If you’ve been attacked for being Catholic

…and I have been attacked for being Catholic, please check out Mark Shea’s hilarious “Behold: The Spam of God!” 

If you aren’t Catholic, it’s still funny. If you happen to be one of the people who attacks Catholics, then I’m not sure why you’re at my weblog, but you might not want to pop over there because Mark Shea has a good laugh at the anti-Catholics’ expense. 

(By the way, I like a good debate, but that’s not what he’s talking about. Debate enlightens both sides. And comparative faith-sharing is awesome. But drive-by theological shootings are just ridiculous.)

How can you not love something that contains the line, “When I converted to Catholicism, it was the statue worship that appealed to me the most”?



  1. Nuala

    Thanks for this link. It was amusing.

    I am not always comfortable with Catholicism, and while I still identify myself as Catholic, His Holiness might not agree with me.

    That said, I have a BIL who recently found religion. The family is thrilled, as his newfound faith has given him the strength to to give up certain destructive behaviors.

    However, one of the major tenets of this new faith seems to be cutting down Catholicism. He and his bride are respectful of other religions (even though they are “wrong”), but he frequently makes disparaging remarks about Catholics, even when I gently remind him of my faith.

    “Mutual Nephew is having his Confirmation next month. Your brother and I are his godparents.”

    The most frustrating thing is that none of these ideas are his own. He has little first-hand knowledge of Catholicism, but seems to be parroting what a religious advisor has told him.

    Perhaps if I share some of the comments in the essay he will either realize that he is insulting me, or maybe just confused into silence. Silence would be nice.

    1. philangelus

      Silence really is best if the person doesn’t want give and take. Ivy (who regularly appears in the comments box) and I often will ask one another about our respective faiths. “So why does Catholicism believe this?” “What does Judaism believe about that?” and so on. But there isn’t an argument afterward. If the person isn’t genuinely interested in mutual understanding or being supportive, what’s the point?

      I liked Shea’s final point, though, which was that these kinds of drive-by comments are highly disrespectful of the *people* behind the beliefs.

      You might try with your BIL, saying, “As a Catholic, I have to ask you not to make those kind of remarks.” The heck with a gentle reminder: just being straightforward might shut him down or force him to engage in a real dialogue.

      Good luck.

  2. Promise

    As an Episcopalian, I get weird comments from Evangelical Protestants, as well. Sometimes, being an Episcopalian weirds them out even more, because a lot of them have never heard of us, at least down here in the deep South. Usually someone will say, “oh, isn’t that the same thing as being a Catholic?” or “isn’t that where you worship the Queen of England?” Of course my favorite comment is that Episcopalians and Catholics “aren’t Christians”! :eyeroll: Honestly, if someone starts spewing such ignorance my way, I refuse to talk to them. I never will understand what makes someone who is supposedly a Christian act in such an un-Christ-like manner.

  3. Wendy

    I never understood what the big deal was and why “everybody” hated Catholics. Then again, I’m theologically impaired.

    1. philangelus

      People end up attacking other religions because of arrogance, is my opinion. They don’t want to meet in the middle. They don’t want to learn. They don’t want to share. At core, I think some people are afraid that if they learn why you believe what you believe, somehow they’ll believe their own thing a little bit less. And that scares them.

      Most of the things people think they know about Catholicism (and according to Promise,Episcopalianism too?) aren’t actually things that are true. It becomes an insular little process: Grandpa told me all about Catholics; he learned from his grandpa. Who learned from his Grandpa. Many of these people have never actually heard what Catholicism actually teaches. They’ve just heard what other people say Catholicism actually teaches.

      Fulton Sheen said he’d never met a person who hated the Catholic church, only people who hated what they thought was the Catholic church.

      A little understanding goes a long way when talking with someone from a different belief system.

      1. cricketB

        I agree with the fear thing. What if I learn that everything I’ve been doing so devoutly is actually wrong? The more they’ve invested in their way, the more they fear they were wasting their time.

        1. philangelus

          Let’s say you’ve been married for 20 years, and every year on your husband’s birthday you make him a chocolate cake. Let’s now say that he used to like chocolate cake but he doesn’t like it *exclusively.* He’d rather have a boston cream cake.

          Since you love your husband, wouldn’t you rather know that, even if it’s after 20 years? 🙂 That’s how I view it. In every relationship there’s always more room to get to know a person, and the same must be even more true of God.

          1. cricketB

            But (playing Devil’s Advocate), what if for years you’ve given up two weekends to get the ingredients, and hours finding perfect chocolate cake recipes, and alienated people because of it (especially people who like boston cream cake)?

            Some people react to this type of thing with anger rather than curiosity, amazement or humour. You can’t be mad at Him, so they direct it at the messenger. Not productive, but understandable.

  4. Ivy

    See, for a lot of people “popular religion” = “Catholicism”. It’s the big, known one. The trick is, it gets recognized for this half the time.

    As a society we’ve learned charity, faith, and kindness. That’s good. Never mind where we learned that from.

    Someone’s blowing up an abortion clinic? Must be all the crazy Catholics. The lady who won’t stop ringing your doorbell every night during dinner to spread the good word? She’s some nutty Catholic. Gotta be. (Personal experience here–after “Thank you, but I’m not interested” and “Please stop bothering me” both fail, a long, loud diatribe on the “Glories of Lord Horus, True of Voice, long may he reign”, tends to do the trick.)

    This popularity also makes Catholicism the “dumping ground” religion. This is where a person, who knows he’s evil, knows he’s going to rot in Hell, decides he has to do something right by G-d, so between knocking off liquor stores and beating his wife, he goes to church once a week. And how can the Church respond? If they throw the person out, they’re violating their own principles and the teaching of Jesus, and losing a chance to save a soul–and don’t doubt that once in a while real Catholicism “sets in” and the person does reform. If they let the person stay, that puts forth an image that Catholicism accepts knocking off a liquor store on Saturday, going to church on Sunday, being the wife on Monday. There’s no winning.

    Then the Church seems determined to destroy its own P.R. Remember the brouhaha about that one bishop who was linked to holocaust denial? The Church took the wrong approach. Rather than explain how it’s not a theological concern, etc, etc. they could have reminded people of how the officers of the Church, at risk to their own lives, smuggled Jews fleeing Hitler into Vatican City, and sheltered them at great peril. I wonder how many people, who were leveling the anti-semitic charges, even remembered Pope John XXIII’s “I am Joseph, your brother” speech.

    It is true that the Church is judged for its history in a way we don’t judge other political figures. King Alexander set out to conquer the world, just because he wanted to see if he could, and we crown him “The Great”. In practice, the Crusades weren’t that different, except the crusaders thought they were fighting for a noble cause, and this is labeled evil. That said, from the Donation of Constantine through the child abuse scandal, the Church has a lot of history eroding its public image.

    Then you get boneheads like me who think Jesus was the cat’s meow, but Paul totally gunked up the works. If the entire Christian bible was the Gospels, Revelation, and maybe Acts of the Apostles, I’d probably be Christian. Throw in Paul, and I’m gone. And we tilt at windmills with the Paulinisms.

    1. philangelus

      I love you, Ivy. 🙂

    2. Promise

      Just out of curiousity, where are you located? Because, in my experience, the “known” religion = Mainline Conservative Protestant (predominatly, Baptists). And the door-knockers are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Maybe it varies from community to community?

      I agree with a lot of your post. Including the stuff about Paul. There are some valid arguments for calling our religion Paulinism, as his teachings, or interpretations of Jesus’ teachings, are fundamental to so much Christian doctrine (Catholic or Protestant, or for us fence straddlers, the Anglican/Episcopalians). But when you look past the “mysogynistic” and the “historical context” stuff, there is TRUTH there. As my father once said, “Even if nothing in this book [the Bible] is true, even if none of it ever happened, everything you need to know about how to live the best possible life and be the best possible person is in here.”

      And as far as all the “mistakes” the “Church” has made? Well, that’s the thing. God gave us free will. And that means that a lot of the time, even when we think we’re doing the right thing, we’re gonna totally muck it up. All we can really do is the best we can and have faith that God is going to continue to be patient with us. After all, we’re still so very very young and there is so very very much to learn.

      1. Ivy

        I’m in New York. The predominant religion here is Judaism, but the perceived mainstream religion is Catholicism. This isn’t a matter of how many Catholics there are, so much as Christianity is the mainstream religion for America, and the Catholics have all the interesting buildings (St. Patrick’s Cathedral for example) and all the press when the Pope comes to the US or makes a speech or whatever. So for many here Christianity = Catholicism.

        We probably have more Lubavitcher door knockers
        than Jehovah’s Witnesses. The people who have no patience for religion at all call them Catholics too.

        Yes, there is truth there. Jesus was brilliant; his teachings are beautiful, and one could do much worse, and little better, than use them to guide one’s life.

        That’s part of the problem. We look at those who are in a greater state of grace than ourselves, and we resent it. My mother, who ultimately became Catholic out of convenience, once saw a man walking down the street on a Saturday morning wearing a prayer shawl, just heading to service, not talking to anyone, not bothering anyone, and demanded to know “What’s he trying to prove?!”. She told me, after I started taking Judaism more seriously, that she saw me and felt guilty about going to church and not honoring the Jewish holidays. The anger and the guilt came from the same source. She was called to be a Jew, and she ignored the call. So perhaps people called to follow Christ, who ignore that calling, resent those who don’t ignore it.

        As to history, it’s not fair to air-quote mistakes and Church, unless you think centuries of torture and murder weren’t mistakes, or that armies acting under command from the Pope weren’t serving the Church. Do we start with Galileo? Or perhaps skip over to burning “witches”? On the other hard, it’s not fair to avoid the historic context of the time, and judge those actions through the lens of today’s society.

        One story is told of a mother being tortured on the rack and commanded to convert. “I am a Jew!” she cried between screams. The Inquisitor held her small child on his lap during the whole ordeal. The child, mimicking his mother, said, “I am a Jew.” In fury, the Inquisitor threw the child to the stone floor, killing him.

        We find that appalling. We call that evil. It’s largely, if not entirely, thanks to the influence of the Church that we recognize it as such. Look at Abraham. He was willing to sacrifice Isaac on the altar, and his contemporaries would have found that normal. As shocking as it seems to anyone in the modern age, we needed to be told that was wrong. The Church brought this knowledge to the world at large–let’s be honest, if it weren’t for Christianity, most people wouldn’t even know who Abraham was–but first they had to learn it themselves.

        It’s not fair to say the 15th century Church should be judged by 21st century standards, while accepting the 15th century Spanish government was acting in accordance to 15th century standards in such matters as the 1492 expulsion of the Jews. Spain is allowed to be judged today by today’s actions, but often the Church is not. I also think it’s not fair to say this is part of Catholic history but not Protestant history, even though the Reformation didn’t start until 1517.

        I think it’s because Satan sees that the Church has succeeded brilliantly in bringing Torah to the world. It’s the same reason the Jews face persecution in every age. The enemy wants to beat us both down and keep G-d’s radiance shut away. One of the prophecies about the messiah is that he will usher in an age where everyone will turn straight to G-d. I think, when this happens, we’ll stop finding reasons to hate the people who are trying to point the way.

        That said, I still want to get Jesus and Paul to come on my podcast together to ask what Jesus thinks of the Pauline letters. I think it would make a lively show.

  5. Promise


    Just want to clarify one thing, I put mistakes in quotations to highlight the word, not to detract from it. Of course, looking back on it now with an editorial eye, putting it in all caps would have been a better choice.

    Totally agree with everything you’ve said.

    And if you do ever get J & P on your show — let me know, that’s a convo I don’t wanto miss!


    1. philangelus

      I would like to hear Jesus and Paul together too. The only thing we know Jesus said to Paul was “Why are you persecuting me?” but we don’t know what was said between them after that.

  6. Promise

    Hmmm. Jane, I think we’ve stumbled upon your next book….

  7. Pingback: 10 misconceptions about Catholicism « Seven angels, four kids, one family

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