I am always moved when one of my asylum clients gains the ability to stay in this country and worship in whatever church and pray to whatever deity he pleases. Freedom of Religion is a cornerstone of our country, and even those who believe in that “Wall of China” between church and state find value in spiritual diversity.

That’s why I’ve become so vocal on social media about the anti-Catholic bigotry that is circulating among the intelligentsia these days. While there has always been some disdain expressed by the “evolved” elite for the traditions and beliefs of Catholics, it reached a crescendo this week.

There was an article in the Atlantic entitled “How the Rosary Became an Extremist Symbol.” The author — whom I will not name because I don’t want to give him any more publicity than he’s already gotten — compared the Marian symbol to what he called “a weapon.” He then suggested that it was employed by right-wing conservatives to advance the narrative that we’re waging a holy war on secular ground. Realizing this would create justifiable push back, he tried to water down the zealotry of his comments by noting that “In mainstream Catholicism, the rosary-as-weapon is not an intrinsically harmful interpretation of the sacramental, and this symbolism has a long history.” And then he went on to explain why it was intrinsically harmful. And then he protected his tweets.

READ MORE — Christine Flowers: A conservative abroad

As someone who grew up with the holy card of St. Michael casting Satan out of Heaven taped to the inside of her locker (yeah, I was weird) the idea that Catholics need to wage a holy war against evil is nothing new, nor is it particularly surprising. But Catholics use the imagery of actual weapons to depict the battle for souls, not the peaceful and elegant string of beads that represent devotion to the Holy Virgin.

And speaking of the Virgin, she came in for some criticism this week as well. I noticed a number of Protestants, mostly Evangelicals, laughing at the notion that we foolish papists venerated Mary. One person actually wrote on a tweet thread I followed, “What has she done that actually deserves adoration?” Aside from giving birth to the Savior of the world, nothing. Nothing at all.

But the fact that people now feel free to say out loud what they used to simply say at revival meetings is a troubling sign that anti-Catholicism has taken root in every facet of society. It’s not just the atheists and agnostics who have a problem with us. It’s not just the imperfect Catholics who have left the church because they weren’t able to live up to her standards (and want to remake her in their watered-down image of virtue.) It’s not just the abortion activists who think that we are forcing them to push out hundreds of millions of little pre-Catholics, against mommy’s will.

No, it’s some of our fellow Christians who are jumping on the bandwagon. I have no problem with people of other faiths who have legitimate doctrinal differences with my tribe. In a country that respects the freedom to worship and the freedom from a unitary vision of faith, I revel in the multiplicity of paths to salvation. Just as there are many mansions in my father’s house, so are there many roads to his front door.

If you don’t want to pray the rosary, don’t. If you don’t want to watch “Song of Bernadette,” don’t. If you don’t want to attend a glorious May Procession with little girls in white dresses and flower crowns, don’t. We won’t miss you.

What I do have a problem with is the disrespectful way in which some people, again mostly Evangelicals, have attacked the centrality of Mary, and question her role in my faith. If you don’t want to pray the rosary, don’t. If you don’t want to watch “Song of Bernadette,” don’t. If you don’t want to attend a glorious May Procession with little girls in white dresses and flower crowns, don’t. We won’t miss you.

But don’t attack our belief in the glory, and fundamental importance of the Holy Virgin.

But the thing that angered me the most this week had nothing to do with Mary and her symbols. The thing that had literal blood coming from my eyes (something not even Padre Pio could claim) was the despicable suggestion by a woman whose name I will use — Jenn Morson — that a man who gave his life to save another was a bigot. 

Morson is a freelance writer for the New York Times, HuffPost and other publications where disrespect for decency is accepted on a regular basis. She wrote an article claiming that Maximilian Kolbe, who was martyred when the Nazis injected carbolic acid into his veins, was an anti-Semite. She pointed to writings that were already considered and dismissed when he was being considered for canonization. The truth is that Kolbe was, like many Poles of his era, a man with harsh opinions about Jews and Judaism. It is legitimate to criticize his views about where Jews should live, and the nature of their religion. Today, we would likely call that anti-Semitism. But Morson goes further, and calls the man himself an anti-Semite. While acknowledging his heroism in sacrificing his own life so that a father and husband could live, she insists that it’s important to remember his bigotry. She did this on his feast day. She did this — to cheers.

And she made sure to point out that the man he saved was not a Jew. He was a Catholic. As if the life was less valuable, because it was not a Jewish one. Her implication was that he saved “one of his own,” an attempt to minimize his martyrdom.

When I engaged with her on Twitter, she blocked me. Because bigots are cowards.

I am so tired of this continued onslaught against my faith. I once said that my asylum clients are subjected to much greater religious persecution than anyone in this country, and that is true. But the fact that you cannot carry a rosary, venerate Mary or take Maximilian Kolbe as your confirmation name without being called a violent zealot, a heretical fool or a bigot, makes me want to lash out at someone. I suppose I’ll say a rosary, since I have an open carry permit.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61

13 thoughts on “Christine Flowers: The Rosary is a symbol of love, not hate”

  1. Just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t make them a “bigot”. If you’re on social media picking fights with people by calling them bigots, they should block you. People are very abusive on social media and such cowards. The spiteful keyboard warriors type things out they’d never say to someone’s face. Our society has really gone downhill. Sad to see.

  2. First, it was mocking people who offer “thoughts and prayers.” Then, and still, the attacks on churches and statues and centers that try to help pregnant women. Now, the rosary…. we can see where this is going.

  3. You are spot on, Christine. Great article! This is not simply disagreeing with someone who disagrees with you, this is about defending our faith. I am a practicing Catholic and have been verbally attacked by others, even those close to me who know how much my faith means to me. Some people seem to think it’s alright to call anyone at all (except themselves) bigots, but boy! don’t disagree with them or call them out on it. To all these, I say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Morson started the discussion, you simply defended your beliefs. Instead of defending HER beliefs, she blocked you. Not a loss. Good for you! Keep praying.

    1. Just so you know, Christian Flowers called Jenn Morson a beast, a vile disgusting shrew, a bigot, then she told her to “shut the hell up.” Flowers wasn’t defending her beliefs she was attacking someone for their beliefs. It’s fine to criticize and disagree with others. It is not fine to personally attack others. People are very unkind, and cowardly on social media. What they would never say to people’s faces they think it’s perfectly fine to say hiding behind a keyboard.

    2. Thank you. She actually accused the martyred St Maximilian of being a bigot. Some people excuse her because they agreed. It’s horrific and a sign of how anti-Catholicism is practiced by those who hide behind “courtesy.”

  4. I would never waste my time on anyone who has their stated pronouns on their twitter feed.. EVER. Especially when she attacks a religious symbol.. And works for crappy, lying media entities too. Its very obvious what she is..

    Stay away from those people…. they WANT to sink your ship.. they know HOW to do it.. they want to TRIGGER you.. and she did succeed sadly.

    Use your rosary to strengthen yourself with God’s wisdom, to keep those evil ones at bay.. Its only going to get worse as we continue on this clown show.

    1. We need more people like you to continue the work of explaining how beautiful our faith is and how wonderful is our Catholic history.

  5. Good for you Christine. You are not afraid to point out the hypocrisy rampant in our society, the growing menace of a leftist press, freedom to spread anti-Catholic bigotry and hateful lies and the absolute failure of our leaders to take moral stands on the vital issues impacting our collective welfare. You have my respect and gratitude.

  6. Excellent piece.

    I have been noticing more and more how often in the Gospel Jesus tells us it is not easy to follow Him. Jesus outright tells us we will certainly suffer for the faith. We will be attacked; we will be persecuted. The Romans tried to destroy Jesus and His Church, as have so many over time – even from within, as we were horrified to learn in the past decades; but those efforts have failed, and always shall.

    Most of our fellow Christians are not so hostile to the Church as to see its demise. It is sad that there are some who are, but I believe the majority of Christian people can and do coexist in our faith journeys. Catholics were persecuted and our churches burnt down in past American history by those in power. It would be prudent to consider some in todays Christian branches might still desire the same thing. I am proud as a Catholic because we are devoted to and honor a woman as a Queen of Heaven – you’d think the woke folks might like that, no?

    Let us also consider that Maximillian Kolbe might find joy in such persecution, for even as Jesus died for us let us not forget those who mocked Him and spat upon Him.

    We will always have the door open to anyone who seeks the Lord; Jesus dwelt among the sinners, after all. At the same time, in a society that has so many lashing out to establish a new shallow moral order in place of God, who has been increasingly thrust out from our public life, we must remain vigilant and evangelize.

    Lastly, speaking in a secular sense, I have observed that many who relish and exercise their freedom of religion as freedom “from” religion wish to deny the same right to others. It will be quite “interesting” to see over the next decades how those of the subjective morality woke dictatorship will continue to attempt to preach morality upon which there is no historic nor consistent human basis without falling into utter chaos. (For a good laugh, check out videos of “woke”conventions and meetings. It’s a riot how people are “offended” every 2 minutes and things grind to a halt.) indeed – Americas greatest threat is the rot from within.

  7. I’m a traditional Catholic. I’m also a convert from Judaism.

    I agree with your article except on one point: salvation is not through many channels, it is only through the Church Christ founded. That salvation can come via Baptism of water, blood, or desire.

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