e g r e g o r e s

"Graciously bestow upon all men felicity, the summit of which is the knowledge of the Gods." [Julian, Oration to the Mother of the Gods]

Catholic “Liberal” Paul Begala’s Vicious, Racist Slurs Against African Religions

“We (therefore) weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso — to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ where so ever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.”
[The Bull Romanus Pontifex (Nicholas V), January 8, 1455. Full text here.]

For over five centuries, African slaves and their descendants have struggled to keep their religious traditions alive in the “New World”. They have prevailed in the face of unrelenting, and often murderously violent, efforts by their good Christian masters to “convert” them to the religion under whose aegis they were enslaved in the first place. The survival, against all odds, of vibrant religious traditions such as Santeria, Vodou, Candomble, and Palo, should be celebrated as an astonishing, almost inconceivable, achievement, and as a simultaneously humbling and inspiring monument to the indomitable spirit of these daughters and sons of Africa.

Sadly, however, instead of being respected and admired, the millions of 21st century adherents of African-Diaspora religions continue to face ignorance and derision from “mainstream” (that, is Christian) society. A case in point was the ugly, bigoted outburst by Catholic “liberal” talking head Paul Begala last Friday night (July 15) on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” show.

Begala wanted to express his (justified) disgust for the idea that homosexuality is a disease, an idea apparently embraced by Michelle Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, who works as a “Christian counsellor” at a clinic that claims to be able to “cure” homosexuals and turn them into “healthy” heterosexuals. Here is how Begals chose to articulate his disdain for Marcus Bachmann’s homophobia:

“Well, his position seems to be, I will practice a crackpot theory if people ask me to practice a crackpot theory. What if somebody comes in and says, will you try Santeria or voodoo or astrology or any number of other crackpot theories? Would he adopt them?

“And that’s what this is. The notion that — first of all, they call it reparative, like your sexual identity is like a muffler or something. You have got to take it in the shop and repair it. It’s a crackpot theory and it’s bigotry.

[“Michele Bachmann Under Fire”, CNN transcript here]

Begala is a Catholic, the religion that gave us the Inquisition back in the Middle Ages, but that today is more well-known for harboring, and otherwise aiding and abetting, an international network of serial child rapists. And it was the Catholic Church that provided the religious justification for the African slave trade, which was seen as just another way of spreading their bigoted, crackpot “gospel”.

4 responses to “Catholic “Liberal” Paul Begala’s Vicious, Racist Slurs Against African Religions

  1. Ning Explorer July 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Apuleius is a Pagan, the religion that gave us widespread human sacrifice and patriarchy back in Antiquity and up through the early Modern Era (in Mesoamerica), but that today is more well-known for animal sacrifice and burgeoning sexual abuse – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sex_in_India#Sexual_abuse_of_children, http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/crime/hindu-guru-sex-abuse-trial-continues, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/article514158.ece, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/tag/gavin-and-yvonne-frost, ftp://luckydreamspace.nostrajewellery.org/ebox/ethics.pdf

  2. Kullervo July 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Serious question: what “crackpot theory” could he have used as an example that would not be offensive to someone’s deeply-held beliefs?

    Where is the dividing line between “tinfoil hat nuttery that can be treated disdainfully or at least rejected as a legitimate option” and “valid religious belief deserving of respect?”

    • Apuleius Platonicus July 23, 2011 at 8:08 am

      That’s a good question. My Grandparents (on my mother’s side) were Christian Scientists, and that particular sect is very often considered “fair game”. Also, having spent much of my life in Indiana I have personally known lots of very conservative evangelical Christians including Pentecostals. And for one reason or another I have known a significant number of Mormons throughout my life. And then there is also the fact that I happen to believe in Astrology, Tarot cards, Witchcraft and stuff like that! I don’t have any problems with heaping scorn on members of particular religions, so long as this is done for some good reason.

      But why did Begala think that he had to insult Marcus Bachmann, and why did he think the best way to do that was by comparing Bachmann’s ideas to some other “crackpot” ideology? Isn’t it enough to say that Bachmann is spreading bigoted homophobic ideas?

  3. Kullervo July 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Yeah, that was a pretty ignorant way to put it.

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