top of page

Faith, the First Amendment & Fairness: Will We All Be Victims Of The Slow-March To The New Normal?

If you haven't read the First Amendment lately, you probably should. Most students think of the First Amendment rather simplistically as the "Free Speech" Amendment. If you are old enough to remember the good old days when we had journalists who cared about chasing and covering a story --rather than "media professionals" intent on crafting a narrative and earning just enough clicks to stay employed-- you probably remember a few "First Amendment" cases involving the press. Too often we forget the OTHER major components of the First Amendment. The First Amendment does not exist solely to protect the press --although that is an argument that has been (hilariously) made by media "professionals" who have tried to parse the First Amendment down in the most self serving way possible. The First Amendment is also about faith, freedom of association, and the citizen's right to petition government for a "redress of grievances."

To understand just how radical the First Amendment truly was --and is-- we should probably think about it in a historical context. And, if we look back to the 18th century, we have to admire the truly awesome courage that it took, in the 18th century, to embrace religious freedom and religious diversity. The word "diversity" is not used in the Bill of Rights. But, by explicitly forbidding Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", the authors of the Bill of Rights enshrined a radical concept of religious freedom in the most important document in the United States. Religious freedom was not the norm in the 18th century. Genuine religious diversity --without continual bloody conflict-- was not the norm in Europe for most of the past thousand years. In the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Europeans slaughtered each other over matters of faith. If we look at Europe from the Massacre of St. Bartholmew to the devastating 1990s era televised conflict in the former Yugoslavia --that many historians see as simply the most recent re-hash of the old and ugly conflict between Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Muslims-- the mainly peaceful religious diversity of America must be considered one of our greatest collective triumphs.

The United States, for well over two hundred years, has embraced a diverse and rather schismatic crazy-quilt of faith with relatively little violence. Yes, we're not perfect. Yes, some nineteenth century Protestants were rabidly opposed to the growing population of Irish Catholics in their midst. For as long as anyone now alive can remember, the Boston political scene has been dominated by people hooked in to the dominate Irish Catholic base of the city, but in the early 19th century Boston was still dominated by the very Protestant, very Anglo-centric, descendants of Congregational Puritans who, in their day, often couldn't even tolerate other Protestants.

Americans today are used to a variety of religious expression that is still unimaginable for people who grow up in other parts of the world. And, until the Summer of 2020, we were also used to the free expression of our various faiths. In case you have tried to blank out the panic of 2020 and the pandemic, in the heat and fear of 2020 our First Amendment rights were essentially cancelled for "health" reasons. The hypocrisy of the same "health officials" who declared group religious observance a "health hazard", but meanwhile tacitly supported group gatherings for political protests is now fairly obvious.

But, in the late Summer and Fall of 2020, if you wanted to attend a religious service in Marin or San Francisco counties, you probably had to attend an "out-door" service and, chances were, you would be attending a Roman Catholic service. In September and October of 2020 a significant number of non Catholics were praying, at six foot intervals, on the hard pavement surrounding various Catholic churches around the Bay Area seeking whatever comfort they could find because most other religious denominations were "closed for Covid." And, much as zoom-school doesn't work for some --maybe most-- students, zoom-church was failing to provide the comfort many worshippers needed.

There was an air of madness to California in the Summer of 2020. We had had a relatively dry rainy season, the hills were full of tinder, fires burned for weeks at a time, and for a few horrible days the sky over San Francisco and Marin turned orange-grey from ash and smoke. The atmosphere was literally horrifying. But, metaphorically, the atmosphere was also horrifying. 24/7 news channels played the Covid-19 graphic before every commercial break. Violent riots burned whole city blocks. The news footage made America look like a scene from one of the Purge movies. One night in Chicago, over twenty million dollars worth of plate glass windows were smashed by a gleeful masked-up mob. Meanwhile, in Marin, we were supposed to stay home, stay masked up --hey, even in 2023 there are still Marinites who proudly drive solo in their cars while wearing two masks and a pair of rubber gloves-- and stay socially distanced. Forget that, while law abiding people were socially distancing, and small business people were going bust, mobs were congregating to protest anything and everything. In retrospect the hypocrisy is nothing short of stunning.

Reality has a way of shocking us even when it shouldn't. 2020 was a truly horrible year for America. It shouldn't have shocked any of us when we had our own mini mob stage a riot --after inviting the cameras-- and topple a statue in Marin.

In October of 2020 an angry mob geared up --this was not spontaneous, the MarinGOP is lucky enough to have a committee member who knows a lot about street riots-- and staged a riot on the sidewalk in front of St. Raphael's Church in San Rafael.

If you want to relive that moment --and see the live footage-- we have it on our blog. Un-edited since October of 2020.

Within a day of the original attack the media had rolled into action to "re-frame" the incident. The people of Marin may love a bit of woke virtue signaling, but a mob prancing in the street chanting curses and destroying property scared even the most un-observant residents of Marin out of their mental bubbles.

We recommend clicking the link above and scrolling to the bottom to watch the actual un-edited footage of the incident before you skim through the media's evolving efforts to "re-frame" the incident.

Within three days the media had started to use the word "removal" to talk about how a near life-sized bronze statue was broken in to multiple pieces by a very organized mob.

A local political gadfly named Frank Lindh --his name may sound vaguely familiar, his son made the national and international news in late 2001, recently the younger Lindh has made the international news again as questions have been asked about whether or not he was actually "rehabilitated" in prison-- rolled into action and wrote an Op-Ed claiming that as a self described "devout Catholic" Mr. Lindh wanted the Catholic Church to offer an apology. Mr. Lindh's interest in apologies these days is particularly ironic considering that he went on record over fifteen years ago to say that he didn't think his son owed anyone an apology. Double standards? Maybe. (You can read that bit of very Marin proto-woke-ism by clicking here.)

For the past two years the case has wound its way slowly through the system. Between the everything excuses of zoom and Covid it can now take two years for a DUI case to get through the system in Marin. Along the way it became obvious that the political "establishment' of Marin --basically all Democrats-- was at odds with the Catholic Church, at odds with our traditional commitment to a fair application of the law, and at odds with the bulk of Marin residents. A mob of twenty to forty people gathered to tear down a statue. A group of over a hundred gathered just a few days later to pray on the sidewalk as Archbishop Cordileone led an exorcism. Many of the people standing as impressed, but slightly bewildered, witnesses were not "devout Catholics." Many weren't even Christian. Instead they were, by and large, Americans who inherently understood the power of the First Amendment. When a place of worship is threatened the First Amendment is threatened, and we should all stand together.

Recently the case came to the conclusion the cynics amongst us had bet on two years ago. The phrase "restorative justice" was tossed around a bit. The District Attorney reduced charges. Frank Lindh wrote a letter to the editor of the MarinIJ again touting his "devout Catholic" credentials and claiming that he spoke for at least four other Catholics who didn't want the case prosecuted. Archbishop Cordileone --who, technically, does speak for the local Roman Catholic population-- released a compelling statement warning that the decision not to pursue prosecution of vandals would lead to an open season on the Church. (You can read excerpts from the Archbishop's statement by clicking here.)

It is now June of 2023, Summer is getting hot. Ask any expert on mobs, and a hot Summer always leads to bad riots. It will take months to crunch the numbers, but already there seem to be more cases of Catholics being targeted and Catholic churches being vandalized. You can read the news aggregator list of vandalism by clicking here.

If you want to read a truly fascinating analysis of the media's apparently collective "choice" to ignore a wave of attacks against a specific religious organization click here to read a truly fascinating and well researched long-form piece by Clemente Lisi.

Lisi argues that the media's apparent collective choice to ignore a trend of violence against the Roman Catholic Church is driven by the political desires of people in the media to identify "good guys" and "bad guys." The media fell in love with the woke mob a couple of years ago and doesn't want to paint the mob in a "negative" light. Meanwhile, many members of the chattering-classes inherently see traditional Roman Catholicism as the enemy of woke modernism. Thus, even well meaning media types who wouldn't paint a church red themselves, would happily turn a blind eye when someone else vandalizes a church.

Unlike Frank Lindh, at the MarinGOP we don't believe in touting our "devout" credentials. The one current member of the MarinGOP Executive Committee who attended the exorcism back in 2020 isn't a Catholic.

But, we are committed to the First Amendment. We're also committed to the customs of America. Our system has worked --more or less, with a few hiccups-- for more than two centuries because we hang together and we try not to allow specific religious or ethnic groups to be demonized. Our country is best when we stand shoulder to shoulder on principle. Laws should be enforced. Facts should matter more than feelings. And we should all be aware that if we allow a mob to come for our neighbor's place of worship this year, the mob may come for our place of worship, our place of business, our homes, next year.

53 views0 comments
bottom of page