Traditionally, we've always gone to church as a family when able, though it may or may not come as a surprise to you that recently, my willingness to acquiesce to this tradition has become more and more tenuous. The scales, however, have finally tipped, and I will no longer be able to continue this tradition, at least not at any Catholic church.
You no doubt are seeking a further explanation of this decision—I recall you earlier scolding me for “throwing a grenade into a room and then leaving”. The final straw came when we went to mass when I was home for Thanksgiving. As I entered the church, I immediately saw a banner hung on the podium: “Pray to end abortion”. Over the next few minutes, I came to several realizations, culminating in the decision to no longer show tacit support of the Catholic Church by showing up for mass.
My initial outrage was at the bald proclamation of misogynistic intent—that any woman who becomes pregnant for any reason and with any complications should still be forced to carry a fetus to term—but upon further consideration, I realized the problem was much deeper than that. It wasn't just that the banner read “Pray to end abortion”. The problem was that the banner could have had anything else written on it, and yet it was decided that the best option was to put misogyny as the Church's first and foremost priority.
And I feel that's wrong. I feel the Church has much bigger issues it needs to deal with. I feel the Church should be asking people to “Pray to end child rape”, to “Pray to end sex trafficking”, to “Pray to end corrupt leaders”, and to “Pray to end undeserved authority”. We ought to “Pray to end the justice system's decision to turn a blind eye to crimes committed by religious institutions”. Actually, if you could get the entirety of the Catholic laypeople on board with that campaign, it wouldn't even require divine intervention; they could quite easily just round up all the corrupt priests, throw them in burlap sacks, and drop them off at the police station. Or maybe with the knowledge that the entirety of the Catholic Church was up against them, they'd turn themselves in. Either way, it'd be a very positive force in the world, and isn't that what the Catholic Church always claims to be trying to be?
But maybe that'd be hitting too close to home. Maybe the Church isn't willing to hang its head in shame of the atrocities it has allowed to happen, and has even facilitated. Actually, that sounds more like a “definitely”, since that would require the Church to accept that it has done wrong—clearly not the case, since they're not stopping.
Even so, there are other things that could be on that sign. “Pray to end natural disasters”, for one. Though maybe that's too much to ask of any deity—after all, I've been told that suffering exists because free will exists, though the connection between the actions of free will and the consequences of natural disasters is a mystery to me.
Of course, the original sign was directed more to everyday social problems, wasn't it? Let's take religious hierarchies and natural disasters out of it for a moment, then, and just focus on that. Perhaps “Pray to end the persecution of homosexuals”? I've heard a lot about this happening in schools recently; some victims were even driven to suicide. That'd be another good candidate, “Pray to end teen suicide”. That would save lives that aren't even under any controversy as to whether or not they're really lives!
That last thought brings me close to the end of this train of thought. I'm really puzzled as to how people put so much value on a bundle of cells incapable of thought AND relying on another human being's body to live. See, you managed to throw me off before with the case of the mental patient, but there is a very critical difference, and that is the fact that the mental patient's continued life has no toll on the body of a person he or she is living in, because he or she is not living inside somebody else's body.
So I came to the conclusion that the only motivation for anti-choice sentiments is misogyny, be it conscious or subconscious. It seems far-fetched, sure, but to quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle through his most famous character, “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” I can see no possible way for a person to seek the preservation of an undeveloped bundle of cells at even the smallest cost—unless the pregnant woman in question genuinely wanted to have a child.
Which brings me to my final suggestion for a better sign: “Pray to end to unwanted pregnancy”. Wouldn't that just solve everybody's problems? Any pregnancy from teen sex, any pregnancy from rape or incest, any pregnancy with complications—done away with by the hand of a benevolent deity. Because that's what's really going on here, people are asking for an all-powerful being to solve problems. So why not solve everybody's problems?
The answer is one of two possibilities. One, the Church isn't saying “Pray to end abortion”. They are saying “Vote to end abortion”, without using vocabulary that would jeopardize its tax-free status. You can't vote away unwanted pregnancy, so they can't ask that. This option implies that religious leaders are lying to us and don't actually believe in any deity they claim to speak for, and are only using the idea of an all-powerful authority to control people to make certain choices—in this case, misogynistic choices. In this scenario, the Church cares more about pushing misogyny than stopping the child rape it has perpetuated, in which case I can no longer tacitly support the Church by attending mass.
In the second scenario, the Catholic hierarchy genuinely believes what it is telling us, but it doesn't occur to them to ask for a solution to everybody's problems; they're okay with leaving the women high and dry. In this scenario, the Church cares more about pushing misogyny than stopping the child rape it has perpetuated, in which case I can no longer tacitly support the Church by attending mass.
Because of the Morton's Fork* presented above, the only choice is for me to stop attending Catholic services. Out of respect for tradition, however, I will happily go along with you to attend religious services of any sect that is not so deeply mired in scandal and bigotry.
*A Morton's Fork is a scenario in which two (or more) choices are presented, though they both result in the same outcome, just for different reasons.