historic homophobes.
The smiling, paternalistic – yes, even smarmy – tone of the letter just makes its contents more vomitous.
Bishops, representing a church which demands the right to numerous exemptions from Australia’s discrimination (and tax!) laws – including the right only to appoint male priests – have the hide to align themselves with the ‘great value on human rights and protecting others from unjust discrimination’ which exemplify our Australian democracy. They do not consider that, in a democracy, every citizen is (or should be) considered equal.
The bishops then remind us that we are all disgusting sinners who God, inexplicably, loves very much. This reveals the psychologically twisted position from which these people view their fellow human beings; the demeaning dogma which degrades every person to the role of ‘sinner’, therefore elevating the church (and its bishops) to the exalted position of the glorious redeemeers of humanity. It’s transparently about psychological mind-games, designed explicitly to give power to the church and make us low, filthy sinners feel grateful for their obscene wealth and power. Well, I just won’t play – and neither should you.
The bishops go on to assure us that their homophobic, discriminatory stance against gay marriage comes from a place of compassion and justice. My fat fanny, it does! It comes, very clearly, from a position of self-entitlement, delusion and a deep-seated hatred of those who express their sexuality in a way that threatens the moral authority of the church.
In her recent book, Dishonest to God: on keeping religion out of politics, Baroness Mary Warnock, a member of the British House of Lords rails against the tradition which presupposes the clergy has some kind of ‘moral expertise’ to which politicians should defer. It’s ‘smoke and mirrors’, and snake-oil chicanery on a Wizard of Ozian scale.
The bishops believe that proponents of same-sex marriage seek to ‘alter the very nature of the human person’. No, we are seeking to accept the very nature of these human persons. We are seeking to treat them with love and compassion and give them the equality and justice they have so long been denied.
“We are all blessed by God with the gift of our sexuality,” the bishops intone. ” The design itself comes from the Creator of Life. We all have a responsibility to follow that design.”
Who says? Throughout human history there have been same-sex attracted people – many, many of them in the Catholic priesthood. If God so despises this small design modification, why does he allow it? What kind of sadist ‘designs’ men and women and then sets some up some who, at the deepest level of their being, are drawn to members of the same-sex – and then directs his church to vilify and discriminate against them? To paraphrase Stendahl, the only excuse for such a despicable God is that he does not exist.
The bishops eagerly share with us their ‘church’s’ concept of marriage. It is, of course, grossly inaccurate. It is reminiscent of those who look back to the halcyon days of the 1950s and 60s, remembering only the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ idealised world of the sitcom while ignoring the many social and political injustices that blighted that period of Western history. Just so, the bishops completely ignore the history of marriage as a misogynistic property exchange of women; human cattle who were considered no better than chattels for the purpose of producing heirs. The bishops, of course, are entitled to their fairytales; but they are not entitled to impose them on the rest of us.
The idea that marriage is (or ever was) about religion is laughable. It was ever about property, and power, and possession and lust, and keeping the wealth safe within kinship groups. Just like the church which seeks so desperately to keep control of it, marriage was always more about money than religion.
In modern day Australia, marriage has long since been divorced from religion. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, civil marriages have outnumbered religious ceremonies since 1999. Although marriage is increasingly popular in Australia, church weddings are increasingly unpopular.
The Bishops may reflect on why the vast majority of Australians now choose not to sanctify their union in a church. Could it be – let’s take a wild stab here – that most Australians don’t believe getting married has anything to do with God, or the church, or a bunch of outdated, narrow-minded, purse-lipped bigots in frocks? Can it be that most couples would prefer their marriage to be about love, and don’t want it tainted by the small-minded, petty hatred that emanates daily from the churches?
The bishops believe that marriage is all about breeding. Yet, Alan Hayes, of the Australian Institute of Family Studies confirms that, in the last 30 years there has been ‘nothing short of a revolution’ in the institutions of marriage and family with a ‘surge’ of babies (more than a third) born outside of wedlock in 2008. In America, the figure is 40 per cent. Nearly 80 per cent of Australians who get married have lived together first – and often had their children prior to the wedding.
This is particularly prevalent in Gen Y, says Rebecca Huntley, from Ipsos Mackay Research. Home-ownership and kids come first. The wedding comes later.
“For their parents’ generation a wedding was the licence to buy a house and have the children.”
For Gen Y, it’s the opposite and a wedding has no religious significance whatsoever – it’s a big party with 150 friends.
What the Bishops fail to fathom is that they have already lost control of marriage. The horse has bolted. Modern marriage has nothing – nothing – to do with their outdated preconceptions. They may as well chase moonbeams.
“Children are best nurtured by a mother and father,” say the bishops – as if that simple statement definitively proves their argument.
I learned a new word this week – ipsedixitism. Ipsedixitism is a dogmatic statement which assumes that no supporting evidence is needed. It assumes that the assertion will be taken ‘on faith’. It doesn’t mean a statement is true, it means the propagandist assumes that if they say it, nobody will bother checking the evidence. But, not being under the thumb of the Catholic bishops, I have checked the evidence and it shows that children do best in stable, peaceful families among people who love and nurture them. There is no credible evidence that children ‘do best’ when nurtured by a mother and a father. In fact the scholarship shows that children brought up by same-sex couples do every bit as well as children raised by heterosexual couples. There is one quite notable difference though: children raised by same-sex couples tend to be more tolerant of difference. Perhaps the Catholic Church would be a respected and thriving institution today if more of its leaders had been raised by gay couples.
“Gay marriage’ is impossible,” say the bishops.
Well, no – it’s very possible. It’s a bit like saying gay sex is wrong because the ‘bits’ don’t fit together. In fact, gay couples seem to get their ‘bits’ to fit together very well!
Gay marriage is now as inevitable as civil rights and Aboriginal citizenship were in the 1960s. Why? Because there are more good, kind, tolerant, compassionate, loving, intelligent and reasonable people in the world than there are Catholic bishops. And the bishops can stick their fingers in their ears and hold their collective breaths until their heads explode. It’s not going to change the fact that gay marriage is going to happen – eventually – whether they like it or not. They may as well try to stand in front of a freight train. In fact, that idea is increasingly appealing.
Perhaps the bishops can take some advice from Frank Zappa: “Reality is what it is, not what you want it to be.”
The bishops deny that ‘discrimination against other’s human rights’ is implicit in their edict – which transparently attempts to do exactly that.
“Nor does it mean we fail to understand the complex nature of human sexual identity and desire,” they insist, while totally ignoring every piece of credible research which confirms that sexual identity is neither chosen nor changeable.
“It implies no lack of respect for people who identify as ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’.”
The hell it doesn’t. The whole tone of the letter is condescending, belittling and dehumanising. Then, then, they have the hubris to follow with a quote which hearkens back to the old chestnut, “I’m not homophobic – some of my best friends are gay.”
Truly, at that point I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or just stick my fingers down my throat for a damn good purging.
The bishops want us to think they’re saving the world: “our concern is for the future of our whole society.”
Well, bishops, given the support for same-sex marriage may I politely suggest that most of society is asking you to ‘sod off’.
The only ‘ramifications’ of same-sex marriage is that the church will be seen to be more and more hateful, discriminatory and out of date that it ever was. And, I’d venture to say, the decline and fall of the Holy Roman Church could only improve society. The Church is a rotting, hateful, diseased and corrupt carcass that should have been put out of its misery and buried in Gehenna years ago.
The Catholic Church has ruined far more lives than same-sex marriage ever will. It has tortured, it has robbed, it has killed and murdered, and it has wrought untold psychological damage upon its adherents. It has taken children (both indigenous and causasian) from their mothers. It has cruelly imposed life-long celibacy upon naive young men entering the priesthood. For many, this has locked them into sexual immaturity and led to the hebephilia which results in the widespread sexual abuse of so many innocent children. What’s more, this institution which now seeks to preach the immorality of homosexuality, has been complicit in covering up these abuses, protecting the perpetrators and manipulating its finances to ensure the Church does not have to pay fair compensation.
The Catholic Church has preached against condom use in AIDS-torn countries – imposing untold suffering and death upon millions. It has ruled against contraception, condemning Catholic women in developing nations to risk their lives and financial stability by having large families they have no hope of supporting in order to conform with church teaching.
And now the bishops of this ghastly institution have the unmitigated gall, the heart-stopping hypocrisy, to suggest that same-sex marriage will have negative social consequences!
“Hypocrite! First take the beam out of thine own eye, and then you will see clearly how to take the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
The bishops conclude their homophobic rant by suggesting that, “Catholics, as responsible citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, have a duty to remind their political representatives that much is at stake for the common good in this debate.”
I would suggest that, as responsible citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, Catholics have a responsibility to tell their bishops to ‘shut the fuck up’.
Post script: I will agree with the bishops on one point. It is important that decent, loving, fair-thinking Australians complete the on-line survey set up by the Federal Government at their website: www.aph.gov.au/marriage. The closing date for responses is Friday, 20 April 2012.
The bishops helpfully explain: “The survey contains three statements with which you can agree or disagree. It then asks if you support the proposed changes to the two separate Bills, to which you answer yes or no. If you choose you can simply answer these few questions in less than one minute. The survey also provides space (maximum of 250 words) for you to explain your views.”
If you have not yet completed this survey, please, for the sake of human decency, take a moment to do so.
Breaking News: Church leaders back calls for same-sex marriage bills
“TWENTY faith leaders have signed a letter urging people to declare their support for same sex marriage to two federal parliamentary inquiries on the issue.
The move follows six Victorian Catholic bishops writing to their parishioners to tell them allowing gay couples to marry would be a ”grave mistake” and would undermine the institution of marriage.”
You may also like to read the following blog posts.
Mike Stuchbery: The Catholic Same-Sex Marriage Letter Decoded
Bruce Llama: Pastoral Letter from Australian Catholic Bishops
Russell Blackford: Chrys Stevenson flays a pastoral letter from Catholic bishops
And from my dear friends Michael Barnett and Gregory Storer:
As so many have taken a liking to this unusual word, I feel honour bound to reveal the source of my inspiration. While researching my recent speech for Dying with Dignity NSW, I found it an a scholarly work on euthanasia law in Europe, in which John Griffiths, a professor of sociology of law, vents his frustration at the “[i]mprecision, exaggeration, suggestion and innuendo, misinterpretation and misrepresentation, ideological ipsedixitism, and downright lying and slander (not to speak of bad manners) …” typical of the [religious] arguments against voluntary euthanasia. It’s a damning assessment, especially when the vast majority of the ‘ipsedixitists’ speak from a position of religious faith.