Florida church to burn Qurans on 9/11

Atheists were divided over “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” but I think we should unanimously and unequivocally denounce “International Burn a Quran Day.”

Look, there’s nothing wrong with criticizing the Quran for its violent verses. But it’s the height of hypocrisy for evangelical Christians to be making those criticisms, when they excuse the violence and other Bronze Age barbarities in their own holy book.

More info about this church and its book-burning event here.

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Jon Adams

I have my bachelors in sociology and political science, having recently graduated from Utah State University. I co-founded SHAFT, but have also been active in the College Democrats and the Religious Studies Club. I was born in Utah to a loving LDS family. I left Mormonism in high school after discovering some disconcerting facts about its history. Like many ex-Mormons, I am now an agnostic atheist. I am amenable to being wrong, however. So should you disagree with me about religion (or anything, really), please challenge me. I welcome and enjoy a respectful debate. I love life, and am thankful for those things and people that make life worth loving: my family, my friends, my dogs, German rock, etc. Contact: [email protected]

31 thoughts on “Florida church to burn Qurans on 9/11”

  1. Burning a book you disagree with is not just juvenile, but, in this case, dangerous when paired with the literal daemonisation of an entire competing religion. It is a type of violence against diversity. I wonder if this preacher has read Orwell or Bradbury. It’s curious how fond of authoritarianism and censorship the monotheistic religions are – and amusing how they try to out-crazy each other and become an absurd caricature of exactly that which they oppose: each other.

  2. DERP.

    Seriously, do you even know anything about your own faith, let alone any other? Try reading your own holy book-and all holy books-instead of just spouting ridiculous rhetoric.

    Out of curiosity, do you hate all other religions, or just Islam because it’s convenient?

  3. That is embarrassing. I simply don’t understand what people expect to accomplish by book burning.

    But Craig typically overstates his point. Monotheistic religions are fond of authoritarianism? That is a pretty broad stroke there. Perhaps Craig is unaware that there are compelling reasons to think that democracy and humanism are the offspring of Christianity. That is what Nietzsche, of all people, thinks. And the recent history of authoritarian regimes suggest that it is atheistic political philosophies that tend to be more authoritarian. This is not a surprise, once you dismiss the natural law or a transcendent source of meaning, the State tends to fill the vacuum of moral power and grows as the de facto seat of moral and cultural authority. (See gay marriage debate, where the assumption on the part of gay marriage advocates is that the State can redefine natural institutions by fiat). Atheism doesn’t necessarily love facism, but it easily falls prey to it. Just about every great critic of culture or state I can think of grounded their criticisms in either the natural law or a transcendent moral authority (Martin Luther King Jr. immediately comes to mind here).

    1. And typically, you misunderstand me. I didn’t say all Muslims/Christians/Jews were authoritarian, nor that non-theists can’t be as well. But a great deal of Christians (Catholicism, many Evangelicals, Mormons), Muslims, and Jews (mostly orthodox/Chasidim) are, and most non-theists aren’t, at least not in the developed countries.

      I’m pretty sure the concept of democracy pre-dates all the Christian religions, and wasn’t terribly influenced by Judaism/Hebrew religion.

    2. I am tired and a bit grouchy, I do not mean to over-react. But statements like “it’s curious how fond of authoritarianism and censorship the monotheistic religions are” or “a great deal of Christians” are inclined toward “authoritarianism” are just ridiculous hyperbole. “A great deal” of Christians? Most, some, exactly who? Don’t these seem like pretty irresponsible generalizations, Craig?

      The leaders of the new atheist movement do so much harm insofar as they serve as intellectual role models for atheists. Hitchens and crew are prone to these absurd sweeping generalizations and zealous overconfidence in their own caricature of religion. In hopes that non-celebrity atheists will not act like such horse’s asses, I always encourage them to put down the Kool-Aid and restrain themselves from the over-heated rhetoric of Hitchens Hooligans. It is just very hard to take a person seriously when they launch that kind of hyperbole over your bow.

      I don’t mean to be too harsh. I rather suspect that disaffected Mormons still living in Utah and the shadow of their faith may well have an experience where this rhetoric is not all that exaggerated. I have “counseled” quite a few young Mormons who have just left or are considering leaving their faith, I am aware of how difficult it is. But to generalize to all religions the bad experiences you had with what is an extremely narrow and homogenous religious culture here in Utah is just incredibly narrow-minded. This is why I told Jon to move out of Utah for the year. I told him to grab a dart board and move to wherever it hits. (He did not listen, oh well). Ex-Mormons, I think, seriously handicap their ability to effectively move on from the bad religious experiences by staying here. Hell, I am a religious person and sometimes I feel suffocated by the LDS culture, I can only imagine how it is for someone who has left that faith but has all manner of familial, social, and cultural things tying them down. Point is, I sympathize a bit with some of the “acting out” hyperbole that gets tossed about by ex-Mormons. But it seems to me to be the sort of thing that hopefully one outgrows.

      Most developed countries that you probably have in mind (US, Europe, etc) are Christian or post-Christian cultures. The humanistic democracies and the value for egalitarianism that arose in those places arose out of Christian culture and the Western tradition. This is Nz’s argument, not mine. “The democratic movement is the heir to Christianity.” (Beyond Good and Evil). It is, in Nz’s view a political realization of the same “slave morality” and obsession with equality and freedom that Nz found so contemptible in Christianity. There is actually an increasing amount of scholarship on the role Christianity (both culture but also its core beliefs) played in the development of both humanistic democracies and science.

  4. Their proposal is horrid and foolish.

    I read the article that Jon points to at the bottom of his post. It is interesting that the Pastor got the idea for burning Qurans from the Facebook site “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day”.

    Actions of disrespect often illicit other more extreme actions of disrespect. I propose that intentional disrespect is not useful ever.

    1. Though I don’t think many of the participants of “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” were being intentionally disrespectful. The merits of that event aside, I and others participated it to celebrate free speech contra the threats of Islamic extremists. But that was my concern about the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”–that bigots would use it as license to do things like book-burnings.

    2. “I propose that intentional disrespect is not useful ever.”

      A fine principle, Vince. Intentional disrespect almost invariably incites the person instead of engaging the idea. Instead of criticizing the idea, it is made personal and so the person himself feels under attack. This, as you say, is never fruitful, loving, or kind.

  5. This story has received significant attention on blogs and on newscasts. I’ve seen the pastor grilled a few times now by talking heads (rightfully so, this exercise of his is idiotic). All of the outrage is justifiable.

    But after watching some of this, it got me to thinking: where was all of this outrage when PZ Myers asked for desecrations of the Eucharist, or when he himself desecrated the Eucharist (along with the Qu’ran) and posted online photos of it?

    And yet, even though Myers did pretty much exactly what this kooky preacher here is doing, Myers is read and even cited approvingly by many SHAFTers. Go figure.

    1. Burning a book is hardly making fun of an absurd specific religious belief.

      Here’s why I think it’s different:

      An ultra religious Christian thinks the Quran is RIDICULOUS and EVIL but doesn’t see that the Bible is just as stupid. He’s burning the Quran because he fears and hates another religion and culture. He dehumanises Muslims and exalts Christians. This is wrong and stupid.

      On the other hand, PZ Myers was protesting a silly belief that Catholics have about “holy” crackers. I find it similar to the “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day”, where we ridiculed a stupid (and dangerous) Muslim belief. There’s a difference between criticising beliefs and belief systems, and plain just being racist.

    2. He also defiled the Qu’ran (and also the God Delusion, in order to be even) saying they are “just paper”. While he did not burn it, he destroyed it. Are you splitting hairs because it is one of your own here?

      Here is the difference I wish the buffoon Myers would recognize: there is a difference between criticizing a belief or a belief system and intentionally disrespecting persons who hold those beliefs (see Vince’s admirable principle above: “I propose that intentional disrespect is not useful ever”). Myers is not a racist, but he is most certainly an anti-Catholic bigot. And, as has been remarked by esteemed social scientists and historians of various stripes, anti-Catholicism is the last remaining acceptable prejudice. Sadly, I don’t think this prejudice is absent even from some of the bloggers on this site.

    3. I’m not anti-Catholic, I’m just anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-lies about sex education and contraception, anti-bad ideas, anti-religion, anti-child raping, and anti-faith-based beliefs.

      It’s hardly my fault that official, main-stream Catholicism promotes all those things.

      Sticking a rusty nail in a cracker is no more anti-Catholic bigotry than drawing a picture of Mohammed is anti-Muslim bigotry, or discussing the temple ceremony is anti-Mormon bigotry.

      It might be offensive to you for some biology professor to “desecrate” your eucharist, but it’s just as offensive to us that you teach against the equality of women and gays. Neither of us has the right to not be offended, and I believe that criticising and denigrating bad ideas, ideas which are proven wrong, silly, and useless is a wonderful, useful thing.

      I propose that intentional disrespect can be very, very useful.

    4. I think we should have a right to offend others. Nowhere have I promoted state censorship of such thing. But people that burn books or desecrate holy things or otherwise intentionally disrespect people are at best adolescent members of the community of inquirers, at worst they are simply assholes.

      I don’t care to argue whether you are or not you are anti-Catholic. You do seem to have so thoroughly digested half-baked atheist talking points that you are incredibly blustery whenever you talk about religion. There is not an insignificant amount of hatred toward religion in you, ironically the very sort blind and dogmatic hate that you excoriate religious people for sometimes manifesting. And what is it with atheists who come to every conversation with their rhetorical six shooters pre-loaded with a slew of overheated “religion is X” talking points? You guys rattle off these talking points like they were on cue cards (‘religion is anti this and anti that’, usually filling in whatever the Left says you should be for). When I was an atheist I did not get this ready-to-hand list of quick barroom jabs. I am sure your friends nod approvingly and think you very sophisticated when you string together so many big words and assertions. When I hear you saying them, I just find you foolish and intemperate.

      For an example of one of the more ridiculous remarks you have made we need look no further than your post. Included in the laundry list of “all those things” you say “official, main-stream Catholicism” promotes is “child-raping”. That is just such an incredibly ridiculous thing to say. It would be offensive, other than that I know it comes from someone incredibly ill-equipped to make a level-headed assessment of anything associated with religion. Why do I engage people like you?! It is things like this that make me want to quit this blog. Dialogue feels pretty hopeless when this is what you are up against (especially when you greet this sort of crap from people who puff out their chests about being so grounded in reason).

      Take a breath, Craig. Set down the kool-aid and think before you type. You might even consider actually reading something serious before passing off judgments as if you have discerned things hidden since the foundation of the world while us religious folk (including some of the greatest thinkers in the history of western civilization) simply abide in ignorance. Seriously, have you read any serious Catholic philosophy or theology? Reading unqualified commentators (like Myers) does not count as a substitute.

      You might disagree with my arguments about homosexuality and contraception. That is fine, though you typically substitute name-calling for making actual counter-arguments. (Apparently my arguments against contraception and abortion make me “against the equality of women”, which would come as quite a surprise to my wife who is pro-life, thinks contraception scatters the meaning of sexual gifts, but is a self-described feminist and no shrinking violet of a woman). Frankly I don’t think you’ve really considered my arguments, much less understand them. Either way, I don’t think you should find them “offensive” in the same way because I do my level best to never attack persons but to engage ideas. You have an incredibly difficult time not attacking religious people when you attack their ideas. In fact, you congratulate yourself for this childish intellectual habit by “arguing” (generous use of that term) that intentional disrespect is “useful”. Useful to who? To the dialogue? To the people you are trying to persuade? Perhaps just useful in augmenting your own feelings of self-righteousness?

      As far as all those half-baked talking points in your laundry list of things that “official, mainstream” Catholicism promotes, a blog that I read made a relevant point (I am closely paraphrasing) the other day:

      Anyone who has actually read (and I feel extremely confident that Craig has not read anything written by a serious Catholic author) the USCCB letter “Always Our Children” would not accuse the Church of being homophobic.

      Anyone who has read Humanae Vitae would not say that the Church is anti-woman (even if the Church’s feminism does not goose step with the “reproductive rights” dogmas of the left) or anti-humanist.

      Anyone who has read Fides et Ratio would never say that the Church is anti-reason or science.

      Anyone who has read the Theology of the Body would not say that the Church is anti-sex or is simply interested in “lies” about sex education and contraception. (In fact, I have – without much in the way of response – debunked several myths and lies about contraception on this blog).

    5. You are not going to convince me that the Catholic church is some bastion of human rights and equality. It is sexist. Not just because it fights against women’s reproductive rights, but because it bars women from the priesthood. The entire structure of the church is based on historical, hierarchical, patriarchal misogyny. It is indicative of the extreme sexism in the fundamentals of the church when official church policy is that ordaining a woman to the priesthood is a worse offence than raping a child is.

      I’ve explained how “homophobia” is generally used in secular society, both in and outside of the LGBT community. The church’s purge of gay clergy, daemonisation of gays, blaming gays for the raping of children, and opposing equal marriage are all indicative of the church’s homophobia.

      I’ve not drunk any kool-aid, though I hardly expect to convince you of that. My beliefs are my own, and reasoned out. It’s true I don’t read Catholic philosophy, nor have I any plan to. I don’t need to be familiar with the intricacies of Catholic dogma in order to make a reasonable judgement that Catholicism is sexist. Whatever deep reasonings have been made, the fact is that actions speak louder than words. I care not for how Catholic theologians have justified to themselves their treatment of women and gays. The actions of the church and its policies speak loud and clear.

      Don’t feel singled out though, I think the same of Mormonism, Evangelicalism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as many non-monotheistic religious groups.

      And I don’t think the church is generally anti-science, only in areas where science conflicts with its doctrines, for example contraception.

      I’m sorry you feel attacked, but I’ve not attacked you personally. I’ve attacked your beliefs, your arguments, and the doctrines of the church you belong to. I think you’re an intelligent, reasonable, good person. I also think some of your beliefs are sexist, homophobic, and very dangerous.

    6. Thanks for the compliment at the end, though you punched me in the stomach while saying kind words.

      I am not going to bother taking on your comment that the “entire structure” of the Catholic Church is based on “misogyny”. Typical of your overheated and sweeping assertions. Am I supposed to believe that people like my wife are just too stupid to see that their Church hates them, but you (never a Catholic, and I frankly doubt you know much that is not superficial about Roman Catholicism) see this as plain as day? Isn’t that curious?

      I’ll just say this: equality is not the same as identity.

      Ordaining a woman is a worse offense than raping a child? Get real, Craig. No one thinks that. I suspect your remark there is rooted in incredibly superficial coverage of the document issued a week or so ago by the Vatican which clarified offenses to the priesthood. The headlines from the media sources (who can’t be bothered to actually seek to understand what Vatican theologians are saying) predictably completely mischaracterized what was said. I doubt you read the actual document. I do blame the Vatican for one thing – horrible public relations department. I joked with my wife that day that I hope they do a second collection for a new PR team. If they had simply released with a press conference the new procedures for sex abuse claims and waited on the clarifications of other offenses to the priesthood, they would have received at least tepid praise from the media. Instead, they grouped that release with other clarifications on offenses to the priesthood and invited silly comments like yours. I just don’t understand why they grouped these. Are they trying to save paper or something? Do they have a PR team with degrees from a correspondence school? (Hey look, SHAFTers, I criticized the Catholic Church!). (And yes, I know about the excommunication for the ordination of women that was in the news, and the invented story that the Vatican doesn’t care about sex abuse because they don’t excommunicate abusers, as if these two things are matters that are or should be treated identically by canon law).

      I suppose I should congratulate you for hating equally all kinds of religious groups? In all seriousness, I am sorry that you had a clearly damaging experience with Mormonism. I understand the “once bit, twice shy” thing, and I have known too many ex-Mormons to underestimate the psychological turmoil and trauma they experience. But you really could attempt to be more level-headed when speaking about religion (it is the combo of religion and sex that really seems to get you over the top). When you speak in such overheated terms all you do is excuse yourself from serious consideration. As it is, you are committed to the claim that some 85% of Americans, and billions of people worldwide, are gripped by openly or secretly sexist or homophobic ideas. I just don’t think that is reasonable.

      Your anti-science remark with contraception simply goes to show you’ve not paid attention to the science. The head of the Harvard AIDs project, who is not a Catholic and in fact has little sympathy with Catholicism, came out and said that the Pope was right that there is no evidence that contraception has reduced AIDs rates in Africa. In fact, the countries with the most dramatic declines in infection rates are the most Catholic countries that have put their energy behind abstinence (pushing back the age of first sexual contact) and fidelity (reducing the number of sexual partners).

      Let me allow Edward Green, head of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard, to speak for himself. He knows more about this issue than either of us:

      “This is hard for a liberal like me to admit, but yes, it’s unfair because in fact, the best evidence we have supports his comments – at least his [Pope Benedict’s] major comments, the ones I have seen.”

      “It will be easiest if we confine our discussion to Africa, because that’s where the pope is, and that is what he was talking about. There’s no evidence at all that condoms have worked as a public health intervention intended to reduce HIV infections at the “level of population.” This is a bit difficult to understand. It may well make sense for an individual to use condoms every time, or as often as possible, and he may well decrease his chances of catching HIV. But we are talking about programs, large efforts that either work or fail at the level of countries, or, as we say in public health, the level of population. Major articles published in Science, The Lancet, British Medical Journal, and even Studies in Family Planning have reported this finding since 2004. I first wrote about putting emphasis on fidelity instead of condoms in Africa in 1988.”

      So can we stop making this supposed argument ending “appeal to science” when the scientific experts in the field do not agree with what you are saying?! Seriously, this is a classic example of secular liberal atheist dogmas bending, distorting, or simply ignoring the evidence in favor of their ideologies. I have posted these remarks more than a few times now, but not a single “free thinker” who orders their life by “scientific evidence” has suggested that this has given them even the slightest pause in their dogmatic beliefs about the goodness or even utility of contraception. Young atheists relish having “unpopular opinions”, but in reality they only want unpopular opinions of the right kind (the kind of unpopular opinions that are popular with their liberal friends). Who cares what the science says, what will my friends say if I tell them that condom programs in Africa don’t work?

    7. Craig says, “official church policy is that ordaining a woman to the priesthood is a worse offence than raping a child is.”

      Can you show me that “official Church policy”? Where exactly is that in the canon law? (These are rhetorical requests, of course you can’t show me where those “official church policies” are).

    8. Another Edward Green quote taken from here.

      “Don’t misunderstand me; I am not anti-condom. All people should have full access to condoms, and condoms should always be a backup strategy for those who will not or cannot remain in a mutually faithful relationship. This was a key point in a 2004 “consensus statement” published and endorsed by some 150 global AIDS experts, including representatives the United Nations, World Health Organization and World Bank. These experts also affirmed that for sexually active adults, the first priority should be to promote mutual fidelity. Moreover, liberals and conservatives agree that condoms cannot address challenges that remain critical in Africa such as cross-generational sex, gender inequality and an end to domestic violence, rape and sexual coercion.”

      It also often makes sense for people in monogamous relationships to use condoms, such as if one of them has already been diagnosed with an STD.

      If fidelity helps at the level of population (and I’m not sure any non-idiotic “Leftist” has argued against fidelity), it seems Green is acknowledging that condoms are still useful at the individual level in consenting sex. Why not go with a two-pronged approach? That last sentence mentions many other problems that cause condoms to be less-than-useful as compared with their use in other societies. In my linked article, Green never mentions the efficacy of condoms in first world nations, where–correct me if I’m wrong–their uselessness hasn’t really been shown.

      At any rate, Green doesn’t seem to think that condoms are hurting the AIDS fight in Africa.

  6. So according to you Craig, the actions of somebody or some group, in these cases the burning of books and the drawing of Mohammad, are ethically judged according not to the acts alone themselves, but also (perhaps primarily, it seems) according to the intent and identification of the initiator? The act of burning the Koran is bad in this case because it is done by Christians who don’t see the violence their faith/book carries, according to what’s been said. So presumably, if a pacifist atheist burns a Koran to symbolize their contempt or disagreement over the principles of that book, then it would be okay; likewise, drawing their prophet is okay too. Again, it seems to be primarily about intent-in-mind and identity of those carrying out whatever act, not the action, according to you, Craig. That seems subjective and convenient (as Kleiner points out regarding the pass given to the agnostic/atheist side [of which I am a part of here, as a side]). The actions of PZ Meyers being the case here.

    The main disagreement I have though is that the point of view of Muslims, who Craig tries to defend when it comes to Christians burning the Koran, is completely and ironically–to me, at least– side-lapsed when the “Everybody Draw Mohammad” Day is later justified. To their (Muslims) eyes, whether it’s atheists (and others) drawing their holy prophet or Christians burning the Koran, it’s quite offensive to them either way; they don’t care about the intent or identity of the people mocking them, but rather, they hate the action itself when it is done (the violence and threats towards their mockers afterward supports this point). But as Craig sees it, it’s only offensive when the Christians in this case do it, because he disagrees with them over their religious particulars and hypocrisy. I call out a discrepancy. By his own standard, I would interpret it to mean that anybody who drew a Mohammad caricature to be racist.

    Side: Islam is not a race, just as the words Catholic or atheist aren’t racial ones. There are Muslims of every color, from white, black, and so forth, and the Arabs aren’t the majority in numbers when it comes to the racial make-up of Muslims.

    1. Burning the Quran is bad because it’s stupid to burn books. But yes, I think intent is at least as important as the action. I wouldn’t say an atheist burning a Quran was a great idea, but if it wasn’t done out of racism and bigotry against Muslims, I’d not have that big a problem with it. The same with burning a Bible, Book of Mormon, Bhagavad Gita, Book of the Dead etc. But if an atheist (or Hindu or Jew) were to burn a Quran with the same reasons and intent as this pastor (to eradicate “evil” because Muslims are all servants of the devil), I’d have the same qualms.

      I definitely believe in the right to offend others – it’s an integral part of the freedom of speech, conscience, and belief. The reason I strongly support ‘Everyone Draw Mohammed Day’ is because drawing a stick-figure and labelling it “Mohammed” is a death-sentence not just in Muslims countries, but in Europe as well, and that’s fucking outrageous. It has nothing to do with the ethnicity of anyone, but with the dangerous and murderous ideas of a certain subset of adherents to Islam who think they have the right to not be offended, to force non-Muslims to follow their religious rules, and to enforce said rules under pain of death.

      That is what we were protesting.

      On the other hand, this pastor was protesting the inherent “evilness” of Islam, Muslims, and the Quran, whilst at the same time, saying his book, his religion, his god, and his ethnicity were good and righteous. If it had been Hindus and Jews I’d have reacted the same, or Atheists and Bahai’i, or Mormons and Catholics, or Shintos and Buddhists. The problem isn’t what group the people belong to, it’s what kind of arguments they’re making, and what beliefs they’re supporting, and yes, what is motivating them.

      For we who supported Everyone Draw Mohammed Day, we were (almost all) motivated by a desire to protect and celebrate the freedom of speech. The Christian pastor was motivated by racism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Motivation is always significant – this is why we have a difference for example between 1st and 2nd degree manslaughter and murder. Motivation matters.

    2. You’re right that Muslim isn’t a race; however, it’s almost always darker-skinned middle-easterners who are targeted and the victims of this type of bigotry, racial-profiling, and prejudice in the US.

  7. Fair enough–I see and understand your view better on the general matters in your response. I suppose my disagreement is based on my world view: despite belonging to two…identity groups…that usually support functions like hate-crime laws, where intent or motivation are looked at, I still disagree with them. But again, that’s just my view, and thus the primary source of my initial response/frustration.

    Pointing out the degrees of ridiculousness is where I primarily agree with you here: It’s a responsibility, or at least a given opportunity, that we should condemn and pressure the people, groups, religions, and countries that execute people for indeed something so strange as drawing a religious figure (I participated in the Drawing Day, despite my artistic abilities, or rather the lack thereof, and am a bit of a free-speech extremist, if such a thing is possible). But as a small note of disagreement that really isn’t relevant to this general blog entry in general, I would say it’s unfortunately more than just a “certain subset of adherents of Islam” who support, even if it’s mutely, the persecution of those who do something so ridiculous as drawing Mohammad. As you typed yourself, it is a law to do so in “Muslim countries,” albeit in differing degrees; and it also done so by individuals or splinter groups, as you pointed out, in Europe as well. So although I admit you didn’t use a size like “all,” most,” or “small,” I still think it’s larger than the word “subset” implies.

    1. So far as my racial vs. religion comment went, I didn’t mean it to be condescending, as you certainly know that Islam is not a race, but upon rereading it, it seemed harsh in tone. I’m just overly pedantic.

    2. Oh, I agree that it’s a frighteningly large subset, possibly approaching a majority. The number of otherwise moderate Muslims who supported the death threats against the original Danish cartoonist is very disturbing, and indicative of the greater problem within Islam where non-Muslims are expected to abide by Muslim rules, and where perceived offence is met with death-threats, violence and murder.

    1. Just know how to read the news, Craig. First, this is the NY Times which hardly has a record of fair reporting on the Catholic Church. Second, the first paragraph makes it sound like the Church is drawing a moral equivalence between the two, which it clearly is not. Finally, those offended are typical liberal Catholic groups who over-read and misinterpret nearly everything that comes out of the Vatican. (And those groups always get a huge chunk of copy in any Times story on Catholicism).

      I do blame the Vatican for grouping these two things together. Apparently one cannot expect the Times or other media outlets to make distinctions. The Msgr was clear, these are two different matters. Child molestation is a grave violation of the moral law, while women’s ordination is not. But from the point of view of the canon laws around sacramental orders, both are delicts against the meaning of the priesthood.

      Alas, distinctions in an age of soundbites are always lost. Let me try out an example. Take two unlawful deeds. Trespassing (say, I walk across a farmer’s field to recover a lost frisbee) and assault. Which is the graver offense? Well, it depends on which law you have in mind. From the point of view of criminal law, they are both equal offenses (both are misdemeanors). But from the point of view of the moral law, it seems obvious enough that assault is a much graver moral offense.

      From the point of view of canon laws surrounding sacramental orders, there are various delicts against the priesthood and these include the ordination of women and molestation of children. But from the point of view of the moral law, these are obviously much different matters.

      Of course your remark was that it was “official Church policy” that ordaining women is a “worse offense” than “child-raping”. From no point of view was that true. It remains a typically overheated statement culled from simplistic readings of complicated matters. In a way I don’t blame you. The American media basically refuses to have reporters who have any level of sophistication cover the Vatican. Still, since you admit that you don’t read anything from serious Catholic authors, you might hold back a bit before making grandiose pronouncements about what Catholics think and believe.

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