As I mention in my upcoming memoir, for a time I lived in a pub in an English village. Quaint and cozy, it was of note because of a monk’s face, carved with a wink, that peered into the serving room. Behind it was a passageway, long since blocked, that in early days, led to a now-defunct priory across the road. According to oral history, on some nights, the pious monks would drop, unnoticed, into the tavern for a quick one.
With an apology to my devout friends, I’ve sometimes found religion and hypocrisy go together like mist on the moors. Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, uses his bully pulpit to promote religious freedom around the world. His goal seems laudable. People should be free to practice or not to practice their faith as they choose. Unfortunately, some choose to make freedom a license. They work to expand their rights until it threatens the right of others. In today’s America, a gay man must think twice about ordering a wedding cake.
Sadly, an excess of faith doesn’t seem to make individuals more charitable or loving. Many of them seek harsh punishments for light infractions. Our jails are littered with citizens guilty of possessing a small amount of marijuana. Worse, many of these faithful show a Biblical blood lust for the death penalty .
A real and growing threat to personal freedom are the churches as they continue to scoop up hospitals. Without debate within the community, once they gain control of medical services, they shut down a woman’s access to contraception and abortions. Under our present healthcare system, women are as likely to lose reproductive freedom in the hospitals as in the courts.
Even so, priests continue to molest children, and the Pope’s credibility falls into question. Even nuns, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, have begun to tell their stories of sexual abuse. Who is surprised?
Like the winking monk in that English pub those many years ago, beneath the glow of piety, there can be dark passages.
(First published 10/9/18)