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Religious “Ethics” July 13, 2008

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, Ethics.

I often hear people claim that religion provides a foundation or framework for morality. Well, it certainly isn’t a sufficient condition.

Army Spc. Jeremy Hall was a practicing Baptist until he lost his faith while serving in Iraq.

“His sudden lack of faith, he said, cost him his military career and put his life at risk. Hall said his life was threatened by other troops and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him out of fear for his safety.”

I had thought that a good shepherd seeks out and encourages a lost sheep to return to the flock, if only to protect his investment. But I guess I was wrong. A good shepherd just shoots the lost sheep.

And then we have this little gem from the “inflatable crisis doll” file.

“Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn’t eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.

Catholics worldwide became furious.   

Webster’s friend, who didn’t want to show his face, said he took the Eucharist, to show him what it meant to Catholics.

Webster gave the wafer back, but the Catholic League, a national watchdog organization for Catholic rights claims that is not enough.

 ‘We don’t know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was,” said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese.  “However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”’

Walking off with a symbolic cookie is a hate crime, even when the motivation isn’t clear?

“It is hurtful,” said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. “Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family.”

Stealing a symbolic cookie is like kidnapping?

To make matters worse, Catholics are so upset about this that Cook is now receiving death threats. Does this remind you of one of those other religions so often in the news?

But the story doesn’t end here, because inflatable dolls are just so attractive. The master of “inflatable doll outrage”, Bill Donahue President of the Catholic League, has weighed in:

“For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage–regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance–is beyond hate speech. That is why the UCF administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done. All options should be on the table, including expulsion.”

Intrepid blogger and biology professor P.Z. Meyers took Donahue and Catholics to task for turning cookie abuse into a hate crime, and now he is receiving death threats, while his university is receiving demands that Meyers be fired.

There are a lot of things I could say about this, but Myers is better at snark that I am, and I don’t want my President to receive demands for my dismissal.

 So let me just make a philosophical point. If a collection of ideas or commitments is to serve as a foundation or framework for moral conduct, it must provide its adherents with the proper motives for ethical conduct and a set of principles or narratives that enable people to make defensible judgments about the treatment of persons. If it doesn’t do this, it really can’t make a claim to be a foundation or framework for moral conduct.

There are some religious perspectives that, as foundations, are developing some very serious cracks.



1. Huan - July 13, 2008

To put it plainly, I think the reason that religious fanatics can’t even come close to acting like jesus is because of too much faith as opposed to the lack of it. It seems to me that truly emcompassing moral foundations require some flexibility, isn’t that partly why Jesus preached a revolution on traditional judaist teachings? (That wasn’t rhetorical, I actually don’t know the history well enough.)

2. Huan - July 13, 2008

One of the comments on the related posts is great
“Perhaps it is a simulation of the crucifixion of Christ through the enduring of the rigours of our digestive system…this is very weird…”

3. Paul Moloney - July 15, 2008

The peculiar thing about faith is that it can appeal to pride. Many people seem to be ready to die or kill for faith, while at the same time these same people would rather die than practice that faith. People would be proud to die for faith but too ashamed to practice it.

It seems also that some people believe in their concepts of God rather than in God. If God is the object of faith, rather than concepts, then these people really do not even have faith. Some people proclaim to have faith when actually it is just their opinion that they have faith, as they do not give any evidence of having faith.

Even philosophically some people contradict themselves concerning their supposed faith. It does not follow that if one believed God is Love one would then act on that belief by making death threats. People proclaim that God is all-powerful and then proceed to kill the supposed enemies of God. They have no understanding of the concept all-powerful. If God were all-powerful, God would need no help in killing anyone. Apparently God is not all-powerful enough for some people.

If God has nothing to do with killing, one has to wonder what relation to the military God has. The slogan “for God and country” seems to indicate that God needs to be defended by us, so we could not really think that God is all-powerful. The military seems to use belief in God, Christianity in particular, merely for the sake of discipline and control. To disobey an order would be to disobey God, even if the order were contrary to the practice of Christian faith.

4. Huan - July 15, 2008

I guess what they would say is that they are the hands and feet of God, and that they carry out God’s will instead of defending him. They’d probably say that what they’re doing is actually what God is doing, so them killing people is God killing people.

5. Paul Moloney - July 19, 2008

I wonder if some of the anger expressed towards the fellow that kidnapped the Eucharist is born of frustration. It seems to me that no one has desecrated the Eucharist more than some Catholic priests, even on a daily and yearly basis. It would seem to me that consecrating the host and eating the Eucharist while being a child molester would be to desecrate the Eucharist, but in general there was no outrage among Catholics concerning that. One of the differences between the Catholic Church and some of the Protestant denominations is this. No matter how evil a Catholic priest may be, the laity heave no power to remove him. On the other hand, it seems that no matter how good a Protestant minister may be, the laity have the power to remove him.

Catholic laity that are angered by a priest cannot do anything about that anger without causing themselves more trouble, which is a definite cause of frustration. Such people are more liable to take that anger out on the first person they can. When such anger is expressed in public, other people can see how unjust it is.

It would seem that the Eucharist is just a wafer, considering it has no power to stop priests that consume it from molesting children. It apparently has no power to stop people from making unchristian death threats. Such Catholics themselves have no reverence for the Eucharist, so it is hypocritical that the same people would be outraged at someone else seemingly not showing reverence. It seems that the only people that have power over God are the hypocrites. As soon as God brings people to church, the hypocrites drive them back out or turn them into atheists. No one does more harm to the Catholic Church than Catholics.

6. Paul Moloney - July 22, 2008

In my last comment I contrasted supposed situations between priests and ministers while speaking of ministers in the male gender. Protestants do have women clergy. This comment indicates to me that I am not as perfectly non-sexist as I would like to think myself to be.

7. Bookmarks about Ethics - August 21, 2008

[…] – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by salveamigo on 2008-07-27 Religious “Ethics” https://philosophyonthemesa.com/2008/07/13/religous-ethics/ – bookmarked by 3 members originally […]

8. Roberto Morales - October 7, 2008

i think its obvious that someone has something against Catholics. Maybe your just as bad as you say they are. You dont understand the power of the Eucharist to Catholics. It’s say as if someone were to steal one of your prized possessions except worse!!

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