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Finding a common cause

It’s not just the Catholics who face cultural opposition

Gerald Garth, left, stands with members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence during the Los Angeles Dodgers’ LGBTQ Pride Night on June 16. Associated Press/Photo by Mark J. Terrill

Finding a common cause
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On Friday night, more than a thousand religious persons protested outside of Dodger Stadium. It comprised the latest episode surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The latter group is an LGBTQ organization that mocks Christian ideas and symbols, especially Roman Catholics. This mockery often involves sexually explicit (cross) dress, words, and images.

The Dodgers invited the group to receive a Community Hero Award f before the team’s Pride Night game last Friday. Catholics opposed the move, calling the “Sisters” an anti-Catholic hate group. The Dodgers then uninvited them, only to re-extend the invitation after receiving pressure from other LGBTQ groups.

One would expect the protesters to be Roman Catholic. They were the main object of ridicule and the demonstration was organized by a Catholic group. But they were not alone. The event took on not just an ecumenical but an interfaith face as Protestants, Muslims, and Jews lent their support in person and online. A rabbi even spoke to the crowd, decrying the attack on Catholicism: “If you are anti-Catholic, you’re anti-religion, you’re anti-God. I got a problem with that.”

This solidarity is not new, building on previous episodes in the last 50 years. Roman Catholics and Protestants in America have worked together for decades on shared moral concerns. They banded together to oppose recognition of same-sex marriage in the 2000s and 2010s. Even before that, Catholics and evangelicals shared in the pro-life movement’s advocacy for the unborn.

We live in a time and place of increasing hostility to all believers, of all stripes. June’s ubiquitous “Pride” observance only hammers home that point. Where possible, we need to defend religious liberty by building coalitions beyond our particular denominations. Never should we sacrifice the exclusivity and doctrinal fulness of our religious beliefs, but cooperation on many issues can occur without doctrinal surrender.

We have principled reasons to establish and maintain alliances with those with whom we theologically differ.

But we should not merely see these efforts in pragmatic terms. Instead, we have principled reasons to establish and maintain alliances with those with whom we theologically differ. Doing so does not mean undermining our gospel witness. Protestants must continue to affirm the Solas that defined the Reformation. Protestants and Catholics must remain steadfast in declaring God as Triune and Jesus as the Son of God.

Without compromise on these matters, we can find common cause in two categories relevant to the events at Dodger Stadium. The first concerns sexual ethics. We must recognize how God communicates His character and will to human beings. The highest and perfect means is Scripture. But “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and all humans have “the work of the law … written on their hearts” (Romans 2:15).

Though marred by the Fall, we still can appeal to this natural knowledge, this truth revealed in nature, in pursuit of morality and justice. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he observes, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans.” And in Genesis, Abraham for a second recorded time deceives a ruler into thinking Sarah was not his wife. Abimelech responds upon learning of this, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.”

In both cases, nonbelievers affirmed basic sexual ethics, the principles the “Sisters” so vulgarly and intentionally mock. As depraved as our own times have fallen on these matters, we still can find in natural law common ground for common cause. And we see grounds for that common cause in the traditional beliefs of Judaism, Islam, and other faiths regarding marriage, sex, and sexuality.

Second, we can work across tradition and faith lines to inculcate respect for religious belief and protect liberty in religious practice. The mockery from the “Sisters,” though pointed most directly at Roman Catholics, touches also on deeply held Protestant beliefs. Moreover, these actions bask in irreverence toward belief in any god or any concept of sacredness, a point pertinent to other religious faiths. Beyond respect, the broader context of the Dodgers honoring this group includes silencing, ostracizing, and even criminally punishing those who disagree on religious grounds.

Let us not mistake our circumstances. As the Dodgers’ saga showcases, we are under attack. As we face these assaults, let us not compromise the truths of the gospel or those communicated by God through nature. But, depending on the fight, let us also recognize who our friends are.

Adam M. Carrington

Adam M. Carrington is an associate professor of politics at Hillsdale College, where he holds the William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the U.S. Constitution. His book on the jurisprudence of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field was published by Lexington Books in 2017. In addition to scholarly publications, his writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Examiner, and National Review.

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