Part two of Teaching the Cat to Sit (the memoir I’m writing) begins with the statement, “Make no mistake. God is in the people, but the people are not God.” Meaning that all to often, I’ve confused the actions (especially those made on behalf of religion) of human beings with being shunned, judged, or ostracized by God.
In the 1980s, Father Rudy Kos headed up All Saints Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas. He sported a Tom Selleck mustache, had been married and divorced prior to being ordained, and lived in the rectory of the church with a teenage boy he’d adopted. You can probably sense where this is going. Kos headed up the teen group, and because he oozed charisma and cool, he gained immense popularity among my peers. Until one of the altar boys committed suicide and twelve others came forward to sue the Catholic Diocese in the precedent-setting case won against a religious institution for hiding and covering up for a pedophile priest.
Fast forward to 2006. My partner of twelve years and I adopted a son from Boulder County Foster Care. He’d been neglected, starved, and near-drowned. I’ve no doubt angels watched over him in his first year of life, because his survival seemed miraculous. He didn’t choose his parents–those he was born to, in foster care with, or adopted by. His birth certificate now shows his legal parents to be two moms. In 2009, we enrolled our son in Sacred Heart of Jesus private school. We believed it was important to raise our son in a faith. Our first question to administrators was whether or not our son would be ostracized or punished in any way because he had gay parents. They said no. And, they lived up to that promise. The teachers and parents at the school never treated our son any different than any other student. And, we weren’t the only gay parents at Sacred Heart. When we arranged to have our son baptized, Father Bill Breslin called me in for a conversation that led to us pulling our son from the school (click here for Boulder Weekly interview).
A few weeks ago, Sacred Heart announced that a kindergartener and pre-schooler (siblings) would not be allowed to re-enroll at the school because their parents (two moms) were living in “open discord” with the teachings of the Catholic Church and the policies of the school. He said that this policy did not apply to children of single or divorced parents because those were not ongoing events or choices–they were one time events. But, the school has not addressed whether or not they’d be willing to turn down the tuition of parents who admit to using birth control or do not observe Lent or attend Mass regularly.
Sacred Heart is a private school. They can make whatever rules they choose, and parents can decide whether or not to send their children there. But for a Christian school to selectively punish children for the decisions of parents makes a mockery of the religious institution. Acceptance does not equal approval. And it begs the question: What would Jesus do?