Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Amendment Suspended for 9/11 Memorial Service: Wrong, but Understandable

You've probably heard or read it by now: There won't be any public expressions of faith, like prayer, at tomorrow's 9/11 Memorial Service in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg said so.

Religious People: 'Everybody Knows' What They're Like

Can't say that I blame Mayor Bloomberg, in a way:
  • He's mayor of an important American city
  • The 9/11 Memorial Service is a high-profile event
  • Lots of folks will be watching
  • There's no sense in encouraging that kind to hang around
    • What would the neighbors think?
Besides, 'everybody knows' what people with religious beliefs are like:

(ArizonaLincoln (talk), via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)

I think Mayor Bloomberg's gag order on public expression of faith was wrong. But then, I'm one of those people. You know: the sort with religious beliefs. 'Everybody' knows what they're like. All the 'right sort' in Manhattan, anyway: apparently.1

Since the mayor suspended the First Amendment for the 9/11 Memorial Service, some of the rabble went and arranged for an off-site prayer event. (CNA) I hope they don't offend the delicate sensibilities of their 'betters.'

Reality Check: Not All Christians are Dolts

Not all folks with religious beliefs:
  • Hate
    • Jews
    • Homosexuals
    • Commies
    • Anybody who dresses funny
  • Assume that
    • God hates
      • Jews
      • Homosexuals
      • Commies
      • Anybody who dresses funny
    • Science is bad
    • Every word of the Bible is literally true
      • Just like 'Pastor Bombast' says
I'll grant that the religious beliefs of some folks are on a continuum with 'amusingly odd' at one end, and 'downright dangerous' at the other. The 9/11 Memorial Service marks the 10th anniversary of an example of religious beliefs gone horribly wrong. I'll get back to that.

But not all Christians are like Phelps' little band. And not all of us think Bishop Ussher was right.

Since I'm a Catholic, there are some things I must do, and some that I must not. That may sound awfully restrictive, but I think it makes sense:

Religious Nut Cases: It's Not Always the Other Guys

Muslim crazies killed about 3,000 people in New York City on 9/11/2001: but it's not just 'those Muslims' who sometimes go crazy:
Does this mean that religion is bad? I don't think so.

Fred "God Hates Jews" Phelps isn't a typical religious leader. He's not, in my opinion, even a typical American Protestant. His brand of faith contributed to my conversion to Catholicism, and that's another topic.

It's hard to shake the impression that Mayor Bloomberg, and others in America's dominant culture, assume that a handful of crazies are typical of all America's Christians. It's like assuming that all liberals are pot-smoking vegetarians; or that all conservatives look like Boss Tweed in a Thomas Nast cartoon.

Reality is more complex than those stereotypes. Yet another topic.

The Catholic Church: Intolerant? Satanic?

In a way, I'm glad that Mayor Bloomberg banned all religious expression at the 9/11 Memorial Service. I think excluding so many Americans, he made it easier for some Christians to organize an alternative service.

If he'd singled out Catholics? Some of America's Protestants would probably recognize that there was a problem. But there's a little active distrust of Catholicism in America. And a whole lot of ignorance.

At least some of America's establishment assume that the Catholic Church is deliberately obdurate about sexuality. Some zealots lump the Catholic Church in with 'Muslims and other Satanic cults.' I think these misunderstandings are related to two qualities of the Church, that we're:
  • Ancient
  • Deal with reality
    • Not what some contemporary culture's leaders want to believe
And that's - yet again another topic.2

Related posts:
The 10th anniversary of 9/11, more posts:In the news:

1 As noted in "Related posts," a recent editorial in The New York Times renewed that paper's dedication to a drearily familiar view:
2 I run into colorful folks now and then:


Brigid said...

Sounds like there may have been two sentences in here: "Some zealots lump the Catholic Church in with 'Muslims and other Satanic cults' is that we're ancient"

A blank bullet point under "In the news:" and "Background:"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Too true. That's the result of a ham-handed edit I didn't notice - found, fixed, and thanks!

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.