Columns / Discourse / April 20, 2015

Columnist addresses religious satire

So, last term, there was some satire written in this very newspaper about something you said about Catholics on campus that was found to be controversial. You never publicly lashed out against it to defend yourself. Why, exactly, did you choose to do that? Were you afraid you were wrong?

 

There is a very famous Abraham Lincoln quote that you may know of, if you enjoy the humor of our 16th president as much of this campus does, that says, “Better to keep silent and appear stupid than to speak and remove all doubt.” What I am saying now and have said before in this newspaper is up to your interpretation, I suppose, and it could possibly have made you believe that I am utterly and undoubtedly “stupid” (from lack of a more intelligent word, for I am indeed so very stupid for being a conservative, Catholic and white female), but I chose not to speak out for myself because I do not have time for ignorant “satire” written in a school newspaper. I refused to lash out on any form of media, for that would have only started more conflict than I cared to deal with. I chose to leave myself the benefit of the doubt, but since someone obviously cares to know, I will stand up for myself in a long overdue response.

 

However you may feel about the Catholic Church, ponder this for a moment: it is one of the most massively popular religions in the entire world and has been for centuries. I will be the first to tell you that it has beyond its fair share of corruption and its own mortal sins in its history; it certainly is not perfect. But what you must understand is that a very large portion of Catholics alive today are not white Americans or even Europeans: they are South Americans, Africans and Asians. Much of the Spanish or Portuguese-speaking part of the Southern and lower-Northern Hemispheres are practicing Catholics. Most of the men becoming priests today are coming out of countries such as India, Nigeria and Ethiopia, and they are leaving their homes and being sent to reside at parishes across the United States. On top of that, many people cling to their Catholic roots in poverty; in some places, religion may be all a family has to keep some light in their lives. This is the same for any religion in any part of the world that remains impoverished. To disregard this and consider all Catholics to be rich, white European/Americans is not only classist, but it is ignorantly pompous.

 

I am not defending the Catholic Church’s past. I am, however, defending any single person on this planet’s ability to worship freely without being personally ridiculed in a student-run newspaper. I do happen to be a white female, and there is indeed an element of white supremacy in religious groups in America, but what I was saying about respecting all religions and am still saying is not untrue. The response to my article proved that much.

 

To disrespect one religion is to disrespect them all. What I had to say about my own feelings as a Catholic individual in America did not in any way discredit what is happening in other parts of the world where men and women are dying for their own faiths such as Islam and Judaism. I write this as a personal column, and I myself do not have any personal examples to exhibit those tragedies, so I did not and do not feel that it would be appropriate of me to write on them anecdotally.

 

I am not ashamed of what I believe in religiously, and no one person has the power to shake my faith or my confidence in my political beliefs. I am, however, offended that it was deemed appropriate to rip an entire religion apart in a student-run newspaper. It is not “liberal” to hate on a group of people for who they are or what they believe in. It is not “liberal” to discredit someone’s experiences simply because you disagree with their feelings.

 

If you still think of me as a fool for speaking out now, so be it. I am not trying to change your opinions. Hate the Catholic Church all you want, but just remember what the Church means to people around the world, just as all religions mean something to followers across the globe. Read a history book, maybe an international relations book, and be educated before you speak. Or write.

 

Got a question for me? https://docs.google.com/a/knox.edu/forms/d/1s4UkYe-h3_wMz20DPKZg51H2biCeRIVCjUshMgD-DVU/viewform

 

Shannon Caveny

Tags:  catholic Conservative creed liberal race religion response

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