Confessions of a Recovering Catholic

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

We, on the left, often speak about “How it is possible for people like Palin to get over in this country?” We stand appalled and shocked when Democrats like Stupak make sure women’s reproductive health will not be covered. We don’t understand when they want to force us to reproduce, no matter what our situation; then have to PURCHASE insurance for that child when born, having eliminated CHIP. How do we mentally rectify those who scream about “welfare babies” with their same yells about “no sex education, birth control or abortions?”

There can’t possibly be that many fringe lunatics, I think to myself. They must be just LOUDER. I mean, the Polls say that “the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.

I kind of get it, though. Even when you realize you were totally indoctrinated as a child, there is imagery, memories of innocence that remains warm and fuzzy. The general precepts we were taught as children weren’t all bad, you know. Loving God, wanting to be good, sharing, wanting heaven, all the “little children” type teachings they gave us wasn’t all tribal and separatism. That didn’t come until later.


Who can hate an image like this? Yet, rationally, isn’t it creepy to dress children as little “brides” of Christ, with all that implies? Its no less creepy than all those Daddy/Daughter celibacy promise events.

If the feeling of belonging to a community has a gravitational pull, and good memories an orbit; then the doubt and guilt of rejecting these ideologies can be a black hole. It remains a constant like a physics equation.

Even people like me, people who stand strong for the separation of church and state, people who are agnostic at best, people strongly pro-choice, still harbor feelings about abortion. Scientifically we know all the reasons, but still, it is hard to think of any pregnancy as just flushable meat.

This is what makes them hard to beat. Its not the viability of a fetus, its not the denial of the hardships on the mother or child they cannot see. Its vestiges of guilt and childhood training.

Reasonable demographics based on irrational emotional reactions, even in an evolving society shows that we are up against something ingrained.

It is easy to blame the Fundamentalists, the Mega-churchers and televangelists for things like the Stupak amendment.

But that is far, far from the whole story.


We talk about community-based organization, and for many, the Church is the glue that brings people together. It serves not only as a spiritual gathering place, but one of education, medical support, food co-ops, and clothing drives. For many, it is the stop-gap between them and the street.

Behind it all, are some very good people, people who hold human dignity and most liberal ideologies in their hearts dearly.

One cannot only blame the neo-con, rich, white Bible-Belters at fault for the direction this country is taking. There are vibrant church communities within our Black communities. The Catholic Church is a huge part of the Hispanic community.

It is hard to ignore that so many in this country are based in the Abrahamic Religions, even when so many are affiliated, practicing on levels from heavily involved to non-practicing.  

What is much harder for me to ignore, is that the basis, the very heart of these religions are as misogynist as hell, and this, despite the revolution of women through the 60’s is again on the rise. Just as we condemn genital mutilations in Africa, and the burkas of the Middle East, our own country refuses to recognize legally that women should have equal rights. That we have rights over own bodies.

Even as we speak, most rapes go unreported, and the system punishes rapists about the same as someone committing theft. We cannot receive medical attention and coverage for birth control or pregnancies, all while Erectile Dysfunction is covered under every plan.

The mind reels a bit when you think about that. The religious community has no problem with paying for men to have perpetual erections, so that they may get sexual gratification, but women who have resulting medical conditions due to their sexual gratification are punished by disallowing their treatment.

So, do all these religious people hate their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters? Heck no. Most of them, made to think too hard about it feel “kind of” sorry for our plight. But when it comes to the privacy of those voting booths, they cannot bring themselves to pull the lever for anyone who believes in abortion. In the privacy, they will become minorities, workers, the poor, the oppressed second, and religious first… they fear staking their immortal souls to hell if they support even their very champions in candidates if they vote anything but “pro-life.”

To them, its not just the babies, but the innate fear of condemnation by a Manly-man God, from religions that want to celebrate motherhood and virginal daughters, but sees female sexuality as the trap of their sinning, as whores who lead them astray.

So, we are living in what amounts to societal puberty tainted by the overwhelming permeation of religious fixation in this country.

We sell everything by sex-appeal, yet still condemn women as sluts, when they are not faithful little one-man-only sexual servants under marriage, while glorifying young men who manage to get laid a lot. Sure, most people will overlook a woman being sexual in a monogamous relationship outside of marriage these days, but when it comes to birth control, they think making their tax dollars to support what their God claims as sinful would be immoral on their part. They forgive the women in their own world, but cringe at the idea that all those “other sluts” will be sleeping around and flushing babies like there is no tomorrow.

We somehow have to overcome the second class citizenship of women, and stop the double standard. We need to normalize sexuality so it is no longer a billion porn sites and a billion bibles confusing the fuck out of us. This is as crazy as telling hormone filled kids they will go blind if they touch themselves.

Look at the numbers:


It is not the televangelist whacks we have solely to worry about. It is not only people like Palin who are trying to feed the “religious values” meme, making people harken back to those simplistic childhood memories and rethink their wavering commitment to their childhood organizations. Make them think religion is the answer to the way-back machine, for memories are always better than what reality was like in those days. Women were pretty much property.

There are millions upon millions attending regular corner churches, churches that don’t preach politics from the pulpit. These are the people we need to somehow reach.

We have to reach past those first-communion memories and make them realize that it is truly unconscionable to refuse to do public works for the poor, because they do not share your religious views.

As children, we of the Catholic denomination were taught, you give to the poor, and you don’t turn away the Samaritans. Period.

As adults, we learned, you only take care of your own. That we were a group apart, the blessed ones, the TRUE religion. As soon as they started that transitional training on me, I left the Church, even while still forced to attend their schools. They lost my heart, they betrayed their own tenets. How could I ever trust them again?

But I understand them, I remember my heart as a child, before they broke it. Many of our own, we on the far left, still don’t abandon spirituality, many still seek it in non-western denominations. People can’t seem to get the connected within themselves without some kind of external structure. Whatever works.

People are not ready to give up their Gods.

We cannot make them human secularists.

We just cannot, when it is the source of their community, and in many cases their safety net. When they see their peers as good friends, and kindly people, which they are for the most part.

But maybe, just maybe, we can reverse the effects of how the “ideology” and “practicality” changes between the real message they teach their children and how the heads of their churches act, how the grown ups act.

Maybe we need to double renew a Woman’s Rights Movement in this country, and strongly affiliate that with a GLBT Movement, that reminds the religious that we are supposed to take care of everyone.

I don’t know if it can be done, but I will confess I have enough vestiges of Catholicism in me to remember when I believed that. I thought we were supposed to love EVERYONE and JUDGE NOT.

“By your actions they will know you.”

I confess, sometimes I long for the right kind of preacher to come along and teach them about love. I confess I once dreamed of arguing with Jesus, and being hurt and pissed off that he doesn’t set all this religious fighting to end. I asked, “Why the fuck aren’t you talking to people?” He answered, with no small amount of teasing amusement, “I’m talking to you, aren’t I?” Even in my dream, it was never resolved to my satisfaction.

Most of the time I just wait for the hundredth monkey. I know this religious tribalism will kill this world, and crush many of us in the process, crush us in intolerably painful ways.

But all I see is human rights in decline, and the superiority of the white male being raised, and I think that the Power Structure in this country is intentionally manipulating people by raising homophobia and misogyny to make sure it stands. They are doing it by glorifying all the worng parts of religion.

Forget the whacks, how do remind the rest that we don’t hate them, we just want them to live up to their tenets? That love and non-judgment is the way.


Maybe we can only look to the young.

I confess, I have no solution.


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    • Diane G on November 15, 2009 at 17:41
    • Edger on November 15, 2009 at 18:06

    The more you begin to investigate what we think we understand, where we came from, what we think we’re doing, the more you begin to see we’ve been lied to.

    We’ve been lied to by every institution. What makes you think for one minute that the religious institution is the only one that’s never been touched?

    The religious institutions of this world are at the bottom of the dirt.

    The religious institutions in this world are put there by the same people who gave you your government, your corrupt education, who set up your international banking cartels.

    Because our masters don’t give a damn about you or your family.

    — Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Zeitgeist

  1. definitely one that demands pause…

  2. to assume that.  In reality the Bilderberg group is indeed made of many diverse nationalities even if it is dominated by the so called white elite power structure.  These people are professionals at pitting groups, countries, races, religions against each other for their fun and profit margins.

    If we get back to the spiritual side let’s say Rush Limbaugh is in much need of spiritual development in the love and non-judgemental category.  That being obvious plus all of the progress made in the 60s on civil rights, is it in fact being rolled backwards?  What do we have on the left.  Multi-culturalism at gunpoint, supression of belief systems ie the Holday Season vs Christmas plus social engineering for the younger set, the state raising your kids and the destruction of the nuclear family.

    Yeah that does sound like right wingnuttery but it’s really not when the far larger picture of billionaire globalists today openly declaring they literally own your ass just because you happen to work for their company.

    I don’t care is anybody is black, white, yellow or is in a dress, if they hate Bilderber,CFR,the Trilateral Commission they are my friend and ally.

    • Joy B. on November 15, 2009 at 20:54

    …I must have gotten soul-polluted early. Being a Navy brat, our “church” was one of those nondescript wooden shacks on base. The Jews got it on Saturday, Catholics early on Sunday, us lazy Protestants close to noon. It was explained to me that these divisions reflected different ‘kinds’ of ritual and differing leadership none could tolerate from another, so I accepted it.

    Wasn’t until Dad got out and we had to deal with the ‘real world’ that I discovered there were literally hundreds of different varieties of Protestant! Dad never did figure out where he belonged, I considered the whole thing ridiculous in the extreme, so ignored the whole mess.

    I have beliefs, but no church apart from my peaceful, beautiful mountain. I figure if Jesus knew what he was talking about (wherever two or more…), I’m okay. But I’ve always answered when grilled on my religion that as a generic ‘Christian’, I am in fact Pagan Lite.

  3. My father was a Southern Baptist.

    I got to see the hypocrisy so early that by the time I was 14, I wanted nothing to do with organized religion.

    Now, if they piss me off enough, I just tell them Jesus was an alien…

  4. b/c that Catholic thing always strikes a nerve for me.

    For penance, I’ll link you to the Berrigan brothers, a piece by Howard Zinn and the still going on Jonah House.


    Which is also kind of interesting in light of today’s column by Greenwald.

    In other words, the very policies the U.S. has been pursuing in the name of combating Terrorism — invading, occupying, and bombing Muslim countries; locking them up without trials; torturing them; violating the values we’ve been preaching to the world — have been the most potent instruments for fueling Islamic radicalism and terrorism.  By contrast, those who have been continuously accused of being “soft on Terrorism” and even being allied with the Terrorists — those who opposes our various wars, who demanded and provided basic human rights protections and equal liberties to Muslims, who objected to their own governments’ oppressive and belligerent policies — have done more to diffuse and impede Muslim radicalism than virtually anyone else in the world.

    iow, the Golden Rule stills rules. heh.

    Right on.

  5. Live the New Testament – the teachings of Jesus.  Embrace the message of love, acceptance, understanding, and care.

    Reject the Old Testament – the book of intolerance and vengeance.

    We don’t need a building and an organizational structure in order to do what’s right.  We don’t need the messages of “us vs. them” and “those people are sinners” in our lives.  You really CAN live the message of Jesus without all of the other stuff that’s been attached to it.

    Lead by example.  You already have the solution.  You typed it: “By your actions they will know you.”

    I left the Church over 25 years ago.  I also left the guilt, the twisted interpretations, and the intolerant dogma behind.  You can still be all of the good things without any of the distasteful parts.  Allow yourself to follow what you know is in your heart.

    We can change the others, one person at a time, to our way of living as good, responsible people.  Like anything else, it has its easy parts and its hard parts.  Don’t try to take on the entire planet at once.  Remember that you’re part of an ever-growing team.

    E-mail me if you wish.  I’m usually not difficult to chat with.

    Celtic Merlin


  6. …It is necessary to understand the structures of oppression in order to change them.  You have made a good contribution here.  Thanks.

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