Why I Am Not Catholic

I was raised in a Catholic family, attended Catholic elementary and high schools, and subsequently fell out of love with the Church I grew up in. The more I learned about the Church, its history and the history of Christianity during the ages, the more I fell out of love to the point of denouncing the faith entirely.

I am a Christian now in that I agree with much of Christian philosophy, however I am much more aligned with Deism than any sect of Christianity. Wikipedia:

Deism… is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion. Deists tend to, but do not necessarily, reject the notion that God intervenes in human affairs, for example through miracles and revelations. These views contrast with the dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Jewish, Christian, Islamic and other theistic teachings.

In the past, Christianity’s role in the marginalization of people who differed from their stringent belief systems and despotic order painted the faith as the same thing as they considered the greatest evil: to reject God. I believe in action above words—doing xyz while espousing the opposite in sermon and advice is nothing but hypocrisy, something the Bible itself spoke out against.

Matthew 7:3-5—And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Recent happenings in the Washington D.C. remind me of why I left the Church. The Church has chosen to take a stand on principal regardless of the consequences. Granted, standing by one’s principals is important but not when the logic behind the standing is unsound.

A bit of background:

A Catholic Charities spokesman said the group is looking for ways to provide other services for which it is under contract to the city, including assistance to the homeless and victims of domestic violence, without coming into conflict with the new same-sex marriage law, which was passed by the district council in December and will take effect within a few weeks. City officials said no other faith-based group has mentioned any problem with city contracts.

The Church has not been asked or demanded of to marry gay couples; it is simply told it will not get funding if the archdiocese refuses to stop discriminating against gays due to new laws passed in Washington D.C.

It’s one thing to believe homosexuality is abhorrent and even an abomination, as Catholics and many Protestants believe, but it’s a completely different thing to argue same-sex marriage is absolutely unacceptable. Consider how Andrew Sullivan compares same-sex marriage and divorce as seen by the Church:

A simple parallel: does the Washington diocese’s charities employ any people who have been civilly divorced and are now re-married under DC law? If so, how are these individuals less offensive to the teachings of the Church on the institution of marriage than a member of a gay couple provided civil marriage licenses?

Catholic doctrine is very clear: a remarried person is not remarried in the eyes of the Church, and for the Church to employ such a person would be to recognize a civil marriage that violates one of its core principles. There are infinitely more of these individuals than there are gay Catholics or gay non-Catholics who might want to help the homeless or serve the poor or provide foster care for an abandoned child. Catholic Charities might – Heaven forfend – have to provide spousal benefits to a member of a heterosexual couple violating Church doctrine about matrimony in exactly the same way. And almost certainly, they already do all the time.

In other words, the ground the Church bases its decision to not comply with the new same-sex marriage laws in Washington D.C. is inconsistent with its practice on the sanctity of marriage in other issues.

I should note that not all Catholics are hypocrites or illogical and, dare I say, immoral as the leadership tends to be. Andrew Sullivan has been posting emails sent to him from his readers and this email particularly caught my eye:

I am an employee of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Washington, and I am glad you have picked up on this story once again. I can say that nearly everyone I know below the Executive level is absolutely astonished, disgusted, and anxious at the Executive team’s utter obtuseness about their intentions moving forward, not to mention Catholic Charities’ continued betrayal of our mission to serve the poor, on behalf of a political fight.

The reader also notes:

No one is asking the Church to perform same-sex marriages or bless same-sex couples, but only to afford these couples the same civil rights they are guaranteed by law, and the human dignity the Church so staunchly defends for everyone else. A more forward-thinking, less reactionary, organization would have had a strategic plan in place for this the moment Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage years ago, and would be ready to make the necessary compromises to ensure that we continue to stay in business, and fulfill our mission, without drawing undue attention by showing contempt for the localities we serve.

One of the worst parts about this rigidity is the consequence falls onto the laps of those the Church is supposed to protect. There are many quotes I could choose from the Bible to explain the important of helping the needy but I’ll stick to one:

Deuteronomy. 15:7—If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

As for the consequences of not helping the needy:

Isaiah 10:1-3—”Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights… Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar?”

As the reader notes in the email:

It disgusts and saddens me that our leadership is so callow as to put culture wars above the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, and others whom the Catholic Church is dedicated to serve.

Now, why would I want to align myself with an organization that does this to people?

Now, I will say that the Church does much good—it may even be reasonable to say more good than it does damage. The Church’s rigidity and inconsistency shows that it has not learned from its past mistakes. I do not need to be Catholic, or Christian, to do the good works of God—however, I do have to be Catholic to be ashamed o
f the hatred and ignorance of its policy and philosophy. I’d much rather save myself the hassle and find other reasons to feel shame.

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