Debates over abortion continue to dominate US politics. A Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect just three weeks ago, resulting in widespread national media coverage, with many stories showing familiar media trends.
Despite the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal, this law made abortion in Texas one of the most restrictive in the country after the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on 2 September not to block it. This sparked debate and new political animosity between Democrats and Republicans as arguments over abortion in this country now span a fifth decade.
The fallout from all of this may have increased animosity against the Catholic Church. The church’s position – ancient and modern – against abortion has placed it at the forefront of this cause, along with many other traditional Christian denominations and organizations.
Some of this animosity has led to vandalism against American churches. A Catholic church in Colorado was vandalized with graffiti showing its support for legalized abortion days after the Supreme Court ruling. This is how Christian Post recently reported the story. It’s long, but essential:
St. Louis Catholic Church, located in the suburb of Boulder in Louisville, became the target of vandalism by abortion activists over the weekend. The doors of the church were spray painted with the statement “My body, my choice,” a common refrain among pro-choice activists. Church members discovered the graffiti when they gathered for worship on Sunday morning.
In addition to spraying the phrase “My body, my choice” on the doors of the church, the vandals targeted a marker on the property that read “Respect life”, replacing the word “Life” with the phrase “Bodily autonomy. “. In addition, the sign at the front of the church has been disfigured with the phrase “forbid our bodies”.
In a Facebook post on Monday, the Louisville Police Department noted that a surveillance camera recorded three people on church property at 1:30 a.m. local time on Sunday and asked the public to help identify them.
The Christian message, as the name suggests, is a niche information source. The question here – again – is why cases of vandalism like this receive so little attention in the mainstream press.
Let’s start here. Are the two issues – Texas’ new abortion law and church vandalism – related?
In this story, it does appear to be the case. This can make it more or less a story depending on the medium and the ideological bias that governs the selection of articles in newsrooms. Hold that thought. More of that later in this post.
The overall reality is that quite a few Catholic churches have been vandalized – even before this month and abortion coverage. This trend was highlighted in a new report from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently posted on its website. Here is a summary of the report:
At least 95 incidents have occurred in 29 states since May 2020. Incidents include arson, decapitated statues, severed, broken and painted limbs, gravestones disfigured by swastikas and anti-Catholic language and flags Americans burned next to them, and other destruction and vandalism.
Why was there so little media coverage of these various acts of vandalism?
On the flip side, there has been a lot of reporting on President Joe Biden, whether he should continue to receive Holy Communion and what Pope Francis thinks about it all – something that made headlines this week. last.
But church vandalism is not just a matter of politics. These are mainly disrespecting the faith of millions of people, whose religious freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment, as well as crimes involving the physical destruction of property. None of these factors seem to thrill editors who run elite newsrooms.
Last June, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote an article in Catholic New York, the official journal of the Archdiocese, condemning the attacks that had occurred in and around New York City.
Where is the outrage? As I observed at the Temple Emanu-El congregation during their Sabbath prayers last Friday, an attack on one is an attack on all. We preach love! Why do some hate us?
That’s a very good question. The reason for such attacks is that the Catholic Church is often an easy target for the anger of those who disagree with it. Churches are also very often empty and lack adequate security. Again, that makes them targets.
The political prism, on the other hand, is just too alluring for the mainstream media to cover almost everything these days. Religion, of course, is not immune to any of these editorial decisions in terms of coverage. Perhaps this is why this long-ignored trend continues, even after the release of the USCCB report. National news outlets, especially those leaning towards the ideological left, are not so quick to cover these attacks if they infer that the perpetrators could be people who agree with cultural prejudices in many rooms. drafting.
Interestingly, the USCCB lists all acts of vandalism – from December 2020 to the present day – with a link to various news accounts. That just doesn’t give us a list of the 95 acts of vandalism (37 so far this year alone), but also a quick guide to the news outlets that were at the forefront of such coverage.
The list confirms much of what I observed and reported in July of last year about the lack of national media coverage regarding these acts of vandalism. Here is a section of that post:
The historical media (such as the New York Times and ABC News) as well as new models of journalism (such as Buzzfeed and Vox) have not reported on this trend, although local newspapers and TV stations have reported this trend. fact in terms of individual incidents affecting their coverage areas.
This resulted in disjointed coverage – leaving it to the Catholic media to exercise judgment on the news and produce trending articles in the wake of the protests and riots that followed George Floyd’s death while he was under guarding Minneapolis police officers. What followed a few weeks ago were attacks on Confederate statues, followed by vandalism against one of America’s founders like Thomas Jefferson. This was all taken from the California desecration of statues honoring Saint Junipero Serra for his alleged mistreatment of Native Americans. The statues debate has now spread to Catholic sacred art, a trend that may be linked to some activists calling for the demolition of the “white Jesus” statues.
The most detailed chronology of this series of desecrations was not produced by the New York Times or the Washington Post, but rather by Aleteia, a Catholic news site.
The USCCB has posted this detailed schedule on its website as part of this detailed report.
The report, a solid factual resource for journalists, makes no connection between these crimes or whether they were committed by the same individuals or groups. In a country as large as the United States, it is highly unlikely that these acts of vandalism are related. To our knowledge, there is no anti-Catholic terrorist organization seeking to destroy sacred spaces. Many are likely crimes of opportunity committed by solo actors, some of whom may even be mentally ill.
In many cases, no one has ever been arrested for these crimes and often there are no security cameras to catch the person (s) in the act.
The list of incidents gives us some details of this trend which can be traced. This is what the Catholic National Register reported on September 13:
Incidents have occurred in 29 states.
The report referred to 12 incidents in California since May 2020, including the degradation and removal of a statue of Saint Junipero Serra in October 2020 and an arson attack in July 2020 that destroyed parts of a 249 missionary church. years in San Gabriel.
The report also cited 14 incidents in New York City, including anti-Catholic and anti-police graffiti outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in January.
In some cases, dioceses have requested increased security following acts of vandalism.
The Brooklyn Diocese called for an increased police presence in May, after two incidents of vandalism at church properties in three days. A statue of the Blessed Mother holding the infant Jesus was discovered vandalized in front of the diocesan administrative offices, the beheaded Christ. A crucifix display outside a parish was also found overturned, along with an American flag outside the presbytery burnt down. Both incidents were investigated as potential hate crimes.
Interestingly, the two states behind the incidents – New York and California – are “blue” in terms of electoral patterns. They are centers of progressive politics. They are also great media and cultural centers – both for the mainstream press and for Hollywood – in this country.
Could that be a factor in all of this? However, these are also areas in which politicians have shown little support and tolerance for claims of religious freedom. This has also been the case in France and in increasingly secular Canada in recent months.
Journalists from local outlets and religious publications understand the need to cover such incidents. It is only when there is a trend that national news organizations choose to ignore it. Vandalism is a dangerous trend. Continuing to ignore such incidents is equally dangerous to the quality and nature of modern American journalism.
FIRST IMAGE : Louisville Police Department (Colombia) via Facebook