subtitled: Does Catholic World Youth Day = Tolerance?

So how do you get 1,000+ comments? Write an article expounding how wonderful the Catholic World Youth Day (C-WYD) is going to be, or tell everyone you are an angry atheist, e.g. Greta Christina’s post Atheists and Anger. This post won’t be either.

Thanks to CASE, I’ve spent the last couple of days trawling through the over 1000+ comments in response to Bishop Anthony Fisher’s article titled: World Youth Day = Tolerance.

Fisher opens his article with saying how wonderful our ‘Christian’ country is, then goes on to say

But many of ‘Gen Y’ lack a connection with any church or religion. … They are less involved than they could be in church life or the broader community.

This is possibly due to ‘Gen Y’ being more inquisitive and knowledgeable than any other previous generation. They are not so easily taken in by old time religious dogmas, partly due to an increase in critical thinking. So what’s Fisher’s answer? Hold a World Youth Day. Which may or may not actually get any of the youths to become more active within the church [1]. He then spruiks the line that there is a necessary cost to government but a net benefit in terms of tourism and commerce.

One would have to admit that any event requires some degree of support from government; additional security, transportation, etc. However Fisher’s statement

… and for a much smaller outlay by government than is usual for big events.

is quite probably wrong, and the article Almighty cost of hosting pilgrims states that our government is paying up to four times more than the equivalent events held in Canada and Germany.

Of the $163.9M cost in Germany only $24.59M came out of government coffers. Of the $C120M cost in Canada, government subsidies were only $C18M.

So why of the estimated $200M Sydney’s C-WYD is going to cost, is over $100M coming from State government and $55M from the Federal Government?

Fisher’s next line of attack defence is the old line “but everyone will benefit”, as he puts it

But there is more to WYD than that. When 125,000 young pilgrims from overseas join up to 100,000 young Aussies for the week of celebrations, it will be a magical time for all Sydney, and for all Australia, not just the Catholics, not just the youth. Ordinary people will themselves join the pilgrims in big numbers and will be emotionally and spiritually uplifted.

I think I discredited the “magical time for all” once before. To add to that, from all the negative publicity and responses the C-WYD has been getting, I certainly don’t see too many ‘ordinary’ people being uplifted in any way.

To be a bit facetious, all I can say is; when 125,000 youths join up with 100,000 youths for a week I sure hope they, as my dad once said, “if you can’t behave, be careful” I wonder if the condom manufacturers have been doing overtime lately :lol:

I think it’s time for a favourite placard of mine:


The article then has a go at the “wowsers” as he calls us, and accuses us of being against big celebrations and taking fright they are coming. I for one are not against big celebrations, I enjoyed going to the Olympics in 2000, and whilst never having been to one, the Gay Mardi Gras parades look like a lot of fun. Yes, there is a fair bit of the problem being the cost and the disruption to Sydney, but the bigger concern is the Catholic church trying to garner more recruits. As much as the Catholics would love this to be a christian and preferably catholic, nation; it still is (mostly) a secular nation. One that is (or at least should be) free from religion and free of religion.

But there is something else behind the negativity. We see it at times in public debate. A range of views are welcomed, but as soon as a religious leader or perspective is introduced some seek to exclude it. The three quarters of Australians who believe in God must check their beliefs into the cloakroom before entering the public square.

No, the problem is that religious groups always hold themselves above critique, they expect respect just because they are religious. A range of views are always welcomed but when a view is based on some false dogma then, quite rightly, the view should be, if not outrightly excluded, at least tempered with the knowledge it is based on a particular religious dogma, not necessarily on any rational thought.

Fisher throws in the line “three quarters of Australians who believe in God” as if the argument from numbers holds weight that those beliefs are valid.

For a start in the last census (2006) there were only 64% claiming to be Christians. As we all know the census question on religion is skewed and a percentage of people just tick the box of the religion they were brought up in (cultural or traditional Christians) [2]. So whilst a large percentage of the population might confess to believing in a “God”, how many actual religious people are there? Even the Catholic church itself has stated that of the ‘supposedly’ 5.1 million Catholics in Australia only 14% of those attend church.

I wonder how many of the people who profess a belief in “god” are just apatheists or apagnostics? People who are apathetic in actually thinking about their beliefs. People who’ve just never really bothered to question what they’ve been told from birth.

The state must remain neutral with respect to religion and withhold financial support from anything with a whiff of incense about it. Religious beliefs and practices should be kept out of sight.

Bishop Fisher says that like it’s a bad thing. He says we are not being very tolerant in objecting to C-WYD and religion in general. Since when has religion ever been tolerant of anything? Talk about hypocrisy. Fisher then spouts some more ill-considered rhetoric, but this is quite deceitful

Are we happy with the idea that as long as Catholics (Jews? Muslims? Aborigines? Feminists?) keep to themselves and avoid publicity they will be left alone?

See how he’s lumped Aborigines and Feminists into the mix (note he didn’t put Gays in this list, as we all now how ‘tolerant’ the Catholic church is to gays). As though saying, if we have to shut up Catholics then we have to shut up all discussion. This is very disingenuous, as the debate is with religion in general not with all causes. Religion is based on beliefs for which there is no basis for evidence. Topics such as Feminists are based on equality and real life problems, not about any imaginary sky gods.

Fisher points out that we should be tolerant of religion because

of the good religions do and collaboration by the state with churches on things like education, health, welfare, .

There is great debate on these topics which I won’t go into here (maybe a topic for another post), but we all know how good a tax break they get for doing some of these things.

The final six paragraphs of his sermon, are along the lines that by holding C-WYD and indoctrinating, oops, brainwashing, oops, I mean creating mass hysteria, sorry, “renew[ing] the values and ideals of a new generation?” they “will be laying foundations for a better world.” Cough cough, yeah right.

[1] See also my previous post: God’s Mosh Pit.

[2] See also my previous post: Christianity – a declining population

If, by some chance you are one of the few people who have never read Greta’s Atheists and Anger post, I highly recommend it. Just note, she also discusses sex on her blog and has adverts for sexually oriented products, so her blog comes with a Not Safe For Work (NSFW) rating.

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5 Comments to “How to get 1000+ Comments on your blog”

  1. half rabbit says:

    999 comments to go.

    I won’t comment on the actual article as I now have to go and read all 1000+ comments. It should be interesting.

  2. Aletha says:

    There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on here.

  3. I absolutely love your father’s words: If you can’t behave, be careful. Great words of wisedom!

    I read and reread Christina’s post on Atheists and Anger several months ago. It’s a classic and should be required reading by everyone who knows or has an atheist in their family. Comments are great reading too. I need to go back by there to brush up on the issues!

    BTW, love the astromony website. Thanks for turning me on to it!

  4. As a Catholic who attended World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, I can say that I enjoyed the experience very much, and it did get me more involved with my youth group and church.

    You believe that the Bishop is preaching a sermon (or homily, as Catholics call it) to you, and I have to say: fair enough. A portrayal of WYD as an event that will have the non-Catholics and non-youths of Australia singing hymns in the street is overdone and frankly not very convincing. After all, I remember riding the subway with Canadians, and they kept right on their ways to work.

    Nevertheless, I think it’s ludicrous that you describe Catholics as intolerant and brainwashed. I believe in the separation of church and state, and I believe in gay marriage (I see it as a civil right; if a religious group chooses to deny a couple a ceremony, it can do so, but a same-sex couple should still be allowed to be married in the courthouse). While I realize that my religion would not allow a gay couple to be married within its churches, I still see marriage as a basic right.

    Perhaps the intolerance you speak of is part of “cultural” or “traditional” Catholicism (or Christianity in general). Not all Catholics are intolerant, and you are wrong to lump them together just as I would be wrong to lump all atheists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. together.

  5. Caleb says:

    Why is it better to be a brainwashed athiest than a “brainwashed” Christian? You should read a more positive book because all your hate and anger is going to shorten your life. Try loving something or positive thinking it will improve your outlook and your health during old age. I don’t know why Austrailians are so antagonistic toward religion, but if you want your country to be as good as America you should give it a rest. Negative attitudes and griping didn’t make America the wealthiest and most powerful nation in world history and it won’t help the Aussies either!

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