The Cowardice of Your Convictions

I’m going to quote a lot from Paul Harris, a radio host in St. Louis and maybe one of the best radio guys in the country. He’s talking about an upcoming charity event in his town that’s threatening to evolve from a tempest into a full-on kerfuffle:

I’ve said many times that anyone who does something to help sick children is doing something noble. For 19 years, Bob Costas has been raising money for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center here in St. Louis, with an annual fundraising concert at the Fox Theater. He calls upon his showbiz friends to line up major comedians and musical acts (e.g. Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, John Mellencamp, Tony Bennett, Hootie & The Blowfish) and thousands of people show up each year.

This Saturday, the headliners are Billy Crystal and Sheryl Crow.

Today, Archbishop Raymond Burke condemned Sheryl Crow’s participation, calling it a “scandal” that a Catholic hospital would be involved with someone who has publicly expressed her pro-choice position and appeared in ads last year supporting Amendment 2 in Missouri (the stem-cell referendum). Burke is the same religious leader who told Catholics that they shouldn’t vote for John Kerry or any other pro-choice politician.

What if this situation was reversed? Just imagine the reaction if Sheryl Crow announced “I’m not going to do a benefit for a children’s hospital if it’s associated with the Catholic church, because I don’t agree with them on abortion and stem cell research.” She’d be crushed by all the negative publicity, with people asking how she can turn her back on the sick kids and let her political agenda get in the way of helping them. It would make her “one sheet of toilet paper” gaffe seem even less insignificant than it actually was. Is it fair to treat Crow that way for her views, but not Burke?

This is the kind of situation I always think of when somebody says that organized religion is a force for good in the world. What’s really sticking in somebody’s craw here is that someone who disagrees with the church can still be a good person with fine charitable goals.

I’m going to have to give some thought to the difference between the courage of one’s convictions and cowardice in the face of criticism.

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