Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Catholic "Liberals" Continue to Go on Record with Sympathy for Kim Davis — But Not for Her Victims: Continuing to Assess the "Francis Effect"

As I've predicted in several previous postings about the Kim Davis case, Catholic "liberals" are now steadily going on record to express their sympathy for Kim Davis and their consternation that the mean gays are doing their usual bullying act with Christians who are sincere in their belief that the gays cannot and should not marry. I pointed you several days ago to the comments in this thread at Commonweal responding to Bethe Dufresne's statement about the Kim Davis story. Add to the list today Michael Sean Winter's "sympathetic" essay in National Catholic Reporter.

How did I know that leading Catholic "liberals" were going to take this tack? Because they always do so.

Because it is built into their DNA as Catholic thinkers and Catholic journalists defining (for the rest of us) what it means to be "liberal" and Catholic to bend over backwards and seek "accomodations" for the "religious freedom" of even the most outrageously bigoted and destructive Christians asserting their right to deny rights to LGBT people, even as these Catholic "liberals" simultaneously remind members of the LGBT community that Christanity and Catholicism are defined over against the humanity of those who are LGBT.

These are folks who have learned absolutely nothing about mercy and inclusion from the so-called "Francis effect." Their approach to the LGBT community remains after Francis precisely what it was before Francis: we Catholics over here, you LGBT folks over there. 

"Liberal" Catholics who would not dream of seeking "accomodations" for the "religious freedom" of those objecting to interracial marriage and defying Supreme Court rulings permitting interracial marriage now want us to find every way possible to "accomodate" the "religious freedom" of county clerks and others objecting to same-sex marriage.

Because, evidently, there's some fundamental difference here: there's a fundamental difference between denying people the right to marry across racial lines, and denying people of the same sex the right to marry. One denial is more deeply rooted in biblical texts and Christian orthodoxy, we're given to imagine — this despite the fact that the ban against miscegenation was driven for centuries by biblical texts, and despite the fact that, in sentencing Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter to prison in 1958, Virginia judge Leon Bazile cited an explicitly theological argument for doing so, noting that, after having created the various races, Almighty God had placed them on separate continents because He intended for them to be kept separate.

You know what you can't expect to hear — ever — when Catholic "liberals" express their large sympathy for folks like Kim Davis? What you can expect never to hear is any peep of sympathy for the human beings she and others attack, denigrate, harm by their bigotry and their denial of rights in the name of God. Like Kim Davis (for whom I of course have sympathy: I did not want her to be jailed, though I think she left the court hardly any other option), each LGBT person to whom she and others deny human rights in the name of their God has a rich, complex human life.

Those rich, complex human lives are made vastly more difficult by the bible-based bigotry of the Kim Davises of the world. That bigotry inspires people to jeer and flaunt signs about Sodom and Gomorrah at them as they leave courthouses with tears in their eyes, having been told one more time that, no, this courthouse will not honor the recent Supreme Court ruling permitting you to marry. That bigotry inspires people to seek to block their right to goods and services denied to every other citizen of the U.S., as those denying these goods and services cite the bible as a justification for discrimination.

That bigotry results in self-hatred among LGBT young people who have dinned into them a persistent, ugly message that they were made by God second-class human beings and should accept that they are second-class citizens. "Accommodation" needs to be made for bigotry insofar as bigotry masquerades as bible — but accomodation cannot and should not be made, especially in the churches, for these LGBT youth. Because being LGBT is the opposite of what it means to be Christian . . . .

Along with Rachel Held Evans, I'm sick of this behavior on the part of Christians, and on the part of members of my Catholic community who profess to define what it means to be Catholic (and Catholic and liberal) for the rest of us. I'm sick of the taken-for-granted script on which the clamor for "accomodations" for Kim Davis (but no accomodations for her LGBT victims) rests, the script which implies that the voices and lives of those who are gay and harmed by religion-based bigotry demand no attention, no hearing at all, in Catholic conversations.

While every expression of sympathy possible is supposed to be reserved for Kim Davis, and Christian bakers who cannot possibly bake cakes for gay couples, and Christian florists whose flowers cannot possibly appear at weddings of gay couples . . . .

If all of this gives me the loud, clear message that I am not welcome in the Catholic community, despite the pope's talk of mercy — and it does do that; it makes me sick to the marrow of my bones as I think about my Catholic community, as a matter of fact — then I wonder what message it gives to young LGBT Catholics and people who love them? Why are people walking away from the Catholic church in droves, particularly young people, despite the "Francis effect"?

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