If Only the Catholic Church Would Reject All the Kids Who Supported Gay Marriage…

I don’t understand why a reasonable person would want to be confirmed in the Catholic Church. I don’t know why you’d want to be part of a club that doesn’t think gay people deserve equal rights, or that women have no business being part of Church leadership, or that eating Jesus makes perfect sense.

But some people go through the motions, anyway. They do the mental gymnastics and figure they can accept the good parts of the Church and just ignore the bad. Cafeteria Catholics are still Catholics, right?

Rev. Gary LaMoine doesn’t think so and he’s rightfully putting a stop to it. LaMoine was checking up on 17-year-old Lennon Cihak on Facebook — because that’s perfectly normal behavior for a Church official… — and saw this picture:

Lennon Cihak shows his support for marriage equality (Dave Wallis – The Forum)

Cihak was showing his support for marriage equality. Treating gay people like humans deserving of the same rights as the rest of us? That goes against everything the Church stands for! So LaMoine told him he couldn’t complete his confirmation:

[Mother] Shana, who said she was confirmed at the same church, was called into a private conversation with the priest soon after the photo was discovered and was told her son wouldn’t be allowed to complete confirmation.

“I just thought it was wrong to single him out,” Shana said.

Her husband, Doug Cihak, agreed.

“(LaMoine) was talking about ‘God doesn’t believe in this.’ Well, God created Lennon,” said Doug, adding that he was baptized and raised in the same church.

Interestingly enough, several of the other kids getting confirmed in the Church liked Cihak’s picture on Facebook — but the priest just ignored that.

That’s where he goes wrong. I think he did the right think in rejecting Cihak. If you don’t agree with Church beliefs, you shouldn’t be allowed to get confirmed. I hope LaMoine asks every person who wants to get confirmed in the future if they support gay rights, women in Church leadership, use of contraception, pre-marital sex, and the ability for women to choose what happens with their bodies. And then, as the kicker, ask them if they think the cracker is Jesus.

And if anyone disagrees with the Church’s line on anything, tell them they can’t be part of the Church. Install a purity test and don’t let anyone else in. (You know all those couples who pretend they’re Catholic and go through counseling with a priest so they can have their wedding in the Church? Say no to them, too.)

I guarantee the membership rolls will dwindle as all the reasonable, rational, decent people get kicked out of the Church by the bigots-in-charge — and it would hasten the demise of an already-morally-and-intellectually-bankrupt organization.

Lennon Cihak is the lucky one here. He may not realize it, but he just averted disaster. His mother is realizing it, too:

[Father] Doug [Cihak] insists he’s not mad at LaMoine, calling him just a “messenger” of the church. The same could not be said for his wife, who said she doesn’t plan on returning to the church ever again, her son nodding in agreement.

It’s the Church’s loss, anyway. Lennon Cihak has a heart and the Church doesn’t. Hopefully, some of Lennon’s friends see what’s happening and they reject the Church before the Church rejects them.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • John Small Berries

    And if anyone disagrees with the Church’s line on anything, tell them they can’t be part of the Church.

    Just out of curiosity, should everyone who doesn’t agree with everything in the Democratic party’s platform (for example, that everyone has “God-given potential”) be kicked out of the party?

  • CraftLass

    Totally agree! My entire giant Catholic family would be excommunicated if this were the policy. I have never met a Catholic who agrees with the Church on everything. Yes, that’s anecdotal and I know there are some who do, just not in my overwhelmingly-Catholic and overwhelmingly-socially-liberal area and family.

    Kind of wish I had priests like that as a kid. They made me do all sacraments despite my constant talk of how I didn’t even believe Jesus was the son of God and how I was going to get myself sterilized as soon as I could to make sure I didn’t have kids… They called it a “phase” back in my day. I always figured they cared about numbers more than the beliefs of members. This story is refreshing! 

  • Quintin

    That comparison falls flat when you realize that the Catholic Church claims to be the infallible representative of the creator of everything, the Democratic Party a group of largely like-minded individuals forming a political coalition.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    My ex-wife is Catholic,
    I am not but since her parents paid for the weeding we were married in the
    church and I agreed to raise any children Catholic. I was religious back then
    so to me, no big deal but I didn’t know about the church either so my daughter
    did all the church stuff, even her First Communion but since then it is rare
    she goes to church. She has two gay aunts who can now get married legally in
    Maine and she has no desire at all to go back to the church, ever but sometimes
    she gets dragged out at Christmas time which she really dislikes.

    I would love
    for the church to find out my darling little daughter is now agnostic, supports
    SSM, is pro-choice and has no problem with birth control. They would run her
    right out of town :)

    Below is her on her big day with her Priest. She hasn’t been back to that church in years.

  • Stonyground

    @f0c57ee06e0901f660acde7e2a058753:disqus I don’t think that politics is quite as absolutist as religious dogma so I’m not sure that your analogy holds. Interestingly, my take on Cafeteria Catholics was to compare their position with a guy who believes in capitalism, free-market economies, limited government etc. while claiming to be a Communist. I can’t really see the RCC trying to crack down on dissenters, I think that they would rather keep them as members of their Church so that the numbers look better.

  • TheExpatriate700

    Get over yourself, Hemant. The Catholics don’t want your advice anymore than you want theirs.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

  • Randomfactor

     And I’m happy they don’t.  The Catholic Church in America is busy stoning itself to death.  I’m not going to deny them every rock in the field.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

    I agree, minus the condescension towards Hemant.  Us external critics obviously don’t have the Catholic interests at heart (ie the persistence of the church), so Catholics are justified in dismissing our “advice”.  We’re just concern trolling the Catholics, really.

    Go on, LaMoine!  Make parents upset at you by arbitrarily excluding kids from confirmation based on their excessive tolerance!  That will totally be in your interest.  Ha.

  • Aureliano_Buendia

    Just musing, but…
    “I don’t understand why a reasonable person would want to be confirmed in the Catholic Church.”

    Two thoughts. First, a child is usually confirmed before the age of majority… I recall being around this boy’s age at the time of my confirmation. Children can be quite unreasonable :-)

    Second, my reason for confirmation was not because I was a fervent believer in the church, but for my religious great-grandmother. She was in her 80s at the time, and absolutely convinced that if her great-grandchildren were not confirmed in the church, she would have failed as the maternal head of the family and would suffer an eternity in hell. As a child I found it the lesser of two evils to “go through the motions” instead of rebelling and breaking her heart. She died a few years later, and I dropped the sham, but I never regretted my actions.

  • Shouldbeworkin’

    I wish my parents would pay for the weeding…   ;-)

  • eonL5

    Heh heh, “weeding” — fun typo, Kevin. Don’t fix it!

    Your ex-wife is catholic and my husband is ex-catholic. Maybe there’s a correlation there.

  • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

    Your daughter is adorable, Kevin.

  • icecreamassassin

    From the article:
    But through it all, Lennon said his faith hasn’t faltered.“I don’t want the church to be put down. I don’t want the Catholic religion to be put down,” he said. “It’s just the way the priest has things running. He’s so strict. He won’t loosen up about things.”


    I just don’t understand – wouldn’t it be in every single sentient beings’ benefit for god to simply come down and clear up some of this s**t?  I wouldn’t put down the Catholic religion if it weren’t a religion dependent upon ‘revelations’ that never, ever get revealed in the first place.

  • dorcheat

    Hemant, I am quite pleased that you posted this.  I seen it in the Fargo Forum yesterday (inforum.com) and wondered how long you or P.Z. Myers who lives a few hours away in Morris, MN would post this.
    The catlics are sure becoming more orthodox in northern Minnesota these days.  I grew up in nearby Detroit Lakes and this is such a fascinating story to me.  I suppose that the Cihak family could switch to a more accepting church such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) or perhaps drive to Fargo, Moorhead, or even Fergus Falls with several main line denominations.

    Better yet to the Cihak family, just ditch Christianity altogether.  The Red River Free Thinkers Club has a very active club in Fargo-Moorhead and they get out to west central Minnesota.

    Here are the links to the Fargo Forum stories below.



  • kevin

    Why isn’t it reasonable to disagree with people one associates with?

  • icecreamassassin

    That’s the kicker for me – I’ve come to the opinion at this point that there is a baseline of critical, sufficient, and necessary set of core beliefs for any collective of people to establish themselves as a ‘group’, and I’ve come to a loss as to what the core belief set would be for any religious institutions.  If someone disbelieves in the nigh-divinity of The Virgin Mary(TM), should they still be allowed to be part of the Catholic Church?  What about the divinity of Jesus Christ – does the acceptance/rejection of that tenant *really* define a Catholic?  What about papal authority?

    I don’t know.  I really don’t – it’s not my place to establish what label you are allowed to apply to yourself, nor is it my place to determine if you should accept/reject someone in a group.

  • Baal

     It depends on your desired outcome.  The quote you have in italics is a rhetorical exhortation for more Catholics to be less accepting which would in turn mean fewer Catholics.  It’s cheering them engaging in self – limiting activities.  If you want fewer Democrats, then sure, push the Democrats to kick out folks who are not near the core of the party.  As long as you have even a trivial means to identify a group, there is substantial leeway for divergence within the group.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Thanks but she has changed a lot, she just turned 14.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    LOL!!! I thought I had fixed that. I even noticed it and made a point to myself to correct it, oh well :)

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    I think every single Catholic member of my extended family fits that description! Pro-gay, pro-choice, pro-birth control, etc. And yet they are absurdly attached to a church that they disagree with on almost every social issue. I think for people like this to leave, they need to see the bigotry firsthand. The way things are right now, the Church gets to have it both ways. They get to be hardline when it counts (politics) but gladly take money from liberal and progressive Catholics who ignore what they say, and offer up their children for indoctrination to boot!

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Yikes, Lennon really doesn’t get it. It’s not that the priest in charge is “so strict.” It’s that the entire religion demands obedience and does not allow for dissenting views. The doctrines of the Church are the problem. Yet that’s still not enough to shake Lennon’s faith. He just seems to think that it’s one particular priest who’s being a big old meanie.

  • http://twitter.com/Kardashev1 Kardashev

    Aw a catholic wanting equal rights! How cute. In all seriousness, the kid is only confusing his own morals with a book that claims homosexuals deserve to die. Why keep the christianity? It’s a perversion on human morality.  

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Aren’t most kids confirmed around the age of 13? That seems to be the case in my extended family. Not sure why this school is having 17-year-olds go through the ceremony when it seems like they ought to have done it back in eighth grade.

  • Miss_Beara

    Yeah, he definitely does not get it at all.

    I had a teacher in high school whom I respected a lot. Now, he is a priest. Anti gay, anti choice, anti contraception, anti marriage equality, anti men and women living together before marriage. This is not an isolated viewpoint of one priest, or even a handful. This spans across the entire catholic church because if it says so in an old book and said by old men sitting on a golden throne throughout the years, it must be true. 

    It saddens me greatly that one of my favorite teachers ended up this way.

  • Grooney315

    Lennon is thinking like many catholic adults who abhor pedophila priests but do little to bring about change. Pay, Pray and Obey, the church’s mantra.

  • Miss_Beara

    “I don’t understand why a reasonable person would want to be confirmed in the Catholic Church.”

    I was confirmed in the Catholic Church only because I was 13 and didn’t know any better. This was 1996 so it was before information was just a few clicks away. I already had some serious doubts about the existence of a god but there was no place where I was able to discover that I wasn’t the only one and countless other things where skeptical kids now can look up. 

    I denounced my Catholicism when I was 18.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Or in the case of most American Catholics, Pay, Pray and Pretend to obey.

  • Pepe

    This is an amazing idea. Somebody please make the church do this!

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

    I’d give Lennon time.  He came up against his church saying “shut up and think what we tell you” and he had the courage to say “NO”.  That’s the first step.  The rest may come, but it might take some time.  As long as he keeps having his own thoughts about things, instead of just accepting what he is told, I have high hopes that he will see through their scam and come out OK.

  • Sorry

    I took instruction to become a Catholic. At the end of the course I told the priest I couldn’t believe in the Assumption of Mary or the infallibility of the Pope. He said I couldn’t become a Catholic. So, a priest decides.

  • CraftLass

    Exactly. I don’t understand how the Church can take people’s money when they know they don’t agree with the Bishops OR how people can continue to tithe when they see where so much of the money goes. Tradition, I guess. Probably family pressure, too. My godmother has cried about her failure to keep me Catholic… It’s the only time I feel at all bad about my choices. No one wants to hurt people they love if it can be helped. Which is why it would also be easier if they just kicked more kids out, then maybe there would be more chance for healing within families… 

  • CraftLass

    Different parishes have different rules. The one sacrament I avoided was Confirmation because I switched from one that Confirmed at 13 to one that held the notion that 13 was too young and required that teens be at least 16. Since my mother (who was the parent who would not let me out of her religion) died when I was 15, switching parishes turned out to be a silver lining of a personal tragedy. My father began questioning his own faith due to her death and was fine with letting me out of the whole racket. Hooray!

    Honestly, the RCC is not nearly as united as it appears to be. Heck, a lot of priests don’t agree with the Bishops on many issues…

  • http://twitter.com/Arachne110 Arachne

    Most catholics are confirmed around junior high age, well before they have any real autonomy in where their life is going.
    I was confirmed at age 14 and additionally I never had any real friends that were not part of my parents super traditional catholic circle. Deciding not to be confirmed was not even on the horizon for me. It would have been like excommunicating myself from my life as I knew it.

  • Robster

    The catholic church deserves to get what it does to the baby jesus every Sunday, digested and shat out.

  • NotTHATguest

    Lucky kid. When I was 14 I refused to get confirmed because I couldn’t answer yes to all the questions asked during the ceremony and I knew I disagreed with the RCC about agreat many doctrines. I couldn’t join an organization under those circumstances! I had to spend the next decade fighting my mother over the issue.

    I wish a priest or a nun had honestly asked me what I thought so I could have been formally asked not to return.

  • Ibis3

    I was confirmed because all my friends at school were doing it at the same time, so it just seemed like the thing to do. I had very little idea about church doctrines or positions on political issues or anything else. I didn’t believe in (or disbelieve) any of the stuff about Jesus or the Holy Spirit because I had never been indoctrinated. Also, I have a romantic streak that loves ritual. I was 11 I think and so that would’ve been 1982.

  • Ryan

    I am not a Catholic, but the Catholic Church does not believe in the infalibility of exclusively heterosexual marriage. You can be a Catholic and disagree with that, many do, including some clergy. John’s metaphor is excellent and the difference that Quintin cited is not enough to invalidate the metaphor. Hermat is supporting a very close minded view of a certain group of people, so closeminded that it borders on fundamentalist, how ironic

  • Foster

    ” I have never met a Catholic who agrees with the Church on everything.”  I do.  Nice to meet you.  Yes, I agree it is really a sad situation if you are strongly homosexually oriented and faithfully Catholic, but then it’s also a sad situation if your spouse is in a coma and you have a high heterosexual libido and are faithfully Catholic.  Faithfulness can be difficult in many different situations and often requires abstinence from physical pleasure, but as Catholics we are never alone and enjoy the support, friendship and brotherhood of our fellow Christians that can help us get through sexual sacrifice in chastity, whether gay, single or unhappily married for whatever reason.

  • Foster

    Of all the stuff to choose, you picked the Assumption?  I mean, pope infallibility I get, but how random is disbelieving the Assumption?  And Mary’s perpetual virginity and sinlessness was fine by you?  I am honestly curious about your train of thought, and I think I would be even if I were an atheist.  It just seems a very random “stumbling block” given the usual objections to Christian doctrine.

  • TheBlackCat

     Utter baloney, I have already pointed out examples where you disagree, you just refuse to acknowledge them.

  • TheBlackCat

     The catholic church says that anything said by the pope or bishops must be believed by all lay members of the church.  It is not optional, it is not open to debate, it is a requirement of the church, even if the teachings are not infallible.

  • TheBlackCat

     Something doesn’t have to be infallible for it to be required for all lay members of the church to believe it, it just has to be said by the Pope or a Bishop.  The validity of the dogmas espoused by the Pope and Bishops are not to be questioned by lay members, only theologians may question them, and even then only in private correspondences with the church hierarchy, never in public.

  • Carmelita Spats

    I’ve been trying to get myself officially excommunicated for the past year. My husband and I have grounds for excommunication as we are both atheists, we terminated a pregnancy (looong story) and we are raising our daughter as a freethinker. According to Canon Law, the abortion is an immediate excommunication. Other reasons for excommunication are physical assault on the pope (ie, slap Benedict across the face) or desecration of the Jesus cracker.

     Anyhow, I wrote a long letter to the local bishop asking for an official excommunication. My husband and daughter also asked to be excommunicated. At first, they told me that I was NOT excommunicated after the abortion because, “I did not know what I was doing.” I challenged them on that point and after four months of haggling, they handed us a piece of paper stating that we had “defected” from the Catholic Church by our own free will! Nowhere in the document is the word “EXCOMMUNICATION” used! Amazing!  My husband and I put the glorious “DEFECTION” paper up on our FB page so relatives could see. Someone informed us that canon law had changed in April of 2011 and that the RCC does not process or recognize “defections” anymore. This is absolutely true! They gave me the defection paper in December of last year KNOWING that canon law had changed in April! Lies, lies, lies!!! I’ve been writing to any and all diocese in the U.S. to clarify the situation for me and NO ONE has the cojones to respond to my case. I finally came to the conclusion that I’m dealing with lunatics and I’m nutcase number nine for trying to force a Kafkaesque bureaucracy to take ownership of their rhetoric.

    Mexican Jesus scares kiddies:

  • Carmelita Spats

     So a Catholic cannot have sex with a comatose spouse? Really? Is there a clause in canon law that states this? This is interesting given that a spouse with AIDS is prohibited from using condoms but is still encouraged to engage in sexual activity that is “open to death”.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Thanks! I’m surprised that the parishes don’t have uniform rules, though. Strange for such a highly regulated church. I suppose there’s a silver lining in the fact that some parishes do it later. Older teenagers are more likely to be in a position where they can refuse to participate, if they are so inclined.

    Of course, they still do the hardcore indoctrination before the kids are old enough to understand. What really bothers me is the First Communion ceremonies. I’ve had the misfortune of attending a few of those, and I was absolutely disgusted by the charade that those little children had any idea what was going on. 

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    The thing is, they will always consider you Catholic.

    In Roman Catholic canon law, excommunication is a censure and thus a “medicinal penalty” intended to invite the person to change behavior or attitude, repent, and return to full communion.[1]  … Excommunicated Catholics are still Catholics and remain bound by obligations such as attending Mass, even though they are barred from receiving the Eucharist and from taking an active part in the liturgy (reading, bringing the offerings, etc.).[3] However, their communion with the Church is considered gravely impaired.[4] In spite of that, they are urged to retain a relationship with the Church, as the goal is to encourage them to repent and return to active participation in its life.

    There’s nothing you can do to get them to say that you are no longer Catholic. They don’t let anyone out.

  • jose

    “Teenager is denied confirmation for opining we shouldn’t be burning people alive”

    ^ The Jesus Herald, circa Nov 1614

  • amycas

     Xe also said they couldn’t believe in the infallibility of the Pope.

  • CraftLass

    Nice to meet you, too! Like I said, I’m sure there are some, but I maintain that you are in a minority, at least in the U.S. Statistics show that most Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lives, for example. Italy currently has the lowest birth rate in the world and most Italians are nominally Catholic. These are the stats I know simply because I care about women’s rights and contraception deeply, I’m sure there are stats for other areas of Catholic dogma. 

    That said, I applaud any lack of hypocrisy and find it fascinating that anyone can live up to all the rules of any religion.

    As an atheist and humanist I am never alone, either. I am part of a strong and rapidly-growing community that has provided me far more support than the religion of my parents and is much slower to judge me harshly. I never have to worry about being unhappily married, as I don’t have any desire to marry. I have a wonderful long-term relationship that isn’t about rules from outside it but rather built upon a strong foundation of trust in each other, love that has only strengthened over our 15 years so far, and a generally excellent sex life that is the icing on the cake.

    As for chastity, well, it’s not really a great way to live. It can cause health problems and makes it much harder to fulfill the basic human need to be touched. Sure, sex can cause health problems, but we have the technology to make it pretty safe these days. Now we just have to make sure that everyone has full access to the tools to make it so.

    I’m not saying that either of our choices makes one of us a better person, as I firmly believe these are personal questions. I’m just saying that I have a far better life for me by eschewing the dogma I was raised in and I wish I could have left far sooner than I was able to.

  • CraftLass

    I’ve never found that the RCC is as regulated as it appears to be. Even within one of my parishes the priests seemed to have a lot of autonomy. Perhaps it’s just too gargantuan to micromanage? The differences between parishes just in my small city are numerous as well and people choose which to attend based on their personal beliefs and tastes. Some have great choirs, some still have Latin mass, some are mostly known for throwing great parties for the community, some continue older traditions like parading statues of saints around on their feast days, some cater to Spanish-speaking residents. There are a lot of variations.

    I think most of my classmates understood First Communion pretty well, actually. Even though we were only in 2nd grade we were very well educated about it. However, I was in Catholic school so I had far more religious education than kids who went to CCD once/week. I was personally torn between the horrifying idea of being a cannibal and thinking the whole transubstantiation thing was simply crazy and impossible. But, I had already lost whatever faith I had, so I’m probably not a great example of the norm. lol

  • Jesusdoppelganger

    You can review Assumption Church in Barnesville, MN on Yelp. Looks like someone already has.

    Just sayin’

  • Understandthings

    John 6:53