Religious Ignorance

Watching Law & Order SVU on Hulu, I notice a number of episodes with murders and other secular activities taking place in a Catholic church. It makes me more conscious of how groups are portrayed in the media. With this show, I often see characters who are criminals and Christian. Perhaps writers involve Catholicism because our rituals can add so much color to a story. Thankfully one of the main characters in the show is Catholic or it could feel anti-Catholic. Maybe it’s this subliminal portrayal by the writers that keeps me watching.

Jesus Christ, founder of the Church

Jesus Christ, founder of the Church

There are lots of stereotypes and misinformation about Catholics in general. I’m a little taken aback by people visibly hating Catholicism only to learn how ignorant they are of it. Perhaps there is a correlation. Here are some myths I hear from friends and strangers alike. People think that because we’re Catholic we:

  • abuse children
  • aren’t Christian
  • don’t pray to Jesus
  • worship the pope
  • hate homosexuals
  • hate science
  • are all Latino
  • don’t believe in evolution
  • can’t think for ourselves

These are all false. I hope you see the ridiculousness in at least some of these. This speaks to a larger issue, the right of a people to define themselves.  Whether it’s Orthodox or Reformed Jews, Sunni or Shi’a Muslims, Protestants or Catholics, Sikh or Hindu, agnostic or atheist, we cannot push our stereotypes onto others to support our hatred. At least we shouldn’t, if we care about fairness and justice.

I don’t pretend that religion is perfect, it is after all, administered by humans. The child abuse and subsequent scandal was handled horrifically and we’re still working on the issues. Yet this doesn’t justify hatred for all Catholics or anything Catholic.

To help break more stereotypes, though shameful as any of it is, the percentage of priests who have molested a minor is in line with the general population. See Additionally it’s on par with other religions. We don’t even hear about what is happening with other religions, which to me indicates a lack of transparency.

We hear of American congressman found to abuse their underage aides. Should we abolish Congress and ban America? Let’s be realistic. We have such a tendency in America to want to obliterate whole groups of people we don’t like. Let’s stop this pattern. Don’t take up a banner to protest the killing of Christians in Nigeria, democrats in North Korea, or homosexuals in Saudi Arabia. Start here. Really, there’s plenty to do right where you live.


About Daniel Roddick

Daniel has a B.A. in American History with minors in both Ethnic Studies and Sociology. He also has an M.Ed. in College Administration and Counseling. Daniel has worked in the financial aid industry for over a decade. He has presented all over the country on financial aid issues related to equity, inclusion, and access to education. He is also a writer of poetry, fiction, and this blog, all of which touch on identity.
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One Response to Religious Ignorance

  1. Vincent G says:

    I think you need to add “worship Mary” and “will all go to hell” to your list of preconceived notions about Catholics. I grew up in the South and had Protestants say these things to me all the time. As a kid, I didn’t have the intellectual ammunition to counter their attacks–not that it would have worked. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve just given up on trying to convince people they don’t really know what they’re talking about. How can you educate someone about something they don’t care about in the first place?
    At work this past week, I mentioned something about the Catholic Church and the first two things my boss and coworker blurted out were “Catholics hate homosexuals” and “All priests are child molesters.”

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