It’s time to end religious freedom to rape children and conceal it from authorities

There are myriad reasons many Americans detest organized religion, and it is unclear if two of the main reasons have contributed to more Americans leaving “the church” in droves. Of course, one of the reasons is evangelical and Catholic groups claiming their “religious freedom” gives them constitutional authority to demand universal compliance to their religious edicts. Another reason is the idea that members of the Christian clergy are free to commit all manner of heinous criminal acts with impunity because they are granted salvation – because their religion’s namesake died on a stake. It is likely that the “saved by grace” reasoning is a contributing factor to both Catholic and evangelical leaders’ inclination to cover up what is probably the most monstrous sin a human being can commit – raping children.

For those who have followed the regular reports that yet another Catholic priest was revealed to be a child rapist, and then “forgiven” by the faithful and rewarded by Church officials with a new assignment, the horrors reported recently were not unexpected. The response from the “official church,” and rash of platitudes from local church leaders, also were not unexpected or new; Catholic officials probably have Vatican-approved comments prepared for these hideous “revelations.”

It is important to note that this sexual abuse (rape) by clergy is not unique to Catholic priests by any means. Evangelical clergy are regularly caught up in “sexual misconduct” scandals and just like the Vatican and local Catholic leaders, there are typically insincere, often tearful, appeals for forgiveness; often from the stage of a wealthy megachurch. A tearful mea culpa with gratitude for being saved by grace and all is well with the faithful. All the while, the sexual predators are free to return to the flock because they enjoy “salvation by cross.”

Here is a little biblical information about the reason the faithful are so forgiving of child molesters and rapists; there is no salvation for members of the clergy that sin – there just isn’t and it is not this author’s opinion. It is, in fact, written in what Christians consider god’s “immutable and infallible” word – the Christian bible.

According to the archaic rule book Catholics and evangelicals claim rules their lives:

There is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us.”

Of course sacrifice can be replaced with salvation because according to scripture, the only reason Christian are saved is because their deity “sacrificed” his son for the faithful who do not “purposely go on sinning.” In fact, the concept of sinning after learning the truth is regarded as apostasy; a major religious sin that warrants ex-communication. It is no mystery why evangelical and Catholic leaders are not defrocking and ex-communicating the child rapists, and it is precisely the same reason Republicans refuse to evict Trump from the White House or even publicly criticize him; it will damage the brand.

Regarding the revelation that for decades Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania, about 300 of them, had raped over 1,000 children, the Pope issued a sternly worded letter. But he did not suggest any penalty except for the pedophile priests to devote their lives to prayer and penance.  No doubt there are thousands of pedophiles sitting in American prisons who would welcome a harsh penalty like devoting their lives to prayer, but those non-clergy pedophiles do not enjoy religious freedom to rape children with impunity.

The most damning part of the Pennsylvania grand jury report is detailing the effort church leaders exerted to “cover-up the crimes.”  The church leaders are complicit in the crimes because their protection emboldened the pedophile priests to continue to rape and sexually abuse children for decades. The report also noted, “in great detail,” that the rapes were “widespread and systematic” with “the full knowledge and tacit approval of church leaders.”  It is worth mentioning that in every other aspect of American society, having full knowledge of a crime and not reporting it is a federal felony. According to 18 U.S. Code § 4 – Misprision of felony:

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

There is no doubt that Catholic leaders, from the lowliest nun to the Pope, not only knew about the pedophile priests’ vile crimes, they covered them up to protect the brand. Republicans are doing the same thing in protecting Trump, but that is the subject of another opinion piece. To make matters worse, church leaders, whether the Catholics or evangelicals, are excused from following the rule of law because they enjory religious freedom to ignore the law of the land like they ignore their own bible.

It is a travesty for victims of rape-by-clergy, but in most states there is no requirement for church leaders to report crimes against children. It is true that some states have “mandatory reporting laws” for clergy, but it is also a fact that in most states “any information protected by the clergy-penitent privilege is not admissible in a court proceeding;” even if the “protected information” regards members of the clergy raping children.

Although imprisonment is not guaranteed to deter pedophiles whether they are filthy members of the clergy or just filthy street perverts, sending clergy convicted of raping children to prison would be a “come to Jesus” moment and possibly spare children a lifetime of grief and misery. It is obvious, or it should be, that the Pope issuing another “sternly-worded” letter, or penalizing pedophile priests to a life of “prayer and penance,” or the faithful “considering” withholding financial donations has not worked. However, if the Catholic priests and evangelical clergy were sent to prison for raping children, or if the Church leaders were convicted of “misprision of felony” and spent three years in a federal penitentiary, there may be a rapid reduction in the number of innocent children scarred for life.

There is no reason why members of the clergy, whether Catholics or evangelicals, should be exempt from abiding by the laws of the land like every other American; especially laws prohibiting adults in positions of authority from raping children. In California, if a school teacher, nurse, cafeteria worker, janitor, or counselor even suspects a student has been abused and fails to immediately report their suspicions, they face up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Moreover, if a school teacher et al “intentionally conceals his or her failure to report an incident  of abuse or severe neglect, the failure to report is a continuing offense.” Clergy are exempt from mandatory reporting requirements in California because of religious freedom.

It is true that although no church leader has claimed religious freedom to cover up child rape-by-clergy yet, they know that the only reason they can legally cover up pedophilia is because religious freedom exempts them from adhering to the law. Until that changes, the Pope can issue all the sternly-worded letters he wants, and Catholic adherents can continue “considering” withholding donations to the Church with the same results. Catholic priests and evangelical preachers can rape children with impunity because in America religious freedom means, among other things, the law of the land applies to everyone except child rapists that are Catholic priests, evangelical preachers and their leaders.

Vatican Attacks America’s Evangelical Push Toward Theocracy

 

It isn’t often that any secular humanist can find a point of agreement with a religion, especially a religion with a sordid history of inhumanity in the name of god. Although there have been what appear to be reasons for hope with an alleged “liberal” Pope heading up the Catholic Church, it always turns out to be more of the same despite some hints things are going to be different. Last week was different, though, because in a “Vatican-approved and reviewed” article being hailed as “explosive,” two of Pope Francis’ closest allies lashed out with religious fervor at “the spurious alliance between politics and religious fundamentalism in the United States.”

Pope Francis’ allies, Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa “called out” evangelical dominionist groups “composed mainly of whites from the deep American South” for rejecting the “global ecological crisis” and their dire “Armageddon-infused rhetoric.” The two authors were very adept at pointedly drawing parallels to Islamic fundamentalism. The two men charged the evangelical fundamentalist movement of seeking to control “the political and parliamentary sphere and in the judicial and education areas so that public norms can be subjected to [the evangelicals] religious morals.” (author bold)

The Pope’s allies had no qualms calling out the political organizations and networks feeding the “apocalyptic” politics polluting the entire American conservative movement. They specifically noted a nasty religious right conservative group, the Council for National Policy and the machinations of one of their exponents, Steve Bannon, as “staunch supporters of apocalyptic geopolitics.” And, they did not hold back attacking something this author has screamed about for a couple of decades in print and digital media; “Catholic Integralists” who are attempting to force their domineering “religious influence in the public sphere.” The article states:

Appealing to the values of fundamentalism, a strange form of surprising ecumenism is developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists. . . . Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned. . . . This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.

It isn’t exactly clear why it took the Vatican a couple of decades to figure out that, as this author has “screamed about forever;” the “defining feature of the Christian Right in America is the conservative evangelical-Catholic convergence.” Remember, it was in 1970 that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that introduced the Southern religious right to their terrible “loss of religious liberty” to control the masses that threatens this nation more than ever today.

The two authors were spot on in identifying the “shocking rhetoric” of the “Church Militant” and other pro-Trump organizations that “are openly in favor of a political ultraconservatism and uses of Christian symbols to impose itself:

The American elections in this perspective were seen as a ‘spiritual war’ . . .  Church Militant asks if Trump’s victory can be attributed to the prayers of Americans. The response is affirmative. The indirect missioning for President Trump is clear: he has to follow through on the consequences. This is a very direct message that then wants to condition the presidency by framing it as a divine election.”

Naturally, an American Archbishop from Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, attacked the Vatican article as an “exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation” against the U.S. Constitution’s attacks on the religious freedom of the aspiring theocrats. Chaput claims there is no “political warfare cloaked as spiritual warfare;” it is just the logical and necessary outcome of the Constitution’s attacks on “the traditional church.” Chaput claims that:

Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power. . . . Dismissing today’s attacks on religious liberty as a ‘narrative of fear’—as the La Civiltà Cattolica author curiously describes it—might have made sense 25 years ago. Now it sounds willfully ignorant.  It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief.”

Messrs. Spadaro and Figueroa call this nonsense from the American religious right Archbishop Chaput false ecumenism; this author calls it what it really is, pure unadulterated bullshit and a filthy dirty lie. The two Vatican allies accurately explained what it really is: “an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic state that ‘wants walls and purifying deportations.’” They also say that by stark contrast, Pope Francis’ ecumenism “moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges.” (Author bold)

As noted at the beginning of this piece, it is extremely seldom that one can find anything to agree on with the Catholic Church, but by dog these two ‘Christians’ certainly nailed the religious right and Catholic crusade for “their dream of a theocratic state” smack on the head. Where they are confused though is underestimating the power of the religious right despite the cretins are in the minority.

They claim that Pope Francis seriously “wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and the Church,” but “that link” underpins the entire conservative movement in America. It will take more than Pope Francis’ efforts to break that link because for some unknown reason Americans are terrified of uttering an unkind word about the ambitious theocratic takeover of America. If politicians, especially Democrats, would identify evangelical fundamentalists as the source of the danger to democracy and Americans as a free people, the Pope may see that dangerous link broken and theocrats in the conservative movement permanently put out of our misery.

Steve Bannon Joins Insurgency Trying To Topple Pope Francis

 

Any conscious human being should comprehend that there is a movement to re-order the world that includes tearing down established governments and institutions, and America is now leading the movement. The current administration has shown a marked desire to tear down long-established alliances and treaties and is basing its foreign policy on waging a religious crusade against a particular faith. The man considered the second most powerful person in America, Steve Bannon, was reported to have confessed to being a Leninist whose goal is taking down “the state establishments” worldwide; it explains the Trump administration. What Trump is too “functionally illiterate” to comprehend about Bannon is that his dream of tearing down the state includes the “American state,” and the Republican Party will not be spared. Bannon has inserted his particular brand of alt-right nativism throughout Eastern Europe and has made inroads into French politics by “advising” neo-Nazi groups on how best to effectively sow fear and loathing toward Muslims and the people and organizations working to promote tolerance and democracy; especially people like Pope Francis.

It was reported that Bannon’s assault on “the establishment” includes the Catholic Church’s Pope Francis; likely because he talks like Jesus Christ and embraces “the Messiah’s” teachings on tolerance and charity; even for Islam and its adherents. Bannon, the alt-right theocrat who wants America to be a serious Jude’s-Christian “state,” did what he does best and slithered his slimy self into a demoted neo-conservative Catholic cardinal’s confidence to assist him in undermining the Holy Father and his agenda of promoting Jesus Christ’s teaching of charity, tolerance and goodwill toward everyone; not just white racist greedy evangelicals.

The New York Times reported that Bannon and conservative (American) Cardinal Raymond Burke became enamored with each other over their hatred of Muslims and “a changing worldview” they believe Pope Francis was working to spread. The Times reported that Bannon and Burke “…saw Islam as threatening to overrun a prostrate West weakened by the erosion of traditional Christian values, and viewed themselves as unjustly ostracized by out-of-touch political elites.”

In what seems like a damned bizarre statement from a Vatican-aligned member of the Christian faith, the man who arranged the commiseration meeting between the “onward Christian soldiers,” who have “sacrificed” and fought in the still ongoing culture war, Benjamin Harnwell said,

When you recognize someone who has sacrificed in order to remain true to his principles and who is fighting the same kind of battles in the cultural arena, in a different section of the battlefield, I’m not surprised there is a meeting of hearts.

As a former Christian minister, it is safe to say that every member of “the Christian clergy” is supposed to “act like Jesus” and is tasked with shepherding the flock to comport with Christ’s teachings; not fight battles against Islam, women and gays.

What has the “anti-Francis insurgency” inside the Catholic Church and Steve Bannon joining forces is their drive to put an abrupt end to “the direction” [Pope] Francis is taking the 1.2 billion Catholic flock. As the Times noted, the neo-cons in the Church agree with Bannon and believe that the Holy Father is a “dangerously misguided, and probably socialist, pontiff” who needs to be “toppled” along with democratic governments opposing neo-Nazis, evangelical fanaticism, and aggression towards Islam.

It is most certain that Cardinal Burke is carrying out a vendetta against Pope Francis for demoting him for being an intolerant ultra-conservative douchebag and expressing hate speech unbecoming of a civilized human being, much less a Catholic cardinal and representative of Christ. There is little doubt that Bannon’s vendetta is founded on the Pope “carrying out an inclusive agenda on migration, climate change and poverty,” a Papal agenda that has endeared him to Catholics and non-believers alike around the globe.

The good news for civilized human beings is that Pope Francis is undeterred in directing the Church to be more “Christ-like.” According to a Jesuit priest and editor of the Vatican-approved “La Civilta Cattolica,” the Reverend Antonio Spadaro, the Pope is not slowing down despite the machinations of people like Burke and Bannon. Rev. Spadaro, who is said to be very close to Francis, dismissed their (Vatican insurgents) criticism as the “stuff of a noisy but small ‘echo chamber.’” He also “played down the effect of Trump’s ascent on the standing of Francis’ opponents in the Vatican” and said it was only “propaganda.” He expressed a sentiment that most in the Vatican are already well aware of; the Pope is not about to be distracted by fights against those trying to topple his papacy. “He moves forward, and he moves ahead very fast.”

Rev. Spadaro said what is obvious to sane people: Trump’s ban on immigrants for “select” Muslim-majority nations is the “opposite” of the Pope’s vision for how best to “foster unity and peace” in nations and around the world.  The Pope is doing his level best to “avoid the clash of civilizations that both fundamentalist Muslims [ISIS] and Christians [religious right] want;” Bannon is chief among those wanting a Christian crusade against Islam led by America.

Look, Bannon’s dream of another holy Christian crusade against Islam cannot go forward with a Pope like Francis at the Vatican. Especially one who is having success at promoting being a follower of Christ and preaching tolerance and charity. Bannon needs the Vatican on board with his agenda, an agenda by the way that is Trump’s agenda, of creating the conditions to launch an all-out religious war against Islam, and any non-compliance to his dream of a world ruled by Judeo-Christian corporate regimes.

However, going after Pope Francis, a Pontiff that even non-believers embrace, is a sign that Bannon’s lust for power knows no bounds and demonstrates that he is deluded if he thinks working to undermine a beloved world leader like Francis is going to be anything but a giant struggle. It is also a sign that no one person or establishment in the world is safe from the “second most powerful,” and certainly the most dangerous, man in America and still a Breitbart punk named Steve Bannon.

Why Don’t Liberals Call Out Feel the Bern’s Lies?

 

 

So, what’s the deal with American liberals? When a Republican lies, liberals can’t wait to call them pathological liars like they should. But when a Democrat running for president lies, liberals say it’s a mistake, it’s misconstrued, taken out-of-context or else the candidate bitches about the other side beating up on him. More to the point; during the last week Bernie Sanders lied more than once; including after ambushing Pope Francis in his hotel. But liberals won’t say he lied.

The lies started the day Bernie Sanders announced on MSNBC and repeated on ABC’s The View that he was invited to the Vatican for a conversation with the Pope. As a Vatican expert wrote; the Pope or the Vatican never invited Bernie Sanders to anything. His foreign policy adviser Jeffrey Sachs and his public relations friend used their connections to get Sanders an invitation to speak for at a school conference for ten minutes. He wasn’t invited to Vatican to speak with the Pope.

After hearing a week’s worth of news reports that Bernie was summoned to the Vatican to talk to the Pope, implying he would get a papal endorsement, the real Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi had to announce that “Senator Sanders was not invited by the pope, but by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.” Lombardi also said that the Pope would not be meeting with the candidate, Bernie Sanders because Francis doesn’t get involved in elections or politics and he was going to Greece.

So who continues lying when the Vatican and papal spokesman releases an official Vatican statement exposing a week-long lie? The Sanders’ campaign, that’s who. Instead of staying on the down-low and praying to god that people forget you just lied about the Pope, Sanders’ campaign punked the Pope; and then they lied some more.

According to the Sanders’ campaign, the night before he gave his speech at the school, the Pope sent a message that he changed his mind and wanted to have a meeting with him before he went to Greece. According to a gullible website that believed a Sanders’ acolyte who set up the speech at the school conference;

“While Sanders was having dinner later on Friday night, he learned that the pope would like to meet before leaving for Greece.”

This is despite the Pope announcing the day before he would not be meeting with Sanders. Because besides heading to Greece to talk about the refugees, he never gets involved with candidates during an election. In fact, sources at the real Vatican reportedly refused to return calls to Sanders’ campaign prior to his trip to Rome, and insiders closest to the Holy Father claimed the Pope didn’t want Sanders there at all. He didn’t want the distraction and he doesn’t get involved with candidates for office.

What the Pope wanted didn’t matter because Sanders and his foreign policy adviser Jeffrey Sachs wanted to make that pesky week-old lie go away; come hell or high water and at the expense of the Catholic pope.

The Politico story said “Bernie Sanders privately met with Pope Francis after all at the pontiff’s residence in Vatican City on Saturday morning before the pope left on a trip for Greece. The Democratic presidential candidate was joined by his wife Jane, advisor Jeffrey Sachs, Sachs’ wife, and Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo — who translated — for a roughly five-minute meeting before Pope Francis left for a trip to Greece. There were no photographs taken of the pope and Sanders together.”

Bernie Sanders knew damn well the story was a lie and he never refuted it because, hey, it made his other lies not lies; it’s what makes them pathological. And since no liberal will call him a liar nobody was going to contradict Bernie or dispute his telling of the “five minute meeting.” Good thing Pope Francis isn’t a liberal because he told a completely different version of the meeting that makes everything Bernie Sanders said a lie.

Since the Bern and crew were staying at the same hotel as the Pope and they knew about when he was leaving, something the Pope felt compelled to tell reporters, the Bern crew hung out in the lobby waiting for the Pope to descend for the ambush. According to the Pope, a man that isn’t known for lying and has no reason to;

This morning when I left, Sen. Sanders was there. … He knew I was leaving at that time. I had the kindness to greet him and his wife and another couple who were with them. When I came down, I greeted them, shook their hands and nothing more. This is good manners. It’s called good manners and not getting mixed up in politics. If anyone thinks that greeting someone means getting involved in politics, they should see a psychiatrist.”

It sounds like the poor pope was virtually ambushed in the lobby as he was leaving for Greece to pick up some refugees and bring them back to Rome. It also sounds like it was important to him to dispel the lie that he had a five minute sit-down meeting with Sanders. It is funny the Pope said “anyone that thinks that greeting someone means getting involved in politics should see a psychiatrist” because feeltheberns still think the pope is lying and that he is endorsing Bernie’s campaign.

The Bern’s fanatical followers are candidates for a psychiatric visit according to the pope; they claimed the Pope endorsed Sanders for president and there are official Bernie Sanders campaign posters all over the social media with pictures of the pope and a small child as if Francis is officially part of the campaign. It’s a lie, but hey, pathological liars can’t help themselves, right? At least that’s what liberals always say when they catch a Republican lying.

Does America have a law that says nobody can call out lies when they’re from the left? It’s an honest question because there’s been a solid week of Sanders lies that nobody calls lies. Know what’s a lie? Liberals calling themselves honest when they’re scared shitless to call out another liberal’s lies.

Bernie Sanders lied and the only guy on the planet with courage to say he lied is the pope. True, he didn’t call Bernie a liar in so many words, but he did take the time to do something no-one else would do; tell the world that Bernie’s version of the story wasn’t true. On the street “the story wasn’t true” means somebody lied.