Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Faith and the public commons

Ryan Sager reports that Andrew Sullivan posted a piece about Mormon undergarments, of all things...

First, I do not contest Sullivan's absolute right under the First Amendment to publish that photo.

That said, I have some comments to make on this topic. Sullivan's sole reason for posting that image was to cause embarrassment for Mitt Romney; the reason to cause that embarrassment was Romney's opposition to gay marriage.

Stop. Halt. Whoa. Time Out. Take Five. Cease Buzzer.

As a devout Catholic, I stand in staunch opposition to many elements of LDS theology and liturgical practice. However, that is, ultimately, the business of those of the LDS faith, and not mine. I've had LDS neighbors, co-workers, friends, and brothers and sisters in arms. I have found them to run the same sort of range that everyone runs to; many good-hearted people, a few nasty ones, and each having unique combinations of gifts and weaknesses.

As a Catholic, I have had to endure, with varying degrees of gritted teeth, Protestants mischaracterizing my faith's tenets (from ignorance or malice) and labeling me a "non-Christian" or "pagan" because of my alleged adherence to those freshly-misstated beliefs. This experience has taught me a healthy respect for other people's right to their beliefs, no matter how odd they may seem to me.

In a society such as ours, all of us need to give others enough elbow room--physical and spiritual alike--to live their lives, unless someone is actually harming others. Being opposed to a radical redefinition of marriage doesn't count as harming others, Andy, so put a sock in it. We live, as we are constantly reminded, in a pluralistic society, with a wide range of religious beliefs. The quest--or non-quest, for that matter--for the divine is probably the most intimate part of anyone's life, often inexplicable to those from other religious traditions.

When addressing religious beliefs that aren't yours, it's probably a very good idea to tread very lightly.

I'm not rah-rah for or against Romney at this point. I am always opposed to cheap-shot sensationalist crap.

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