Pretend for a moment that you’re the head of a major international organization worth billions of dollars (hey, congratulations!). Unhappily, however, your organization is facing overwhelming international criticism for a series of egregious ethics violations. Some of these violations implicate you personally, but the majority of them refer to the general standards of practice and the organization’s history of secrecy and evading prosecution. As the leader, you have complete and total authority to change the rules and standards of practice of the organization to respond to this criticism – criticism which, incidentally, is severely impacting your bottom line.
Have you got that in your head? Good. Moving on.
Now imagine that you hear that someone in middle management somewhere in the organization has advocated changing a company policy on the grounds that it is both unpopular and unfair. This manager has bypassed the usual chain of command, which is most certainly a violation of the rules. However, in the larger scheme of things he has articulated a position that many of your shareholders advocate and that would certainly go a long way in rehabilitating your international image. What do you do with this manager? Do you call him in for discipline? Do you say that while you respect his right to speak, you disagree with his position and here’s why? Do you use the criticism as an opportunity to change direction and show the public that your antiquated policies can be changed for the better when the times call for them? You’ve got lots of options; which one do you pursue?
If you picked anything other than ‘shitcan his ass’, the congratulations: you are smarter than the Pope:
Pope Benedict XVI has sacked an outspoken Australian bishop who had called on the church to consider ordaining women and married men. The Vatican said in a statement Monday that the pope had “removed from pastoral care” Bishop William Morris of the Toowoomba diocese. That language was unexpectedly strong by Vatican standards. However, no explanation for the move was given.
There are many people that need to be fired in the church (the Pope being chief among them), for doing things that make a person with any sense of humanist morals shudder. It is one thing to know someone who rapes children and not do anything to stop it. That’s pretty bad (even writing that sentence seems ludicrously evil). It is another thing entirely to aid the rapist in covering up his crime, allowing him to repeat it again and again. It is another thing to threaten the victims of your friend’s crime with eternal punishment if they speak out about it. It is another thing to allow all of this (and actively participate in it), whilst simultaneously holding yourself up as an example of morality and ruin the lives of millions of people, sacrificed in the name of your moral posturing.
But yeah… fire the guy who says that women should be allowed to be priests.
The level of evil is almost cartoonish with this organization, and the rabbit hole goes deeper:
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has arrived in Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. An EU travel ban forbids him from visiting member states but the Vatican, where the ceremony will take place, is a sovereign state and not in the EU. Mr Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, has been allowed to transit through Italy. Italy’s foreign ministry said it had requested an exemption from the EU travel ban for Mr Mugabe.
Yep. The gross pig-fucker himself is welcome in the Vatican’s hallowed chambers. A man whose exploits have earned him the just condemnation of the international community for bankrupting his country, attacking political appointments with violence, and repeatedly violating the human rights of his own people… but he’s got a friend in Rome! To the point where government officials have to ask the EU to suspend its own laws so that he can come watch a fraud passed off as miraculous. You’ve got to imagine how uncomfortable that conversation must have been.
EU: Sorry… we must have a bad connection. It sounded like you said you wanted an exemption to allow Robert Mugabe into Europe. Heh heh, but that’s just ridiculous.
Italy: Um… yeah. You got it right. We want Mugabe.
Italy: The pope wants him at the beatification of John Paul II
Italy: Well the Vatican has diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe, and he’s the leader, so he’s invited
Italy: Is there someone else I can talk to?
Some people wonder if the Pope and other religious leaders do not actually believe the things they say, but perpetuate the lie to gain power. It’s certainly a reasonable suspicion, given that the claims religious leaders regularly make are so bizarre and contrary to the basic rules of logic. However, when you look at the actions of these people, it becomes abundantly clear that they really do believe that their deity is speaking directly to them. It’s the only way one could justify such unrelenting and convoluted evil – license from the supernatural.
This is why enshrining ‘faith’ as a virtue is dangerous. People can trick themselves into believe just about anything, especially when they are told by the culture surrounding them that it’s good enough to just believe something, facts be damned. Once you’re willing to completely blind yourself to the effects of your actions by telling yourself that justification for your evil comes from on high, anything is possible. There is some truth to the old adage that ‘faith can move mountains’ – it can move mountains of inconvenient evidence and logic out of the way, so that the believer can commit any crime she/he wants without utterly devastating her/his own self-concept.
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