Death letter blues

This is fucked up:

When Bishop Watterson High School teacher Carla Hale returned to work last month after her mother’s death, administrators at the Catholic school in Clintonville confronted her with a letter.

An anonymous parent had written to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, appalled that Hale had listed her female partner’s name in an obituary.

Within weeks, Hale said, she was fired because she is in a gay relationship.

I get that they hate teh ghey, but firing someone because of a revelation in their mom’s obituary?

I’m sure that the fact I object just proves I’m an anti-Catholic bigot.

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118 replies
  1. 1
    balconesfault says:

    That someone who dug through the obit, found that item, and appalled … forwarded it to the Diocese … is considered a better Catholic than that woman … tells you quite a bit about the Church.

  2. 2
    greennotGreen says:

    If her partner were underage, then they would have just moved her to another school.

  3. 3
    Rex Everything says:

    How about the fact that the complaint was anonymous? Morally outraged enough to get somebody fired, but too chickenshit to sign your name? What a complete jerkoff—and this is who the Church catered to.

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    With the Catholic Church’s record of toleration over the centuries this comes as a real shock.

  5. 5
    The Moar You Know says:

    I have no problem with the Catholic Church playing their own version of Circular Firing Squad and No True Scotsman. The more people who get to see what they really are, the better.

  6. 6
    deep tin says:

    On the same token, is anyone surprised by this? I mean, did she really expect to be employed by the R.C. church forever with this info being withheld from them?

  7. 7
    scav says:

    The Compassion, Charity and Humanity of the Catholic Church continue to be manifest.

    ( eta — not that it isn’t often given a run for its money. keeps up though)

  8. 8
    kindness says:

    I wasn’t raised Catholic so it’s easy for me to be smug.

    When are we going to have FSM schools? Do I have to move to Louisiana in order to bankroll a better place to raise kids and teach them about the buttery noodly goodness of the grace of the FSM?

  9. 9
    balconesfault says:

    Back in the 60’s/70’s, we had two long-time female teaches at our Catholic school in SA … Miss Freudenberg, and Miss Becker … who were not only single but lived together. They taught 2nd and 3rd grade for decades. I never remember anyone saying a thing.

  10. 10
    Sayne says:

    @deep tin: Well, the article says she worked there for 19 years. I assume 19 years of employment would give her cause not to worry.

  11. 11
    some guy says:

    saw this on FB, not surprised. the fear of teh ghey is still pretty strong out there.

  12. 12
    MomSense says:

    Wow an anonymous tip about a committed relationship will get an immediate dismissal but how many priests were just relocated when it was discovered they were sexually abusing children?

    Seems like the moral compass is waaay off.

  13. 13
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I mean, did she really expect to be employed by the R.C. church forever with this info being withheld from them?

    @deep tin: Agreed. Maybe I’m the asshole here, but I don’t see the problem with the diocese’s actions. They have rules. She chose to flout them. That the rules are hideous, backwards and barbaric is not really the issue; the church has the right to have those kinds of rules. If you choose to support and subject yourself to that kind of abuse I’m going to find it pretty hard to feel sorry for you.

  14. 14
    Seanly says:

    To answer your last statement, no.

    When we lived in Harrisburg, PA, we knew a gay couple who adopted a couple of children. PA law at the time (& maybe still) didn’t allow a gay couple to adopt, but an individual can. One of them worked at a Catholic school on the downlow. He related a story of a single female co-worker who wanted to adopt. Some of the other teachers got very indignant with her – how dare she become a single mother! Never mind that she was a grown woman, with a job and taking a child who needs a home.

    Loving couples can’t get married or adopt and a single parent is now such a terrible thing that someone can’t open their heart to a child in need without being castigated? That doesn’t smack of any family values that I was brought up to honor & cherish.

  15. 15
    maurinsky says:

    I get paid to sing in a Catholic church, which I’ve had a lot of qualms about over the past few years. I tithe 10% of my church pay to Planned Parenthood to make up for it.

  16. 16
    jibeaux says:

    @balconesfault: People weren’t gay then, though. Haven’t you been following your SCOTUS oral arguments?

  17. 17
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    If Carla Hale had been in a relationship with an underage student, they woulda just covered it up, maybe transferred her to another school.

  18. 18
    Anybodybuther2016 says:

    She is living in sin according to church doctrine, did she think she could hide who she was forever?

  19. 19
    Another Halocene Human says:

    After my friend semi-retired from the Catholic parish he’d worked for for 30 fucking years, he got a letter BANNING HIM FROM THE PREMISES after an anonymous letter outed him for attending the Episcopalian church in the neighborhood.

    Booga booga.

    I don’t remember the church being like this when I was a kid. Then again, when I was a kid we had evil bitter nuns who tormented both children and adults. (Not all the nuns were evil and bitter, but the ones who were, boy howdy.) I don’t know when it devolved into a fucking gossip fest for lonely people with major neuroses or when the parish priest monsignor decided that jesus was offended by his backbone so he should cut it off, but, yipes.

  20. 20
    Dave says:

    p.s. clintonville is an extremely liberal neighborhood. this catholic school does not understand where it lives

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: No, they would have fired her. Now if a priest had been involved in a relationship with an underage student, he would have been transferred to another school. Women do not rate the same treatment.

  22. 22
    Petorado says:

    The more strictly any religion structures itself around capricious rules policed and adjudicated by people, the less anyone can believe that this has anything to do with the mystical, the soul, and what lies beyond this life. Who wants to participate in a club where a group of guys get to enforce rules that they alone are allowed to interpret and mete out punishment as only they see fit.

  23. 23
    Cacti says:

    And this is why I would never send my kids to a religious private school. At their core, most of them are about sheltering the faithful from the “evils” of secular society.

    Fuck that.

  24. 24
    mellowjohn says:

    @greennotGreen
    NOTHING BUT NET!!!!

  25. 25
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @balconesfault: That’s the thing. In patriarchal cultures two women together isn’t seen as “real” sex or a “real” relationship so lesbians can often hide in the open as long as their circumstances sufficiently shield them from marriage (with a man).

    There’s a lot of violence against lesbians and other non-gender conforming women in the US Northeast and I don’t want to trivialize it, but it seems like gay men do bear the brunt of the social shunning, gay bashing. (Transgendered people, of course, are the most likely to become victims of violence.)

  26. 26
    maya says:

    I suppose she can’t be buried in their churchyard either.

  27. 27
    rikyrah says:

    this is just evil

  28. 28
    xjmueller says:

    As a believer in a red sauce FSM, I object to you characterization of FSM’s buttery nature. Heresy! Schism! Its “filioque” all over again.

  29. 29
    JPL says:

    @balconesfault: They were either old maids, or had a closet big enough for two.

  30. 30
    Violet says:

    @Another Halocene Human: It can be broken down to:
    Two women having sex = hot
    Two men having sex = disgusting.

    That’s why lesbians get more of a pass in society.

  31. 31
    NonyNony says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    Agreed. Maybe I’m the asshole here, but I don’t see the problem with the diocese’s actions. They have rules. She chose to flout them. That the rules are hideous, backwards and barbaric is not really the issue; the church has the right to have those kinds of rules.

    You’re right – you are the asshole here.

    There’s a huge problem with the diocese’s actions – they are wrong. If you don’t see that the diocese is wrong here then you’re just a giant flaming asshole like the Bishop of Columbus. (As it stands, you’re just a minor asshole who doesn’t actually believe what they’re writing, but is doing it to make a rhetorical point. So an asshole, but one without hemorrhoids. Unlike Bishop Campbell of the Columbus diocese, who is a giant asshole infected with a flaming ugly hemorrhoid.)

    This, by the way, has a whole lotta kids and parents here in Columbus “suddenly” realizing that the Church hates gay people WAY MORE than they ever thought it did.

  32. 32
    Amir Khalid says:

    @kindness:
    The problem, I suspect, lies in the kind of people who gravitate towards a career running parochial schools. Your Pastafarian schools would end up firing teachers who refuse to wear a colander hat, or who are secretly sceptical of beer volcanoes in Heaven. Ramen.

  33. 33
    EconWatcher says:

    We’re not that thrilled about our local public school, and we have been considering the local Catholic school because it’s academically good and affordable, but this kind of thing definitely pushes me back. I don’t want anyone teaching my kids to hate. (I’m an agnostic product of Catholic schools myself, and I was kinda wondering what I’d say to them about the things they’d come home with from religious ed, but I have to say I think I received an excellent education.)

    Is anyone here a non-believer with kids in Catholic school?

  34. 34
    Gex says:

    Frankly, I find nothing here to be upset about other than the general position Catholicism has on the gays.

    We have been accused for so long of wanting to FORCE people to do whatever, that I am not inclined to fight for the employment rights of a gay person in a sectarian institution. I’m just not.

    I’m also not a big fan of making a big deal out of this because it feeds into their Goddamn persecution complex. We all know what their position is. If you get caught, you’re out. This is not the Army or Target Corp. This is the Catholic Church.

    Frankly, why prop up that institution anyhow? The more we work with them while they continue to hang on to their anti-gay positions, the longer it will take them to have to really reexamine their positions. They need to lose something. We can’t argue them out of it.

    The only thing I would change about this is to stop any public funding. If they want to have Church laws, they can use Chruch money to pay for them.

    I’m really sorry for her. What a horrible thing to do to a person at what is easily one of the worst points in her life. But really, who expects anything else of the Church at this point?

    @Violet: Homophobia is just a special case of misogyny. The reason dudes are the bad kind of gay is because a man is lowering himself to the position of woman by taking a dick. It is why lesbians aren’t a problem.

    Likewise, society will get over homophobia before it gets over misogyny if you ask me. It’s the Glenn Greenwalds and Andrew Sullivans of the world that lead me to believe that when I realized they can both be summarized as gays who have discovered that being a white male can trump just about anything else.

  35. 35
    jrg says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: I see your point. It kind of reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

    Yes, it’s completely fucked up. No, it’s not surprising at all.

  36. 36
    danimal says:

    It wasn’t that long ago that persons in a gay relationship in public schools would routinely be fired (and there are probably some holdover cities and states where it could still happen), so the fact this is causing controversy in a Roman Catholic school is a progress marker of sorts.

  37. 37
    maya says:

    @xjmueller: I shall tape my 95 page white sauce with clams recipe on your crock pot lid.

  38. 38
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Seanly: Ya, sounds like those so-called Catholics were parroting Protestant values. Oh wait, the bishops decided to start attacking single parents about 15 years ago in their crusade against the gays (bitter, much?), with brochures with a crying child on the cover, “Little Joseph deserves to have a mother and a father.”

    How quickly we forget. It used to be American Calvinists who were suspicious of widowed parents who didn’t quickly remarry and Catholics who all but considered remarriage a sin even if one of the parties was dead, and divorce or separation, let the rage begin. My grandmother was a single parent after her husband died when the kids were little. She was in the altar society and nobody looked askance.

    I’m sure there were unmarried aunts and uncles who took in children when the parents died, oh like POTUS #15. Wouldn’t that be a good prank to punk the teachers with at Catholic school. Irish people turn a nice shade of tomato red when they get angry. Pix!

    So much for the unchanging church! I wonder when they’re going to catch on that we can see right through that BS.

  39. 39
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Gex: I believe they are entitled to require the people who voluntarily join their church and participate in its hierarchy to adhere to their Medieval standards, but if they hire non-Catholics to run a tax exempt institution, they shouldn’t be allowed to have bigoted hiring practices. In some towns, if you’re a medical professional, Catholic-run hospitals are the only game in town. Would it be okay for them to refuse to hire gay docs and nurses, etc.? I don’t think so.

  40. 40
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Gex: Anonymous accusations? Smacks of The Children’s Hour.

  41. 41
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Betty Cracker: Well, the Supreme Court let a Lutheran school fire a teacher over some FMLA stuff because she was a religion teacher, which they claimed fell under “ministerial exemption” so it didn’t matter what kind of disability she had or that she was a classroom teacher who should be covered by US labor laws, boom, fired. Oh, and I believe she taught other classes.

  42. 42
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    What can you expect from a church that canonized its most rigorous misogynists? The Catholic leadership that continues these policies should be cannonized.

  43. 43
    Cassidy says:

    @Violet: Only if they’re considered attractive.

  44. 44
    NotMax says:

    Am old enough to remember why the local Catholic school’s day began a half-hour earlier than did the public school.

    It was so the nuns and the kids could gather daily at the windows and shout “Christ killer!” or even “Commie!” at various Jewish kids walking past (using the only feasible route) to get to the public school.

    This was in the NYC suburbs in the 50s and early 60s.

    One thing which Vatican II put an end to, at least.

  45. 45
    Cassidy says:

    The only option is to get rid of Christianity. It has singly been the most toxic excuse for people to do fucked up shit to one another throughout history. The sooner that fear driven mythology dies, the better.

  46. 46
    sparrow says:

    @EconWatcher: I am also an agnostic product of Catholic school. I was agnostic by 12, and I really, really resented the “wasting” of time I spent in Religion class (where I got a C, for basically refusing to participate). Aside from that, however, I did get a much better education than any of the local shitty Oklahoma public schools. My parents were not educated enough to make up for any lack by sending us to the public school, but they did cough up the dough for the Catholic school, which I think had a direct impact on my later getting into a top school, going to graduate school, etc. So I am equally mixed on whether I would send my kid to a “meh” public school or the Catholic one. One difference is that I have the education to perhaps make up for the “meh”.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Cannonized or Howitzerized. Take your pick.

    I’m thinking 8 inch would be good.

  48. 48
    Chris says:

    @Petorado:

    The more strictly any religion structures itself around capricious rules policed and adjudicated by people, the less anyone can believe that this has anything to do with the mystical, the soul, and what lies beyond this life. Who wants to participate in a club where a group of guys get to enforce rules that they alone are allowed to interpret and mete out punishment as only they see fit.

    I agree. I also think this is why Catholic societies tend to spawn such hardcore anticlerical backlash (the French Revolution and communist parties later on). Too much regimentation and regulation, not enough room for dissent.

    To people who were asking yesterday about the depth of the homophobic backlash against gay marriage in France, IMHO at least part of it is the heritage of a Catholic society, and the polarization – “either obey us or you’re a heretic” – that resulted. The heretics may have won the war (after over a century of culture wars), but that’s not to say that the True Believers aren’t still around, and occasionally they flip a shit and remind everyone that they exist.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cassidy:

    Jesus is not the problem. Some of his disciples (starting with that shitstain Paul) definitely are.

  50. 50
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Violet: Two women = hot is something that came up in our current historical cycle in the 1990s. Before then, it was “0 + 0 = 0”. No, seriously, go ahead and read Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* *But Were Afraid To Ask.

    We’re in the process of moving away from a severer form of patriarchy. That’s why some people in society have come to a realization that two women can have sex without a man present (btw, are you familiar with mainstream “lesbian” porn? it’s made for men, eventually Penis The Great and Wonderful makes an appearance. the reason it exists is that some men are turned off by seeing a man other than themselves in the frame, although the majority of men are turned on by seeing an erect penis something something reproductive competition totally not homophilic behavior).

    If the average straight person really thought two women having sex was hot, then why would they ask lesbians questions like “Who’s the man in the relationship?” “Don’t you miss dick?” “Aren’t you afraid she’s going to leave you for a man?” blah blah blah

    Even slash fiction has this bias. The male protagonists are happily heterosexual (ie, attracted to women) until they meet The Magic Penis then they become ferociously motivated to engage in homosexual sex (this protagonist is never “gay” because that would be femmey or something). It’s like a giant cry from the author that they are suffering the psychic wounds of being a woman in a society that degrades and devalues womanhood and they desperately need therapy. It’s just bizarre and insulting to this gay person.

    It’s coded into the assumption that bi men are really gay and bi women are really straight. The Lure of the Magic Penis.

    I have an MTF friend who is kinda like obsessed with vulvas. She has always been the outsider. Like, being actually attracted to women doesn’t fit the proscribed enactment of masculinity to affiliate yourself appropriately with the male tribe in our society. I think she’s happier giving up trying to be a man in our society because she was never a man “the right way” whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.

  51. 51
    John D. says:

    @Cassidy: Oh, for fuck’s sake. Dial the rhetoric back from 11.

    Look, amazingly appalling things have been done in the name of $DEITY since the beginning of human history. Amazingly wonderful things too.

    How about we stop people from behaving badly in the name of $DEITY and keep the good bits?

  52. 52
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    Maybe I’m the asshole here

    No maybe about it. Substitute “African-American” for gay and then realize what an asshole you’ve been. Then say three Hail Marys. Or better yet, don’t.

  53. 53
    jrg says:

    @Cassidy: People will always make up their mind first, then find a way to justify it. Does religion enable the justification of truly egregious crap? Absolutely. Would getting rid of all religion stop that behavior? No. Maybe it would be mitigated to some degree, but that’s really pie in the sky (so to speak). People would invent religion if it didn’t exist.

  54. 54
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Okay, I’m reposting because I forgot this is BJ and we can’t mention peen for being moderated because of ph rM Souder cles.

    Shorter me: @Violet: Two women = hot is something that came up in our current historical cycle in the 1990s. Before then, it was “0 + 0 = 0″. No, seriously, go ahead and read Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* *But Were Afraid To Ask.

  55. 55
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @jrg: People would invent religion if it didn’t exist.

    Here’s your Tautology Hat. Wear it with pride.

  56. 56
    scav says:

    @Chris: I’m also wondering if there isn’t a little right-wing + economic hard-times generalized want to riot in there fueling things, esp on the more violent end. Economic hard times do tend to up violence, esp against ‘others’ broadly and capriciously defined. Some looked more skinhead than true believer.

  57. 57
    danimal says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Ironically, Paul was, more or less, a liberal for his times.

    That doesn’t necessarily refute your point about the failing of Jesus’ disciples, but it is interesting to see the evolution in theology and society over time.

  58. 58
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @John D.: That’s a really good question and is hardly going to be settled in blog comments.

    I don’t think we’ll ever find out, though, if religion continues to be a protected topic shielded from inquiry and criticism.

    Basically, it’s going to have be examined in all its facets to see if there’s something salvageable that can be replicated without the superstition, lying, child beating, subversion of justice, holy wars, family destruction, and other bullshit we’ve come to associate with organized religion in the West.

  59. 59
    jrg says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Whatever. There are multiple examples of religions arising independently (both in geography and in time), so it seems to me the statement “People would invent religion if it didn’t exist” is not tautological at all.

  60. 60
    RaflW says:

    a single parent is now such a terrible thing that someone can’t open their heart to a child in need without being castigated?

    Well, we canot have a woman show in actual fact that she can support and raise a child sans a daddy. Ohhh, no, that would just ruin the patriarchy, probably by next Tuesday.

  61. 61
    Cassidy says:

    @John D.: That’s the point, there are no good bits. When the premise of your life is rooted in begging for something in quiet contemplation of your death cult mythology that stole all its mythology from older religions, then you might want to “dial it back” as you say and ask yourself “why do I believe this blantanly dumb shit”. I’m not speaking to you directly. I’m a dick, but even calling someone “christian” is too much of an insult for me.

    @jrg: Sure, but religion, especially Christianity, has been the fast track to dumb and bigoted for a long time. It’s a toxic brain stew and needs to be done away with. Will it mitigate our dumbasses? Not all of them, but enough of them are simple minded to the point that being religious allows them to function without thought. Personally, I have no moral qualms telling them how to think and live their lives. If they’re going to be “empty vessels” let’s fill it with something positive instead of dogmatic garbage.

    @Villago Delenda Est: Jesus was cool. His followers, not so much.

  62. 62
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @danimal: Are you fricking serious? Hadrian (Adrianus) was a liberal for his times. Of course, he invaded Jerusalem and carried the population back to Rome in chains, but we are talking about the 1st century AD. The Persians didn’t approve, but sadly they didn’t get to write the history books.

    Paul thought marriage was a sinful lustfest, the Emperor was a filthy f*****, and the Vestal Virgins were whores for talking during religious services (leading them, even!!). So if you think the Pagan Romans did some pretty questionable things, you’ll love the Christian era. Like rival bishops bumping each other off, or a mob of monks killing and flaying a respected (female!!) professor in Alexandria basically for being an atheist or setting fire to the library at Alexandria, probably because of its collection of antique religious texts.

    I think we can all agree that finding and deleting every possible collection of Sappho’s poetry was a just and enlightened liberal move. Christian women might have suffered under Christ’s yoke if they’d have known that a woman was exalted for her talents above a man during the preChristian era.

    The art of the 14th century is a wonderful expression of the power of the human spirit in spite of.

  63. 63
    RaflW says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    if they hire non-Catholics to run [or work in] a tax exempt institution, they shouldn’t be allowed to have bigoted hiring practices.

    Exactly. If the Catholic Church wants to be a closed society of super-heteros only, fine by me. But their schools and hospitals shouldn’t get preferential tax treatment, Medicare funds, school vouchers, or any publicly financed assistance at all.

    Conservatives say they want government hands out of private religion. O.K. by me. But put your greasy palms in your pockets.

  64. 64
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @jrg: Oh. wow. People would have invented religion if it didn’t exist.

    Do you seriously believe religion has a non-human origin?

    Please explain.

  65. 65
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Earth: Final Conflict was a documentary!

  66. 66
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @RaflW: The RCC is obviously looking to replicate the European model in the US. I think we should proclaim loudly and longly that this is the European model.

    Their institutions are failing as the donors they relied upon pull out in disgust (that is not a double entendre, okay!) so now they want taxpayer support for their schools and other institutions.

    The protestant evangelical fundamentalist movement is attempting to accomplish the same thing with vouchers, charter schools, and widening the kind of shouldn’t-be-tax-exempt activities they try to hide under the umbrella of tax exemption and no audits.

    I think Americans ought to be very, very concerned about the rise of a European-style system where churches are taxpayer supported.

  67. 67
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Cassidy: True. Jesus says, “stop judging, mang. not like you never did anything”. Then Paul gives us lists of people to hate. Nice.

  68. 68
    jrg says:

    @Another Halocene Human: No, I’m saying it fills some sort of basic desire some people have for comfort and explanation, no matter how misguided.

    If you dropped a bunch of people with no religion on a desert island, some of their ancestors would start worshiping coconuts or guinea hens or something.

  69. 69
    muddy says:

    @Violet: IOKIYAP (it’s okay if you are a priest).

    @Violet:

    Two women having sex = hot…Two men having sex = disgusting.

    I know a wingnut guy who holds this opinion. I said rights were not based on giving someone else the ick. Plenty of people would get the ick from his owning dozens of guns, what if they went with that? OMG My Rights!!

    @Villago Delenda Est: So true, it’s almost always the case that if something in the new testament is mean, it’s Paul who wrote it. Well…honestly I don’t like the prodigal son story either, that’s just not fair. There was similar in my family and may cause this to be a sore subject though. :)

  70. 70
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @scav: France has also developed a coddled hard right which has been sharpening their fangs on France’s growing Muslim population. France had civil unions but actually calling in marriage was grave insult time. Because the French government took an authoritarian line on headscarves and other markers of religious participation, supposedly in the spirit of anticlericalism, the Christianist nativist asshats started to think big about themselves.

    At least that’s what it looks like from this side of the pond.

    Lot more homelessness in France than what I remember, also. Thanks, Sarkozy.

  71. 71
    scav says:

    Thing is, there seem to be one set of rules for those in the clergy (demonstrably lax, by official action, demonstrated over decades); another set of rules, variably and laxly enforced (for the believing laity) and a third set of rigorous stone-the-witch! intensity for the non-believers — pushed by PR and Lobbying both publicly and to the government.

  72. 72
    sparrow says:

    @muddy: I always thought the prodigal son story was about having one’s priorities straight. Like, finding out your child is alive kind of trumps being pissed that they took off and did some dumb stuff you don’t approve of. God is not supposed to be up in heaven putting beans on a scale for every sin and expecting some kind of equal payment. Rather, he wants you to knock it off and repent, turn to good works, etc, and that is what matters in the end. This is my understanding of the story, not a theological position (I’m not religious).

  73. 73
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @sparrow: My mother also had a good experience in Catholic school in OK. The schools there are so damned bad it’s not hard to do better. The school was run by the Ursulines*, who don’t believe in corporal punishment, which definitely put them ahead of OK’s public schools. They actually ended up taking in kids who were expelled by the public school. That is quite unusual for a public school.

    Of course, it wasn’t such a great education that my mother didn’t flunk out of college, finding her ass kicked repeatedly by graduates of actually good public school systems. Best of a bad lot.

    *-teaching order founded by an Italian-American immigrant

    On the polar opposite scale, lots of adults told me about how they and their classmates were tortured and abused in Catholic schools in New England run by the French nuns. Kids hung out of windows, kids’ hands scalded, beatings, verbal abuse, etc. Corporal punishment is illegal in the public schools there.

  74. 74
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @jrg: I guess we’re talking past each other. I thought you had said something thunderingly obvious, but in a way that’s phrased as if it’s surprising. OF COURSE humans invented religion. We’re inventing and reinventing it all the time. DUH!!!!

    If some people don’t “get” that, they haven’t been paying attention.

  75. 75
    scav says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Sarko, phlabst-hack. Ranted a bit during that election, luckily in a Sego region. When I was there (earlier), the hardest line taken was against internal CE migrants, the Portuguese especially in my neck of the bois. Later, the Muslim stuff ramped up, with nearby areas voting Le Pen and meaning it. So that may be why I’m more likely to look for triggers to a generalized anti-foreign/other upswell, rather than assuming its all Catholic inspired.

  76. 76
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: And John Calvin who really fucked up Christianity(Protestant Divison)

  77. 77
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @scav: It’s amazing how poor migrants are universally lazy, sexually deviant, ungrateful, defiant to authority, uncutting wages, living on welfare, undocumented, outbreeding us, raping our women, prostituting themselves, won’t learn our language, bragging about getting over on us, living in squalor, running up the price of property, taking over the neighborhood, bringing the neighborhood down, worship an undemocratic God, voting illegally, spreading subversive ideas, refusing to participate in our civic life, smell funny AND JESUS AGREES WITH ME.

  78. 78
    sparrow says:

    @Another Halocene Human: The three schools I attended were pretty tame as far as religious indoctrination and harsh treatment (none) went. I’d say they provided what you would expect from a good public school, but with stricter uniforms, a prayer at the beginning of the day, and a religion class (which was mostly about teaching useful, if boring, life lessons, and not so much installing bigotry or anything of that sort). My biology class definitely taught evolution without so much as a word about religion. The top students in our school went on to top 20 colleges and did well. I think it was big news if the local public school sent someone out of state.

    Interestingly, they also took kids that had been kicked out of local public schools. They did not do well, and were incredibly disruptive (socially, they were nasty pieces of work).

  79. 79
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: Serious question: can we really blame Calvin alone for Calvinism? Wasn’t the whole notion of the saved and the damned kind of bigger than just one guy? I thought the counter-Reformation Catholics had a similar idea (Jansenism?)?

    Sure, you have this highly codified academic Calvinism that’s out doing public debates and employing the Gish Gallop but a lot of the apologetics themselves aren’t that divorced from Jesuit arguments and the tactics seem more like homegrown American showmanship, see Barnum, P.T.

  80. 80
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @sparrow: It may be the difference between parents who care about their kids education in an environment that is anti-intellectual, so the private school reflects the parents, vs in a very liberal, intellectual area (the Alcotts! etcet) the most right wing knee-jerk parents sending their kids to the strict catholic school and looking the other way to the way the kids were being treated in there, letting the petty sadists run wild.

    Hmm, I think the movie “Maedchen in Uniform” settled on this theme….

  81. 81
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Another Halocene Human:
    Jansenism was a heresy condemned by the Church, IIRC.

  82. 82
    scav says:

    @Another Halocene Human: That last bit is what I rarely heard in France, even from the (admittedly single) Boubon! partisan I know. ‘merca really is closer to its 3rd world neighbors on the religiousity scale. Its just my impression, based on what I saw while living there on and of since the 80s.

  83. 83
    ottercliff says:

    A shame that the “reporter” of this crime chose to remain anonymous. He/she might have been eligible for a complimentary foot washing by the Pontiff.

  84. 84
    NonyNony says:

    @jrg:

    If you dropped a bunch of people with no religion on a desert island, some of their ancestors would start worshiping coconuts or guinea hens or something.

    I’m gonna assume that you meant descendants where you wrote ancestors here.

    But damn if that didn’t give me a chuckle. Drop me off on a desert island and suddenly my grandmother is petitioning a coconut for intercession instead of the Virgin Mary.

  85. 85

    I’m sure that the fact I object just proves I’m an anti-Catholic bigot.

    No, it shows that you have a soul and basic human empathy.

    You know, like Jesus, who probably would be kicked out of a lot of churches these days for hanging out with ‘sinners’ and ‘tax collectors’.

  86. 86
    West of the Rockies says:

    @balconesfault: I had the same experience in So Cal. Our second-grade teacher and her “cousin” lived together. The cousin was in the classroom much of the day as an assistant. So, I don’t know what the broader point is here in relation to the story itself, other than that same-sex relationships have always existed and some people (Catholic and otherwise) react either with something like grace or bigotry to such relationships.

  87. 87
    Cassidy says:

    @jrg:

    If you dropped a bunch of people with no religion on a desert island, some of their ancestors would start worshiping coconuts or guinea hens or something.

    That’s crap. You drop someone on an island these days, they eat rice and mug for the camera.

    Seriously, I disagree with that sentiment. The sole purpose of religion has been to explain the unexplainable.

    “Why does that bright light come from the sky, Daddy?”

    “Uh well…uh, well, uh….there’s these beings on top of this big mountain, even bigger than that one, and the leader is mad, and he has, uh,…these bolts of light as weapons and is throwing them on the ground?”

    “But why us Daddy? Why so close?”

    “Uh, shut up and eat your peas son. If you eat your peas, he’ll stop. And clean your room. And stop questioning me. He doesn’t like it when you question your parents who know everything.”

    That’s the crux of it, right there.

  88. 88
    Petorado says:

    @jrg:

    That’s a spot-on assessment of the need for religion. If you look at the progression of religions, in societies where people have less control over the world around them, worship is directed toward natural forces and other creatures. The more control people have over their physical world, the more their gods take a human form. In short, there seems to be a basic desire to appease whatever forces we feel have power to determine our outcomes and destinies.

  89. 89
    West of the Rockies says:

    @EconWatcher: Well, I was a Catholic-school student who began to disbelieve in about fifth grade. The idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful god who made humans and then got pissed off when they turned out the way they did (just as he knew they would!) struck me as really, really weird.

    However, I did get a very good education. I was a ‘C’ student at best. However, when I transferred to public school in 7th grade, overnight I shot up to the top of the class. My assumption is that by my former school’s standards, I was average at best. But compared to my new classmates, I was pretty strong, academically speaking. (Then again, perhaps my classmates from public school had come from a couple of particularly poor schools. Perhaps I should hesitate to read too much into my experience.)

  90. 90
    muddy says:

    @sparrow: I’m all for welcoming him home. It was my understanding that the one kid took his share and spent it partying. Other kid stays home, works the farm, takes care of the aged Ps, has to take their bullshit for years. Fun boy pops in and now the 2 are equal? I understand the forgiveness part. But where is the consequence? It’s not like the religion doesn’t mention consequence constantly.

    And it’s not like the party son has a “come to Jesus” moment and then goes home, he’s just out of money and decides to go back with his hand out. He says even the servants have it good there.

    And the moral of the story is that a repentant sinner is always better than someone who has been good the whole time. Makes you feel like you ought to get a heaping helping of sinning in, so they’ll appreciate you. wtf

  91. 91
    Cassidy says:

    @muddy: No, the moral of the story is that regardless of your past or your selfishness or your sin, your father (God) will welcome you back without reservation.

  92. 92
    Chris says:

    @Cassidy:

    No, the moral of the story is that regardless of your past or your selfishness or your sin, your father (God) will welcome you back without reservation.

    Yeah, this. I actually like that story because it flies in the face of the Scarlet Letter type assholes who think if you’ve sinned or made mistakes they should get to hold it over you for the rest of your life. (And these people, for whatever reason, seem to flock to organized religion like flies on shit).

  93. 93
    jrg says:

    @NonyNony: Yes, I meant descendants. Thanks.

  94. 94
    Patrick says:

    @balconesfault:

    That someone who dug through the obit, found that item, and appalled … forwarded it to the Diocese … is considered a better Catholic than that woman … tells you quite a bit about the Church.

    What was it Gandhi once said? “I like your Christ but I don’t like your Christians”

    In this example, I just find it mind-boggling the behavior of the cowardly letter writer as well as the administrators. I take it they haven’t read the bible much.

    “Love thy neighbor”, “those without sin…”

    And these are the people that are paranoid of Sharia law! But what about their own behavior…

  95. 95
    gelfling545 says:

    @EconWatcher: My granddaughter (who has 2 atheistic or, at best, tentatively agnostic parents is in a Catholic school for kindergarten. There have been a few mild upsets but nothing major so far & they did enjoy the Christmas pageant. It is for the same reason. The school falls between the private schools that they cannot afford & the public schools which have 41 kids in each kindergarten class. It helps that they are from from the first or only family in that situation in the school (although most are just other religions, not unbelievers)& that I have extensive knowledge of the RC church & can help them explain things (or calm them down when she is given a holy card as a reward, for example)& my daughter was raised in the ELCA Lutheran church which is liturgically not too different, though miles away on social issues.

  96. 96
    gelfling545 says:

    @muddy: I think the moral is like the thing I keep seeing posted in various places: “Don’t hate me because I sin differently from you.” The “good” son was not without sin (envy, uncharitableness) yet the father tells him, everything I have is yours. He forgives both sons.

    As I keep asking the (few) people I know who feel free to disparage those not leading a “Christian” life, how do you know God isn’t testing your charity.

  97. 97

    […] The obituary for the mother of a (Methodist) female gym teacher at a Catholic high school in Ohio mentions said gym teacher’s female partner.  Gym teacher is promptly fired.  Maybe Cardinal Dolan should get Bishop Campbell on the horn and explain to him that Catholics are supposed to “try our darndest to make sure we’re not anti-anybody.” (HT Balloon Juice) […]

  98. 98
    MattR says:

    @Cassidy:

    The sole purpose of religion has been to explain the unexplainable.

    I think you ignored the biggest unexplained question that religion tries to answer. It is one we still can’t answer with science. And that is – what happens when we die?

  99. 99
    rb says:

    @muddy: Fun boy pops in and now the 2 are equal?

    They’re not ‘equal,’ really. The father says to the son who stayed: ‘all that I have is yours,’ but that they should rejoice because the other son ‘was lost, and is found.’

    The ‘consequence’ of the prodical son spending his inheritance is that his inheritance is gone, not the loss of love of his family.

    Rather a nice story, actually, as far as the bible goes. /ex-catholic

  100. 100
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    @Cassidy: True. Jesus says, “stop judging, mang. not like you never did anything”. Then Paul gives us lists of people to hate. Nice.

    …and then St. John the Divine (or his ghost-writer) ends the New Testament by showing us how creative you can get if you eat too much ergot.

  101. 101
    Sad_Dem says:

    @balconesfault: “Back in the 60’s/70’s, we had two long-time female teaches at our Catholic school in SA … Miss Freudenberg, and Miss Becker … who were not only single but lived together. They taught 2nd and 3rd grade for decades. I never remember anyone saying a thing.”

    So long as everyone could pretend they were just friends, it was more or less OK.

  102. 102
    Amir Khalid says:

    @NonyNony:
    @jrg:
    Surprisingly common error. In my first-printing Bloomsbury paperback copy of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore calls Voldemort “the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slytherin”. (The error, which I presume is also in the hardcover edition, has since been corrected to “the last remaining descendant …”.)

  103. 103
    scav says:

    Random urgent need to shout Go Rhode Island! on most topical dead thread

  104. 104
    PurpleGirl says:

    @RaflW: The government does not give Catholic hospitals/doctors Medicare funds. Private people pay THEIR medical bills to Catholic hospitals/doctors with THEIR Medicare benefits. We cannot restrict who can pay what bill with Medicare benefits.

  105. 105
    Peter says:

    @Cassidy: If you think that there’s nothing leg that’s unexplainable you are very badly mistaken.

  106. 106
    S. Holland says:

    @balconesfault: Brilliant!

  107. 107
    DFH no.6 says:

    @Cassidy:

    The sole purpose of religion has been to explain the unexplainable.

    “Sole purpose of religion”?

    If you had said “main purpose” instead you’d have had a better point, but I think even that’s too much.

    In my view “explain – supposedly, anyway – the unexplainable” or something like that is, in fact, hugely important to the reason religions exist and how they function.

    But more important, I’d say, is another aspect of religion – controlling human behavior (which you get at, of course, with your “eat your peas” deal).

    Religions have their intellectual beginnings in the multifarious “truth claims” (explanations) about all sorts of things, starting, I suppose, with “how did we, and everything else, get here?” and moving on to every type of phenomena (including “what happens to us when we’re not here anymore?”).

    But these truth claims alone – though necessary – are not sufficient for an actual religion that people follow.

    Rules for behavior based (allegedly) on the truth claims must be created, interpreted, and – most important of all – enforced by special cadres of people (from shamans to priests to gurus to imams and everyone else like that in between).

    It’s this control of other people’s lives based on whatever the “special cadres” say their truth-claims require that is the most important function (purpose) of religion, IMAO.

  108. 108
    Darkrose says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Even slash fiction has this bias. The male protagonists are happily heterosexual (ie, attracted to women) until they meet The Magic Penis then they become ferociously motivated to engage in homosexual sex (this protagonist is never “gay” because that would be femmey or something). It’s like a giant cry from the author that they are suffering the psychic wounds of being a woman in a society that degrades and devalues womanhood and they desperately need therapy. It’s just bizarre and insulting to this gay person.

    Wow, I haven’t run into that generalization in years! I’ll be sure to let my wife know that we need therapy–probably extra therapy, since we’re a couple of lesbians who met when we started writing m/m slash together ten years ago.

    Pro tip: if you’re going to psychoanalyze people you never met, at least stay current. These days, the latent misogyny all slashers have is manifested in bashing of the female characters getting in the way of the One True Gay White Male Pairing.

    Oh, and to make sure you don’t leave anything out, I’m a black woman who typically writes white guys in hardcore BDSM relationships. Though since I more often than not write the sub, does that mean I’m a self-loathing black woman, or that I hate white men and want to see them humiliated?

  109. 109
    Darkrose says:

    Huh. Wonder what I said that tripped the mod filter? BDSM?

  110. 110
    Darkrose says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Even slash fiction has this bias. The male protagonists are happily heterosexual (ie, attracted to women) until they meet The Magic P33n then they become ferociously motivated to engage in homosexual sex (this protagonist is never “gay” because that would be femmey or something). It’s like a giant cry from the author that they are suffering the psychic wounds of being a woman in a society that degrades and devalues womanhood and they desperately need therapy. It’s just bizarre and insulting to this gay person.

    Wow, I haven’t run into that generalization in years! I’ll be sure to let my wife know that we need therapy–probably extra therapy, since we’re a couple of lesbians who met when we started writing m/m slash together ten years ago.

    Pro tip: if you’re going to psychoanalyze people you never met, at least stay current. These days, the latent misogyny all slashers have is manifested in bashing of the female characters getting in the way of the One True Gay White Male Pairing. And yes, that is a problem, but it’s hardly universal, and a fic writer who does that is likely to get called out on it pretty quickly.

    Oh, and to make sure you don’t leave anything out, I’m a black woman who typically writes white guys in hardcore BDSM relationships. Though since I more often than not write the sub, does that mean I’m a self-loathing black woman, or that I hate white men and want to see them humiliated?

  111. 111
    DFH no.6 says:

    @Peter:
    I don’t get “nothing left to explain” from what Cassidy’s written at all.

    Of course there’s tons we haven’t “explained” – probably the vast majority of whatever “reality” actually is.

    I do think we’ve got a lot fairly well explained (though likely nothing perfectly explained) otherwise modern technology would not have been created by us.

    But there is most certainly a “god of the gaps” phenomenon occurring in modern times, wherein previous supernatural (i.e., religious) explanations for all sorts of things are found to no longer hold water due to much better natural (i.e., scientific) explanations, and thus the religious explanations lose their places as truth claims (or ought to anyway; see: creationism and evolution). Religion’s territory – for “explanations”, anyway – gets smaller and smaller.

    Personally, I don’t think any of the special truth claims by any religion have any connection to reality, except maybe accidentally.

    Then again I may come back as a slug in my next life due to bad karma, and perhaps it truly is turtles all the way down.

    None of us will ever really know for sure (well, except Mormons. The correct answer would have been “Mormon”).

  112. 112
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @rb: There’s also Jesus’s point, reinforced several times, of what it means for God to be infinite. It is possible for “all the father has” to belong to the older son AND for the younger son to be restored to his inheritance, because the father’s wealth is not finite. Same message is in the parable of the vineyard, where it seems equally bizarre and unfair to competition-obsessed chimps like us.

  113. 113
    Cassidy says:

    @MattR: You decompose. Science covers that one right out the gate.

    @Peter: Nothing I need a pretend sky daddy to explain.

    @DFH no.6: I think that religion(s) has been created with the express purpose of giving meaning to things people don’t understand. That it was quickly used to subjugate other people is human nature.

  114. 114
    MattR says:

    @Cassidy: While that may settle things for you and me, there is a sizeable group of people who are not satisfied with that answer.

  115. 115
    Cassidy says:

    @MattR: that’s fine and dandy but I’m not going to cater to their superstition just because of their fee fees. Fuck’em.

  116. 116
    Original Lee says:

    @Lurking Canadian: Recently I read “The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants,” by Kenneth E. Bailey. This conversation just reminded me of one of Bailey’s points:

    “The parable exhibits two types of sin. One is the sin of the law-breaker and the other the sin of the law-keeper. Each centers on a broken relationship. One breaks that relationship while failing to fulfill the expectations of the family and society. The second breaks his relationship while fulfilling those same expectations.”

    I found this book a fascinating read, but obviously YMMV.

  117. 117
    MattR says:

    @Cassidy: I am not saying you should. Just explaining why I think jrg is right that “If you dropped a bunch of people with no religion on a desert island, some of their ancestors would start worshiping coconuts or guinea hens or something.”

  118. 118
    Tehanu says:

    @DFH no.6:

    Religions have their intellectual beginnings in the multifarious “truth claims” (explanations) … But these truth claims alone – though necessary – are not sufficient … Rules for behavior based (allegedly) on the truth claims must be created, interpreted, and – most important of all – enforced by special cadres of people

    Not disagreeing with you entirely, but you’ve left out something I think is much more important: providing comfort. There seem to be a lot of people who are perfectly happy with the idea that the universe is totally indifferent and that death equals oblivion and our lives have no meaning. However, there seem to be a lot more people who are not perfectly happy with that. That’s what religion is about.

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