Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is Ivana Bacik more God-obsessed than Saint Francis?

I can't claim to have followed her exploits religiously (so to speak), but the Labour Senator who describes herself as "the only card-carrying atheist" in the Oireachtais generally seems to pop up in campaigns that have some religious (or rather anti-religious) relevance to them.

Whether it's abortion, Dermot Ahern's blasphemous libel bill (for which religious people seemed to show little or no enthusiasm), the closure of the Vatican embassy (she tweeted triumphantly when a motion to re-open it was defeated at the Labour party conference), or her private member's bill reported in today's Irish Times, there seems to be a common theme (so far as I can see) to all Senator Bacik's political interests:

THE GOVERNMENT is expected to agree today to back legislation giving humanists the same status as organised religions and civil registrars in conducting marriage ceremonies....

The legislation was introduced in the Seanad as a Private Members’ Bill by Trinity College Senator Ivana Bacik and is due to pass final stages in the Upper House tomorrow.

I think everybody knows, deep down, that all marriage-- civil or otherwise-- is either a pastiche or a parody of a religious ceremony. And in our Western society, Christian marriage is the gold standard of marriage, acknowledged or unacknowledged. I don't mean any disrespect to other religious traditions when I say that, or to suggest that two humanists can't be faithful and loving and committed. But Christian marriage is the paradigm.

But what I find interesting in this story is the role of Senator Bacik. Surely this level of preoccupation with all things that touch on religion, in a card-carrying atheist, is the very definition of "reactionary?" And doesn't she seem more and more representative of the Irish Labour Party, who once upon a time (or so the story goes) were described as "the political wing of the St. Vincent de Paul"?

Judging by her performance in non-Seanad elections, the Irish people don't seem to share her priorities-- just yet. But given a few years' more propaganda by the greater part of the Irish media (who seem to have much more of an appetite for Senator Bacik than the electorate), who knows?

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