I know how I lucky I am to live in a country where my freedom to worship however I wish is guaranteed. I take that for granted and I find it hard to realize that people are still persecuted to the point of death for their beliefs in other parts of the world even though I know it’s true.
Still, the constant Catholic-bashing gets me down, y’all. It hurts when I go to the happy little Facebook group I belong to that’s supposed to be about celebrating my hometown with lots of nostalgic posts and read this: “I don’t see how anyone can believe in a religion that is so self-indulgent.” Or when a local news channel chooses to juxtapose the joyful news of a new Pope with one about settling an abuse lawsuit. Or when I attempt to point out in yet another Facebook thread that there are plenty of pedophiles in Protestant churches (and in schools, and sports organizations, and other places) and am told that clearly I am just trying to minimize the evil of the abuse and the cover up.
Living in the Bible Belt, I have dealt with misunderstandings and prejudices about my faith for my entire life. I’ve heard that I’ll be going to Hell because a sprinkling Baptism isn’t good enough. I’ve come out of Mass to find sensationalistic pamphlets purportedly penned by ex-priests and ex-nuns who know the “truth” about the Church shoved under my windshield wipers. I’ve been told lies about my faith to my face and have had my explanations flatly contradicted or ignored.
When people come to my door and ask if I have a church family I experience a moment of trepidation and discomfort when I tell them that I’m Catholic because of the thoughts I am pretty sure will be going through their heads. When William was chanting “Habemus Papam” in the office of his public school last week and asking me if everyone at school knew about the Pope, I was afraid of what people might say to him. He hasn’t experienced religious prejudice yet.
My Catholic faith is the very core of who I am, and when you bash the Church in which I firmly believe, you are bashing me. Questions are wonderful. I welcome the opportunity to discuss, explain–even debate. I don’t believe that all religions are equal, but I do believe that people’s beliefs, whatever they may be, are worthy of respect. Someone else said it better than me, y’all: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”