Ten years ago, and last week

I was browsing through Katha Pollitt’s Subject to Debate this morning and read a great piece from September 2000, Freedom From Religion, ¡Si!

…that’s the official American civic religion at the opening of the twenty-first century: What religion you have may be your own business–rather literally so, in the case of Scientology–but it’s society’s business that you have one. Modernity may have eroded some of the distinctions between previously antagonistic belief systems–Quick! Explain the difference between Presbyterianism and Methodism!–as is suggested by the increasing replacement of the word “religion,” with its connotations of dogma and in-groupness, by the warm, fuzzy propaganda term “faith.”

See? I’m not the only one who has noticed the replacement and thinks it’s a plot of warm fuzzy propaganda.

Facing the common enemy, secularism, devout Christians and Jews dwell lovingly on their similarities as part of a “Judeo-Christian” ethos, when historically the ethos of each faith was precisely that it wasn’t the other…

Yep. Ten years on, that hasn’t changed. (It’s probably more defensive though, thanks to the scary gnu atheism.)

Because the most energetic religions tend to be the ones most invested in keeping women subordinate, women in particular have nothing to gain from the burgeoning involvement of religion in the public sphere. The wave of mergers between Catholic and secular hospitals is already depriving women of crucial reproductive services, from contraception and abortion to in vitro fertilization and the morning-after pill, even for rape victims. Indeed, wherever you look, religion is the main obstacle to providing women with modern reproductive healthcare: The fig leaf of “conscience” becomes a justification for denying others basic human services. Thus the Catholic Church throws its weight against making health insurers cover contraception (Viagra’s fine, though) and anti-choice pharmacists claim the right to refuse to dispense birth control, emergency contraception or, should it be approved by the FDA, RU-486.

And if the bishops had their way, abortions would be illegal and ruled out even for women who would die without them. I’m hoping Katha will light into the bishop of Phoenix.

Happy new year, all.

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