A Personal Post


I debated with myself for quite awhile before I decided to post this; it’s on the edge of being a little too personal.  But it illustrates my own feelings on compromise.

Today I gave a donation to my Catholic high school.  Yes, I was raised Catholic, and attended Catholic schools through senior high (though that was more because our local public schools were so bad than because my parents were concerned about my religious education). My high school was/is for girls only.   But I haven’t darkened the door of that school since 1976.  I’m currently an atheist humanist, and my opinion of the Catholic Church as an institution is so low it can’t be adequately expressed in a family blog.   So why give money to a Catholic high school?

Feminism and social justice.

First of all, the school is training young women to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, artists, or anything they want to be; they encourage young women to reach as high as they possibly can in their personal goals for life.  Oh, they give adequate lip service to the Church’s teachings on limiting women’s reproductive rights, but I know high schoolers can and do make up their own minds on the validity of those teachings. So it may be Catholic feminism, but by golly it’s feminism.  By graduation every young woman has been taught that yes, she can do professionally whatever a man can do.  That’s a powerful message to take to college, to trade school, or anywhere in life.

Then, while the Church is fussing over abortion and birth control and other stuff they should keep their noses out of, the subversive nuns and their fellow instructors are teaching about how the poor need not only food but medical care, housing, child care, etc.   The school is educating future lawyers who will do pro-bono work, future doctors who will volunteer at low-cost inner-city clinics, and future workers of every stripe who will organize food drives for the local food bank, volunteer for their favorite local charities, and give what they can to make life a little better for those in need.

How do I know this?  How do I know the school hasn’t changed since I left?  Because I get their newsletter, and the number of charitable projects the students are doing is breathtaking, especially when you realize it’s a small school.  If anything, they’re getting a better education in social justice than I did.

But Catholic schools are expensive, and lots of promising young women couldn’t attend this one if there were no scholarship program. So, while we have some theological differences of opinion, I think supporting my old high school is a damned good investment in the future I want to see.

Comments

  1. lockwooddewitt says

    I think you make a very good point. I broke off the relationship with the church I grew up- Episcopalian- not so much over issues, which I largely agree with, with respect to official church doctrine, but over the fact that fundamentally I felt I was being dishonest regarding fundamental beliefs of the church. Still, those folks do plenty of good work, which if I was able, I’d be happy to support.

  2. ImaginesABeach says

    I recently received a request for a donation from my alma mater, a co-educational Catholic school in Minnesota. I sent a letter to explain why I will no longer donate to them. You see, the archdiocese donated $3 million to try to get “traditional marriage” enshrined in our state constitution. If they have so much money to spend on something so vile, they don’t need my money to support their schools.

    This is not to say that your choice was wrong – clearly it was something you carefully considered and you had good reasons for making the decision that you made.

    But I will not value Catholic education more than the archdiocese does.

  3. rq says

    I think you made a good choice, and an obviously personal one, and from the list of activities that you describe, I think (in this case) a worthy choice.
    I agree that the Catholic church has a hell of a lot of money to be spent on all kinds of other things (political ones), but at the same time, so does my government – and they never put that money where it would do most good (i.e., schools). Which is why the schools here are in poor condition with poorly paid teachers. So, even though the Catholic church as a whole is a corrupt piece of dirty shit, supporting their schools (the ones with the same kind of educational and social justice record as yours, at least) is probably a good idea. The poorer the funding of their schools, the poorer the quality of their teachers (because teaching requires a degree which is more expensive, and worst comes to worst they might start hiring people without the education but with the ‘proper’ views), and the poorer the education received. I think it’s laudable that the school does so much, and is actually teaching girls to do whatever they want, even though it’s a risky business (for the church).

    On a personal note, I also went to a Catholic school but besides weekly chapel (from grade 11 to OA(13)) and Religion class (which, in grade 11 was World Religions and in other years included proper sex.ed. which we also got in gym class, units on mental illness, homosexuality (as a lifestyle, not a sin), parenting (usually projects involving how expensive it is)), we never had much religious proselytization. And I had great teachers, in all the maths and the sciences, and outside of religion class, I never once heard a word specifically about God or how God created the earth (evolution all the way, baby!), and honestly, I never realized religious people could be so obtuse until I got away to university, and even there I dealt with mostly moderates (this time Muslim). Might have been the Canadian air or something, or I just got lucky, but my first encounter with extreme religious hatred was coming to this country after uni graduation and seeing an anti-gay protest and reading about how these ‘Christian’ people threw shit (like, real shit) at those attending an equal-rights committee meeting. And the Catholic archbishop… Well, anyway, I’m sure you can imagine; it doesn’t get any better (just hellfire and brimstone).
    The whole point was, I went to an awesome Catholic school, where I was encouraged to do whatever it was that I wanted to do in any area of my interest, so I understand your desire to contribute to yours, as well. Far as I know, mine’s still decently funded and over-populated as always, but if it ever needs funding, I’m pretty confident about my decision in the matter.

    Sorry for unloading.

  4. Makoto says

    Good reasons for a good decision, and thanks for sharing it! While I fight tooth and nail against religion getting (more) of a hold on laws, public schools, and so on, it’s important to remember that specific religious institutions and religious folks do good things on a regular basis, too.

    They might say what they do is because of their religion, but they may be surprised how many people from other religions (or none at all) are also helping out just because what they’re up to is the right thing to do.

  5. Crudely Wrott says

    I think you have done exactly the right thing, Dana. You’ve invested in the future of young women. Some of them, I’m sure, will be thanking you someday. The future is just a bit brighter for your efforts.

    • Karen Locke says

      Not to be pedantic, but it’s me, Karen Locke, who wrote the post, not Dana. I don’t presume to speak for Dana on such issues. But I do appreciate your comment,

      • rq says

        Karen, be careful… The same thing is happening to Chris Clarke on PZ Myers’ blog: people are having trouble telling their writing styles apart. :) I try to make sure to check the by-line, but I don’t always. You should figure out a way to differentiate somehow (change writing style, use only large words, capitalize all adjectives?). Alternatively, we readers and commenters might just catch on after a while! ;)

  6. Lofty says

    Some people simply won’t let their religiosity interfere with their essential goodness.
    Kudos to them and you.

  7. Dana Hunter says

    Funding subversion – not bad! I hope those girls go on to change the whole rotten edifice.