Religious Intolerance: Abortion

Sunday, June 3, 2007 18:00 | Filed in Faith & Forteana

I have no time for bigots. Actually, that’s not true. I’ll normally try and make sufficient time to demonstrate that they are self-serving, intolerant people with double standards to try and suit themselves. So here goes.

Some time ago, I wrote a piece called the atheist bigots where I took several swings at atheists who seemed to me to be intolerant of religion. One of the points that one of my commenters made then was that religion was tied in to bigotry, and that what I described as a Christian would be someone who is tolerant and forgiving, rather than someone who tried to “live by the book”, and that they thought the “by the book” version was the true Christianity. I disagreed.

I said at the time that what religion needed (all varieties) was for more moderates to stand up and be counted. So here I am, assuming of course that being a sceptical quasi-Christian agnostic allows me to be counted as a ‘moderate’.

What has happened is that the most senior Scottish Catholic has come out with the following statement:

In a sermon marking 40 years since the Abortion Act, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said pro-abortion MPs should consider their stance on receiving Communion.

He said the abortion rate north of the border was equivalent to “two Dunblane massacres a day”.BBC News

So he’s basically comparing anyone who has an abortion to being equivalent to a terrorist. Well, it’s his right to believe what he wants, and I’m guessing that it’s his duty as a religious leader to try and encourage people to do what he believes is right.

I’ll put my own cards on the table here: I’m pro-choice and anti-abortion. By this I mean that while I don’t feel that I have any right to dictate to anyone else what they should or should not do, but my personal beliefs are such that I would consider it morally wrong for me to be involved in an abortion simply because someone didn’t want to have a child. I think it is wrong to deprive that child of life.

I also believe it’s wrong for me to assume that I know what’s best all round: I can’t know everyone’s individual personal circumstances, I don’t know what sort of a life that particular child would lead, and I don’t think that I have any right to tell anyone what to do, so I’m also pro-choice. If someone else believes that it’s better if they have an abortion, then I believe they should have the right to do so, and I’m not going to judge them for it, because I can only speak for myself.

Still, Father Keith O’Brien was quite happy to go wading in, and suggest Catholic MPs who support the freedom to have an abortion shouldn’t take communion, although he of course implied that those supporting the freedom to have an abortion were actually in favour of abortion when of course I’ve demonstrated that it’s perfectly possible to be personally anti-abortion and pro-choice.

Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Wales has backed this stance, saying that:

if a Catholic politician manifestly, clearly goes against the church’s teaching, then they ought to remove themselves from receiving communion, because it would be a cause of great scandalPeter Smith

Fair enough then. In that case I would like to call on both Peter Smith and Keith O’Brien to stop receiving communion themselves, because as far as I am concerned, Christianity teaches tolerance, it teaches forgiveness, it asks people to turn the other cheek, and it manifestly is not about demonising people for the way in which they live their lives.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespassesJesus Christ, speaking in Matthew 6:14-15

As far as I’m concerned — and I mean this with all seriousness — I don’t believe that either Peter Smith or Keith O’Brien are acting in a Christian manner and I think that if they don’t wish to demonstrate double standards, then they too should stop receiving communion. They may also wish to reconsider whether they in fact are fit and proper people to lead a Christian community.

I am prepared to forgive, however, event though they appear to have forgotten Jesus’ teachings (or just cherry-picked the ones that suit their argument):

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.Jesus Christ, speaking in Matthew 7:5)

After all, the Pope is alleged to have encouraged the cover-up of child abuse by Catholic priests:

Panorama examined a document which allegedly encourages secrecy in dealing with cases of priests abusing children.

It says this was enforced by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope.

Programme makers asked Father Tom Doyle, a former church lawyer who was sacked from the Vatican for criticising its handling of child abuse, to interpret the document.

He said it was an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child abuse, which stressed the Vatican’s control and made no mention of the victims.BBC News (2)

As I don’t recall either Peter Smith or Keith O’Brien calling for the Pope to stop receiving communion, I can only presume that their stance is that abortion is wrong, but it’s perfectly acceptable to cover up child abuse by Catholic priests. Well, either that or they’re unwilling to examine the log in their own eye… double standards, hypocrisy, intolerance.

That’s not what I call Christianity.

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2 Comments to Religious Intolerance: Abortion

  1. Marcel Cairo says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Amen. I am with you 100% on your views. Though I live on the other side of the pond, the same story has played itself out over here countless of times. In my opinion, righteous hypocricy is a cardinal sin (pun intended Mr. Ratzenberg).

  2. The Goldfish says:

    June 5th, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    This was a great post. You might also be interested in a Blogging Against Disablism Day entry over at Junia’s Daughter:

    I also think that, if one believes that abortion is such a horrendous thing, it is far better to address the wider social factors which lead to so many people being in that terrible position in the first place.

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