Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The return of shunning?

A few weeks ago the comments box of a Catholic issues blog was roiling with debate. The topic turned toward actress Katie Holmes' registering as a parishioner in what was called a "gay friendly" Catholic Church. The comments turned toward just what it means to be an "inclusive" parish. And then some commenters claimed that there should be no such thing, and no public sign of welcome of any kind. Any accommodation could be scandalous, a sign of disdain for Church teaching. Gay Catholics, they said in effect, should be shunned. (I think they forgot that even people who are not "disposed to receive Holy Communion" are not exempt from the obligation of Sunday Mass.)

Today the shoe is kind of on the other foot. A certain Christian-owned chicken chain is being targeted for shunning--and this time the politicos are joining in. Here in Chicago, an alderman made it public that he is going to veto the opening of a planned restaurant in his domain, simply on the basis of the owner's Christian convictions (our aldermen can do that here). And our mayor supports this, calling it a matter of justice. I understand the same kind of thing is happening in other cities, with the business being held hostage (with threats about licensing and zoning and the like) not because of any illegal activity or bribes or organized crime connections, but because of its owner's views. Heck, a pro-chicken movement on Facebook was deleted by the social network, presumably after someone complained about its existence.

I was praying over this today. First I was praying for the owner of the restaurant chain. But then I felt nudged to pray for the people who are doing the shunning. In both the first case and the second, what really comes across is not ardor for a noble cause but hostility,  and the attempt to simply force other people to conform to standards that, in both cases, are assumed to be beyond question. People on both sides need a change of heart.

And then maybe a good conversation. Over a chicken sandwich.


Fran said...

Thanks for this post. I continue to be truly troubled by the tone of conversation about who is "in" and who is "out."

As a parish secretary, I have the privilege of watching all kinds of people roll in... and this is in suburbia! Yet all God's children show up and we are called to meet them where they are.

And this does go for both sides, since each "side" (in Christ there is no east or west!) thinks that they are free of such problems. We are all challenged by them.

Thank you and peace.

Denise said...

Now we really have something to cluck about. A chicken chain is under attack for a political point of view. A church is under attack for a warm welcome to all of God's children. Our taxes may be used to pay for medical procedures we do not approve. Our nation needs prayer and common sense.

Anonymous said...

What really bothers me is that an alderman has announced that a business will not be permitted to open in his ward because the owner of the business choses to spend his money on social causes that the alderman finds objectional. What is the point of having "free speech" if the government can prohibit you from engaging in business ventures as punishment for your position on social issues?

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Anonymous, that not only "bothers" me, it scares me. It is as if now businesses and civil entities don't have simply to obey the law: their owners have to be "in sync" with the spirit of the age even on the level of personal convictions. That's not something law can really touch.
Not in a democracy, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Are we a democracy or a democratic republic? puzzlement.