In the post below I mentioned a homeschooling board I visit. I won't say which one specifically; some of you may know the board, and some don't, and that's fine. I'm not trying to single out this board or these Catholic women, or point fingers.
But I'm a little disturbed about something.
The board in question is a Catholic homeschooling board, and its purpose is to promote and encourage Catholic homeschoolers. I respect that. The moderators on the board work hard to keep the place free from heated conflict or temper-driven conversations, and I respect that too.
But the board is Catholic. And Catholics are supposed to be pro-life. And in the past the board has permitted various pro-life conversations to take place; in fact, a current conversation is about IVF and its evils.
However, there's a sudden spirit of caution that creeps up whenever Barack Obama's name is mentioned over there. For example, the post below the news item I shared earlier was a moderator's post; she essentially thanked the poster for the information and then reminded everyone that no discussion was to take place--even though the poster was sharing pro-life information, the fact that the information was critical of the upcoming administration meant that discussion had to be preempted.
The board is currently working out its political policy. I hope that what is forged will be a good, workable solution. But I have a few observations of my own:
1. Politics is a part of life. When we shut down discussion that is "too political," we're essentially telling people that this one part of their lives is permanently off-topic. I could see that being true on, say, a cooking board or an arts-and-crafts board or even a generic homeschooling board that focused solely on curriculum discussions, but on a Catholic homeschooling board it seems strange that politics would have to be off-limits for discussion. Catholics are supposed to live in the world, after all, and take part in the world's concerns, bringing our Catholic values to bear on the issues of the day. There will be times when we disagree, respectfully, about the practical actions we need to take, or even whom we need to vote for, but is that a reason to shut down all political discussion altogether?
2. The election is over, and Catholics, sadly, helped to elect the single most pro-abortion President our nation has ever known. Barack Obama plans to make abortion even more available, to pay for it with taxpayer dollars, to stifle dissent, and to require Catholic doctors and nurses and pharmacists--and even, possibly, Catholic hospitals--to participate in abortions. Some of our bishops are already speaking out about these matters, so is it really the case that these topics are too controversial to be discussed in a Catholic setting among our fellow Catholics? Must we bury our head in the sand for the next four years rather than ever say, in even the mildest of ways, that those Catholics who voted for Obama might possibly have been misinformed about his abortion extremism?
3. Pro-life issues transcend partisan politics, even though it is the sad reality in America today that one party is committed to legalized abortion on demand, while the other party's platform opposes it (though individuals within the party are pro-abortion anyway). Catholics should be able to discuss the importance of such issues as abortion, contraception, IVF, embryonic stem-cell research, and other matters which relate to the culture of life/culture of death divide without having to worry about offending those Catholics who generally vote for the party whose platform is in support of the culture of death; not every Democrat agrees with the party's position on these issues, but the fact remains that the Democratic party is the party which takes anti-life positions--and people on a Catholic board should be able to discuss this fact without having to worry about hurting people's feelings. This is especially true during a Democratic administration--Catholics must be able to speak up about the administration's efforts to advance the culture of death without being told that it's divisive to do so on a Catholic forum, in my opinion.
4. It has been said that the reason to limit these sorts of discussions is in part because these conversations don't belong on a board about homeschooling. But to me, a board about Catholic homeschooling should never be afraid to permit Catholics to converse about the issues which are of the gravest concern to Catholics today. We are, after all, educating the next generation of Catholic voters and Catholic activists. We teach them as much by our example as we do by our words, and if they see us shun controversy in order not to offend our fellow Catholics, the lessons they are learning is that it's less important to stand up for Catholic values than it is to get along with everyone. Maybe, having been educated that way in Catholic schools in the 1970s, I'm a bit over-sensitive to this sort of thing--but I want my children to be unafraid to stand up for the truth.
5. Having said all of that, though, I do recognize two things: one, that the moderators at this board may simply not have the time to keep political discussions civil, and two, that lots of women out there, even some of my fellow Catholic ones, seem to think that "I disagree with you," means "You're wrong, and I hate you," for reasons that continue to puzzle me. So while I hope that the board will find a way to let some mention of Obama's name here or there stand without worrying that the pro-Obama members will react badly to any criticism of him, however slight, I recognize that this may be impossible; in that case, I suppose that maintaining the current "No politics" status quo may be the only workable option.