A sensationalized, click bait piece. A slam dunk. A snotty, white, Catholic boy, donning a MAGA hat, smirking into the eyes of a Native American. Video and all. What screams division more than this? The plot thickens when journalists learn our antagonist was at the March For Life, pro-life event in D.C., and the Native American was a Vietnam War Veteran. This (was) too good. The perfect story. Hollywood can’t even write a script this perfect.
The story gets figured out. It wasn’t what was originally reported. It was a case of multiple wrongdoings, by all parties involved, but most certainly a story that never should have gone viral. The backtracking, apologies, and corrections soon follow. Next, “what did we (the media) learn” follows with smug sincerity. Everything appears right in the world again. News cycle over. The social justice Twitter mob strikes again. This time it fails miserably. Never trust a mob. Ever. To quote Tommy Lee Jones from Men In Black, “a person is smart, but people are dumb.”
Still, two problems from the Covington blowup exist. Both were largely missed while the media was playing judge, jury, and executioner. First, this was at a pro-life rally to which many in America take very serious. Oddly enough, among the fallout from this story last week, an abortion bill becomes a law in New York state. Second, this opened the door for writers and state legislatures to wage an assault on Catholic and Christian education. Never let a good crisis go to waste. The hashtag #ExposeChristianSchools was trending when a writer from the New York Times set out a plea for real stories of personal experiences at Catholic and Christian schools. He had to later explain he wasn’t just looking for negative experiences, even though his original request was quite obvious.
Both of these are important issues that quietly rest on the surface. Catholics, and church leaders are historically not too vocal on these topics, however, with legislatures inching closer and closer to altering what religious freedom means in the daily life of an American, or forcing requirements on what they view religious freedom should look like; it is becoming most important for Catholics to stand their ground, and wake up.
In light of new sexual assault allegations coupled with an already dwindling attendance within the church, plus a decrease in self-admitted Catholic believers, the problem could not come at a worse time. The leaders need help from parishioners, but this is likely the last thing a parishioner wants to discuss. They still have their own grievances to settle with an institution that has largely failed them. It is important for Christians, and all religious people to understand what Covington actually showed the country.
Let’s dive deeper into abortion and pro-choice. First, abortion rates are not as high as they once were, however, they are still far too high in an advanced nation like ours. There are many ways to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, and it is alarming that we are not seeing dramatic decreases in abortion rates simply from education and access to contraceptives. This is a problem on its own. The other issue is to what extent a state will go to protect a women’s right to choose, while going against an unborn life’s right to stop the process.
New York State has made two dramatic changes to its law. The first change is allowing an abortion at any time if it will impair the women’s life. It is important to state that most pro-life people believe in this view as well, but it is the second part of the law that is worrisome. The law has been rewritten that any medical professional, including nurses can administer an abortion. Call this next line cynical, but are we to believe that this doesn’t pave the way for ‘back alley abortions’ again? We are to think that a Doctor Kevorkian situation won’t arise, and we will only be privy to the information a decade removed from when it was happening?
Science has improved rapidly, and to think that this unborn fetus is not a living organism at one stage post conception, but magically becomes life at another is steadily becoming an archaic form of science. It’s reaching a point that pro-life and pro-choice believers need to go back to facts with new findings, and not simply rest on ‘it’s her right to choose.’ That’s becoming the lazy argument. Let’s juxtapose it when climate change naysayers simply ignore facts. It’s becoming more obvious that pro-choice voters are avoiding facts, the same way a climate change denier avoids them. There is a grey area, and discussions should commence.
Let’s take a look at our second issue – Catholic and Christian education. State legislatures and the media have waged assault against this protected form of education in light of the Covington story. The expose Christian schools hashtag, plus a lengthy piece against a Catholic school that Mike Pence’s wife associates with were just two examples in one week. Both pieces strike at the core of religious freedom.
State legislatures are attempting to alter what educators teach in religious schooling systems, or at least what should be said. They are trying to obstruct and control the teaching, by impeding the ability to educate freely. There are bills throughout the country doing this in some fashion.
Religious freedom is a fundamental principle that offers guarantees to Americans, and infringement cannot be tolerated. It is a step in the wrong direction. Catholics, Christians, and all believers must join with their religious leaders and free speech advocates to put a halt to these bills. Parents choose to place their child in this school, and they are fully aware of the curriculum and education they’ll receive.
Couple the assault on Catholic education with the need to reset the abortion discussion in our country, and the real topics from the Covington story take on story lines that actually matter in our life. Let’s stop letting divisive, bitter stories distract us from the discussions that matter. We as Americans must stay vigilant and speak up when we see real injustice occurring. Even if the media leads us to believe it’s not the most popular opinion.