Thursday, March 10, 2016

I am an American. But I am a Catholic first.

"I'm a Muslim, but I'm an American first." When I read it, I thought it was jarring. I'm an American, but I'm a Catholic first. Unapologetically. But the thing is, I'm allowed to be. No one demands that I apologize or undermine my faith. No one. They might not get it and they might even make laws which prove the ignorance. (Guys, no. We oppose birth control as such, not just if it causes abortion.) But I'm allowed to disagree. And I'm allowed to cite my faith as reason. I'm allowed to be Catholic first.
Religious freedom means nothing if it excludes unpopular religions.
A popular evangelical leader went on a popular TV program and made the accusation that Muslims are infiltrating DC and the White House. The interviewer got credit for pushing back: what evidence do you have. (None, as it turns out. Hearsay.) But it's the wrong criticism, right? The whole accusation was that Muslims are there. Not terrorists Muslims or jihadists or whatever the buzzword du jour might be. Just, Muslims are there. The right response is, "Of course there are Muslims in positions of authority and giving advice to those that are! Without them what hope do we have of diplomacy with Muslim nations? Worse, what claim do we have to moral high ground if religious freedom is a myth?
Christians, my friends. My people. My brothers and sisters. We cannot get this one wrong. I'm disgusted. The short-sighted, selfish, fearful bigotry has found voice and its growing. Reject it. Not in my name. Not in my country. Claim the mantle of freedom and love without fear. Religious freedom which only applies to Christian is a lie. No one in America should be afraid to observe their religion. No one in America should have to hide or apologize for their faith.
Disagree, if you do. Loudly and openly. But with love and respect and welcome. Freedom and faith demand it.

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