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Atheist group urges liberal Catholics to quit the church


QAF_Rocks

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So the Freedom from Religion Foundation recently ran this full-page ad in the New York Times:

 

FFRF_NYTad_BirthC_11x21_FIN_lo.jpg

 

I admit the ad is timely, but will it have any effect? Can anything get liberal and nominal Catholics to stop attending and financially supporting the church?

 

Bill Donohue has worked himself into a frothing rage over it, so at least there's that benefit. ;)

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Probably not. While Rome might like to THINK that it's in charge of the Church, the "one, universal, and apostolic church" is the laity. My kids go to parochial school, we financially support our parish, but the money goes to things like food banks and subsidizing preschool for people who can't afford it. There's no "pro-life" group at my Catholic church, but there's a bunch of us who do free babysitting and bring meals over when someone is sick, when there's a new baby, etc. You know - community stuff. Our pastor also trained as an urban social worker, so like a lot of us, he's more concerned with helping the people that exist than controlling my uterus.

There's another church near here that's so gung-ho on the anti-abortion agenda that it's hung up huge (seriously HUGE - like, two stories high) pictures of babies on the sides of the church that say "Don't Kill Me - I Want To Grow Up!" Oddly enough, this church has no food bank, no programs for low-income students to attend it's school, and a much smaller congregation, shrinking all the time.

Sooner or later, there's either going to be a total break between the American and Roman Catholic churches, or Rome is going to have to shut its' fucking trap and start listening to the people who actually MAKE UP the church.

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Does the Vatican get funds from its churches at all? I would have thought they get something, but I'm not entirely sure.

Anyway, I doubt this'll do any good. People can be delusional about what the church they belong to actually does.

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See, that's the thing with atheists (and I speak as the mother of one who has often tried it on me), they think that, if people would simply listen to (their) sweet reason, they would agree with them and give up religion. They forget that sweet reason doesn't enter into it. If it was a question of rational thinking, no-one would cling to any religion.

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See, that's the thing with atheists (and I speak as the mother of one who has often tried it on me), they think that, if people would simply listen to (their) sweet reason, they would agree with them and give up religion. They forget that sweet reason doesn't enter into it. If it was a question of rational thinking, no-one would cling to any religion.

And you could say the exact same thing about many Christians. I have lost count on the number of times I have been told I need to open my heart, read the bible, just believe, have faith, pray, accept Jesus, sell my first born (OK maybe not the last one) and I will KNOW the truth.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Been there, done that (not the last one), felt nothing.

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See, that's the thing with atheists (and I speak as the mother of one who has often tried it on me), they think that, if people would simply listen to (their) sweet reason, they would agree with them and give up religion. They forget that sweet reason doesn't enter into it. If it was a question of rational thinking, no-one would cling to any religion.

That's the thing that stuck out to me. They're seriously misjudging their audience. By all means, encourage liberal and nominal Catholics to leave the church, but inviting them to become atheists shows a lack of understanding. People don't become atheists because churches do bad things. They become atheists because they no longer believe that deities are real. As a former minister, Dan Barker should know that. People don't have to become atheists to repudiate Catholicism, and I think it might hurt their cause to imply that they should.

I like the FFRF, but they can seem a little tone-deaf sometimes. If atheists are ever going to convince religious people to join our side, we need to get them to actually think about the supernatural, not simply point out the things that religion is doing wrong.

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But I wonder if he is aiming for the Catholics who are Catholic in name only? There are plenty of people who call themselves Christians on census forms and the like who actually don't believe in any god(s) at all. They just keep going to church (and some don't even bother with that) because that is what is expected and that is what they have always done.

I think he is aiming at those people and askign them to take a stand and be truthful to themselves rather than being a Catholic in name only. I doubt his campaign will have much effect though. It might make a few people stop and think and consider if they are going to church for the sake of going to church, but I doubt it will have any great effect.

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But I wonder if he is aiming for the Catholics who are Catholic in name only? There are plenty of people who call themselves Christians on census forms and the like who actually don't believe in any god(s) at all. They just keep going to church (and some don't even bother with that) because that is what is expected and that is what they have always done.

I think so, and it might have some effect on those people, but nominal Catholics might still be turned off by the implication that they should become atheists. They might not believe in most of the Catholic church's dogma, but I would bet the majority of them still believe in a deity and an afterlife, and might even believe that Jesus/the Bible have some kind of supernatural significance.

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I fit into the category addressed in that ad, but, like many, really need a spiritual community--that's why I sought out a church more in line with my views on social justice issues.

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I fit into the category addressed in that ad, but, like many, really need a spiritual community--that's why I sought out a church more in line with my views on social justice issues.

Exactly! There are non-sexist, non-homophobic alternatives for people who really feel the need to belong to a religious community. Atheism isn't going to be everyone's choice (not that it's really a choice), so the ad could have refrained from implying that people should give up their supernatural beliefs. If we really want them to stop supporting the Catholic church, it shouldn't matter so much whether they ultimately arrive at atheism or not.

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See, that's the thing with atheists (and I speak as the mother of one who has often tried it on me), they think that, if people would simply listen to (their) sweet reason, they would agree with them and give up religion. They forget that sweet reason doesn't enter into it. If it was a question of rational thinking, no-one would cling to any religion.

Umm, atheists aren't a monolithic homogeneous group. Stop making broad generalizations about us, plzkthx.

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I actually find this ad extremely insulting to progressive Catholics.

Edited to add: I've already stopped attending a diocesan church, and I dont give money to the bishop's appeal. I'm already taking public stands on many of the issues mentioned. I don't need FFRF to tell me to do it, thanks. It's the patronizing tone that really grates on me.

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I don't understand why people care so much about people whose decisions will likely never have anything to do with their lives? Is this organization trying to "convert" Catholics to give up their faith?

Live and let be.

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I don't understand why people care so much about people whose decisions will likely never have anything to do with their lives? Is this organization trying to "convert" Catholics to give up their faith?

Live and let be.

If that was the RCC's moto I am sure people would care far less. As it is, the more people who belong to and support the Catholic Church the more power the have. The more power they have, the more they throw it around. The more they throw it around, the more it affects people who are not Catholic.

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Umm, atheists aren't a monolithic homogeneous group. Stop making broad generalizations about us, plzkthx.

Sorry, you're right. Perhaps I should have said, 'some, proselytizing atheists (ie. my son) think that...' :)

edited for spelling

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If that was the RCC's moto I am sure people would care far less. As it is, the more people who belong to and support the Catholic Church the more power the have. The more power they have, the more they throw it around. The more they throw it around, the more it affects people who are not Catholic.

Exactly. People care because choosing to financially support the Roman Catholic church does have an effect on non-Catholics. It gives the church more power and influence. By continuing to attend church and contribute money to Catholic churches, schools, and charities, they're supporting an institution that uses its money and power to oppress people. So the ad is calling out Catholics who don't agree with the sexism/homophobia/anti-choice activities to stop giving money to a church that is working against their (and our) best interests.

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I actually find this ad extremely insulting to progressive Catholics.

Edited to add: I've already stopped attending a diocesan church, and I dont give money to the bishop's appeal. I'm already taking public stands on many of the issues mentioned. I don't need FFRF to tell me to do it, thanks. It's the patronizing tone that really grates on me.

You're the target audience, and they've already driven you away! That's what I mean about FFRF being tone-deaf. I support a lot of what they do, but I think they need to work on public relations.

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I left the Church about 17 years ago and now consider myself Buddhist even though I've never formally taken refuge. We Buddhists could be thought of as atheist as we don't believe in a creator. Turns out that I've always believed that.

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Does the Vatican get funds from its churches at all? I would have thought they get something, but I'm not entirely sure.

Anyway, I doubt this'll do any good. People can be delusional about what the church they belong to actually does.

Oh hell yeah. The Vatican doesn't get its hundreds of millions from donations people make when they visit.

And unfortunately this birth control debate seems to be convincing some women who've used birth control in the past that they were wrong. It's ironic, I guess, that a friend of mine who is so vocal about "the science behind vaccines means everyone should be forced to get them no matter what" is the first to shun science when it comes to evolution or religion. Anyway she had a miscarriage a couple months ago and is now convinced it's because she and her husband used "birth control" after the birth of their son a year and a half ago, even though that "birth control" was only breastfeeding, which hasn't sopped many women from getting pregnant within a couple months of birth! So now she's convinced birth control pills cause fertility problems. She insists the science behind vaccines is infallible and they are 100% safe for every single person in the world, but ignores any science about birth control pills. (She also insists that the Pearls are right in their claims that training kids like mules is beneficial, though she can't bring herself to hitting her son with pipes.) I've been watching her Facebook wall, and she's alienating a lot of even her own family by insisting that people who use or advocate for access to birth control are wicked people bringing about the destruction of the world. She wasn't like this a couple months ago. But this debate bull shit has resulted in her diving hardcore into the church and no longer thinking for herself. It's really alarming. If someone who was as strong as her succumbed to this bullshit, I wonder how many others are falling harder into the church instead of away.

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Like most attempts at proselytizing, this seems patronizing. Most people I know who are nominal or liberal Catholics are very aware of church teaching and are comfortable with their choice to identify as catholic. Being Catholic can be almost as much cultural as religious.

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I've seen a similar argument made on Pandagon, which basically amounts to "if so many Catholics really disagree with the Church's positions on BC, sexuality, etc they should stop being Catholic." It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that one might have deep spiritual and cultural reasons to identify as Catholic and isn't going to give it up, no matter how much they might disapprove of some things?

This said, I do wish liberal Catholics (and it's a known fact that low-ranking clergy and the laity tend to be a lot more liberal than the high-ranking clergy) took more direct action. I'm sure they could influence policies on the long run. I'm not American, but I have liberal Catholics right in my family who really dislike how the Church obsesses over BC and abortion instead of worrying about much more serious social issues, hate the present pope, but are otherwise ordinary practicing Catholics, give money and do nothing to actually change things.

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Like most attempts at proselytizing, this seems patronizing. Most people I know who are nominal or liberal Catholics are very aware of church teaching and are comfortable with their choice to identify as catholic. Being Catholic can be almost as much cultural as religious.

I do agree that the ad seems patronizing. However, I don't understand how someone could hold polar opposite views from the Church on so many things, but still identify as Catholic. That's just my perspective though. If I were part of a group that was so vocal about things I vehemently disagree with, I would hesitate to associate myself with that group, culture or not.

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The idea that only non-theists are in the right on gay rights/equal marriage/women's rights/abortion and reproductive rights/embryonic stem cell research etc is really odd. Has this organization never heard of Quakers, Reform Jews, the UU church or liberal Episcopalians? Non-theists don't have a monopoly on liberalism. A similar ad encouraging people to leave the Catholic church because of the bad stuff (and there is a lot of bad stuff) without trying to get them to become non-theists (because apparently not wanting child abuse to be covered up means you have to not believe in God, wtf) would be far more effective. This is very badly done.

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You're the target audience, and they've already driven you away! That's what I mean about FFRF being tone-deaf. I support a lot of what they do, but I think they need to work on public relations.

Yeah, exactly. I made this point on another thread. They are totally tone deaf to their non-atheist targets. By persisting in, essentially, calling me a stupid person (which may be the case :lol: ) and then asking for my money... yeah, no.

Edited to add that I will be attending a rally today with the sign "Catholics for Contraception: We Are the 98%"

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I do agree that the ad seems patronizing. However, I don't understand how someone could hold polar opposite views from the Church on so many things, but still identify as Catholic. That's just my perspective though. If I were part of a group that was so vocal about things I vehemently disagree with, I would hesitate to associate myself with that group, culture or not.

Me neither. I didn't grow up catholic, but realizing that my views didn't mesh with the denomination that I grew up in was a big step away from religion for me.

I think this ad and other campaigns like it are in reaction to the nominally religious sorts of people who don't actually believe, but only go to church for the community aspect. They're attempting to convince those particular people that they don't need a church to fill that void. I don't think inviting them into some general "umbrella" of atheism is a great idea though, mostly because there really isn't one. The only thing that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods or supernatural powers. Some atheists might be humanists, who donate to causes and organize volunteer events. Some might join secular parenting groups or the FFRF, but you won't necessarily find a community of atheists where you are. If you do believe in a god or gods, though, I'm not sure why anyone would expect you to join an atheist group :?

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