Archive for the ‘Hate Speech’ Category

As I watched the Grammy broadcast the other night, I thought it was a pretty entertaining and overall not very offensive.  Then came Nicki Minaj… Her performance (pre-recorded and live) was disturbing and disrespectful.  From the opening scene with her acting quite odd in a mock confessional, it was obvious we were headed downhill.  Then came a prerecorded clip called the Exorcism of Roman that had a mother asking a priest for help with her son.  “He’s not right”, she says.  The priest goes upstairs and is confronted by Nicki, who quickly scurries up a wall to the ceiling.  Very disturbing.  Then the live show started again.  The stage was made to look like a Catholic church or cathedral and soon was full of dancers dressed like everything from altar boys to even a Pope or Cardinal.  As a they portray an exorcism, scantily clad dancers perform ‘lap dances’ for kneeling altar boys.  The confusing mixture of symbolism was unsettling.  It ends with an apparent unsuccessful exorcism as Ms. Minaj still ‘floated’ high off the ground.

Now let’s set the record straight… I understand some will insist this is just an example of artistic expression and no big deal.  Well, I disagree.  There has been a growing trend over the past few decades of more and more negative portrayal of the Catholic Church in the entertainment business.  I feel much of it is hate-driven and intended to hurt.  Many will justify this by making uneducated statements regarding priests being pedophiles.  Yes, a very small percentage (less than one percent) were found to be involved in this inexcusable behaviour.  I understand the Church mishandled the situation, but remember the Church is made up of humans and humans make mistakes.  Yes the guilty parties should have been handled in a more appropriate manner (like turning them over to the police right away), but it happened and we can only move forward and put as many controls in place to see this is not repeated.  However, for people to make the awful equation ‘priest=pedophile’ is just as wrong of a stereotype as saying all Irish are drunks (I deliberately used a lesser example because I can’t even bring myself to type out many of the other that are out there).  Stereotypes lead to prejudice and that is unacceptable.

The way the Catholic Church is portrayed in the entertainment business is a terrifying trend.  When our children’s pop heroes or favorite movies portray the Catholic Church in this manner, it can certainly impact impressionable minds.  Beyond that, it’s just plain hateful.  In a day when sterotypes against other faiths, races and sexual orientation are rightfully fought against, why is okay and ‘hip’ to bash Catholics?  I’ll tell you why… because it’s still entertaining to feed Christians (in this case Catholics) to the lions.  Sad but true…

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We’ve all heard a lot about the importance of the “Separation of Church and State” lately due to the Cranston prayer banner controversy.  I had a very hard time accepting the ruling passed down in the case for two reasons.  First, the “Separation of Church and State” does not appear anywhere in our constitution and second, if it did this particular case seemed extremely weak.  However, the more I educated myself on the matter, I came to see that precedence has been set dating back to Thomas Jefferson that indicates this was the spirit of the First Amendment.  As I researched more, I learned of the importance this concept has to the Anti-Defamation League and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, as well as to Atheists.  I guess since it seemed like I had only heard the term used when someone was trying to suppress something Christian in nature, I was blinded to its importance.  Unfortunately, there have been so many petty and hate-fueled cases that the issue has become blurred.

Yes, I’ve used some strong words here… “petty and hate-fueled”.  I use these terms because recent cases like the Jessica Ahlquist case are not about “The State” forcing anyone to follow a belief or recite a prayer.  For that matter, no “State” funding is involved either.  That’s why I feel that particular case is “petty”.  Particularly when the plaintiff herself states she hadn’t given the matter any thought until someone else brought it to her attention.  There are many other reasons you could call it petty; the fact it is a mostly secular verse, the fact it’s hung unchallenged for decades, etc… However, former precedence has stated that even a prayer or piece of religious art which is secular in nature, it should not be hung in a school.  So be it.

Hate-fueled may seem like very strong language to describe the Jessica Ahlquist case or others that the Atheist movement have backed, but all you need to do is go to her site (http://jessicaahlquist.com/) and read her post on the recent Christmas Tree/holiday tree debate in our state to see her strong dislike and mocking of Christianity.  The terms used by her and her followers (of her blog that is) spew venom and insults towards Christianity that most certainly could be interpreted as hateful in nature.  The American Atheists site (http://www.Atheists.org/) discussing needing a “cure” for religion and uses other disturbing rhetoric when discussing the need to abolish all religions.  Sorry folks, but that’s hate speech.

Before I go any further, I will gladly acknowledge that there have been and always will be some “Christians” that chose to spew hate as well.  There has been plenty against Miss Ahlquist and I cannot (nor would the Catholic Church) agree with this.  Every religion and social group will have extremists.  I believe that the examples I’ve cited here from these particular Atheists may show that they are extremists as well.  There are some Atheists I have met and become friends with that never made me feel badly about being a Catholic and were warm and loving people.  We disagree on the topic of faith, but that does not make us enemies.  In fact, we greet each other with a hug.

In the case of Miss Ahlquist, she’s claimed that her actions are driven by strong feelings about the First Amendment and the law, not a hatred of Christianity.  Okay then, here’s a chance for her, the ACLU and others that claim their suppression of Christian symbolism is based on their belief in the First Amendment.  There has been a story in the news over past week about President Obama and a plan to force Catholic employers to offer birth control as a health benefit to their employees.  As the Catholic faith does not allow for the use of artificial birth control, this is a very strong case of “The State” interfering with “The Church”.  This piece of legislation would call for a religion to go against its own beliefs and teachings because the government has forced it two.  Anyone that cares about the First Amendment or the concept of the separation of church and state should be very concerned.  This is not a simple case of a piece of art or prayer banner offending someone, but the government actually trying to change the practices of a religion and make the Catholic Church go against itself and break its own rules.

If I can educate myself and see the reason why the Cranston prayer banner must come down (despite my personal beliefs), I call on the Atheist community to do the same for this case.  If your support of the separation of church and state is real and not just based in a dislike of Christianity or other religions, step up and speak out about this perversion of the First Amendment.  I now understand that we can’t have it both ways.  I can’t say the First Amendment applies to this case, but not the prayer banner case.  Either we stop the government from supporting or interfering with religion or we don’t.  It’s black and white, even when the particulars of a case fall into the gray areas.  So just as the case calling for the removal of the prayer banner should not be an Atheist issue, the government forcing the Catholic Church to go against its own doctrine should not be only a Catholic issue.

So here is my call to action… Come on ACLU, Jessica Ahlquist and the American Atheists organization, stand up and make some noise against the fact this legislation was almost passed (yes, I am aware that the President altered the legislation after being pressured) as it should make all of us wonder what will come next?

A few weeks ago, I tried to voice my feelings on the Jessica Ahlquist case on my other blog, but took down my posts after receiving some very nasty responses (they did not make them to the site as I moderate all posts).  I was afraid to stand by my beliefs.  I am embarrassed to say that, but it was the case.  This time I will not take this down and I will allow negative posts as long as there are no vulgarities in them.  In fact, if Miss Ahlquist has a response to this, I welcome her to contact me via this new blog and I will even let her act as a guest blogger.

These matters should not be opportunities for Theists and Atheists to bash each other, but to respect each other and the Constitution of these United States.  I’m extending an olive branch and I hope you will take it.  My beliefs will not be changed and I do not expect that yours will either.  This is about finding common ground and ending the war of words.