Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bill Donohue warns Pope Ratzi not to visit England

| »
Christians are not persecuted
[click for full size]

Much fuss has been made over the Pope’s planned state visit to Britain this coming September, in part thanks to the efforts of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to see whether a legal case could be built against Pope Ratzi in the hopes of having the child-molester-protecting old kook arrested when he debarks, should he decide to go through with the already controversial visit. As a result, Bill “Jackass” Donohue of the Catholic League thinks it would be best if the Pope canceled his visit, and lists a few “ominous signs” as reasons supposedly showing how going to England would be a bad idea. You probably already have a decent idea what to expect.

First, there are now over 100,000 Brits who have signed "certificates of de-baptism" renouncing their former Christian status.

Ooh, wow, 100,000. That’s a big number, all right. Thing is, though, that when you compare it to the roughly 42 million remaining avowedly Christian Brits (comprising about 70% of England’s population), making the number of those who’ve officially deconverted from the Christian faith through signing “certificates of debaptism” worth less than 0.24% of the total Christian British population, it falls rather spectacularly flat on its face as an argument. It’s safe to say that Christians in Britain aren’t a dying breed.

Second, there are hate-ridden atheists like Richard Dawkins who are paying anti-Catholic lawyers to investigate the possibility of arresting the pope for "crimes against humanity."

Oh, those evil celebrity atheists. So hateful they must be to investigate whether a legal case could be made for arresting Pope Ratzi for deliberately and provably covering up clerical child sex abuse in a 1985-era letter that even the Vatican itself has admitted (grudgingly) is authentic. And the gall of those Catholic-hating lawyers, to want to see justice be carried out. Yes, the world truly hates Catholics. That is, the small percentage of it that molests innocent children.

Third, Catholic bashing by the British media is flourishing.

No more than anywhere else. If anything, whiny apologetics and sanctimonious defenses are “flourishing” as well from what I can tell, so that’s ample compensation.

Fourth, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are in a very tenuous state for Christians.

Okay, nothing to say, here, as this is pretty much complete bullshit in every imaginable way.

However, Donohue does bring up an example – the crux of his piece, in fact – in support of this last, fourth “ominous sign”:

Regarding the latter, just this week a Christian street preacher was arrested in Britain for the crime of spreading the Gospel. To be specific, a 42-year-old Baptist male was arrested by a policewoman when she heard him declare as sinful such matters as blasphemy, drunkenness and gay relations. It was his comment that homosexuality is a sin that got him into hot water—he was thrown in the slammer for breaking a 1986 law that penalizes "abusive" speech.

Before anything else, I’d like to declare that arresting a street preacher for, well, preaching his particular brand of gospel, even if it’s comprised of inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, is unacceptable in a free society that is supposed to espouse free speech. As long as there’re no actual threats or calls to violence being made, anyone can say whatever the hell they want, regardless of how rude, offensive or just plain wrong it may be. Of course, this also means others have the right to mock the crap out of them for their nonsense, so it’s all fair. In theory.

However, the example listed by Donohue is a bad one to use in support of an argument claiming that free speech, and particularly, freedom of religion, is being taken away from Christians, even in a place as protective of pearl-clutchers as Britain. Yes, unfortunate events where bigots are arrested or even prosecuted (as in jailed) for merely speaking their minds, however filthy they may be, do happen. However, this is far from applicable solely to Christians, but to anyone who says anything that might remotely offend others. Just look at the recent case where a man left blasphemous posters around an airport – unwisely, perhaps – and was in turn arrested for “anti-social behavior” and sentenced to six months in jail, along with 100 hours of community service. Archaic British laws are being dredged up to silence and censor anyone who says anything that’s deemed remotely offensive, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Of course, though, Donohue doesn’t believe that. To him, it’s all anti-Catholic persecution – and he’s got the hypothetical to prove it!

Not only that, he was fingerprinted, given a DNA swab and retina scan (perhaps they think he has a twin). Now this modern-day revolutionary must stand trial. Had he been a young Muslim calling for jihad, or an ordinary Brit ripping on Catholics, he'd have been tolerated, if not cheered. And this is no exaggeration.

He’s right, it’s not an exaggeration; it’s just a complete crock of shit, a Persecuted Christian fantasy pulled right out of his false-martyr’s ass. The old “but what about those dirty Moslems?!” gambit is strong with this one.

All in all, though, Donohue’s overall point is correct: Pope Ratzi shouldn’t go to Britain. But not because of the (pathetically minute) risk of being arrested upon arrival or due to (nonexistent) rampant anti-Catholicism, but because such a state visit is a complete and utter waste of time, resources and money best spent in enterprises not devoted to spreading antiquated myths, superstition and retarded bigotry.

(via @RichardDawkins)

[1] According to an April 2001 census, the latest I could find on short notice.