Poland’s first test-tube baby becomes a voluntary apostate

Speaking of Catholics, I received some heartening news from my friend Małgorzata Koraszewska, who, along with her husband Andrzej, runs the Polish rationalist wesite Racjonalista. The news is that Poland’s first test-tube baby has left the Church in protest. She writes:

Today in Poland the first Polish test-tube baby, Ms Agnieszka Ziolkowska, has performed an official act of apostasy (to be stricken from the list of Catholics in Poland you have to do it very formally). The Church demands a witness to this act, and her witness was Professor Tomasz Polak, a theologian, former priest who left the priesthood in March 2007 (you have no idea what a scandal this was!) and even changed his name (his former name was Weclawski). Ms. Ziolkowska decided to go for formal apostasy after Polish bishops condemned in vitro fertilization.

It really gladdens my heart and I wanted to share it with you. The link to an article about it (unfortunately, in Polish): is here.

This is an act of considerable bravery given that Poland is Europe’s most Catholic country, with up to 90% of its inhabitants identifying as members of the Church.

I was told that it’s not this easy to leave the church: even when excommunicated you’re supposedly still a Catholic, just one who is going to hell. And I’m not sure exactly why Catholics object to test-tube babies: wouldn’t that allow for more Catholics? My guess is that it has something to do with having babies “naturally,” which doesn’t involve test tubes and artificial insemination.

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Agnieszka Ziolkowska

113 Comments

  1. Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    They’ve made it much harder to declare oneself an apostate in recent years, because so many people were going for it.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      The Church demands a witness to this act

      Can’t you cite the Holy Ghost as your witness?

    • Stan Pak
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Yep, they use their phony statistics to legitimize their influence into politics and social life. Unfortunately majority of people is just inert (even some atheists I know) and thus complicit in that promulgation of lies on a massive scale.

      • Geoff Boulton
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:48 am | Permalink

        Yes, I live in Poland too and it amazes me how many people are atheists but still go through all the rituals because they don’t want to offend religious members of their families. Things are, slowly, changing though and I know a few people now who have refused to be intimidated by their families, haven’t baptized their children and don’t go to church.

        • Diane G.
          Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          I suspect there’s actually always been a large element of such religious “participation” everywhere. We always want to think of our generation, whichever it is, as far more enlightened than previous ones, but one has only to look at history to disabuse oneself of that notion.

          • oldebabe
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

            I think you are right, and not only for Catholics. If I may include an anecdote, I’ve been a quiet, but deliberate, agnostic/skeptic since 1938 when I was 8 years old…

            • Diane G.
              Posted July 8, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

              I hear you! (And you’ve even got a couple of decades on me.)

              Really, imagine what the US Constitution would look like if written by today’s politicians, as opposed to the enlightened thinkers of the late 18th century.

    • Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:12 am | Permalink

      Even when you could leave they made sure to highlight that your baptism was a historical event that culd not be undone.

      I got out before they closed the door. I’m not worried about magic water.

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Wow! Good for her! Catholics have odd policies that appear deleterious to producing more Catholics. I imagine they find it sinful to do things “unnaturally” because god is somehow usurped by evil worldly science in their minds.

    Related to deleterious Catholic polices, I was talking to a Hindu friend of mine yesterday who said that when she came to Canada, she wanted to put her kids in a local Catholic school because the school had more resources (of course it did, in certain parts of Canada, tax payers finance Catholic schools as well as public ones – something I keep writing government representatives about because it’s outrageous). The school turned her down because she was not Catholic (illegal as they have to take non Catholics since they take public money & as a non Catholic, you can even exempt your kids from religious instruction though they don’t advertise this and try to railroad you if you insist). She found this perplexing because she said if someone was interested in coming to her temple, she’d be really happy about that and wouldn’t a Catholic school want the chance to influence non Catholics?

    My assessment was that they were just bigots & she’s better off that her kids didn’t go there! Again, a weird “policy” that is deleterious to producing more Catholics. Even when you marry a Catholic, you no longer have to agree to bring your kids up Catholic….

    • Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      I would say your assessment is totally correct.

      • Helen Hollis
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        Diana,

        I am not sure what the policy is in Canada but here in the states you still must vow to raise your children Catholic if you marry inside the Catholic Church.
        Her request for her child may have been rejected because there were too many Catholics already meeting capacity. Non catholics are taken if there is enough room for the class size that is determined before enrollment starts. The parish my husband attends has taken in non Catholic students over the years, but hesitates to do so now because the class sizes have grown at about 35 per teacher. There is a number of them dropping out however, after the third grade. There are many sending their children to the public school now as tuition is becoming out of reach for most.

        • Geoff Boulton
          Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

          It’s the same in the UK. I married a Catholic and when we went to the priest to organize the wedding he wanted me to agree to raise any children as Catholics. I refused and was told – ‘Then you can’t get married in my church.’ I wasn’t intimidated and just told him that suited me and he would have to get his money from somewhere else. Suddenly, the priest decided that a compromise was possible and that he would marry us if my Catholic wife agreed to raise the children in the church. Hypocrisy at its worst, here’s the rules, unless we’re going to miss out on getting our hands on some money.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:02 am | Permalink

            Yeah, it used to be the same here but maybe it varies by priest. A catholic friend of my mom’s said they had stopped requesting that but perhaps it was just her priest.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:01 am | Permalink

          Even if there were a lot of Catholic kids in the class, they can’t refuse a non Catholic here in Canada because our taxes finance their schools the same as public ones (at least in Ontario). They will try to get out of it but you can force the issue.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            Unless there was a huge discrepancy in educational standards, if you’re a non-Catholic, why would you want to push that hard?

            I wouldn’t want my kids (if I had any) being brought up in an atmosphere that regarded religion as normal, abortion/contraception as evil, sex as suspect (or obligatory for married couples), yadda yadda…

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

              I think the reasoning my friend gave was there was a discrepancy in standards – remember they not only get tax money, they also get church money.

              Now, my friend is Hindu, from India. She is probably not as repulsed as we are and may not have known all that Catholics preach….so she was actually done a favour!

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted July 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

                If I were forced (for some weird reason) to convert to a religion, I’ve though Hinduism might be the most eclectic and least objectionable (to me at least, and I dislike authoritarianism even more than superstition). From the NZ Herald, on their survey of church attitudes to our recent legalisation of gay marriage:

                ‘Hindus, who were slightly more numerous than Baptists in the 2006 census, have left the issue to individual priests.
                “There is no central divinely determined authority to dictate to temples or priests or indeed any individual what is right and what is wrong,” said [a] Hindu Council spokesman…
                “In accordance with this thinking, we support the view that marriage should be under the purview of civil law rather than any kind of real or imaginary static and un-evolving ‘divine law’.”

                Could have been said by a humanist. Compare that with Papal infallibility, your friend was probably done a big favour.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

                Yeah – when I talked to her we agreed she was better off especially after they treated her in a dismissive way.

            • Katy
              Posted July 11, 2013 at 12:23 am | Permalink

              The reason will most likely be discrepancies in standards. In the UK, our state funded Catholic schools are oversubscribed in areas where there are huge discrepancies in standards. Only some are filled with catholics and when they are the vast majority are catholics in name only. But they persist purely because of discrepancies in standards.

              I think quite often people make the mistake of trying to understand faith schools in terms of faith and are shocked when atheists use them. However they are far easier to understand in terms of simple parental investment. Parents choosing catholic schools for example don’t always choose their nearest one – they choose the one with the best results that they can reasonably get to. I have yet to meet anyone who has chosen one for religious reasons.

              In my own LEA for example the results league tables show the top ten primary schools are faith schools of which eight are catholic. Go half way down that long list and you are looking at schools which will negatively impact on your childs educational chances in an increasingly competitive world. A similar picture emerges when you look at the high schools. Suddenly you’re balancing principles and atheism with giving your child a better chance. In a way going hungry to feed your child has been replaced in the parental investment stakes with having to ditch principles.

              All our schools have admissions criteria lists and for the non faith or non selective that is usually distance from the school. What UK catholic schools do is provide an escape route when your guaranteed state schools are poor and you can’t afford private education by providing a more diverse admissions criteria – usually starting with baptised catholic and going down to any other.

              If a catholic school isn’t particularly spectacular or it is within a few miles of a better catholic school very few of its pupils will be catholic because they can trade up to the better school. If on the other hand it becomes popular you have to ensure you are further up that admissions list to get in and we do have people converting to do so. A good Ofsted report and suddenly lots of people briefly find not just God but the RC God. A local catholic school has now had to add a date of baptism to its admissions list as too many people were qualifying as baptised and it simply had no more room.

              After an outstanding head took over an RC school near here it went from 20% catholic to 100% yet pretty much the same demographic were going. We even have a saying, to avoid the fees get on your knees.

              In that long process the catholicism does get very diluted, no school worth its place on the league tables is going to risk alienating the more ambitious parents and their more educationally minded children to push hardline religion. Nor would it want to risk attracting the sorts of less able teachers that would push those lines. So it becomes a more woolly feeding the poor and fairtrade sort of thing with the more contentious issues ignored or glossed over.

              I’m not sure what the case is elsewhere but have read that in the US the RC schools are also sometimes considered the more academic ones but are also far more overtly catholic? I would also say that if it is difficult to remove yourself as a statistic from the catholic church, not imposing too much controvresial religion on your schools has a useful RC tactic to increase numbers over here.

            • Posted August 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

              Sometimes they’re the only game in town. The catholic hs is walking distance from my home, the ‘public’ one is in a different town. (I’m in Ontario as well). Because they are both publicly funded, the province doesn’t distinguish what type of school is in place, just that there is already a HS here serving a community that isn’t large enough to support 2 HS (conveniently forgetting that 70% of the kids would transfer to the public school if they had the option)…My child will be bussing.

    • John Perkins
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I believe there are Separate, ie:Roman Catholic
      schools in every province in Canada, except British Columbia, where I live, happily !

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        I don’t mind the separate schools existing but I do object tax dollars going to them.

    • Romuald.
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Strange. In France, Catholic schools “under contract”(state pays teachers, all the rest comes from private funds, walls, maintenance, religious material…) have a lot of muslims & agnostics in them.

      They are well accepted, AFAIK, as long as they pay their fees & don’t revolt openly against the prayer time.

      Motivation to put non-catholic children there is usually the reputation of strictness.

      Of course, schools “out of contract” are another kind of crap.

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        Motivation in US Catholic high schools is the tuition money. And at non-diocese-discount levels!

    • Anita
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      I used to live in Canada for 15 years, and my children went to Catholic schools. Catholic schools in Canada (or at least in Ontario) are different than in the States, no nuns, or priests teaching at all) – basically it is a public school with regular curriculum and teachers plus a religion as an additonal, mandatory, subject (and this included world religions in high school, together with class trips to visit and participate in different religions’ places of worship) plus celebration of sacraments, and a priest present on some occasions, like celebrating Christians holidays, or important events.
      As I understood “school” taxes were going to public schools by default, unless a taxpayer specifically declared them for catholic schools – every year we had to remember to fill out a specific form for it- so I don’t think that any person who did not support catholic schools, had to pay for it. As for admissions – I had to provide the proof of being catholic only to the first school my children went to, because the school was already overpopulated, and I was told by the principal, that they had to limit admissions to catholic children only. I know that other catholic schools admitted non-catholic children – as I have a close friend who is an European muslim (I would call her a quite moderate muslim), and she sent her daughter to a catholic high school for all four years.
      From my 15 years of dealing with catholic schools, I don’t think that they had better resources etc, but for some reason they were just better schools in terms of results and less behavioral/discipline type problems. And this was usually a reason for which non-catholic people wanted their kids in catholic schools.

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 9, 2013 at 1:52 am | Permalink

        “. . . are different than in the States, no nuns, or priests teaching at all)”

        They’re that way here in the States too, now.

        My (atheist) daughter chose to go to a Catholic high school, mostly because a lot of her friends from middle school were going there. I was very much against the idea but it actually wasn’t too bad vis-à-vis quality of teaching. Any fears I had of too much religion turned out to be needless–those classes only reinforced her atheism, while simultaneously giving her a nice background in all that mythology, dogma, ritual, etc.

        Meanwhile, it was our local public school system in which teachers were sneaking “Of Pandas and People” (creationist textbook) into the biology class.

        My kids went to a non-sectarian private school for K-8th grades. I think the reason both those sorts of schools and parochial schools often seem to do better is totally because pretty much each child enrolled in them has a parent who’s at least paying some kind of attention to their kid. Unfortunately that’s not always the case in public schools. But for the public school kids with decent parents, the outcomes are the same or superior to private alternatives (more resources).

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 9, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

          Ah, like many Canadians you were confused by the forms you filled in. These forms are property tax information. This is actually from this site here: http://www.mpac.on.ca/property_owners/how/assessment_guide4.asp

          MPAC collects school support data from property owners and tenants to help the Province determine the number of elected trustee positions for each school board. Designating school support enables qualifying property owners to vote for school trustees.

          To request a change in school support, property owners and tenants must complete a school support application. Application forms are available from local school boards. Applications may be filed at any time during the year and the change will become effective the following taxation year.

          The actual funding of Catholic schools is taken from the same provincial pile of money. Catholic and public schools alike are funded by general provincial revenues, and the amount of funding each school gets is determined for both systems by a per-pupil formula set by the province.

          Also, even though the schools are not supposed to do this, in order to teach in a Catholic school, the school requires you to be Catholic. How do they get around this? They ask for a letter from your priest.

          There is bigotry in this school board as well and there were recently protests when gay students were openly harassed and also where Catholic schools refused to allow gay-straight alliances. Frankly, this is an embarrassment to Canada especially since Roman Catholicism is the majority religion now in Canada. More history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separate_school

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:01 am | Permalink

          Oops, I replied to Diane but mean to reply to Anita. Oh well Diane you get a bonus reply ;)

          • Diane G.
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

            No worries, I agree with everything you say. Canada oughta clean this up or it’ll stop being my model country. :D

  3. hornblower
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I was in Poland in April & she was getting a fair bit of press.

    The issue with IVF is that there are usually more eggs fertilized & implanted & then some are removed in a process called selective reduction. This is in effect a selective abortion.

    Extra embryos are also frozen for later use.
    There was some controversy that frozen embryos from Poland were being sold for human stem cell research in Germany.

    The church is also opposed to IVF because they believe it’s a form of eugenics. The Polish church recently released a paper on IVF, condemning it in very harsh language, calling it a ‘factory’. Earlier this year some church official called IVF a form of rape.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Ah yes of course, the potential kids on ice factor!

      • John Havens
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        It’s probably the potential Souls on Ice they’re worried about. Actual kids don’t often rate too high on their worry list.

        • Frank
          Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          I recall that in the early days of IVF some religious leaders (perhaps not Catholic) wondered if a zygote fertilized in a petri dish would have a “soul”. Now, many religious groups are against IVF because all the fertilized eggs have “souls”, and are therefore worthy of legal protection. Once we go down the path of invented irrationality, anything goes!

          When I was in high school, a priest lectured to us about the evils of birth control, mainly because it was unnatural. He reminded us that you never see animals in nature using birth control. I then pointed out that his eyeglasses were also evil for the same reason. Boy, did he get mad at me!

          • jesperbothpedersen1
            Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

            One might say you caused a great spectacle.

        • Stan Pak
          Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

          Kids are sheep in the making. Largely thanks to (almost mandatory) religion classes in public schools. Poland is sogging now in this brand of superstition.

          • Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

            ¿sogging?

            Something lost in translation there… soaking?

            /@

            • Geoff Boulton
              Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

              I think it’s ‘zalanym’ = ‘flooded with’

    • Tulse
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      And of course the sperm is obtained via masturbation…

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        I just had to link to Monty Python here: http://youtu.be/fUspLVStPbk

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

          I just knew what that was going to link to. :)
          Just had to watch it again, it’s really upbeat and enjoyable to watch, and possibly the best-produced musical song-and-dance number ever made. I just love the irony that it’s mercilessly taking the piss out of, not only the Catholic church, but also the cheery-ragamuffin musical genre like ‘Oliver’.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:53 am | Permalink

            Yes, and how he sells his kids into scientific experiments because he has too many & then at the end you see some of them in heaven. :D Watching it now, I almost think that it would be more controversial than in its day.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

              Yes, and I’m surprised that, while Life of Brian caused ructions, this one which seems much more deliberately provocative didn’t cause anything like so much of a stir. (Just my vague recollection, could be wrong).

          • lisa
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

            I think it is pretty much a tie between this Monty Python clip and the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ number in Mel Brook’s “The History of the World, Part I.”

      • cornbread_r2
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Reply to Tulse:

        That’s one of the objections. Interestingly enough, Catholics aren’t opposed to male fertility testing provided the sperm is obtained in a church approved manner. To date that manner would be: having penis-in-vagina intercourse with your wife while wearing a condom, but only if the condom has holes poked in it so that some of the sperm is still deposited where God commanded. I’m not making this up.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I wish the Catholic church in Poland had taken more interest in eugenics in, say, the period 1939-1945.

  4. Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    And God supposedly impregnated the “virgin Mary” how? Perhaps God should be stricken from being a Catholic…in which case He would go to hell?

    • Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      If god is truly everywhere, then he’s already in hell.

      • Notagod
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Too bad for the christian that they didn’t realize that when they were writing their holey book. They could have written that the Debil made their god impregnate a virgin thus showing their god in a much better light than the preplanned and arranged rape of virgin Mary that the christians settled with.

        • lisa
          Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          It wasn’t rape; Gabriel asked nicely and she said ‘okay.’

          • Kevin Alexander
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

            It was pro choice all the way. Gabriel went back to god and said ‘Rachel says no, she has other ideas for her life’
            ‘What about Mary?’ asks god ‘she doesn’t seem to have any other prospects and that Joseph guy needs someone to sweep up the sawdust’

  5. edivimo
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    The opposition againts test-tube babies is because in the process implies a dead of human embryos. I know a lot because my country (Costa Rica) forbade IVF until it was condemned by the Inter-American Human Rights Court to restablish the procedure. Still, the Costa Rican senate and the executive power are dragging their feet, the court gave the country 6 months to comply, and the country is going to be sued again for that.

  6. Notagod
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    My congratulations to Ms. Ziolkowska and my thanks to her for her bravery.

  7. Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    A few thoughts.

    First, kudos to Ms. Ziolkowska for the courage to stand up to and leave such a vile institution.

    Second, counting as members of your organization those who clearly and vocally aren’t is a good way to ruin your credibility and set yourself on the fast track to irrelevance. “Membership” at that point is meaningless, both for those who do and don’t support the organization.

    Last…this whole thing just highlights how idiotically primitive the Catholic understanding of human reproduction is. I mean, really? Jesus is standing by watching every time people get it on, and he personally injects a soul into a blastocyst at the exact same moment the spermatozoa penetrates the cellular wall of the ovum? Puh-leeze.

    b&

    • Frank
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      “he personally injects a soul into a blastocyst at the exact same moment the spermatozoa penetrates the cellular wall of the ovum?”

      Seems more reasonable to suppose that he injects a soul a bit later, when the cell stops living off of maternal transcripts and starts expressing its own maternally and paternally derived nuclear genes! That must define personhood!

      • Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Nah — that’s the Jewish definition of the beginning of life — dog has died and the kids have gone off to college.

        b&

    • aspidoscelis
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      “Jesus is standing by watching every time people get it on, and he personally injects a soul into a blastocyst at the exact same moment the spermatozoa penetrates the cellular wall of the ovum?”

      I would have assumed he had an undergrad do it. Jesus is presumably too busy writing grant proposals to fund soul-injection.

      • Posted July 5, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        You’ve got that backwards.

        Jesus is too busy watching every ejaculation to bother with grant proposals, which is what he’s got the undergrads for.

        b&

        • Nwalsh
          Posted July 5, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          I thought he was all tied up acknowledging all those latin ball players pointing skyward to him.

          • Posted July 5, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            Yes, that’s reported to be one of his favorites: being tied up while acknowledging the ejaculations that burly young men point at him.

            b&

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

              Hi Ben:

              Have I correctly concluded that you’re not too pious? ;-)

              • Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

                I believe that is correct: I do not suffer from excessive piety and instead enjoy a life with just the right amount for proper fulfillment.

                What? No, I’m serious — zero actually is an amount, after all.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

                The same amount I have–and I’m much happier than I was when I used to have a lot!

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

            They are not all Latin; see “Kemp, Matt”.

            One of my favorite lines (because it shows that religion is just another way of seeking to get ahead in the world) is “No one ever points to the sky after hitting into a double play or striking out.”

            • Diane G.
              Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

              I always thought it would be hilarious if the other bench would do that.

              • Posted July 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

                Or if the misfortunate athlete would point to the ground….

                b&

              • Diane G.
                Posted July 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

                That too! :D

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        I think Monty Python answered it – “You’re a catholic the moment dad came” (From ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’)

        So presumably the process is automatic and doesn’t require the personal attention of Big J?

        (I have implicit faith in the doctrinal authority of Monty Python, of course)

        • Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

          The process isn’t automatic.

          Jesus is just very, very, very thorough and devoted in his spermatic duties.

          b&

    • Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      You just don’t want to know what Jesus is doing to pop that soul out…

      /@

      • Posted July 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure it’s worse than what happens after you eat 69 hotdogs in ten minutes….

        b&

  8. Kieran
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    One word “Onan” and that pretty much is the justification behind all the different rules in the catholic church regarding sex.

    • Tulse
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      What’s odd about that is in the Bible story, Onan’s “sin” is primarily about not obeying Judah and helping his dead older brother’s wife. His brother Er, Judah’s son, is killed by God, and tells Onan to impregnate his dead brother’s wife so that his brother can have offspring. Onan doesn’t want to produce kids for this dead brother, so he “spills his seed” rather than impregnate his sister-in-law. This pisses God off, so Onan is zapped as well.

      So really, the “sin” of Onan isn’t jerking off, but not fulfilling his (rather creepy) family duty.

      But of course Christians are far more worked up about sex than about not helping out your family.

      • Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Which explanation I came across (sorry) in a collection of Asimov essays. You too?

        /@

        • Tulse
          Posted July 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          I don’t recall, but it may have been Fred Clark at Slacktivist. It certainly wasn’t anything Sister Dorothy taught me in catechism.

        • Diane G.
          Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          That story is all over the place.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        In all this, is it recorded anywhere whether Onan’s dead brother’s wife *wanted* to be knocked up by Onan? Or did her opinion not count?

        • Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

          Why should a Biblical woman’s opinion matter any more than a Biblical ox or a Biblical ass? Or, for that matter, a Biblical house or a Biblical goblet or a Biblical fencepost?

          b&

      • lisa
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Sex is a lot more fun than helping out family.

  9. rose
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Well i’m polish Catholic I left the church did it years ago. What now i’m going to hell bummer dude. Good thing atheists don’t believe in heaven or hell.On my mothers side Irish Catolic another story, I should start saying Jesus,Mary and Joseph when i’m angry.

    • steve oberski
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      My condolences.

      This is my background exactly, take the 2 most virulent forms of catholicism, Polish and Irish, combine, and the result is an even more toxic and disgusting mutant.

      It’s all there, misogyny, homophobia, anti-semitism, Knights of Columbus, Friday night bingo with chain smoking sheep, live in “housekeepers” for the priests (nod, nod, wink, wink), state funded catholic school system (at least in Canada), a higher proportion of down’s syndrome children than the overall population (there’s a reason why women over 40 should consider carefully before have children), good catholic mothers pumping out children until their bodies break down.

      Catholics are already voluntarily living in a self imposed hell, it’s only by leaving that they can escape it.

      • Posted July 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        “Friday night bingo”

        Is it true they call out the numbers in Latin, so only Catholics can win? ;-)

        /@

  10. Stan Pak
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I am officially Catholic in Poland, because I was baptized at age 1 or so. I was almost never in the Church and into that all crazy stuff. But because I did never formal apostasy, I am figuring in their headcounts. So this statistics of 90% or more religious in Poland I would treat with large dose of salt.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      I guess you just get to go to purgatory for a while then. It’s straight to the lake of fire for me because I was never initiated into any religion. My great grandmother was Jewish though so I figure I’ll play the chosen people card. :D

      • Stan Pak
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        I hope at least that the purgatory has nice view and some kind of cocktail bar.
        Well, there is obviously solution to that. Just before I slip into everlasting nothingness I can send a text message: “I accept JC” and I am covered. Just in case, obviously. Since I have unlimited messaging it comes at not cost for me.
        You can do the same but it seems to me you are fine already by “being chosen”. :-)

  11. Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    “(unfortunately, in Polish)”

    Not for the Poles. ;-)

    /@

  12. ridelo
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Welcome in the club of apostates.

  13. gluonspring
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    “an official act of apostasy”

    What is that, exactly? Do you just have to declare that you’re not Catholic or do you have to commit an act of overt blasphemy or what?

    • Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      I think they keep the forms in a filing cabinet that warns of leopard attacks….

      b&

      • lisa
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        That’s “lepers”, not “leopard”! Jeees.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 9, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

          Umm? I’m sure Ben’s was a reference to Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where Arthur Dent was objecting to a planning decision (I admit I had to Google this):
          “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

    • Notagod
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I can’t say exactly but, posing as a journalist I once called on the phone asking how one would go about getting excommunicated, they connected me with some bishop or other who told me that they don’t do that anymore except in really very rare circumstances, including “Once a catholic always a catholic.” He refused to tell me specifics about the really very rare circumstances.

      I think friend of the website and ex-catholic girl, Miranda Celeste Hale, might be excommunicated too but I’m not sure about that.

  14. Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Wikipedia: Formal act of defection from the Catholic Church. Basically, they tightened the rules to officially leave in 2006, and removed it entirely in 2009. The reason is entirely that embarrassing numbers of people were going for it.

    • Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      There are two responses, then; one traditional and one modern. Both, I do believe, are equally appropriate — and the greatest effectiveness is probably achieved from application of both.

      The traditional, of course, is to draw up your list of grievances on a big piece of paper, indicate your displeasure with the Church and your removal from her body, effective immediately, and nail that fucker to the front door of the cathedral.

      And the modern form? If you still appear on any current official rosters, sue the assholes for defamation until they strike you from the rolls.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        This is easy to joke about but the self-supplied sectarian numbers have all kinds of political consequences.

        • Posted July 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          Agreed, which is why I recommend both approaches.

          The lawsuit will at least guarantee that their figures aren’t inflated by your number.

          And nailing shit to the doors, if done right, will get other people to ensure that Catholic figures aren’t inflated by their own numbers, either.

          b&

          • Diane G.
            Posted July 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

            We can dream.

            Also–one individual going up against the RCC? Good luck with that.

            I fought the diocese and the diocese won. (True story; and I’m not even Catholic.)

            • Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

              I’m not even Catholic.

              Actually, you are.

              Mormon, too.

              And Muslim, as well.

              …as well as every other religion whose gods will have their way with you in the after-death, regardless of current membership status….

              b&

              • Diane G.
                Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

                I’m quaking in my Adidas!

              • Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

                I didn’t know the Ethiopian capital was subject to seismic activity! And what’re you doing on the other side of the globe in the first place?

                b&

              • Diane G.
                Posted July 6, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

                I knew I should have stuck with flip-flops. But I don’t actually wear flip-flops…

              • Posted July 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

                Of course you don’t. Only politicians walk on waffles….

                b&

      • mattpenfold
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        It would be interesting to see what would happen if people living in Europe threw data protection rights at the RCC.

        At the very least it would seem they would be required to annotate confirmation and baptismal records with a note saying you no longer considered yourself to be Catholic.

  15. Alektorophile
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Good for her. I grew up nominally Catholic, was baptized and so on, but never took religion that seriously and never really thought about it. Later encounters with deeply religious people opened my eyes, reading Dawkins and Hitchens made me think, and I began to realize that even the banal, largely cultural form of Catholicism I grew up in was far from innocuous.

    On the day the Nobel prize for Robert Edwards, one of the pioneers of IVF, was announced, I was for the first time holding my son, born earlier that same day and conceived thanks to the technique Edwards helped develop. As I heard of the prize and the splenetic Catholic reaction to the announcement, I had to wonder how a technique that helped make someone as beautiful as the baby I was holding could be considered by anybody to be wrong and evil. I started openly calling myself an atheist that same day.

  16. Posted July 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I suspect another motivation for the Catholic Church to oppose IVF is that such technology is a threat to their adoption racket. What will they do with all those babies born out of wedlock because people didn’t use contraceptives or because the father is a priest?

    My congratulations to Ms Ziolkowska!

  17. Kevin Alexander
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    My guess is that it has something to do with having babies “naturally,” which doesn’t involve test tubes and artificial insemination.

    My guess is that it has to do with babies being wanted and not god’s punishment for sinful thoughts.

  18. Posted July 7, 2013 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    How about getting excommunicated instead? The only way to fully go off the catholic church’s radar.

    • prochoice
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      No chance.
      In Germany excommunicated people are still expected to pay church tax (over14-resp-15-year-olds have to use the procedure for leaving church the German federal states offer, and pay a fee and wait, until they are no longer in the statistics OF THE GERMAN NATIONAL STATE).
      In Poland there is nothing to check the numerical “miracles” of the church – so far,
      but the procedure reminds me of Germany in the 1920ies.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        The churches in Germany are totally loaded too because of the mandatory tax to the church. I was so surprised when my German friend told me about this.

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