I’ve written on this topic before (here and here) but every now and then I’m struck anew by the concept of religion as salad bar. Folks are usually born into a religion. They tend to practice the religion of their parents. There comes a time in every adult’s life that he chooses his religion. Once that choice is made, many if not most people treat their religion like a salad bar, adhering to the beliefs that are convenient for them and discarding the rest.
The selection of Pope Francis I has triggered renewed public debate about the beliefs of the Catholic church. Once again, I can only chuckle at the sturm und drang. On MSNBC a couple of weeks ago we witnessed Jacqueline Nolley Echegaray, a member of the group Catholics for Choice. I don’t even need to hear a word she has to say before starting to laugh. “Catholics for Choice”? Might as well be “Negroes for Lynching” or “Dentists for Tooth Decay”. What utter nonsense. One of the fundamental precepts of the Catholic church is reverence for human life up to and including non-interference with the process of procreation (i.e. no birth control). Asking the Catholic church to change its view on procreation is like asking a tiger to shed his stripes.
In her TV appearance, Ms. Echegaray famously declared that the Catholic church is not the hierarchy, it is the “people”. I think she is confusing the Catholic church with a democratic republic. I know I’m no expert on organized religion but I’m pretty sure the edicts of the Catholic church are not up for popular vote. Ms. Echegaray goes one step beyond treating religion like a salad bar. She’s demanding that the restaurant owner change the menu for everyone just to suit her preferences.
I offer Ms. Echegaray some free advice. It’s the same advice I gave Patrick Kennedy in an earlier post. If you don’t like the “rules” of the Catholic church, get out and find a religion that better matches your belief system.