Monthly Archives: October 2011

Women’s Suffrage and the Catholic Church

★ Fun fact: With Saudi Arabia giving women a vote in 2015, Vatican City will be the only nation where only men vote.

It’s true. According to Wikipedia, there are only three countries that do not let men and women vote equally.

  1. Lebanon requires women to show proof of elementary education before voting, unlike men; men are required to participate in elections.
  2. Saudi Arabia does not allow women to vote, but plans to let them do so in 2015 (this is the latest in a series of delays).
  3. Vatican City (which is its own country, geographically but not legally within Italy) only permits Cardinals to vote. As women are not allowed priesthood, much less allowed to be bishops or Cardinals, they’re out of luck, denied a vote.

There you have it. Pending changes in plans, come 2015, Vatican City will be the only country on planet Earth that only allows men to vote.

So Yes, That Is Why

Women are not allowed to wear bikinis in public in the Vatican. Paper burqas — I mean, paper clothes with sufficient coverage — are available for purchase on the streets.

Do Female Catholics Care?

A tangent, if you will.

Restricting the priesthood to men is an old tradition. Yet the question of gender and priesthood has been discussed by the Papacy at least as recently as 1994, when Pope John Paul II officially declared the Church does not have the authority to ordain women.

Given enough political pressure, these things can change. Consider the recent revocation of the dogma of limbo, for example (the idea of a baby-hell for infants who died without baptism, dropped in, what, 2009?).

So I wondered, do women in the Catholic Church care about their denial of priesthood?

I am not aware of any poll data on parishioners in general. If you are, do please contact me.

But I am encouraged to see some sites cropping up to further the cause.

On the flip side, however, consider Ann Widdecombe, a Catholic, female member of British parliament. When asked in a fantastic Intelligence Squared debate (opposite the brilliant Messrs. Fry and Hitchens; viewable on YouTube) if it bothered her that she was permitted a role in government but not her own Church, her reaction was, to me, unbelievable. She seemed almost shocked or affronted by the question. Quoted below (thanks to a transcript; PDF here).

Zeinab Badawi: Ann Widdecombe, one specific question to you, why not women priests in the Catholic church?

Ann Widdecombe: Well, no, the specific question was, why is it not alright for a woman to be a priest but it is for a woman to be an MP, that’s the specific question. And I have to say to you, that really does betray a vast ignorance. A Member of Parliament, male or female, does not stand in persona Christi at the point of consecration. But I don’t believe that it is any more possible for a woman to represent Christ at the point of consecration than for a man to be the Virgin Mary.

Um, I was raised Catholic. I understand that Mary required a uterus and other reproductive plumbing to, you know, give birth.

But somehow I missed the day in Sunday School they must have explained why a penis is required to consecrate the Host. You know, praying over the crackers to make ’em into bits and pieces of Christ.

How on Earth does one’s gender matter then?

But, whatever. That’s religion for you.

Poe’s Law, Atheist Humor, and “That” Tweet

Two days ago, we learned that Steve Jobs passed away.

Hero though he is, I’m not going to eulogize him. I mention it merely to provide context for the Westboro Baptist Church family member’s tweet:

Westboro will picket his funeral.He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin.MT @: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has died at 56.

Dumb, yeah. Surprising, no. The interesting bit is coming up…

The above tweet was posted via an iPhone. Irony alert! When people started pointing out the hypocrisy, Margie Phelps countered: via @Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell.God created iPhone for that purpose! 🙂

Yup. “Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell. God created iPhone for that purpose!

I don’t need to tell you this is ridiculous, that Jobs’ company created the iPhone, etc.

What I would like to share is the eminent applicability of Poe’s Law.

Poe’s Law

Coined in a forum post, well-liked on Urban Dictionary, and even apparently the subject of academic research, Poe’s Law in the general form is:

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.

Ironically and desperately, Conservapedia unintentionally provides a great example:

Poe’s law is a symptom of liberals [sic] illogical and superstitious thinking.

Right now, you may be thinking, surely Mr. Atheist made up that quote, or took it out of context. It’s so absurd on the face it. Surely no one really believes that?

But as far as I know, the inmates running the asylum that is Conservapedia are very serious, and the above quote is genuine.

But what does this have to do with the Phelps tweet?

My Kind of Humor

Every so often, I make a casual and dry sort of joke, in situations where a man-made tool or option is being overlooked.

For example: Someone near me is frustrated with their computer.

Them: “Why won’t this work? I even tried Control-Alt-Delete.”

Me: “Well, that’s why God gave us a restart button.”

It’s an easy joke. Not terribly funny, perhaps, but it amuses me to imagine someone actually believing God had anything to do with a restart button, or other man-made implements. Heck, even a creationist who believes in free will, a concept so fundamental to Christian theology, should agree God didn’t give us a restart button, or the Buick they drive, or nukes.

Fool Circle

So now it should be clear why I love this tweet. An extreme fundamentalist group member, making the same joke I do, but seriously.

Poe’s Law at its finest.

This is exactly why the hateful things coming out of Westboro do not bother me at all. They’re so far out there, so self-mockingly dense and reactionary and hateful and polemic, that I have to trust the general populace to react with scorn and rejection.

And I hope that that rejection leads some of them to further distrust religion, superstition, and illogic.