“Opposite Day” is a fun-filled pastime for children of many generations. During these magical days, up is down, left is right, good is bad, and yes is no. During his recent visit to the United States, Pope Francis managed to stir a nationwide, week-long version of “Opposite Day.”
It was a week that highlighted the paradoxical nature of partisanship and political opportunism. The lack of principled beliefs has never been more glaring than they are now.
The issues championed by Pope Francis drive traditional conservatives bonkers. Papal edicts condemning climate change, wealth inequality, capital punishment, and rampant consumerism bear a striking resemblance to the sound of nails scratching a chalkboard for many in the GOP base. Even Catholic Republicans, who are supposed to recognize the divine words of their pontiff as coming directly from the big man upstairs, are skeptical of their religion’s figurehead.
In his letter explaining why he was boycotting the pope’s congressional address, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar – who is a practicing Catholic – stated boldly, “But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.”
Only during opposite day would a group of voracious cultural warriors and social conservatives work so hard to silence the strongest voice within Christianity. Isn’t this the same group who rallies around the cross each year to ward off the ever menacing allure of secular humanism during the holiday season?
Ted Cruz, who is actively courting values voters, would normally jump in to defend the censorship of a fellow Christian, right? Oh… what’s that you say? Ted Cruz has called upon the Vatican to oust the pope? Well, this is awkward.
Christian conservatives spent the greater part of the week grinding their teeth as the pope addressed Congress, while he declared the need to take action against a number of troubling systemic issues.
Considering the amount of tax dollars invested into providing security for the pope, I imagine that numerous religious right-wingers might be more inclined to support church-state separation now.
And while we are on that exact subject – “religion goes here, government goes way the hell over there” – what’s with the liberal lovefest with this pope? If I didn’t know better, Pope Francis galvanizes the Democratic base more than a music festival featuring Dave Matthews, Mumford & Sons, U2, and Pearl Jam.
To successfully caravan Pope Francis from New York to Washington, D.C. (and all points between), a significant investment of publicly-funded manpower and infrastructure must be accrued. Overtime for police officers, increased intelligence gathering, and miles of barricades – these things all cost money, and mostly the public will pick up the tab.
The exact figure hasn’t be tallied yet, but you can be certain that this won’t be cheap. If the thought of school vouchers going toward private Christian academies agitates liberals, why doesn’t this?
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, leads a theocratic state who is conveniently an ally of the United States. If he addressed a joint session of Congress, would secular voters be as supportive as they were with Pope Francis? I have my doubts.
I can’t tell who has a larger cult of personality surrounding him now: the pope or Bernie Sanders? Pope Francis may borrow from the Sanders’ platform when it comes to critiques of capitalism and pollution. But there is a drastic turn to the right when the subjects of abortion and same-sex marriage enter the discussion – two hot button issues for single-issue Democratic voters.
The pope may say nice things about homosexuals – not his place to judge as long as they pass the plate. But ask yourself this: Do you see him giving the thumbs up to a same-sex wedding at the Vatican? The fight for marriage equality didn’t start in the Catholic Church, nor will it end there. To add more fuel to the fire, Pope Francis supported Kim Davis' refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
This papal visit should inspire a mass migration to the confession booth, and admit our sin of false witness. His visit revealed our deep natural tendency to favor confirmation bias and lose ourselves in the spectacle of tribal identities.
The pope’s time in the United States has come and gone, but our principles don’t need to do the same.