The other day, a friend of mine sent me a link from the 2009 Intelligence Squared debate “The Catholic Church is a Force For Good in The World“. In the style of traditional debates, each side of the issue is represented by two people who present their cases for and against the topic at hand.
Stephen Fry delivered a very powerful, intelligent and eloquent rebuke to the notion that the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world. He did so without angry outbursts, bluster or attacking the individual beliefs of people of faith. (If you want to skip directly to his portion, it begins at approximately 21:20 in the video)
I want first of all to say that I have no quarrel and no argument and I wish to express no contempt for individual devout and pious members of that church.
It would be impertinent and wrong of me to express any antagonism towards any individual who wishes to find salvation in whatever form they wish to express it.
That to me is sacrosanct as much as any article of faith is sacrosanct to anyone of any church or any faith in the world. It’s very important. It’s also very important to me, as it happens, that I have my own beliefs.
I agree with Mr. Fry. If you want to believe in God, the Spaghetti Monster or the Purple People Eater, feel free to do so. But, that most certainly doesn’t give you the right to force your beliefs on the rest of society as a whole.
Religious beliefs may be used to guide your heart, but your mind, and our world’s governmental and societal policies should always be guided by science, reason, and unbiased evidence.
Since this debate, John Onaiyekan was elevated to Cardinal by the now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In January of 2014, he wholeheartedly offered his support for Nigeria’s new anti-gay legislation signed by Goodluck Jonathon, saying:
The church accepts people as they are, we condemn homosexuality, Nigeria is an independent country and we do not beg for food. We have every right to order our social life in any way we think it should go. Our social life should not be organised on the basis of what others think.
Wait…what? How can you “accept People as they are” yet condemn them to certain brutal violence and death in the same paragraph?
Organized religion has only one goal: using fear and often violence to maintain control over populations.
The Catholic Church may no longer be burning witches in the street or conducting military Crusades against Muslim., but their policies regarding gender and LGBT equality, and reproductive rights still affect our progress today.
The Catholic Church is certainly not the only religion that causes misery in the world. It’s just the largest, claiming some 1.2 billion followers world wide.
The American right-wing Evangelicals have gladly taken up the modern-day ‘crusader’ mantle. Having failed to take over America, they’ve exported their anti-gay bigotry to Uganda, as I detailed in a previous post discussing Roger Ross William’s film “God Loves Uganda“.
When it comes to good old fashioned torture in the name of God, the radicalized Islamists are currently the ones conducting the crazy train back to the medieval times.
America’s dear friend and ally, Saudi Arabia, recently beheaded a man named Muhammad Bakur Al-Alaawi for “sorcery”. Not to be outdone when it comes to inflicting horrors on the innocent, ISIS recently went from beheadings to burning Jordanian pilot Muadh al Kasasbeh alive. All in the name of Allah.
Stephen Fry was recently on “The Meaning Of Life With Gay Byrne” and explained what he would say to God if He/She were to exist and he arrived at the Pearly Gates (The expressions on Mr. Byrne’s face are priceless!)
So, what do you think? Is religion is a force for good or evil in the world? Let us know in the comments!
Crosspoted on The Daily Kos.