Picketing the Pope April 3, 2008

Picketing the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI is going to be visiting the United States in a couple weeks.

American Atheists have has something to say about that (at least in DC and NYC):

AMERICAN ATHEISTS will be hosting peaceful demonstrations in both cities to protest the papal agenda for cultural, social and political hegemony. We invite all Atheist, Freethought, Secular Humanists and other nonbelievers to join us in speaking out. Whatever label you use to describe your nonbelief and opposition to clerical authoritarianism of all denominations – whether you’re a Rational, a Bright, a Humanist, Agnostic, Atheist, or a strict Separationist – we welcome you!

The big event seems to be the one in Washington, D.C. taking place on April 16th:

The Pope will join Bush for a reception on the south lawn of the White House. Join us beginning at 10:00 AM across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. Bring signs and banners conveying a polite but firm message in opposition to the Vatican/Ratzinger agenda. There will be a brief program of speakers including:

  • ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists
  • ARLENE-MARIE, President of Michigan Atheists and State Director, AA
  • MARGARET DOWNEY, President of Atheist Alliance
  • FRED EDWORDS, Director of Communications, American Humanist Association
  • CHRISTOPHER ARNTZEN, President, Gay and Lesbian Atheists and Humanists
  • RICK WINGROVE, Capitol Hill Representative, Virginia Director, American Atheists

A second event will take place in New York City a couple days later but details are not available yet.

Personally, I disagree with just about everything the Pope does and stands for, but I’m not sure what value there is in protesting his visit. I think it’ll just backfire on us.

If there is any media about this, most people are just going to see it as atheists angry about religion (What’s new?, they’ll say) as opposed to angry with the Pope’s specific policies.

Maybe I’m wrong.

Would you protest the Pope’s visit? On what grounds?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • No.

    Because I have better things to do with my time and worse enemies than the pope to tackle.

  • David D.G.

    I agree, protesting his visit itself is not likely to be useful or productive. In fact, it’s nonsensical. We may not like the idea of a theocracy, but he is a legally appointed, legitimate leader of a country, so receiving him as a guest of state is entirely appropriate, every bit as much as receiving the Prime Minister of Great Britain. I don’t even know of any human rights abuses to be held against him, whereas I know of quite a few such blots on our own record lately.

    However, I think it would be entirely valid to use inevitable news coverage of his visit to protest specific policies that the pope promotes (e.g., stances against birth control, abortion, and stem-cell research). These actually would be effectively directed at our own administration, obviously, since there’s no way a few Americans waving signs would sway the pope, but the pope’s visit would make a valid venue for the display of support for birth control, abortion on demand, and tax-funded stem-cell research (as just my own examples).

    ~David D.G.

  • Personally, I disagree with just about everything the Pope does and stands for

    I highly doubt that.

    The Pope has spoken against the War in Iraq since the beginning
    The Pope has been outspoken in support of economic justice for the developing world and overseas massive levels of charity and relief work globally.
    The Pope supports the human rights of immigrants regardless of the status of of their documentation.
    The Pope affirms scientific views of evolution and cosmology.

    There are many things I disagree with the Pope on as well, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the areas where our views do overlap. I don’t know all your political views Hemant, but I suspect that on issues of peace and social justice there are probably many opinions you and the Pope share in common.

  • Miko

    Depends on the venue. The current pope is certainly very strongly anti-science, and he’s been called on it in the past and forced to cancel academic appearances as a result, which I would argue is a very good thing. (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7188860.stm for example.)

    But in this particular case, I don’t see any specific reason to do so and I would doubt its effectiveness anyway.

  • Maria

    If there is any media about this, most people are just going to see it as atheists angry about religion (What’s new?, they’ll say) as opposed to angry with the Pope’s specific policies.

    Unfortunately I agree. It’s just going to feed into the stereotype of “angry atheists” i.e. “oh look, the peacful pope is hear and those angry atheists want to destroy that too”. There are bigger, more important things to go after that won’t feed into the stereotype. And protesting the pope won’t change anything. This is kind of silly I think.

  • Christophe Thill

    I don’t feel those people are protesting against the pope’s visit. This would have (and recently had) a sens in an Italian university, because the society there is still so much under the influence of the Catholic Church. But what I understand is that the demonstrations are intended against some of the most shocking positions of this Church. That’s not the same thing.

  • Louis Doench

    To be completely serious, I don’t think I could protest the Pope because … well.. he scares the frickin bejeezus out of me.

    Ya see, my second girl was born at Good Samaratin Hospital here in Cincinnati, the same joint i was squeezed out at. And so after I check my wife in I run back down to the car to grab a suitcase, run back, hop on the elevator out of breath, and when the doors open…boom… there’s a 13″x19″ glossy of his popeness staring straight at me with what I can only classify as vampiric glee. Really, scary lookin dude. Straight out of James Bond Villain school. He’s the Anti John Paul II. Run away… just run away!

  • THz

    I would protest, but the emphasis would have to be on having it be entirely peaceful, and eloquently spoken. Specific signs and banners would help pass the message (against certain policies), rather than just a large group shouting.

    If media exposure is given make sure that the emphasis is on the policies being pushed, not the religion itself.

  • Scorpious

    I wouldn’t, for the same reasons as above.

    Benedict scares me as well. Talk about giving nightmares to the kids he “protects”. *shudders*

    Also, once he goes home, back to Vatican City, back to Italy, it won’t matter at all whether people protested his visit or not. I doubt it’d get reported on over there like it does here when our President is protested when he visits certain countries.

    We have better things to do, like making it much, much easier for an Atheist to be elected into the White House sometime this century.

    Once that is done, then we can definitely protest the RCC by banning the current Pope from even entering this country. Wait… did I just say that out loud?

  • Vincent

    I plan on being part of this protest.
    The Beltway Atheists meetup group is very inter-twined with AA in DC, and you might be surprised at the heated debate that went on in their mailing list over this.
    All of the points mentioned here have been excruciatingly beaten about for more than a month.
    In the end it is going to get some press and thus is a consciousness raising event. The goal of many of us is to have some legitimate soundbites regarding policies of the vatican such as sheltering pedophile priests, denying the use of condoms in AIDs crippled countries, etc.
    The papal visit is a good venue to protest the papal policies, particularly the papal efforts to affect US laws promoting christian goals.

    Of course there is reason enough to protest the Pope’s visit alone, because the President should not be recognizing a religious leader in a formal white-house visit. Contrary to what David D.G. said in the second post, the Pope is not the legitimate leader of a country, because the Vatican is not a country. According to the supreme law of this nation*, a country must have a permanent population**, which the Vatican does not. The residents are continually being imported to fill space. How many people are born in the Vatican each year?

    * Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution says treaties are the supreme law of the land along with the Constitution and laws in support thereof.
    ** the 1933 Montevideo Convention is a treaty which the US is party to

  • cipher

    he scares the frickin bejeezus out of me… Really, scary lookin dude.

    Louis, a lot of people have noticed the resemblance between Benedict and Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious:


  • Dana

    Of course there is reason enough to protest the Pope’s visit alone, because the President should not be recognizing a religious leader in a formal white-house visit

    and why is it that no one on here had issues when Bush sponsored the Dali Lama in the white house? Oh I forgot, Eastern religions get a free pass in the secular community.

  • I cannot imagine how any atheist or for that matter moral person could even consider not supporting this historic demonstration.

    The Vatican always supports fascist, Nazi and genocidal murderers.

    The Vatican helped almost every one of the Nazi war criminals it could escape.

    Pius XII elevated Stepinac who murdered 700,000 people for the Nazi’s to the cardinalate in 1952.

    The Vatican supported the fascist dictatorships in South America.

    The Vatican funded the defense of the Nuns and Priest responsible for the Rwanda genocide.

    The Vatican defended the Catholic Holocaust denying Priests.

    The Vatican defends the child rapists.

    The current Pope has returned Nazi Priest to the Vatican.

    The current Pope was a member of Hitler Youth.

    The Pope has just asked Chile to release the mass murders and members of the fascist death squads now in prison for their crimes.

    I strongly urge you to not only participate but do everything possible to promote this event in every way you can. The Vatican thinks (with justification) that it is above the law. Show them they are not above the will of the people.

  • David Lane

    Any Englishman with even the slightest hint of morals will be on the march against the Pope. How could they not be?

    Standing by while he continues to support child rapists, holocaust deniers, members of Chile’s death squads and lies about his role in Hitler Youth is just as bad as those who did the same as Hitler came to power.

    Wake up folks and MARCH ON SEPTEMBER 18th.

  • Orion

    Yes I most certainly will protest the Pope on the grounds that no one should be above the law and that I will not stand by and do nothing like people did as Hitler came to power.

    We cannot claim we didn’t know what was happening.

    Action speaks louder than words.

  • Michelle Zane

    You would have to break my legs and lock me in a bank vault to stop me taking part in the protests.

    Nobody should be above the law.

  • Gretta Lohmeyer

    “Would you protest the Pope’s visit? On what grounds?”

    Are you serious?

    How about on the grounds they have got away with raping, abusing and molesting up to a million children Worldwide.

    Or does that not bother you Mr Mehta?

  • Paul King


    This is the story of the Catholic Church from it’s inception. The First Crusade started with a mob of ‘Crusaders’ following a Goose they believed had been sent by God, to guide them. The Goose waddled into a town in the South of Germany and the mob followed. They proceed to burn and hack to death every Jew they could find. The Goose then seemed to loose interest in the endeavor.

    A thousand years later Catholic Priests and Nuns are still committing similar outrages on a grand scale……..and it seems Catholics are still following a Goose.

    A Goose stepping Goose called Benedict.

  • sharon ensor

    i will protest with every bone in my body until the day i die against the pope and his cronies.
    feel free to approach and contradict me.
    if anyone knows of any protests in south yorkshire area let me know

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