Religion

Don't Protestors Have Right to Protest Against Pope?

| by Jerome McCollom

Recently in Spain, a nation that was dominated by Catholicism under the right-wing fascist dictator Franco, nonbelievers -- who objected to the government paying for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI --were beaten by police.

Indeed, this is nothing new. Protestors commonly, including in the U.S., see their right to protest violated by police. The pope might not be a bad guy but the Catholic Church shouldn't be treated as the head of a visiting democracy, but instead for what it is: just a church. All democracies should revoke nation-state status to the Vatican, because that favors one particular religion over non-religion. Also, the Vatican becoming a nation-state was the product of a deal between the Catholic Church and then Italian dictator, Mussolini.

Now, obviously protestors should not be denied a right to protest. Indeed, a pro-Catholic organization named Hazte Oir or (Make Yourself Heard) advocated that the police ban a protest march against the pope. Ah, the religious right, no matter the nation-state, tries to reimpose blasphemy laws to enforce prohibitions on dissent against religion.

A kiss-in protest along the pope's motorcade route, which would have featured gay couples kissing and embracing, was broken up by the police. The police would rather deny their fellow citizens' rights than ruffle the sensibilities of an anti-gay pontiff? 100 protestors were removed from a route where the pope had thousands of supporters? This seems like a visit by President Bush, whose Secret Service commonly moved protestors several states away, or so it seems, from his motorcade routes.

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All too often those who are religious, especially on the right-wing, believe that religious beliefs deserve greater respect than non-religious beliefs. No, they don't. Especially when they impact the lives of others.

The Vatican's anti-gay positions, along with its anti-birth control policy (especially in places such as Africa), have consequences on the lives of others. If the Catholic Church does not want same-sex weddings held in their churches, fine. Good for them. But to deny those who are gay and lesbian from having equality in their own nations?

That shows the threat of theocracy in the West is by no means finished.