Dear Archbishop Nienstadt

Archbishop Nienstadt: thank you for your opinion on what you consider “detrimental” to society. Allow me to respond by noting what I find truly detrimental to the peaceful, collaborative society I live in.

The society I inhabit depends on our ability to live together in harmony. This means I refrain from marginalizing any group of people simply because they are different, because they hold different beliefs, or because ancient texts force me to. That may be what society used to mean, decades and centuries ago, when we trusted religious authorities to inform us who God had told them we were supposed to hate. But we no longer live this way. If we intend to live together in unity and peace, we must recognize that we are all too different and living too closely together for the exclusionary attitudes of the Middle Ages to ever hold sway again. Good riddance.

This means we treat each other with respect, it means we don’t bully each other, it means we respect the rights of those who, historically, have had those rights trampled on, and we uphold human rights FOR ALL when they are under attack. It means we support each other, and it means we do not organize witchhunts to attack, discriminate and remove rights from people who are different.

It means we do not impose our religious visions on people who do not share them.

What I personally find “detrimental” to this society is bigoted and hateful attitudes towards my friends: wonderful people who have provided stability, friendship, love and support to my community for years. What I find “detrimental” is people spreading lies and divisiveness, particularly when they do so from an unwarranted position of authority, and “in the name of” someone who would most likely be disgusted at the hatred you promulgate as your interpretation of his message of love and compassion for EVERYONE. What I find “detrimental” to the society I live in is people who actively try to force it apart.

Archbishop Neinstadt: I don’t recognize you as a spiritual or moral leader, and with very good reason. You don’t speak for me, you don’t speak for my friends. My sincere hope is that you don’t speak for more than a small fraction of the people of Minnesota, the majority of whom I have found to be loving, caring and respectful, regardless of who they choose to love.

You have the right to hold an opinion and express it, despicable as many of us find it. I fully defend your right to do so, as I would expect you to defend my right to express my opinion on your views, which I trust you can infer. What I don’t defend, and in fact I will fight to defeat, is any and all work you do to impose your antiquated views of what is “detrimental” to society on those of us who have looked around and recognized the 21st century is already upon us.

Archbishop Neinstadt, you are free to recognize the 21st century, and this is your opportunity to do so. It does mean giving up your claims of absolute ownership of morality, but in any case that is ownership your organization long ago renounced any valid claim to. To mix and match metaphors a little: the beams in your eyes have been far too damaging to the glass houses you live in. A little humility in admitting that your organization’s “infallible” interpretations of your god’s will over the course of the past two thousand years have been… let’s just say “less than stellar”, might help you understand why you are wrong in this case too.

While my hope in this regard is not tinged with undue optimism, I would ask that you join the 21st century and work with the rest of us, enlightened Catholics and non-Catholics alike, in affirming basic civil rights for all. There can be nothing detrimental in a society in which we are all, each one of us, free to find happiness, stability and love with the partners that we choose; and furthermore, to know that our unions are granted the recognition, respect, and all appropriate rights necessary to promote the ongoing stability of our society.

With hope that you decide to judge less in the future, lest you yourself be judged, I remain (unfaithfully) yours.

-d

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