If you are looking for an "anti-gay" organization to target for an act of domestic terrorism, the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) "Hate Map" is a very useful tool. At least, that's what Floyd Lee Corkins indicated in his confession to the FBI after attempting to murder staff members at the Family Research Council last year.
So, will being "against people who are gay" soon land all Catholic Churches in the U.S. on SPLC's hit list?
SPLC co-founder Morris Dees recently told CNSNews.com that the Catholic Church "is against people who are gay." If Dees actually believes that, it's surprising that Catholic Churches don't already populate his Hate Map.
I called SPLC to inquire why, in light of Dees' recent comments, did the Hate Map not list Catholic Churches. The woman I spoke with was unsure, and said that perhaps the Catholic Church did not meet the Hate Map criteria.
She directed me to the description under the Hate Map for the criteria, which reads in part:
All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics. This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports. Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.
The SPLC representative assured me that religious organizations were not exempt from being listed: "Once they meet the criteria set forth, whoever it is, they put them on there."
Maybe, they just haven't gotten around to it yet. There are, after all, a lot of Catholic parishes in the United States.
But, unfortunately, not every Catholic parish will hear a sermon or see literature passed out at their church over the course of a given year reminding, and instructing, the flock what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality-which isn't hateful at all.
In fact, the mainstream media, historically hostile to the moral teachings of the Church, actually applauded part of what the Church teaches about homosexuality after comments made by Pope Francis during a press conference last month. Though headlines like "Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests" and "Breakthrough: Pope OK with Gays" completely misinterpreted the pontiff's comments, it was apparently news to many that Catholics are taught to love homosexuals and welcome them into the Church. "You can't marginalize these people," Pope Francis said.
What was downplayed, or not explained at all, in reports about the pope's comments is that the Catholic Church does not teach that homosexual attraction itself is sinful or evil-and it never has.
The Church teaches that engaging in homosexual acts is immoral and should be avoided. Those living with same-sex attraction are called to lives of chastity, not told that they must be attracted to members of the opposite sex to be good people. This from the same Catholic Church that also teaches engaging in heterosexual acts outside of marriage is sinful. But nobody ever accuses the Catholic Church of "hating" unmarried, sexually active straight people.
No one who is truthfully communicating the Church's teaching on homosexuality is promoting anything to "demean gay people" or "cause people to attack gay people." But we've allowed our culture to decay such that any opposition to homosexuality at any level is now considered "hateful" and "bigoted."
We can be sure that as debates in this country move forward over the legality of "gay marriage," the Catholic Church will be a prime target of attack, and the lines separating free speech from "hate speech" will continue to be blurred. If the Southern Poverty Law Center intends to continue publicly attacking and maligning Catholics, maybe they should put their own office on the Hate Map.