Friday, March 1, 2013

The stench of church and state.


When Father Daniel Berrigan was speaking in Dutchess County more than a decade ago, a priest in the audience asked him why the Catholic Church was not opposing the illegal US blockade of Iraq.

"What you are smelling is the stench that comes from the marriage of church and state," Father Berrigan replied. He went on to declare that any religion serving the interests of the state destroys its spiritual authority in the process. 

I have long been disheartened by those who have used the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people to defend Israel's barbaric treatment of the Palestinians. I think this tactic cheapens and dishonors the suffering of both peoples, while perpetuating a cycle of senseless violence.

A rabbi publicly declaring that criticism of Israel is an anti-Semitic assault on the Jewish religion, however, is an example what Father Berrigan was saying about his own church. Religion debases itself by linking its moral authority to any state, much less one that wages preemptive wars, uses high tech weaponry on civilians, and treats a minority population with racist oppression. Are all these crimes to be defended as God's work, too holy for mortals to question or criticize?

The stench of church and state.

Fred Nagel
Rhinebeck

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