"Rep. Joe Crowley, a New York Democrat, is asking his fellow lawmakers to help defend a member of the House who has endured online attacks because of his religion. Rep. André Carson of Indiana, who took office in 2008, was recently appointed to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The appointment has fueled online commenters to levy personal attacks at the 40-year-old Democrat, reports Politico."
"Crowley wrote to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Thursday about the issue.
"It has … come to my attention that there have been a shocking amount of comments made in conservative publications and on social media to the effect that Rep. Carson's integrity is somehow in question as a result of his religion," Crowley wrote."
"One of the great strengths of our nation, and indeed the Congress as well, is the diversity of experiences and beliefs that we are able to draw from to inform our policy goals," Crowley wrote. "It is a true tragedy if members are targeted for their religious beliefs as somehow weakening their ability to serve, as opposed to strengthening it."
Rep. Carson's religion: Islam. I find Rep. Crowley's defense of Mr. Carson rather astonishing. Not because Mr. Carson is not qualified to sit on this Committee but because politicians like Mr. Crowley would never extend the same defense to Pro Life Catholic politicians. How often are Catholic politicians targeted for their religious beliefs and smeared with the accusation that they want to restrict women's rights, or take away their birth control? How often have we heard that Pro Life protestors are more of a terror problem than the jihadists? And how often do politicians like Mr. Crowley debunk that?
These comments in defense of a lawmaker would never be made in support of a Pro Life Catholic politician. In fact Pro Life Catholic politicians are often told that their beliefs disqualify them from holding public office. Pro Life Catholic politicians are often accused of using their religious beliefs in determining policy goals and thus "weaken their ability to serve". Funny when it comes to Muslim politicians there is no religious test but for a Pro Life politician, Catholic or Evangelical there is definitely a religious test and they fail it. This double standard unfortunately has become standard operating procedure when it comes to the politics of abortion. The only new twist on this bigoted standard is that now our politicians are quick to defend all things Muslim or Islamic in the name of tolerance and freedom of religion while trampling the rights of Pro Life politicians to allow their moral beliefs to inform their political positions. Stand up for Allah and your patriotism will never be questioned but stand up for laws to protect unborn children as a Pro Life Christian or Jew and your loyalty to liberty is suspect.
This is why so many Catholic politicians have taken the late Mario Cuomo bifurcated stance: "while I personally oppose abortion, as an elected official I would never impose that on others, i.e. I'll vote in favor of abortion". What Rep. Crowley implies is that Muslim politicians ought never compromise their faith and morals if elected to office. Pro Life politicians better keep their beliefs to themselves.
I realize that 42 years past Roe v Wade we have not backed down and as a result have greatly slowed the killing of innocents by offering women and men an alternative coupled with the truth that abortion stops a beating heart. Abortion rates have slowed to their lowest level since 1973. Still we need to fortify ourselves to boldly stand up for our values and make them heard in the public square.
This current Administration has done backward somersaults to make sure we do not blame Islam for terrorism, yet it has relentlessly attacked, with lawsuits Christians who refuse to accept the "contraceptive mandate" and libeled them with waging a war on women. In its distorted vision we are the enemies of freedom. We need to do a better job of standing up for ourselves and the moral truths that made our society the beacon of peace and human flourishing that it is.
And it all begins by standing up for the most basic of all rights: the right to Life.
Love, Fr. John B.