As if I didn't have enough to do this summer now I have to add "get excommunicated" to my list.
When I lived in Colorado Springs I worked at the Cadet Chapel at the Air Force Academy. It was a great job. I had a lot of fun there and I really liked the people I worked with. With one exception. I called that exception Father Butthead. Father Buttead was a catholic priest and a thoroughly unpleasant man. He was arrogant, rude to everyone around him and always smelled like stale liquor and cigarettes. One day he got mad at me and another girl I worked with for not doing something or other and he called us "lazy fat-asses". That was pretty much the beginning of the end for me.
***I was baptized into the catholic church when I was a baby. It's what people in my family did back then. Most of my family isn't even particularity religious; it was just done out of tradition. Out of my 21 cousins I think only one of them was not baptized.
My family was not religious at all and we never went to church. Aside from what little information I picked up here and there at funerals and weddings and the like, I never was never really taught about the religion I was baptized into. That was fine with me, I never had any interest in any of it anyway.
Then I started working at the chapel and I started to become interested in religion and the catholic religion specifically. One of my jobs was to stand near the doors during Sunday services and keep tourists from coming in and wandering around. My favorite services to attend were the catholic services. This started because I had a major crush on one of the cadets who served as an usher during the services but eventually I became genuinely interested in the services themselves.
I liked the ceremony, the rituals, the music. I found the whole thing fascinating. I mean, how did everyone just know when to say "And also with thee" at just the right time? And when to stand and when to kneel and when to sit? Amazing! I enjoyed it so much that I even started to attend the services even on the occasional Sundays that I wasn't working.
If you had asked me what religion I was at that point I probably would have said I was catholic. I liked feeling like I was part of the mystery and majesty of it all. For an 18 year old still trying to figure out her life and herself it seemed like a pretty good thing to be a part of.
Then Father Butthead came to work at the chapel. He took over the Sunday services. Every time I would see him speak Catholicism lost some of it's luster for me. This was a man who was supposed to be leading people towards righteousness? He spoke about kindness and compassion yet he could barely summon up common courtesy for his fellow man. I know a lot of the parishioners really liked Father Butthead but he really changed my thinking about religion (Catholicism in particular) and not in a good way.
Now I don't want you to think that this was a case of one bad apple ruining the bunch. This man did not shape my views on religion. He just helped bring into focus for me some of the things that I doubtlessly would have figured out on my own anyway. As I got older I started to really examine what I believed and why I believed it. Or rather, what I didn't believe. I also started to become more skeptical and look at things from a standpoint of logic rather than faith.
By the time I was 24 there had been some major changes in my life. I was living in Minnesota, I was married, I had a baby. If you had asked me then what religion I was would have said I wasn't any religion. (Full disclosure - Jesse and I were married in a catholic church but it was only because I really liked the building and I sort of liked the idea of a big, traditional church wedding. I am a hypocrite, I know.) I didn't identify myself as catholic and I thought that since I never went to church I was no longer a member of that particular club.
Then, like every one else int he world, I started to hear about the child abuse that happened within the catholic church. Hell, it didn't just happen, the church allowed it to happen. Encouraged it even by doing nothing more to prevent it other than to shuffle the abusive priests around to new parishes every few years. I became curious as to how a culture of violence (yes, violence) against children could become so entwined with the catholic religion. The more I learned the more appalled I became with Catholicism. I'm not going to post links to everything I've ever read here because you're smart people and you know how to google (and if you choose to google I hope you read information from all sides of the argument so that you can come an informed conclusion) but there is a wealth of information out there.
The church is anti-woman - their stance on abortion and reproductive care in general is horrendous. They're anti-family - they strongly oppose marriage equality. They're anti-child - do I even need to explain this one?
All of this is bad but a few days ago I read an article that really pushed me over the edge. (Found here.) I'll summarize for those of you that don't like to click links. A nine year old girl in Brazil was found to be pregnant with twins. Her step-father confessed to raping her. The girls mother took her to get an abortion. The church excommunicated the girl's mother and the doctors who performed the abortion but not the rapist step-father. Their reasoning? "Rape is a serious crime but a graver act than (rape) is abortion to eliminate an innocent life.” And how did the church expect a nine year old girl to carry and deliver twins? By c-section of course.
Try to wrap your brain around that. Try to fathom the lack of compassion and basic human decency that would allow the church to take that stance. It's mind boggling.
I posted this article on facebook and in the ensuing discussion a friend pointed out something interesting. She said that if you were baptized in a catholic church then the church will consider you a member pretty much forever. So if, for example, an article were to come out saying "There are X-number of Catholics in Minnesota" guess who would be included in that number. Yep, yours truly. Even though I disagree with pretty much everything the church stands for, even though I never go to church or pay dues or whatever it is that church people do.
So I started looking into how to get taken off that list. Turns out they don't make it easy. You can't just call up and ask to be removed. You actually have to be excommunicated. And even that's kind of a hassle. You can't walk in and demand an excommunication. You have to something off of their "Very, Very Naughty" list. One of those things is to physically assault the pope. I think he's a terrible man in charge of a terrible organization but I really don't see that happening. I wonder if they'll let me out if I tell them that every time I drive by Planned Parenthood I make rude hand gestures to the protesters standing outside?
I'll figure something out. Even if it's only on paper, I can't be a part of organization that fought to maintain a statute of limitations on sex crimes against children. Maybe they'll let me out if Father Butthead calls and tells them what a fat-ass I am.
I realize that this is a sensitive subject. My intention is not to offend anyone who is catholic even though the catholic church offends me. I know some wonderful people who are catholic. I do not think the problem lies with the individuals within the church, I think the institution as a whole is flawed.
Four years ago today I had a weed problem.