“Blessed is the righteous judge.” Someone had painted this on the side of a building in lower Manhattan. It wasn’t the first of my encounters with memorials to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I passed this one, though, the night after the Girl Scouts were pressured into taking back their congratulations to Amy Coney Barrett for succeeding the late Supreme Court justice on the court. My surprise about the Girl Scouts was that anyone there at this point would even think to acknowledge Barrett. I’ve been writing for 20 years about the politics that have crept into the Girl Scouts organization, so I can’t say I was surprised. But the convergence, just before the election, kind of stung.
For more than a decade now, some of us have been raising an alarm about religious freedom. If one’s religious principles clash with what’s deemed acceptable by the government, those principles are viewed with hostility.
The morning after this Election Day, in a case argued by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia is fighting for foster children. The Philadelphia city government decided it was going to stop working with the Catholic agency on account of church views on homosexuality. Mind you, there was no actual complaint about anyone being refused help. What’s at stake here is freedom itself. There should be more options for foster parents, not less — for the sake of these children who don’t have a lot of time to have their lives literally saved. Adults have to quit playing politics with their lives or we are going to have a lot to answer for.
I am confident that most people don’t realize what’s going on here. I’m sure when they cast a vote for Joe Biden because he doesn’t seem like the bully Trump is, they have no idea this is what they are voting for — a continuing narrowing of freedom. But vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris thinks membership in the Knights of Columbus makes a man unqualified to be a judge. Just days before the election, the founder of that fraternal order is being beautified — a big step on the road to becoming a canonized saint.
And maybe we could consider that, after Election Day, just because we have differences of opinion doesn’t mean that we have to exile each other from polite society. I don’t want to be canceled, and I doubt you do either. So, let’s get back to debates, discussions and striving to find some kind of common ground.
Whatever your opinion of abortion, here’s something we can come together on: There are children living in the city of Philadelphia and all around the country who need homes. Let’s get them safe and secure in loving families. One of the common experiences of this traumatic year has been the violence that COVID-19 did to the routines that helped us get through days and move forward. How much worse was it for a child without a permanent family?
The recent terrorist attack in the Catholic Church in Nice, France, shows us what hatred of the other can do, what hatred of Christianity looks like. And then there’s the rising tide of anti-Semitism. Whatever happened to “never again”? This isn’t a Holocaust, but the same kind of evil that lead to it is creeping in again. That is unacceptable. That is actually intolerable. We need a rigorous defense of religious freedom — yours and mine.
So, by all means make your RBG shrine, but remember that she was good friends with the late Justice Antonin Scalia — a staunch conservative, to say the least. There is room for different views in America. That’s what pluralism is all about. We need to remember that in the social media-charged atmosphere of blame-laying and name-calling. Whoever wins on Election Day, let’s go forth talking, not canceling.