Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Polly Toynbee: Sex and death lie at the poisoned heart of religion

Why invite the pope on a state visit – at a cost of millions in a time of cutbacks – when the vast majority are secular?

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, Sep 14, 2010

A dispute with BBC TV’s religious slot, Sunday Morning Live: would I join a debate on the pope? As president of the British Humanist Association, I was glad to – but there was a problem. Discussion was divided into a first debate on whether Catholicism was over-obsessed with sex, but I was to join a second: is the Catholic church a force for good? How could you answer that without saying that sex lies at the poisoned heart of all that is wrong with just about every major faith?

Repression of sex, banning contraception, gay rights, abortion, stem-cell research and IVF treatment cause untold misery. Not to the “liberal” Catholics who proclaim for reform and use contraception themselves – as Cherie Blair so distastefully revealed – yet support a church whose denial of it damages and kills poor mothers with no choice. As Ben Goldacre pointed out in this paper on Saturday, while this pope claims condoms “aggravate the problem” of HIV/Aids, two million die a year. Ann Widdecombe’s riposte that the Catholic church runs more Aids clinics than any single nation was like suggesting the Spanish Inquisition ran the best rehab clinics for torture victims.

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