Some indeterminate number of thousands of atheists held a rally for reason in Washington DC this weekend. I would have loved to attend, but I suffered a lack of sufficient funds.
Most of the speakers and comedians and musicians who took the stage at the rally hail from Western nations, and hence the religions with which they are most familiar are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, probably in that order. So it makes sense that, while discussing the insensibility of religion, the Abrahamic faiths took most of the hits, with Christianity getting the lion’s share (yes, that was deliberate). But that’s just what would make sense. I haven’t seen the rally talks and I’ve not seen an objective accounting of which religions were targeted and how often.
That certainly won’t satisfy the put-upon resident of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, who complains that atheists get especially “jacked up” about Catholics. Because the Catholic church deserves not just respect, but deference. Unquestioning deference.
This short, dishonest piece by Donohue provides a wealth of material deserving of scorn, but I’ll focus on one issue. Donohue complains about Tim Minchin’s Pope Song, which he quotemines the lyrics egregiously. The lyrics Donohue includes in his piece are these: “I don’t give a f*** if calling the pope a motherf***er means…You see I don’t give a f*** what any other motherf***er believes about Jesus and his motherf***ing mother.”
You see that ellipsis up there, right after the word “means”? The entire rest of the verse follows that word. The sentence is “I don’t give a fuck if calling the pope a motherfucker means you unthinkingly brand me an unthinking apostate.” Donohue had to cut out 69 words to get from “means” to “You see…” Those 69 words are important, but they undermine Donohue’s case that the song is about Catholic people in general and not about the pedophilia scandal that will not die due to the level of pervasiveness it apparently achieved through the hierarchy’s insistence that the church’s reputation is more important than the safety of children.
Then there’s the next verse, the one that starts with “You see,” that states explicitly that Minchin is not complaining about the rank and file Catholic, as Donohue wants his readers to believe. “You see I don’t give a fuck what any other motherfucker / Believes about Jesus and his motherfucking mother / I’ve no problem with the spiritual beliefs of all these fuckers / While those beliefs don’t impact on the happiness of others.” See? If you’re not raping children, he’s not talking about you. Unless you’re covering for the child rapists, because he rightly thinks that child rape is wrong.
But Donohue doesn’t want his readers to know what Minchin really sang about. He wants them to avoid the song, and he wants them to think the reason is that it’s vulgar and not that it has an important message buried in all those fucks and fuckers. He certainly isn’t going to mention that the song is about the RCC’s pedophilia coverup, because the sooner he can get his followers worked up over Tim Minchin calling the pope a motherfucker and Richard Dawkins exhorting atheists to ridicule religion, the less likely it is that he’ll have to deal honestly with what the reason rally was about.
Donohue concludes, “Catholics take note: The fact that the atheists always attack us more than any other religious group is a backhanded compliment. They know who the real enemy of hate is, and who they must defeat. They don’t have a prayer.”
I’ve already handled Donohue’s persecution complex, but I don’t think the Catholic church is an enemy of hate. It’s an enemy of anyone who doesn’t fall into line with its dogma. The RCC can call its dogma “love,” but for those of us in the real world, words mean things, and much of what the RCC would inflict on the rest of us does not look, sound, taste, or feel like love.
And as for atheists not having a prayer? Why would we want to waste our time with that? We’ve got better things to do.