Monday, June 27, 2022

True Believers

 Annamaria used to be one!

My 4th grade class, Our Lady of Lourdes School

"I went to Catholic school."  In meetings I sometimes say this - to comic effect - to explain why I am compulsively following a rule.  Sometimes, after a pause, I add the line, "For seventeen years."  I have gotten a lot of laughs with these lines.  People who have a similar education history laugh loudest and nod in camaraderie.

In the wake of this week's US Supreme Court decision, I confess that today I am not playing that line for laughs.  Fair warning: I am beside myself angry.

It is a fact that from ages 5 to 22, most of the major influencers in my intellectual life were nuns.  Contrary to the popular stereotype, at least 80% of them were kind, supportive, and great at their jobs.  There were a few harsh ones, but I would imagine that would be true in any kind of school in those long-ago days.  When I finished college, I left that milieu a well-educated and deeply devout Catholic.

Same kids, same steps, 4 years later

Then, however, by the time I was thirty-one, I had given up the faith.  For a while I called myself an agnostic.  Now I am an atheist.

St. John's High School, some of the same kids

But I remember vividly a great deal of what the nuns taught me.  Today I want focus on what they taught about the separation of church and state. When I was in the fourth grade, back in the time of the Peloponnesian Wars, there were still many European countries that had state religions.  Most notably for us kids, Italy and Ireland -birthplaces of most of our grandparents - were Catholic countries.  "Is that better than what we have here - separation of church and state?" Sister asked.  "No" was the right answer.  Why?  Because if the government could dictate a religion, and if it chose a different one from ours, we might end up being required to practice a religion dictated by the government.  We were much better off living in a country that granted everyone the right to worship (or not) as they choose. This was the very essence of freedom.

Freshman class, College of St. Elizabeth
Convent, New Jersey

The good sense of this was made abundantly clear when we studied, in history class in college, what went on in Great Britain at the end of the Sixteenth and the beginning of the Seventeenth centuries.  When heads, quite literally, rolled: Protestant heads chopped off by Catholics and Catholic heads chopped off by Protestants.    

I never belittle or dismiss what people believe and how zealous they feel about the tenets of their faith.  After all I, my educated self believed in the virgin birth until I was thirty.  If people's religion teaches them that an abortion anytime after conception is a form of murder, I absolutely believe they should be free never to have or to perform an abortion.  If the government tried to take control of their right to have children, I would lay down my life to preserve their freedom to be left alone to do so, regardless of the circumstances.

All those people rejoicing over the death of Roe v Wade in the streets today...  Does it never occur to them that if their beliefs can force today's women - even a fourteen-year-old girl who has been raped by her father - to give birth to a child, that one day, when the tables turn, it could force them to abort a child for whatever excuse the government trumped up.

It kills me that many of these same "Right to Life" people will defend an eighteen year old's right to own weapons of war and body armor, even though we know that some of them will murder children in school or deliver the death penalty to people guilty of grocery shopping while black.  The right-to-life crowd do not want those young people stripped of their rights to tote AK47s.


This past week, 51% if the citizen's of half the states in the U.S. had a right and a freedom ripped from them. By five people.  One. Two.Three. Four. Five.

A minority of the citizenry demanded the decision.  Five powerful people with nothing to lose agreed with them.  And the rest of us are forced to live with it.


  1. Right beside you, AmA. And doesn't Barry Goldwater seem like a liberal Democrat today? Alas, we "live in interesting times."

    1. It comforts me to have you on the same team, EvKa. I believe the majority of the US citizenry are, at least to some extent, on our team. In the USA, I believe that the central force in how "interesting" our times are is that--to all intents and purposes--we have rule by the minority.

    2. And re Goldwater, it is proof of how far the country has been dragged to the right that today he would be a centrist, at the very least. Remember when we thought him on the radical right!

    3. Yes absolutely to all your comments!!

  2. Two things strike me about the ruling: first, since the prevailing argument was that the constitution did not specifically permit abortion, SCOTUS sent the decision whether to allow abortion back to the states, breaking strong precedent in the process. Does this mean that precedent no longer has meaning? I have always thought it odd that the constitution can be interpreted in so many ways depending on personal beliefs.

    Second, and I picked up this idea from FB, but then fact checked it, here are the requirements for adoption in Minnesota:
    Be at least 21 years of age.
    Have sufficient household income to support adopted child/ren. Adoption assistance is available, but is not intended to cover the actual costs of raising a child.
    Pass an Adam Walsh Background Check (household members age 18+ must submit fingerprints). We welcome any questions you have about how your specific history might impact a background study.
    Participate in pre-adoption and foster care training (about 16 hours).
    Actively engage in the home study process.

    The abortion ruling will force thousands of people who are ineligible to adopt to raise kids. (Shakes his head and rolls his eyes)

  3. What a great list of questions, Stan. It has so many uses. The first place I would apply the process is to all gun owners.

    On a personal note, when my daughter Kerry Ann turned 21 and could be adopted without her birth father's consent, we started the process for David to adopt her/. NY laws required David (who had been her daddy for 18 years) to pass similar tests of his worthiness. I had to file the paper work as her birth mother, and then, as David's wife, I had to prove I met the requirements to become her adopting mother. (Nods her head, rolls her eyes, holds out her palms, and shrugs!)

  4. We are in times that will truly test our souls, spirit, and sanity.