Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No dogs or Catholics allowed

On the edge of living memory, the United States had a president who told the nation "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Today, the only thing we can't tolerate is tolerance of those we deem insufficiently tolerant. At its heart, I think that's because we never listened to Franklin Roosevelt in the first place.

We fear. Mainly, we fear the truth when we hear it, no matter from whom we hear it.

We fear those who aren't like us. We fear . . . and we hate. Hate is something that feels better inside one's gut than fear does. So we transform our fear into something easier to stomach.

We know how scared lots of tea-party types have been these last few years. The forces of "tolerance" are quick -- and often correct -- to point that out.

Now, however, we see what Enlightened America fears -- and hates. No. 1 on the list is God. No. 2 are people who take God seriously -- or, rather, those who take seriously the God, as opposed whatever more convenient one we concoct out of the depths of our fear.

Quickie Mart God don't tolerate no Catholics . . . or their inconvenient scruples. That's true in Washington. It's even true in Green Bay, Wis., where the local brownskirts of Planned Parenthood are giving a local Catholic food bank the Susan G. Komen treatment.

AND IT'S TRUE in Denver, as revealed in this Catholic News Agency report:

The Archdiocese of Denver's Theology on Tap program was compelled to seek a new venue after a lecture on religious liberty by Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley reportedly caused controversy among some patrons and staff.

“This was a misunderstanding and we hope to be able to work with the group again in the future,” Stoney’s Bar and Grill owner Stoney Jesseph told CNA on Feb. 10.

On Jan. 26 Bishop Conley spoke to hundreds of young adults at the bar, which is less than five blocks from Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His topic was “Atheocracy and the Battle for Religious Liberty in America.”

Shortly after the talk, however, organizers were told to find a different location for the program because of its “controversial” content and the fact that that some of the bar staff said they would refuse to work the event again.

“It’s ironic that the talk itself pertains so well to what happened,” said Chris Stefanick, director of the archdiocese’s office for youth, young adults and campus ministry who helps run the event.

Stefanick said he was surprised to hear Jesseph's desire to work with Theology on Tap in the future given that the archdiocese was told by the restaurant that the gathering was “too controversial.”

“Those were the words they used,” he said.

But he suggested that Jesseph’s business partners may have had a role in the decision. “I don’t think it was all on Stoney’s shoulders. Frankly, if it was just up to Stoney, this never would have happened.”

However, for “whatever reason,” he added, “I think the establishment has made it clear that they’d rather not have a public, Catholic event there.”

Theology on Tap is an ongoing outreach program of the archdiocese. It meets in a bar, Stefanick explained, because it intends to provide “a non-threatening place to gather with friends” for Catholics to “draw people into the faith.”

“It’s also a great social connecting point for people to realize they’re not alone.”

The January event was in a section of the bar where other patrons wouldn’t be able to hear what the bishop was saying, added Stefanick, who thought it was only the appearance of a man in a Roman collar that provoked a reaction.

One bar patron, who Stefanick believes was not in a position to hear the talk, shouted obscenities at the bishop.

“The people at the talk couldn’t hear, because the way the amplifiers were set, but the bishop heard him and I heard him.”

A PISS-ANT sports bar in Denver is perfectly free to refuse to play host to Catholics talking about theology because people’s feelings get hurt. Yes, that’s the bar owners’ right.

On the other hand, those who object to Catholics merely talking about religious freedom and contraception hold that the Catholic Church and its affiliates do not have the right to refuse to pay to supply non-chancery employees with something church doctrine holds as profoundly morally objectionable. In other words, "the First Amendment, my ass!"

In what manner does this dichotomy not demonstrate that such anti-Catholic attitudes (and such a willingness to deny certain religious believers basic freedoms) possess all the nobility of those held by the Nazis toward, say, the Jews? Or Custer toward the Sioux? Or Bull Conner toward African-Americans in Birmingham, Ala.?

This is where we stand today: “Unenlightened” Catholics and evangelicals must be legally compelled to affirm and enable all manner of things which offend their beliefs, yet their “betters” in our postmodern society can’t be bothered even to merely tolerate Catholics and evangelicals — or that such actually might possess constitutional rights.

That must be a powerful lot of fear that brings on such a powerful outbreak of bigotry.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

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