Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Strongly Worded Letter About Jesus and Stuff.

This is a letter to the editor that I wrote tonight, regarding a column that The New Hampshire ran this week. I don't know if I'm allowed to really write letters to the editor since I'm actually on the editorial staff, but anyway. I'm pissed. That's 80% of why I have a blog.

In his Oct. 19 column, Nick Mignanelli writes “I think it’s kind of charming how liberals are so quick to drag religious institutions that they inherently despise into the death penalty debate.” (emphasis mine.) I am a liberal and a Catholic, and Mignanelli does not speak for me.

Christians are to be imitators of Christ. That means working for tolerance, love, charity and peace--and those interests are best served by liberals. Jesus said love the poor. Jesus said “sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:17:21-25). Sounds practically—gasp!—socialist.

If Jesus were here today, he’d be pro-welfare, pro-healthcare, and most certainly anti-execution. (Mignanelli seems to have forgotten that Jesus was a victim of the death penalty.) And if he were around today, Jesus would not be hanging out with Pat Robertson and crowing about how public schools aren’t allowed to display the Ten Commandments—he’d be in the roughest part of the projects, serving lunch at a soup kitchen. That’s why I’m a Christian. And although Mignanelli doubtless considers me a “cafeteria Catholic,” he should not make sweeping assertions like “liberals inherently despise religion.” That’s a remarkably ignorant statement, plain and simple.

Mignanelli says “In addition to their nominal stance against the death penalty, doesn’t the magesterium of the Catholic Church also have some strong feelings about abortion, family planning, and stem cell research? It’s interesting how liberals would never cite the Catholic Church’s expertise on those issues.” This is true—because the Catholic Church’s “expertise” on those issues is null. Here’s a secret—most Catholics don’t listen to the Church for family planning advice, either. The Catholic Church is run by celibate men. Men who have neither sex nor families cannot dispense sound advice on family planning. The Church still insists you’re going to hell if you use condoms, take hormonal birth control or use any other form of artificial contraception—even within marriage. A few diehards in Rome and elsewhere would still tell you that if a thirteen-year-old girl with Down syndrome gets raped and becomes pregnant, she’s going to hell if she gets an abortion. Is that the “expertise” Mignanelli is referring to?

I care deeply about my faith, and I’m a liberal--but people like Mignanelli are the reason I don't always tell my sane, liberal friends that I'm a Catholic right away. I'm conflicted about it enough without wannabe teenage pundits like this giving the church of Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day a bad name. If you are going to be a conservative---marginalizing the poor, giving advantages to the rich, oppressing immigrants and gays and promoting the death penalty--don’t do it in the name of Christ. And stop calling me and the thousands like me “cafeteria Catholics.” I’m a soup kitchen Catholic.

Some of the pissier stuff got left out of the letter, because I'm classy like that. Now watch this, because it's awesome:

I'm totally going to hell, guys.