Saturday, June 1, 2013

Morning Joe Addresses Declining Faith By Promoting Catholicism

Yesterday morning, Morning Joe was discussing the recent poll[[1] that had 77% saying they think the influence of religion declining in America[2].

Immediately prior to this segment, they had encountered some technical difficulties with their guest's sound, giving Scarborough the opportunity to joke about it being caused by demons and accuse their sound their sound guy of not loving Jesus enough.  They went to an unplanned break, with Scarborough exclaiming "Can we get someone who loves Jesus in here!?"[3].  I bring this up both because it was offensive and because it puts the opening comments of this video into context.  

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The hosts, both Catholics, wanted someone to ask about why faith is declining in America.  So, they brought in a priest.  A priest who, when asked why people are leaving religion, barely mentioned the protection of child rapists that's happened by his employer.  You know, that thing that's often cited as the number one reason people leave the Catholic Church[4].

@ 0:48[5]
yeah. or the christian churches. i think the people feel sometimes alienated from religious institutions as they do from governmental institutions. when we get too fixated on ideological division i think in the churches we have seen some, certainly in the catholic church the sexual abuse scandal has disaffected many. and what the churches and the synagogues and mosques need to do is get back to the basics. in our case to preach the gospel. to focus on what we're most deeply about. i think people yearn for meet i -- meaning. they are yearning for some answers to very human, very deep questions.
Apparently, the key to getting people to stop leaving the church is for them to even further ignore the fact that the Catholic Church has made the protection rapists from prosecution a standard practice and simply preach the gospel.  A gospel, by the way, that teaches that we're all inherently evil and in need of the savior they say Jesus is.  Of course, the priest left that bit out.

@ 3:50
absolutely. i mean, you're right. that is the pew form of survey from last december. a fifth of all americans say they are not affiliated with any religious institution. i mean, a small portion of those are agnostic or atheist but most describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. that is they're seeking some answers. they're longing for something to touch their heart. they're longing for god and not finding it in any one particular religious institution. i think for anyone in the religion business like myself that it is a call to us to above all listen to that longing. they are longing for god. i think we do better when we listen first to what that longing is about and then share our tradition. let me go back to st. francis of assisi, the pope's patron saint. listen, i'm a jesuit priest. i'm proud to be a jesuit. he took the name of st. francis and it was st. francis who said, preach the gospel and only if necessary use words. to the extent that we are --
People aren't longing for god.  They're longing for answers.  God is simply something religion attempts to convince people is a legitimate answer to those questions.  It doesn't actually give real answers to those questions.  It just gives people an excuse to stop asking.

There's nothing particularly special or new about what this priest was saying.  It was all the standard stuff you would expect to see from a guy attempting to sell his religion.  I don't fault the guy for doing his preaching where he had the chance, as that's his job.

I fault this network, that calls itself news, for giving him that platform and free airtime to sell his scam, with no opportunity for any other viewpoint.  Not only did they give him that platform, they assisted him with the questions they asked.

@ 1:25
i'll ask you if you were a politician what are you about? what is the church mainly about? what is your mission that has been lost over the past 30 years?
@ 3:13
yes. i think like many catholics i watched the scandal unfold with great disappointment and discouragement as a catholic. but i still hold my faith very tightly. yet, father, you look at the numbers of americans who have no faith at all. i believe it's growing rapidly and it's one in five. one in five people in the american public. and a third of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated. how would you explain that? and is there room for the catholic church to do some work?
@ 5:23
it is so intimidating. i'm jewish and you are in an interfaith relationship but all the people in my sort of band are spiritual but not religious. that's the line they get all the time that father o'brien just said. they are so either intimidated by the church or the synagogue because they don't want to be part of some rote rhythm that doesn't feel like it has a real soul to it some people say. what do you say to the people that are searching but are so intimidated or don't really respect the contemporary approach of these institutions? i don't know how you get them back.
Here's  few other issues I have with this segment.

@ 4:58
steve large ent one time told me, steve is a very devout christian but he didn't go around, you know, he didn't wear it on his sleeve and he said his favorite saying was along these lines. he said, it came from mother teresa, which was, work as if there is no such thing as prayer. and pray as if there is no such thing as work. and that's the line -- lead by your example.
In other words, actually do shit because you are safe assuming prayer doesn't fucking work.  But pray anyway.  It would be good advice, if only it had stopped at behaving as if prayer doesn't work and not advised people to waste their time[6].

@ 6:58
it's interesting, father, the pope said something the other day about, that i think addresses what brian was talking about. he said atheists can meet the church and where they will meet the church is in good works. he said atheists actually can be, can find grace, which was a remarkable thing for a pope to say.
No.  Through my good works, I do not "meet the church".  And fuck you for saying so.  I do good works on my own.  Without a god.  Without a church.  You don't get to try give credit for my good works to your religion.  And I especially don't want credit for my good works to go the Catholic Church, an organization that protects child rapists from prosecution.

@ 7:14
absolutely. and, you know, other popes and religious leaders in the catholic church have said sometimes those nonbelievers or seekers do a better job at their faith rather than those who just go about speaking their religion but not living it out. those actions have got to be coupled with belief for us to truly be examples of faith.
I don't have faith.   Maybe that's why I, and the other atheists without any faith, do a better job of actually getting shit done instead of merely preaching or praying.  That sentiment might have actually been expressed on air if they had had an atheist on air for this segment about people losing faith.  I don't think that's an unreasonable request[7].

The entire segment reeked of an infomercial for Catholicism and their new Pope.  The only thing more offensive than a supposed news network aired this infomercial for the Vatican is how casually they mentioned the fact that the organization they were promoting has protected child rapists.

Are we really so desensitized to the issue of the rape of children that it has become a sidenote and an organization that facilitates is given a national platform?  I can't be the only one this confused about this.

3.  This is paraphrased from memory, so it's not necessarily a direct quote.  But the message conveyed remains intact.
5.  Quotations look the way they do because I copied them directly from MSNBC's transcript.  The only editing I did was some selective bolding.

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