If I have a religion at all, I am a Quaker, I suppose - and as such, belong to a long tradition of social conscience, independence, good works, and abhorrence of spiritual authority. Indulge me, then, in a few moments' good old-fashioned polemic.
Now, I do not hate the Catholic Church, and I do not think that it is uniformly a bad thing. But I cannot condone dogma, or inflexible assumptions; and I cannot accept received truth.
My dislike, my pity, my contempt, is not based on policy, nor on theology, nor on dogma, nor on social effects. It is not because they oppose measures that save lives and avert epidemics, nor because they institutionalize very restricted social norms, nor because they condone and cover up misdeeds in their own ministry.
It is because they are, in essence and of necessity, the enemy of progress and the common good - implacably opposed to any kind of sensible error-checking mechanism, devoid of humility or of intellectual integrity, cowering inside their own sophist's house of cards, a small, sad structure of cold, uncompromising logic built in a vain effort to hide from the messy, confusing, wonderful, ambiguous world where actions have real human consequences.
You're wise and infallible, you say? And how are we to know this? Ah, yes, it's because you, being wise and infallible, told us so. And if we still doubt, you refer us to your interpretation of a two-thousand-year-old document of dubious provenance and unknown reliability, which can be read as a history, a parable, a metaphor, a work of fiction, or as the drug-inspired ramblings of a series of semi-literate peasants, at your pleasure. And if we're willing to accept the stigma of plebeian tastes and abilities, we can even read it in our own language.
It's a wonderful story, it's a compelling tale, but claiming moral and spiritual authority on the basis of that is laughable. As for being told to have faith and not to question - tsk. Questioning is what we do, it's how our civilization developed to the point it did.
Thank you for listening, ladies & gentlemen. This will almost certainly not appear in the exam.