Friday, November 14, 2008

Casting a Ballot Into HELL!!!!

This past election saw a multitude of Catholic voters flee the pro-life GOP.  Many of these voters are Democrats anyway, but the Catholic church (and other churches as well) have consistently used the pulpit as a pro-life campaign platform--more so perhaps in this election than in the past.  Even more ridiculously, a South Carolina priest (in a move that strikes me as being particularly Jonathan Edwards-y) has instructed his parishioners that they are not to accept Communion if they voted for Obama.

This is a big deal.  To Catholics, you can't get into heaven if you don't receive the sacraments.  I'm reminded of my grandfather, who was told that he couldn't receive communion because he had divorced his first wife.  Then they told him that he could receive communion again eventually, but only if he kept up his tithing.

He's not a church-goer anymore.

This will not end well for the Catholic church, methinks.  To most Americans, religion is a luxury, not a lifeblood.  And many Americans have adopted the belief that a Republican victory would make an ailing nation even sicker--they see a vote for Obama as an investment in their children's future.  Loved ones will win out over ideals nearly every time.

Which is not to say that this swing isn't tempered by a certain amount of cynicism.  The Republicans have, after all, had eight years to overturn Roe v. Wade--eight years without anything that resembles action at the federal level.  And it's this side of ten years ago that the Catholic church erupted in child molestation scandal.  If the Church cares so much about children, why was it so consistently willing to disregard the children of its own parishioners?

No doubt the irony of this is lost on the clergy, but not the parishioners.

This will definitely not end well for the church.  Maybe this is me being... well... cynical, but in my experience, anything that forces someone to critically evaluate their religious beliefs is going to gently nudge that person away from said beliefs--and this is doubly true for religions that are long on ceremony.  This actually has less to do with the nature of religion than the nature of believers.  I know some devout people, but I would argue that they are the exception rather than the rule.

But it breaks down like this: people like structure, they want security, they want to socialize, they want an understanding of the world, and they want to believe that they are basically good people doing a little something to make the world a better place.  For good or for ill, religion provides all of this in a world that is uncertain and amoral.  Which is why many churches end up with a few crazy-devout people and a lot of basically-good people who want a weekend pep talk and a chance to meet socially with like-minded others.  And you can fire them up with groupthink or appeals to basic emotional reactions (which is why abortion and homosexuality are hot-button issues, in spite of the fact that there's far more call in the Bible for things like, you know, feeding the poor), but reality has to set in eventually.

Just like the repeal of the Fish-On-Fridays Act caused people (as in, people I'm related to) to evaluate their beliefs and decide that the Catholic church is a bunch of hooey, this "Obama = Hell" platform is going to make people reconsider their allegiance and either transfer to a church that better-resembles a social club, or just give up on God altogether.  Because real people know that abortion is not the only issue on the table.

Because idealism is a luxury, and these are not luxurious times.


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