Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Which the Catholic Church Refuses to let me Defect

Well, well, dear readers. If you remember a few weeks back, I posted a blog about my attempted defection from the Catholic Church. A few days ago, I got a letter from the Milwaukee diocese (where I was born/baptized) saying that since I was no longer under their jurisdiction, my letter would be forwarded to the Columbus diocese (where I live now). I didn't think that was noteworthy, so I didn't post anything about it.

Today I got a response from the Chancellor of the Columbus Diocese.

I will transcribe it for you.

Dear Sarah:
Your notice of defection from the Catholic Church was forwarded to Bishop Frederick F. Campbell, Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus of which you are now a resident, from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I have been asked been asked by Bishop Campbell to respond to your declaration of defection on his behalf.
I wish to first express my sorrow that you have concluded that you desire to defect from the Catholic Church. It is apparent from your postal and email address that you are a student at The Ohio State University [Me: What?], and so I encourage you to seek to speak with a member of the clergy or staff at the St. Thomas More Newman Center to discuss further your concerns and resolution regarding the Catholic Church.
Regarding your notification of defection, I need to explain that it is true that with the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church there was a process by which a person's notification of defection from the Catholic Church could be received and that notification would have the canonical effect of recognizing and recording such a defection. With the motu proprio Omnium in mentem, dated October 26, 2009, however, this procedure was removed from the Code with the effect that a person's declared defection can no longer be recognized by the Catholic Church. Given that your declaration was made on November 7, 2011, it is not possible for you to receive confirmation that your attempted defection will have canonical effect or be recorded in your baptism record.
Because of this change in the Canon Law of the Church and the resulting lack of canonical effect, it is equally true that you are prevented from seeking reconciliation with the Church and receiving the sacraments beyond seeking reconciliation with the Church and receiving the sacraments beyond celebrating the Sacrament of Confession. That being stated, any member of the Catholic clergy would certainly respect your declared desire not to receive the ministry of the Church and so it is particularly imporatnt that you communicate your desire to whoever might otherwise contact the Church so long as you persist in the desire declared in your declaration of November 7, 2011.
Sincerely yours,
    Very Reverend Shawn D. Corcoran

So...I have to follow Catholic rules, even though I'm not Catholic? I'm at a crossroads here, dear readers. How should I proceed? I have a few ideas, but I'd like to hear yours. I am considering contacting the clergy member he recommended (or this dude himself) for a face-to-face meeting. Because that would be super fun.
I am also considering writing a letter listing all of things I have done that violate Catholic rules. I think making a comprehensive list would be super fun. If the church won't let me defect, then I will get excommunicated...which will be significantly more fun for me, and probably a lot more annoying for them.

My letter to them would look something like this.

Reasons to Excommunicate Me
  • I have had premarital sex while using a condom.
  • I use contraception on a regular basis.
  • I have acted upon homosexual desires (and will do so again).
  • I watch pornography.
  • I support same sex marriage.
  • I vote pro-choice.
  • I have assisted women in getting to a medical center where they can obtain an abortion.
  • I actively speak out against the pope's authority.
  • I refer to belief in god as "silly, superstitious magic."
  • I have not sought reconciliation for over a decade.
  • I refused to get confirmed.
  • I do not tithe.
  • I frequently give money to secular and atheist charities.
  • I work for an atheist organization.
  • I am an atheist and do not believe in any supernatural deities.
  • I organized a book tour for Richard Dawkins.
  • I think the Catholic Church is a disgusting and morally reprehensible organization that protects child rapists and has helped spread AIDS in third world countries.
  • I will publicly destroy a Bible and a magic Jesus cracker if you will not excommunicate me.
Is this enough to get me excommunicated, you think? Any other suggestions are totally welcome!

Suggestions from people:

  • I masturbate. 
  • I am engaged to a person of the same sex.
  • I deny that the holy spirit exists.
  • The bible is made up nonsense.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Intimidation, or: Why We're Going To Win

I'm not quite sure how to begin this story, so I'm just going to warn you about the link I'm going to post: it's definitely graphic.

Today, the Democratic campaign manager for an Arkansas congressional candidate came home to find his family pet dead on the porch with the word "liberal" written on it (NSFL picture in the link). I really don't have words. Well, I do have words, but I'm not allowed to say them on here. 

Really, whoever did this is the scum of humanity. I don't know what would possess a person to murder an innocent animal of someone they disagreed with. I can't stand Rick Santorum but I would never, ever do anything to his pet or innocent family members. What kind of hideous, disgusting person would do such a thing? Honestly...why would you do such a thing? I mean, I know their idea: intimidation. But it's not going to work.

Jessica Ahlquist has been intimidated since she first brought up the unconstitutional prayer banner. From people posting her home address on a news article about her, sending her harassing messages online, and booing her and anyone who agrees with her at city meetings. But guess what, everyone? She still won the lawsuit

At my college, when I started an SSA, people tried to intimidate me as well. People posted nasty things about me on Facebook, the student senate tried to stonewall funds, and they vandalized my stuff. But the group is still going strong. In fact, Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is going to give his "Losing Faith in Faith" presentation at my college in early February (if you happen to be in rural Iowa, this is not something you should miss!). Of course, all the posters have been torn down at least 5 times (I am not exaggerating, my old advisor messaged me on Facebook to tell me that). But guess what? No matter how many times you tear down the posters, he's still going to show up. And it isn't going to make his presentation any worse or less true. 

You cannot silence us.

It reminds me of that Gandhi quote: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Of course, in Jessica's case, I think some people are coming around. Several clergy members will be holding a press conference to "condemn the treatment and inappropriate language and words used to describe Ahlquist." Good on them. The responsibility isn't on atheists to condemn the the bad behavior of Christians following the lawsuit, it's on Christians. If you want to actually be compassionate people, stop using terrible excuses like "Well they aren't real Christians," and start saying, "Wow, that is completely unacceptable behavior, and no one deserves to be treated like that." (You can also report them to the police.)

Remember to take good news from this. Jessica still won the lawsuit, and the prayer has been ruled unconstitutional (by a Catholic judge appointed by Reagan, no less). Remember to keep fighting for what is right. There are victories to be had. Washington state is set to legalize same sex marriage very soon. Jessica's scholarship fund has over $20,000 in it.

There are good things happening. Just remember that people have to fight to make them happen. Another Gandhi quote to finish up the night: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."