Protesters Spew Anti-Catholic Hate Outside D.C.-Area Parishes

Protesters Spew Anti-Catholic Hate Outside D.C.-Area Parishes November 8, 2014

If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18-19

A group of protesters has stormed parishes in the Diocese of Washington, chanting anti-Catholic slogans and distributing fundamentalist literature.

Three or four D.C.-area parishes have had the protesters stand outside the doors with bullhorns at Mass times and engage Catholics entering and leaving the church.  In at least two cases, the protesters have entered the church before Mass began, and had to be removed by local police.

Father Mike Jones, pastor of St. Pius X parish in Bowie, Maryland, wrote in the parish bulletin about the group’s protest at St. Pius.  Father Mike described the incident and encouraged his parishioners to follow the Gospel admonition to turn the other cheek:

We don’t have to go to the other side of the world to experience religious extremists.  At St. Pius we got a taste of this last weekend.  As parishioners and I exited church after our 5pm Saturday vigil Mass, we were assaulted by shouting and hatred being spewed by protesters standing at both our driveways.  Armed with megaphones and brandishing signs, these “christians” ranted for more than 30 minutes about everything they view as “evils” of our Catholic faith.  They attacked our dogmas, teachings, practices and leaders, including Pope Francis!

Who are they? We don’t yet know.  When they drove off after high five-ing each other on their “good job”, I noticed their car had Maryland plates.  Someone thought they are members of a fundamentalist bible church in southern Maryland.  Earlier in the week they were in front of Bowie High School shouting “repent or else!”

Since this approach clearly does not win any converts, you have to ask, what is the point?  As I see it, the point is distraction and division and to that we say NO.  Their timing was perfect as we concluded our “Give Love” message series and were being challenged to live and love like Christ.  And this is what we must do in the face of hatred, violence, and terrorism…wherever it rears its ugly head.  The worst thing we can do (and what our protesters are hoping we do) is shout back, counter hatred with hatred, anger with anger.  But if we do this, it only gives legitimacy and publicity for their cause.

Parishioners asked me last Saturday, what should we do?  My response, “smile and wave.”  If we are being accused of not being ‘true Christians’, let’s prove them wrong.  Let’s turn the other cheek, love ’til it hurts and remember Christ’s words in the Gospel, “Woe to you when all speak well of you.  Thus they treated the false prophets in the same way.”

An email has been distributed to the 139 parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington, describing the assaults and explaining how to handle any protests at area parishes.  According to the Washington Post,

In an Oct. 30 e-mail to the archdiocese’s priests, Bishop Barry Knestout — its top administrator — laid out what had happened and what church staff and volunteers should do if the group reappears.

“From what we can piece together from witness accounts, the group is protesting the teachings of the Catholic Church, Church leaders and the Holy Father,” Knestout wrote in the e-mail. “In all instances, they appeared on parish property with bullhorns and began shouting at parishioners who were going into or coming out of Mass and handed out fundamentalist literature. In two instances, the group stormed the inside of the church just before Mass began and were promptly removed by attentive ushers and off-duty law enforcement. . . . Should you encounter such protesters at your parish, please do not hesitate to contact your local police.”

He continued: “Our pastoral response will be that we welcome everyone to the liturgy, but it is disrespectful to use the Mass as a venue for protesting. If possible, please consider having a priest available to speak with the protesters outside of church.”

The Washington Archdiocese offered a sample message which parishes might employ, if they are visited by this hostile protest group:

 “The Catholic Church welcomes all people. There are those who oppose the teachings of the Church and are in need of our prayers. So let us pray for the conversion of their hearts and offer a prayer that they may find peace.”


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Sounds like an opportunity to evangelize. We’re all called to do it, not just the priests.

    • billlang

      Exactly! Catholics need to learn the bible and their own teachings. Most of these people really do care for your salvation and are amazed when you can give an answer from the bible. They may not agree at first, but over time will soften and some even come home to Jesus’ authoritative Church.

      • Howard

        “Most of these people really do care for your salvation….” I’m a former Protestant fundamentalist, so I have some sympathy for people with those beliefs. When it comes to people who harass with bullhorns or who have to be removed by police, though, those are a different group of people, and only God knows if they “really do care for your salvation” — they may not even know themselves what they care about, or even what god they are really worshipping. When it comes to people similar to the Westoboro Baptist Church, I think the injunction applies to speak not to a fool according to his folly.

        • billlang

          There may be something to that. I didn’t think about Westboro types.

      • Yes. I used to teach RCIA straight from the Bible, and lately I do the same in 6th grade Catechism.

  • JohnServorum

    How sad.
    It reminds one of the incident in 1988 when Pope John Paul II was interrupted during his speech to the European Parliament by the violently anti-Catholic protestant minister Rev. Ian Paisley who repeatedly screamed ”I renounce you as the Antichrist!” before being forcefully evicted from the room.
    Again, terribly sad.

  • mollysdad

    Turn the other cheek by all means, but don’t forget that these heretics are anathema – vitandi excommunicati.

    • Nostromo

      It’s no joke, the stake are high. Just look at how Arianism truned out over a billion muslims.

  • Charles Lewis

    Just for some perspective. Does anyone know how many people in total were involved with this protest? Story doesn’t say but we know a few idiots with a bullhorn can make a lot of noise. I’ve seen a few postings in which my fellow Catholics have said something to the effect that now the bigotry has moved here from the Middle East. Please. This isn’t a drama class. Let’s not give this thing anymore power than it deserves. Personally I would do the Christian thing of forgiving them in a spiritual way and then having them charged in a trespassing way.

  • Angry Protestant fundamentalists will always have to be dealt with from time to time, but they’ll never represent a significant threat. When this happens, just get on your knees next to them and pray the Rosary.

  • A J MacDonald Jr

    I’ve seen this story elsewhere. Not enough information.

  • Mac Rojo

    I have 30 years in law enforcement and suggest you take pictures of them while you are smiling … and pictures of the license plates too … it will assist law enforcement with an investigation. Video would be best …
    If they are disrupting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass it is a crime and they deserve to go to jail … Saint Michael did not turn his cheek when he evicted Lucifer from heaven … it was a great battle.
    Learn about the Mexican Christeros and the French Vendee Catholics … we need more like them.
    Mac Rojo
    Holbrook, Arizona

  • Joe Smith

    I like the idea of taking their picture and esp videos. I suggest more than one person does this in case they try to “get away” from them or block their view. I’m betting they won’t be back after that. Bullies always prove they are really cowards when stood up to. What a pathetic, miserable group of people.

  • Mytout

    Hey, most Catholics don’t know the Faith anyhow and most priests don’t preach doctrine or dogma so what’s the big deal if a non Catholic group gets pushy with their ideas? Is one flavor of Christian better than another?

    • ME

      Truth is Truth. The Catholic church passes on the fullness of Truth, where as other Christian groups pick and choose which parts they choose to pass on, so yes, one Church is better than the others.

    • Phillip Le Claire

      Dogma and doctrine is taught in CCD and RCIA classes and also passed down by parents to their children. The priest takes what was taught to us and relates it to how we are to conduct ourselves in this world. Sometimes the priest includes teaching dogma and doctrine. Many years ago in this country, Catholics and Protestants actually had the very same beliefs on moral issues such as homosexuality, birth control, abortion, and divorce to name a few. These teachings faithfully reflected the teachings in the bible. Today the Catholic Church (and I have to include the Orthodox Churhes) continues to faithfully teach and practice these teachings. Today a very large number of Protestant churches have watered down biblical teachings to the point of abandoning these teachings. Some have plain abandoned these teachings outright. Where in the bible does it say same sex marriages are OK? The last time I checked the bible called it an abomination. The last time I checked, cohabitation and sex outside of marriage was called adultery. The last time I checked, divorce from a valid marriage was condemned by Jesus Christ himself. It is a big deal if one Christian group gets pushy against another especially when the pushy ones are not following true biblically based Christian teachings.

      • Phillip Le Claire

        In all fairness, there are Protestant groups and churches who are trying to follow the teachings of the bible.

  • Aaron

    My parish was among those visited by these “evangelists.” While I actually agree with the archdiocese’s decision not to dignify these people with quotes or publicity, a few people seem to have misconstrued what happened. For the record, the Post article is pretty accurate. I have no idea how many churches were involved, I know of three. It is unclear what group these folks are with, although I remember similar protestors when Pope Benedict came to town.

    I arrived after the police had arrived on the scene and escorted them out of the Church, but this is what I was told: Apparently, about 3-4 of them showed up outside the church about 1/2 hour before the Saturday vigil Mass, holding signs stating something along the lines of “The End is Near” or something else apocalyptic. They had a bullhorn and were shouting about how the Catholic Church worships Satan, etc., as parishioners were coming into Church. At around 4:45, they entered the Church, and started shouting through their bullhorn. Apparently they went up the aisle and into the sanctuary, spouting their venom. Our priest was in the confessional, and came out when he heard the commotion. When he asked them to leave, they started shouting on the bullhorn that he was leading all of them to hell. At some point, police were called. They responded quickly and peace was restored, and Mass started only about a minute or two late.

    • Aaron

      Oh, and one other thing – the folks in the pews started drowning them out with Hail Marys while this was going on.

      • kathyschiffer

        A great report, Aaron! Thank you!

      • ME

        The St. Michael prayer would have been an apt one to pray as well, but at that time, they were probably already in the middle of a rosary. 🙂

  • Paxvobiscum

    I am frequently visited by various missionaries. When one of these pamphlets complains that Buddhists and Catholics use beads to pray which is somehow “wrong” I wait for them to return and ask why, Also they rail against “tradition.” if their religion is so great, do they have to attack the religious practices of another. Their “superior” religion should be sold on its own merits.
    Then as a Catholic catechist I take their pamphlets in to my HS students and find it quite easy to show their intolerance in their own words…reminding our students that our 2,000 year old Catholic Church is the only church to trace its roots to Jesus Christ. When a faith was organized 100 years ago, it doesn’t have a tradition.
    I think this is what Shakespeare meant when he said, “…hoist by his own petard.”

  • Brendan

    You Catholics don’t know your Faith. And clearly your priests don’t either… least they rarely talk about it in any substantial way

    • Phillip Le Claire

      Brendan, are you Catholic?