Why people can have trouble taking Andrew Sullivan seriously

Because between passing on valuable information about what's happening in Iran or Haiti, and offering his analysis of the hypocrisy that plagues conservatives/politicians/religions, he posts juvenile jokes like this. The headline is "How Gay Is the Catholic Priesthood?" And the answer, via Buzzfeed, is a link to an "Amazon page where priests can buy communion wafers." It's revealing, you see, because supposedly the people buying these wafers also frequently buy small bottles of Astroglide Personal Lubricant.Now, to find this revealing, you'd have to assume an awful lot. First of all, that priests buy their communion wafers on Amazon.com. Second, that only priests -- not non-Catholic ministers or pranksters -- would be buying communion wafers on Amazon. Third, that this is a legitimate product, and one that priests would buy for saying Mass -- which seems unlikely to me, since (for one thing) it's listed under "books." And fourth, that these results are simply happenstance, and not the result of a targeted prank. That also seems unlikely to me, considering that one of the two "customer images" of the product shows a bowl of dip (hummus, maybe?) surrounded by a ring of "communion wafers," and most of the product reviews are jokes. (Did you know that posting joke reviews of ludicrous products available on Amazon.com is a thing that people do for fun? It is often very funny!) You'd also probably want to ignore the fact that the link provided by Buzzfeed includes their kickback tag -- that is, they're directing you to Amazon in a way that ensures they'll profit from whatever you go on to buy. (We do that too -- if you follow a link from one of our book reviews, for example.) In other words, you'd have to neglect to do much critical thinking to pass this on as a genuine clue to the secret lives of priests. Or else you'd have to think the "joke" (Ha ha, priests have so much gay sex!) is hilarious enough that it doesn't matter how you get there. Either way, something for Sullivan to think about the next time he's hoping to convince other people of faith to respect him as a voice of reason when it comes to religious affairs, especially the relationship between religion and homosexuality.

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal.

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