Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Reality

During a heated discussion in the comments of my blog recently, I was accused of being anti-Catholic. This was because I was being negative to the Catholic church, their power structure, their influence over democratic institutions and their suppression of free thought.

That conversation I cut short when the other person freely admitted that he hated Protestants, which made the whole “you’re an anti-Catholic bigot” argument sort of redundant.

He thought I was being specifically anti-Catholic, when if fact I was being anti-religion. I am negative to the Catholic Church in particular because I know them the best, having being forced to suffer them during my childhood.

So Catholics believers shouldn’t feel special – I dislike all religious ideas equally. And to make the point once more – I have nothing whatsoever against Catholic PEOPLE, just against the ideas that they think I should respect even though these ideas are clearly insane.

Once again – I don’t dislike religious people because of what they believe. It’s mainly other religious people who do that. I try and treat everybody by how they are and how they treat me, and not based on what sky fairy they may or may not mutter to.

So I respect people. I respect the right of people to believe whatever the hell they want in the confines of their own heads. But I do NOT and never will respect ideas just because they exist.

Ideas should be able to stand up for themselves and bear scrutiny. If an idea makes no sense, and cannot be backed up by solid evidence, then I will not accept it and I will not respect it. Believe it if you want, that is your right, but don’t get all huffy when I point out that it is rubbish.

Give me a good argument, and don’t just toddle about like a five-year old whining about the “respect” you think your idea is due. Convince me, and I will respect it.

But that, handily enough, is the thing about religion – it just can’t be proved using reason. You just have to “believe” it. And why should you “believe”? Well if you do, you will live forever and ever. If you don’t you will be tortured for all of eternity.

Doesn’t this sound a bit over the top to anybody else? A bit like it was originally designed to convince a bunch of simpletons? Not the promise of a better car, or a pay rise, or a good view, or a nice brunch, but utter joy and contentment until the end of the universe but only if you do what we say?

Please people, spare me your doctrines and spare me your moral values. Religion, if were anything else other than religion, would be treated as mental illness, and more than likely bringing up children to believe what the Catholic and other churches tells us would be seen as child abuse.

But it’s religion, so it’s exempt from reason and normal standards of proof. Religion is special. Why? Because it just is.

Okay then, rant done. And to balance things a bit, here’s what I LIKE about Catholicism:

  • Their old churches and stained glass windows are wonderful
  • Their outfits are stylish and very dashing at parties
  • They stick to their ideas (as strange as they are) and don’t give in to trends
  • They practise ritual cannibalism which I think you will agree is very neat
  • And the Catholic schoolgirl outfits…well…

And just so the other groups of mumblers out there don’t get left out, let me add that I think you are all just as mad, but I totally repect your right to be mad, just don’t hoist your morals on me and demand “respect” for your own internal mumblings. Okay?

And if I’m wrong and you’re right, then you’ll live forever and I’ll burn in hell. So just relax, put the magic book down and enjoy your victory.

/ paddy

54 thoughts on “Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Reality

  1. This is one of the best blogs you ever written. I so totally agree with you!
    Over to Swedish:…men en sak är säker Paddy och det är att du är otroligt tolerant. Som inbiten ateist har jag, tyvärr, en tendens att se ner på religiösa människor och ha överseende med dem, aldrigt riktigt ta några åsikter de har på allvar även om det inte handlar om religon, detta trots att jag vet att var och en har rätt till egen åsikt. Med din bakgrund är det fantastiskt att du är så vidsynt, jag har varit i Irland och vet hur religionen genomsyrar det mesta. Heja heja heja!

    • Well…it’s hard to suppress a feeling of superiority, but I’m sure the “other side” feels exactly the same way about atheists. So that gets us exactly nowhere. Basic respect for people is where we need to start, especially those who don’t agree with us. Religious people can be both nice and nasty – just like all other kinds of people.

  2. I completely agree. Very well spoken.

    You religious people would by the way do well to just take a look at the other side’s arguments, too. Like at least some of us atheists do.

    Like, know the scientific points of view before you send them packing.

    Why not start by actually *reading* Charles Darwin, instead of just publishing cartoons where he is portrayed as a monkey?

    I do not demand that you believe in the theory of evolution. Not at all. But please, when you criticize it, at least know what you are talking about. So far I have not met even one religious person who has actually read Darwin or, for that matter, even a popluar science-volume about evolution.

    You might make the effort, just as some of us who criticize the religious world view actually bother to examine it.

    Before we criticize.

    All the best,

    • Learning to argue is not encouraged in religious thinking, I’m afraid. And who can defeat an argument that ends with the phrase “but I believe it”?

      And I must say I have met religious people who know science and actually work with science, which is odd but fine by me. I am just amazed that their brains don’t start smoking from the logical conflicts.

  3. The best — and funniest — critique of religious “thinking” I’ve read in ages!

    I love your site, Paddy. As an American who lived for six months in Stockholm, I can definitely relate…Your most recent column on food brought back some not-so-fond memories, though we do miss semlor :)

  4. I often get into, lets just say ‘animated discussions’ with Irish catholics and generally in the presence of alcohol and what comes up time and time again is how little they actually know about their own religion.
    I have recently taken great pleasure in trying, unsucessfully, to convince a catholic veggie that when she takes communion that she is literally eating Jesus tartar . She insisted that its the protestants who believe in transubstantiation not catholics.
    Thats it with catholicism ya see. The trick is not to look too deep or it all unravels. I was the most devout teen going. So much so that i read the bible, found bits of it troubling, then had a quick peek at the old testament. The rot (or is it recovery) set in from then. At around 16 with a better grasp of things I read the Bible again and that did it for me. Instant agnostic leading eventualy to Athiest.
    Which brings me back to the pub :-)
    Lately I got as near to a compliment as I ever have from a catholic I was harrasing. I was told that its nice to hear from an athiest who has actually though out their reasons for being one and can put forward an arguement. I thought about this for a moment and asked why one should have to have a thought out reason for not believing in something fantastical. I dont have a good reason for not believing in Leprecauns or Unicorns.

  5. “Religion, if were anything else other than religion, would be treated as mental illness”

    Funny thing – whenever someone, say, slaughters their own children, and say as their defense that God told them to do it … they’re still written off as mental cases. If the voices in your head tell you to do GOOD things, no one complains that you’re hearing them…

  6. The old testament has a few folk being asked to kill their own children by ‘the voice of God’ and a few general acts of genocide, a war or two. All attributed to the voice of God.

  7. Hi Paddy. You’ll have to excuse me, as this message is nothing to do with the above post! I’m an avid new reader of your blog (been reading it a few weeks now), and I also read your articles in The Local. In fact, I just read the one where you mention potato waffles, but I couldnt’t figure out how to add a comment, so here I am.
    Good news-I am visiting Sweden next month (boyfriend lives up North), and I will be changing buses at Central Station on the way to Arlanda. If you can arrange to be there, I will bring you a packet of potato waffles!
    (Only one, mind, as I’m only travelling with hand luggage, so space is tight).
    Let me know if you want me to bring them.

    • I know, they didn’t activate the comments, for some reason!

      And that is very kind of you! Absolutely! Your karma will overflow for this random act of kindness! Bring on the waffles, I will meet you wherever you want!

      (And if you are really a gang of militant Catholics looking to break my legs you will tell me, right..?)

  8. Paddy K

    You say “heated discussion”. You were heated. I was not.

    To ask a person a blunt question and then to throw a tantrum when the honest answer is not to your liking is not the conduct one would associate with a mature adult.

    Taking Protestants as one finds them is an excellent policy for you to follow – and also for me.

    The “heated discussion” was not about religion. It was about the right of Catholics to control the education of their children.

    If you do not like the Mass, do not go.
    If you do not like Confessions, stay away.
    If you do not like the Ne Temere decree, do not marry a Catholic.
    If you do not like the Pope’s policy on contraception, do not listen to the Pope and contracept to your heart, or some other part of you, is content.
    If you do not like Catholic education policy, do not send your child to a Catholic school.

    And leave it at that. Catholics have a right to live without having to endure screams of hatred against their religion. They have no duty to endure mockery, ridicule or criticism of their religion – unless they deliberately raise the subject with you. And they have a right to refuse to discuss their religion with you.

    And, please, direct no more be-nice-to-Prod sermons at Ulster Catholics. Thank you.

    And, please, make a point of knowing your facts before starting into an anti-Catholic rant. I am still in shock about you not knowing the the Catholic church in Ireland controls only the schools which it owns.

    • Loosely speaking I have no beef with religion, or at least i wouldnt if the major religions would quite simply fuck away off for themselves and leave me alone and stop meddling in national and world affairs. But they wont and so i wont stop railing against them. So John, with all due respect, for an Irish person such as yourself to bandstand about catholics rights and to state that Irish folk have a choice regarding contraception, education etc is blinkered and idiotic.
      The Churches influence on policy and decision making here , though diminishing, is still enormous. As a Northern Catholic you probably have opinions on the Irish Republic but heres news for you. Its not a republic. its a thinly veiled Church state where Catholic rights take precedent over all others. I have no choice on where to send my kid to school.Its Catholic or nothing.
      Do you want to know one of the reasons why I will not be labeling my child Catholic?
      Well with a devout IRA supporting Mother from South Armagh and an equally republican Father from Mayo i have a bit more insight into the Northern conflict than some in the free state. I grew up with this bitter, sectarian, tribal shite all my life and am quite simply sick of it. If this generational labeling of children and passing on of the hatred batton, in the name of a loving Christ ceased in northern Ireland thing might have improved long ago.
      To paraphrase Ghandi. “I like your Christ but i do not like your Christians. they are most unchrist like”.
      And for the record. I have every right to mock any religion I like. … here I go.
      God made Adam and Eve perfect except, WHOPPS!!! he left some original sin.
      So he impregnated his own mother with himself as he is his own Dad and a child was born.
      Thirty odd years later…….
      He then sacrificed him self to him self so that he could forgive his own creation of the sins he put there in the first place.
      And the believers of this are running the country and would like to run the world and lets face it, already are to some degree.
      Fuck me but im on for mocking that.
      God bless


    • I just realized I should probably have replied this way, in order for Mr. John McMahon to see in his e-mailbox that I’ve posted a reply. Anyway, I have. So there.

      All the best,

    • Yes John, I who does not believe in a magic man in the sky, his virgin mother and a place where people burn forever for thinking bad thoughts about their neighbours, has not thought out his position. And who, who believes in all of those things with zero proof, even though you believe in nothing else magical in daily life, apparently has. So I guess you win. Nice one.

  9. Mr. John McMahon,

    with all due respect, but somebody who axiomatically regards other human beings as objects of hatred because they happen to have a *slightly* (because that it is – you all believe in God, Jesus, The Bible, and so forth) different interpretation of one’s faith, commits the same mistake as everyone in history who has in any way prejudged individuals not on their own merits but on the basis of what arbitrary group they might belong to. Black, tall, women, protestants, Swedes, redheads – you could choose any group, the frankly disgusting principle remains the same. Is there one good reason *not* to be nice to somebody just because they happen to be *protestant*?

    Well, that’s it. Once and for all.

    You just proved how loving and warm your religion is. Not that I am surprised, but I am, as usual, completely disgusted. Sorry to say that, but bigotry tends to stick in my throat when people try to force it down.

    Catholics do, as you rightly suggest, have every right not be ridiculed. So I truly hope that you show others the same respect, and never – for example – talk in anything but respectful terms about, for example, Charles Darwin and those of us who believe in the theory of evolution instead of an act of creation by God.

    All the best,

  10. I have no views on Charles Darwin. So far as I know, he did not take part in the burning of Bombay Street.

    • And FYI everybody else: The burning of Bombay Street is an event from Northern Ireland in 1969. These are the things we need to remember to keep hatred and bigotry alive and burning and so that people like John have something to bitch about for always and ever.

      Because forgiving and forgetting, even though is it encouraged by John’s religion, is obviously not to be applied in reality.

    • Mr. John McMahon

      I daresay that the *vast* majority of protestants living in Ireland today took as little part in the burning of Bombay Street as Charles Darwin did. But it is, as far as I gather from what you say, lovlingly right to punish them anyway. Correct?

      Also, there were of course no atrocities whatsoever committed by catholics during the The Troubles?

      And finally, you have no views on Charles Darwin. Which is to say that you have not thought out your position as regards the theory of evolution. Yet you find it appropriate to sarcastically imply that Paddy K has not thought out his position, since he doesn’t believe in the contradictory concept of an almighty, all-knowing God, that said God’s son has walked the Earth, and so forth, and so on. I bet he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus either. So would you say that he has not thought his position out on that one either?

      All the best,

  11. Bellis

    I am not interested in Charles Darwin. I am interested in ill-mannered Eire folk who dare to preach at Ulster Catholics.

    Can you prove that most Protestants in Ireland have not been involved in the oppression of Catholics?

    Why do you Eirefolk preach so much at others? And why are you so good at lecturing others on how to deal with problems which you have never encountered?

    And please mind your manners. My religion is my own business.
    And how I feel about my enemies is my own business. Would you lecture a Jew about his attitude to Nazis? Well, you probably would. You Eirefolk are low enough for anything.

    • But John. Its tit for tat. It really is. Both “sides” are equally to blame. The moment Catholics in the newly formed free state got the chance to oppress protestants they did. Stop playing the victim. It doesnt work.
      Dont make assumptions as to how much “Eirefolk” do or dont know about Northern Ireland. I know more than i care to plus i am blessed with a little perspective. Im outside the woods looking in but you cant see the woods for the trees.
      Your religion is not your own business, your beliefs are but your religion and its leaders are my business as they affect my life, my country, my world and my childs life so if anyoine needs manners its you and your church.

      Re the jews and nazis comment. How does that compare with Catholics and Protestants and the northern ireland situation?. When you explain that i will discuss it

    • I see very little point in continuing this discussion, since it is blatantly obvious that you don’t actually read what I am writing. The above has very little to do with what I actually said, if you look closer.

      And for your information, I am half-Greek, half-Swedish. I am not even remotely close to being Irish. Thanks for the compliment, though, because that probably means I write with an Irish twang. I certainly know how to speak with an Irish twang, well enough to fool at least Australians and Americans (albeit maybe not Irish folks).

      By the way, I visited Ireland for the first time in my life this last Christmas. Considering how incredibly nice and forthcoming the people there were, I would not at that time have believed that I would be having this conversation now. Therefore, for my part, I stop here.

      All the best,

    • “You Eirefolk are low enough for anything”. Oh I love this John, you are just digging a hole of bigotry for yourself, and it’s fun to watch.

      So you hate, as well as Protestants, all southern Irish too? Wonderful.

      The difference between you and me, John, is that I think all religions are rubbish, but you think that all religions except your own are rubbish. Plus you actvelty hate other religions whereas I would rather if all of them just kept their voices down.

      So what do you want to happen? Export all Protestants? Convert them? Kill them, your sworn “enemies”? What’s the final solution, John? Please share it with us, we’re all ears. What is the aim of this hatred of yours?

      • Paddy.
        Final solution? Are you getting in on the emotive but totally unfounded Jews / Nazi analogy so clumsily made earlier?!!!!!

  12. Just a note: I am, which I hope is obvious, replying to what Mr. John McMahon wrote, not to what Mr. Sean Mulroy wrote. I agree with the latter.

    All the best,

  13. I think by now it’s abundantly clear that for Mr McMahon, this discussion has very little to do with religion. It’s pure xenophobia, “us vs them”-thinking. What catholics and protestants actually believe is irrelevant, the point is that he is part of one group and it’s part of his cultural identity to hate everyone who is part of the other, and to insult anyone who questions him.

    I mean, just read through the comments here. Paddy and others are making points about religious dogma, as that’s what the original post was about. McMahon refuses to discuss this, but rather goes on about how this or that group of people is either evil (protestants) or stupid and preachy (“you Eirefolk”). There is a sweet irony in that he was the one who pulled a Godwin and brought up Nazis and Jews – he’s fallen for exactly the same kind of group think that allowed Hitler to whip up the background antisemitism present in all christian cultures to a frenzy.

  14. Sean Mulroy

    “to state that Irish folk have a choice regarding contraception, education etc is blinkered and idiotic.”

    Why is such a statement “blinkered and idiotic”?

    “its a thinly veiled Church state where Catholic rights take precedent over all others.”

    Where is your evidence for that sweeping statement?

    “I have no choice on where to send my kid to school.Its Catholic or nothing.”

    I do not believe you. There are Protestant schools. There are Educate To-gether schools. There are Irish medium schools. And even a few Muslim schools. If there are not enough non-Catholic schools, whose fault is that? Catholic schools did not fall out of the sky. Nor did Protestant schools. Why not band to-gether with like-minded people and establish your own secular schools? You would receive the same level of State funding as denominational schools. Indeed, until a few years ago, you would have received more as Educate Together schools received 100% funding for their sites while Catholic schools received only 85% funding.

    “Do you want to know one of the reasons why I will not be labeling my child Catholic?”

    No, I do not. I could not care less.

    “I grew up with this bitter, sectarian, tribal shite all my life”

    You do not know what a really sectarian state is. In Northern Ireland the Protestant churches have a statutory right to appoing 50% of the voting governors of all State schools – even of State schools in which some of the pupils are the children of Catholics, even of the one State school all of whose pupils are the children of Catholics.

    “To paraphrase Ghandi. “I like your Christ but i do not like your Christians. they are most unchrist like””

    Hardly the statement of a true secularist.#

    “And for the record. I have every right to mock any religion”

    I disagree. I think that such conduct should be a criminal offense.

    “Fuck me but im on for mocking that.”

    Why do you resort so readily to vulgar language?

  15. Sean Mulroy

    “But John. Its tit for tat. It really is.”

    No,it is not. There was too much Prod “tit” and not enough Catholic “tat”.

    “Both “sides” are equally to blame. ”

    I strongly resent that statement.

    “The moment Catholics in the newly formed free state got the chance to oppress protestants they did.”

    Not true.

    “Stop playing the victim. It doesnt work.”

    Is that an order? I do not take orders from Eirefolk.

    “Dont make assumptions as to how much “Eirefolk” do or dont know about Northern Ireland.”

    Is that an order? Over the years I have learned that most Eirefok do not know even basic facts about Northern Ireland – to the extent that I never discuss Northern Ireland with them.

    “I know more than i care to plus i am blessed with a little perspective. Im outside the woods looking in but you cant see the woods for the trees.”

    So you ever so clever Southerners know more about Northern Ireland that those who live in it! I do not believe you.

    “Your religion is not your own business, your beliefs are but your religion and its leaders are my business as they affect my life, my country, my world and my childs life so if anyoine needs manners its you and your church.”

    I disagree. If you will not respect the rights of Catholics, why should Catholics respect your rights? Please mind your manners and leave Catholics alone.

    “Re the jews and nazis comment. How does that compare with Catholics and Protestants and the northern ireland situation?. When you explain that i will discuss it”

    Your remark about both sides being equally to blame means that there is no point in discussing anything about Northern Ireland with you.

  16. Even though I think John’s opinions are disturbing, I totally agree that he has the right to hold them, even though it insults me and my lack of beliefs.

    Whereas John thinks that: “such conduct should be a criminal offense.”

    Again, John really has nailed the whole “forgiveness” part of his religion.

  17. Paddy K

    Why does a person who has renounced religion preach so much about it? And, if you really must pontificate on religious matters, please get your facts right. According to Christain tradition, Jesus died on a cross between two thieves who were also being crucified. The good thief repented and was forgiven. The bad thief did not repent and was not forgiven.
    Have Ulster Protestants repented? Have they even mended their ways?

    Catholicism teaches “Forgive the sinner who repents”.

    • Quit spouting your bloody magic book at me John. I’m sick of you hogging my bandwidth, ignoring the majority of questions set to you and spreading your hatred and bigotry. The people discussing this topic with you here have been far more patient than you deserve. And yet, still, they don’t hate you, even thought you hate them and anybody else who doesn’t agree with you.

      You mentioned before that if I don’t want my children going to Catholic school then I can just start my own school. Well, in the same spirit, if you don’t like what people say on my blog, then you can go and bloody well start your own. Because, like the Catholic church owning the schools, I own this blog and I decide here. Feels fair and just, doesn’t it?

      And now I have decided that I’ve had enough of you. And if you want to take that as a victory, then fine, do it, if it makes you feel better. Now please go and spray your bile someplace else and never bother us again.

  18. And if an Ulster Pord had come on here all they would have to do is interchange catholic for protestant and vice versa on Johns posts, copy and paste and hey presto. instant arguement.
    I propose we hand the country back to the Queen in the morning and apologise for its condition!!

  19. If a person has no respect for logic by placing it below their self-indulgent feelings and assumptions, the contract of ‘respect’ is immediately broken because they have no respect for the reality around them. To feel one is above logic is to feel one is *god* enough to create his/her own logic that defies questioning. So it’s ironic that the most religious people are the most blasphemous towards their own Maker.

    A religious person is by definition beyond reasoning. They have a ‘conviction’ that cannot be argued with or reasoned out of, something which they themselves will admit to without personal shame. Therefore, the only ‘respect’ possible for such people is the respect to leave them to fantasize on their own until they’re ready to rejoin the reality that exists beyond their illusion of self.

    And to say that everyone is ‘free to believe anything’ (ie. without proof) is effectively saying that schizophrenia isn’t a mental illness. Only a nutter would believe that. ;o)

    • It always amuses me when religious people try to “argue” and “discuss”. By attempting an argument you are admitting that reason and evidence work and are useful tools. But then you also have a part of your mind that is completely and utterly impervious to reason. So you are at the same time using the tools of reason AND refusing to accept them.

      Religious people should argue with each other, or with the voices in their heads, and leave the rest of us alone.

  20. In the vein of this discussion, I might add that I once made God speechless. This is a tragic but also farcical story, and true.

    I have a friend since school days who is a Christian, but he’s never been of the Bible-thumping, fanatical variety.

    Until last summer, when he unfortunately got a psychosis and ended up in a mental ward. From where he called me one early Saturday morning to inform me that God had spoken to him and given him orders to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I must not have sex before marriage and that I must go get baptized in the Swedish protestant church in Athens (a Greek orthodox church would not do, apparently).

    The moment was not very well chosen, because the night preceding this early Saturday morning was the first I’d spent in bed with my then new girlfriend, and I said as much.

    Whereupon, lo and behold, my friends voice changed completely – becoming deep and thunderous – and I was duly informed that I was no longer speaking to him, but to God himself, who had chosen to speak through him. God went on to tell me that my friend had done his best to save me, but now it was time that I mended my ways and became a devout Christian, and put my life in some semblance of order.


    Considering the fact that my friend had fruitlessly for close on ten years (!) been looking for both a girlfriend and a job, and had now ended up in a psychiatric ward, I tried to talk some sense into God, telling him that my devout friend was without a job and without a girlfriend, whereas I had both, and that on top of that he was living in a psychiatric ward, whereas I was living in my apartment.

    And I am an atheist, and my friend is a true believer.

    So what good had his belief done him and how come that I, being a heathen, was living this quite ordinary but nevertheless fairly satisfying life?

    Whereupon God became speechless. He simply had no reply.

    After a long silence my friend returned, pronounced himself tired, and promptly hung up.

    Yes, tragic, but on the face of it also funny.

    How many of you atheists out there have actually made God speechless?

    All the best,

    • Bellis, that story rocks. You should mail it to, like, Pharyungula, or Friendly Atheist. Bet they’d publish it.

      • I must admit to never having heard of Pharyungula or Friendly Atheist before, but I just found them on the net. Thank you for your kind comments and for the tips! I’ll send the story in, and we’ll see what happens.

        All the best,

  21. Just a note: Even despite having been asked to never comment here again (since, like the Catholic Church owning “its” schools, I own this blog), John has continued to post comments on this thread. Which is very disrespectful behaviour, and infringes upon my rights to bring up my blog in the way I believe to be right.

    So since John has ignored my request to stop posting, I have banned him, and his comments now get eaten up by my spam filter. This is the first time I have banned a commenter in over 4 years. But, as I mention in my last comment to John, if he wants to decide then he is very welcome to open a school (sorry, a blog) of his own, where racism and sectarianism is accepted behaviour. Because around here, it isn’t.

  22. Where did you encounter this guy?
    Are you likely to encounter him again?
    Are you scared?
    Wanna buy a taser?

  23. Wow.

    And amazingly… the t-shirt I’m wearing right now says


    Is that a coincidence or is it a miracle?

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