PZ Myers receives hate mail from a Catholic. No surprise there. But I’m jealous. I’d like some of that ire tossed in my direction. Most of the Christians I’ve had ‘discussions’ with are of the Protestant persuasion, although, my childhood experiences with religion were mostly at Catholic Churches; they either consisted of my religiously apathetic mother dragging me to Christmas Mass, “for the pageantry”, or a friend’s parents inviting me to Easter services, because they thought I was a heathen. My boyish reaction at these events was usually the same; I felt like a disappointed fan at a rock concert when the main act doesn’t show up; everyone in the audience pretended like god the ‘rock star’ is going to make an appearance, but he’s a no-show. All hype and no delivery was how I saw religion. My feelings remain the same.
But one of my favorite stories about Catholic priests is from 2001, out of San Francisco. The details are so over-the-top that you’d think an anti-religious Hollywood writer had penned them while in therapy. One Rev. Bernard Dabbene was literally caught in the act.
A priest of 34 years, Dabbene was spotted by police on Nov. 11 with the teenager in a parked car at 25th and Illinois streets — an area frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes.
Both were found with their pants unzipped and Dabbene’s trousers fell down when police confronted him.
The boy said he was running from a gang and sought help from the priest only to be fondled. The priest said they were merely discussing unspecified job opportunities.
In the TV news reports at the time, it was stated that when Dabbene stepped out of the car, his pants fell to his ankles. This is comedy gold. And it reminds me of the twisted and often ironic humor of Dante’s Inferno. It almost makes me wish there were a hell.
A survey asking about people’s knowledge of religion has some not-so-surprising results. Protestants and Catholics are less knowledgeable about their own religion’s doctrines than atheists, Jews, and Mormons.
Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. [Yahoo News]
In addition, Americans don’t grasp the secular laws that protect both government and religion, the separation of church and state.
The study also found that many Americans don’t understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.
“Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are,” Pew researchers wrote. [Yahoo News]
Questions concerning Charles Darwin and evolution were included in the survey.
Respondents were also asked, “And which of these court trials focused on whether evolution could be taught in public schools?” and offered the choice of the Scopes trial, the Salem witch trials, and Brown vs. Board of Education. Only 31% of respondents selected the correct answer of the Scopes trial, 36% selected Brown vs. Board of Education, 3% selected the Salem witch trials, and 30% said that they didn’t know. [Nation center For Science Education]
Nothing particularly surprising in the results. The Pew Research Center’s report is here (PDF).
When in Rome do as the Romans do. PZ Myers is in Australia eating the food paste called Vegemite, which I believe is the by-product of the brewing industry –the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. What’s interesting –and apropos– is that he’s using a Eucharist wafer as a vehicle for the smear. Why not just spread liquid gold on a wedge of cardboard and be done with it?