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I’m a Catholic and a Knight of Columbus, but not for much longer

Palic Grayson
Palic Grayson
Opinion
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Allow me to explain. My religion has changed since I was a kid. We have two different versions of Catholicism now. Version A was a respectful, caring, private religion that lived and let live. We did our thing but didn’t try to force others to live the Catholic way. We didn’t try to wipe out other religious beliefs and replace them with our own. But now there is Version B: Catholics and evangelicals have infiltrated the Republican Party to try to get the Christian way forced into law so it can replace everyone else’s way of thinking and living.

We’ve seen this before in the world. We’ve seen extreme Muslims trying to change everyone to their version of their faith. We’ve seen Nazis try and force everyone to be a Nazi. We’ve seen communists trying to coerce others to be communists. And now we have guys like Sen. Lindsey Graham, who stood up in the 2020 debates and said people can be Americans — as long as they are the right kind of conservatives.

I realize Nazism is different than communism, which is different than Islam, which is different from conservatism. It’s like comparing apples, oranges, peaches, and bananas. But I’m not comparing the beliefs or the governing methods. I’m talking about what is the same for all four groups: Each thinks they have a divine right to force all other people to eat their fruit and nothing but their fruit.

America’s military has killed members of three of these four groups in the fight for, and defense of, freedom. We’ve killed Nazis. We’re killing communists right now through direct aid to Ukraine. And we’ve been killing extreme Muslims in the Middle East for decades. All because they try to force their will on others.

So why should we put up with it here in our country? I’m not advocating for violence, but why should we let any religion or creed force itself on the nation through the Republican Party? But that’s exactly what conservatives are trying to do — by electing people who are seeking to take rights away from Americans that are contrary to a Christian church’s beliefs.

The three big areas the church is focusing on are ending the right to abortion, to birth control, and to gay marriage. There is a common idea behind those three things: forcing members of society to increase the population at every chance.

It all goes back to the church’s efforts 1000+ years ago. The only path humanity had to deal with life-ending problems like war, famine, and disease was to out-populate them. The church therefore told everyone to have lots of babies. If you had five kids and three of them died but two survived, you were doing pretty good. And the push for more people put more people in the church pews.

But then humanity got smarter. We started to talk to each other and work together. We started to fight diseases through group effort. We moved food around the world to fight hunger. We made connections between countries to stop wars. We began to plan, calculate and better control our future. And as time went on, we realized that we were overusing our limited resources — and overpopulating the planet. So humanity gradually changed its reproductive tendencies, and stopped having big families (for the most part in most developed countries).

And the church didn’t like that. So the powers that be in the church changed their beliefs, and then changed their interpretation of the Bible to match.

The Bible says that life starts at birth, when you draw your first breath. But the church and a Pope of the past decided to invent the “life starts at conception” idea, promoting the sacredness of unborn life in order to get Christian people to protect it — and to ensure people were having more children again. This means that anytime the Pope wants, he can change things right back again. He can simply flip Catholic beliefs around any time he wants. So those “beliefs” don’t really mean a damn thing. They’re only as good as the current Pope says they are.

The idea that life starts at conception exists because (checks notes) one old guy living in Italy said so and the current guy living there also says so. Evangelical leaders all say the same thing; they are just far more cult-like about it. Religious beliefs and thoughts can be changed at any time — and we in America are not supposed to write our laws based on the transient thoughts of men.

Birth control stops children from being made. Banning it has only one purpose: force people to have, or risk having, more children. Gay couples don’t make children, so banning gay marriage is an effort to push people toward straight marriages. Churches are just (stupidly) afraid that too many people might choose gay marriage and then hardly anybody will have any children to fill their pews.

The most important right for me though, is the third one I’ve mentioned: access to abortion. Banning it is ridiculous, as the right to it (among other things) provides medical care to women dealing with 30 plus kinds of pregnancy complications that I’ve read about in the last four weeks.

More than 75 percent of humanity has access to some form of abortion. The church is present in all those countries. This means that in 100+ countries around the world, a woman can get an abortion on Wednesday and then go to church on Sunday. If 75 percent of humanity can do both, then so can the 4 percent of humanity that lives in America.

Efforts to write “heartbeat laws” so Republicans can shrink the abortion timespan to six weeks or less are a fraud. The more important organ is the brain. The heart is a Tinker Toy compared to the brain. A common philosophical phrase we all know is, “I think, therefore I am.” But: You have to have a brain for that to be true! Embryos don’t have brains. Fetuses don’t get a working, developed brain until after some 20+ weeks.

Before that mark, I say an embryo is not a person. You have to have a brain to be a person. Without it, you are nothing. If you get your brain blown out by a gunman but have a strong beating heart while you’re lying in the hospital bed, you know what? You’re said to be brain dead. You’re effectively dead because you don’t have a brain. It’s legal to pull the plug, with family agreement, in that case. So why is it the opposite for an embryo? How can you be a person without a brain? Republicans ignore this simple logic to try to force their religious beliefs on the broader public, but doctors all over the world agree with my view.

Mike Pence laments the 63 million abortions in the U.S. in the last 50 years, but he turns his own brain off when talking about them. Of course he doesn’t bother talking about how you would have had to feed and house those 63 million extra people when American farmers have been saying for decades they can’t keep up with food demand as it is. He doesn’t talk about housing, either: All those millions of people would need 15 Los Angeles-sized cities to live in.

Where are you going to put those cities? You can’t put them in the desert, or on mountain tops, or in the Utah salt flats. And you can’t put them in the fertile land of middle America because you need that for farms. So do you want to shove them in existing houses and force people to live like in China, with one family per bedroom? You think Americans want to live that way and destroy our standard of living? 

And what about cars? Most Americans have their own car.  How were you going to fit another 63 million cars onto our roads? And what about gas? If you increase the demand, then the price of gas could easily be twice as high as it is now. I could write a novel here.

Some Republicans focus on the aging population theory, which says that societies need to continuously maintain or increase their birth rate in order to have young people to work, pay taxes, and take care of the old people, etc. But that theory is ultimately self-defeating. You obviously cannot increase the population forever. At some point it has to level off.

I look at Earth Overshoot Day. It’s a scientific evaluation that tells us how quickly we use one year’s worth of resources in the world. When I was a kid, we were using 12 months of resources in 10 months. Now we are using 12 months of resources in seven months. How awful. How stupid of us as a society. It’s like living off the interest from a trust and also eating into the principal of the trust every year. If you keep doing that, the trust will run out.  

We don’t need big families. We need small families, and we need to control our reproduction as a society. So let women control their own lives and procreation. Most will have children. Most want to have children. But they also want the right to control how and when they do it, as they have to run the risks, so let’s let them have that.

I’m going to get a little graphic in order to make a point. What are Republicans going to do and say once they have banned abortion in a state, an innocent woman is beaten, raped and impregnated, and that woman chooses to do harm to herself in order to try to avoid carrying the child? What if she decides to mistreat or starve herself to try to force a miscarriage because she is disgusted about carrying the baby of a violent, mentally screwed up man and doesn’t want her whole life affected by this rape? What if she decides to starve herself and fast for religious reasons? What if she has a mental breakdown and starves herself?

Are you going to send your S.S. soldiers to grab her, stick her in a hospital bed, strap her arms down so she can’t harm herself, and force feed her? Are you going to stick needles and tubes in her body against her will — after claiming you and others don’t have to get the COVID vaccine because the government isn’t allowed to force you to get a shot? Are you going to imprison her in a hospital bed because you think the life of the  brainless embryo, who in your mind is a mini-person because that’s what the Pope says, has more rights than a violently raped American woman? 

And then are you going to keep her there for the last seven or eight months until you force her to risk her own death by giving birth? Is that what you’re going to do in the name of God? Mentally torture her, physically enslave her, and burn her soul? What if thousands of women starve themselves? Are you going to do this to all of them?

I’ve got news for you: You’re not going to turn this Catholic into a torturing, enslaving, soul-burning person in God’s name. I’ll have no part in the church’s effort to push abortion bans through politics. I’m out. I am excommunicating you. As of right now, I am no longer a Catholic. I am no longer a Knight of Columbus. 

And I’ll tell you right now, if anyone ever tries to do anything like what I described above to one of my female family members,  I’ll rescue her and take her to a place where she gets to control her own life. I’ll risk my own life to do it.

You know what? I feel pretty good right now. I feel like I just took control of my life. 

I encourage all of you to do the same. Stand up to the “version B” church that seeks to turn America into a Christian theocracy. Turn your back on them. Don’t go to church. Don’t give them your money. You don’t need them. You are strong, independent, confident people and you don’t need the Catholic church, Evangelicals, or the Republican Party to tell you how to live. It’s time to squeeze them dry because that’s exactly what they are trying to do to everyone else’s way of life right now.

Remember, their whole argument is essentially just “the ends justifies the means.” They are trying to say that the ends — protecting a brainless embryo and fetus that might, only might become a person — justifies forcing a woman to carry that fetus against her will. But if the pregnancy isn’t voluntary, then by definition it’s involuntary. And as the pregnant woman is laboring — to carry and develop a child which alters her physical body and causes her to risk death in childbirth — it absolutely is involuntary servitude forced by the state. The 13th Amendment bans this — but the Pope doesn’t care. He and Republicans have decided that the religious slavery of women is justified to make sure children are born.

Well, I don’t agree. I’m going to put my faith in my fellow female humans. In my life and line of work, I see at least 100 women a day. They are my family members, my co-workers, my friends, neighbors, and customers. They are a regular part of my life. I don’t talk to any fetuses, but I do talk to women all the time — and I will not betray their citizenship.

I will not stand there and look them in the eye and tell them they are less than me. I will not tell them they have to be slaves to a pregnancy if it happens. Or that they have to risk pregnancy to have sex because the church has pulled a fast one on them and successfully restricted or banned birth control through the Republican Party’s efforts. Or that they have to risk death through birth.

I am going to stand with the ladies of America. With the ones who are here. The ones already in all our lives. The ones who are already born and have fully-developed brains — as opposed to fetuses, who do not. The ones who make up our society, who own property, who have jobs, relationships, money, involvement and importance in our world. They win, in my mind, over the unborn.  I stand with them.

Remember, you have to do more than protest in the street with a sign ladies. You have to convince the men in your life to change. Don’t have sex with your men until Democrats win and can protect your rights. Don’t do anything around the house, don’t clean men’s things, don’t feed them, don’t treat them like equals — until they fight for your equality.  

Editor’s note: The author’s name, Palic Grayson, is a pseudonym. We are granting anonymity in this case because the writer is concerned about retribution from his employer and members of his community. Granting anonymity is not something we take lightly. When we protect a source or an opinion-editorial writer, it means multiple editors have determined that the information or point of view is important — and anonymity is the most ethical and feasible option. 

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