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.