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In praise of Irish Catholicism

Apologies for the fact that this video is ancient (in Internet terms), and I’d imagine that readers interested in our cause have seen it through other, more popular blogs, but it should still serve as a springboard for some interesting discussion. If you’ve 100 seconds to spare, have a gander at this clip from “Now on PBS” in which a right wing religious nut offers her stirring rhetoric on why she will be voting for John McCain:

I’m sure I’m not overstating matters when I say that the only thing that comes close to this woman’s offensive ignorance is her aesthetic repugnancy. Now that I’ve taken a cheap shot at this myopic cretin who believes that the presidential candidate with “the most faith in the lord” is the most important issue in the election, and should be “make or break for everybody”, I feel obliged to reflect on the amount of people I’ve met in Ireland or seen on the media who espouse this nitwit’s religious fervour.

I’ve never witnessed an Irish person so willing to smugly broadcast their ignorance of political issues by blatantly deferring simple questions to a hypothesised celestial dictator. I’m pretty sure that most theistic Irish folk would take great shame in having to resort to revealing their lack of intellectual curiosity by flatly stating “The Lord will take care of us”, then bolstering their answer by admitting “that’s the way I look at things”, as if believing in something is reason enough to believe in it.

Furthermore, I’d like to think that few Irish people would have the stones to posit religious conviction as a grounds for racist discrimination. Watch as this woman chews and spits out the words “President O-bama”, when explaining that his name enough is disqualify himself from the oval office, eager to point out that she is “not the only one”, as her flawed logic shows that a consensus among people means that something is right.

Curiously, this woman finds Muslims more despicable than atheists, as the fact that (“ugh”) Obama had “a mother that was atheist (ugh)” is described as something that “really gets to me”, but his father’s Muslim background “should get to everyone” (apparently no belief is better than the ‘wrong’ belief). This wretched hag even has the audacity to dismiss Obama’s Christian beliefs as not being part of “the Christianity that’s in the bible”

It’s taking me quite some time to get to the point that makes this video at all relevant to the goals of Irish humanists, and part of that is because I feel this is but a smaller part of a larger essay that I plan on writing about how fortunate we have to have such a moderate religious climate in Ireland. As a 22 year old male, I’m aware that I’ve grown up in possibly the most privileged period in Irish history, so I’m eager to hear someone disagree with me, but it seems to me that as an officially Catholic nation, in which the Church’s influence has bled into most of our institutions, Catholicism has become mere background noise.

As the Catholic church is forced to continually capitulate more and more to the tides of progress brought about by greater dissemination of information and an improved scientific understanding of the world (the two are much of a muchness, I suppose), this institutional juggernaut is increasingly enfeebled, as we are now at a stage where the ‘lapsed Catholic’ is the norm, and Church rituals are resorted to when celebrating or grieving because that’s the way things are.

The United States separates Church from State, which is a fantastic idea in theory, but it means that rather than forcing religious dogma on its citizens along with laws and taxes, religion must be sought out in one’s leisure time.

Futhermore, in this Republic of Ireland the matter of a politician’s religious affiliation can be safely assumed to be in line with the majority of Irish citizens who have grown up uncritical of their imposed beliefs, meaning that more time is given to discourse on actual issues than it is attempting to ‘otherise’ the character of opposing political figures.

Like I’ve said before, I’ve simplified matters somewhat to give an overarching view of where I’m coming from, but I do hope to get a little more in-depth at a later date. I’d like to think that Irish atheists and Catholics alike will watch the above video and be justifiably horrified, as this person should not be treated as an example of your average religious adherent – she is a racist ignoramus who justifies it by a religion notoriously open to interpretation. She is a straw woman representing some of the worst traits that religious conviction have to offer, and not much more.

I would like to implore my humanistic brethren to consider that the dominant, most vocal forms of religion in Ireland are quite benign in comparison to what our American cousins must deal with, and we must take baby-steps to assure that in our goal to facilitate a life of Irish apostasy we don’t awake the sleeping beast and cause the enemies of reason to become more entrenched, more vocal, and thus, more influential.

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2 Responses

  1. The image preview of the Youtube video is priceless: look at her wide, Charles Manson, schizo eyes.

    Seriously though. The woman should be an anachronism, but sadly she’s not; far from it.
    Maybe it was a bit harsh to say she’s “aesthetically repugnant”….she just looks a bit lobotomised, sort of vapid and insensate, churning out mollifying, comforting, self-serving nonsense. The Lord will look out for you? You? One evolved primate, in a population of billions of them interacting, on a planet that is, ultimately, a spec of cosmic dust in an incomprehensibly vast universe filled with trillions of other planets – the Creator of the Universe is looking out for you personally? (When he’s finished helping you out, he should turn his attention to, um, starving children, perhaps).

    You can’t reason with such people. They’re virtually impervious to anything that might cause them psychological distress. Their brains filter evidence in careful, precise ways, skewering or blocking out ideas that they aren’t emotionally or intellectually strong enough to face, so they blanket their thoughts in the comforting cloak of ignorance and a stream of ready-made answers to difficult questions.

    It would be nice to be able to dismiss her – as some poor silly old woman comfort-eating on the syrup of religion, but she represents too many people who wield a measure of electoral power in their collective stupidity. There doesn’t seem to be too many of them in Ireland, thankfully, at least in comparison to those in the US.
    You’re right: we’re fortunate to have such a moderate religious climate in Ireland. How many hardcore religious nuts do you know firsthand? I only know two or three, and they’re all intolerant, closed-minded, moral-hypocrites (gleefully invocating Hell for apostates and free-thinkers, for example, while claiming to be meek and mild and forgiving). I can’t imagine a population where that is the norm. That’s not to say that the US is like that, but the progress of science, reason, and secularism is something to be extremely thankful for.

    What did you mean by baby-steps? Do you think atheism should slip under the radar, slowly eroding the foundations of nonsense and superstition? What about an atheist jihad? Behead them all, no?

    I’m looking forward to reading your longer essay.

  2. Hmmm – I’d like quickly point out that when I said “the dominant, most vocal forms of religion in Ireland are quite benign in comparison to what our American cousins must deal with” – I wasn’t implying that the woman in the video is indicative of the majority of US theists, but her ilk is certainly the most vocal.

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