Thursday, January 19, 2006

Catholics not understood well by the religious right

I wasn't going to write about this earlier today, because it didn't surprise me that of the "Top 50 Most Influential Christians in America," only two were Catholics and only one was a Catholic actually living in the United States (which is what I assume America is to the publishers of The Church Report. Rome not being in the United States).

Coming in at #44 is, of course, his holiness, Pope Bennie. I'll let them slide on the entire Rome not in the US, because, being the religious leader of 25 percent of Americans, he is pretty influential. The archbishop of DC, Cardinal Theodore McCarrcik comes in at #47, right below Rick Santorum, and some guy who runs church Growth Today.

It doesn't surprise me that only two Catholics made the list, but it still pisses me off. Instead of rambling out ten odd years of frustration, I'll just say that I guess if you don't have some really good t.v. and fall right in line with their Southern based political view of the world, you just don't count.

I said earlier that I wasn't going to write about this, not until I read my SoJo mail today:
Are Catholics and Evangelicals cut from the same cloth?

In the church of my childhood - a staunch evangelical church in central Illinois, just a few hours drive from Wheaton - Catholics were not considered to be Christians. I was taught in Sunday School that Catholics did not read the Bible and elevated Mary the mother of Jesus into a fourth place in the Trinity. Worse yet, we learned that Catholics did not believe Jesus died once and for all for our sins; he had to repeat the act every time the Catholics took Holy Communion.

My understanding of Catholics changed when I began working in ministry in poor communities first in the United States, and then Latin America. I met Catholics who loved to read the Bible and faithfully explore its message for their lives. On many occasions, I was humbled by their sacrificial quest to follow the path of Jesus.

Of course, over the years I discovered that there are all kinds of Catholics, just as there are all kinds of Protestants. Some Catholics are happy to go through the motions and find shelter in the security of orthodoxy. Other Catholics desire a living, breathing faith that fills them with wonder and purpose.

The article is about a faculty at a Protestant college that was fired after converting to Catholicism. In addition to again refreshing my memory of how my faith is viewed by greater American Christianity, it reminded me how some view anything around here.

Whether or not we can come to a common ground really isn't important, because some of us aren't going to let us even get that far. We are different, we think different things and we believe in different Gods, and some of us may not even believe in God. Either way, the lesson seems to be that "it's not worth talking to anyone that you don't already agree with," which is sad.


Carl said...

I though Sean Hannity and Rick Santorum were Catholics.

Emmett said...

Yes, they are, and I knew that. I just forgot in my haste to bash on the evangelicals. Either way, Hannity and Santorum aren't exactly Sister Helen Prejean or Jim Post.

Still 4 out of 50 isn't great.