I just got this in from reader Mike Moore (whom you might know via his moving guest-post here, A Good Week to Hate Christians).
I have just now read your Aug 8 post regarding the Catholic Church. By coincidence, I approached and had the following exchange with two Catholic priests yesterday at LAX.
I thought of posting this in the comment section of your Aug 8 post, but I think the timing will ring suspicious. I was also considering posting it anonymously, as the telling of this exchange is not exactly an act of modesty or humility. Plus, it’s just damn long.
Anyway, here’s the long-ass comment I was thinking to post:
I want share the following, because it is my belief that powerful people—CEO’s of big companies, politicians, and our society’s decision-makers—are often very insulated. Their opinions and actions are not often challenged, and rarely are they challenged face-to-face. When challenged up close and personally, they take notice. They are used to being treated with great deference. And from personal experience, I know the very act of such a confrontation can affect their future behavior.
I hope this might encourage some others to be bold. You can, all by yourself, make a difference.
I have been working in CA and was flying back to the east yesterday. While at LAX waiting to board my plane, I noticed two older priests walk up and stand nearby. Both carried an air of importance, yet one was obviously The Boss. The Boss was wearing a large, heavy, and ornate cross, and while I’m not especially familiar with Catholic priests’ daily attire, it is the type of cross that I have only seen on Bishops or Cardinals.
Thinking this could be an opportunity to make a strong point, face-to-face, to a member of the Catholic hierarchy about the church’s animus toward the LGBT community, I took a few minutes to decide if I should approach, and what I would say to them if I did. I decided to do it. Here’s how it went.
Since causing a scene in an airport these days can get you booted off a flight or detained by police, I know you’ll believe me when I say that in my demeanor and use of language (if not entirely in my tone) I made sure to remain calm and polite.
Me: “Excuse me, are you Catholic?”
Cautious stare-down from Boss, while the second priest, wearing black-framed eyeglasses, answers, “Yes, we are.”
Me: “Well, I’m not Catholic. I am a gay man whose marriage is not recognized in most states, and I have many friends who can’t marry in their home state, due in large part to the efforts of the Catholic church. I would never presume to tell you who should or should not marry in a Catholic church, yet your church feels it has the right to dictate to me, a non-Catholic, whom I can or can’t marry down at city hall in a civil ceremony. Why do you think you have the right to intrude upon my life in such a way?”
Boss looks caught off-guard, but does not really flinch, and continues stare-down while saying, “Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.”
Me: “It’s not an opinion, it is a fact. Your church actively lobbies against same-sex civil marriage and has spent millions to ensure that people like me are prevented from marrying the person we love. Again, why do you think you have the right to force people like me to live by your beliefs?”
Black Glasses steps in and says, “Excuse me, but this highly inappropriate. This is neither the time nor the place for such a conversation. You are intruding.”
Me, answering Black Glasses while staring down the Boss: “Excuse me, so what you’re saying is this is inappropriate, but it’s okay for you and your church to intrude into my life and my bedroom? Again, why would you think it’s okay to dictate the values of my and my family’s life, people whom you don’t even know?”
Me and Boss are still staring each other down. His stare has become as hostile as I’m sure was mine.
Black Glasses: “We will not have this conversation here.”
Me: “I’ll take that as your way of saying that you have no honest justification for forcing your values on me. In the future, please remember, I’m a stranger to you, but your actions affect My Life. I have and will continue to fight you and your hypocritical church at every turn.”
That was the whole thing. After that I returned to the business of boarding the plane.
Epilogue: Once on the plane I noticed the priests were sitting a row behind me in the First Class cabin. I asked myself if I should take the high road. Of course, the devil sitting on my left shoulder won the day.
From over the back of my chair I said, “So, how’s that Vow of Poverty working out for you two?” They resolutely ignored me.