following criticism of Christianity comes from within. As a child, I
learned the foundations of morality and personal responsibility from
Christians (the Church of
England and Presbyterian/Uniting Church in Melbourne, Australia). I am
grateful to Christians and Christianity for a large part of my music
a musician and musicologist, I know how much of the wonderful music of
the past was enabled and promoted by Christian churches.
Image this fictional scenario: A corona vaccine is found but a
religious group forbids it, claiming that it is immoral. Death from
corona is God’s will, they say. God doesn’t do
things without a reason. We have no right to intervene. Besides, it is
more reliable to wash your hands, keep your distance, and wear a mask.
This “vaccine ban” indirectly causes thousands of
That’s more or less what happened with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s,
except the consequences were much worse. Not thousands, but millions
died unnecessarily. The Catholic church had banned the most reliable
way to stop AIDS
transmission, the condom, in the 1960s. In the 1980s, it was obvious
the ban should urgently be lifted, and innumerable experts in
medicine and international development were calling for just that. But
even when it became clear the ban would indirectly cause
millions of deaths, the church stuck to its guns. A whole series of
Popes stubbornly refused to solve the church's most serious problem, at
the same time as millions of people were dying as a result.
The church argues that any
form of contraception is immoral
-- an idea that has nothing at all to do with the documented teachings
of Jesus Christ. The church also argues that the best way to avoid AIDS
is to avoid sex except within marriage. Fidelty is certainly a good
strategy, with or without condoms. But why have thousands of "celibate"
priests failed to avoid sex? And why is the church so obsessed with a
topic that Jesus never mentioned?
If not for the Catholic condom ban, many (10%?) of the 30 to 40 million
who died of AIDS would never have contracted the disease. In terms of
the likely death toll, and if we regard every human life as equally
important ("equally sacred", as the church might say), the Catholic
condom ban is probably the worst human rights atrocity of the late 20th
Astonishingly, hardly anyone seems to care about this. Probably no-one
will comment on the present text, no matter how I
present it. It is not often that one finds an accurate and honest
on this topic by someone who actually cares about human rights and
has the courage to present something close to the truth. The Wikipedia
page is shamelessly biased, or at least it was in 2020.
Jesus would have been horrified.
How might we explain the almost total
failure to address one of the biggest human rights violations of our
possibility is that almost everyone is one or more of the
following five things: racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted (by
which I mean blindly devoted to Christianity and intolerant of anything
else), or afraid. Implicit
stereotypes are a well-known and
well-understood phenomenon in psychology. Many AIDS victims
were gay (at least at the start of the epidemic), black (the epidemic
started in Africa, and the church pushed the condom ban harder in
Africa), or female (many women are
forced by poverty into prostitution). Regarding "bigotry": however you
look at the church's standard arguments on this topic, they are closer
to superstition than common sense, and they contradict expert
opinion in both medicine and international
development. But people still accept them! Regarding fear, are we still
afraid of suffering the fate of Galileo?
Surely freedom of speech has never been greater than it is today in
Western countries -- in particular, Western Europe?
Be that as it may: Anyone, religious or not, who admires and aspires to
the moral courage of Jesus, as so powerfully portrayed in the gospels
— especially when he directly criticized religious authority (woes
of the Pharisees) —
should be speaking out against the Catholic condom ban. The right to
life is the most important human right. Lest we forget.
The opinions expressed on
this page are the
opinions. Readers who know and care about this topic are asked to
contact the author with suggestions for mproving
or extending the
content: parncutt at
gmx dot at. Back