I’m Catholic, My Faith is Defined by the Pursuit for Racial Equality, LGBTQ Equality, Women’s Rights, Voting Rights, and Religious Freedom
I am a Roman Catholic, a denomination of the Christian faith. I was baptized, I had first communion, and I was confirmed in the Church. The Church I attended was ‘Our Lady of the Skies’ on Nellis Air Force Base. I grew up as the son of an enlisted airman, my father served in the United States Air Force, and both of my parents are Catholic. In fact, my mother is close friends (more like de facto sisters) with a woman who is one of the coordinators at ‘Our Lady of the Skies’. Her daughter is part of the LGBTQ community. She loves her daughter. She welcomes her and embraces her for everything she is. I have friends and family, people I love and care for, that are a part of the LGBTQ community as well. I love them and I embrace them. And I also fight for them. Because that is what my faith is rooted in, the pursuit of Civil Rights.
From interracial marriage to gay marriage. From Civil Rights protections for people of color and women to Civil Rights protections for those that are LGBTQ. Religious Freedom and Women’s Rights. Those pursuits define my faith.
The Roots of My Faith
Some may be surprised in my strong held beliefs. I do not share it much. But is it so surprising that I, a man who is fascinated by the cosmos, the universe, and the mysteries of science, am also fascinated in the spirituality and connectedness religion offers to God?
Is it surprising that my curiosity and desire to form close connections and friendships replicates the community and connectedness that a Church offers?
Is it surprising that I argue for finding moral truths and acting with a sense of honor that I seek to better myself the same way a Church offers its followers salvation?
Is it surprising that I read and follow the rhetoric, writings, sermons, and speeches of Douglass, Lincoln, King, and Obama and seek the words and guidance offered in biblical teachings?
I, like many other Americans, root my faith in the pursuit of Civil Rights.
My mother educated me early on as a child in the morality of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. And this was just the start. Seeing Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., a Southern Baptist (a denomination of Christianity just as Catholicism), fight for equality serves as the strongest example to me of a man who used the strength of his faith to fight for justice. And next to him was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man and champion of gay rights too. These men knew the fight for equality was for everybody.
And these pursuits continued with men like John Lewis. And today, people like Reverend Raphael Warnock and Amanda Gorman have all used their gifted rhetoric to fight and push for equality in all forms. To us, our religion was, is, and will always be about the pursuit of Civil Rights.
Black churches in America have always been the driving force in the fight for justice. They have organized protests and movements opposing hate. From providing shelter for fugitive slaves to sheltering civil rights activists from angry mobs. Many Catholic churches have provided a safe haven for immigrants and refugees too. And Korean churches are taking a more prominent role in fighting anti-Asian hate in America.
It should be noted that, historically, there were religious “Christian” arguments that defended slavery and segregation. Arguments still used today. And that same bigoted logic has been extended to target people who are LGBTQ.
We will not have it. I refuse to allow those prejudiced against others to use my faith as a human shield for their bigotry.
My Catholicism, is rooted in a moral pursuit for justice and equality. Civil Rights not only represents racial equality, but also the fight for equality for women, for LGBTQ rights, for lifting the poor out of poverty, for Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and more religious faiths throughout America and the rest of the world.
Within my faith, we are all children of God.
Fighting for Equality
Seeing men like Joseph R. Biden and John F. Kennedy use their power to fight for racial equality set an example of what Catholic men can do.
They are not just as an example of leadership to the outside world but also to me.
LGBTQ rights, the right of a woman to choose, for a humane immigration policy, for lifting the poor out of poverty, and for preserving our planet all align within my religion. Pursuing these ideas do not conflict with my faith, in fact they align with my Catholicism.
I have endured being demonized for my support for gay marriage, for my support for a woman’s right to choose, and for my opposition to unjust war. Biden’s Catholicism and the position he holds as leader of the free world offers a defense from those who judge. A defense from those that wield their religion to enforce their prejudices on others.
His faith serves as a statement: I am Catholic and I fight for these rights too.
It means a lot.
But I am not narrow in my view of religion and faith. I see the beauty in welcoming and celebrating the faiths of others. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Taoists, and the other beautiful spiritualities and faiths that sprinkle humanity. That is why I am a strong advocate for religious freedom as well. We fail as a nation when we sanction religious persecution of Muslims with a ban. We fail as a nation when we allow hate crimes to rise against Sikhs. We fail as a nation when we fail to condemn anti-Semitism. Religious freedom cannot only be extended to Christians, it must extend to everybody.
To me, pursuing Civil Rights is my religion.