Author Emily Dietle
My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks
To introduce this blog piece, I must first share with you something important about words and titles, and how I choose to use them. You see, I am not a member of the organization known as the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). It is an organization that seeks to dominate and self-promote, using fear tactics and strong-arming. They indoctrinate their member’s children at an early age, to ensure the survival of their organization, because besides using fear to extract money from members, they offer little outside of any standard 501c3 soup-kitchen or charity group.
Because I’m not a member of this organization, I don’t have to use their words. I do not have to give reverence to their self-selected leader, Joseph Ratzinger, by using his internal RCC title of “Pope.” He is merely the Executive Director of a corrupt organization. The area of Rome that this organization occupies is it’s headquarters, not a “Holy See.” Any other internal language that the RCC chooses to create, I am not required to use- and I highly suggest that you don’t either. Words have power, and we can take their power away, by choosing to stop using the RCC’s internal language.
Now that I’ve introduced that, we can continue… The leader of the RCC, Joseph Ratzinger, has been giving speeches to his American department heads throughout the year. One message delivered to these department heads (RCC lingo: bishops) addressed the issue of religious freedom.
It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.
The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.
Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.
The only threats that the RCC faces is that of an educated and socially aware society. The “radical secularism” that Ratzinger references are simply positions that people are taking on social and political issues that don’t adhere to the RCC’s bronze-aged standards. We’re also collectively recognizing that theocracies don’t work, and that moving towards a fully secular government is beneficial to all citizens.
Religious freedom, according to Ratzinger, is the freedom to use their financial power and political clout to manipulate our society. That is not freedom of religion. If I know my audience well, you already know this, but I’ll give you a refresher: As there are multiple religions, you implicitly include freedom from religion when speaking about the freedom of- whether you acknowledge this or not.
The “evil practices” referenced in Ratzinger’s speech include access to birth control and family planning, and the freedom to marry regardless of sexual orientation. If the RCC wants to conscientiously object to treating people equally, it should have certain government benefits removed, including special taxation breaks.
Freedom of thought (also called the freedom of conscience or ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others’ viewpoints. It is different from and not to be confused with the concept of freedom of speech or expression.
There are not rampant activists trying to remove the right of people to practice their religion, or hold a belief in a supernatural being. We are simply trying to remove their power to control our lives based on those beliefs. Leaders of powerful organizations, like Ratzinger, have no place in influencing our political climate, laws, or lifestyles.