Warring Values; Decisions

Say you found an organization or a program that you wanted to get involved in and/or support because it pressed all your buttons around social justice, health care, classism, inclusion, and practicality. Say you got really excited and made plans to commit yourself to this course of action. Say you then found out that the institution’s physical home was going to be in space rented from a Catholic Church, an organization that has some pretty nasty things to say about gay folks, discriminates against women, still bans birth control in this day and age, and in this particular archdiocese, was part of the big sex abuse lawsuits a while back, followed by the archdiocese trying to divest itself of property by giving it to the parishes before declaring bankruptcy so that it wouldn’t lose the properties in the lawsuits, and more recently made protesting against gay marriage a major initiative?

In my case, it makes me feel like I can’t be part of the program, because I don’t want to support the Catholic Church and the things it finances.

Then again, if this building in particular is part of a parish that is known for its diversity and social justice leanings, does that make it okay?

But does that mean they’re just spreading doctrine that still says the above stuff to a more diverse group of people?

If the money goes straight to the parish, how much trickles up to the archdiocese and eventually the Vatican?

Would I be giving money to anti-gay-marriage efforts? To camps to “rehabilitate” gay people? To protesting abortion clinics? To keeping women in unequal positions? To, in short, one of the most glaring examples of some of the worst outcomes of patriarchy?

And is there a way that can be okay, given the very good things about the program in question (social justice, affordable health care, etc)?

In my usual day-to-day life, the answer would be to skip the program, and put my money places where I am proud of the work it will do. But, there’s nothing else like this program, and I want to be a part of it both for my own benefit and to support its goals. So what should I do? I need your advice. Vote in the poll and tell me why you voted that way in the comments. Thanks!



14 thoughts on “Warring Values; Decisions

  1. As someone who is Catholic, raises his children as Catholic and supports same sex marriage, the rights for women to choose, the use of birth control I think you should not join the program.

    Here’s why: they’re renting space from the archdiocese. That will go to support the Catholic church and there is no getting around that. Unless that changes then, despite the alignment of this program with you, this will trouble you. I don’t think that is a rigidity in principles exactly, I think it’s your comfort level. You’re not comfortable supporting the church even indirectly.

    Your participation in this program (or anything you do) should not be colored by this. If that changes then don’t hesitate to join. Till then this will be a problem for you and that’s alright.

    • “Here’s why: they’re renting space from the archdiocese.”

      The archdiocese did declare bankruptcy because of the almost 400 sexual abuse lawsuits. I’m not yet clear on if the property transfer to the parishes happened or not. Still looking into it. (Yowza, that sex abuse history is awful.)

  2. Disclaimer: I may have misread or misunderstood, and you’ve already done the following… if so, skip part 1 :)

    Part 1: Ask the coordinators of the program directly what their relationship / affiliation is with the land lord / Catholic Church. It may simply be that organisations with similar-ish structures or categorisations group together. I know in my local area that this happens. One particular organisation may own a building, and many organisations tenant there, but their relationship goes no further than a standard tenant / land lord relationship.

    Part 2: If the relationship is a simple tenant / landlord one, then I personally would join the program. Whatever they’re paying their landlord they’ll be paying regardless of your participation, and it’s more important to be involved in things that matter.

    If there’s a stronger relationship there, and finances are more shared between the program and the church, then I might reconsider joining and put my money and efforts elsewhere. Or even see if I could strike some individual arrangement with the program.

    It’s definitely a tough call, and one I’ve come across myself before too.

  3. More “Other” comments:

    Join, but help them find a better place.
    — They already have a 3-year lease, so that’s not a potential outcome.

    Join the program. Use influence as an active participant to move locations later
    — They have a 5-year option after the 3-year lease is up, so I think they’re pretty convinced it’s the right space for the program.

    Join the program, but seek more information from the program coordinators first.
    — Have emailed them! We’ll see what happens.

    — Don’t use the Internet as a moral compass
    Asking your friends to give you their opinions so you can better understand your own feelings (seeing how you respond to both validating and dissenting opinions is one of the best ways I know to test your own beliefs) isn’t using the internet as a moral compass.

  4. So, I’m going to weigh in on public forum, even though I usually am wholeheartedly against comments.

    Here’s what I appreciate about this: I can see that this is something you would care about, and given the type of program, and its social justice mission- you’re surprised that this would be something they’d have overlooked.
    However, I’m going to advocate doing the program anyways, simply because I think the good that can come out of this outweighs this one thing. I see the moral dilemma, I acknowledge that there is some stickiness around this, but I also see that it’s totally a good thing overall, there is nothing like it, and the fact that this upsets you makes you even more perfect for this.

  5. I was a member of a group that met in a hall belonging to a Catholic church. They simply rented the space because it was cheap and centrally located. Not even sure any members of the group actually attended the church itself. I see you;ve emailed them, so I would wait on that before making a final decision.

  6. This is a tough call. Sometimes I find, when fighting for things like equal access for people with disabilities, that my bedfellows can be less than stellar. But they’re the only ones helping with the fight, so sometimes I have to swallow some things I don’t like in order to hopefuly accompish things that help with the herculean task I’m trying to perform. Just my thoughts.

  7. It’s not an easy choice.

    For me, I would probably join the group after talking to them and explaining why I was uncomfortable about the situation. I used to attend a gay synagogue who was in a Episcopal owned locale (before they were publicly HoYay!), which really broke my brain on a number of things. But that said, I also turned down a job because of that kind of thing. My desire to do things with the group has to be measured against my abject distaste of the location. My personal improvement from the group has to be weight against the loss I might feel because eww-Catholicism.

    Personally, I lean towards the moral off-set. I can’t fix everything, and while I firmly believe in voting with my feet and wallet, sometimes there IS good to be gained in the evils of the world. That’s why I have no issue with Bayer Aspirin, while my wife refuses to touch their stuff. That’s why I’ll drive cars and use products developed by Nazis. If I don’t allow SOME good to come from them, then I feel we lose everything.

    And I think this could be good for you.

  8. Update/Outcome:
    – The parish in question is welcoming, and has gay people in significant volunteer roles. They apparently don’t get on well with the archdiocese.
    – They’re still Catholic, so, you know, keep having those babies, whether you ought to or not.

    So I’ll do the program, but will donate extra money this year to Planned Parenthood.

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