Sunday, February 12, 2012

Catholic bishops working toward Darwin award

The other day gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was reported making an observation that I found stunning:

On whether the Catholic Church at large will allow gay bishops anytime soon, Robinson is hesitant to state a timeline, but he does say that Christianity, Islam and Judaism will appear “increasingly irrelevant” if they continue to distance themselves from the LGBT community.

“I’m of the opinion that the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the church, the mosque, and the synagogue is inevitable,” says Robinson. “All we’re talking about is timing. How long will it take to make that a reality? I believe that’s God’s will, and the church, the synagogue and the mosque may have gotten this wrong for this many years, but God has never gotten it wrong.”

Now Gene is an optimist and a person of glorious faith, but this seems a bit much. Hidebound religious authorities affirming that God loves everyone? Not bloody likely.

Watching U.S. Roman Catholic bishops claim they are suffering religious persecution because federal law requires them to offer contraception to their employees as part of their insurance makes me wonder whether Gene might be right, though getting there is likely to be ugly. According to reporting by Laurie Goodstein, the bishops planned for and sought a confrontation with the administration about contraception. In 28 states, they already do what the new federal law orders -- include contraception coverage as part of health insurance for all employees -- but they wanted this fight at this time. Obama offered them a face saving compromise that was applauded by the nuns who actually run Catholic hospitals and by women's health advocates, but that's not good enough for these guys. They'd rather whine.

In a week in which women have risen up and stomped on the Susan G. Komen Foundation's political decision to cease funding Planned Parenthood, this is wandering into Darwin award territory for religious institutions. Individuals and species that are out of touch with the realities of their environment die off. The bishops apparently have not noticed that they lost the ability to lay down the law for most citizens of advanced countries some centuries ago. They have to convince people to share their values; they have no automatic legitimacy to order people around. Ninety-eight percent of U.S. Catholics use birth control at some time in their lives; the bishops are undermining their own institution by picking this fight. Maybe health insurance shouldn't be tied to anyone's employment, but if Catholic institutions are going to employ non-Catholics, they have to play by everyone's rules.

Enough of this kind of nonsense from religious leaders and the dwindling pack of continuing believers may indeed finally notice what Gene Robinson knows already -- whatever God is, God is about loving everybody.

The rest is just fuss and furor, entitled old men trying to hold on to an authority they lost years ago. They just look silly.

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