Welcome To My Nightmare

Let me tell you right up front, what I have to say today is gonna piss some people off. I wasn’t going to post this here, but after my editor read it on my myspace blog he said, “What’s the point of having a soapbox if you don’t get on it once in awhile?” Maybe he’s right. Maybe we’re both wrong. Nonetheless, this column today has NOTHING to do with comic books. It’s about religion, politics, and a man who does neither very well. Archbishop Raymond Burke of the St. Louis Archdiocese. If that topic makes you squeamish, go to another column. Check out Marvel’s site and see and report back to me if you find out what Joe wants to ruin next.

For those of you sticking around, you’ve been warned.

For background information on some of the points contained herein, I refer you the following:

Archbishop Wants St. Stan’s Priest Defrocked

Archbishop Quits Children’s Hospial Over Sheryl Crow

Wikipedia page for St. Stanislaus Kostka Church

I’m basically cutting the rest from my myspace page, which starts with yet another bit of madness by the Archbishop against St. Louis University Basketball Coach Rick Majerus. I’ll make that red, with my editorial to follow in black.

Archbishop Says Majerus Should Be Disciplined
By Deirdre Shesgreen and Tom Timmerman

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said this morning that St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus should be disciplined over his public comments supporting abortion rights and stem cell research.

Majerus made his comments at a campaign appearance for Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday night during an interview with KMOV (Channel 4).

During an interview with the Post-Dispatch today in Washington, where Burke is attending the March for Life, he said the coach should be disciplined.

“It’s not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions,” Burke said. “When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don’t have to embrace everything the Catholic church teaches. But you can’t make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic church.”

The archbishop declined to offer specifics of what discipline Majerus should face. “I’m confident it (the university) will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith.”

Majerus made his comments to the TV station at the rally at McCluer North High School.

Burke declined to say if he thought Majerus should be fired, but added, “You can’t have a Catholic university with one of its prominent staff making “declarations” that are in conflict with the church.

A spokesman for the university, Jeff Fowler, said Majerus’ comments were not related to his role at the university.

“Rick’s comments were his own personal view. They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative,” Fowler said. “It was his own personal visit to the rally. The comments were his, he was not speaking for the university in whatever comments he made to Channel 4.”

Last year, St. Louis U. celebrated a legal victory that affirmed it is not controlled by the Catholic church or by its Catholic beliefs.

The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with the school in handing down a decision that the city of St. Louis did not violate state and federal constitutions by granting the university $8 million in tax increment financing for its new arena.

Opponents of the $80 million arena sued the school in 2004, halting construction.

The Missouri Constitution prohibits public funding to support any “…college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever.”

The debate came down to two words: “control” and “creed.” Does the guiding mission of a Catholic university align with the specific system of religious faith espoused by the Catholic church? And if so, does that system of faith control the actions of the university?

In a 6-1 decision, the court said SLU “is not controlled by a religious creed.”

I truncated the story at the end as it closed with a discussion of the coach’s record with SLU so far, and I couldn’t care less about that. No, my topic for today is the insidious nature of a man with the silly hat: Archbishop Raymond Burke.

What a fuckin’ douchebag.

I can say that because I am a ruled by one and only one power: ME. I make my own decisions. I have not and will not let myself be led by the nose by an organized religion who would have a man of such low character as a member. Burke is the classic archetype. You’ve seen him in dozens of movies about the Middle Ages in Europe. Greedy bishops working for greedy royalty to take what’s left of his flock’s money as tithe after the government gets theirs in taxes.

Since coming to St. Louis, Burke has censured an entire congregation at St. Stan’s, worked to excommunicate the priest who dared challenge him, and quit the Board of Directors at Children’s Hospital because Sheryl Crow is an advocate for stem cell research. And now he wants to dictate what Rick Majerus can say, even though he in no way works for the Archbishop.

Here are some truths that I think we can all agree upon:

1) We as Americans have the Constitutional Right to Free Speech.
2) Our founding fathers had the foresight to include a provision in the Constitution that calls for the separation of Church and State. This would effectively prohibit the Church from infringing on the People’s rights, including Freedom of Speech. Obviously it works in reverse too. The government can’t prohibit you from practicing whatever religion you choose.
3) When you die, you are dead. And THAT is ALL we really know. We don’t know if there’s a scientific or religious answer for that proverbial light at the end of a tunnel that people report seeing in near-death experiences. We don’t know if there’s a big line in front of gates of pearl with a saint named Peter pointing directions. We don’t know if there’s a pit of fire and people pushing boulders up a hill for all eternity. We don’t know if the Valkyries come to take you to Valhallah and feast with Odin and Thor. We don’t know.

THAT is the mystery of FAITH.

Another right we all have as Americans is the Freedom of Religion. I certainly don’t take that away from anyone. If you have faith, good for you. If you care to express that faith within a system of organized religion, it’s your right to do so. You can be anything from a Catholic to a Jainist and anything else you can think of.

But I think that freedom also includes a freedom FROM religion. If you wish live your life in ways characteristic of your chosen faith, do it. But that’s all you get to do. You don’t get to tell other people (especially me) how they should live, which God to worship, and certainly not which candidate to endorse. That’s the Separation of Church and State again. If you identify with one candidate’s faith moreso than another, that’s fine. If you vote for that candidate solely for that reason, you’re a waste of democracy.

My friend “Mick” has three kids. The first two were born healthy. The last one had a correctable but potentially problematic spinal defect. To see that his baby got the best possible care, that one was born at Barnes Jewish. Mick is Catholic. He coaches his church’s tee-ball team. His wife teaches Bible study there. And when it was time to baptize Baby 3, his church balked. “Can’t do it,” they said. “Kid was born in a Jewish hospital.” Mick was livid. His wife was insistent. And their child was baptized. For 3 times more money than the first two cost.

My own brother has a child with a serious health condition – Cystic Fibrosis. She and others like her could possibly benefit greatly and/or be cured through stem cell research. But that research gets harder and harder to fund when there’s a Raymond Burke telling people they can’t champion that cause and threatening them with “discipline” of some sort. Ask the fine parishioners of St. Stan’s what that “discipline” is. Ask the people at the Children’s Hospital how fund raising goes without the city’s most prominent Catholic on board.

Greed and political pressure is Burke’s legacy. Every time I hear of a case like Mick’s (and his isn’t the only one I’ve heard of) it makes me mad. Every time I read another article about Burke putting the screws to St. Stan’s, a church who’s only crime is keeping their own books, seperate from the Archdiocese, I get mad. They’ve done nothing wrong but believe in their own skills in managing their facility. Every time I read about Burke continuing to pursue the excommunication of the priest who left a church in the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese to “tend a flock without a shepherd” as the reverend put it, I get mad. That guy is exactly what a man of strong faith SHOULD be. And Burke wants to take away his livelihood and status in the religion he obviously believes strongly in. But then when I hear of Burke screwing over sick children and violating the Constitution with politically motivated demands on people who may not even BE Catholic (if that article mentions the Coach’s exact faith, I missed it), I SEETHE. I take it personally, because my baby niece is one of the kids he’s fucking with. And if you fuck with my family, you fuck with me. And you will not win that fight. I promise you that.

Burke said of Majerus, “It’s not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions.” I say it’s not possible more of a close-minded and arrogant prick than Burke. I was raised Catholic. I’m officially still on their books. And yet I will sign any petition for stem cell research, and I don’t feel like it’s my place to tell a woman what to do with her body. I guess that means I can do the impossible.

I’ll expect my excommunication papers promptly, Archbastard.

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