09 July 2012

The twisted logic of American catholics

Adam Lee recently posted a great article at Big Think, The Chasm of the Middle Ground, that considers the bigotry that seems to be the current fad in American religious fundamentalism.  I just want to comment on one passage from Adam's post (I've emphasized key parts).
We saw this in the fights over the American health-care bill, where Roman Catholic bishops asserted that any employer - not just a church employer, but any employer, even the manager of a Taco Bell - should be able to deny his employees insurance coverage for any medical procedure to which he objects on religious grounds. Since most major medical procedures are ruinously expensive if not covered by insurance, this is equivalent to saying that employers should be able to dictate their workers' access to medical care. In the same vein, when there was a rash of teenagers committing suicide after vicious homophobic bullying, evangelicals in the Anoka-Hennepin School District vehemently objected to a proposed anti-bullying policy, claiming that it was an unconstitutional restriction on their religious freedom. Evangelical spokespeople have also explicitly endorsed this logic, that "if gays are not the ones being discriminated against, then Christians will be".
The first instance alone may warrant several long essays to explain fully the utterly twisted logic being employed by the religulous.  Here's just an abbreviated list of some of the problems:

  • That an employer has a moral obligation to police the morality of his/her employees in their personal lives as well as their work.  This is clearly just a case of the catholic church seeking to subvert labour relations into being its weapon, by promising the employer afterlife brownie points.
  • That the employer is morally responsible for decisions made by the employee regarding the employee's own health just because the employer is paying for the health services rendered. This is playing the "guilt card" - something at which catholics are experts - to coerce employers fearful for their immortal souls into removing from others a fundamental freedom of choice.
  • That religion has any role to play at all in labour relations.  Morality, whether set by religious dogma (bad) or rational and philosophical considerations (good), stands apart from labour relations.  Morality is codified in documents that identify the principles for which a nation stands, documents which inform the legal system, which in turn sets bounds on labour relations to (presumably) ensure the well-being of the citizenry.  Morality is so far removed from labour relations, it's rather like saying your doctor will prescribe medicine based on quantum mechanics.
  • That insurance coverage can be predicated on religious grounds. This is just pathetic, and a sure sign one's nation is heading down a similar road taken by islamic theocracies.  And look what it got them!
The second instance is a classic case of both category error and false dichotomy.

The category error involves lumping all christians into the group of sanctimonious pricks who think its discriminatory to stop them from discriminating against LBGT folk.  There are many christians who have no problem with LBGT rights.  That mainstream christians aren't far more vocal against the fundiots in their midst bothers me tremendously, but their silence (though harmful in itself) is at least no where near the vile hatefulness of the truly religulous.  Beyond the fetid stink of the rants of the fundiots, moderate christians should be properly incensed by the fundiots speaking on their behalf.

The false dichotomy (that either gays are discriminated against, or christians are) ignores at least one possible alternative: that neither gays nor christians will be discriminated against.  There is no reason to exclude this alternative a-priori... unless, of course, one grants the (factually incorrect) categorization that all christians are anti-gay.

It's all childishness.  Stupid, hateful, school-yard homophobia borne of a church that was never interested in well-being but really only in power and control.  I really don't care if the religulous want to persist in their ignorant irrationality.  But that their crude philistinism is granted equal standing to rational, evidence-based positions that promote true equality and well-being sickens me as little else can.

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