That’s how the light gets in…

9 06 2012

Sometimes Facebook is a giant time-suck.  And other times I find things that crack my heart straight open.  I posted a story this morning on a Catholic mental health facility that denied a homosexual patient his HIV drugs, with a comment on why conscience laws are wrong.  If you can’t, in good conscience, provide legal and medically-indicated treatment and medication?  Then you should, in good conscience, find a different profession.  A lot of things come with shades of gray in my life.  This isn’t one of them.  If you can’t do your job as a doctor, then you shouldn’t have a license.  Same thing for pharmacists.  Full stop.

But what amazed me were the comments that came after.  My friend’s daughter, who needed treatment for a bladder issue that caused pain during intercourse – and was told that because she wasn’t married, she shouldn’t be having sex anyway, and was refused treatment.  Another friend who was refused the Depo-Provera shot because she was at a Catholic-run hospital.  I don’t even know what to do with the rage that comes from reading these stories.  I come back again and again to the idea that we need to eliminate the tax-exempt status of churches.  All of them.  And we need to adopt a very hard line of who gets government medical funding.  You want those government payments?  Then you don’t get to invoke your precious religious conscience. You can totally have your freedom of religion.  But it isn’t going to be at taxpayer expense any more.

I also had a discussion with another friend this morning about his experience in the Catholic Church.  He really tried to be a good Catholic for a long time.  He even studied for the priesthood.  But finally the moral and ethical failings of the church he wanted to love became too much – he was molested by a series of priests, and when he tried to receive counseling inside the church for it, he was condemned for having gay sex.  His biological mother (he’s adopted) was excommunicated from the church for having a child out of wedlock when the father abandoned her at the age of seventeen.  He is truly one of the kindest and most loving men I know, and that tells me that he has done a tremendous amount of work to process everything.  But again, it leaves me with this impotent rage at a system that would do this to people.

I simply don’t understand.  More fundamentally, I don’t want to understand.  I don’t want to make sense of the yawning moral blackness at the heart of organized religion.  I can’t look at it any more and explain it away as the exception to the rule, some odd aberration that we can afford to look away from.  I’m coming to believe that a functioning faith community, one that doesn’t damage people, is itself the exception.  I would still like to be in a community of faith, of those that actually read the simple, profound, revolutionary, mystical teachings of Jesus and apply them in their own lives – instead of taking those teachings and bending them like pipe cleaners to fit their own view of the world.

I’m in a church now that I want to trust.  I’m afraid to.
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