Sunday, January 29, 2006

our hijacked heritage

The late pope was a great man. He was a champion of human rights, and he opposed the war in Iraq. He was a proponent of European unity, and openly admitted the wrongs of western civilization, past and present. Not being Catholic, I must admit that his legacy of good work meets or exceeds my expectations from the pope, from any pope.

That being said, there are some funny things going on with religion in the United States that have already fully subverted the intentions of the founding fathers. Part of the problem lies in the self-imploding nature of Protestantism, and another part has to do with the exploding populations of groups that don't embrace birth control. What we are left with are the worst parts of Protestantism (short-sighted greed, arrogance, inflexibility and the 40-hour work week) and the worst parts of Catholicism (unreflective conformity, misogynistic paternalism, deviant sexuality and reproductive irresponsibility).

Today in America, hordes of Evangelical Christians, Mormons and Catholics share a misplaced pseudo-righteousness that goes against the original charter of the nation, and has effectively destroyed it.

The vast majority of the original American colonies, with the exception of Maryland, were Protestant safe-havens, refuges from the abusive excesses of the Catholic and state churches in Europe. Colonies such as Pennsylvania and Rhode Island advocated tolerance of all faiths, and it should be noted that this kind of tolerance is a hallmark of Protestantism, not Catholicism. It's true that the Puritans of Massachusetts were every bit as aberrant, autocratic and closed-minded as the papists they so opposed. Puritanism is the evil downfall of the larger Protestant movement, and is actually the reinvention of Catholicism. The same must be said of the Mormons. It is up to the more clear-headed branches of Protestantism -- Lutherans, Methodists, Unitarians, Episcopaleans, Quakers, and so forth -- to keep the deviant strains in line.


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