Monday, May 18, 2015

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Most Homophobic of Them All? Catholic Leaders Continue Giving Impression That Catholics Are Uniquely Hostile to Gays

1. Here's one reason (among many) that Americans perceive the Catholic church as the most unwelcoming of all religious communities to LGBT people: as Timothy Kincaid writes in a report this morning about the decision this weekend of the United Protestant Church of France to permit pastors to bless same-sex marriage,

More and more the vocal opposition [to marriage equality] has narrowed until it appears that the single global voice consistently falling on the side of exclusion and rejection is the Catholic Church or, more accurately, the Catholic hierarchy and their conservative Catholic supporters (lay Catholics in the US and in "Catholic countries" are often largely supportive of equality). . . . The take-away is that irrespective of local parish support, the Catholic Church’s power structure remains hostile and rejecting.

2. Here's the message that leaders of Catholic institutions appear determined to continue providing about their church to the rest of the world: 

A New Jersey priest was fired from his job at a Catholic university over a Facebook post supporting same-sex marriage, he claimed in a tweet
"I’ve been fired from SHU for posting a pic on FB supporting LGBT 'NO H8,'" Rev. Warren Hall, who until this week was the director of Seton Hall University's campus ministry, tweeted on Friday. "I'm sorry it was met with this response. I'll miss my work here."

3. The data about attitudes towards same-sex marriage in the U.S. by religious affiliation are, of course, more complex: as a PRRI survey found last month, white evangelical Protestants (and Mormons) are actually far and away the religious groups most opposed to marriage equality in the U.S., while lay Catholics are among the religious groups most strongly supporting marriage equality.

The graphic above is by Dylan Petrohilos of Think Progress and is a chart of the findings of the PRRI survey I have just linked.

4. This complexity (and irony) are illustrated in a striking way in what is happening in Ireland right now: as Henry McDonald reports yesterday for The Guardian,

While liberal Roman Catholic priests and nuns are defying their bishops to urge a yes vote on Friday, religious leaders in the evangelical Christian community are now placing their congregations on the frontline of the battle to persuade Ireland to say no.

McDonald notes that Paddy Monaghan, a lay Catholic anti-gay leader in Dublin, has created a coalition that draws together "dozens of African-dominated evangelical/Pentecostal churches" in Ireland determined to score a victory for the "no" side in the Irish referendum on marriage.

5. This strategy mimics the longstanding strategy of the U.S. anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage, as it seeks to pit people of color and the gay community against each other — and as it also now seeks to internationalize its anti-gay activities and export American-style hatred of gay people to other places in the world. The strategy underscores for us all over again that NOM and other U.S. groups of its ilk are heavily involved behind the scenes in advising (and, I have little doubt, in funding) the anti-marriage-equality movement in Ireland right now.

6. As HBO's VICE is now reminding us, the movement to export American style hatred of those who are gay to parts of Africa has been spearheaded in a very direct way by some leading right-wing American evangelicals with powerful political allies in D.C.

7. And so it's a misperception to depict "Protestants" as defenders of gay rights and "Catholics" as opponents of gay rights, both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

8. But since perception is, in its own way, reality, then it must also be noted that the behavior of one Catholic institution after another these days in singling out LGBT employees for discriminatory treatment, and the unrelenting attacks of the Catholic hierarchy on gay people and their human rights, will continue to givee many people the impression that the Catholic church is the religious institution most opposed to gay people and gay rights around the world.

9. If the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church want that perception to shift, then they need to stop — yesterday rather than tomorrow — doing things like #2 above. Or, as Timothy Kincaid reminds us as he makes his case for the Catholic church as the most anti-gay church around, when Peter Jugis, the Catholic bishop of Charlotte, recently forced a Catholic parish in Charlotte to cancel a PFLAG presentation by Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Baptist church in Charlotte stepped in and offered Sister Jeannine a place to give her presentation.

10. Thus demonstrating, many people conclude — contra the strong evidence that lay Catholics are among the strongest supporters of gay rights in the U.S. and white evangelicals the strongest opponents — that the Catholic church is conspicuously unfriendly towards those God has made gay . . . .

The graph at the head of the posting is from the PRRI survey in February 2014 linked in the first link in this postsing.

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