Monday, July 20, 2015

"You Can't Say You Love Someone . . . and Then Disagree with a Positive Movement for Their Civil Rights": Continued Discrimination Against LGBT People in Catholic Institutions and the False 'Love the Sinner' Meme

Colin Israel writes an open letter to an uncle who informs Colin that he loves him, but cannot accept the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision due to church teachings. Colin's response zeroes in on the falsity, the self-delusion, of claiming that you love someone when you oppose the extension of rights to them:

You can't say you love someone (which assumes you want the best for them) and then disagree with a positive movement for their civil rights.

Colin spells out what that statement means in the following powerful truth-telling analysis:

Whatever the genuine, faith-based intentions of the church have been over the last five decades, their actions through anti-gay marriage campaigning and legislation have been inarguably prohibitive, discriminatory, and scathing to the American gay community. 
During the decades in which churches have claimed to uphold a "standard" by campaigning and asserting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman (even regardless of sexual persuasion), countless gay men, women, and couples have been shut out and left federally unrecognized. They've paid higher taxes than married couples with comparable assets, have been denied medical benefits, willfully withheld from visiting their partners in the hospital due to the fact that they aren't "family," and experienced countless inequalities on a consistent and massive scale. 
Furthermore, the gay community has suffered an extraordinary amount of persecution and violence towards them in a country that bears responsibility for as much by consistently denying gays rights and, therefore, basic human value. Compounding that violence, churches have passionately preached and characterized gay folk as harmful, synonymous with pedophiles, and in danger of hell no matter what their personal actions demonstrate. Lastly, churches have ruthlessly preached the fearful ideology that legalizing gay marriage will rob America of its morals and values and fundamentally compromise the American family structure. . . .

You can't say you love someone (which assumes you want the best for them) and then disagree with a positive movement for their civil rights. But this is precisely where the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church in the U.S. have placed themselves with regard to those who are LGBT, and where many lay Catholics who defend those pastoral leaders have chosen to situate themselves as well. Meanwhile, exceptionally ugly acts of discrimination against LGBT human beings continue to roll forth from Catholic institutions.

As the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Advocate reported several days ago, on 10 July Tim Ardillo was denied communion at his mother's funeral at St. Helena Catholic church in Amite, Louisiana. His mother's obituary had stated that he is married to another man.

The Sunday after this happened, the parish bulletin included an insert with a passage from 1 Corinthians highlighted in red ink, about eating and drinking the bread and cup of the Lord unworthily. Read the long thread of comments responding to the article, and you'll see one "loving" Catholic after another defending the ugly discriminatory treatment dished out to Ardillo at his mother's funeral, with statements that priests should single sinners out and banish them from the communion line.

Though these same Catholics would, I have no doubt at all, be horrified to see parish priests begin to single out any other kinds of sinners (including themselves) for this kind of demeaning treatment as they approach the eucharisitc table . . . . For many Catholics right now, the perceived sin of those who are gay and self-affirming stands out in some unique way as the embodiment of all sin, and they are, it appears, oblivious to the fact that singling out a group of human beings in this public way, particularly one long discriminated against, violates the most elementary principles of justice — principles they'd be appalled to see the church violate in their case, if they were told to leave the communion line because they're married and contracepting, or divorced and remarried, or living together without being married, or lending money at exorbitant rates of interest, supporting political leaders who are overtly racist, waging war and helping make war materiel, polluting the environment, etc.

It's just the gays who get singled out in this ugly, discriminatory way within Catholic communities. It's unheard of for a parish priest to rip a verse from the bible, slap it down in the middle of a parish bulletin with red highlighting, and aim that verse at any other group of human beings. There would be widespread outrage in the Catholic community if this abusive treatment were dished out to other groups of Catholics.

As Eliel Cruz writes at Religion Dispatches today about his reason for no longer attending his Seventh Day Adventist church now that he has come out as openly bisexual,

The sermons are preached as if LGBT people don’t exist, as if we’re just theoretical ideas, as if we weren’t sitting in the pews. The sermon will call sex between people of the same gender an abomination and that’ll be the end of it. 
Just gay sex.

And as Tim Ardillo is singled out for public humiliation at the communion rail during his mother's funeral in Louisiana, a much-loved teacher in a Catholic school in Pennsylvania, Margie Winters of Waldron Mercy Academy, was fired after having married Andrea Vettori in 2007. An act that the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, is, of course, defending, even as he and Waldron Mercy claim that he had no involvement in the decision to fire Winters . . . .

Here's Mike Newall at the Philadelphia Inquirer on Chaput's response to Winters' firing:

Then there's Chaput. And what he's saying is that firing a person for being true to themselves is a move rich in character - Catholic character. That gay Catholics of strong faith should not be afforded the same dignity as straight Catholics. That Margie Winters should have been fired from her job - removed from a school where she was a linchpin for years, where she has touched the lives of so many students as religious director and as outreach director. 
Where, according to school parent Shivanee Raj, who has a son and a daughter at Waldron Mercy and another daughter who graduated, Winters has every day "lived and breathed" the school's message of reaching out to everyone in society through charity and good works. 
"What kind of message are we sending to our kids?" Raj asked.

Once again: heterosexual employees of Catholic institutions who do not toe the church's moral line with regard to contraception (or even with regard to divorce and remarriage) are not being singled out for demeaning, discriminatory treatment in a similar way. These vendettas are directly solely at LGBT Catholics.

And they radically undercut the claim of the institution engaging in such behavior to be acting in love towards LGBT people, just as they undercut the claim of the many fence-sitting Catholics in the mushy middle who refuse to stand in solidarity with their LGBT brothers and sisters that what they're all about is love towards these brothers and sisters.

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