It’s been a few hours since we learned of the death of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain. That’s enough time for The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue to use the tragedy to promote his own beliefs.
I’m instinctively hostile to any kind of devotion. Certainty is my enemy. I’m all about doubt, questioning oneself and the nature of reality constantly.
If that sounds like something Christopher Hitchens might have said, don’t be surprised. Bourdain was a fan of Hitch’s and mourned his death in 2011:
Christopher Hitchens RIP. The world just got a helluva a lot dumber.
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) December 16, 2011
Donohue uses all of that to talk about how religion might have prevented Bourdain’s suicide:
If Anthony Bourdain had been a religious man, would he have killed himself? Probably not…
Bourdain was raised by his Catholic father and Jewish mother, though neither of them saw fit to raise him in any religion. In 2011, he said his views on religion were similar to those expressed by Christopher Hitchens, the British atheist. This is why the atheist organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation, was so proud of him.
As I have recounted in my book, The Catholic Advantage: How Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful, there is an inverse relationship between religiosity and suicide: those who are regular churchgoers have a much lower rate of suicide than atheists like Bourdain.
Donohue, as you’d expect, doesn’t understand what the data shows. Casting logic aside and believing in God will not cure an addiction or prevent suicide. Being part of a tight-knit community, having a social support network, and having people to turn to in times of need can help. For some people, religion provides that. But it’s not the only option. An atheist group, a sorority, a sports team, an improv group, etc. can all serve those purposes.
God would not have solved Bourdain’s problems, whatever they were. Let’s not forget that studies have also shown how increased religiosity leads to higher rates of suicide for LGBTQ people, and the same holds true in different parts of the world.
It’s typical for religious conservatives to use a national tragedy to promote their own agenda, but using a man’s suicide to plug your book while arguing that irrational thinking might have saved his life (without any indication of what he was going through) is a new low even for a man constantly scraping the bottom of a barrel.
Give it a few more minutes and I’m sure we’ll hear from other right-wingers saying Bourdain is burning in Hell.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Dennis for the link)