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Why the Church is against suicide

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4 24 24 Suicide Why the Church is against suicide

Over the course of 550 years — twice the whole history of the United States — the Inquisition was a major fundraising mechanism for the Catholic Church, thanks to its rule that it could immediately seize all the property of anyone who was accused of heresy.

Early in the Inquisition’s history, it was noted that people who feared to be accused would often commit suicide rather than face the torture chamber, thus depriving the Church of their property. So the Church declared that suicide was a mortal sin and the victim would be subjected in hell to eternal torture without any possibility of parole or pardon. It worked because people had enough imagination to think hell’s torments would be even worse than those of the inquisitors. Eventually, it was ruled legal for the Church to seize the property of self-killers or of those who pitied the dying enough to help them along, but this took a while to institute.

In time, laws against suicide were enacted in most Western countries and became part of the general culture because Protestant churches also came to see that keeping the terminally ill alive as long as possible could be a significant source of funds — as did, of course, the medical profession. Thus, ending one’s own life came to be generally viewed as a crime, even though the criminals could never be satisfactorily punished. Instead, the heirs were punished by the loss of their inheritance, a circumstance that could only lead to desperate choices between pity and greed on the part of those whose terminally ill relatives begged them for their final relief.

Suicide is still viewed as a crime by most religious traditions, and by Catholicism in particular. Those who assist in suicide are considered criminals also. Agonizing terminal illness is not viewed as an excuse.

To kill yourself to avoid pain has been generally derogated in Western culture, based primarily on this Catholic history of ecclesiastical greed. It is still one of the most unkind beliefs ever perpetrated, a rule of outstanding brutality that allows convicted murderers to be killed painlessly, but insists on unbearable moribund sufferings for law-abiding citizens. We take pity on our pet animals in their final hours, and release them from their pain by a simple, comfortable shot of barbiturate or sodium pentathol. Why can’t we — or our doctors — do the same for our suffering relatives or friends?

If we were truly civilized, the barbaric rules derived from the avarice of a barbaric religious tradition would have become obsolete long before now.

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2 Responses

  1. That is a person’s right to have assisted suicide or suicide no punishment in some after life ,of course there is no afterlife

  2. Denying a suffering person the right to choose for themselves whether they wish to continue living is indeed barbaric cruelty. There is no more personal decision that can be made than whether or not to go on living, and religion’s arrogation of the right to deny this choice is an outrageous theft of human autonomy and dignity. But then, that’s what religion specializes in.

    Power and money. Money and power. They’re at the root of everything religion is and does. What more effective way to accumulate as much as possible of both than to control every aspect of human life, including death? Make the rules, collect the cash, block all the exits.

    Of course, arguments against assisted suicide are sometimes made for reasons other than “displeasing god”. Most of these reasons are ultimately specious, but it is true that everything that can happen in human society is subject to abuse. It is unfortunately necessary in the realm of assisted suicide to ensure that certain guardrails are in place to try and prevent such abuse. These efforts will not be perfect, but as the saying goes, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Respecting human rights is good and compassion is good, and both are necessary. A compassionate society will not allow religious zealots and other self-appointed moralists to deny or excessively limit this fundamental right to ultimate self-determination.

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