by guest contributor Ishita Kent
How do you keep your faith when the very people who loved you into the Church are now hating you right out of it?
Since 2016, this is a question I’ve been asking myself. As a queer mentally ill woman of color who converted to Catholicism during college, I watched friend after friend – people who were instrumental in my conversion because of their love and support of me – vote for Donald Trump solely because he represented the ‘pro-life’ Republican Party. I watched them dismiss misogyny, ableism, homophobia, sexism, and so much more. And then I watched them transform into the types of people who made those crude jokes, sharing memes body shaming Hillary Clinton, mocking ‘illegals’ for not speaking English, calling black people animals, making jokes about jihad, and calling all Democrats and liberals soulless zombies. I watched them defend a rapist, calling his victim all sorts of names that make me sick to my stomach to even think about, all in the name of appointing a ‘pro-life’ Supreme Court justice. I watched them stand by, defending their faith as they went to bat for a man who has been married three times, cheated on all three of his wives, and bragged loudly and proudly about his harassment of women. And I want to look at all of them in the eye and ask them a very important question.
How dare you?
How dare you have the audacity to lie to me about the people in the Catholic Church being the most loving and accepting group in the world?
How dare you take my identities that are just as much a part of me as my Catholicism is and throw them back in my face, like they don’t matter to you at all?
How dare you ignore your Bible when it says “Love one another as I have loved you”?
Most of all, how dare you stop loving me?
Oh, I know what you want to say. “You’re not an illegal. You’re not one of THOSE brown people. You’re married to a man in the Church so you’re not living in sin.” You know what I say to that?
Bullshit. Every single time you tell me I’m different or I’m special or you don’t believe those terrible things about me? I say bullshit.
You’re just trying to save face because we have a personal relationship.
Or because you think you can use me as your token queer/brown/liberal/whatever friend whenever you’re in a Facebook argument and trying to prove you’re not homophobic/racist/bigoted/whatever. Because I, for over 2 years, have fought and fought, trying to maintain civility, trying to maintain relationships, trying to not just blow you off. And in the process of doing that, I have often stayed quiet in fear of hurting you when you talk about your political viewpoints and reassure yourself that your faith backs you up on these points.
But I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting on social media and the first thing I see is people blasting liberals for trying to get undocumented immigrants out of detention centers. Or people blaming radical Islam for the downfall of society. Or saying crude things about the LGBTQ+ community.
And I’m so tired of not being shown love. You don’t love me anymore. You can’t. Not with that kind of hatred in your heart. And now, you’re not just ignoring the spirit of love in order to support evil. You’re using a twisted version of the faith to justify it. “Well, the Bible says it’s okay to have walls!” “David used concealed carry!” “Sodom and Gomorrah!” Do you not see what you’re doing? Do you not see the damage you do to the Church with this? You drive away those who are weak, who are vulnerable, who are hurting. You push out the people who need the Church the most.
Once upon a time, I believed that the people who loved me into the Church would always love me. That they were interested in meeting people where they were and bringing them gently along on their faith journey. But in my time of crisis, all I am being shown is the door because I am not a ‘model Catholic.’ And I’m done staying silent in the face of racism and homophobia and sexism. I’m done getting piled on every time I try to make a point that supports any sort of ‘liberal’ politics showing up in the Scripture. I’m just done.
Here’s a piece of advice as I remove all of you from my life – you are going to accuse me of putting politics over friendships. I’m not. I’m putting me over a toxic friendship. I’m done letting you color my interactions with the Eucharist.
You were there for me at an important time in my life and for that I thank you. But it is time to go our separate ways. I can only pray that you find the love in your heart again.
So…how do you keep your faith when the very people who loved you into the Church are now hating you right out of it?
Well, hopefully removing these people will be what helps me keep mine.
image credit: libreshot.com/lonely-woman-walking/