On the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, harsh criticism of Pope Francis by the likes of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh has encouraged progressive Christians and even some atheists to get on the Pope Francis bandwagon. While people can find biblical support to justify any position, some positions are more tenuous than others. That’s why I’m amused by Religious Right arguments for why Jesus, unlike Francis, is an economic conservative who deplores redistribution of wealth. In making a case that Pope Francis is promoting sin, Lance Pritchett in Bloomberg Opinion justifies his economically conservative point of view with the 10th Commandment from Exodus 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, slaves, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Even if I were a biblical literalist, I’d try to ignore passages that condone slavery and regard wives as property just like donkeys. And isn’t “coveting” the engine that drives capitalism?
Unfortunately, just as I was feeling more warmly disposed toward Pope Francis, he had to go and burst my bubble with a statement reminiscent of his predecessors. In arecent homily Pope Francis said, “The spirit of curiosity generates confusion and distances a person from the Spirit of wisdom, which brings peace.” He added that “the spirit of curiosity is not a good spirit” because it distances oneself from God. The Pope has a point, at least in my case. Curiosity really did distance me from god belief, and I’m far from alone. Curiosity has turned many religious believers into nonbelievers.