In my prior ultra-conservative rad-trad days, I admit that I held more rigid views, and I look back in retrospect at times with great regret and remorse for some of my thoughts, views, and actions. When I started serving professionally in my therapy practice for the broader secular community in March of 2018, and I witnessed right-winged ideology overtly dominate parts of the Church to the point of harming and killing others in society at-large and in the Church at-large, I had to reevaluate my rigidity. Through right-winged ideology denying science at dangerous levels, for forsaking all other marginalized groups in the name of fruitlessly ending abortion, and harming and endangering those who do not think or look like culturally-white, straight, Republican, healthy, and able-bodied Christians, I realized what Pope Francis and the late Billy Graham had been trying to convey, that fundamentalism has harmed and endangered people for decades and is now endangering society at-large and the Church at-large.
The late Billy Graham, who I will always love and admire, had something to say about it too.
According to a Merriam-Webster definition #2, “Fundamentalism is a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles.” When strict doctrinal certainty is placed above the collective doctrines of the Sanctity of Life, the Dignity of human beings, and following Jesus’ 2nd Greatest Commandment to Love our Neighbor as Ourselves, we have not only lost our way, but we are not truly following Christ, Church Teaching, and the basic function of the Church, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the “least of these,” and show them the love of Christ through action. We can say it’s for helping people get into heaven, but if we have to abuse and endanger them to do it, we are certainly in-the-wrong.
I do not take Catholic Teaching lightly. For me to personally step over one Catholic moral doctrine of some kind, there needs to be more pressing Catholic moral doctrines that involve life issues and the well-being of people. It may appear that I take doctrine lightly since I strongly advocate for inclusion and the human rights of all minority groups in and outside of the Church. But as a practitioner, one who follows medical science, inclusion and life issues of minority populations and their families aren’t a matter of “feelings” and dismissing doctrine. They are matters of life and death.
This is an excerpt from one of my past pieces which I will paste after the next two paragraphs. “As a person with Parkinson’s and ADHD, I visited my physicians at UT Medicine San Antonio a few weeks ago. The lead doctor and his assistants confirmed what I have already observed, that society and healthcare are moving to a fully-inclusive position for all members of society, including LGBTQIA+ people and their families. In short, it’s truly life and death for ALL people to live in safety, to have the same human rights as everyone else, to be part of family and community, and not be marginalized. As a consensus, this medical team confirmed what every medical association in the world says, that inclusion for all people is life and death.
With this knowledge, if the Church doesn’t align its pastoral ministry programming with current science and best practice, it will continue to endanger the lives of marginalized groups. These groups include but are not limited to: Racial Minorities, the Disabled, Neurodivergent Persons, Migrants, LGBTQIA+ individuals and their families, and other groups who have a history of marginalization. Pastoral ministry should meet the specific needs of a specific marginalized group, preferably lead by an individual or a parent of that group.”
For expressing the above, I’ve been shown the doors to the Episcopal Church or out of the Church entirely by the Catholic right who is in a minority. When we have populations such as Hispanic Catholics who we attend Mass with in urban Catholicism, large families who totally devote themselves to family, God, and their Catholic faith, asking them to leave for the Episcopal church or out of the church entirely because of a minority family member is unconscionable. This is a minority family member who is not just unwilling but incapable of “living up to Catholic Teaching.” Not only does this disrupt the entire family, it endangers, dismembers, and destroys it. I know this from working part-time in Religious trauma recovery, serving in my profession as pediatric specialty therapist, and studying science. Parents of Neurodiverse, disabled, and LGBTQ+ children shouldn’t have to choose between their child’s right-to-life or stay in the Church. This is where the Sanctity of Life, Human Dignity, and Participation in the Family, Church, and Society (Catholic Social Teaching) must be weighed with “allowing” the minority family member to exist at his or her best ability fully-included with the larger family.
The Church Must Align with Medicine and Science–It’s Life and Death
So I will close with this. God has opened my eyes to the damage religious fundamentalism can do. As I stated above, I don’t take Catholic Teaching lightly in any regard, for I am a convert to the faith who studied Catholic doctrines for years. But when it boils down to rigidly not budging for the Sanctity of Life, the Dignity of the Human Person, and Jesus’ Second Greatest Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, then as I just said, we have not only lost our way, but we are not truly following Jesus Christ and the basic functions of the Church. These basic functions are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the “least of these,” and show them the love of Christ through action which draws them into the faith, not endangering, abusing, and harming them at the cost of enforcing another doctrinal teaching.