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Christian Leadership Failures

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I had a long conversation this morning with someone who discovered Live Not By Lies, and reached out to me in concern. He is on the inside of a big conservative Protestant religious institution (not a church), and who shared with me his concern, and even his grief, over the institution going militantly woke. I can’t share anything about our conversation, but I can say at least this: the senior leadership of the organization has embraced Critical Race Theory and the entire Woke package, and is forcing it on the organization from the top down. According to this man, most people have no idea that this is going on. It is institutional capture by the Woke, happening within the confines of a Christian institution that has long been theologically conservative. The man told me that everything I talk about in Live Not By Lies is happening within this institution, including people being fired for dissenting even slightly from the new ideology.

“It’s going to have to get a lot worse before people wake up, I’m afraid,” he said, of other Christians. He gave me examples of how the Wokesters cloak their radicalism in the language of therapy and compassion, which completely disarms most middle-class people.

Here, from National Catholic Register, is a similar story, about a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Excerpts:

When a third-grade girl at School of the Incarnation here told her classmates she was a boy, parents of other students were surprised to learn that the Archdiocese of Baltimore had agreed to cooperate with her new identity.

In the face of cultural trends that suggest someone can choose a gender different from his or her biological sex at birth, many parents who send their children to Catholic schools expect them to uphold the Church’s teaching that gender and sex cannot be completely separated.

Indeed, a 2019 document on gender theory in education from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education states that Catholic schools have a legitimate aspiration to maintain the Church’s understanding of human sexuality, which communicates that each human person has an immutable male or female biological identity. It also makes clear that gender ideology “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family.”

Still, the Archdiocese of Baltimore reportedly approved accommodations to enable the student, whose father at the time was an administrator at the school, to present herself as a boy. She was allowed to use a masculine name, gender-neutral pronouns and a private bathroom. Furthermore, parents discovered that the school’s parent/student handbook had been altered to include “gender identity and expression” in the sections on discrimination and bullying.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore’s school guidelines are startlingly pro-trans. The girl-to-boy’s father was a school administrator, and recently resigned after parents figured out what was going on, and started to complain. More from the story:

Before the girl’s father resigned on Nov. 6, saying he had a fundamental disagreement with certain teachings of the Church, parents said they were particularly concerned that as a school employee, he was in a position to advance his daughter’s new identity and compel those he supervised to comply.

However, in a letter to George and Theresa Fritz, grandparents of three students in the school, Archbishop William Lori said that although the faculty had been informed of the child’s new name and a request from her parents that gender-neutral pronouns be used for her, no teacher or student was required to use them and those who did not would not be subjected to disciplinary action.

Still, parents who had formed the group Archdiocese of Baltimore-Parents Protecting Catholic Identity pointed out that by the time the girl’s father resigned, most of the children in the girl’s third-grade class already were calling her a boy.

In a Nov. 7 Facebook post announcing his resignation, the father said, “I know y’all are excited. I am too. I’m also proud and excited that I finally get to say publicly that my courageous youngest child is a transgender boy.”

His post, which elicited more than 300 positive reactions and more than 80 comments, all supportive, closed with, “I’ve got lots more to say and that will come later…”

As of the time this article was published, the girl and her older sister were still attending the 750-student, pre-K-8 school, although one response to the father’s Facebook post suggested the parents might seek a new school.

More:

In his letter to the Fritzes, Archbishop Lori outlined the steps taken by the school and said, “I believe that every attempt is being made to be faithful to our Church’s teaching in all areas of the school’s life.”

However, George Fritz said he considered the accommodations for the student to be contrary to the Catholic faith.

“This whole situation is completely foreign to me,” he said. “I don’t understand why the hierarchy is not standing up and saying this is wrong and an abomination in the sight of God.”

Because that would require them to show moral courage and conviction. It would require them to be willing to be hated by the world.

Read the whole story. It’s important. Note especially how the Archbishop making the pronoun policy optional in the school allows the crowd to change the policy de facto. It’s Neuhaus’s Law: Wherever orthodoxy is optional, it will eventually be proscribed.

Here’s a screengrab from the Letter From School Leadership page on the school’s website:

That is the one thing that the school’s leadership chose to emphasize, in a boldface pullquote: that they are proud not of the students’ faithfulness, or commitment to Catholic teaching, or the Jesus Christ — but rather to social justice and community outreach. Check out their page explaining why Catholic education is important. It is rather revealing.

Remember what the anonymous Catholic parish priest said in this space last week: that the battle now, and in the future, is not going to be between the Church and the world, but within the Church too. Catholics cannot count on their bishops to hold the line. It’s the same thing with Evangelicals and other Protestants: more and more, the leadership class is not going to be trustworthy. You cannot take trust for granted. Do as the Fritzes did: ask questions, demand answers, and prepare yourselves to become pariahs for the sake of standing for the truth.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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