SK Ethan Kelley
Ethan is a junior in The Elliott School of International Affairs
As Catholics, we find our strength in faith and principle. Throughout the history of our Republic, Catholics have faced discrimination –being called Papists, being threatened by organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, being denied from jobs with our allegiance to our nation called into question. Catholics have faced these struggles throughout American History, and it wasn’t until the election of John F. Kennedy where it seemed that Catholics had finally broken through the glass ceiling. Even then, things were not always easy for those who followed the Catholic Faith. A neighbor in my hometown in Upstate New York was denied an award because he was Catholic, and my father was treated with distrust because of his faith by his coworkers who followed a Protestant Denomination.
With this in mind, it is troubling to me that the Multicultural Student Services Center would be so cavalier as to label one of their Excellence in Leadership Seminars as “Christian Privilege,”and I said as much to the seminar’s moderator, Timothy Kane. To lump Catholics, who have struggled so much to find equal standing in this country, with the rest of the Christian Denominations, is offensive, and as a Knight of Columbus, I feel it is my duty to stand up and defend against it. I was happy today, to see three of my Brother Knights in attendance at this seminar where we expressed our concerns over what we feel is an unfair characterization of what college students who are devout in their faith go through. One of my brothers, Zach Laba, succinctly summed up what many of us were thinking.
‘I was struck by the lack of a definitional basis. It was never adequately explained, to my knowledge, what actual advantages or privileges are transferred onto Christians exclusively, and that really destroyed the point of their session for me.’
As college students, it is easy to lose sight of our faith, many do, and for those of us who remain devout, sometimes we face pressure to abandon our sacred precepts. I refute any sort of claim that there is Catholic Privilege at this University, because those of us who are Catholic prefer to spread our message by example and not fear. We treat each other civilly, and we stand on our principles, sometimes at the expense of popularity.
Standing on our principles is the most important thing we can do as Catholic gentlemen, and as such, I have to take a moment to defend Timothy Kane. The title of his seminar was misleading and offensive but was done out of ignorance and not aggression. Timothy Kane displayed humility as many of the GW community voiced how they felt as a practicing Christian on campus; a minority. He displayed grace in acknowledging that incorrectly, he lumped Catholics together with other denominations, ignoring the subtle variables that distinguish them. He displayed civility when others voiced their own opinion that was different from his own. Never once did I feel unwelcome or attacked, and I think he learned something important about GW’s Christians; We too can face discomfort in the face of our ideals.
As Catholics, I believe we must have it in us to forgive Mr. Kane and move on. At this session, I am proud that we made our voices heard loud and clear. I am proud that when we were offended, when we felt our faith attacked, we stepped up. Now let us be gracious in victory and walk away as our Lord has taught us to.
**The views expressed by the author of the blog post are his own views, and do not represent the views of the Council as a whole.**