Valerie Tarico (with whom I'm becoming more and more impressed as time goes by) has provided an excellent commentary on the Pope's recent move on temporary "forgiveness" for abortion. On the surface the Pope's move has seemed to most people to be a transparently hypocritical ploy in the interest of PR value. In her column Valerie takes it to a deeper level and discusses it as a part of a wider scheme religions continually engage in, a scheme through which they graciously and magnanimously offer absolution from guilt over issues that only have guilt associated with them because of the religions.


[To my mind this is a perfect example of ways in which people should be analyzing religions.]

Papal Decree on Abortion Shows How Religion Hooks People By Inducing then Absolving Guilt


(I've added the emphases.)

John Stewart famously said, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.”

The painful irony of Stewart’s words is obvious to us all. What may be less obvious is the underlying pattern: Offering solutions to problems that religion itself has created is one of the key means by which religion propagates. The Pope’s recent limited-time offer of confession and forgiveness for women who have aborted pregnancies perfectly illustrates this pattern.

. . . The reason the Pope’s announcement so perfectly illustrates the Church’s broader pattern of inducing problems and then solving them is that (unlike the sectarian conflict cited by John Stewart) most of these problems are psychological in nature. They come from ways in which religious teachings create fear, guilt, helplessness, self-doubt, and even self-loathing that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

. . . Christians are taught not to trust their own moral core, their own strength, or even their own intellect. . . . This attitude undermines autonomy and agency to the point that one Episcopal theologian, John Shelby Spong, commented in frustration that “Christians don’t need to be born again, they need to grow up.

. . . In his attempted kindness and mercy, Francis offers women the means to be forgiven for prudent, responsible, courageous, compassionate actions that the Church has twisted into sins. The offer extends only for those who accept the burden of theologically-induced guilt in order to be relieved of it, and only for a limited time. In exchange, women are granted protection from after-life horrors conceived in minds of Iron Age men and elaborated in the Dark Ages, when the Church’s inquisitors sought to foreshadow here on earth the tortures God had in waiting for those who fail to repent.

But perhaps the greatest twist is this. Women are expected to be grateful and to see this as an act of conciliation—which, ironically, it is.

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Comment by Gerald Payne on September 12, 2015 at 4:45am

I'll remember that one Pat.

Comment by Loren Miller on September 11, 2015 at 4:36pm

Oh, yeah, Pat ... saw that one a while back:

Comment by Pat on September 11, 2015 at 3:03pm

Saw this a day or so ago.

Jesus, knocking on a door:  "Let me in."
Occupant: "Why?"
Jesus: "So I can save you."
Occupant: "Save me from what?"
Jesus: "From what I'm going to do to you if you don't let me in."

Comment by Loren Miller on September 11, 2015 at 2:23pm

Matt Dillahunty has repeatedly made a "Mafia Boss" comparison to religion as regards the whole "threat of hell" business, and it is completely on point.  Their religion invents the problem, threatens you with it, then sells the solution at a premium.  No protection racket ever sold by a member of the Five Families was ever so pernicious.

Comment by Gerald Payne on September 11, 2015 at 2:17pm

Joan, ancient practices of whatever nature surely can't have any relevance to a 21st century debate about ethics.

Comment by Gerald Payne on September 11, 2015 at 2:10pm

That's the problem with one society having two opposing interpretations of right and wrong. The law of the land is the law, and any organisation who opposes the law should be brought to book, whether political or religious.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 11, 2015 at 2:01pm

Gerald, the fact that abortion existed in ancient times, even in Hebrew cultures, and modern fundamentalists ignore that fact and use abortion as a weapon and wedge issue in political debate reveals hypocrisy of the first order. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 11, 2015 at 1:51pm

Bertold, I read your piece and appreciate the fine way you summarized the information. I agree with your assessment and compliment the group for the intelligent responses. 

Religion creates the disease by defining it, ultimately causing it, and provides the cures at a cost to the petitioner. it is "bait and switch" scheme of the first order. 

Comment by Gerald Payne on September 11, 2015 at 1:33pm

Daniel, how you evaluate ancient practices of the Greeks and Romans with our societal standards leaves me bemused.

Comment by Daniel W on September 11, 2015 at 8:52am
Tom, infanticide was practiced at least in Greece and Rome. Perhaps that sould be offered as an alternative to abortion. Biblical history tells that ancient Hebrews and their god practiced infanticide. I think other societies often abandoned baby girls - China, India.

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