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.
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 www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/04/07/mean-men.html. 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.