Santorum's Wet Dream
Catholic Rick Santorum said that Catholic John F. Kennedy's statement about the separation of church and state made him feel like a bulimic schoolgirl. Do not fret Frothy! No need to vomit. Consider running for President of Ireland!

If Santorum ever had a wet dream, it would be Ireland. What is the opening line of the Irish Constitution? “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from whom is all authority and to whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred”. The Irish Constitution also says that, “The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God.”

Catholics are the largest religious group in Ireland. How large? How does 90% sound? There is a joke in Ireland. An Irish man says that he is Jewish, only to be asked “Yes, but are you a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew?”.

State funded schools are invariably Catholic in all but name. They are governed by boards chaired by the local Catholic bishop. The teaching of Catholic religion is central to the curriculum. Government agencies sometimes give cash to poor families to help cover the costs of First Holy Communion and Confirmation finery. Statues of and shrines to the virgin Mary dot the public landscape and no one makes a peep. Abortion is illegal. Divorce has been permitted since 1995, but remains a very difficult and drawn-out business that no one undertakes lightly.

To the degree that religious conservatives believe that America can scale the heights of greatness if and only if it will let God loose in the public square, Ireland would have to look an awful lot like the promised land.

Why, in Catholic Ireland, you even got to have your laundry done by slaves, just like in the Bible! Or you used to, until some busy-bodies put an end to the practice.

The Magdalen Laundries were workhouses in which many Irish women and girls were effectively imprisoned because they were perceived to be a threat to the moral fiber of society. Mandated by the Irish state beginning in the eighteenth century, they were operated by various orders of the Catholic Church until the last laundry closed in 1996.

Former inmates of Magdalene testified to continued sexual, psychological and physical abuse while being isolated from the outside world for an indefinite amount of time. It was a life of hard labor, enforced silence and prayer -- and no pay.

Who were these women? Prostitutes, unmarried mothers, mentally retarded women, and abused girls. Girls could be sent to the institution by different people – parish priests, Catholic curates, or family members. For example, young girls who were considered too promiscuous and flirtatious, or too beautiful, were sent to an asylum by their families.

No one knows how many women and girls were sent off to the laundries. The religious orders refuse to make those records available, but estimates range into the tens of thousands.

The church was the only authority under which these women were held. Their only crime was appearing to violate the moral code dictated by the church. There was no due process and no appeal.

Why laundries? By scrubbing, these were supposed to wash away their sins along with the stains on the laundry. Part of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin has been to accord a high status to virginity. Women who had had sex, within or without marriage, were regarded as unclean and as less than perfect. The nuns believed that through suffering and hard work in the laundries, for the greater glory of God, these women might find salvation in heaven.

The moral horror of the Magdalene Laundries is that the abuses they perpetrated were not the outgrowths of simple sadism, or even of unmindfulness, but of a belief that they were intended for the victims' own good. People who were otherwise neither insane nor stupid believed in literal hell fire, a torment that was physical and spiritual and went on for all eternity. If you really believed this, it could certainly be seen as an act of kindness to lock someone up, even for life, to subject her to humiliation and deprivation, if that would purge her sin and wash her as white as the sheets she scrubbed.

Catholic Rick Santorum says that Catholic John F. Kennedy's statement about the separation of church and state made him feel like vomiting. The status of women in Catholic Ireland? Rick Santorum's wet dream.

This is heavily edited from a number of sources and contains large chunks of unsourced quotes. A Google search will easily find them, and even more information about the Magdalene Laundries and other horrors of Catholic Ireland. However, one source is linked below. Its what prompted me to put this post together, and pointedly addresses the fact that the benefits of a religiously aligned state are overstated.
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