Organised religions often do things that make me raise my eyebrows or shake my head in disbelief. Once in a while they do something that has me rolling on the floor laughing.
The Catholic Church just did one of those things.
I'll look for a more permanent link because Yahoo news links disappear after a while.
Edit: a more stable source, I think.
The gist of it is this: The Catholics have just made up a whole slew of new mortal sins. They don't even pretend to have received these from God. All these new sins are things the Catholic Church doesn't like. Drugs, genetic experimentation, pollution and so on. They include 'excessive wealth' as a sin.
That's where I lost it. I laughed until it hurt.
The Catholic Church condemns excessive wealth as a sin. One of the richest organisations on the planet. The organisation that has just accepted Tony Blair, whose income can only be described as obscene. Is he going to give it all away? Excuse me, I feel another bout of mirth coming on.
It gets better.
The only way to avoid the fiery lakes is to confess all to a priest, who will decide whether you can be forgiven. Again, God doesn't get a say in this. It's up to a man in a dress to decide whether you float on clouds or burning sulphur when you die.
Now, I've never been religiously inclined, but it's always been my understanding that, in most religions, God doesn't delegate. If he says you burn, then you burn. The administrators of his work don't have executive power. Even the Pope doesn't have final say. Watch out guys, the Boss might be around here somewhere.
Does this list of new sins sway me towards a religious life? Well, I haven't committed any of them although I'd quite like to try out the 'excessive wealth' one. Not permanently, of course. Only until I die.
All the same, adding random new restrictions to life isn't going to win any converts. Neither is the obvious implication that the members of this church are going to be subjected to new and changing rules on the whim of their leaders, at any time and for no reason. It definitely puts me off ever joining Catholicism and it's going to make any current Catholic wonder for a moment.
Where does God come into it? In this case, he doesn't. None of this makes even a pretence at being 'the word of God'. It's the prejudices of man, nothing more. Nobody is going to rush out and join a religion that does things like this.
In fact, it's going to make their existing congregations think 'Well, if they've just made up this part of it...'