Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Virginia Foxx as a Representative of Catholic Values: Porcine Moral Reasoning

In a posting several days ago (here), I noted that when I look at the gap between what George W. Bush did in setting a system of torture in place, and what the United Methodist Church teaches about issues of justice and peace, I am deeply troubled. I also noted the discrepancy between what the United Methodist Church teaches about homophobia and heterosexism, and the behavior of some of its own institutions and members.

I ended that posting by noting that as I call on my Methodist brothers and sisters to hold their co-religionists accountable for the gap between their rhetoric and the reality of many Methodist lives, I also pledge myself to hold my Catholic brothers and sisters similarly accountable.

This posting is about Catholic accountability. Today on the floor of the U.S. House, North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx, a Catholic, stated that the claim that Matthew Shepard was killed because he was gay is a "hoax" (here).

Catholic mother and grandmother Virginia Foxx made this statement while Matthew Shepard's mother sat in the House gallery listening. As Michael Rowe notes in the Huffington Post article to which I have just linked,

I'd like to imagine the feelings of Judy Shepard as the hate crimes bill named after her murdered son passed the House in the presence of the woman whose contribution to the passage of that law was to attempt to besmirch his memory with ugly distortions.

But judging by Congresswoman Foxx's preposterous comments earlier in the day, I doubt she felt much besides a peevish sense that her side lost one more battle in what they like to call "the culture war." I rather suspect that calling bigotry and hate by their proper names is still news in Mrs. Foxx's private, personal, dark corner of North Carolina, where it's clearly still a cold October night in Laramie in 1998.

Virginia Foxx exemplifies what the American Catholic tradition has become in its most "morally porcine" variants, to use another of Rowe's phrases: willing to lie in order to defend "moral" points; eager to defend hate and violence when these are practiced against our "enemies"; and gleefully capable of claiming to defend family values while attacking someone else's children, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles.

It matters to me that Virginia Foxx is Catholic, and, as a Catholic, is capable of making such an atrociously false and morally obtuse statement about Matthew Shepard's murder. It matters even more that she defends hate while claiming to represent my religious community and its values. In just about every way I can think of, Virginia Foxx's consistent defense of big business and militarism, and her attacks on gay and lesbian persons, represent the antithesis of authentic Catholic values.