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Posts Tagged ‘dogma’

Saturday Stub: Not Catholic Enough for Canada

Posted by Ethan Clow on September 24, 2011

Welcome to another Saturday Stub, where I take some bit of interesting something and present here for you all to enjoy and consider, at least for a little while, this is Saturday after all.

Earlier in the week I came across this story in the National Post: Name Mary’s mother, and other tests of a refugee claim.

Needless to say, this caught my eye.

So what is the story about? Basically, a refugee from China, a Mr. Mao Qin Wang, fled to Canada because he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs in China. According to the article:

“Mr. Wang, 26, says he turned to religion after his father was seriously injured in an accident and a friendly Catholic said he was praying for him. When his father improved, he started attending his friend’s underground church in 2007, he says.”

However the Chinese government shut down his church, calling it an illegal religious establishment. They soon came after him as well and so Mr. Wang decided to flee the country. After paying a smuggler $30,000 to get into Canada, he filed for refugee status saying he would face “arrest, jail and maltreatment because of his religious beliefs if returned to China.”

The next step was for Mr. Wang to prove he was Catholic enough. After all, we here in Canada can’t just open the flood gates to everyone feeling religious persecution, you need to prove that you’re really as religious as you claim. Otherwise, we could be overrun with fake Catholics. (Maybe an expert on immigration would inform me on the true danger of fake Catholics?)

Anyway, so Mr. Wang fell into the hands of Rose Andrachuk, an IRB adjudicator who previously was chairwoman of the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Andrachuk decide to quiz Wang on his knowledge of Catholic dogma to see just what sort of Catholic he was. Turns out, Wang isn’t so up to speed on the finer points of Catholicism. When asked who was Mary’s mother and who was John the Baptist’s mother, Wang was clueless. The answer is Anne and Elizabeth, DUHHHH!

Jesus' Grandma

To quote the article again:

“The claimant was asked whether the consecrated wafer or the bread represents the body of Jesus or whether it is the body of Jesus. The claimant responded that it represented the body of Jesus, which is incorrect,” she wrote in her IRB decision.

She continued: “The claimant was asked to tell the panel what happens at Mass from the beginning to end. The claimant listed introductory rites, liturgy of the Word, liturgy of Eucharist and conclusion rites, which is correct. The claimant was asked to explain introductory rites. He replied that it is sprinkling of water and priest’s blessing. Neither are essential parts of introductory rites.”

This guy is worse than a fake, he sounds like a Protestant!

So to summarize, Wang knew Mary was Jesus’ mom and that Jesus was baptized by the aptly named John the Baptist. But he couldn’t name of Mary and John’s mothers; Wang correctly answered questions about the rosary and the seven sacraments; he named books of the Old Testament but didn’t know what they were about; and he failed to note that 2009 was dedicated to St. Paul by the Catholic Church… that fucking heathen!

Based on all this, Andrachuk ruled that Wang was unlikely to be a real Catholic. However, Mr Wang appealed this decision to the Federal Court of Canada where it was decided that Mr. Wang was held to “an unreasonably high standard of religious knowledge.”

What’s my take in all this? Personally, I think Andrachuk was being a dick. The arrogance of this woman that she and she alone knows what makes a True Catholic, a True And Genuine Believer no less. One really has to wonder who else Andrachuk has thrown out of the country because they couldn’t meet her unreasonably high standard of Catholic Trivia Pursuit? Let’s not forget that Mr. Wang needed a translator for his quiz, and perhaps we should also consider he was from an underground church! Perhaps not the best place to learn the intricacies of Catholic mythology?

What really annoys me is the confidence that Andrachuk has that she knows the One True Faith and that she gets to sit on a high horse and dictate who measures up to her benchmark of a “true Catholic” Now I could make a comment about sexual abuse and where that fits in with who a real Catholic is but I think you all already know what I think about that.

 

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Double standards of terrorism – Chapter 2

Posted by Don McLenaghen on August 5, 2011

The de-contextualization of terrorism?

Okay, in part one we seem to find that to call our Norwegian a “Christian fundamentalist terrorist” is valid at least in the common understanding of the idea but let’s look at what the term Terrorism has come to mean. The term itself is a relatively new one. We have always had terrorist, but they were often referred to as political or religious terrorist with membership to a particular group. This was important because it created a ‘context’ for the act.

For example, Anarchist terrorists were understood to be an Anarchist who was a “political terrorist”…when we apply it to ‘Muslim terrorist’ we do not get that context. “Political terrorists, who were anarchist, did their terrorism for political reasons…it provided not only a description of the act but also the reason for it.  Since 9/11 it has become fashionable to just label anyone who does violence and is Muslim as an ‘Islamist terrorist’ or Jihadi.

The modern term “Muslim terrorist” does not translate into ‘religious terrorist’ if it did there would not be the reticence to apply it to the IRA or our Norwegian. No, “Muslim terrorist”, in fact the term “terrorist” itself, now has the understanding as ‘Islamist terrorist…no context only a label to be applied to something we are to interpret as less than civilized…less than human; why else do we with little more than a moment’s hesitation allow those accused of terrorism (again a term that only seems to apply to those of the ‘brown’ skin) to be treated like animals by this I am referring to torture.

This de-contextualization of the term “terrorism” has allowed us to ignore the underlying cause of the act (and often such actors have legitimate grievances even if we still deplore these acts). The separation of actor and context allows us to create a scapegoat for all the ills in our society…a new link is created by this amorphous threat and the current problems in the country – “why can’t I find a job? It must be those ‘terrorist’ who are either taking my job or ruining the economy!”

This re-definition allowed us to ignore the underling context for violence and see it all as one big all-encompassing conspiracy against us…or more exactly the USA and western civilization. This ignores the fact that the vast majority of terrorist attacks by Muslims are not religious acts but political.  It ignores the fact that the vast majority of ‘terrorist acts’ (traditional definition) are committed not by Islamist but the ‘traditional’ population.

But you may say that 9-11 was an attack on the west. This too was not an attack to destroy the USA but a political message intended to have the Americans remove their troops from Saudi Arabia. 7/7 and the Madrid Bombing were likewise driven not by a desire to conquer Europe but to have the ‘western forces’ withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. The vast number of attacks on US individuals occurs in countries they are either occupying or engaged in military operations…one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.

If we turn an eye to the terrorist threats that intend to ‘destroy’ or ‘fundamentally change’ Europe or the USA, we find “Jihadist” very low on the list. In fact, the USA far more groups exist on the extreme (and often racist) right than ‘Islamist’. The largest sources of ‘terror’ attacks in the US arise from three main groups – Anti-abortionist, white supremacist and sovereign citizens groups. The number of attacks since 9/11 on USA soil includes the Anthrax Mailer, Austin IRS building plane attack, almost a dozen attacks on Abortion clinics by groups like Army of God and let’s not forget the Holocaust museum attack by a neo-Nazi.

So in an odd way, our Norwegian qualifies as a terrorist in the modern context because like the imaginary enemy he hoped to attack his own actions lack a real context. He has created in his own mind this ‘conspiracy’ of ‘social Marxism’ to create a fictional state of ‘Eruabia’…in this line of thinking there is no context only dogma, ideology and sedition.

But was our terrorist a lone wolf or part of some large organization? What does his manifesto…his actions say about those who inspired him? We are often quick to point out links, when the actor is ‘brown’, to the Middle East, Islamic websites, Imams sermons and the polemics of Muslim nationalist. Yet, when that same analysis is applied to our Norwegian perpetrator, the xenophobic extreme right is quick to proclaim loudly their disavowing of the actor and apologetics for their role. Who should be held culpable for the creation of our Norwegian terrorist shall be the topic of the next chapter of discussion.

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A problem with Polygamy law

Posted by Don McLenaghen on December 19, 2010

Okay, I am an open-minded kinda guy. I think love and lust are not necessarily the same things; that people will form various kinds of unions and that if consenting and fulfilling no limitation should be applied. Now if you asked me if I believe that polygamy was good or bad, I probably would have said “do you mean the Mormon kind or the hippy kind”. You see, as a good atheist and a product of my society, Mormon polygamy was wrong on two counts 1) it was abusive to women and children and 2) it was religious dogma. The hippy kind (to date my imagery) was a union of equals to express both pleasure and non-conformity.

However, in doing some research for the show I discovered such simplistic (yes, I can be simplistic at times…sorry) views I held were both optimistic and not reflected in our legal system. First I should clarify some terms:

Polygamy: a marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time

Polyandry: the practice or condition of having more than one husband at one time

Polygyny: the practice or condition of having more than one wife at one time

Now technically, the Mormon type would be strictly limited to polygyny. This issue came my attention because of a court case currently making its way through the BC legal system destined for the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).

Recently an unsuccessful attempt to charge two Mormon men in Bountiful, BC with polygamy failed. This prompted members of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church) to mount a constitution challenge holding that the laws against polygamy are unconstitutional and should be struck down.

As I have talked about before with regards to free-speech, prostitution and other issues; in Canada our constitution allows for the limitation of fundamental rights provided they pass the “Oakes Test”. The Oaks test (from the SCC ruling on the Oaks case) holds that limitations must be minimal, pertinent and remedy proportional harms to society.

The law, section 293 of the Criminal Code, states that “any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage” is guilty of an indictable offence. Further that anyone who “celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a [polygamist] relationship” are likewise guilty of a indictable offence.

That’s the law; however the harms that are most often cited, that are ‘eased’ by this limitation of liberty, are child brides, forced marriage and spousal abuse (more often the abuse is seen as economic or psychological). If we look at this list though we can already remove the last one, because spousal abuse (sadly) is common in monogamous marriages. However, little evidence shows polygamist unions are innately more significantly abusive (although I am open to evidence showing my cursory investigation to be wrong).

Living in Vancouver with several strong Asian cultures with ‘traditions’ regarding arranged marriages, we are aware there is a disconnect between polygamy both forced marriage and child betrothed. In these arranged monogamous marriages often the betrothed are children and have little or no choice in the matter (in the worst of these cultures, violent punishment is exacted on reluctant participants) – that is there is no necessary connection between child brides or forced marriage and polygamy.

So, it seems that the harms that are supposedly addressed by this law, although real are not connected to polygamy. In applying the Oakes test we agree that there are harms that should be addressed however it seems to fail to show the pertinent connection between the harms and polygamy.

However, let’s continue our thought experiment. If we assumed that what we wanted to restrict was religious polygyny because it has been associated with substantial and pertinent harms, does the law restrict our freedoms in a minimal way. The law as stated is extremely broad. This law would include my hippy polygamist; in fact if you were gay living with several roommates in a ‘close’ relationship, you could be charged under this law. Further, if you went to a house warming for this common-law type relationship to celebrate their ‘union’, you could be charged.

The law as stated is EXTREMELY broad. There is a local group, VanPoly (along with CPAA) which is working to have the law struck down because they fear they could be charged even though their relationships have nothing to do with the LDS, child brides or forced marriage.

So, why do we have these laws then when they seem overly broad and not really aimed at the social harms we have cited? In fact, when the anti-polygamy laws were first enacted the concept of spousal abuse was non-existent and child brides (at least mid-teens) was not uncommon in monogamous marriages.

Much has been made as to the religious turf war being the root of the North American experience. The Mormons, the new religious, had as a main tenet of their belief system polygamy since 1843. The US made polygamy illegal in 1863 and the Mormons moved west and north (to Utah and western Canada). In 1890, to gain statehood, Utah banned polygamy leading to a second wave of exodus. Canada also banned polygamy in 1890 and saw its one and only successful convictions in 1899, in fact Mormonism was explicitly used in the law until 1950s.

The criminalization of polygamy drives its participants to separate themselves from mainstream society and it is here that the harms arise. If your neighbor showed up one day with an 11 yr. girl and said it was his new wife you’d likely call the cops; if we suspect spousal abuse, as a society we are getting better at recognizing it and would come to the assistance of the abused. However when these actions take place in a ‘like-minded’ community isolated from the ‘masses’, this social safeguarding system breaks down and abuse can occur.

Do I think there is harm being done to the women and children of Bountiful, BC (and similar communes)…yes. Do I think this harm is originated in polygamy…no. I believe the root issue, the source of the abuse, is not multiple marriages but patriarchal authoritarian religion. With regards to the law AS IS, it fails the Oaks test both in the fact that the practice is not directly linked to the stated harms to be remedied (i.e. there is nothing innately abusive in polygamous relationships) and the level of minimal limitation of freedoms (i.e. even if we assumed LDS style polygyny were harmful, the law encompasses any type of polygamy including lesbians in a multi-partner relationship etc.).

On a last note, I is funny that our society seems to frown so strongly on parallel multiple marriages and yet has come to terms to serial multiple marriages; that is there are millions of people in the US and Canada who  have many spouses but not at the same time. If we look back a century or two, we see how that was seen as immoral and harmful to society. Why is it okay to have many spouses over time but not at one time?

Posted in Blogs, Don's Blogs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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