Shattering the Myth of Mother Teresa

In all the universe of religious experience, few figures are so beloved as the Catholic nun known to the world as Mother Teresa. The official biography holds that she selflessly devoted her life to ministering to the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, suffering through poverty and deprivation nearly as great as that of her patients without complaint, and asking no reward except the knowledge of doing God's will. She was a beloved figure to millions and a trusted counselor to powerful … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VIII: Priestly Celibacy

Today's edition of "Little-Known Bible Verses" is specific to the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. This is because, of all major Western denominations, Roman Catholicism is the only church that still requires that its clergy members remain celibate. The Catholic church to this day believes that this is a biblically supportable doctrine. But in fact, the opposite is true, as we can see from two little-known Bible verses. Both the verses in question come from the epistle of 1 Timothy, … [Read more...]

The Catholic Church: An Immoral Organization

The Roman Catholic church is the oldest and largest Christian denomination on the planet. Although its influence in the Western world is declining, it still exercises great power over the lives of millions of people every day. All too often, that power is used in the service of superstition, of perpetuating irrational and dogmatic beliefs about how human liberty should be restricted in order to please God. Whatever charitable and humanitarian work the Catholic church performs must be balanced … [Read more...]

Wolves in the Fold

In February of 1906, Pope Pius X issued an encyclical titled "Vehementer Nos", which denounced France for its passage of a revolutionary law establishing the separation of church and state. This document contained a blunt insight into the Catholic view of the relationship between religion and government: That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error. Happily, France ignored this musty blast from a figure who - then, as now - serves as … [Read more...]

On Atheism and Hope

Pope Benedict has released the second encyclical of his papacy, a 75-page missive titled "Spe Salvi" (Latin for "in hope we are saved"). As was widely reported, this statement attacks atheism and calls people to convert to Roman Catholicism as the only hope for humankind. (Here's the text of the statement itself, if anyone's interested.) In this post, I'm going to offer some comments in response. The major theme of the encyclical is that only belief in a god - actually, in the Roman Catholic … [Read more...]

Deo Vindice!

Deo vindice! Gott mitt uns! Deus vult! Allahu akhbar! Informed readers may recognize some or all of the phrases above. In case there are any you're not familiar with, here's a quick primer on what each of them means: "Deo vindice" is Latin for "God will defend us" or "God is our vindicator". It was the motto of the slaveholding Confederate States of America, and was engraved on their official seal. The CSA firmly believed that the Christian God was on their side in the American Civil … [Read more...]

On Incorruptibility

One of the stranger supposed miracles in the Christian catalog is the miracle of incorruptibility. More common in Catholicism (I have yet to come across any Protestant examples), this term refers to a saint or holy person whose body miraculously refuses to decompose after death, instead remaining intact and even lifelike. This apologist site lists some of the more prominent Catholic incorruptibles, though as is usual with apologetics, considerable exaggeration has crept in. For example, … [Read more...]

Mother Teresa's Loss of Faith

Time magazine this month has a rather amazing story about a decades-long crisis of faith in the life of Agnes Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa. A newly released biography, Come Be My Light, consists of numerous letters Teresa exchanged with her church superiors. These letters reveal that for the last fifty years of her life, she felt as if God had withdrawn his presence from her and would not respond to her prayers. Unable to feel any hint of God's existence - "neither in her heart or in … [Read more...]

Claiming the Mantle of Victimhood

The Roman Catholic church is the oldest, largest, and very likely the richest denomination of any organized religion on the planet Earth. It has over 1 billion believers worldwide; controls its own sovereign country ruled by the Pope; is the only religious denomination with permanent observer status at the United Nations; has its own radio broadcasting service, its own official newspapers, and numerous TV channels; owns hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and property worldwide; and still … [Read more...]

A Godless Recount

Baylor University has recently released a study, titled "American Piety in the 21st Century", on American religious affiliation and church attendance. This study has been widely described as casting doubt on previous studies which have found that religious belief is declining in America. In particular, the Baylor researchers have described their study as an explicit rebuttal to the much-cited 2001 CUNY ARIS study which found that as many as 15% of Americans are non-religious. In contrast to this … [Read more...]