There is no such word as devangelist but everyone’s entitled to put forward a neologism. Houghton-Mifflin offers two closely related definitional statements for evangelism:
1. The zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work.
2. Militant zeal for a cause.
I offer devangelist to describe an infidel/freethinker/atheist or non-believer by any name zealous in disseminating information at odds with gospels and dogmas, faiths and superstitions. A devangelist is a person wholly devoted to science, reason and evidence who exhibits a militant zeal for debunking religion of all kinds and safeguarding the absolute separation of church and state. I hope you like my new word.
The pace of my evolution from mild-mannered freethinker to militantly zealous devangelist has been increased dramatically by the political activism of U.S. Roman Catholic bishops. However, there is much else that really and truly vexes me about religion in this country and around the world. The bishops, however, have sent me over the edge.
Like the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and many secular organizations, I don’t believe Catholic Bishops have any business politicking for veto power over women’s contraceptive health insurance coverage. I don’t think they should be serving as campaign allies for the Republican Party. Nor do I think bishops have any right to foist their religious doctrines on American workers, most of whom do not belong to the Catholic Church or subscribe to the medieval tenets of this faith. And I don’t think Catholic or any other religious groups are entitled to federal funds for the delivery of health and other services if unwilling to provide services for which said funds are designated.
If Catholic bishops do not want to abide by guidelines for impartial delivery of medical and other services funded by taxpayers, they’re free to decline such involvement. No one is holding a proverbial gun to Catholic heads saying, you must participate in these programs. Catholic service program leaders can use their own funds to provide whatever medical or other services they choose to offer, and not offer whatever they choose to withhold.
The bishops’ lament about loss of religious freedom is a huge pile of horse dung.
A few details about the bishops egregious sins against church/state separation seem in order. After noting a few such transgressions, I’ll suggest a strategy for others who may find themselves on the evolutionary track leading to militantly zealous devangelism.
▪ The U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops pledged a multimillion-dollar attack against the contraceptive mandate. They are using tax-free church pulpits to promote dogma-based politics.
▪ About 40 Roman Catholic dioceses have sued to block the contraceptive mandate in the new Affordable Health Act.
▪ The bishops’ lawsuits are an attempt to compel the government to pay religions to do less than other, secular recipients of grant funds for health care services. The bishops, in effect, seek to make the government complicit in dogma-driven denial of birth control to non-Catholics as well as Catholics, whether or not these people desire such assistance.
▪ In decrying what they claim is an assault against religious freedom, the bishops impose their faith-based idea that contraception is sinful on everyone else, which is in fact the true threat to religious and other forms of liberty.
▪ The Church has initiated a multi-million dollar anti-contraceptive PR campaign featuring pulpit-driven lobbying drives. Fortunately, these funds may well be wasted, since 98 percent of Catholic don’t agree with or ignore the church’s injunction against contraception.
Mild mannered freethinkers are too polite and diplomatic to do so, but militantly zealous devangelists will not hesitate to call out these pompous emperors as naked enemies of intellectual liberty and personal freedom. The Catholic bishops are leaders of the world’s largest, most powerful cult of unreason. Those like myself who are evolving into MZDs – militantly zealous devangelists, will not stop at simply opposing the campaign of the bishops to restrict contraceptive services. We can and will do more – we will respond in a fashion that makes a difference. This requires efforts to persuade church followers to reassess the nature of the religion imposed upon them as children.
Many Catholics must surely be weary of the church’s totalitarian nature. Just recently, Sister Margaret Farley, a 77 year-old professor emeritus at Yale’s Divinity School and author of Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, was denounced by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. The good lady’s sin was to question the subservient role of women in the church, its continued enshrinement of celibacy and its condemnation of gays, remarriage after divorce, self-pleasuring, contraception and opposition to pleasure.
The good nun also took the Vatican’s to task for its head-in-the-sand approach to decades of horrific sex abuse of children by priests around the world. The church leaders are are not happy about this, or remarks such as these by Sister Farley: Seduction and manipulation of persons who have limited capacity for choice because of immaturity, special dependency or loss of ordinary power are ruled out.
What is raising children in Catholic dogma and rituals from infancy all the way through childhood if not seduction and manipulation?
We can in varied ways help Catholics do what I did – escape to freedom and a rational life, shorn of dogma, liberated from pie-in-the-sky heaven and free of the hellish dungeon of eternal darkness, fear and pain.
Such efforts are already underway.
The most notable of such counter-offensives is led by FFRF. The campaign is called It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church. Ads to this effect have appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today and elsewhere. One typically attention-grabbing ad asks, “Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Another is just as bold: As a member of the ‘flock’ of an avowedly antidemocratic Old Boys Club, isn’t it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass.
This campaign was, like my neologism, inspired by the church’s war against contraception. FFRF is spot on in its criticisms of the Catholic cult. The organization is advising Catholics that their church has launched a legal assault against personal secular freedoms that amount to a ruthless political Inquisition. I love it.
We devangelists agree with FFRF that Catholics should be given a chance to consider the idea that maybe life begins after excommunication and that the time might well have come to join the millions who, like me, have put humanity above dogma and resigned from the church.
Let’s do what we can to oppose the bishops and in every way possible prevent these autocrats from allowing their dogma to trump our civil liberties.
You might enjoy this video put together by FFRF featuring Julia Sweeney.