BillDo Has A Totally Practical Solution to Zika

Looks like it’s time for another edition of Bill Donohue Is A Terrible Person.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights commented on the current Zika epidemic:

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Friday, adding that laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services in contravention of international standards, must be repealed and concrete steps must be taken so that women have the information, support and services they require to exercise their rights to determine whether and when they become pregnant.

So if women get to decide when they get pregnant, there’ll be fewer pregnant women with Zika, and thus fewer kids with microcephaly. Does that sound pretty reasonable to you? Yes? Well, that’s because you’re not a frothing anti-contraception dogmatist like BillDo.

The way he sees it (emphasis emphatically added):

Zeid wants restrictive abortion laws repealed. More than that, he is fuming over the notion that women are in charge of their bodies. They are not. Moreover, he smirks at the advice that women should delay getting pregnant. According to the High Commissioner such advice “ignores the reality that many women and girls simply cannot exercise control over whether or when or under what circumstances they become pregnant, especially in an environment where sexual violence is so common.”

Okay, back up to that “They are not” for a moment. Is that poor phrasing, or did Bill just say that women are not in charge of their bodies? And if the latter, is it safe to assume he means something abstract and nebulous like “all our bodies ultimately belong to Baby Jesus, and we’re just caretakers”, rather than a more concrete bit of horribleness like “men get to decide whether women get and stay pregnant”? (I mean, we know he endorses the “stay” part of that, but I don’t know to what extent he’s willing to say so out loud.)

Be that as it may, he continues:

Here’s some advice for Zeid. Number one, girls should not be getting pregnant, and it is his job to say so.

Okay so far. I’m curious to know how BillDo proposes to enable them to make this choice.

Second, women are not the powerless wimps that he says they are: they can, in almost all circumstances, control when to have sex and with whom.

Yes. In almost all circumstances (let’s say over 95%), women decide when and whether to have sex. The other cases are called rape.

Third, he needs to man-up and name those Latin American nations (those were the ones he was addressing) where rape is commonplace.

Oh, Jesus Mary-fucking Christ on a consecrated cracker! Is this really that hard to look up in the age of Google and Wikipedia? Here’s a chart of rape rates in Latin America. And here’s Wikipedia’s section on rape in Brazil, one of the countries currently worst-hit by Zika.

Whichever way you slice it, we’re talking about tens or hundreds of thousands of women whom BillDo dismisses with a wave of his in-almost-all-circumstances, women far more alive and breathing than the virgin Mary, the only woman he seems willing to protect.

Fourth, killing innocent persons is never a morally acceptable remedy for any disease. Fifth, he ought to be policing the U.N. instead of lecturing us about the wonders of abortion

For some reason, BillDo doesn’t mention that the document he’s complaining about isn’t a paean to abortion, but rather talks in more general terms about letting women control their bodies, including sex ed, medical services, and contraception, as well as (and preferably before) abortion.

But I guess none of that matters, because when women use contraception instead of abstinence, it makes Baby Jesus cry.

Still, I’d like to end on a positive note by treating Bill better than he would half the human population, and allow him to choose for himself whether or not to choke on a barrel of contraceptive jelly.

Pope Francis Might Not Be A Liberal Savior After All

BillDo, the founder and sole apparent member of the Catholic League, has decided to make himself useful by listing a number of things Pope Frankie Goes to Vatican has said that may not entirely square up with some people’s image of him as the liberalest theologian since Hippie Jesus.

A lot of these quotations are short, and thus I suspect that they’re as cherry-picked as anything, but some of them stood out to me (emphasis added by me, throughout):

“Those with alternative teachings and doctrines [have] a partial belonging to the church. [They] have one foot outside the church. They rent the church.”

which sounds like “make up your minds. Do you want to control your sex lives with contraception, or do you want communion?”

“The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a ‘false compassion,’ that which believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to ‘produce’ a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome; or to use human lives as guinea pigs presumably to save others. Instead, the compassion of the Gospel is that which accompanies in times of need, that is, the compassion of the Good Samaritan, who ‘sees,’ ‘has compassion,’ approaches and provides concrete help.”

No, you don’t get to control when you have kids or how many, nor do you get any say in when you die. Sorry not sorry.

“If someone says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.

Not a big fan of the US First Amendment, or of article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I’m guessing.

“If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”

Sure, we love gays! At least, as long as they repent and promise to stop acting gay in public.

“Gender ideology is demonic!”

On the issue of women priests:

“The Church has spoken and said: ‘No.’ John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That door is closed.”


As I said, this is BillDo we’re talking about, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he were spinning some or all of these quotations to fit his right-wing agenda. But I don’t think it’s all him. I’m pretty sure that while Francis may seem progressive in the Vatican, elsewhere that just makes him slightly less reactionary than other cardinals.

“Cosmos” Misrepresents Why Man Was Set on Fire, Claims Inquisition Apologist

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Every Who down in Whoville liked Cosmos a lot…
But the BillDo, who lived just north of who-cares, did NOT!

The tireless defender of all things Catholic (unless it’s things like 99% of Catholics practicing birth control, or being okay with not stoning teh gays) has spoken out against Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s and Seth McFarlane’s reboot of that show where Carl Sagan showed my generation just how beautiful our universe is.

The first episode, aired a couple of days ago, includes a segment about how Giordano Bruno was thrown in prison and finally burned at the stake by the Catholic church for imagining that the universe was infinite, with many suns and planets.

Mr. Dorkemada complains about the portrayal of the Inquisition as some sort of repressive thought-control tool wielded by an authoritarian Catholic church, and fails to stress its important work of petting puppy dogs and helping old ladies across the street. Oh, and it wasn’t really part of the Catholic church, either (emphasis added):

The ignorance is appalling. “The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with [the Inquisition],” writes Dayton historian Thomas Madden. “One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition,” he says, “is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church. Nothing could be more wrong.” Because the Inquisition brought order and justice where there was none, it actually “saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.” (His emphasis.)

Bill is quoting from, but as usual can’t be bothered to link to, this article, which takes pains to distinguish the Spanish Inquisition, which he says had practically nothing to do with the Catholic church, from the Roman Inquisition, which presumably was more closely tied to Rome. Which is all fine and dandy, or would be, except that it was the Roman Inquisition that tried and executed Bruno. Take it away, Wikipedia:

Luigi Firpo lists these charges made against Bruno by the Roman Inquisition:[22]

  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and Incarnation;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus as Christ;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation and Mass;
  • claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity;
  • believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes;
  • dealing in magics and divination.

So, mostly for holding opinions, then. But really naughty ones, apparently. So what did the nothing-to-do-with-the-Catholic-church Inquisition do?:

On January 20, 1600, Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic and the Inquisition issued a sentence of death.

Oh.

Set us straight, BillDo:

As for Bruno, he was a renegade monk who dabbled in astronomy; he was not a scientist. There is much dispute about what really happened to him. As sociologist Rodney Strong puts it, he got into trouble not for his “scientific” views, but because of his “heretical theology involving the existence of an infinite number of worlds—a work based entirely on imagination and speculation.”

In short, the science-fan show maligned the Catholic church by saying it set a man on fire for imagining the wrong things, whereas the truth is that it set a man on fire for imagining the wrong things. And they all lived happily ever after, except the ones who died in a fire.

Thank you, Catholic Crusader!

Is Christianity Against Das Kapital?

Oh, BillDo! Will your histrionic antics never cease to amuse me? (Spoiler alert: no.)

Last week, Lawrence O’Donnell opined on Louie Giglio withdrawing from participating in Obama’s inauguration because of an outcry over a homophobic sermon he delivered in the 90s (and, to my knowledge, has so far failed to apologize for). That, and the irony of Barack Obama being sworn in on a book that contains so many horrific passages that he and every decent person on the planet disagree with. Watch it, because it’s quite good:

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/gJgNQsQDkqk

At 2:51, Giglio is quoted as saying,

if you look at the counsel of the word of God, Old Testament, New Testament, you come quickly to the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle. Homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is a sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is a sin according to the word of God.

Predictably, Bill Donohue thought O’Donnell’s editorial wasn’t quite cricket (emphasis added):

Pastor Giglio’s crime? He’s a Christian. Practicing Christians, along with observant Jews, Mormons, Muslims and millions of others, accept the biblical teachings on the sinfulness of homosexuality. In the 1990s, Giglio addressed this subject, citing Christian teachings, and that was enough to set off the alarms in gay quarters.

Over the past few decades, many homosexuals and theologians have tried to argue that the Bible’s passages condemning homosexuality should not be read as condemning homosexuality. In their postmodern mind, they say that interpretation is wrong. O’Donnell, to his credit, knows these savants are delusional. While he readily admits that the Bible condemns homosexuality, his level of cognitive development does not allow him to discern the difference between behavior and status, which is why he falsely claims the Bible condemns “gay people.”

Now, given that he’s just spent two spittle-flecked paragraphs explaining how Christianity is anti-gay, I wasn’t expecting his very next post to be entitled Is Christianity anti-gay?. I guess he enjoys making me do spit-takes.

To say that Giglio backed out because of his “previous anti-gay comments” is tantamount to saying Christianity is anti-gay because it sees homosexual behavior as sinful. It also sees adultery as sinful. Does that mean Christianity is bigoted against heterosexuals?

Right. BillDo’s flavor of Christianity places some restrictions on heterosexual behavior, like mandating marital fidelity; and it also places some restrictions on homosexual behavior, like not being allowed to have the kind of sex you enjoy, or being allowed to marry the person you love, or have your union recognized as legally equivalent to Kim Kardashian’s umpteenth marriage, or being portrayed in a favorable light in sitcoms, and if gays have to have the unmitigated gall to exist in the first place, could they at least have the decency to emigrate to a leper colony somewhere? Because the children or something.

With regard to homosexuality, the teachings found in Christianity were taken from Judaism. Moreover, Islam also sees homosexuality as sinful. Are we to believe that the adherents of all these world religions are “anti-gay”?

Why, yes. To the extent that they agree with BillDo’s anti-gay interpretation of their holy scripture of choice, yes, they are. That was easy.

What, am I supposed to believe that if a bigoted belief stops being bigoted if enough people accept it?

(Update: Oh, poo. I just realized I posted this without explaining the title: it’s a mashup of the titles of BillDo’s two posts: “Should Obama swear on Das Kapital?” and “Is Christianity anti-gay?”. I could fix the title, but that would break the permalink. So oh well.)

Catholic Church 99 44/100% Pure

BillDo has a post in which he plays down the Catholic priesthood’s image problem:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the findings of the 2011 Annual Report on priestly sexual abuse that was released by the bishops’ conference; the survey was done by a Georgetown institute:

The headlines should read, “Abuse Problem Near Zero Among Priests,” but that is not what is being reported.

According to the 2011 Official Catholic Directory, there are 40,271 priests in the U.S. The report says there were 23 credible accusations of the sexual abuse of a minor made against priests for incidences last year. Of that number, 9 were deemed credible by law enforcement. Which means that 99.98% of priests nationwide had no such accusation made against them last year. Nowhere is this being reported.

If that’s his standard of purity, then I’m sure Bill would have no problem drinking a glass of 99.98% water and only 0.02% urine, right?

The thing is that very few men in general are child abusers. The question (or one question) is, does the Catholic clergy contain more child abusers than the population at large?

I wasn’t able to quickly find child-abuse statistics for the United States, but I did find the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics for violent crime in 2010, which shows an aggregate of 27.8 forcible rapes per 100,000 victims. The FBI defines “forcible rape” as:

The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Rapes by force and attempts or assaults to rape, regardless of the age of the victim, are included. Statutory offenses (no force used—victim under age of consent) are excluded.

So the numbers are not directly comparable: the report Donohue is quoting concerns itself only with sexual abuse of minors, while the FBI’s number covers all rape. The FBI’s 2010 number excludes sexual abuse of males, while BillDo emphasizes that in the report he’s quoting, “almost all the offenses involve homosexuality“. And BillDo calculates the rate per offender while the FBI counts the rate per victim, which means that BillDo’s number tends to undercount priests who abused multiple victims, compared to what the FBI counts.

Having said that, BillDo’s figure of 9 credible accusations and 40,271 priests works out to 22.3 per 100,000, compared to the FBI’s 27.8 per 100,000. So the number of pedophile priests seems to be in the same ballpark as the number of rapists in the US as a whole. That seems pretty bad, especially for a group that presents itself as the guardians of morality.

BillDo also ignores, as usual, that the Catholic church’s problem is not so much one of having rapists in its ranks — any large organization is bound to have some — but of covering up its members’ crimes. The abuse itself can be blamed on individual priests, sure. But the coverup is a problem for the organization.

That “Adopt an Atheist” Campaign

By now, you’ve probably heard about BillDo’s “Adopt an Atheist” campaign:

Today we are launching our “Adopt An Atheist” campaign, the predicate of which is, “We want atheists to realize that there may be Christians in their community, even if those Christians don’t even know they are Christian.

Here’s what our campaign entails. We are asking everyone to contact the American Atheist affiliate in his area […] Let them know of your sincere interest in working with them to uncover their inner self. They may be resistant at first, but eventually they may come to understand that they were Christian all along.

If we hurry, these closeted Christians can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”

(emphasis added)

Here’s what I just sent him:

Dear Mr. Donohue,

I have just heard about the Catholic League’s “Adopt an Atheist” campaign, and am intrigued.

I am an atheist, one of those people who, according to you, “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.” But apparently, according to your press release, it is possible that I am actually a Christian without realizing it.

I don’t understand how this is possible, but perhaps one of the atheist-adopters with whom you are working can explain it. I am not a member of American Atheists, so sending mail to them will not reach me. Please ask one of your adopters to contact me.

You also write that “We want atheists to realize that there may be Christians in their community, even if those Christians don’t even know they are Christian”. Is this true? Is it possible that there might be Christians in my community? Could it be my neighbors, who attend church every Sunday? Or perhaps the pastor who lives two doors down? Who? Perhaps an atheist-adopter can help me figure it out.

I look forward to hearing back from you or your organization.

I’ll post if I hear back. It ought to be a lot of fun.

Boycott

If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember Bill Donohue as a guy who has called for boycotts of Calvin Klein, HBO, Disney, Target, the TV show Nothing Sacred, 20th Century Fox, the Brooklyn Museum of Art , the city of San Francisco, Showtime, the New York Jewish Museum, the Arlington diocese lenten appeal, Wal-Mart, Madonna concert sponsors, the Roger Smith Hotel, the movie The Golden Compass, Miller beer, and probably others that I’ve forgotten.

Now he warns us of a new threat:

The Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), formerly known as the Christian Values Network, is an online service that partners with more than 170,000 charities, religious and secular, enabling users to support their favorite charities when they shop on the web. Because some of the charities embrace the traditional Christian understanding of marriage, some activist organizations have sought to pressure retailers not to associate with CGBG.
[…]

If these extremists get their way, they will silence the Christian voice. Which is why the bullies must be defeated.

Right now, Catholics need to let three major companies know of their need not to follow the dictates of these anti-Christian forces: Netflix, Walgreens and Petco. We are not asking them to jump into the culture war on our side; we simply ask that they remain neutral.

(emphasis added)

I suggest starting a new charity, to be affiliated with the Christian Values Network CGBG: the Buy BillDo A Mirror And A Fucking Clue Foundation. BillDo and thousands of religious leaders like him live lives bereft of any smidgen of self-awareness or sense of irony, condemning in others that which they routinely advocate themselves. Please, won’t you think of the bigots?

(HT Ed Brayton.)

I Agree With Bill Donohue

On Friday, BillDo wrote

The Catholic League would like to go further: it’s time to shut down the faith-based program altogether.

and my head went asplodey.

Okay, so we have different reasons for thinking that the faith-based program set up by George W. Bush should be shut down. I think it’s because the government shouldn’t be involved in promoting religion — either promoting one religion over another, or favoring religion over non-religion, or vice-versa — whereas Bill… well, here’s what he has to say:

When Sen. Obama was running for president three years ago, he pledged support for faith-based programs provided they were emptied of any faith component: he opposed the right of faith-based programs to maintain their integrity by hiring only people of their faith.

In 2009, the Obama administration balked: it said it would decide on a case-by-case basis whether a funding request from a faith-based program was acceptable. In 2010, many members of this program pushed to pare back religious liberty provisions that were extant.

When faith is gutted from faith-based programs—when Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Jews can’t hire their own—we are left with a carcass. […] The goal, obviously, is to convert these religious entities into full-blown secular organizations. It would be better not to let them hijack these programs in the name of assisting them, thus it makes sense to shut them down.

In other words, not only does he want Catholic charitable organizations to get federal assistance, he also wants them to be able to discriminate in hiring. Because hey, what’s the point in running a soup kitchen if the actual soup is ladled by a Protestant or a Jew, right?

That’s the problem I have with religious charities: they’re easily abused to be a tool for proselytizing: offer someone a free meal, but only after they listen to a sermon, or a lecture on the virtues of $RELIGION. In other words, advertising, just like when a business hands out sun visors with its logo on them at the county fair, or when the guy who’s selling time-shares offers to take you out for lunch so he can convince you to buy what he’s selling.

Obviously, the government has an interest in promoting the good done by religious organizations, but too often it seems that the organizations themselves see the good not as a goal in itself, but as a means toward a different end, often proselytizing. Recall that last year, Catholic Charities ceased its operations when it was told that it had to either stop discriminating against gay couples or stop accepting government money.

But if they can’t bring themselves to do good because it’s good, screw them. We don’t need to pump government money into churches’ advertising budgets.

Props to Moderate Catholics

I give moderate theists
grief
when they fail to stand up and tell the Pat Robertsons and Jerry
Falwells of the world that they’re full of crap, so it’s only fair to
give credit where it’s due:
Catholics for Choice
has issued a
report
about Bill Donohue and the
Catholic League.

It provides a good overview of how BillDo operates, including
manufacturing controversy and bullying. The most interesting part (to
me) was the section about inflated membership numbers (p. 17).

(HT PZ.)

(Update: Fixed link to the report. Thanks to alert reader Fez.)