Monday, October 15, 2007

Still More Anti-Catholic Bigotry!

As if we need more evidence that anti-Catholicism is "the last acceptable prejudice," here comes local bigot Robin Kip Speckels again with another ill-informed, half-baked spew of vomitous hatred, courtesy of the local rag. I've written about Speckels before, the last time he decided to vent his bigotry and the local rag decided to help him, and I'm pretty sure this is the last time I will waste any energy on someone who is so obviously poisoned by his own unreasoning biases.

But you never know.

Anyhow, here's the latest. Hold your nose.

Catholicism deceives, seduces
By Robin Kip Speckels
Sioux Falls
PUBLISHED: October 15, 2007

n a Sept. 4 response letter to the Argus Leader, Michael Wensing of Brookings accused me of deliberately misunderstanding Catholic theology and traditions. For the past 10 years, I have learned all I need to know about Catholicism and its unbiblical teachings, which are too numerous to go into detail. I'm not misunderstanding anything.

I am, however, very deliberate in my attempt to unmask what is perhaps the most deceptive and seductive religious system in the world, a system which operates under the ruse of Christianity. Roman Catholicism didn't even exist until after 300 A.D. under the Roman emperor Constantine, who worshiped the sun god and was actually the first pope - not Peter. Sure, they printed Bibles, but the problem is that over the centuries, they have taken the liberty of elevating their own teachings above Scripture. This is called heresy.

Wensing claims that the Catholic Church treasures the Bible. Why then do they dishonor it by making graven images and genuflecting (kneeling) before them? It's the same thing as bowing down and is a blatant violation of the Second Commandment. Why do they pray to Mary and many other "saints" as mediators when the Bible says that Jesus is the only mediator? (1 Timothy 2:5) And what about praying the rosary, which is a vain repetition, something Jesus said not to do? (Matthew 6:7)

Catholicism isn't about Jesus Christ. It's about the Virgin Mary, whom, interestingly, the church hails as "Queen of Heaven and Earth." God condemns the worship of such a queen. (Jeremiah 44:17) I do not hate Catholics, and it isn't my intent to offend or anger them. I simply want to urge them to take a serious look at the things they've been taught in light of the Scriptures.

And now the old, old problem: Where to begin? These bigots invariably follow the same tack, viz., throw as much crap as you possibly can, making it nigh well impossible to sort it all out for any kind of reasoned refutation. But gamely we soldier on...

For starters, there's always that beloved phrase, "I have learned all I need to know..." Speckels would have us believe he has made a decade-long study of Catholicism and come to an informed conclusion. But his diatribe indicates quite the opposite, for if he had in fact pursued any reliable (un-bigoted) sources, he would not be promulgating his half-truths and outright untruths. One can but conclude, therefore, that Speckels has spent the past decade wallowing in such literary gems as support his anti-Catholic prejudice, and now having sufficiently coated himself in muck has pronounced his "education" at an end. He (I think: the byline gives no clue as to gender) knows all he needs to know. Facts will only get in the way.

Of course, Speckels's claim that Catholicism "didn't even exist until after 300 A.D. under the Roman emperor Constantine" is just silly, as is his assertion that Constantine "worshiped the sun god and was actually the first pope." The roots of Catholicism go back to the earliest days of Christianity, and have been growing and evolving ever since. I haven't the foggiest idea whether or not Constantine ever worshiped the sun god, but even if he did that hardly repudiates his conversion to Christianity: With the exception of the Jews who followed Christ, nearly all early converts to Christianity had been pagans. Anyhow, Constantine's importance in legitimizing Christianity can't be overstated...unless you announce that he was "actually the first pope." He was neither first, nor any pope at all. There was an eighth-century pope by the same name, but I'm pretty sure he was a different person altogether, unless Constantine lived to be well over 500 years old. As far as "who's on first"--well, since the pope is the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, it seems to me that it's up to the RCC, and not Speckel, to decide who their first leader was. If they say it was Peter, then it was Peter. If they say it was Superman's Pal Jimmy Olson, then it was Superman's Pal Jimmy Olson.

Part of Speckel's problem undoubtedly lies in the fact that Catholic tradition is built on a biblical foundation but also believes in the ongoing revelation of the Holy Spirit to guide the church on earth. In other words, the Bible is where you start. We believe that this ongoing revelation comes via the teaching authority of the church, at whose earthly head is the pope. I suspect that Speckels is of a fundamentalist bent, and those folks seem to cling to a belief that God wrote the Bible one day and everything--all thought, all reason, all discovery--froze at that point. And so naturally he would label anything else "heresy." Just as I would label his point of view "foolishness."

Speaking of foolishness: Are we really still hung up on that "graven images" nonsense? When was the last time (or the first) that Speckels was actually in a Catholic church? Certainly, some of the older churches are replete with statuary, but only an imbecile still clings to the belief that Catholics worship or even revere statues. If Speckels had indeed made the deep study of Catholicism that he implies, he would know that Catholics do not genuflect to any statue but rather to what we consider to be the true presence of Christ in the consecrated elements of Holy Communion, which are stored in a tabernacle, which traditionally rests upon the main altar or, in some churches, a side altar. It is true that there often is a crucifix above the main altar, and that there may be a statue of Mary or Joseph near or above a side altar, but that's coincidental. The reverence is being shown to Christ, not to any "graven image." Good grief.

Likewise, had Speckels studied anything that didn't serve to reinforce his hatred of Catholics, he would know that careful Catholics do not "pray to saints"; admittedly, we will say, somewhat colloquially, "better say a prayer to St. Anthony" or words to that effect, but a careful Catholic--and anyone who knows anything about Catholic teachings--will know that (as a priest friend of mine at the alma mater put it all those years ago) "Catholics do not pray to the saints; Catholics asks the saints to pray with us." In other words, my praying "to" St. Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes and therefore a longtime favorite of mine) is in fact my asking him to pray for and with me, just as I might well ask a friend to remember me in prayer if I am going through a difficult time. Catholics believe in eternity, therefore asking St. Jude for prayers is no different than asking your next-door neighbor for same.

I won't fall into Speckel's trap of cherry-picking Bible verses to "prove" his distortions are biblically ordained "truths," but it can't pass uncommented that his condemnations of Catholic practices depends on his first misinterpreting what Catholicism teaches and practices and then condemning that misinterpretation. So he says we pray to saints (untrue) and then condemns that--which might have merit, were the original charge true. It's the same as saying, blue-eyed men beat their wives; wife-beating is a crime; therefore blue-eyed men are criminals. B is true; A and C are lies. As is Speckel's pronouncement that "Catholicism isn't about Jesus Christ. It's about the Virgin Mary." Huh. News to me. Certainly Mary holds a special place of honor in the Catholic church, but anyone who had bothered to study the faith--or even just read the liturgy of the Mass--could not conclude that it's "about" Mary, whatever poetic honorifics are given her. Again, he sets out a lie as if it's truth, and then attacks the lie.

And then--and you gotta love this--he says, "I do not hate Catholics, and it isn't my intent to offend or anger them." Hah! Give it up, man! There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to craft a letter such as this unless your heart is filled with hate AND you want to spread it around. The vague balderdash about wanting "to urge them to take a serious look at the things they've been taught" is, well, balderdash, since obviously he can't be bothered to take such a look. His aim is to spread his poisonous bigotry.

At which point we must also look askance at the local rag. One hates to be all "victim-y," but one can't help but wonder if the rag would publish such a letter if its target was, say, Judaism, or Islam. Would not the editors see it for what it is--smearing a major religion--and shelve it rather than be complicit in spreading lies? And please don't hide behind that loaded word "censorship": For a newspaper to decline to publish a hatemongering letter is not censorshipl it is exercising editorial judgment. Indeed, I should imagine that most daily newspapers receive far more letters than they publish. Are the unpublished letters the victims of "censorship"? Of course not. The rag is under no obligation to print anyone's letter, ever...and one could cry "censorship" only if there were no other avenues to express one's skewed point of view. But there is nothing stopping Speckels from spreading his venom through other sources: He can blog, he can print flyers--hell, he can publish his own newspaper.

So obviously the local rag has decided to lend itself to this kind of bigotry, presumably in the belief that controversy sells newspapers. Its editors, then, are every bit as complicit as Speckels in their anti-Catholic bigotry.

The last acceptable prejudice, after all.

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