Henry VIII’s love for Catholicism during his early years was undeniable but when in May of 1533, his love life collided with the religious dictum of his time that flowed from the Church in Rome, his opposition to the Pope and the Roman Church was fierce. For a simple belief in Papal authority, hundreds and thousands were burnt alive, tortured in the most unbelievable ways. If belief is predicated on faith, then how could it take a u-turn so terribly inhuman? Because belief is never sincere. It is a prejudice in action.
During his US visit, the Pope talked of many issues like immigration, Climate change, violence and guns, and compassion. Suddenly, these have rattled the Republicans. For the Christian right wing, Climate Change is no longer a simple issue of planet’s survival but that of “faith”. That is why it seems rather incredulous when Rick Santorum reprimands the Pope to keep to his job in a typical Henry VIII’s style.
“The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”
If Climate Change was merely an issue of contribution to the planet’s survival – conservation, environment, and science – then it wouldn’t be central to the “faithful”. Everyone would have approached it differently. It is the ‘Rick Santorums’ who have shaped Climate into an object of faith, and then chided the faith’s keeper to stay away.
Have things changed any since Henry VIII?
Belief is merely a convenient way to propagating prejudices. Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell used it in ways that their society allowed – torture, burnings, beheadings – to further their own prejudices. Rick Santorum and senators like James Inhofe do it in their ways using what they have available to them in today’s time.
My entry point is the unchanging face of faith. A faith that is no more than a facade of religiosity. Passed off as devotion, it is nothing like that. If someone is devoted to Pope, then he can’t be a “have-some, throw-some” authority. Would he?
What is true of the Pope is true of every religious symbol. And it is not related to just Catholics. It is true of all believers of every kind. For belief is a reflection of personal prejudices. It has no significance beyond one’s mind and conditioning.
When such politically motivated prejudices start dictating an entire nation’s direction – not just in religion, but in things like education, science, environment and basic life itself, then things can take a downward spiral that is hard to predict. Henry VIII’s dance of politics, prejudices and religion threw up terrible nightmares like Cromwell and others, but it took mass and ruthless bloodshed by Queen Mary to help everyone realize how badly it had gone wrong. Should it take an equivalent of a “Bloody Mary” for this generation to realize this?!