A good example of how anti-Catholic bigotry has been revived

Didn’t I, just the other day, tell you readers that faithful Catholics would be accused of hate speech if we stick faithfully to what the Church teaches?

Get this.  You can’t make things up fast enough.

S. Carolina councilwoman apologizes for describing Catholic beliefs as ‘hate’

Charleston, Nov 21, 2008 / 02:56 am (CNA).- A South Carolina county councilwoman has apologized for remarks she made [Sometimes people say things poorly and what they say doesn't really reflect what they think.  Sometimes people say things they really think, but shouldn't have said.  Sometimes people think stupid things and shouldn't think them.] at a land management committee discussion considering whether to allow a Catholic church to expand. She had said she would oppose the expansion because she sees “hate” in the Catholic Church, criticizing the Church’s pro-life position and its lack of female clergy, which she called “an affront to my dignity and all of womankind.”

On Monday the Beaufort County Council heard a request from Saint Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton to rezone land for a proposed expansion.

The website of Saint Gregory the Great Church, whose pastor is named Father Ronald Cellini, reports it is seeing “unprecedented growth of this parish family,” increasing by more than 5,000 souls since 1995.

During a land management committee discussion, Laura Von Harten explained she would oppose the request of the parish at the full council meeting later in the week. Although Von Harten does not serve on the land committee, she took the floor to make plain her views about the Catholic Church[What if this had been for a mosque or orthodox synagogue?]

According to the Beaufort Gazette, she cited “human rights issues” as a reason for her opposition.

"I could not have Father Cellini’s job or the Pope’s job if I wanted it and it’s an affront to my dignity as a woman and all of womankind,” said Von Harten, who is reportedly a Unitarian Universalist[Riiiight....]

“I don’t want to support anything that will perpetuate that kind of ideology that would prevent me from being an active leader in an organization, and I don’t like the way they want to control women’s uteruses, and I just don’t want to do anything that would perpetuate that.”

If land must be rezoned, she said, “I want it to be to create a loving inclusive mixed-use community and that’s the only way I will give up rural land… I just have to vote in favor of love and against hate when I see hate.”  [WOW.]

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, went so far as to call for the councilwoman’s resignation.

“Without the slightest provocation, Laura Von Harten decided to bash Catholicism,” Donohue said in a Wednesday statement. “This suggests an animus so deep as to call into question her fitness for public service. [Agreed.] She should do more than recuse herself on matters Catholic—she should resign from her post as councilwoman. There is no legitimate role for bigots in public life.”  [Good word.]

Following criticism of her remarks, Von Harten on Tuesday said she would abstain from any votes on St. Gregory the Great’s rezoning.  [Big of her.]

She made what she called a formal apology for her remarks on Wednesday, saying her reference to human rights pertain to “the Catholic Church as a political entity, with a seat at the United Nations, but I acknowledge that I offended individuals in my own community.”

The Holy See in fact has a permanent observer mission to the United Nations but no voting seat.

Saying she intended no infringement of anyone’s religious freedom and did not intend to disparage any individual member of the Church, [Oh yah?  Is sounds like that was exactly what she intended.]  she added:

“I respect the rights of all people to worship in the church of their choosing. Given the history of persecution endured by members of the Catholic Church, I regret my insensitivity on this matter.”

Saying she was “truly sorry” for having “interjected” her concerns about the Catholic Church into a zoning discussion, she claimed she had “meant only an extension of my overall opposition to development that restricts access on the basis of factors such as race, age or gender but it was an inappropriate forum.”

“Please be assured that I have been reminded of the importance of separation of church and state in matters of land use, and have learned a great deal from this incident,” Von Harten continued, asking for forgiveness and pledging “to approach my duties as councilwoman from a more restrained and objective viewpoint.”

I don’t think she should have a place on that board.  FWIW.

 

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39 Responses to A good example of how anti-Catholic bigotry has been revived

  1. Fr. Guy says:

    I agree with you, Father. But, don’t you know how it works these days? You get to say whatever kind of ignorant bigoted thing you want to about the Catholic Church so it becomes a matter of public record. Then, after the people you’ve offended protest your highly inappropriate behavior you just say “Sorry”. After that the whole matter is “fixed” and you get to go on doing what you were doing before with no other consequences whatsoever. Of course, your ignorance and bigotry is still in place but you’ve said “sorry” so its all better now. There’s now accountability or making amends. You just say whatever you’d like and then say, “Oooops. Sorry. I’m really sorry that I think you’re hatemongers. I really haven’t changed my mind but I’m sorry that I tipped my hand. You Catholics are all still horrible people but I am sorry that I said so. No offense intended.” That’s how people in public life behave now and we put up with it.

  2. Jayna says:

    “I don’t want to support anything that will perpetuate that kind of ideology that would prevent me from being an active leader in an organization.”

    Women can be active leaders and not be clerics. Apparently she forgot about that whole lay ministry thing. And anyway, she’s not Catholic, she doesn’t have to subscribe to our ideology. She can respect our beliefs, even if she doesn’t agree with them. It wouldn’t be supporting ideology to allow land expansion, it would be an example of religious tolerance.

    “What if this had been for a mosque or orthodox synagogue?”

    Too right, Father. This would never have been an issue if it were a non-Christian (or even non-Catholic, for that matter) place of worship. Americans especially tend to see the Church as this worldwide corporate conglomerate and thus feel as though they are completely free to criticize her. It’s as if there aren’t real people with real beliefs making up the body of the Church.

    People like this don’t anger me, they make me sad. There is no true sense of religious pluralism in this country (contrary to what Hutchison might say). We as Catholics may have a voice in the public, but it’s out of tolerance, not acceptance.

  3. tertullian says:

    She is not a Unitarian Universalist. She is a bigot.

  4. Warren says:

    Agreed, Father, she should not have a place on that board.

    Perhaps the local priest can invite Ms. Von Harten to a Mass so she can experience the fact that Catholics are a forgiving people who also possess a strong sense of justice.

    To state the obvious… We must not hate her nor wish her ill will. However, no one should tolerate her bigotry, especially her colleagues on the council. Furthermore, if Ms. Von Harten shows no real sign of shedding her vile attitude and contemptuous behavior toward the Catholic residents of Beaufort County, no resident is under an obligation to return her to office. Consequently, it might then be appropriate to have the video of the council meeting resurface at re-election time as a simple and compelling reminder to all the residents what the face of bigotry looks like.

    Politicians understand and respond when they are reminded in a timely manner that votes get them into office,… .

  5. momof8 says:

    WOW, Fr Cellini? He has been there for years.. He was there when we were Stationed at Parris Island back in 99 when we left for DC area..

    The parish there was growing even then and they had talked about a new parish in Bluffton.. The school grew twofold, especially popular amonst the many Marine families stationed there and at the air station.

    Our base chapel was getting overfilled on Sundays and more people were opting to live out in town.

    I know many folks who are heading there to retire..I also suppose that Hilton Head which is about 25 minutes to the South is getting too pricey so many northerners are finding that Beaufort is a great place to settle down. It is a charming town with great history.

    They have a beautiful perpetual adoration chapel right downtown Beaufort..It was the first Catholic Chapel in the area before the Church was built across the bridge to St Helena. Great Place.

  6. I fully expect to hear more of this kind of talk.

  7. Ann says:

    More freedom for women here with all the various Christian sects than in many other countries under the weight of much less tolerant religions. Ours has high standards and a firm hold on the belief that God gave free will and so we accept that not everyone will attempt sainthood even if they call themselves Catholic. Here, she is free to choose her own preference as to church, one that fits with her personal views. And it is not yet in law that we are not allowed to do the same and be Catholic.

    Would she prefer to live under sharia law?

    This woman bashing the Church should have no place in public service. How can she serve the public which is often very faithful to their Christian roots when she hates part of the vary constituency she is called upon to represent?

    Bigotry is unacceptable.

  8. Sid says:

    He who says only “I’m sorry that you’re sorry” isn’t sorry about what he said. Yet this is what passes for an apology these days. At best decidedly imperfect contrition, to say nothing of the lacking satisfaction (resigning from the Board).

  9. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Catholics in the secularised west, and those persecuted in the east, take heart.

    “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    Matthew 5:10-12.

  10. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Sorry, just re-read my post above and realised it might be taken as a sarcastic dig from the outside. I meant it as a comforting reminder that in these times, and these times especially, we have our Lord’s promise that our persecution is a blessing for us.

  11. Brian Day says:

    One of the non-Catholic blogs that I read from time to time is the group legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy ( http://volokh.com/ )
    They talked about this yesterday here: http://volokh.com/posts/1227277190.shtml

    It is/was an interesting conversation in the comments. Of course there are the trolls and a few bigoted remarks, but overall the discussion over the legal aspects were interesting. At least to me.

  12. Brandon says:

    *Anti-Catholicism in America* – The Last Acceptable Prejudice
    Mark S. Massa, S.J.

    ISBN: 0-8245-2129-3

  13. Kradcliffe says:

    Well, she apologized and I think we should accept her apology and forgive her.

  14. What is particularly hypocritical is that these people say they want separation of church and state, and don’t want religious beliefs in their system. And then when they don’t like something about God’s Truth as promulgated by the Catholic Church, only then do they use the religious beliefs of Catholics as an excuse for hateful persecution. Of course this is one obvious proof of the fullness of Truth in the Catholic Church since only that Church is being discriminated against. Pray for this poor council woman.

  15. Fr. John says:

    O Quanta species cerebrum non habet! (Phaedrus)

  16. Sara says:

    We had something a bit similiar in my predominately LDS community when the local Catholic church wanted to build a MUCH larger church…however it was from the LAYPEOPLE and not the city council. It was too “in their face”.. Oh no that HUGE church just will not fit into the neighborhood scheme, ( regardless of the fact that there is an equally HUGE LDS church right around the corner) and what do I do when my kids ask me about that BIG church blah blah..lots of protests to the City Council (my God..the CATHOLICS are taking over..next thing you know they will be trying to convert us was the inside take)..the City Council did the smart thing and approved the new church…it was dedicated a couple of weeks ago and there it stands in all its glory, right on the main drag, in front of God and everyone, can’t miss it…there goes the neighborhood..

  17. Howard says:

    It’s almost refreshing to have undisguised enemies on the outside, rather than just disguised enemies on the inside.

    (“Love thine enemy” does not mean that you won’t have enemies (in fact, it rather hints that you will), nor does it mean that enemies should be mistaken for friends.)

  18. Rancher says:

    What’s that old song….”it’s only just begun”?

  19. Fr W says:

    funny how these male priesthood comments never are directed at the Orthodox; only Catholics

  20. Boko says:

    How refreshing to hear the Church criticized for being pro-life and anti- a particularly anti-woman version of feminism. After a few years of hanging our heads when we heard pedophile jokes directed at the Church, maybe we’re finding the right path again. This is a good sign.

  21. Fr. Guy: You get to say whatever kind of ignorant bigoted thing you want to about the Catholic Church so it becomes a matter of public record. Then, after the people you’ve offended protest your highly inappropriate behavior you just say “Sorry”.

    This reminds me of something that happened in the weird but oddly useful Windswept House.  A bishop of fly over country was instructed by a key player in the conference (on the wrong side) to come out for, I think it was, women’s ordination.  Then he was instructed to take it back and say he was misunderstood, that he misspoke, etc.  In doing so he would achieve a goal: bump the paradigm just half a degree in the direction they wanted it to go.  Creeping incrementalism.  They understand the long game.  I am not saying that the bigot in SC was doing that.  But that is how some operate.

  22. Howard says:

    Fr. Z:

    The risk they run with a strategy of “creeping incrementalism” is that they will be unable to resist the urge to turn up the heat on the frog so much that he realizes he’s about to be boiled alive. I expect that to happen in the near future; in fact, it’s happening right now in response to the Prop 8 vote.

    It never fails to amaze me how self-destructive evil is. It’s not enough to bowl over France and Poland, you just have to declare war on the Soviet Union before conquering Britain! There’s something akin to suicide in this.

  23. HMacK says:

    “…..but it was an inappropriate forum.”

    This is the key to her real reasoning. She was exposed for her natural bigotry in the wrong place and how embarrassing for her but she will continue to espouse her distorted perspectives in other fora. What rank hypocrisy, too. How can anyone with such ecclesiophobia & hate in herself maintain a position of public responsibility?

  24. patrick f says:

    And I oppose her. I couldnt have her job because I have common sense…

    How DO WE ELECT PEOPLE LIKE THIS?

    and it isnt just ecclesiophobia. Its a demented concept of feminism. True feminism is being equal, not the same. women think they have to have the exact same jobs, do the same thing as men in order to prove they are accepted. I could no more be a mother…. (I would be an incredibly ugly one to start with : ) )

    This person I think wasnt bright enough to play the long game. I simply think that she thinks that she is somehow held down or back because she is told \”No,This is a guy job, because GOD says so\”. I see it all the time. My wife\’s mother is the same mental state. She is a fallen away catholic, mostly because of how the church \”puts down women\”. She even tried to point out how Sarah Palin during the election was just this wierd backwards thinker because of the scripture that she quoted \”women should be subserviant\”. I promptly corrected her on the wording where it says \”subordinate\”, and then guided her to read the WHOLE passage, where it also puts the husband in his place as well. She hasnt had a comment back, odly. This is how alot of people (men and women\” in the feminist movement think though. They look at conservative church as \”patriarchal\” and oppressive, simply because they arent allowed to have their way. True knowledge and wisdom is understanding that both sexes were made for their own unique purposes.

    She should resign. She obviously isnt an objective person. she definately doesnt care about the will of the people. Right, I know , it isnt going to happen. Just saying the obvious though.

  25. Irulats says:

    Kradcliffe: “Well, she apologized and I think we should accept her apology and forgive her.”

    I think most Catholics would take her at her word and forgive her. We can still hope for some justice as well though. The common good and society as a whole require some sort of public chastisement for her actions. If the punishment doesn’t open her eyes and heart it might serve as a deterrent to others.

  26. Why don’t we see the same kind of ferocious antipahty and hostility toward the Eastern Orthodox Christians? They do not ordain women, either, and have a male only hierarchy. When was the last time you saw a female Buddhist monk on TV? The inconsistencies of the enemies of the Catholic Church are beyond number.

  27. Broadsword says:

    I sent her an email: ” I read about what you said to the Catholics. Well done. It is good to see you say in public what you really believe. I suspect as a result of your words, thousands of Catholics are now praying that you have an experience of The Holy Spirit and conversion from your ideology of foolishness and doublespeak. Bigotry in the name of inclusion and fairness is still bigotry. ”

    Be courteous if you send sentiments.
    lvonharten@bcgov.net

  28. Steve says:

    Anti-Catholicism isn’t making a come-back; it never really went away. If a politician were ever to make a political speech from a Catholic pulpit there would be an outrage. But in goes on election after election, year after year most especially among the Baptist communuties. If there truly is a separation of Church and State (a misinterpretation of what our Founding Fathers really had intended) it seems to only include the Catholic Church. Read Andrew Greely’s “An Ugly Little Secret” and see how anti-Catholic bigotry controls all aspects of life in this “Land of the Free”. The bishops need to start awakening the giant (their flocks) and start making a “joyful noise unto the Lord” in reparation and supplication for what has been allowed to go on for too long.

  29. Jayna says:

    Brandon: Anti-Catholicism in America is a fantastic book with an unfortunately true conclusion.

  30. patrick f says:

    “The inconsistencies of the enemies of the Catholic Church are beyond number.”

    That’s because we are the enemies biggest and greatest target.

    Most of the Holiest saints were in constant spiritual battle too.

    If the Devil overturn’s the Buddhist church, he has accomplished nothing. The real accomplishment for him is to eradicate the Catholic church. He cant, but he keeps trying. that is why we have so many enemies. Its a consistent (where be it, futile” multi front attack

  31. Athelstane says:

    “Why don’t we see the same kind of ferocious antipathy and hostility toward the Eastern Orthodox Christians?”

    There are a lot fewer of them in America.

    For most Americans, the Othodox are out of sight, out of mind.

  32. Carlos Palad says:

    “Why don’t we see the same kind of ferocious antipahty and hostility toward the Eastern Orthodox Christians? They do not ordain women, either, and have a male only hierarchy. When was the last time you saw a female Buddhist monk on TV? The inconsistencies of the enemies of the Catholic Church are beyond number.”

    Actually, in the US news media, the Russian Orthodox Church is increasingly
    being tagged as a dangerous organization merely because it is Russian, and is often
    accused of spreading Communism (!), KGB agents, etc. Much of the anti-Orthodox rhetoric in the NYT and other news outlets certainly mirror much of the anti-Catholic rhetoric from the 19th century (e.g. Catholics are instruments of the Pope, the Jesuits, out for world domination etc.)

    Unfortunately, many of the same Catholics who consider whatever the secular media
    says about Catholicism to be crap, often uncritically swallow what the same secular media
    says about our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

  33. I agree – forgive this poor woman for what she has said and done because she asked for forgiveness. Then demand, as a sign of her earnest repentance and desire to repair the damage she has done to Catholics in her community and the reputation of the council, that she resign.

    There is no place for this kind of bigotry. I am told that such things happen very frequently with Baptist council members against Catholics here in the Southeast…I have heard about it especially in the D.C. area.

    What legal recourse do Catholic churches have?

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  34. pdt says:

    Fortunately, Father Daniel, there is no legal recourse to her public comments. The freedom of speech guarantees each of us the right to say foolish things. But it also guarantees us the right to speak out against the things that we see as wrong, such as abortion rights, despite the fact that most people, as evidenced by election results, believe that we are speaking hate speech against women.

    The recourse available is either a public recall of the official in question or a simple \”no\” vote the next time she is up for election. It was their last vote, Father Z, in which the local people say that she does have a right on that board. Whether we like it or not.

  35. Matt Q says:

    “I sent her an email: ” I read about what you said to the Catholics. Well done. It is good to see you say in public what you really believe. I suspect as a result of your words, thousands of Catholics are now praying that you have an experience of The Holy Spirit and conversion from your ideology of foolishness and doublespeak. Bigotry in the name of inclusion and fairness is still bigotry. ”

    Be courteous if you send sentiments.
    lvonharten@bcgov.net
    Comment by Broadsword ”

    )(

    Why be “courteous” when sending sentiments? If you wish to send one one’s sentiments, why lie about it? Sending email is personal and addressed to her. She made her comments in public. Which is worse? Also, it’s time to update this girlfriend.

  36. I like that fact that her Unitarian universalist Minister–a woman–publically published a correction to her statements and behavior in the name of her Church–it didn’t read like a pro forma thing, she sounded offended!

  37. Susan Peterson says:

    Matt Q,

    One should always be courteous. Always. One may be trenchant and incisive while remaining courteous. One may be scathing while remaining cou rteous. It is an art. Rudeness never speaks well for itself.
    Susan Peterson

  38. ssoldie says:

    Not only bigoted, but hateful, read and re read what came out of her mouth. She should resign.