Author of British Government Memo Insulting Pope Not Afraid for His Life

Author of British Government Memo Insulting Pope Not Afraid for His Life
by Michael Williams

The upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom has been soured–to the point where some Vatican officials have considered calling it off–by a scabrously anti-Catholic memo written by a British civil servant and circulated among senior officials by way of “preparing” for the papal visit. The document suggested that an “ideal” papal trip would include the pope blessing a same-sex union, reversing the Catholic Church’s teaching on the ordination of women, opening an abortion clinic, and launching a brand of “Pope Benedict” condoms. Issued by the Papal Visit Team which was devoted to making the visit go smoothly, the document circulated through Britain’s Whitehall and through 10 Downing Street without raising an eyebrow–until it was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph. As commentator Damian Thompson wrote, “The Foreign Office is hideously embarrassed, because the insult to the Pope clearly wasn’t spur-of-the-moment schoolboy satire, but indicative of ignorant contempt for the Catholic Church…. None of the four-strong team is a practising Catholic, church sources are saying.”

In response, British officials quickly apologized, and announced that the responsible party had been verbally reprimanded, and shifted to other duties. Note that he wasn’t fired, he isn’t living in hiding under 24-hour guard, and that the streets did not fill with crowds of ranting Irish and Polish youths demanding his death. There hasn’t been an international campaign of violence and intimidation aimed at Englishmen. The bigoted bureaucrat was simply shifted to another job. Hmm…. It almost makes you think that some religions operate differently than others.

It later emerged that the author of the memo is Oxford-educated Anjoum Noorani, 31, whose official title was Head of the Papal Visit Team. According to the Daily Mail, “Mr Noorani is understood to be British Pakistani – but colleagues say he is not a Muslim.” The paper didn’t specify if Noorani is an ex-Muslim, or (which seems very unlikely) a member of the tiny minority of persecuted Pakistani Christians, whose family was lucky enough to escape. If he is a secularized Muslim, Noorani’s case suggests that the “best-case” scenario for Muslim assimilation in Britain is this: Those who give up their aggressive, intolerant faith in Islam will adopt instead the aggressive, intolerant secularism of the British elites–who use “multiculturalism” as a stick with which to beat just one set of institutions: those traditional to the West.

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Comments

  1. says

    The double standard here is glaring but not surprising. Also, memo to Muslims: The way Catholics have responded to this should be a model for you all (but it won’t be).

  2. says

    secularized Muslim

    Can such a beast exist in nature? What happens with a secularized Moslem when push comes to shove, when suddenly it’s time for a nation to fall and be converted to Sharia?

    *** 33:36 ***

    He reaches up under the shirt on his back and flips the switch to On, that’s what. Kinda like a Unicorn sprouting its horn.

  3. says

    Muslim insults the Pope and nothing happens.

    And Islam is the best religion?

    Because Islam gets upset over bears………

    Bears are scary.

  4. says

    Not a muslim? I’d like to see some evidence of that. I think highly unlikely this individual is a Pakistani Christian, don’t they mostly adopt the surname ‘Masih’? I suspect this character is a cultural, rather than devoutly religious, musilm. But regardless of what he is in terms of religion he is without doubt a crass idiot.

    Furthermore, what he’s done is usually deemed to be ‘misconduct’, which would result in serious disciplinary action. There’s an argument to be made that this is ‘gross misconduct’ (since it’s caused major embarrassment to the government) which usually results in getting fired. Yet it appears the perp’s not being dealt with in a way the gravity of the offence would warrant. Could it be that the UK government are scared of Noorani playing the race card?

  5. says

    Note that he wasn’t fired, he isn’t living in hiding under 24-hour guard, and that the streets did not fill with crowds of ranting Irish and Polish youths demanding his death. There hasn’t been an international campaign of violence and intimidation aimed at Englishmen.
    ………………..

    Indeed not. No “Fatwas” from the Pontiff, no threats on the ugly and obtuse author of the piece, no British Catholics”strengthened with those perhaps even more devout Irish and Poles”laying violent siege to Whitehall and 10 Downing Street, no ominous warnings for Britons to avoid traveling to Vatican City, or all of Italy, or Poland”or any country with a Catholic population lest they be murdered in the streets.

    More:

    None of the four-strong team is a practising Catholic, church sources are saying.
    ………………..

    Why not? Couldn’t they find a single Catholic in Britain to put on the team”especially given the ubiquitous larding of such teams with Muslims if their is even a chance such team will be dealing anything even remotely related to Islam?

    Finally, the shocker, which I had to admit even I did not expect:

    It later emerged that the author of the memo is Oxford-educated Anjoum Noorani, 31, whose official title was Head of the Papal Visit Team.
    ………………..

    He is “not a Muslim”. Why did they feel it was necessary to proclaim this? Might it seem odd that Britain chose an anti-Catholic Muslim to head the Papal visit team? The Telegraph describes him simply as a “Foreign Office diplomat”.

    The Daily Mail says: “Mr Noorani, 31, is far more senior than the Foreign Office has made out. Officials desperate to limit the damage have tried to play down his role, insisting he was merely a junior worker who acted without any authority.”

    Until 2007, he was the press secretary at the British embassy in Moscow, trusted to handle delicate relations during the crisis over the poisoning of dissident Alexanda Litvinenko.

    Apparently another member of the team, 23-year-old Steven Mulvain, came up with the memo’s references to condoms and “blessing a homosexual union” He describes his sexual orientation on a social networking website as “gay”.

    A minor point in all this, perhaps, but it also strikes me how young this “team” seems to be. It doesn’t look as though the papal visit to Britain was ever taken very seriously by the Foreign Office in the first place.

    Here’s the “fiery” response from official British Catholicism:

    “One senior source at the Catholic Church in England and Wales said: “This does beg the question of how seriously this visit is being taken by the Government.

    ‘All of our dealings with this Foreign Office team have suggested they don’t have any understanding of Catholicism and that’s how this issue seems to have come about.'”

    Very measured response. Seems, as perceptive writer Michael Williams notes, that “Hmm…. It almost makes you think that some religions operate differently than others.”

  6. says

    Could it be that UK Islamists are also trying to tap into the centuries-old Protestant v. Catholic angst? Though the Catholic Church is the most visible target within Christianity, the Protestants will be next. Even now they are being assaulted via attempts to divide, dhimmify and conquer from within. The Lutherans split over homosexual marriage; the LDS will be a target for this as well, no matter how nimbly Mitt Romney turns his political flips.

    What amazes me is that so many Americans refuse to heed the sirens being sounded in the UK, and apply these warnings to ourselves. Of Islamization, Geert Wilders says it is 5 minutes to midnight in Europe — maybe 10 or 15 to midnight in America.

    Wise people learn from the mistakes of others before they are forced to learn them firsthand. Here across the pond, may we continue to give Islam hell until hell is bankrupt.

  7. says

    Bears are scary.

    Bears don’t scare me that much. But Moslems do.

    *** 9:123 ***

    You can avoid encountering bears in the wild, and they’ll generally let you alone if you run. Not so with our Moslem friends. You can’t get rid of them and they never shut the hell up. A pushy lot, they are.

    *** 8:39 ***

    Call me an Islamophobe the. Call me rational.

  8. says

    “It almost makes you think that some religions operate differently than others.”

    It certainly makes one think that the British government operates differently in regard to some religions.

  9. says

    “The document suggested that an “ideal” papal trip would include the pope blessing a same-sex union, reversing the Catholic Church’s teaching on the ordination of women, opening an abortion clinic, and launching a brand of “Pope Benedict” condoms.”

    This provocation calls for a new Papal Bull along the same lines as the one given to the First Queen Elizabeth in 1570:

    “1. In obedience to which duty, we (who by God’s goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children’s faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked doctrines; and among others, Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very woman, having seized the crown and monstrously usurped the place of supreme head of the Church in all England to gether with the chief authority and jurisdiction belonging to it, has once again reduced this same kingdom – which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits – to a miserable ruin. …”

    England a miserable ruin – that sounds appropriate. 😉

    Link to the Bull of 1570:

    http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Documents/BullagainstElizabeth.htm

  10. says

    What would be the ideal Ayatollic visit to England? Let’s bring in Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini and find out how he and his constituent Moslems feel about same-sex marriage, condoms, female Imams and abortion.

    *** 58:46 ***

    And bring along Prez Mahmoud. Let’s find out his views on kidnapping and extortion. Those are high Moslem values, sacraments really, and the Brits need to understand them.

  11. says

    Most likely he is than Hindic Pak who convert to christian than know nothing about Roman Cathority.I met Roman Cathority who know nothing about their religion.

  12. says

    >”Mr Noorani is understood to be British Pakistani – but colleagues say he is not a Muslim.” The paper didn’t specify if Noorani is an ex-Muslim, or (which seems very unlikely) a member of the tiny minority of persecuted Pakistani Christians, whose family was lucky enough to escape.<

    I like that ” he is not a Muslim” – if you believe that I have a bridge for sale to these morons!! He is definitely not a Pakistani Christian – in general most of them have a last name “masih”. This clown is nothing but a Muslim and they are never ever secular!!!

  13. says

    One significant factor that separates modern Catholicism from modern Islam is the Enlightenment.Before this ‘blessed’ event in the West, Catholic theocrats readily issued their version of fatwas,massacred dissenters and suppressed scientific progress.Sound familiar? There is no reason that ‘secularists’ should accommodate Catholic superstitions any more than Islamic ones.Will special pleading by the religious ever end?

  14. says

    “Anjoum” sounds Hindu; “Noorani” sounds as if it might come from the Arabic “Noor” and therefore indicate a Muslim background not easily shed. But in any case, was this 31-year-old the right person in the British government, the ideal choice, to be named Head of the Papal Visit Team? Did anyone find this inappropriate, bizarre, or possibly worse?

  15. says

    In the UK, Nigerian fraudsters work in the Home Office handing out fake passports, and Pakistanis work in the Foreign Office distributing memos which insult the pope. Pakistani forgers manufacture visas for tens of thousands, and hate preachers in the mosques prepare the soldiers for the coming jihad.

    Its happening in Germany too:

    Aygül Özkan became world famous with her demanding that crucifixes be removed from classrooms and certificates from Mohammedan title mills recognized in Germany. She also demanded Turkish judges in the judiciary, so that Mohammedan rapists would feel better integrated. Multicultural enrichment at its best…….

    http://sheikyermami.com/2010/04/28/god-is-not-allah/

  16. says

    Also respectfully @Mac,

    “There is no reason that ‘secularists’ should accommodate Catholic superstitions..”

    Dixit Mac, after having rehashed the worn-out myth that it was the political religion of the “Enlightenment” that somehow “pacified” the Roman Catholic Church.

    I would wholeheartedly second the quoted statement, but for the falsehood of it.

    To paraphrase the familiar Monty Python quote: “What have the Roman Catholics ever done for us, eh?!”.
    Well, quite a lot I’d say. Some terrible crimes in tough times, to be sure. But for such a large .org, the record is not too bad, compared to other (elitist, socialist, atheist, reformist) orgs.

    Anyway, here’s some counterweight to throw in the balance 😉

    – Preservation/copying of classical masterpieces (Aristoteles, Cicero, Vergilius) in medieval monasteries (espec. Ireland)

    – Philosophical foundations for free-market economy (500 yrs before Adam Smith, who side-tracked with his labour-oriented theory of value). Of course the anti-catholic bigot Weber got the spirit of capitalism all wrong (as one of his own pupils immediately showed) with his “Protestant ethic”.

    – European medieval universities (from monasteries; as extensions of cathedral schools)

    – Foundations for modern science & scientific research (basilica built as astronomical observatories, seismology was even called “the jesuit science”), partly due to the fact that Aristotle was not simply copied (like muslim scholars did), but also criticized. Aristotle who thought that a body twice as heavy should also fall twice as fast, and never checked it. It also helped that scholastics thought their God to be of the “reasonable kind”, i.e. nature’s secrets could be unraveled through reason. Allah never was the prime rolemodel for science, because this god was ‘unreasonable’ to the extreme, and proud of it.

    – Foundations of international law (improving on their Roman heritage).

    – Continuous campaigns against slavery (officially sanctioned since Pope Eugenius IV wrote his “Sicut dudum”, 1435) and gradual abolition.

    – Immensely rich culture of music, art & architecture. Alas, partly destroyed by religious and “enlightenment” fanatics alike.

    – An enormous and continuing effort on behalf of the sick and the poor (that was admired even by the Romans of the [very] early Middle Ages).

    – Last, but not least: pushing back the muslim invaders, out of France and Spain. And later the crusades (as a long overdue answer to the islamic occupation of Palestina). This, as a side-effect gave Europe some ‘breathing-space’ until finally the muslim armies were halted in 1683 before the gates of Vienna by troops under the command of the “papist” King of Poland.

    Kind regs from Amsterdam,
    Sag.

  17. says

    @Wellington. “You see, Islam is the one major religion of the world which is totalitarian in make-up. ”

    Really? You seem to be forgetting Catholicism, which is pretty much 100% totalitarian and has been since its inception. Hence decades of covering up the sexual abuse of children and assuming that they are above the law and therefore entitled to do so. Frankly, given the disastrous effect of Catholic doctrine in parts of the developing world struggling with HIV/AIDs, for the Pope to issue condoms would be a step in the right direction.

    Oh, and has it occurred to anyone that the fact that the man in question is British-Asian doesn’t mean he’s Muslim. He might be an atheist or agnostic and not believe in any of the ludicrous religious fairytales that poison the world. Or is it just inconceivable to you all that a non-white Briton might actually not conform to your racist stereotypes that all Pakistanis must be religious fanatics?

  18. says

    Sweet talkin’ Orlando:

    “..Catholicism pretty much 100% totalitarian.. assuming they are above the law.. disastrous effect of Catholic doctrine.. Pope to issue condoms..in the right direction.. [..] inconceivable to you all.. your racist stereotypes.. ludicrous religious fairytales that poison the world..”

    Such venom 😉

  19. says

    If a non-muslim had made these criticisms of an elite (??) imam the punishment would have been swift and sure & severe…….Why do we tolerate these blatant double standards???

    There would have been rioting & carbeques & murder in the streets of many cities where muslims are a minority.

    All cultures & all religions are NOT equal. This is just more proof.

  20. says

    Sagunto,
    You say that Allah never was the prime role model for science, because he was proudly unreasonable.

    I’d like to flesh that out a bit more: the key is that Allah obeys absolutely nothing other than himself. He therefore obeys no laws, scientific, moral, or other. He is conceived after the image of an ancient Near Eastern despot who is completely above any law, whose rule is absolute and can be utterly arbitrary. Somewhere in the core Islamic texts, there is a critical statement made that the Jews wrongly claim God’s hands are chained. For the Muslims, God is not chained in any way, he does not have to obey or follow any law. As Muslims apparently figured out, the Judeo-Christian God, by contrast, was understood to be lawful, not arbitrary. Over many centuries, Nature therefore gradually came to be understood by Christians and Jews as following meaningful patterns, reason, law. The John Gospel identifies Christ with the Greek Logos, Reason, or Word. Christians and Jews thus learned to incorporate ancient Greek science and literature into an understanding of the world. In Judaism and Christianity, goodness was not defined by whatever some self-designated prophet just arbitrarily decided he felt like doing. Goodness was much more something independent, lawful, in terms of which anyone could look inward to the conscience and on that basis judge a prophet, as to whether he was true or not. Truth was independent. But in Islam, God’s power is so absolute, so above obedience of any kind, to any law, scientific or ethical; God’s power is so modeled after the arbitrary rule of an earthly despot, that, accordingly, the definition of “good” in Islam is to a significant extent determined by whatever Muhammad, as the self-declared last and greatest representative of Allah, just happened to do, no matter how evil it might seem to non-Muslims or to anyone who looks inward to consult his/her own innate ethical sensibilities and intuitions. Whether Muhammad’s actions as Allah’s representative sometimes seems bad or evil to human beings when they consult their own inner sense of morality, compassion, and truth is deemed irrelevant. Allah’s arbitrary rule defines for the Muslim what is good. What the truth is, what good is, is decided only by the Qur’an and Muhammad. Unfortunately, Muhammad did many criminal things, but because Muhammad dressed them up in the Qur’an’s rhetoric and the pretension that the Qur’an is the verbatim word of Allah, these evils are often taken as goods.

  21. says

    Unfortunately, Muhammad did many criminal things, but because Muhammad dressed them up in the Qur’an’s rhetoric and the pretension that the Qur’an is the verbatim word of Allah, these evils are often taken as goods. They are taken as goods because the Muslim is not supposed to listen within to an inner judge of what is or is not goodness; the Muslim is simply supposed to submit to whatever Qur’an and Muhammad demand, just as one might have submitted to an absolute despot.

  22. says

    — Headline —

    All of which is demonstration of nothing more than the fact that the Brit gov’t critters are less afraid of Christians than mohammedans.

    Which we sort of already knew.

  23. says

    Will the world never tire of picking nits off of Christian history while the mohammedans are winding up to chop their heads off?

    Get serious people!

    Wise up. Don’t be a sap.

  24. says

    Oh religions. If there were none, life would be so much easier….. unless of course someone actually has verifiable evidence for the existence of a god ? As Bertrand Russell Wrote:-

    The fact that an opinion is widely held is no evidence whatsoever that it is not utterly absurd. Indeed, in view of the silliness of most of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.

  25. says

    When Pakistan was first became than Nation the Roman Church have than lot of influent with the government so many Hindist convert to that religion to be protect from muslim mob which the government was able to control back them.

  26. says

    French have than very extreme Seclure government during WWI it didnot trust they best general as he went to sunday service at the church weekly. In the 1930’s it than member of than political party went to church just once in his life he or she can never servere in the Cabnit.

  27. says

    You know the only thing more dangerous for the world than a “Hindic Pak who converts to christian” and a “Roman Cathoritic who knows nothing about his religion”? A Muslim who knows nothing BUT his religion.

    Being a “defender” of one’s God always struck me as a little ridiculous. I can see defending one’s family, one’s country, one’s property, or one’s blue-line, but one’s God? An all-knowing, all-powerful, all-seeing being who knows every thought and deed and is aware of any thought or deed you WILL have, EVER, needs little old YOU to stick up for him and fight his fights on the playground after school? If that strikes you as a little suspect, DefenderofIslam, you might want to look into alternate theories of why your Prophet told you God needs you to fight his battles for him.

  28. says

    A Hindic Pak hoo became a Roman Cathority? Eleanor, haters liek u rally mst no tht mst christians tht r Indic tend 2 b prtestnt. Teh cathority are a manority within christains.

  29. says

    A resurrection of the Papal Bull of 1570 could be followed by Queen Elizabeth the First’s Expulsion Order of 1596:

    “…of late divers blackmoores brought into this realm, of which kind of people there are already here to manie. Those kinde of people should be sente forth of the land.”

  30. says

    Too bad there’s nobody with the leadership and guts today in Britain as was possessed by good Queen Bess. Now there was a damn first-rate leader.

  31. says

    First Eleanor, now Infidel Pride. Clearly “Defender of Islam” has shown himself a source of inspiration.

  32. says

    Respectfully, Mac, I would submit a much larger factorial difference exists (and always has) between Catholicism and Islam. It’s this: Catholic theory is far more enlightened and noble about the human condition than is Islamic theory. Irrespective of what Catholics DID in the past, a much more humane assessment about human beings on this earth was there for the understanding. Islamic doctrine, by contrast, is a prescription for permanent war until all the world (God forbid) is Islamic. I prefer the architectural metaphor here: One can build a bad house from a good blueprint but one can never build a good house from a bad blueprint.

  33. says

    I don’t have the expertise to argue the relative theological positions of either religion,so I’ll concede you might have point. I assume you’re suggesting that Islamic ideology is somehow resistant to Enlightenment principles.That indeed seems the case in the Third World,however, I’m optimistic that if, we in the West, show some more courage in the face of the creeping Islamisation of our societies and draw the line and hold it, we could civilize Islam,no matter what its underlying ideology.So far we haven’t tried this approach,because of the dysfunctions of ‘Multiculturalism’.Our best defence against Islam is the secular state.

    I should have mentioned in my ealier post that the title “Britsh Government Memo” is rather misleading,whatever Noorani’s agenda is, the memo is the work of an individual or individuals.

  34. says

    You’re far more optimistic than I am, Mac. Civilizing Islam is about as possible as civilizing Nazism or Marxism. You see, Islam is the one major religion of the world which is totalitarian in make-up. And there’s no reforming any totalitarian ideology. Just think “reformed Nazism” as a thought experiment. No, Islam will either prevail in all its ugly totalitarian mantle or it will be consigned to the trash heap of history. I know you’ll understand when I say that I hope it’s the latter.

  35. says

    You couldn’t be more wrong when you assert that Roman Catholicism is totalitarian in make-up. The Catholic Church poses no threat whatsoever to democracy, freedom of the press, a multi-party system, true religious tolerance and equality under the law. Islam, by contrast, finds all these freedom-producing elements inimical because, as Hugh Fitzgerald has observed and detailed many times, Islam is a Total Belief System. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Catholic Church doesn’t get things wrong from time to time, but that’s an entirely different matter (and your boiler-plate crap about AIDS is really old stuff and doesn’t go to the heart of who really is the culprit, i.e., people having indiscriminate sexual relations or engaging in intravenous drug use). Wise up and quit moral equivalizing and take your anti-religious bias and peddle it somewhere else. BTW, as many know here at JW, but perhaps you don’t, I’m not religious in the least, but to assert that Roman Catholicism is as totalitarian in nature as is Islam (“pretty much 100% totalitarian”—-your silly words not mine) reveals far more about you than you realize. Learn more, much more, before you embarrass yourself again.

  36. says

    @Sagunto,

    (1)Certainly the Church preserved Classical manuscripts but only those that were compatible with its teaching,the works of philosophers of which the Church disapproved were not re-copied or deliberately destroyed.An enormous amount of Classical literature was lost in this way. In fact much of Classical learning was preserved by the Eastern Church and was introduced to the West in the 15th century.
    (2)The Church prohibited the charging of interest for centuries,this prevented the development of capitalism.
    (3)You’re cherry-picking some instances of the Church’s favorable attitude to science,on the balance Catholicism was hostile(unlike Classical culture) to independent, scholarly, inquiry.
    (4)The Church’s campaigns against slavery were somewhat lethargic,weren’t they.
    (5)I’d hardly credit the Church with the inspiration for the resistance to Islamic aggression,people will fight for their homes and families,no matter what banner is raised.
    (6) The Crusades were a hare-brained idea and a squalid diversion from the Byzantine Emperor’s original strategic plan,which at least made some sense.
    So,in answer to the examples you listed,my reply is I’d give the Church a C- it could have performed much, much better.

    I recommend “Towards the Light by A.C. Grayling,it’s.. enlightening reading.

  37. says

    Wellington, I agree with you that the Catholic Church is not totalitarian in the primary sense, because it poses no threat to democracy, freedom of the press, religious freedom, etc. To call it “100% totalitarian,” as “Orlando” did, is hyperbole of a sort so extreme that it quickly renders words as worthless as money that has undergone hyperinflation. To call the Catholic Church “100% totalitarian” is something that could only be said by someone totally ignorant of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, and countless other works by people struggling against real totalitarianism, as for example Mark Gabriel experienced in Egypt. Solzhenitsyn would have laughed at the comment by Orlando as utterly childish, naive, and something that could only come from someone who takes freedom utterly for granted. Reminds me of the spoiled child who, when the maid takes his crumpets away, starts screaming at her that she is a monster and murderer. Very flawed she is, to be sure, but on the whole she is not a murderer or a brigand.

    In thinking of real totalitarianism (not the spoiled child exaggerations) I think also of Mark Gabriel, who under a different name grew up in Egypt, memorized the Qur’an at a young age, became a professor at Al-Azhar, the most prestigious Islamic university in the world, and then, when he found himself turning into a Christian, had to undergo torture and persecution by the Egyptian government, and experience having his father fire a gun at him. Later, when Gabriel made it to the United States, he one day was at some religious service where a former Christian priest described how he, the priest, had converted to Islam. Gabriel put up his hand at the end and explained that he, Gabriel, was a former Muslim scholar of Al-Azhar, now a Christian, from Egypt. The convert to Islam then invited Gabriel up to tell his story, and Gabriel asked the former Christian, new Muslim, “did you have to undergo torture when you converted? Did your father try to kill you? Did your government throw you overnight into a vat of water filled with rats? And did you not have to escape your country, at risk to your life?” The new Muslim, former priest, said no. Then Gabriel said something like “I had to go through all that to leave the Islam you have just joined. But you, in leaving Christianity, did not have to go through any of that.”

    Like Solzhenitsyn, Gabriel understood totalitarianism first hand, from his experience as a dissident in Egypt. And I think he felt that the American convert from Christianity to Islam was as naive and silly and foolish as Orlando on how the Catholic Church is “100% totalitarian.” If Orlando were in a real totalitarian country for a while, he’d never again cheapen to worthlessness the word “totalitarian,” in the way a spoiled child cheapens the word “monster” by throwing it at his maid when she takes away his crumpets.

    Anyway, Wellington, you said that perhaps the Catholic Church gets things wrong from time to time. I’d add that one could make a decent argument — as a Christian or non-Christian — that the Church gets some things wrong all the time, and has done so for a long time. Not that Protestantism or the Orthodox Church can be assumed to be exactly flawless representations of the central figure of the New Testament either.

  38. says

    I would counter with Ben Franklin’s observation, and it’s important to understand that ole Ben was a skeptic like myself. Nonetheless, he observed that if man is bad with religion, imagine what he’d be without it (I would, of course, exclude Islam from this general rule and I’m sure Ben would have too; Franklin was referring to Christianity specifically). Voltaire, another skeptic, stated that if God doesn’t exist, we’ll have to invent Him. Perhaps you might reflect on the sapience of these assessments.

    The Founding Fathers of America, many of whom were not conventional Christians, still realized the importance of religion in private AND public life. I respectfully suggest you reconsider things. Bertrand Russell had his qualities to be sure but he was no Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton or George Washington or… The history of the last hundred years of mankind bitterly proves the wisdom of these great eighteenth-century men.

    Religion is accepted by many people too easily, but it is also rejected by many people too easily. It has a role in human society more than many non-religious people realize. Will await your response if you are so inclined. I’m not trying to be provocative here, just challenging.