The Sisters of Mercy founded the Academy of the Sacred Heart Jesus in 1871. Five years later, the school changed its name to Mount de Sales Academy. In the 20 years I have lived in Macon, I have met more than one parent who railed on the racism of Macon’s private schools while still sending their own children to Mount de Sales.
The school predates public education in Macon. Some north Macon parents could pat themselves on their backs by claiming that all the north Macon private schools were created in response to segregation and, therefore, racist. Then they could send their kids to Mount de Sales because it was a Catholic school that allowed them an escape from public schools without surrendering their smug superiority.
That all came crashing down on them last week when the school showed its band teacher, Flint Dollar, the door. Dollar intends to marry his partner. Many in our community are stunned at what they see as the breathtaking bigotry of the Catholic Church. They should be stunned at their own ignorance.
I have seen some otherwise very well educated people show just how extremely ignorant they are of the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality.
Most Protestant churches view homosexuality itself as a sin. The Catholic Church does not. Catholic doctrine supposes that one can have same sex attraction, but the physical sexual act is the sin. But that sin, like all others, allows for grace and repentance. Many Catholic educational institutions are much more tolerant of hiring gays than their Protestant counterparts.
Members of the community shocked that Mount de Sales would fire Dollar for being gay are wrong. Despite the spin and sympathetic portrayals, Dollar being gay has zero to do with him being, in effect, fired.
The Catholic Church, unlike most every Protestant Church, believes that marriage is one of seven sacraments of the church. A sacrament is a ceremony, sign and instrument of God’s grace. God created man as male and female and their union together, commanded by God, creates a completed oneness that glorifies God.
Dollar cannot marry another man without instantly corrupting a sacrament of the church -- divorce and adultery may do so too, but not upon initiating participation in the sacrament. Mount de Sales is, in effect, a ministry. One cannot corrupt a sacrament of the church and participate in that ministry. Being gay is fine. Being gay and corrupting a sacrament is not. Had Dollar been heterosexual and abused the Eucharist, the same thing would have happened.
Herein lies the problem this and similar situations create. The Catholic Church tends to be much more tolerant of homosexuality than Protestant denominations. The mischaracterization of Dollar’s firing by many, the demands that the Catholic Church be tolerant of the corruption of its sacrament, and the hysterical rhetoric of those who oppose the church are only going to incentivize both Catholic schools and Protestant schools to be more rigorous and less tolerant in their hiring to begin with.
Many people think the church should have to let its sacraments be corrupted. They preach tolerance without being tolerant of the church. And in the past week, a lot of people have shown themselves to be pretty ignorant of what the church even teaches. A Protestant evangelical school would most likely have never hired Dollar. There are more and more Catholics wondering if it might be safer to go that route, too, just to avoid legal and public relations headaches stemming from so much ignorance about what the church actually believes.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.