Comments

  1. lewlew says

    I wish Gay people would not ever work for homophobes. Let’s take our talents and competence where they will do us some good. Let the ‘phobes’ orgs die from lack of creativity.

  2. Mike says

    OK, calm down, “enemy of humanity” is a little strong. They leave a lot to be desired on some fronts, but they do a lot of good too. I’m not sad to be a Catholic, I’m sad that these things (unjustly firing gay people, refusing communion to Obama voters, pedophilia, etc.) are done by Catholics.

  3. Lorenzo says

    I wonder if they take it to the logical conclusion and terminate all of the divorced faculty, or those who have had affairs, how many teachers will be left?

    Of course, that won’t happen, because it’s transparent even to the students that this “rule” was selectively applied and the reason why.

  4. says

    Look how much Mark Zmuda’s exposure being a good man and marrying his loved one helped inspire these kids to stand up for him and the larger LGBT community. They get equality. They know the teachings of their Church on homosexuality are wrong. That inequality laws are wrong.

    A Catholic friend saw this story and quoted Mary Renault ‘It shows you the hand of a God. When someone trying to harm you ends up doing you good.’

  5. throwslikeagirl says

    The arrogance! The Catholic church doesn’t believe in divorce any more than it believes in same-sex marriage. How could they make this insane offer?

  6. Mike says

    I believe the offer wasn’t actually for a divorce. She said “dissolve” which I interpret as an annulment, which is basically just another check you have to write to the church in order to be “in good standing”. Whatever that means.

  7. Mike says

    What do you mean like me? I don’t like that they fired him. And to me, an annulment is still a divorce, but they say a prayer and cash a check and poof, it never happened. That’s obviously bs.

    That being said, Catholics/Catholicism do a lot of good. Don’t use the countless bad Catholics (pedophile priests, Maggie Gallagher) and/or teachings (anti-gay stuff, birth control) as an indication that everything about them is bad.

  8. throwslikeagirl says

    Mike, we’re in agreement. Things aren’t black and white, but grey. That said, I must admit I’m not a fan of any organized religion. It just isn’t my thing. Again, thank you for clarifying the divorce/annulment differences.

  9. Eugene says

    @Mike

    You’re defending the church in this. It’s despicable. What’s even more despicable is that you’re arguing that Catholics do a lot of good – as if it excuses the bad things they do. It doesn’t. It’s like arguing that a rapist shouldn’t go to jail because he happens to be a good father. Shame on you.

  10. RJ says

    @MIKE … The whole point of annulments, as far as the Catholic church is concerned, is to provide a loophole for getting divorced, yet still be able to later re-marry in a religious church ceremony.

  11. Jonty Coppersmith says

    @Mike

    In your first post above you identified yourself as Catholic. Obviously you are free to be who or what you choose, but if you are giving time or money to the RC church then you are personally supporting these types of actions and policies by the church.

  12. Damian Johnston says

    There are a few points that make this whole story bonkers. First of all he chose to work for a Catholic school, so he must have known what he was getting himself into. When he signed his contract he will have agreed to uphold the teachings of the Church. Secondly, in the eyes of the Church he is not married and his relationship is “gravely disordered” so he must have known what the consequences of getting married were going to be. If he wants to live a life that is not in keeping with the teachings of the Church, then he shouldn’t have taken a job that expects him to do so. You wouldn’t expect a Catholic to take a job in a gay bar and then start complaining about the machine in the toilets that sell condoms. You’d think he was crazy.

    The gay movement is riding a wave of success at the moment, but we should be wary about trying to bring down every institution that doesn’t agree with our lifestyle. I’d prefer that we established ourselves in the public arena through reasoned debate and patience rather than these vindictive legal spats. Who knows what the world will be like in 25 years, let alone 50, and it doesn’t seem prudent to go around making enemies everywhere as we run around giving the impression that we’re an untouchable and pampered minority. I’m of course all for gay marriage but I’m also for freedom. We cant expect to be free do do as we will and then deny others the right to do as they will. Let us be gay and Catholics be Catholics. Let us work together were we can and respect each others’ differences where we can’t.

    Catholics are slowly losing the debate anyway as more and more families recognize and accept their gay children and their relationships. Patience brothers, time is on our side.

  13. Eugene says

    @Damian Johnston
    “You wouldn’t expect a Catholic to take a job in a gay bar and then start complaining about the machine in the toilets that sell condoms.”

    What if the Catholic was fine with the machine that sells condoms but got fired anyway because he’s Catholic or goes to church? Because that’s the equivalent of what’s happened to Zmuda – he got fired for something that happened in his personal life, not on the job.

  14. Damian Johnston says

    You can’t chop your life up into personal and private when your do certain jobs, such as a police officer or a doctor or a teacher. He, as a CATHOLIC teacher should have been an example of Catholic life to his students both in the school and in the community. A teacher of any denomination or none doesn’t just stop being a teacher when the school day ends. You are a community leader and as such you are a community leader 24/7. What he did wasn’t right because he broke a promise to his community. Yes I’m glad he found love and got married, but we have to recognize that he made a commitment prior to that to be a Catholic community leader and he reneged on that promise. Now he’s trying to claim discrimination. He wasn’t discriminated against because he was gay, he was sacked because he broke a contract. By the way I once lost my home and job because I was working for the Catholic Church and it was revealed that I was gay. I was celibate at the time too. I was sacked because I was gay, pure and simple. I’m not out to defend the Church, I am out to defend truth. If we let our agenda cloud our ability to recognize the truth, then we are in grave danger of becoming tyrants. Please don’t let us go down that path. If we do we might win some rights, but we lose our nobility. What are we without that? What makes us strong in the battle for equality is that we remain noble in that struggle.

  15. Lymis says

    My fifth grade teacher in our Catholic school was Baptist, and there was never a visible issue over it – she was there for decades.

    Seems to me that the more sensible thing for the school to do was ask him to stop being officially affiliated with the Catholic Church. There’s no reason an Episcopalian with a solid Catholic background couldn’t do everything in his job description – including teaching Church doctrine, if that was part of it.

    But offering to keep him on if he dissolved his marriage? Whoa.

    That has to be a violation of some antidiscrimination law. Firing all gays, maybe not, for a church run organization. But demanding you divorce as a condition of continued employment? You have got to be kidding.

  16. says

    Once again, the Catholic hierarchy reveals how completely out of touch they are with modern life and with modern Catholics.

    Note that it wasn’t the school that wanted to ditch him but the church leaders who probably have little if anything to do with the school. And those “leaders” believe that the closet (like the one that allowed priests to molest young people) is ok, sex on the sly is ok, divorce and annulment are ok, but a gay person having a secure family is not ok. What kind of warped message does that send to their students, all of whom, gay and straight, now or soon will have the right to marry the person they love.

    It’s within their rights to hold those backwards values, but the students and Mark’s co-workers live in the real world, and in their real world a man getting married to another man is cause for celebration, not firing. They simply do not accept the family-less hierarchy telling them that a gay couple finding happiness and marrying is wrong–it’s completely ludicrous to them. If the church doesn’t pay attention to that, they’ll lose their schools. Their choice.

    @DAMIAN JOHNSTON: You’re not out to defend the truth. The truth is the students’ reaction. You’re an apologist for people that fired you.

  17. Damian Johnston says

    For the Church he is not married. Two people of the same sex cannot marry as far as the Church is concerned. What is being asked is wrong but it is being asked by people who simply do not get gay marriage. Our argument with the Church won’t end, but it will change. The Church isn’t going away, in fact it’s growing faster than any other religion, contrary to what western liberal media might want to see. The Church is a reality that we cannot ignore, but we can and will change the nature of the debate if we are patient, sensitive and most importantly noble. Often we are dealing with bigots but Church doctrine cannot be changed overnight, it can however be interpreted. As a community we shouldn’t be just be thinking about what we want here and now in the West. The Church is bigger than we are and affects and will affect the lives of gay people for generations the world over. The nature of how we engage of that debate has ramifications not just for us today. We have an obligation to be better than the bigots in this debate and its a debate in which nobility will win. In the Church nobility counts for allot more than you might think…it’s what wins admiration, and to be admired is two thirds of winning a battle.

  18. Ricardo says

    Notice how all the religious gays are okay with a gay person being fired by their religious KLAN….but if we gays sue a Christian owned business for discriminating against us, religious gays call us intolerant.

    BASICALLY…religious gays are mostly all self hating homophobes.

  19. Two dads says

    I love all the religious LGBT who show up in stories like this and their sole agenda is to make sure they protect their religious brand. Religious LGBT, your propaganda is not working. You look silly.

  20. J.J says

    Catholic gays will go to any extent to defend homophobia. That’s why I personally choose not to date them. Can’t ever trust them. They’ll always align with their religion before LGBT.

  21. Wide Hike says

    Damian Johnston is a troll folks. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS! Every single word he uttered screams anti gay religious bigot. When someone tells on themselves, believe them.

  22. Jordan says

    Damian is a troll. He has all the anti gay lingo down pat
    “gay agenda”
    “a gay marriage is not a real marriage according to many”
    “the gay lifestyle”
    “the liberal gay media”

    The homophobes come on here pretending to be one of us so that we better listen to their words and ASSUME they are one of us, so they have to be reasonable. Anytime someone suggests we accept homophobia, faith based or not, they are not being reasonable. Recognize the trolls and call them out.

  23. simon says

    DAMIAN JOHNSTON:
    What is the reason you must be a Catholic to teach in that school?
    I don’t think the school is stupid enough to put that explicitly in the contract. It is obviously discriminatory and therefore illegal. There must be someone here who is a teacher in a religious school. Perhaps they can clarify.

  24. says

    If the Catholic Church doesn’t believe a same sex couple can be married, then what’s the problem here? How can they ask him to “dissolve” something they don’t believe exists in the first place?

    It’s 100% hypocrisy.

    And anti-gay bigotry: they’ll distort their own beliefs just to lash out at a gay man. SICK.

  25. says

    @DAMIAN JOHNSTON: Cut with the noble crap. The students are noble, your trolling is not. If you actually are gay (though your vocabulary around gay issues is entirely heterosexual), you have been damaged by your Church. These students don’t want to be part of a school that fires gay teachers/administrators they admire because they have loving families, like normal people. And in the future, the Church’s shameful encouragement of the closet will only be more and more unacceptable to the students in independent Catholic schools. If the Catholic hierarchy is smart, they will listen to these young people and learn from them. You could learn from them, too.

  26. says

    The students hashtag and motto in protest there is CHANGE THE CHURCH. They know this decision is not coming from the school but the hierarchy in the Church.

    When something like this happens and this number/percentage of young speak out you’d best pay attention.

    Damion. You’re standing up for truth and I value your input for that. Trouble is your reasoning on what is truth is skewed and you end up blaming the victim. The school knew he was gay. He wasn’t fired for being gay. He was fired for getting married. It’s legal for him to get married. They can’t fire anyone else for getting married. They had no right (and showed a total lack of scruples; even the school administrator didn’t want to ask him to do that) to ask him to get his marriage dissolved in order to continue working there. Can you imagine saying that to anyone else besides an LGBT? My personal opinion is that this would be a perfect court case. Zmuda should sue.

    The Catholic Church is changing but it is like watching rocks erode. Francis is trying and has actually made some very positive changes but even those are going to take decades to affect visible change. Every Republican politician & his Aunt Flo are mad at him so he must be doing something right.

  27. dumbnhung says

    @Damian

    its exactly all the ‘vindictive legal spats’ you speak of that have caused some of the greatest evolution of gay rights in the last decade. If it wasn’t for those pissy gays who weren’t content to sit by and hope for the majority to embrace them, we’d be back in the stone ages right now.

  28. beergoggles says

    Marital status is a federally protected class against discrimination. So the very suggestion of getting a divorce to keep his job gives him a winning lawsuit.

  29. Bill says

    The gay guy blew it in one very minor respect: he should have asked his employer to get a decision from the IRS regarding whether a divorce to keep one’s job is tax-deductible. He should also have asked his employer if divorcing to keep one’s job made one some sort of anti-prostitute

    Also what about the passage in the Bible, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” He should have asked them what Jesus must think of this school’s management!

    Not that I blame him, of course – it’s much easier to be a wise guy when it isn’t your job that is on the line, and I have the luxury of spending a few minutes thinking of one-liners. After all, he was a teacher, not a comedian like Groucho Marx.

  30. Thomas Cardellino says

    The web of deceit that is required for intelligent and compassionate people to remain members of any number of homophobic church organizations is cast wide and deadly. Here we have a “renown by his peers and students alike” man being given the heave-ho because he followed the most prime of the commands of Jesus Christ himself: Love your neighbor as yourself. Although you might think I’m trying to make a joke, please be dissuaded. To love another human being, for that matter, to love any human being is to be open to receiving love in return. How loving humans share their care for one another differs from person to person. Well-raised brothers or sisters will always love one another in their own special way. A man and a woman can fall in love in their own special way. Children love their parents in an almost instinctual way, and it is hopefully for life. Why any follower of Jesus Christ, and those teachings of Jesus Christ as paramount, should ever condemn the love and commitment of two persons for one another, well, it seems to me that they are more deeply instinctually haters of their fellow humans, looking for opportunities to condemn rather than the many opportunities to understand the mysterious workings of a God of Love. In that we are born humanly alone and also die that way, why would self-avowed followers of Christ deny that ANY human being should die without the presence and love of Jesus Christ to guide them into the next life, of which they freely, and sometimes all too frequently as if they are trying to buttress doubts they hold, profess to believe? It seems to me that were there any grand being as wonderful as God, considering the resplendent nature of the world He is told to have created, that the gift of sexuality that He gave to most of his creation could never be fully comprehended by His creations “afflicted” with this life changing fundamental intrinsic urge He gifted unto them all! The sheer vanity of anyone professing to know that God meant this and only this narrow result is absurdity to any God-given mind of any rational human.

  31. andrew says

    I am happily a former Catholic. Now an agnostic. However the universal condemnations of all things Catholic, by some of the posters on this site, is offensive and wrong. Catholic Charities in the USA is the largest provider of goods and services to the needy after the Federal Government. I personally know of Nuns, Priest and Religious Brothers who have spent their lives in the service of others regardless of their religion or sexual orientation. In my city there is a shelter and numerous Soup Kitchens, run by the Catholic Church, providing food and shelter to the needy with no religious or sexual orientations questions ever asked. The Catholic Church is indeed a very flawed institution but to overlook the many good things done by Catholic Agencies, Charities, Religious Priests, Nuns, Brothers and individual Catholics is absurd.

  32. Gay Guy says

    Well, suggesting he get a divorce violates Catholic teaching (even though it is clearly permitted by Deuteronomy). Since they suggested that he do something in violation of Catholic teaching, they cannot claim religious exemption on this matter.

  33. sam says

    Re: Damian Johnston’s POV. Although I don’t agree with all the specific language he uses (specifically “lifestyle”), I have to agree with him. He does present some very good points. I don’t agree with the teachings of the church, and hopefully one day those teachings will change. Discrimination is discrimination, even when cloaked behind a religious belief. However, Zmuda knew what the catholic church’s stance on this specific topic was, and he knew what might happen if the church discovered his sexuality and his maritial status. I think its great that the students and faculty vocally stood behind Zmuda, and hopefully we will continue to see such unity; it is what will change the world, and teachings of the church. What the church did was wrong, and every time the community stands united against a wrong, the church will have no choice but to change. However, until that day arrives, we as gays can not expect tolerance if we are unwilling to extend that same right to others. Again, I am not in agreement with the actions the church took, but I will extend to them the tolerance I expect from others. Hopefully with a sense of “nobility” from the gay community and alliance, we can get the church to change their teachings one day.

    @Damian Johnston presented a valid case, we should listen, and partake in the discussion in a civil manner without name calling and dismissing the topic outright.

  34. simon says

    Sam:
    No one is asking for the tolerance of the Church. They don’t call the shots on matters of civil marriage. They are expected to obey the laws as any other schools. The adoption agency in Boston was a good example. They have to follow the Church teachings not to let gay couples adopt. On the other hand, they have to obey state laws. That is the reason they closed their agency. I suggest the Catholic school should do likewise.

  35. Nigel says

    Everyone has civil rights. The church is saying that its religious liberty extends to the point of controlling which civil rights people can exercise. That is a problem. No entity can deny a person from exercising their civil rights.

  36. sam says

    Simon,
    Unfortunately, they did not break a law, due to exemptions written into laws to protect religious entities from certain discriminatory actions. However, if the church has continued to employ a divorced individual – which is of course against the teachings of Catholicism – then they did in fact discriminate against Mr. Zmuda; and it is highly likely they have continued to employ a divorced individual. Although, once again, certain exemptions are built into laws to protect churches from numerous laws, specifically the laws that go against their religious teachings.

    I think the actions the Catholic church took against Zmuda are disgusting, and is something that should not be acceptable in the year 2013. This is also a major reason I have issue with any organized religion. However, just as I hope people would stand against any injustice against the LGBT community, I think we have to respect the unfortunate teachings of any specific religion. Separation of church and state is written into our constitution, and we can not expect it to go one way (fighting to keep it out of our public schools) while dismissing the right of the church to hold strong to their belief. Granted, all organized religions pick and choose which verses of the bible to preach, while ignoring other aspects of the bible, but that’s their right. Their congregation need not sit idly by and accept them, as so many proved for Zmuda, but we still have to respect them. As a gay man, currently without a job, I would not choose to work for any religious organization, because I know I’m not welcomed there. Again, not that I condone their discriminatory practices, and I would sit in discussion with any religious leader that would be willing to have that discussion in hope of possibly changing their minds, and I hope members of their parishes continue to teach them tolerance, but I would not want to stripe them of their constitution rights, as I expect my own constitutional rights to be granted to me.

  37. simon says

    Sam:
    I don’t know the details. But it is highly unlikely the Church’s action in this case is covered by the exemption in Washington’s gay marriage law. Even if it is, it will be thrown out of the court if Zmuda decides to sue.

  38. sam says

    My apologies for slaughtering the last part of that last sentence, “..but I would not want to strip them of their constitutional rights, as I expect my own constitutional rights to be granted to me.”

    Separation of church and state presents us with a very fine line, and who decides where that line is drawn? We must respect their teachings and decisions, just as we expect them to respect ours (marriage equality for one). Hopefully things are changing quickly enough that we see more tolerance, at least from the Catholic church. Until then, I think it’s important to respect their belief system, even though we disagree with it immensely.

  39. Nigel says

    Sam, the separation of church and state is easy to see. Religious liberty does NOT dictate/deny someones civil rights. The book of Timothy says women should not tell men what to do, so following your idea of respect the church could restrict a women’s right to vote. Or the concept of being fruitful and multiply, means couples not producing children at the churches prescribed rate could be fired from their jobs. Or the ultimate respect would be when I say something the church deems heretical and the church gets to kill me, right?

  40. simon says

    Nigel:
    The Church always felt they were entitled to operate freely, sometimes with the help of the state, in the name of God of course. That included taking law into their own hand. Thanks God we live in the 21th century.

  41. says

    @Sam: It’s important to understand belief systems one opposes, but it’s not important to respect them. Why would you respect something you think is blatantly morally wrong? Clearly, the Catholic hierarchy that made the decision to fire Mark did not respect his “belief system.” (A hierarchy with little connection to this independent school or its students, whose beliefs the hierarchy has shown no desire to understand or respect.) They actually expected him to dissolve his legal civil marriage and sabotage his family to go back into their dysfunctional closet–that’s respect?

    I’m not sure of the legal specifics in this case–truly private Catholic schools may have a right to discriminate, even if they use that right hypocritically. Though, if Catholic institutions use public money or serve the general public–as in the case with hospitals and adoption agencies–they should have no such right. Regardless of the legalities here, unless the Catholic powers-that-be start respecting their students fundamental sense of justice, they will further remove themselves from the mainstream and will perpetuate the sense that they respect the shame of the closet (the same one that enabled priests to abuse) while ignoring the reality of legal civil marriages and secure gay families.

    Don’t respect those who don’t deserve your respect. The religious are in no danger of being deprived of their constitutional rights in the US; they, on the other hand, consistently attempt to deprive us of ours.

  42. says

    They violated Zmuda’s civil rights by demanding that he divorce as a condition to continue working there. There is no ‘religious’ exemption for that. If they had done this to a hetero employee you’d see it clearly but because the employee is a gay male religious apologists want to run out the ‘religious liberty’ trope. No.

    Please stop with the most ridiculous argument that we’re being intolerant because we’re standing up and fighting for our civil rights. Organized religions, including the Catholic Church, and their front groups have used every despicable ruse & tactic available in trying to deny us equality.

    They are not the victims. They are the persecutors.

  43. Damian Johnston says

    Interesting reading some of the responses to my comments. Sorry to say I’m not a troll. I am gay. I am no longer a practicing Catholic. I hold degrees awarded by Catholic pontifical universities and now do a job well below what I am qualified for because I don’t want to work in a Catholic institution where I know my sexuality will be an issue. My overall point is that to win hearts and minds it is always better to be seen to be the more noble in a conflict, this is how the Christians won over the whole Roman empire. Yes these little spats have won us some minor victories, but we have to win over the institutions that hold us back from full equality and to do that sometimes you need to play the long game. As I said in an earlier comment, trying to bring the Church down is never going to happen, but trying to change the way the Church thinks is entirely possible, but only if we remain civilized in the debate and remain noble in apparent (minor) defeats. Was it wrong that a man lost his job for being married to another man? Yes. Some of you are angry that the Church hierarchy did what they are supposed to do…defend the Church’s position on something fundamental. That to me is like being angry at the sun for being shiny. The vitriol spewed out at me on here for having an opinion that wasn’t totally anti Catholic is disturbing. If you scream like that at your own community members whose words don’t gel with your own thinking, how are you going to win over your opponents who are able to change the lives of millions? Be more reasoned and you might find you have more friends out there than you think.

  44. says

    Mark Zmuda’s students are doing exactly what you describe, @Damian. They are noble. The archdiocese, who locked their doors to these students to prohibit dialogue, are the opposite of noble. I’m not sure who you think is engaging in spats around this firing. Supporting an administrator, and his right to civil marriage, with peaceful protest is exactly what may begin to show the hierarchy (who have virtually no real involvement with the school) how out of touch they are, but only if they pay attention. You also falsely assume that those of us who disagree with you have no experience with winning hearts and minds. Many of us have been successfully doing that work for years–where do you think the progress has come from?

  45. Damian Johnston says

    I agree with you nearly 100%. The students have behaved impeccably in this affair and it is from the ranks of these that future Church leaders will come. Where I don’t agree is that you think I assume something I don’t. I know there are many out there who do a great deal of good work dialoguing with opponents of gay rights who don’t get the recognition that they deserve. My response to discrimination comes from my own experience. I was literally thrown out of my home and job for being gay, but to my surprise the people who came to support me did so because of the way I responded to what was an unjust situation. Without naming names, there was a prelate, a head of a religious order and even the old ladies of the parish. Responding with dignity to discrimination brought some very unexpected friends out of the woodwork. If I’d screamed at the Church I would have alienated those within who can, and will implement change, even if it is at a snails pace and won’t be felt for another generation or two. As with all institutions, those within, even friends, have to operate within very old and established frameworks and procedures.

  46. simon says

    Dear Damian:
    The Christians didn’t win over the “hearts and minds” of Romans. They just won over one person, the Roman Emperor Constantine who happened to own the Empire. Before that they were regarded as freaks and persecuted by the Roman Emperors like Nero (presumably including some early “Church Fathers”). In other words, they got to be what they were through the support of political power. The ordinary Romans had very little choice. Well, their actions throughout history can’t be exactly called “noble”. They held on to power by violent means and dealt with their opponents and “heretics” in a merciless way.
    The entire Church history was full of blood and violence.

  47. says

    No one directly involved in this–either Mark Zmuda or his friends, co-workers, and students–is screaming at the Church. The only people behaving dishonorably are those in the hierarchy, who fire and then go silent.

    Sure, those who oppose Catholicism entirely or who think religion is a load of bunk may colorfully express their views, but they’re not aiming to win over the Catholic Church. The truth is the next generation of lay Catholics (and even the current generation) has already been won over–it’s the hierarchy who needs to work on how they respond, not the other way around. Waiting another generation or two to give schools like this proper independence isn’t going to work for them.

  48. Damian Johnston says

    Simon: that’s a very odd view of history and not at all correct. Constantine didn’t become a Christian until he was on his death bed.

    Ernie: I agree. I said that in an earlier comment. As young gays and lesbians come out with confidence to their families and communities, and with more positive portrayals of gays and lesbians in the movies and on TV it becomes harder and less justifiable for families to reject their gay kids and their relationships. That’s the Church changing at the coal face. At an institutional level however, one ore two generations of bishops or cardinals (and a popes) and you start to see differences in the catechism or code of canon law (ecclesiastical law: which deals with life at every level of Church life). All is not bleak at all for us, but I think we should be mindful of alienating those who can implement change at an institutional level. It’s all very well us in the West claiming small victories, but we have to bear in mind those LGBT brothers and sisters those parts of the world that are dominated by the Catholic Church. We shouldn’t forget that in some parts of the world the Church is the ONLY institution providing education, healthcare and social care, for free. We (the LGBT community) shouldn’t forget that we are as global as the Church, and to best serve our own community in other parts of the world and in future generations we have to be cordial (even if it sticks in our throats) with the institutions that have the power to shape peoples lives. I want us to win, but I’d rather have people understand and support us because they’ve come to agree with us through reasoned debate rather than having them forced to accept us through or face legal action.

  49. Damian Johnston says

    Ernie, the Church is far from down and out. There might be falling numbers in the West, but the Church is the fastest growing religious movement in the world, especially in Africa and Asia. Even in the West, there have been strong signs that numbers are starting to increase. I’d be mindful not to get all your info from news sources friendly to your politics they’ll only confirm what you want to hear. I still read the Catholic blogs and the non Christian blogs too. I was watching a Saudi Arabian chat show the other week and there was a guest on there saying that Islam had lost 22 million Muslims to the Church in the last year alone. How we conduct ourselves as a community in dialogue here in the West can have, through the Church, a real impact on the lives of LGBT people in other parts of the world. I think we need to be mindful of that. Seeing issues affecting our community from a purely Western perspective can have damaging consequences for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.

  50. simon says

    Well Damian:
    Constantine’s reign was commonly regarded as the turning point of the Church’s fortune. To quote one well known Church historian:
    “The emperor certainly believed that Christ Our Lord had appeared to him, had promised him victory. Victory had in fact followed and thenceforward Constantine’s faith had been proof against all doubt. He gave himself to Christ, and broke from the official polytheism…..”
    His conversion was just a formality.
    You may have selectively forgotten part of the Church history.

  51. Damian Johnston says

    Hi Simon, I’d respect that quote if you finished what Hughes actually said. That you didn’t finish the quote simply proves to me the point I’ve been making about us needing to debate with our opponents with nobility. If you can’t make a winning argument by being honest, best not to try at all. That’s how we lose.

  52. simon says

    “Even in the West, there have been strong signs that numbers are starting to increase. I’d be mindful not to get all your info from news sources friendly to your politics”
    Isn’t it ironic that you are not following your own advice? I hope “signs” doesn’t mean something heavenly.

  53. simon says

    Damian:
    Please tell me why there is ambiguity arising from that part of the book. I can’t post the whole book here. It is clear that he was practically a Christian except the formality of conversion. It is you who are being dishonest.

  54. simon says

    Damian:
    “Seeing issues affecting our community from a purely Western perspective.” Should we put in some Russian perspective or Chinese perspective? What can we do?
    I don’t even know what that actually means.
    At least we think our perspective is the perspective of fairness and justice.

  55. Damian Johnston says

    The gist of the passage you quoted talks of his conversion at his death and the limitedness of his understanding of the faith prior to that. That his court was inhabited by Christians and pagans speaks of the degree to which Christianity had already penetrated the empire. He was not the first in the court to convert, he was simply the most important.

    I didn’t mean to offend by the way. I apologize if I did. Re-reading my comment I see it was a little curt. The overall point though was that men of influence, such as presidents and popes are won over through noble argument and reasoned debate, not by being attacked and mocked by their adversaries. They might be men in high office with great power, but they are also just men, with all the same feelings, weaknesses and foibles.

    By signs I don’t mean heavenly (lol), I mean statistical evidence, such as adult baptisms and young people entering seminaries or religious orders.

  56. Damian Johnston says

    When debating with the Church, we in the West have a very confrontational approach, generally. The men we debate with in the West return to the Vatican and oversee dicastries that set policy for the governance of the Church in other parts of the world, parts were the gay rights movement is still in its infancy and were societies still see homosexuality as something deeply taboo. If we in the West approach that debate with a degree of cordiality rather than shrillness, then how the Church approached the gay rights movement in other parts of the world can be positively affected by that. I lived, worked and studied in Rome by the way, so I really do have an idea what I’m talking about on this subject. My Licentiate (Ecclesiatical Masters) is actually in Church Communication.

    As for Russia, in America it isn’t fully understood how the Russian mentality and the Orthodox Church are so deeply intertwined. Russians speak of Holy Mother Russia, and see the Church and the land as profoundly connected. The state, as governor of the land, is necessarily part of that equation. Even secular Russians cannot fully disconnect that tripartite relationship. Even under the communist regime which persecuted the Church, the hierarchy collaborated to a degree with the state. Being disrespectful of the Church in the West affects how the establishment in Russia views the gay rights movement there. Pussy Riot, attacked Putin by protesting in a Moscow Cathedral. It wasn’t a coincidence that they protested where they did, it was a highly tuned protest that struck at both Church and state in a way that wouldn’t make much sense if done in America.

  57. says

    @Damian–I wasn’t talking about the Catholic Church worldwide; I was talking about a school in a state with marriage equality. There is no need to look at this case with anything but a Western perspective. (Though having lived in Catholic Croatia this fall, I’m well aware of the power of Catholicism outside the US.) In the US, the importance of the Catholic Church is diminished in no small part because lay Catholics do not share the antiquated views of the hierarchy. (And all the molesting priest scandals have diminished whatever moral authority they once had.) That will be a crisis for the Church in the US because soon civil marriage equality will be the law of the land across the US, and their schools/institutions will be forced to come to terms with this basic reality.

    Why do you presume I get news only from sources that share my politics, and why do you presume to know what my politics are?

  58. simon says

    Damian:
    Cordiality is a two-way street. The Church is hardly cordial when it comes to gay issues.
    We are described as “intrinsically disordered” and the good Cardinal Dolan said we are only entitled to “friendship”. Pretty condescending. Isn’t it?
    What you called “confrontational” was actually the reason why we had a relatively successful gay movement in the West as compared to Asia and other parts of the World. It was through political alliance and defeat of opponents in the political arena that victories were won. And of course through the court system. It is nice if we can win over the Church. I think most activists have given that up long time ago.
    It seems mission impossible at the moment.
    Why not concentrate on something that so far has worked instead of wasting time to win over an ineffective and stubborn opponent.

  59. Damian Johnston says

    Here in London it’s nearly three in the morning so I’m off to bed. Night night guys. I’ll pick up in the morning if you’re still interested.

Leave A Reply