Instagram Religion

Know your angles and build your cult

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As Democrats fight down to the wire to save America and Republicans divest themselves of the last tattered shreds of decency it’s important to take a brief moment and really investigate what got us to this point and the role religion played in it.

Unless multiple Republicans have a sudden attack of morality and either withhold their votes or refuse to confirm Amy Coney Barrett she will be sworn in at the White House after the vote. Said proposed ceremony is said to have all the safeties imposed at the Rose Garden event where her nomination was announced and COVID-19 was apparently included in the swag bag.

But then, Rush Limbaugh is dying of lung cancer after taunting and publicly mocking women who could not receive care for ovarian cancer, so I suppose God has a sense of humour. I would however, like to politely implore the almighty to hurry it up.

As I’ve covered previously with varying levels of flippancy, Amy Coney Barrett has falsely claimed to be religious and specifically Catholic. In general, and Barrett is really a prime example of this people who are irreligious tend to insist loudly and repeatedly that they are actually terribly faithful and that their religion informs their actions and is why they just have to do the terrible thing because it’s not for them, no no, even though it does bring them great profit and prestige, no, it’s not THEIR will, it’s GOD’s will.

Barrett has put on the trappings of a faithful woman just like any other white supremacist would, but the reason she has to continually remind people that she’s Catholic is because she isn’t actually a faithful Catholic. I have no doubt that any given Sunday you will find Amy in the front row of Church joylessly murmuring half remembered hymns. But I do doubt you’ll find her in the confessionals.

It’s simple. People can see you in Mass, but confessions are meant to be private. Barrett’s relationship with faith is the same as her relationship with money. It’s contractual and performative. She doesn’t believe and she isn’t looking for Grace because that isn’t useful to her in the secular world. She is performing religion and to cop a phrase from Al Yankovic showing you she’s “a million times as humble as thou art.” Religion to her and to people like her is not meant for one’s internal or spiritual being but for outward display. Religion is only as useful as what it can buy her.

I’ve started calling this kind of performative religion “Instagram religion,” which I personally think is super funny, but also feel a bit bad about because Instagram doesn’t deserve to be associated with quite that level of performativity, vapidity, and blatant consumerism.

Basically, I’m saying that if the Trump Administration is the Fyre Festival then Barrett is Kendall Jenner. Or rather she would be if Kendall Jenner had some diabolical plan to lock up all the attendees and feed them a diet of only that weird diarrhoea tea her family’s always promoting.

The problem with power is not that it corrupts so much as it reveals. And so it’s not unsurprising that irreligious people like Barrett often find themselves justifying horrible actions taken in the name of religion in order to preserve religious power and justify their own position. Within the Catholic Church rape, including but not exclusively rape of children has been routinely enabled and ignored. Many sects of Christianity including Catholicism will punish women for being the victims of abuse and protect their abusers simply because the abuser is male and thereby higher up in the hierarchy. These are deeply hypocritical actions and in conflict with the teachings of the Bible, but they preserve the power of an established hierarchy within the Church and therefore they are allowed to remain.

Once in power it is likely that Barrett will use her position to deny human and civil rights to millions of Americans. Her decisions could lead to a repeal of healthcare and will probably result in women’s healthcare and protections being stripped back. She is a danger to the civil rights of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ individuals, and for several of these groups she endangers their very lives. In no part of the Bible is Barrett’s belief system justified. She may misquote problematic passages to justify her actions, but the general message of no part of the Bible supports her. She is just using religion to gain power and to help evil people like Trump remain in power.

In actual fact there’s a rather important passage of the Bible that appears right before the “Lord’s Prayer” which denounces exactly what Barrett is doing. Allow me to drop some biblical knowledge on you:

1 Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

— Matthew 6:1–8

The next five verses are literally the “Our Father,” aka the most important prayer in all of Catholicism. This is a super important passage and is why I wore my crucifix under my clothes both literally and figuratively for most of my life. But we’ve seen Barrett do exactly the opposite of the very clear directives in this passage pretty much routinely.

And possibly the worst example of Barrett being incredibly irreligious whilst trying to virtue signal was her use of her Black children during the hearings. Ibram X. Kendi argued it better than I ever could because that is his job and then was promptly asked to leave his post. You know. For doing his job. The man did his job well, so they told him to leave. Anyways, buy his book.

Other passages in the Bible do suggest that as annoyed as I am with Barrett God will deal with her and I need not. But with that said, I take deep offense at her prostituting my religion and I take even deeper offense at the idea that she could do serious damage to innocent people all to satisfy her own pride and that of her Republican keepers. I pray, actually and genuinely pray that she won’t be confirmed. But very soon I will likely have to pray for her impeachment.

Edit: Predictably and unfortunately Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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