A formal act of defection Part 2

Father Stott, at the Bishops House, asked me to put my request for a formal act of defection in writing, for it to be entered into the public record. Here’s what I am sending him this afternoon, with personal details omitted.

EDIT: March 21, 2009, 10:35 PM. The first draft of this letter failed to address my concerns over Knights of Columbus donations to Yes on Proposition 8 and didn’t take into account the Church’s reply to the accusation of carelessness in the Pope’s message on condom use. I’ve amended the letter as follows and will send this version of the letter first post Monday morning. Thanks to everyone who has contacted me via reddit and email with messages of support.

Dear Father Stott,

Further to our telephone conversation March 18, 2009, on my seeking advice on how I might have a formal act of defection entered into the public record, here are my details, as requested.

I was born on the xx/xx/xxxx, at North Tees Hospital. I was baptised by Father Hussy, at Saint Patrick’s Church, Fairfield, Stockton On Tees, on x/xx/xxxx and for the first 14 years of my life, through first confession, first communion and confirmation, I believed everything my parents, the church and my teachers told me about the Catholic faith, attending mass and confession every week.

You asked that I give an explanation of my decision to leave the chruch. One is almost tempted to recall the Americanism, if you have to ask, you’ll never know. But my protest is not a frivolous matter. On the contrary, I take the decision very seriously indeed and although I’m sure you will be grateful if I refrain from a lengthy statement, nonetheless I would appreciate a moment of your time to cover some of the primary reasons I am seeking this clarification.

Firstly, I can no longer quiet my moral objections to certain Vatican policies. This extends from matters raised in the investigative works of David Yallop, in his books ‘In God’s Name’ and ‘The Power and the Glory’ up to recent statements which have been made by Pope Benedict XVI, such as his holiness’s refusal to acknowledge matters of basic scientific fact concerning the preventative spread of HIV AIDS, through condom use. The Catholic church is in a unique position to educate and prevent the spread of this disease, but instead chooses to make it 10 times worse on the fundamentally flawed assumption that without the temptation of protected sex, the destitute underclass will opt for bronze-age fallacies and chastity. This is something which I find morally repugnant, that in any other reality would see those responsible for this policy permanently removed from office—if not exposed to criminal proceedings. That we are instructed instead to view these comments with reverence, simply because of who uttered them, is perhaps the single best explanation of why church attendance figures are in decline one could wish to find.

The Pope has also made illogical pronouncements on greed and corruption, whilst sitting atop a throne made of gold and precious stones. He has called the unearthing of a secret Vatican policy of over 40 years standing, which was designed to protect pedophiles in the priesthood while silencing their victims, “a media exaggeration”. He has failed to punish Holocaust deniers in the Bishopric while excommunicating the mother of a nine year old rape victim who became pregnant by her own step father, who himself remained free to attend mass. He has an attitude from the dark ages towards people who are genetically predetermined to be attracted to members of their own sex. He has turned a blind eye to Knights of Columbus donations to political campaigns in the hundreds of millions of dollars while in the poorest countries of the world denouncing liberation theology, welcoming money lenders back into the temple to literally pontificate on the very opposite of humility and sacrifice contained in the teachings of Christ.

But more than all of this, Father Stott, I tend to agree with Agnesë Mother Teresa Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, when she said, “I no longer feel God’s presence, even in the Eucharist”, because to my mind, it is a simple matter of deductive logic that there is no such omnipotent being as God, least of all the petulant sadist worshipped by those of my former faith from which I now seek final and public excommunication.

If, anywhere in the ever expanding universe, there were such a being as that which you describe in Yahweh, I find it unlikely that He would allow the things which take place in His name to continue, were he capable of intervening to prevent them. Since, for the last 13.7 billion years, God has failed to do this, one can only conclude that He is incapable of such an act, in which case He is not the benevolent God of the good book we are dogmatically told by those in your profession He is, while failing to present the slightest shred of evidence to back-up one deluded axiom after another, spanning centuries of war, hate, oppression and greed in defence of this intolerant and shrivelling credo.

For these reasons and myriad others, which I am almost certain you are equally uninterested in hearing about as you are those above, I hereby formally request that I am no longer, as a matter of public record, to be considered a Catholic. I would be grateful for written confirmation of this request as and when you are able to provide it.

Look on the bright side, father. You lose me, you gain Tony Blair.

“What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to others” – Confucius, 500 BC


James Gardner

34 comments on “A formal act of defection Part 2

  1. This is a really good letter babe, it’s really well written.

    Good luck in your formal act of defecation.

  2. Will you get a formal letter from the Vatican? I’d like to use excerpts from your letter if so. I though just tell people I am no longer catholic, not going to church, and don’t believe in god was enough.

  3. Ed: It is enough that you no longer attend mass, yes—but this is a protest as much as it is a formal severance. I should imagine the most I can expect is a reply from the priest at the bishops house, confirming that the public record of my baptism has been amended to reflect I am no longer a catholic.

  4. Excellent letter! I am a “recovering Catholic,” as well, and am very interested in seeing what kind of a response you receive.

  5. Oh dear… I never knew I was supposed to do this, all those years ago. Does that make me still a Catholic? I shudder at the thought.

    On the plus side, excellent letter!

  6. I’m afraid it does FrodoSaves! Sorry to break it to ya like that :)

    I’d be delighted if you’d join me in formally renouncing the religion you were forced into before you could crawl or talk.

    BTW, your site looks like fun. You’ve got a new RSS subscriber!

  7. Very good letter, Jim. There are so many papal obscenities on which to focus in these “formal acts of defection.” You made good choices. I’m collecting a long list.

    Here’s one of mine: The last pope’s preaching against the “evils” of birth-control in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica; in the barrios of Mexico City and in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro facilitated the final decision to demand recognition of defection for millions of former Roman Catholics. Even as a staunch advocate of free speech, it is difficult to suppress the desire for that pope to have been arrested as a common criminal for inciting people to poverty, disease and early death in the name of God and virtue. It is hard to imagine anyone could be that cruel without the blinding delusion of divine intervention.

    Here’s another: In 14 years of Catholic school including two of jesuit university, what I learned is that when someone presumes to speak for God, you don’t leave children alone with him.

    Ultimately, there must be thousands of these justifications for people to read as they contribute their own reasons to demand formal defection.

  8. Joey Tranchina:
    This is why I want to raise awareness among former Catholics who perhaps don’t know this mechanism is in place for them to use as a platform for airing protest. We’ve talked privately via email about this and I hope we can discuss activism of this kind further again?

  9. Jim,

    Cheers, glad you like it! Your site has a new one too.

    After your letter, sending them another would be like kicking them while they’re down. In other words, I’m all for it! I’ll try cooking something up over the next few days. You’ll be the first to know.

    Frodo be with you!

  10. Um, is it me, or is this letter sort of like writing to Santa Claus to tell him you don’t believe in him any more?

    By writing the letter, aren’t you accepting the premise that there was something to defect FROM?

    Someone once told me that anyone who’d been raised in a home where there was religion – i.e. anyone who had been sent to Sunday School or taught to pray or whatever right from the time they were born – can never hope to achieve true atheism. The best they can do is a sort of anti-religion – because the notion of ‘God’ (with a capital G) was simply too deeply embedded into their subconscious.

    Though I have been a staunch atheist since the age of 9, I often agree with this theory: it’s sort of how the opposite of ‘love’ isn’t ‘hate’ – it’s ‘indifference’. Those of us who spend time trying to debate with believers or write anti-religion blogs or whatever (and again, I count myself among these) aren’t really achieving ‘indifference’.

    If you know what I mean.

  11. Swelstead said: “Um, is it me, or is this letter sort of like writing to Santa here was something to defect FROM??… By writing the letter, aren’t you accepting the premise that there was something to defect FROM?”

    Swelstead: I appreciate you point. When I began researching this to set up a system where people could defect, I though about laying out a demand for excommunication, but, in the end, excommunication makes you a bad Catholic, not a non catholic. So that wasn’t it. When Jim Gardner and I — via different paths of research — came to the “formal act of defection” as the appropriate to be removed from the roles of the RCC, it was in my mind at least — Jim will speak for himself — a way not to be counted in the politics of he Church. I want to post a mass of defections to demand that we are not counted in the census from which the church derives its political power. I’m not asking for permission to leave; I’m demanding that they don’t count me in their vastly inflated numbers.

  12. I couldn’t agree more, Joey. I think Swelstead was playing devil’s advocate—pun intended.

    I contacted David Yallop on the issue over Vatican bank investments in contraceptive manufacturers and he was kind enough to point me towards more information on this. I’m writing a new blog entry on this as we speak.

    Again, Joey, please feel free to contact me at any time if you need any help in any way. Letter writing, phone calls, local press… We could really get this out there and give it a life of its own if we co-ordinate. I’d be delighted to help in any way.

  13. Pingback: Up until 1984 the Catholic Church drew profits from Luteolas, an oral contraceptive « How good is that?

  14. Swelstead: “Um, is it me, or is this letter sort of like writing to Santa Claus to tell him you don’t believe in him any more?” I have to reply again… That’s such a great line, I love it. That is not what this is about, but that is a perfect description of what it is not about.

    I registered as an agnostic, at a Jesuit university, in 1962. I’ve had that debate with the church for 18 months then moved to Guadalajara, Mexico. Since then I’ve been in Catholic churches about seven times, four funerals, two weddings and a couple of AIDS presentations (That is, if you don’t count, Chartres & Rouen or Notre Dame & San Sulpice which are in my neighborhood in Paris; I frequently go in those churches to make photographs or listen to concerts but I don’t think that counts ). Anyway… this is not about sending Santa a letter to let him know that you figured out that he’s a greeting card salesman. This, with any luck, is a full frontal assault on the Roman Catholic Church’s ability to do evil things in our name.

    I don’t want out; I am out. I want not to be counted. “Make that 1.131 Billion Roman Catholics — MINUS ONE.”


  15. Heads up! I’ve had some interest in taking part in the podcast, but I always welcome as many views as possible. Just a reminder for those subscribed to this thread to send your Skype username to thatjim@gmail.com if you want to take part.

    What I’ll then be doing is opening a Google Calendar which everyone who has mailed me with an interest in taking part will be added to, so everyone can put a pin the map and say what time and date they’ll be free to talk with me via Skype. Don’t worry your mail address won’t be revealed to anyone else who shows an interest, just the date and time you say you can make it to talk.

    Then, once we have enough people who can make it at the same time, we’ll get together and just chat. The resulting conversation will be edited as little as possible (literally just to remove unwanted “testing 1, 2, 3, can everyone hear me?” technical set-up) and then put out as a podcast on the howgoodisthat.wordpress.com blog and also mirrored on unenslaved.com

    Thanks to everyone who has shown an interest so far! Jim.

  16. I recently had my websites rebuilt and i am trying to come across new ways to make it better.Your design is quite nice and your posts are well-structured. I though that it would be nice to say that i will use some of your “know-how”.

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