Friday, July 5, 2013

End-of-Week Commentary: Catholic Bishops' Fortnight for Freedom, DOMA and Future of the U.S.

At his Spiritual Politics blog, Mark Silk maintains that "[t]he USCCB ought to be embarrassed" about the bizarre sideshow into which the Fortnight for Freedom circuses degenerated under the one-man-show leadership of the bishops' religious freedom point man, Archbishop Lori. Silk notes that Lori has just released a statement on behalf of the USCCB, "Standing Together for Religious Freedom," which contains an odd assortment of signatories from the "right fringe of American Catholicism" as well as from "the usual suspects from the conservative evangelical world." Hardly any names outside those two circles, which continue to be energized to an astonishing extent by animosity towards the Obama administration disguised as piety, are represented on this document.

Anne Hendershott of the fringe-right Franciscan University of Steubenville is a signatory, and as I mentioned yesterday, appeared with Lori recently to roll out this document at a press conference. People like Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter, who is exceptionally cozy with the USCCB and its press director Sister Mary Ann Walsh, have now begun to recognize what a débacle the whole Fortnight for Freedom thing has been, and the entire faux religious liberty war vs. President Obama.

I wonder why it took them so long to recognize what many of us saw from the outset.

Via the Concerned Catholics of Montana website, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong responds to the recent SCOTUS ruling striking down DOMA. Spong notes,

It was interesting to listen to Tea Party members castigating the "liberal" decisions of the Supreme Court, whose majority was appointed by conservative Republican presidents: two by Ronald Reagan, one by George H.W. Bush and two by George W. Bush. On that court today also sit six Roman Catholic Justices, two of whom voted to recognize same-sex marriage. These reactions convinced me that the decision of the court was greater and more far-reaching than I had at first fully understood.

And he also states,

This was hardly the sweeping and courageous change that was shown by the Warren Court in 1954 with its 9-0 desegregation opinion in the case of Brown v. the Board of Education. When these decisions were announced, however, the immediate reality was and is that the right of people to marry whomever they love was established, and that this nation will be forever different. There will be no turning back. Surely within a brief span of time, no more than five years at most, the patchwork pattern these decisions have left will disappear and marriage equality will be universal in this country, yes, even in Texas and South Carolina. 

I wish I could be as sanguine as Bishop Spong is about the ineluctable acceptance of marriage equality even in states like Texas and South Carolina. Since I live in the bible belt, though, and have deep roots in it, I know my people and how bitterly unwilling they continue to be to accept the equal rights of the latest demeaned minority group--as bitterly resistant as they previously were (and, truth be told, continue to be) to accept the rights of people of color and women.

We don't go down without hard, destructive fights, we white Southerners. And if the price of those fights is to rend the fabric of the American Union all over again, then so be it. That's the attitude that prevails among many white Southerners at present, and it has grown stronger and more intractable under the first African-American president.

I personally think it will be a long time before we see the attempt to reverse the moral arc history re: LGBT people ceasing in the U.S. And I suspect we'll see some heart-breaking reversals in the near future, spearheaded by white Southerners and the GOP--which is to say, by the GOP, which is now virtually identical with the old Confederacy. Chuck Thompson may well be right: the American Union might simply have been better off without the states of the old Confederacy, which have historically been quite adroit at a politics of obstruction and destruction--of obstruction and destruction of the very democratic experiment that the nation came into being to foster, and which has been threatening to core values of Southern whites for, well, ever so long now.

I'm grateful to a valued reader of this blog for the link to Bishop Spong's statement.

No comments: