I may have stumbled in to Catholicism as an accident of birth, but I’ve since picked myself up, dusted myself off, and decided that I want nothing to do with such a profoundly corrupt and power-hungry organisation. Nothing about the RCC gels with the person I am. I believe there is nothing more dangerous than blind faith, while the RCC literally preaches it as a virtue. I believe each person should be free to explore their own spirituality, while the RCC believes it and it’s priests are there to tell the people how to interpret the bible, because ordinary people are too dumb to do it themselves.

I used to be happy just calling myself a non-practicing Roman Catholic, but the day Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope I’d had enough. I’d been painfully aware of the man’s writings before then, and just couldn’t bare being in any way associated with him. That was before I realized that he was the top man in the Vatican for disciplining priests, and hence he, more than anyone else, is to blame for the failure to punish men who destroyed the lives of thousands (if not millions) of children. His insulting letter to the Irish faithful recently was the final confirmation that I was 100% right to turn my back on the RCC for ever.

Most of the time, the church is irrelevant in normal Irish life. Turning my back on the church has had no negative effects on my life at all, indeed if anything, the dwindling power of the church in Ireland has helped to make my life better and more joyous. They’ve destroyed their own credibility so utterly that their homophobic rants fall mostly on deaf ears. Despite all the best efforts of the RCC, Ireland is a progressive and open society.

However, there is one day each year where I’m reminded of the immense power the Catholic Church once had in Ireland, and that their influence has not yet been fully expunged from our laws. It is illegal to sell alcohol on Good Friday in Ireland. This law is there for one reason and one reason only, to force everyone in Ireland to obey a Christian Feast. The Irish faithful have so little faith that the ban on alcohol couldn’t be enforced from the pulpit, it had to be enshrined in our laws too, the constitution be damned!

This is what the Irish Constitution has to say about religion:

The State guarantees not to endow any religion.

I’m no lawyer, but it seems like a very clear separation of Church and State, and a very clear ban on laws enforcing the doctrine of any religions on the Irish people. In other words, it seems to me that this anachronistic alcohol ban on Good Friday is not only an indictment of the weakness of the faith of Irish Catholics through the years, but also an afront to the constitution of Ireland.

Not only do I accept that Catholics have every right to celebrate Good Friday, every right not to eat meat or drink alcohol, and every right not to open their shops, but I respect deeply catholic who voluntarily does that. If you are a Catholic who owns a bar, then choosing not to open on your bar on your religious feast day is commendable. Writing laws to enforce your views on an entire nation however, that’s reprehensible.

This year a crack has formed Good Friday alcohol ban, there is a big Rugby match on in Limerick today, and the bars in the area are being allowed open. They sought and received an exemption. Unfortunately the grounds on which they sought and received it were wildly disappointing. They didn’t take the obvious route, arguing that the law is unconstitutional, instead they looked for, and found, a small loophole that helps only them, while leaving the law intact. They chose to argue that the match was a special event, and was hence eligible for an exemption. Someone who has the money needs to force the supreme court to examine the constitutionality of this law, and force it to make a judgement on it. I’d love to be in a position to do that, but I’m just not at the moment.

What I do plan to do is continue a tradition myself and a few friends started in college. I’ll having a big juicy steak tonight, and toasting the death of Catholic Ireland with some really nice red wine. I know it doesn’t achieve anything, but it’s my little act of rebellion against enforced Christianity, and it makes me feel better. Besides, I’ll take any excuse to have a nice steak and a nice bottle wine 🙂