When Faith Becomes Ideology

Aubrey Lynch

The title is taken from words spoken by Pope Francis as reported at rawstory.com on Oct. 21 of 2013. In his brief words, the Pope took issue with those who are so focused on ideology that any indication of love, compassion, understanding and other higher level facets of humanity are lost.
These are powerful, near shocking words to come from the leader of the centuries old Catholic church. The new Pope likely uses messages such as this one to let the world know how he is working to change the institution that has done so much in recent years to attack gays and women.
Bishops of the Catholic Church had put themselves so far out into the public spotlight that they appeared to be campaigning for Republicans in their efforts to defeat the Affordable Care Act. This view has been borne out by a recent article in the National Catholic Reporter on Nov. 14.
The article reveals that many bishops are afraid that focusing on economic issues in support of the poor will alienate their Republican donors and help the Democrats. Those donors would then not support the bishops’ focus on gays, abortion and religious liberty.
An article in Enlightened Catholicism tells us that the billionaire Koch Brothers gave a million dollars to the Catholic University of America. In their cozy relationship with the Republicans and their billionaire supporters, the bishops came dangerously close to sedition, if not treason, as they pounded away at “religious freedom” in their attempts to subvert the law of the land that had given women access to insurance to help them control the timing and process of reproduction.
They have been equally strident in their incitements to violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.
In all of these very public and highly publicized efforts, the bishops very piously called upon the Bible and church teachings to support their position. Until they put themselves forward so belligerently to promote their rather peculiar ideology, they had not chosen to take such a high profile stance on any other subject. The ideology is peculiar because it focuses so exclusively on human sexual behavior and put forth so self-righteously by supposedly celibate clerics .. .human celibacy being itself rather peculiar.
The bishops laid themselves open to the obvious charge that their loud, almost angry attacks on the sexuality of gays and women were meant to hide the long history of the abuse of children by church clerics, including some of those bishops making the charges. The Pope appears to be serving notice that there is a new sheriff in town.
His predecessor, Pope Benedict, the German who in his youth served in the Nazi youth corps, had been suspect in the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse of children. The church scandals had to do not only with sexual abuse, but dark financial dealings by the Vatican bank as well. As a result, the church had been losing vast amounts of its wealth, as well as tithing adherents due to the scandals.
The Pope is being touted as a breath of fresh air by true believers. But, as the head of a centuries old, fabulously wealthy institution, the Pope is the head of a once-thriving business that was about to go under without a change in leadership.
The Board of Directors, otherwise known as the College of Cardinals, chose the Pope to advance the aims of the business by breaking the influence of the U.S. council of bishops. The middle managers of the church, the bishops, are about to have their heads handed to them.
There has to be something especially heinous about running a business that is based on bilking the people who fervently believe in Jesus Christ and a supreme God. But, the new leader, Pope Francis, appears to be turning it around. The Catholic churches have people returning to the pews and filling the collection baskets.
Now, let us apply the lessons learned to another thriving business that is in serious danger … the Republican party. The parallels are uncanny.
The Republicans have been caught red-handed, taking vast sums from the super wealthy in return for legislation that promotes the transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the same rich people who back the bishops. These super wealthy, also known as oligarchs, use the additional wealth so generously provided by their Republican stooges, to attack any and all efforts to expose their schemes to plunder the riches of the nation.
The Republicans have packed the Supreme Court to reverse laws that protected the poor and middle classes. They have funded the Tea Party, extremists tantamount to treasonous subversives, whose aim appears to be to bring down a legitimately elected government or, failing that, to prevent the government from functioning. They have fomented wars in Afghanistan and Iraq based on blatant lies promoted by a puppet Republican administration.
They appear to be intent upon rigging elections, so as to install another compliant Republican administration that will initiate another “preemptive” war against Iran at the urging of the Israelis. The near continuous Republican wars do nothing more than bring misery to our supposed enemies, break our soldiers, plunder the wealth of the U.S. and enrich the oligarchs.
The second most heinous type of leadership is one that will bilk the people who fervently believe that the U.S. is the most powerful, most democratic and most righteous country in the world and the beacon of hope for the world’s suffering masses.
The Catholic Church and the Republican party; who could have guessed that they would have so much in common?
It is too bad that the Republican party does not appear to have the foggiest notion of what new leadership might do to bring it back from the brink of abject failure.
Mitt Romney and the rather curious contenders for the nomination in the 2012 election were bad enough. Now, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul appear to be contenders for the 2016 nomination.
In control of the Republican congress, Cruz, supported by Paul, succeeded in shutting down the government and bringing the U.S. perilously close to default. He is the darling of the Tea Party, funded by the oligarchs that control the Republican agenda. Unlike the church, the Republicans do not seem capable of righting their failing business.
Those who fervently believe in the U.S. can only hope that the Republicans never stumble upon the key to saving themselves. Their ideology is so toxic that competent new leadership will only prolong the agony — better that they should go kicking and screaming into the dark night of oblivion.

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