I was extremely close to delaying my last blog post and replacing it with this one. If I hadn’t been delayed by work then I definitely would have put this one out first because the first half of this post is almost old news now… oh well.
Anyway, on Christmas Eve a friend posted an article on Facebook about how Pope Francis said that income inequality was immoral, which caused Bill “heart blacker than Don Cheadle” O’Reilly to state that “I don’t know if Jesus is going to be down with that”. Later, I was talking about how, despite not being Catholic, I liked Pope Francis’ progressive views. However, I was immediately shot down by my brother’s fiance who said that she had heard that the pope had said that all religions are true and there was no hell. I was pretty floored. I mean seriously, what the hell? Being progressive is one thing, but at a certain point you totally jump the rails and basically just say “religion is the lulz, eh?” Of course, pretty soon this whole thing became very suspicious to me – even if Pope Francis was an extremely liberal Christian, the Vatican isn’t just controlled by him. Why would the other leaders in the church allow him to say something so obviously against fundamental Christian doctrine?
Ultimately, I decided to track down the source of these claims. Turns out that this is a viral story which has spread quite a bit, although mostly by blogs and news sites of ill-repute… not to mention featuring a smattering of duped Christians declaring that Francis is the anti-Christ of the week and liberal atheists stating that this would make religion actually make sense now (what, have they never heard of the United Church and how abandoning fundamental principles results in rapidly-declining membership?). Hell, I even saw a Muslim comment on how Islam is the best religion because it doesn’t abandon its core teachings like this evil pope. Of course, the source article was pure satire, a fact lost on all of the people who spread it (and especially the idiots in news blogs who failed to do any sort of fact-checking).
However, I want to look at the original article and examine some of the claims which were made in it which are actually a good thing without being heretical. In case you need the link to the original article again, here you go.
“In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”
This one is pretty much a no-shit declaration, not to mention that it’s Biblical anyway. Everyone is welcome in the church, whether we agree with them or not. Discrimination is the work of humans, not God.
“…those who would dare to turn immigrants away, be they legal or undocumented, turn their backs on Christ himself! A racist is not a true Christian. A racist casts aside his humanity to become a beast, a demon! He is the embodiment and personification of evil, a Satan! …because Muslims, Hindus and African Animists are also made in the very likeness and image of God, to hate them is to hate God! To reject them to is to reject God and the Gospel of Christ. Whether we worship at a church, a synagogue, a mosque or a mandir, it does not matter. Whether we call God, Jesus, Adonai, Allah or Krishna, we all worship the same God of love. This truth is self-evident to all who have love and humility in their hearts!”
This one pretty much links with the first quote – intolerance and racism are a human legacy which has soiled the reputation of Christianity. A racist can be forgiven of course, but it is undoubtedly wrong.
“In accordance with our new understanding, we will begin to ordain women as cardinals, bishops and priests. In the future, it is my hope that we will have a woman pope one day. Let no door be closed to women that is open to men!”
Yes, yes, YES! Discrimination against women in the church by traditionalists is honestly ridiculous. Yes, I know that Paul wrote that women should not be above men, but why does the Bible also give women such prominence (not to mention that women are also hailed as deaconesses in the exact same books)? There’s also the context of those books, at which time it would have been odd for women to be in a position of power in the church. Beyond all of that though, there’s just modern day common sense. Women are seen as equal to men in society now. Women are fully capable of holding positions of power over men. Is God going to condemn us for suddenly allowing women to have equal stake in religion? Somehow I don’t think so.
I think I’ll end this discussion here for now. However, be sure to come back for part two of this religious musing next week – I’ve done some theorizing over quantum mechanics and religion which might just blow your mind.