‘Theological Porn’: The Most Egregious Religious Idea of 2021 is a Tieoctober 13 astrology
‘Theological Porn’: The Most Egregious Religious Idea of 2021 is a Tieoctober 13 astrologyPornographic peas in a pod, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett (L) and Bishop John F. Doerfler. FacebookTweet
Competition was keen, but the award for the Most Egregious Religious Idea of 2021 resulted in a tie between that of Supreme Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett and that of Bishop John F. Doerfler of the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan. The award does not apply to any single individual, but is given for a concept or ideology that does serious damage.
Judge Barrett’s flabbergasting claim came in oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization when she implied that adoption was the cure-all for abortion. She stated: “both Roe and Casey emphasize the burdens of parenting. And insofar as you and many of your amici focus on the ways in which forced parenting, forced motherhood, would hinder women’s access to the workplace, and to equal opportunities, it’s also focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy—why don’t the safe haven laws take care of that problem?”
The idea is that in some unfathomable context it’s acceptable to force people to give birth because after nine months of gestation the baby can be dropped off at the neighborhood fire station for someone else to raise. The people in this scenario (to Justice Barrett and her ilk they’re always seen as women) are considered to be containers of reproduction. The babies are disregarded as if the experience of separation is not traumatic and will not echo in their psyches. The theological question is: what distorted concepts of God and human flourishing lie behind this notion?
Bishop Doerfler offers an equally preposterous idea in his statement, “Created in the Image and Likeness of God: An Instruction on Some Aspects of the Pastoral Care of Persons with Same-Sex Attractions and Gender Dysphoria.” His solution is “pastoral accompaniment” by which he means creating the conditions by which same-sex loving and trans Catholic people will be insulted, disenfranchised, and effectively driven from their faith community.
According to this document, LGBTQ people cannot be baptized, confirmed, or received into full communion without giving up their relationships or repenting. Nor can they serve as sponsors for Baptism or Confirmation, teach, administer communion or, God forbid, even serve on the parish council or count the money. Students in Catholic schools are to be called by and treated according to their birth pronouns regardless of their current status. The fundamental idea is that Catholics have to be heterosexual and cis gender, or be celibate and quiet about their lives. Again, the mind boggles at what concept of the divine and cosmic goodness underlies such thinking.
These two ideas rival one another for most egregious this year because their roots are intertwined. They’re based on the notion that humanity is made by cookie cutters and life experiences are the same for everyone. Common sense nixes that. Serious study of the social, psychological, economic, and political circumstances that create a grossly unjust world make such ideas as intellectually ridiculous as they are morally repugnant. That they’re proffered under the rubric of Catholic religious teaching, which many in positions of cultural and legislative power take seriously, makes them dangerous.
I file them under theological pornography because they have three things in common with commercial porn:
These ideas objectify persons. They reduce them to their reproductive capacity or sexual orientation and gender identity. Women’s deepest identity is seen as their capacity to reproduce and therefore they must. Mass murderers, pedophiles, environmental villains, and rapacious capitalists are all welcome as Catholics, but a pox on the houses of same-sex loving persons, trans and non-binary folks. These ideas trivialize sex, gender, and embodiment itself. Abortion is not a frivolous decision. The choice to end a pregnancy can be as much an act of love as is making a plan for a newborn to be taken care of by others. What does it matter to anyone else what gender one feels is their own? Only fetishizing biology permits the rejection of trans people living on their own terms. These ideas lead to violence. Women who abort may soon face more than inconvenience if statutes that outlaw their choice are implemented. Doctors whose medical practices include abortion live in fear of their lives. High suicide rates among LGBTQ people tell all. Bullying, restricted access to jobs, housing, and health care are common results of the homohatred reflected in the Michigan letter. Real people suffer real consequences from these ideas.
If religion watchers, journalists, and activists do our work, perhaps the category of “most egregious religious ideas” will be retired by 2022. If not, the duty to warn remains in effect.
october 13 astrology‘Theological Porn’: The Most Egregious Religious Idea of 2021 is a Tie