15 September 2005

Another purge of reason and faith begins

The Vatican wants to get gays out of the priesthood.

In some sense, there’s a bit of the antiscientific attitude here.  For example,

The issue of gay seminarians and priests has been in the spotlight
because a study commissioned by the church found last year that about
80 percent of the young people victimized by priests were boys.

Experts
in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to
children are different, and that a disproportionate percentage of boys
may have been abused because priests were more likely to have access to
male targets – like altar boys or junior seminarians – than to girls.

But
some church officials in the United States and in Rome, including some
bishops and many conservatives, attributed the abuse to gay priests and
called for an overhaul of the seminaries. Expectation for such a move
rose this year with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, who has spoken
of the need to “purify” the church.

It is unknown how many Catholic priests are gay. Estimates range widely, from 10 percent to 60 percent.

Many of the religious people who oppose homosexuality attempt to do the same with this issue as with other issues of science (like, for example, “intelligent design”). They intentionally oppose Religion to Science. In this case, they make unsupported statements that contravene what our best efforts show to be true. With as much certainty as we can muster, we know that being gay or lesbian is nothing that any of us have any conrol over. Science is not sure exactly what causes a person’s sexual orientation to turn out as it does, but it does know pretty certainly that it’s as intrinsic and unchangeable as any other intrinsic and unchangeable characteristic.

But religious conservatives, such as those that Rick blogged about recently, have a message that does not stand up well in the face of knowledge. They have no scientific evidence to support their assertions that God did not make people anything other than heterosexual, that God directed the whole of creation like a deist puppetmaster, that people’s intrinsic characteristics can be changed. So they simply assert their case over and over again, manufacturing controversey where there is none. I’m just struck that the methodological basis for both of these battles is the same one.

Jesus told us that the greatest commandment of all is to love God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. He didn’t give an option to choose two or three of those characteristics. But many of today’s conservative Christians (many of who are just Christianists in disguise) and vertainly many of the loudest ones are afraid of the life of the mind, afraid of what it means to use the mind, afraid that the use of the mind might lead them away from what they know as faith.

That’s a pretty poor faith, as far as I know and believe.

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One Response to “Another purge of reason and faith begins”

  1. jeb Says:

    Why would this matter for Catholic priests who are supposed to be celibate? Celibacy is NO SEX of any kind! I’ve read/heard as many stories about priests having sex with very young girls and women as I’ve heard with boys involved.

    Celibacy and predatory behavior toward the young should not be diverted into specious arguments about homosexuality.

    I’m not Catholic by a long shot, nor gay, so in some ways it’s irrelevant. I just don’t like religion extending flames of hatred and intolerance toward yet another group.