Catholic Bashing is Politically Correct
carolyn By Carolyn Gargaro
Rightgrrl Co-Founder
April 19, 1999
On April 4, 1999, Easter Sunday, the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence", a group of mostly gay men who dress in strange looking Nun's habits, elaborate make-up and wigs, celebrated their 20th anniversary in San Francisco. The Sisters also received unanimous approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to close a section of a city street in the Castro district for this celebration. The group's activities range from fund raising for breast cancer and AIDS, to gay rights support. However, the activities don't stop there. While the group's fund-raising efforts are admirable, their attitude towards people of certain religious faiths is not quite as admirable.

The Sisters are known for openly ridiculing Catholicism, performing "classy" acts, such as an "exorcism" during the pope's visit in 1987 and holding a "Condom Savior Mass." [ ABC News ] The Sisters twist traditional church garments, symbols, and ceremonies into sexual displays in their open mockery of the Church. One doesn't have to be Catholic to understand why this would be, oh, maybe just a tad offensive.

Archdiocese of San Francisco spokesman Maurice Healy condemned the plan as a "deliberate insult to the church". The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights explained that the fact that the men dress up as Nuns wasn't the issue, that their objection "centres [sic] on their obscene assaults on the Eucharist, the very nucleus of Catholicism. That is why we are outraged." [ ABC News ]

Now, the question is, do the Sisters have a right to engage in such activities? Yes, they do. No one is denying this. But people also have a right to be offended. Is it just a "coincidence" that such an event was planned to occur on Easter? The group's actions and extreme mockery of certain religious beliefs is obvious bigotry against a particular group of people. The fact that the holiest day on the Christian calendar was the day chosen for the event, only reinforces that Sisters' actions were based on intolerance.

Would the city officials of San Francisco permit a similar group to dress up on the feast day of the Eid ul-Adha, and make a mockery of the faith of Muslim pilgrims? Would the city officials embrace a group that planned to dress up as Orthodox rabbis or Orthodox Jewish men and women to make a mockery of the Orthodox Jewish faith on Yom Kippur or during Passover? Or better yet, how about a group of people impersonating African Americans, mocking their culture? Cries of intolerance and bigotry would abound, and very likely, the group would not gain approval from the city to close a street for their party.

Oh wait... I almost forgot. Catholic bashing is politically correct, and has been for a while now. Remember when Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night live, back in 1993? People applauded her actions. Can you imagine if she tore up a picture of Ghandi? Jesse Jackson? Would people have applauded that?

Many people imply that the Catholic Church was out of line to even suggest that holding such an anti-Catholic rally of Easter might be in bad taste, and deeply offensive to some. But doesn't the Church have a right to complain? Would anyone think it was odd if any of the aforementioned groups protested, if similar activities, ridiculing their religion or ethnicity, were held on their most sacred day of the year?

Some might argue that protesting such a demonstration actually brings more attention to it, due to the controversy. This might be true, but does that mean that we must embrace these actions? Would people claim that we should just "keep our mouths shut" if a group, belittling the Jewish faith, decided to hold a rally during Passover, gaining special privileges from the city to do so? This goes beyond the Constitutional right to assemble; the Sisters wanted the privilege of closing a street. The Constitution gives us the right to assemble, but special privileges, such as the closing of streets, is not included in that.

One would think that, with the amount of "gay-bashing" that occurs (which I disagree with), the Sisters would be sensitive to the fact that they are openly mocking an entire religion on their holiest day of the year. Is it really necessary to belittle and mock another group, on that group's sacred day, to make a point? Are they unable to make their point and engage in fund-raising efforts without purposely demeaning another group?

"But I know Catholics who participate in gay-bashing!" people cry. Yes, and is that right? No. I also know that many, if not the majority of Catholics, who, while they may or may not agree with the gay lifestyle, in no way, shape or form, belittle or mock those who are gay. And what about those who are Catholic - and gay?

Holding a 20th anniversary rally is one thing. Holding a 20th anniversary party which gains special privileges from the city and openly ridicules a religion on their most sacred day of the year is another. Technically, the Sisters do have a right to do this, just as technically, an anti-Semitic group has the right to mock Judaism during Passover. While the former is tolerated, I doubt the latter would be. The main issue here is hypocrisy. In this age of "political correctness" where a man is fired for using the term "niggardly", when a student is kicked out of school for using the term "water buffalo", where someone is often called anti-Semitic for comparing anything to Hitler, it is ironic that the rights given to the Sisters' is seen by many as "tolerant" while the Sisters attitude towards Catholicism and Christianity in general is anything but.

But then, it's just the Catholic Church. It's politically correct to mock them.

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This article copyright © 1999 by Carolyn Gargaro and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.