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The Catholic Church and Civil Rights

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After reading this article, it's plain to see that although we as a nation have made much progress in the way of civil rights and the suppression of racism, we still have a long way to travel on the road to utopian equality. What is poignant and telling about the article however, is just how far the church has come since its days reigning over society nearly six centuries ago. During this time, the church was tyrannical in its control over society using the demonic perspective of social deviance to deem anything not parallel with the norms of the day as sinful and in line with the devil. Rather than inspire and uplift society, it undertook social control as a matter of religious duty by using fear, torture, and supernaturalistic explanations for the emergence of demonic behavior to facilitate its ruthless agenda. Contrast all this to the present day church that is discussed in the article and then one really begins to grasp just how much it has changed since the demonic period. Gone are the traditional, controlling, punitive, fearful uses of religious imagery. Organizations mentioned in the article such as the National Catholic Liturgical Conference, the Archdiocese of New York and the Minnesota Committee on Religion and Race are all exemplary in their progressive use of religious imagery. That is, they used religion and its associated symbols to empower their congregations to believe in their own self worth, promote human equality, and fight for their civil rights. This progressive use of religious imagery is the same that enabled Martin Luther King Jr.'s Civil Rights initiatives of the 60s to become so revolutionarily successful, including the historical March on Washington which is referred to in the article.

What seems troubling about the article is what it infers about the Catholic church's alleged shying away from such issues as the Trayvon Martin case and other racial hostility. This refusal to deal with racism is eventually evident when parishes of predominantly homogenous race become uneasy when parishioners of a different race decided to join them. In another perfect progressive use of religious imagery, one Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont, Texas attempts to quell this unease by likening diverse parts of the church to different parts of the body of Christ, calling to mind St. Paul's admonition to the Corinthians. "Certainly that image of Paul can assist us in healing our own divisions," Guillory goes on to say in the article. Perhaps one reason that we as a society, the church included, have failed to include issues of race as relevant is that we have lost our sense of sociological imagination. That is to say that we've become too individualized, losing our feelings of unity and community along with our realization of power in numbers and our awareness that we share the same issues. This is echoed in the article by one Deacon Royce Winters, director of African-American Ministries for the



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