Potentially, I may be about to tick off God, so be warned about lightning strikes.
Evan's baptism was Sunday. We had the christening in the chapel of the parish I attended when I was growing up. I had all of my "C" sacraments there-communion, confession, confirmation-and I bet I've attended close to one thousand masses there in my life.
But not recently. I have a tendency to encounter "falling out" situations with churches. I grew tired of this particular parish over a decade ago, because they played the city in which the parish is located for fools, acquiring a valuable piece of land (in the name of creating a "badly needed" parking lot) and demolishing an historic building. Guess what? The lot is nothing but grass, and has never been anything but. I have had a falling out with two other parishes in the area over what I believe are blatant political endorsements-more on this later, promise.
I digress. We went to this parish for the baptism for logistical and sensible reasons. My mother still attends this parish, and we thought it would be nice to have her third grandson baptized there (five of her six grandchildren have now been christened there-Desmond is the only one who was baptized elsewhere). I had no problem with going to back to this church.
We arrived at the church about twenty minutes before the start of the baptism, and I snagged a bulletin available in the lobby expecting to see our son listed with the other babies being christened there on this day. To my surprise, there was no mention of forthcoming baptisms.
I was a little disappointed but it was certainly nothing for me to be alarmed at. However, later in the bulletin, there was a half-page block of text, and it began like so:
"We remind our parishioners to vote, and to encourage others not just to vote, but to vote correctly. We all should vote and encourage others to vote for life."
The emphasis is mine. It took a few moments of conversation in my head to figure this out: Vote correctly? What the hell does that mean? And why does the parish want to make sure that I vote for the remainder of my life...wait a tic, that's not what it means. They're telling everyone to vote pro-life.
I wanted to leave. I wish I had the stones to say that I didn't want to be a part of anything this church participates in, but of course I didn't, and we had our son baptized, and I forgot about all this until we returned home.
Look, I understand the Catholic Church's position when it comes to abortion, and I understand why they are so passionate about it. Truly, that would never upset me, but I draw the line at them telling me that I need to vote Republican.
And let's be honest, that is what this was, an implicit endorsement of the GOP because it is the "pro-life" party. And it is completely wrong. As far as I'm concerned, this parish should have it's tax-exempt status removed for making a political endorsement.
(For the record, if there had been an implied message to vote Democratic for any one particular reason, I'd say that was wrong too. However I admit that it would not incense me the way this actual message does, because the entire abortion debate nauseates me.)
The Church is pro-life, and I am pro-choice. By the way, that does not mean that I am "pro-abortion." I wish there never had to be another abortion performed anywhere on this planet, and I am tired of pompous, holier-than-thou pro-life supporters who accuse those of us who are pro-choice of encouraging pregnant women to have abortions no matter the circumstances, like we are all population control freaks or something.
I am pro-choice for one and only one reason: I am a man. I will never know what it is like to be pregnant. I really don't think men should have a fair say in restricting a woman's personal choice.
Obviously, this is an extremely volatile topic, and I could write about it for the next year. To placate my disappointment, I am going to write the pastor of this church a letter expressing my distaste for seeing a thinly-disguised endorsement in the church bulletin. The church has no place in politics unless it wants to pay taxes. I will be respectful and courteous, but I won't feel better about this until I write him. I will be curious to see if he contacts me afterward.
One last point, and I can't express this in any other way, so let me apologize in advance for the way I say this. Have you ever seen a bumper sticker that says "You can't be Catholic and Pro-Life"? I see them around more and more these days, and when I do, I want to tape a large piece of paper next to the sticker and write in big, bold, block letters with a giant black permanent marker:
"The fuck I can't!"