This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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From Confederates to Catholics
During the weekend of July 11th, 64 people were shot in Chicago and 34 in New York City while murder rates climb in cities across the nation. At the same time, at least four Catholic churches were attacked in four states, Florida, California, New York, and Massachusetts. The worst of these attacks was in Florida, where a man plowed his car into the church, doused it with gasoline, and lit it on fire. The historic San Gabriel Church, in Los Angeles was also set on fire, while a Virgin Mary statue and a Catholic World War II memorial were desecrated in New York and Massachusetts. The George Floyd protesters started out by attacking monuments of Confederate soldiers. Next, they went after Christopher Columbus. When they attacked statues of Ulysses S. Grant, black abolitionist Frederick Douglas, and demanded the removal of an Abraham Lincoln statue, it should have been clear that no historical figure was safe.
The Christopher Columbus statues are particularly problematic because Columbus is the symbol of Italian-Americans and in many cases, these statues were paid for and commissioned by the
Italian-American community. Regardless of the reasons why some people want to remove these statues, they are the representation of an American ethnic group and destroying them seems that it should match the definition of a hate crime. The FBI defines a hate crime as “crimes in which the perpetrators acted based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin…actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity.”
The Knights of Columbus is one of the largest Catholic fraternal orders in the world. As Columbus becomes canceled, how long will it be before cancel culture comes for the Knights. Caving into pressure from protesters, The Washington Red Skins have announced that they would change their name and logo, although it was designed by a Native American whose family is proud of their ancestor’s creation. Will Knights of Columbus also have to change their name? Will they be banned from college campuses? Will displaying the Knights name and logo be considered a hate crime?
The Church and the Conquistadors
In St Louis, BLM and other groups have been calling for the removal of the statue of Saint Louis, a canonized Catholic saint. The protesters claim that he was anti-Muslim and antisemitic. Local Catholics organized a group called St. Louis Forever who met nightly at the statue to pray and say the rosary. Black Lives matter activist Umar Lee called for a protest at the same time. The Catholics reported being attacked by the BLM members. Video evidence appears to corroborate this. The statue was then desecrated overnight. The next day, the Faithful returned to clean it up. Snopes and a number of other conspiracy media made claims that although BLM was present and Catholics were present, there was no proof that the people attacked were Catholic or that the attackers were BLM. It would seem this is the sort of very important story which should be investigated by mainstream media, but it has been ignored. A local Catholic was reported as saying, ““If I’m CNN 15 years ago – maybe even five years ago – I probably would’ve been investigating this to find out more and would’ve at least mentioned it…It’s really sad that we’ve reached the point in big league journalism that a story that does not conform to their preferred narrative simply didn’t happen in their minds.”
BLM, leftists, and cancel culture all oppose the conquistadors, the problem is that many of the people they have identified for erasure are Catholic icons. The statue of Junipero Serra in Father Serra Park near Union Station in downtown Los Angeles was knocked down by protesters. Father Serra founded missions in California and was later canonized as a Catholic saint. In San Francisco, rioters took down another statue of Junipero Serra. Spokes people for the various movements claim these statues were attacked because of their connection to colonization and displacement of local peoples, but that would not explain the rest of the attacks they launched against Catholic churches.
Other attacks on Catholic targets include The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver which was permanently damaged. It was spray painted with messages which read “Pedofiles”, “G-d is dead,” “There is no G-d,” as well as anti-police, anarchist, and anti-religion messages. New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral was graffitied with profanity, “BLM” and “NYPDK.” The Saint Jude Chapel in Dallas was damaged by rocks thrown by rioters. Similarly, the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore in Chicago and the rectory of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville were damaged. A fire was lit in St. Mary’s Basilica in Minneapolis, which resulted in only minor damage. Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon-St. Peter Cathedral, the Maronite cathedral for the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon in Los Angeles was graffitied with anti-police messages.
Legislators Must Protect Religious Freedom
Hate crimes are defined as those perpetrated against a person for his/her religion. This should apply to Catholics as well. Next, the lock downs have prevented Catholics and members of other religions from attending worship services. Easter Sunday is a religious day of obligation and preventing Catholics from attending mass was a violation of the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Religion. Rioters, on the other hand, are permitted to violate the lock down because they are exercising their First Amendment right to freedoms of speech and assembly. Shouldn’t a church service also be protected under freedom of speech and assembly?
Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) praised a Maryland county for upholding the first Amendment rights of protesters. DOJ then told them, that they expected the same for Freedom of Religion. “Churches have the same rights as protests, DOJ tells Maryland county.” Along with legislation protecting churches and the right to worship, steps need to be taken to prevent having the church canceled completely. BLM spokespeople have said that they want all images of white Jesus removed. Activist and BLM supporter, Shaun King tweeted, “I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down…They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been.” He has also said that “stained glass windows and other images of a white Jesus, his white mother and ‘their white friends’ should all be destroyed.” This matches the type of destruction which has occurred at Catholic churches across the US.