“I’m so happy that gay marriage is finally allowed in all of the United States!”
-“You’re a terrible Christian!”
-“You’re going to hell!”
-“You aren’t a real Catholic!”
This is a simulation of a real-life Facebook post and the comments that it would receive.
As some of you may know, I’m a 17-year-old Catholic girl from a very Italian/Catholic town. I’ve attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel church my entire life. I attended private Catholic school from kindergarten through 8th grade. Once I graduated from OLMC, I began attending Herrin High School, a public high school – no religious affiliations, very low discrimination. I’ve been lucky when it comes to discrimination against my religion, but recently, that’s changed a little.
I have dubbed myself a “Liberal-Catholic.” I was overjoyed when the Supreme Court allowed gay marriage in all 50 states, but I have many friends (and even family) who were not as excited. I disagreed with them, but I understood and respected that they have the right to disagree, but what I was not expecting was the extreme hate that Christians received against all social media platforms. I have never in my life felt more of a need to proclaim to the world that I am Catholic, but I’ve also never felt more discriminated against in my entire life. I was told by multiple people (Christian and non-Christian) that I was going to hell and that I was an awful Catholic. All of this was said on Facebook, a tool that is supposed to be used to connect people, not to put people down.
Now, I don’t want to just focus on recent events. In general, I know that all Christian denominations (not just Catholics), have experienced stereotypes and discriminations set by extremists. For me, I’m asked if my family is full of alcoholics or if my priest knows any rapists and a lot of the time, these things are asked in response to something I posted on my Facebook or Twitter. I’m sometimes appalled by the amount of disrespect I receive from people from all walks of life, all different religions, all different lifestyles. While the Catholic Church has had many rumors surrounding it throughout history, previous generations have never been asked such obscene questions as my generation has. Why? My only guess is that with the power of social media, the second that something bad happens that involves a Christian, the world attacks all of us. They say we’re hypocritical, that we’re the ones going to hell, that we’re all as bad as that one extremist. And they’re wrong. Just because one person, or one group of people, decide to do something bad and the news covers the story, that means that we’re all awful people. My family didn’t have to deal with being attacked when they were younger, so why should we?
It’s hard being a Christian in this day and age. 33% of Christians say that all of the discrimination that they face in due to how the media portrays them and 25% say that they are discriminated against in the workplace. Sometimes, I have to seriously contemplate whether or not to post something religious on my Facebook page in fear that someone is going to say something. This is the United States of America, land of the free, and in the year 2015, I, a 17-year-old girl, sometimes fear posting something about God on my Facebook page.
I’m one of those people that is getting tired of having to stand up for my religion via social media, or even just in real life. I want to be able to say that I’m Catholic and not have to sit there while people diss my religion. We, as a people, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion (or lack-of) need to come together and realize that social media shouldn’t be used as a tool to discriminate. The girl who practices Islam shouldn’t be called a terrorist because of the small amount of the Muslim extremists. The African American male shouldn’t be feared as a gang member just because of his skin color. The homosexual shouldn’t be called names just because he loves someone of his own gender. People need to do what Matt Carnaghi suggested in his article and stand up for what they believe in, but don’t jump on the bandwagon when people start to diss one thing or another. If you don’t agree with what I’m posting, that’s perfectly fine, you can disagree with me and argue with me RESPECTFULLY, but don’t tell me that me and my religion are stupid.
It’s time for people to start doing something that looks to have been forgotten: respect. Until people can learn how to respect one another, no one is going to feel 100% safe posting what they have to say on their social media sites.
So, stand up for what you believe, respect others beliefs, and #TurnTheLightBulbOn against discrimination.
By Harley Crawshaw | @harley_crawshaw