Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sex, Catholicism, and Snarky Atheists

The Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers of University of Illinois has come up with a brilliant event for Good Friday:

CHAMPAIGN – For many Christians, the Friday preceding Easter Sunday is one of the holiest days of the year.

This is precisely why the student organization Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers (AAF) has chosen this day to raise awareness about the Roman Catholic Church. The group plans to set up a booth on the Quad on Good Friday and disseminate information about the Church’s policies, especially those related to contraception and HIV/AIDS. Accordingly, the group will also be distributing free condoms.

“People often regard religion, and specifically Christianity as a force for good in the world,” said Mathew Rayman, an officer from AAF. “Just over a year ago, the Pope told Africans that condoms actually help to propagate AIDS rather than prevent it. Statements like these are irresponsible and illustrate the disconnect of the Vatican hierarchy from reality.” Two thirds of the estimated 33 million people with HIV/AIDS live in Africa.

The Catholic Church has always been fundamentally opposed to contraception, and Pope Paul VI reinforced this in the 1968 doctrinal letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, “Human Life”). According to the American Red Cross, consistent and correct condom use greatly reduces the risk of contracting HIV. AAF hopes to raise public awareness of these issues and promote productive discussion.
This is an awesome idea. My only complaint is that they didn't advertise sooner, so groups like mine could have similar events. I think this is a perfect example of a good controversial event: it's sure to piss some people off, receive media coverage, and get people talking - but it also has a purpose and a very important message. It doesn't exist for the sole reason of offending.

Great idea, AAF - hope it goes well!

(Via Skeptic Money)


  1. The AIDS lie is just one of the crimes against humanity that the current pope is guilty of, and we won't mention the wholesale cover up of child abuse...... doh!

    The Catholic church should be stripped of its tax free status, it is after all a huge conglomerate that is only interested in protecting its revenue earning capacity.

    Lourdes has turned into a money spinning Disneyesque theme park, with the RCC creaming off millions each year, I bet Jesus would have loved that.

  2. Tactically is this smart?

    I think most persuadable believers, i.e the logical, reasonable ones (who realize the literasits are nuts), are most likely to hold onto religion for sentimental, cultural reasons. This especially true around the holidays. They are the least likely to listen or be open to these sort of ideas over easter?

    That said, I think handing out condoms is always a good idea, and it might place some nagging thoughts, something to think about through the boring mass.

  3. "Statements like these are irresponsible {evil} and illustrate the disconnect of the Vatican hierarchy from reality {that whatever it is that the church values, it is not the good of humanity}."

  4. This does sound ilke a case of poor taste. I agree with Benjamin-sa that doing this on a holiday is more likely to incite frustration and insult than "freethinking" on behalf of churchgoers or anyone who appreciates the significance of Good Friday.

    Also, continuing to equate the Catholic church to Christianity won't win many points. Particularly if these folks dismiss all of the good things that *are* done by Christian organizations just because the Pope is an ass.

  5. Speaking as a former Catholic, I really hate all of this negative stigma put on Catholicism. Yes the Pope says ridiculous things, and yes the Vatican is basically useless. But when I was growing up, I was never taught any of this stuff. My parents didn't have any problems taking me to get birth control or telling me to be safe if ever I were to have sex. I think less and less Catholics are actually listening to the Pope and just doing whatever they want, so I'd like it if people would leave the blame where it belongs: on the dumbass Pope, not on the religion itself.

    That said, I agree that having this event is a great way to stir up some needed controversy, but having it on Good Friday is just distasteful.

  6. @Vanessa. A few years ago I asked a Catholic friend who hailed from Sri Lanka (she'd be bout 70 now if she hadn't died in the tsunami) if she had ever been exposed to the kind of teaching we used to associate with Irish priests re sex within marriage, to wit, "You can do it but you mustn't enjoy it". She was totally puzzled, never heard anything like that.

    'Sfunny, the old (as in pre-ID) comment entry system is back.

  7. I keep wondering how much longer the Catholic Church will last. Any non-religious organizations as corrupt and rediculous as this would have collapsed by now. Even the Roman Empire, the secular model for the Roman Catholic Church, died out eventually.

  8. Yeah, looks like the new comment system didn't stick...

    As far as the Catholics, I'm not sure they're worth attacking at this point. As was made obvious by the Hitchens & Fry Intelligence Squared debate a few months ago, attacking the Catholic church is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    I would rather attack Christianity as a whole, or in fact religion and supernaturalism as a whole (singling out Christianity does us no good, even if they are the most proximate), and I think getting sidetracked scoring easy points off of the Catholics isn't really all that productive.

    That said, it's still marvellous entertainment... perhaps it's hypocritical of me to say so, but for that reason I don't really object. Hold them to the fire.

  9. Any non-religious organizations as corrupt and rediculous as this would have collapsed by now.

    Dangerous line of argument, that. One of the apologias for Christianity revolves around the notion that you can't con people for 2,000 years. Strikes me as a circular argument, as we would say that you can because that is what has happened.

    If it hadn't already happened, we would say that semi-literate con artists in Lagos cybercaf├ęs would never be able to scam billions of dollars out of greedy morons, but it has already happened, hasn't it?

    Besides, a lot of political structures don't collapse, they just transform, same old shit under new names. For example Soviet Communism collapsed -- or did it? Or the Party continue as a mafia of interwoven business and security interests, the old USSR/USA convergence thesis the other way round?

    The last Roman Emperor died in 1453, and the Ottomans very much saw themselves as a continuation of the East Roman empire with the correct religion, the sultan titled himself kayser-i Rum, as his Seljuk forbears had done. The empire was actually run by the Greeks, as it had been before. In the West, the Roman Empire as an idea never died, it was constantly being revived -- Charlemagne, Otto III, the Staufers, the Hapsburgs, Napoleon and finally the EU.

    Your own dear Dixiecrats never died, they turned into the teabaggers.

    And so on!

  10. Very nice and interesting blog over Sex, Catholicism, and Snarky Atheists, I appreciate it as well as would like to share some information about tubal reversal, tubal reversal is a procedure which gives woman a chance to pregnant again. Thanks.

  11. Thanks i like your blog very much , i come back most days to find new posts like this.