The Hill They Want To Die On

Apparently, for the Roman Catholic Church, it’s this:

Children who attend Catholic schools in the Madison Catholic Diocese will no longer be taking field trips to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery because the facility on the UW-Madison campus conducts research using embryonic stem cells.

The diocese announced its decision in a letter Thursday to principals and priests, saying the research runs counter to Catholic teaching on the sacredness of human life.

“Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison may no longer participate in any activities, workshops or field trips at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery,” wrote Michael Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic schools. “Any plans to do so should be halted immediately, and alternative, morally acceptable means of meeting the educational objectives should be utilized.”


The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery opened in 2010 as a public-private research center. It conducts research across disciplines, focusing on “the interfaces of computation, laboratory science, the humanities and entrepreneurship,” according to its website.

It houses the Morgridge Institute for Research, where renowned researcher James Thomson is director of regenerative biology. Thomson was the first scientist, in 1998, to grow human embryonic stem cells in a lab.

The diocesan investigation was triggered last spring by concerns from parents and priests, Lancaster said. While the research center offers many valuable educational programs that pose no moral or theological issues for Catholics, it also offers a workshop for middle and high school students in which they work with live human stem cells, he said.

“There is the possibility participants in this workshop may handle embryonic stem cells, which would clearly violate Catholic doctrine and teaching,” Lancaster said.

And clearly the possibility, the near occasion of sin, is enough to say fuck no to all science learning, and tell high school kids that their morals dictate that they live in the goddamn dark ages. That’s a GREAT way, btw, to make sure they stay interested in the church. That’s just a great way to not look like backwards-ass irrelevant fossils, guys. Way to fucking be.

You know, when I was growing up, this anti-science bent in Christianity was something my Catholic teachers mocked, like look, we’re not barefoot hicks in the woods handling snakes. But the abortion issue has so subsumed everything else the church could reasonably have an interest in or a position on, has so taken over as THE defining issue of the entire hierarchy, that it’s like every time it comes up people just glaze over.

The results aren’t pretty.


4 thoughts on “The Hill They Want To Die On

  1. They need something to rally the troops around and get money and asses into the church, and nothing quite angers people with more money than brains like abortions.

  2. As someone who works right across the street from the WID, has a WID researcher on her dissertation committee, and had a WID research track leader for an advisor for a year: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh dear christ this is hilarious. OH NO YOU MIGHT TOUCH SOMETHING THAT USED TO BE A FETUS.
    Except that everything they’re doing is derived from something like five professionally-curated existing cell lines and not scraped from the refuse bins over at Planned Parenthood, but those subtleties are, I’m sure, lost on men who don’t understand the difference between celibacy and the altar boys. [PS, Catholic Church: you want to opine on anyone else’s sex life, you should figure yours out first.]

  3. Ah, well, once again, the church thinks it still rules the world, when it’s actually becoming more and more irrelevant by the day.

  4. I was in Brazil once, in the northeastern city of Recife, which is both very old (founded a generation after Columbus bumped into Hispaniola) and quite poor. I walked by a big old cathedral dating back to the colonial era, facing a park where a lot of homeless people stay. And the church took the trouble to hang a big banner over their front door, on the side facing that park, that reads: “Diga Nao Ao Aborto”– say No to abortion.
    Apparently they think the biggest problem the denizens of the park have is that they may decide to terminate a pregnancy, in peril of their immortal souls– worse for them than wondering where their next meal is coming from.
    And the result of this sort of folly is that Brazilians are leaving the church in droves. Brazil used to be well over 90% Catholic, like most of Latin America. Now it’s more like 70%. Unfortunately they’ve often converted to holy roller denominations that are equally authoritarian and patriarchal…

Comments are closed.