Russian Orthodox Church Also Wants People to Die

A lot of people have written about the
pope’s remarks about
about condoms in Africa and AIDS. Comments that, if heeded, will cause
the death of hundreds or thousands of people.

But Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheist
points out
that the Russian Orthodox church, in which I was raised,
agrees with the pope
(original in Russian

“It is incorrect to consider condoms as a panacea for AIDS,” the deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told a round table in Moscow on Friday, commenting on the international row concerned with the pope’s statement in Africa.

AIDS can be prevented not by contraceptives but by education and a righteous life, the priest said.

“If a person lives a sinful, aimless and senseless life, uses drugs and is lewd, some disease will kill him one day, neither a condom nor medicine will save him,” Fr. Vsevolod added.

This is typical of the black-and-white, all-or-nothing attitude one
sees so often in religion. Condoms aren’t a total solution, therefore
they shouldn’t be used at all.

Well, guess what? We don’t live in an ideal world. In the real world,
people do have sex with multiple partners, do share needles when
taking illegal drugs, do engage in all manner of unhealthy behavior,
and condoms are a cheap and effective way of reducing the
number of people who die of sexually-transmitted diseases.

BTW, there’s a missing final paragraph in the English version of the
story above. My translation:

“For the most part,” he
opines, “the spread of AIDS can be stopped only by
the moral growth of society, and not through the use of condoms,
single-use needles, or new medical treatments.”

I don’t particularly enjoy wearing a seat belt when I drive. But until
we manage to figure out how to prevent accidents altogether, they help
reduce the number of fatalities. What the Catholic and Orthodox
churches are saying is analogous to saying that people should learn to
drive better instead of wearing seat belts.

There is no total solution. But there are things we can do that help.
As a sysadmin, I run into this all the time. The perfect is the enemy
of the good. All too often, there is no ideal solution, and we have to
settle for something that merely leaves us better than before.

One thought on “Russian Orthodox Church Also Wants People to Die

  1. They don’t want people to die. They just don’t understand (in part willfully) the science and refuse to accept the consequences. That doesn’t absolve them of complicity in AIDS-related deaths, in my opinion, but more clearly understanding the reasons for their statements makes it easier to counter them.

    Father Vsevolod doesn’t want people to die for living sinfully, but he believes that this is what will happen if they don’t shape up. In his mind, because illness is a result of sin, then wearing condoms will not prevent illness. They have to stop sinning to avoid illness, by his logic. The fundamental problem isn’t that the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox hierarchy are a bunch of sexually repressed jerks who want people to die. The fundamental problem is that they have their heads so far up their own read ends that they cannot see how wrong they are.

    You’d think that so many years after the germ theory of disease was proven that we wouldn’t still be fighting this battle. But we are. Too many people still think disease is a result of sin (it’s not, and even Jesus didn’t think so), or a result of pH imbalance in the blood, or an undetectable liver fluke (cf. Hulda Clarke), or imperceptible kinks in a person’s spine, or “blocked qi”, or any of a huge number of other pseudoscientific things. What makes these major religious organizations more dangerous than the quacks is their wide reach and the level of respect they enjoy, so their quackery is more likely to be believed.

    Indeed, it is important to know that these people have good intentions, because that makes them more dangerous. They honestly believe that condoms won’t prevent AIDS, but that living what they consider to be a godly life will. That is why they are so vocal. They believe they need to spread this message in order to save lives. They feel they need to spread their pseudoscientific rubbish in order to prevent massive death tolls. That is why they will not wait. They feel their mission is too urgent, because they don’t want people to die, and they believe people will die if they just do what science says they ought to. That irony is what makes it all so tragic.

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