Political Flavors

Archive for May, 2013

When Bill Donahue Is Right

Posted in Editorials on May 20th, 2013

Nicholas Coppola married his husband in October 2012. He is also Catholic and was active in his parish as a lector, a Eucharistic minister who visited ill and housebound Catholics, a member of the consolation ministry, a member of the St. Vincent DePaul society, and a religious educator.

In January, the pastor at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside stripped Coppola of his jobs as a religious education teacher, lector and visitation minister. A top aide to Murphy had conveyed concerns to the parish after the bishop received an anonymous letter pointing out that Coppola wed his partner under New York’s new gay marriage law.

In response, 18,500 people signed a petition on the website of “Faithful America” a progressive Christian organization – asking for Coppola to be reinstated. How did the Diocese of Rockville Centre respond?

The diocese rejected his reinstatement request, saying Coppola was fired because “by marrying under New York State’s same-sex marriage law, he took a public position against church teachings.”

“The Catholic Church recognizes that all persons share equally in the dignity of being human and are entitled to have that human dignity protected,” Diocese spokeman Sean Nolan said in a statement last week. “This does not, however, justify the creation of a new definition for marriage, a term whose traditional meaning is of critical importance to the furtherance of fundamental societal interests.”

Bill Donahue from the Catholic league called the 18,500 people who are loving their neighbor, “bullies.”

The American people respect the autonomy of religious institutions to craft their own rules and regulations, and they do not look kindly on bullying.


Here’s the problem. Bill Donahue is wrong that the people who signed the Faithful America petition are bullies. They’re not. They are misguided people who for some reason think that the Catholic Church is a democracy or cares about public opinion. And that’s where I am inclined to agree with him.

The internal affairs of the Catholic Church are not the business of the public, and this includes outside advocacy groups as well as government agencies. Among the internal issues of the Church are employment decisions. Just as it is the right of a yeshiva to insist that its employees abide by Judaic strictures, it is the right of a Catholic school to insist that its employees respect Catholic teachings. Regrettably, GLAAD, Dignity and Faithful America show nothing but contempt for this verity.

I would disagree that Coppola is an “employee.” He’s not, he’s a volunteer. I also have a different view on the “contempt” that GLAAD and Fathful America are acting upon. They are not acting out of malice. I would call it righteous anger. I think that they are right to support Coppola, and to be outraged on his behalf. He did a lot of work for many years for his parish and he was cast aside for no other reason than bigotry based on a deeply flawed religion. But if they think that the Catholic Church can ever, or will ever be changed, they are sorrily mistaken.

Thinking About Labels – “Secular” vs “Atheist”

Posted in Editorials on May 17th, 2013

Rebecca Goldstein’s talk “The Mattering Map: Religion, Humanism, and Moral Progress” gave me a lot to think about. She touched on “the gender issue,” microaggressions, and the idea of mattering. If you are at all interested in philosophy I recommend you check it out when it’s posted online.

What really caught my attention was when Goldstein described abrahamic monotheism as crediting God with creating both the physical world without and the moral world within.

What if you think it’s only the latter?

This is why I struggle with labels like atheist/theist/agnostic. Secular is a better word. It relegates religion to the private realm. As I have stated before, I truly believe that how we live, how we make decisions, what our values are – matter more than what our theology may be.

Live Blogging Women in Secularism: A Bizarre Beginning

Posted in Editorials on May 17th, 2013

Ron Lindsay, president of the Center for Inquiry began today’s conference with a bizarre opening statement. He started off by reading from 1 Timothy (A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man…) and people were snickering along assuming her was being facetious, but after hearing his whole talk, I’m not so sure.

Lindsay gave bell hooks definition of feminism, that it is “a movement to end sexism.” But then he launched into a strange discussion about how feminists disagree about what sexism is and danced around the idea that feminists frequently fall victim to a “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

Then he sunk even lower and broached the topic of privilege. He made some concessions that women and minorities still face discrimination, but quickly rushed to his larger point that the concept of privilege is used as a weapon to silence white dudes. I don’t think he saw the irony in saying this at the beginning of the “Women in Secularism” conference. At all.

Also Justin Vacula is here. And tweeted the following. Surprising no one.

On My Way To Women In Secularism 2!

Posted in Site News on May 17th, 2013

I’m currently on an Amtrak train heading towards Washington DC for the Women in Secularism 2 conference sponsored by the Center For Inquiry.

Although I don’t describe myself as an atheist, there’s a lot of overlap in the speakers an panels with topics I’m interested in: feminism, a critical view of religion, politics- especially with regards to the separation if church and state. Many of my favorite bloggers and twitter friends will be there too!

I’ll be tweeting and blogging as I can. You can also follow along on the #WISCFI hash tag. If you are going, let me know if you want to meet up!

For our Girls to Succeed, We Must Reign in Rakish Boys

Posted in Editorials on May 7th, 2013

It’s prom season, and so in the interest of the public, media outlets will be spending a lot of effort covering high school dress codes. These schools are teaching our girls an important lesson about how their bodies are valued. But, as so many have asked, what about the boys? What about the boys, indeed. This must have been an oversight – in all of the hubbub about short skirts and spaghetti straps, we haven’t even begun to discuss the things that distract girls during classroom time! There are so many things administrators must bar from our schools which are stumbling blocks for girls.

To do my part, I have drafted the following dress code for our nations young men. Because the groundbreaking Rebolution Modesty Survey did not include any questions for girls about what they think about boys attire, I instead thought back to all of the things that jeopardized my education almost 13 years ago.

1. No tight pants. During my year in Catholic School, there was a guy who wore his regulation uniform pants rather tightly. He was a frequent topic of discussion among the girls on the bus home from school. We really should have been doing our math homework and praying The Rosary instead.

2. No wearing undershirts as shirts. This was common when I got to public school, and was especially distracting for me. “Wife beaters” and v neck undershirts expose too much of the chest area, and are not appropriate for school.

3. No stubble. Boys must be clean shaven or have clearly defined facial hair. Boys with stubble would not allow girls to focus on their studies. It’s science.

4. No long hair. Hair must be short enough so that it is not touching the ears or shirt collar. A few of my friends were always going on about guys with “sexy hair,” and of course we have the cautionary tale of Angela Chase. She could have been a Rhodes Scholar if it were not for this dude:

4a. No hair product. Even students with regulation hair cuts can cause a distraction with proper styling. I myself made a juvenile joke out of pure frustration about having to share the library with such a rogue. It was something like “That dry look is sure making me wet.” Such a tragedy. How many young female minds are wasted because of styling gel, mousse and spray?

5. Short sleeved shirts must come to the elbow. Shirts which cut the arm at the thickest part of the bicep are too distracting.

6. Shirts with buttons must be buttoned all the way up to the collar. Unbuttoning the top two or three buttons of a shirt draws too much attention to the neck and shoulders and is inappropriate for school.

I’m sure with these simple suggestions, schools can make the classroom a place where girls can spend all of their attention on learning. We must teach our boys that it is their responsibility not to disrupt the school day with they way that they dress. This is a lesson they will carry with them into the workplace and throughout their lives.