MRFF Advisory Board Member Thoroughly Dismantles Bill Donohue Op-Ed

Click to read Catholic League President Bill Donohue’s Op-Ed “Christian Speech Removed From Facebook”

Scathing response to Bill Donohue by MRFF Advisory Board Member Ted Furlow, Retired Director of Pastoral Planning after 16 years of ministry in the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino, CA

When I agreed to join the Advisory Council of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation I realized that I would have to keep connected with their vast daily e-mail stream. As a matter of procedure, I try to tap in once or twice a week to see what is going on. So, I was surprised to read that Bill Donohue, the lead voice of The Catholic League, had weighed in on the argument around the appropriateness and legality of posting religious information on the Command Facebook page at Fort Drum. Condemning MRRF’s position as some form of assault on faith, he was quickly joined by a number of “Catholic”, posting supporting his stand. All well and good, but as an exercise in free speech and free opinions, it is a bit foggy on facts.

I am a cradle Catholic. I was raised in a very traditional Catholic home, benefitting from Catholic education from grade school to high school, to college, and to a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology. I am a participating Catholic, a financial supporter of my parish and the school, a member of the pastoral council, and a member of our building and grounds committee. My Catholic life has been impacted by the example of my parents, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, and an exceptionally long run from high school to that Master’s Degree with the Jesuits. In my 75 years in my faith I have learned many things, and my life has been well served by my faith. Mr. Donohue and his Catholic League inhabit the traditionalist wing of the American church, and I do not think of him as particularly relevant to the average Joe and Jane in the pews. While it would be one thing if his intervention were to truly support religious freedom, or even the excess of religious privilege, his screed about Christian faith being removed from Facebook is just a conservative dog whistle to prompt a reaction from his small base and to stimulate donations to support his livelihood.

As a boy I experienced firsthand the discrimination and prejudice towards Catholics in the 1950’s. Some came from ill informed protestants, but much came from Evangelical Christians who were the precursors of today’s conservative right wing evangelicals. As I matured, I was always sensitive to anything that threatened, infringed upon, ridiculed, or abused my free expression of my faith. So, understanding the immense civil influence of government, I support the constitutional separation of church and state – as onerous as it may be at times – to insure the full freedom of my Catholic beliefs. It is the freedom of everyone’s’ religious beliefs to exist outside of the color of government authority, or government influence. I share solidarity with those who support the free expression of religion, but I am diametrically opposed to those who would impose or imply, under any circumstances a specific brand of faith as a standard for all.

MRFF is not telling the chaplains at Ft. Drum that they cannot do their ministry; they are telling them that they cannot make their ministry a benchmark for the 10th Mountain Division. They should evangelize in the chapel and on their own Chaplain’s Facebook pages, and not advertise salvation on the Command pages.

The most effective Gospel is not always the one that is preached. It is best when it is modeled by the life of those who proclaim it.

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  1. Infidel

    The Catholic Church and the Vatican is the Great Whore of Babylon led by the False Prophet known as the Pope who does not speak for God.

  2. G

    Yeah, Infidel and the other religious Christian organizations do not speak for God either.

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