Elizabeth Scalia gets everything wrong on Libresco and Catholicism

Someone named Elizabeth Scalia has come up with an explanation for why the media jumped on the Leah Libresco conversion.

Why so much coverage on Leah? Perhaps the answer is this: Leah’s conversion goes against all of the prevailing narratives that dominate secularist thinking. Religion — or at least religion that goes beyond affirming oneself and actually costs something of one — is the “opiate of the masses” suited only to “bitter clingers” and intellectually-dim peasants (except it isn’t and never was). Leah is a brainy, sophisticated Yalie who is neither bitter, clingy nor dim.

Christ on the fucking cross.

Religion costs something of one’s self?  Seriously?  It’s a sacrifice to leave the comfort of being an atheist to take on the burden of believing in Jesus?  Really?  When you go to a Catholic conference, is there a need in the proceedings booklet for a section like this?

That’s protecting students from being outed as non-believers in order to avoid the consequences that could come at the hands of believers.  And not just any believers, but in many cases believers who are supposed to love and care for them (and presently do love and care for them, so long as they pretend to believe in god).

Perhaps Catholicism does cost something, like a portion of your income going toward an institution that values dogma over reducing the spread of AIDS, it’s own opulence over the poverty of others, and is notorious for using a portion of that wealth protecting the rapists of children.  But if you want to suggest that being Catholic comes with even a noticeable fraction of the cost as unbelief, you’ve got to be kidding.

Catholicism “hates women” (except it doesn’t and never did). Leah is a strongly self-possessed, forward-thinking woman.

How’s it going with letting women get ordained (due to the history of anti-woman prejudice in the church)?  I realize the Catholic church says they love women.  Juxtaposed against their actual behavior, this is evidence for how horribly the church has redefined “love,” not evidence that the church doesn’t shit on them.

Catholicism “hates homosexual persons” (except it doesn’t and never has although a new apostolic letter might help make that clear) and Leah identifies as bi-sexual.

From americancatholic.org:

The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care.

Just two days ago

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the most senior Catholic in the United Kingdom has declared “war on gay marriage,” pledging to spend another £100,000 in its campaign against equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Scotland.

This is not love, nor is it respect.  It’s stupid and anti-human.

It even expects Leah to change who she is in order to be accepted by the church.  In Leah’s own words (bold mine).

I’m bisexual. Other queer people’s experience of their orientation varies, but, as far as I’m concerned, I’m bisexual because gender feels about as salient to me as hair color when it comes to looking for dates. That means I’m already out of step with the Catholic Church before you even get up to gay marriage or any issue like that, because the Church thinks gender is much more central to someone’s identity than I do.

The excuse will likely be that the church loves the LGBT people, they just hate the homosexuality.  I wonder, what has the Catholic church done to show their love for LGBT people?  We already know they’ve worked to ensure they have fewer rights than the rest of us, but what have they done to show their love?  Invited the same people who enjoy less rights on account of the church’s actions to be like them?  That’s blackmail, not love, and that anybody can confuse the two is very telling of what religion can do to one’s moral sense.

And here’s what’s really sad; again, from Leah’s mouth:

I imagine I’ll do a lot more reading and pick a lot more fights over the next few years. I’m willing to not date women in the meantime…

The message is that one should enjoy their life less to comply with Catholic dogma.  But it’s love, because they’re conveying the message to you and, lucky you, you can be like them.  Gag me.

But don’t worry, Scalia assures us that Catholicism is reasonable.

On a serious note, though: Someone asked me a few days ago whether it bothered me that Leah is determined to ask questions of the church and its teachings, and I said, “no; she’s not the first to ask, and she won’t be the last.” We have a long history of brilliant people — atheists and non — who have trained their big brains on Catholicism, intending to either disprove it or simply to splash about in its currents, only to find themselves drawn further in. Catholic teaching has been thoroughly reasoned and laboriously fleshed-out; there is actual thinking, full of nuance and complexity, at its core — where Faith and Reason share a kinship, within which the natural and supernatural wave back and forth, like wind-stirred wheat in a field; it’s a dance of organic wholeness.

And just like the trickling of Catholics who have found their way over here ever since Leah agreed to discuss her conversion with me, Scalia never tells us what any of this rational justification for someone rising from the dead or a cracker becoming the flesh of a 2,000 year-dead Jew.

According to Scalia, the church loves being questioned!

I take my cue from the Holy Father, who has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to entertain any-and-all topics. Benedict believes — and I have discovered it in my own faith journey — that submitting any question to reason, and tackling it with patient but rigorous intellectual honesty leads one (sometimes with great reluctance and gritted teeth) to the side of Catholic orthodoxy.

It must’ve been Galileo who confined himself to house arrest for the remainder of his life for daring to question the church’s dogma of geocentricity.  The Catholic church was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time, right?  From the report of the Inquisition panel charged with reviewing Galileo.  The report was approved unanimously:

“[Heliocentrism is] foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture…”; while the Earth’s movement “receives the same judgement in philosophy and … in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith.”

How well did the church suffer these questions?  How eager were they to entertain criticism from Romolo Murri who was excommunicated for giving speeches against Papal policy?  If the church suffers questions so well, how is the Inquisition explained?  How is any period where Catholicism was enforced under pain of death explained?

The very idea of dogma is aversive to openness to questioning, as is the idea of infallibility or authority by appointment.

What’s more, it’s clear that the church has always valued dogma over the products of human perspicacity.  This is nowhere more obvious than with the church’s slew of justifications for opposing condoms, even going so far as to say condoms help spread AIDS to the contrary of, well, every expert on the subject.

Scalia’s whole post pretty much captures a tactic used throughout the history of the Catholic church: to say it’s reasonable without defending that assertion, to say they love their enemies (even as their behavior says otherwise), and to hope people take their word on it.  It’s disgusting, and Scalia’s post from 2012 shows that very little has changed for Catholics.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.