Reason Freely

Where’s the Love?

Posted in news by reasonfreely on June 2, 2010

A Catholic school fired an 8th grade math teacher for being an atheist on Facebook.  For the record, she says she’s not an atheist in reality — but she’s not sure about organized religion.  She’s a classic Doubting Thomas, and somehow I doubt this is going to inure her to faith.  Once again, the Apostolic Church proves its inflexibility, hypocrisy and lack of forgiveness.

(Plus, it shows how harmful the new Facebook privacy setting changes are.)

On one hand, it’s the school’s right to fire anyone they want especially because she signed a contract saying she had to “uphold the faith” while being a teacher.  Pre-algebra has as much to do with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as it does with George, Paul, Ringo and John, but they have the right to think God is in the quadratic formula if they want.  As a religious institution that’s funded by tuition and church tithes rather than tax money, they can freely fire atheists without breaking any discrimination laws — in fact, they could even argue first amendment protection here.   Legally and contractually, I believe the school is entitled to fire her.

But legal right isn’t the same as ethically right.

Last I heard, it would be more consistent with the message of Christ to offer the teacher, Nurre, redemption and reconciliation.  This is the same Catholic church that has kept child molesters in their ranks over the objections of nearly everyone in their congregations because they believe pedophiles deserve a second chance.  Oh by the way, this is the same Iowa diocese that has banned the kids of gay parents from attending Catholic schools, and fired a teacher for being a lesbian.  The bishop of that diocese, R. Walker Nickless, opposes government-subsidized health care, despite the pope’s pronouncement that health care is a human right.  (Wait, didn’t Jesus heal the lepers?  Did I miss the part where he required them to prove it wasn’t a pre-existing condition?)  Forgiving and attempting to redeem pedophiles while booting a doubter, axing a lesbian, opposing healing the sick, and shunning children is really ridiculous.  This diocese deserves all the disgust and derision that result.

But what can anyone do about it?

If you’re reading this and you are a Catholic, it is your ethical responsibility, if you disagree with the church’s actions in Iowa, to take a stand on Sunday morning.  Tell them you don’t want that to happen in your diocese.  Freethinkers, bloggers and pundits can jabber all we want, but the hypocrites with collars like Nickless won’t give a damn.  They won’t even start to take notice until the congregations who pay their salaries start making real noise about their mismanagement and bigotry.

All you have to do (assuming you agree with me) is write a letter to your congregation.  Most congregations have a newsletter where church members can write opinion letters.  Or a bulletin board, website, email list, social club, Facebook page, etc.  If I were a Catholic — or a member of any church congregation — I would say something like this:

“I don’t like the hypocrisy I see happening in Iowa, and I want to make sure that our diocese shows a spirit of forgiveness and love, rather than stone-throwing and bigotry.  Where was the attempt to welcome the doubting teacher, Nurre, into the faith, when they fired her for saying she didn’t believe?  Where was the Mission for those kids with gay parents when they expelled them from school?  Where was the forgiveness for the lesbian teacher when they gave her the boot?  Where was the love and open arms?  All the Body of Christ is showing in Iowa is back of our hand.  Our congregation and diocese needs to be an example of compassion and redemption to light the way for those who have forgotten what it means to be Christian.”

But I can’t.  Maybe you can.

Advertisements

17 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. creationbydesign said, on June 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    There are lots of good Catholics looking for work. Someone who denies the faith will have influence on students, even in math class. She should have enough personal integrity to realize that and seek a job elsewhere.
    You mention pedophile priests but you don’t mention the many atheists still working in Catholic schools who haven’t been fired (yet).
    So, now that some laxity regarding pedophiles is being corrected, the same (following your parallell) should happen with teachers who deny Catholic belief. Or should they recieve preferential treatment?

    • reasonfreely said, on June 3, 2010 at 7:38 am

      I don’t know about you, but I see a vast difference between molesting children and doubt. So yes, in my opinion, any organization should treat pedophiles far, far worse than doubters.

      • creationbydesign said, on June 3, 2010 at 10:49 am

        Pedophilia can be perfectly justified in an atheistic or agnostic philosophical system, as can any violation of Catholic moral standards. Pedophilia is criminalized in society based on arbitrary, subjective psychological standards (that is why the age of consent differs from state to state, country to country). In an atheistic view, a group like NAMBLA is as morally valid as the Catholic Church. In fact, in the materialistic view, rape itself is merely normative evolutionary development (which is actually more “effective” than courtship and romance).
        These are just some of the problems that atheism brings to society.
        This post might offer some insights:
        http://creationbydesign.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/evil-is-definitely-a-problem-for-the-atheistic-worldview/

        • reasonfreely said, on June 3, 2010 at 11:29 am

          Atheism is not a moral or ethical philosophy. It’s simply a statement of unbelief in the supernatural. A rather simple statement.

          Armed robbery is not prohibited by the rules of contract bridge; drug smuggling is not prohibited by the statement “I don’t think John McCain will be a good president”; and embezzlement is not prohibited by the class of people who don’t believe in Thor.

          Morals are older than the bible; and they’re largely intuitive. Deep ethical systems that have no supernatural component at all have been part of our society for centuries.

          Your blog post demonstrates ignorance and lax scholarship. Have you even read L’Etranger? Would you be a burglar or rapist if it weren’t for your belief in hell? Disgusting.

        • reasonfreely said, on June 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

          But your blog has a very pretty header picture. Is that original art? Very nice.

        • creationbydesign said, on June 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm

          Yes, I mashed together some of my favorite images trying to express a theme of wonder and how various beautiful things are connected. Thanks for your kind words!! 🙂

        • Reinhart said, on June 8, 2010 at 1:46 am

          Your argument is invalid from almost laughable reasoning. For starters, from an empirical standpoint, all religious moral systems are arbitrary, regardless of divine claims. Secondary, as a tautology Atheistic ethical systems only share a lack of an appeal to divine authority. To claim otherwise is the same as claiming that Catholicism, Mormonism, and Islam have identical moral systems because they are all Monotheist.

          While there are variations on cultural values, practices such as pedophilia are rarely widely embraced for logical reasons and the criminalization of pedophilia is quite easily explained without supernatural morality. Premature sexual activity affects the mental and emotional development of a child. Victims of child molestation typically suffer from maladaptive behavior for their entire lives, and many grow up to be child molesters themselves. A society that allowed such practices to occur freely would have a significantly less healthy and productive population than societies that limited such behavior. Eventually competition for resources and the exchange of ideas would diminish or absorb any society the generally condoned such abusive behavior.

          Furthermore, as social and reasoning beings, we have learned to value such abstract qualities as liberty and opportunity. From those values arise the urge to build societies that respect and protect an individual’s autonomy. As child molestation generally represents an abuse of power through either force or emotional coercion, it is logically a violation of that prioritized value for freedom.

    • creationbydesign said, on June 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      Atheism is not a moral or ethical philosophy. It’s simply a statement of unbelief in the supernatural. A rather simple statement.

      Atheism is a metaphysic and therefore the foundation for any morals that follow from it as the first principle. The first principle in that case is purposelessness — that is the ultimate, overriding concept. Any morals that come from that system are ultimately meaningless — as the many quotes I provided show clearly.

      Armed robbery is not prohibited by the rules of contract bridge;

      Contract bridge is not a philosophical position.

      drug smuggling is not prohibited by the statement “I don’t think John McCain will be a good president”;

      An opinion on the presidency is not a statement about finality and purpose — which are the most important statements a human being can make (vs a more trivial concern on politics).

      Have you even read L’Etranger?

      Yes, even I have even read it even three times and even studied it at the graduate level, even.

      Would you be a burglar or rapist if it weren’t for your belief in hell?

      You’re falling into a common tactic which is reducing the philosophical scope to the personal and then feigning disgust with regards to the logical conclusion of your own opinion. Here, you do not express disgust at how Camus applied logic to the atheistic position, but only to a hypothetical me who would actually take the logic seriously.

      Disgusting.

      I think I covered this in my post, mentioning how emotionalism can cloud the issue. Again, you’re not disgusted with the philosophy which is clear — and you have no argument against it. Instead, you create a fictionalized version of me and have trivialized my motivations so now you can be disgusted.

      One thing I’m very sure of RF — you know very little about me and your attempt to portray me as essentially an evil individual says a lot about the weakness of your position. It’s a demonizing tactic.

      • ayb109 said, on June 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm

        “Atheism is a metaphysic and therefore the foundation for any morals that follow from it as the first principle.”

        This is an interesting statement, about which I have a few questions.

        Is any metaphysical statement automatically a moral foundation? Could one derive a complete moral system from a statement like “There exists an invisible flying monster made of spaghetti” taken by itself?

        Must a moral first principle be metaphysical? Or could one derive a moral system from a principle like “A person acts in his or her own best interest.” (Note: The resulting system won’t necessarily be a good one, here I just try to riff on the definition of “morals”)

        You seem to assume that all atheists take atheism as their moral first principle; am I interpreting you correctly? Is it possible, in your view, to make some metaphysical statement that has no moral bearing?

        • creationbydesign said, on June 4, 2010 at 11:21 am

          Interesting and thoughtful questions, ayb – thanks.

          Is any metaphysical statement automatically a moral foundation? Could one derive a complete moral system from a statement like “There exists an invisible flying monster made of spaghetti” taken by itself?

          That’s complicated. First, the statement that this being exists is not as complete a metaphysical conclusion as atheism is. We’d have to ask a lot of questions about what the being is, how you arrived at the belief and what the being does. There are many invisible things that exist but just because something exists doesn’t mean it serves as a complete metaphysical system. So this FSM is just a thing. When we talk about God as the origin of Being and the source of goodness, justice and meaning (purpose) — that has a massively different impact on morality.

          Must a moral first principle be metaphysical? Or could one derive a moral system from a principle like “A person acts in his or her own best interest.” (Note: The resulting system won’t necessarily be a good one, here I just try to riff on the definition of “morals”)

          That’s right. You could make up any moral ideas and enforce them or not. But morality will only have ultimate meaning if ultimate meaning is possible. Otherwise, it’s just an arbitrary statement. Your statement is basically the atheistic one that I quoted in the post (from P.Z. Myers) — “the only thing that stops us from going on a murder spree is self-interest”. But that’s not really a moral system — it’s after-the-fact, trying to explain actions. It doesn’t command or forbid actions. Any behavior just “is”. The person did it for self-interest. That includes every possible behavior a human can perform, even the most “destructive” (which fulfills self-interest).

          You seem to assume that all atheists take atheism as their moral first principle; am I interpreting you correctly? Is it possible, in your view, to make some metaphysical statement that has no moral bearing?

          On the first question, I assume that all atheists must take atheism as their first principle, or else they’re not being honest.
          That first principle is: “there is no ultimate purpose”.
          That is a complete metaphysical statement that must serve (philosophically) as the foundation for everything.

          Morality points to a purpose and a reference point. A moral code which is imposed for no reason at all is irrational (because by definition, “rationality” requires “reasons” for things).

          Usually, atheists will say that they do things “for their own reason” or for some reason, but their metaphysic denies that anything actually has an ultimate reason. As the quotes I posted show, there is no ultimate purpose or ultimate meaning. Whatever “minor reasons” a person has, these are ultimately nothing, purposeless and meaningless.

          With meaningless as the last-end of all actions, that is a great equalizer. It means that no action has more or less ultimate meaning, value or purpose. They’re all meaningless ultimately.

          To do something for self-interest is to establish “self” as the reference point. But in atheism, “self” is temporary, purposeless and without meaning or reason for existence (in other words, it is nothing).

          So, an atheistic morality would be imposing rules on people for the ultimate purpose of “nothing” and for no reason.

          To use an extreme example, it was in Hitler’s self-interest to kill Jewish people and attain world-domination. That was his moral code and what he worked to achieve.

          So, his self-interest conflicted with others. But that would mean that any moral action would be justified.

  2. David said, on June 2, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Actually, they didn’t get to keep their jobs. They were made to move, at the very least to change locations, sometimes put in positions where they could not do their jobs as priests. And your blanket statement is ridiculous. The vast majority of the problem priests were handled correctly, some that get the most play in the news were not. And that’s true of priests in general. Less that 5% of priests ever forsook their vows, but it’s those you hear about.

    She said directly to whom? I know that sometimes, something written carries much more weight than something said. Take President Bush for example, in general. And actually, the victims are paying lawyers to sue the church. The Church is using their own lawyers to ensure fairness to all parties.

    Finally, if abortion was not covered by the bill, why did stupid Stupak wait for the president to sign a meaningless, revokable Executive Order promising that abortion would not be funded?

  3. ayb109 said, on June 2, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    When I was a Catholic, I often considered whether pressure from congregations could effect any kind of bottom-up change in the Church, and concluded in the negative.

    Most parish priests I’ve met wouldn’t even consider publishing a letter like yours in their bulletins or web sites. Even if they did, the churchgoers who might be receptive to it aren’t going to be the next generation of bishops, they’re going to be the next lapsed Catholics.

    The Church’s ingrained, top-down government rewards leaders who favor doctrine over popular opinion, ignoring the latter when it disagrees. So it wouldn’t be enough to convince a majority of Catholics, or even of priests, that something has to change; you have to convince the highest-ranking bishops directly. And of course, those leaders got where they are because they wholeheartedly support the Catholic status quo, so good luck with that.

    I found that the only effective way to voice my dissent with Catholic leadership was to vote with my feet, and left. And I’m pretty sure that’s all any rank-and-file Catholic can do; the Church will stay its course until enough people leave to threaten its existence, and might not even change if that happens.

    • reasonfreely said, on June 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      You make some good points. Customer Service Principle #1 and all that.

  4. David said, on June 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    You show your total ignorance of the Catholic faith, and about the Catholic Church in general. For the record, the Catholic Church is the safest institution in the world for children. Second, Catholics understand the hypocracy of being a non-believer teaching in a school who’s first name is Catholic. Third, it doesn’t matter what subject the teacher is teaching. Fourth, God is the author of mathematics, so has everything to do with algebra.

    You call the bishop a hypocrit, what is hypocritical? He says what he believes and does it. A hypocrit says one thing and does something else. Let me give you an example: If I agree to uphold the Catholic faith, but disagree with the rule that women can’t be priests, and advocate against that rule, I’m a hypocrit.

    • reasonfreely said, on June 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      I may have a biased view of the Catholic church. My view is that they’re supposed to be accepting and forgiving, and care more about redemption of doubters and sinners than expulsion and shunning. My view is that Christ healed the sick, and didn’t charge for it, and that the pope’s charitable view about universal health care should be the Bishop’s.

      I could be wrong, but I don’t want to be. I try to keep a positive view.

      • David said, on June 2, 2010 at 2:37 pm

        “Forgiving” is not letting people get away with error. Accepting does not mean supporting someone’s error. Forgiving and accepting involve taking someone by the hand and helping them out of their error. Your story doesn’t say so, but did the school give the teacher a chance to change? We don’t know. I seriously doubt that it was a summary dismissal, they seldom are, unless there’s severe misconduct. Christ healed the sick, but most of the time he converted them on the spot as well. Seldom did he heal anyone who didn’t become a follower. Also, Christ didn’t tell mankind that we have to heal the sick for no charge. The bishop opposes government-subsidized health care because it pays for abortions. The pope never said, and never would say, that abortion should be covered under health care, especially considering that the health of the fetus is totally not cared for.

        By the way, I’m not condemning you, either, I’m trying to show you where you’re wrong. I hope you can accept my correction in charity.

        • reasonfreely said, on June 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm

          I’m a blogger, so arguing on the internet is not offensive to me; but I wouldn’t consider it charity. I think you’re rationalizing.

          Abby Nurre said directly that she’s not an atheist, and that her mind isn’t made up. They still fired her and even tried to deny her unemployment claim. The pedophile priests got much better treatment from day 1: They got to keep their jobs. I call that letting them get away with an error, and even contributing to it: The church is paying lawyers to fight the victims in court. Real compassionate, there.

          Additionally, if you believe that the health care bill pays for abortions, then you are clearly very much misinformed, and there is no sense arguing that point. NARAL opposed the bill, if that’s any indication. Or you can read the language or EO13535 yourself http://www.lifenews.com/nat6165.html


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: