Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Funders of Anti-Gay Amendment in North Carolina Revealed: Catholic Bishops and NOM Near Top of List

We can't have meaningful [Catholic] conversation with the public square when we pretend that who the leaders of our church are and how they behave has nothing to do with what Catholic identity means in the public square. 

And here's one among many reasons I make that assertion: as Peter Montgomery reports at Religion Dispatches, the funders for the drive to amend the constitution of the state of North Carolina to enshrine overt discrimination against a minority group in that state's constitution have just been made public.  And who tops that list?  In addition to major organizations of the evangelical religious right, the two Catholic dioceses of North Carolina are high on the list, with contributions of $50,000 each to the pro-amendment drive.  And the National Organization for Marriage, with its cozy ties to the Catholic hierarchy and the right-wing Catholic group Opus Dei, with a contribution of $302,589.52.

Because I know my people of the Southeast and how my people think, I'll be very surprised if this amendment fails at the ballot box next week.  Given any chance to do so, after all, my people have voted to enshrine in our judicial documents every kind of discrimination that comes down the pike at moments of American history when democratic impulses point in the opposite direction.

We passionately defended slavery when the rest of the civilized world began to discard that system.  We went to war to do so, quoting the bible all the way.

We passionately defended racial segregation when the rest of the civilized world began to recognize that legal racial segregation and democracy (not to mention mere human decency) are irreconcilable.  We threatened to divide the nation all over again over the issue of integration.  Quoting the bible all the way.

Ditto the question of women's rights.  Ditto quoting the bible all the way.

And now the question of rights for gay and lesbian human beings.  Another ditto and another ditto.

And right there in the middle of the ditto: the two Catholic bishops of North Carolina.  Actively promoting a crusade to bar a minority group from human rights.  Setting their state up for what has always happened when we Southern Christians have predictably taken the wrong side in historical debates about human rights: for eventual embarrassment when we finally have to admit that our passionate biblical defense of discrimination was simply irreconcilable with what the bible and the Christian tradition stand for at a core level.  And setting their state up for costly, self-defeating court cases that will squander money much needed by their state to provide education and public services to citizens.

Right there in the middle of the ditto are the two Catholic bishops of North Carolina, earning their millstone necklaces.  I wonder if it would make any difference to either Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte or Bishop Michael Burbidge, as they ally themselves with indefensible movements to rip rights from a targeted minority, if they themselves had gay family members?  Or if they gave any thought to the fact that many of those they are now targeting with their indefensible behavior do have brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers and other loved ones who are gay?

Perhaps not.  Perhaps it wouldn't make a bit of difference in the world to these men who do whatever Rome tells them to do, if they had close family members who were gay.

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