Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Intolerance reigns for Pride Month

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 09, 2023

At an interfaith conference some years ago, I struck up a conversation with a prominent Muslim cleric. He was probably amused by my awkward attempt to greet him properly, using one of the few phrases of Arabic that I know. In any event he was friendly, we spoke frequently over the next few days, and when the conference came to an end we sat together at the final dinner.

Over the meal the imam—whose name, sadly, I cannot now recall—asked me about my background. (Perhaps he wondered where I had learned to speak Arabic so badly?) When he heard that my wife’s father was Egyptian, he was intrigued, and followed up by asking whether my father-in-law was a Muslim. When I answered in the affirmative, he grew serious. I do not remember his words exactly, but I can give at least a close approximation:

Well, Philip, if your wife’s father is a Muslim, then she too is a Muslim—whether she knows it or not. And if she does not practice Islam, she will go to hell. And you, my friend, because you are married to a Muslim, you too are a Muslim, and if you do not embrace the Islamic faith you too will go to hell.

How would anyone respond to that sort of statement? I was moved by the imam’s admonition. Not moved to embrace Islam, but moved to realize that my new acquaintance was willing to risk offending me, and possibly even causing a scene, for what he saw as the good of my soul. If he truly believed that I was risking damnation—as quite obviously he did—then it was an act of charity to warn me. So, far from being offended by his words, I took them as a sign of genuine friendship.

(The imam further proved that friendship by writing to my father-in-law, urging him to meet with me and to reconcile with his daughter, whom he had disowned when she became a Catholic. Unfortunately his effort was in vain, and my father-in-law died a few years ago without ever having met me—or his grandchildren. Please say a prayer for him.)

I thought of that friendly imam this week, as I read a news item from the world of sports. A pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Matt Dermody, had been classified as a “homophobe” because of this Twitter comment, which had posted on his Twitter account:

Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. They will go to hell. This is not my opinion but the #Truth. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Stung by the criticism he received, Dermody took down that post, and added another:

I am not a homophobic (sic). As I stated in my tweet, I have love for all. The truth is love.

That second statement did nothing to mollify the pitcher’s critics. Boston’s sports columnists—who, like their colleagues on the news and editorial pages, hew carefully to liberal orthodoxy—questioned why the Red Sox would employ a player with such unacceptable views.

Perhaps Dermody’s comments were not elegant. Perhaps Twitter was not an appropriate forum. But should he be barred from professional baseball because of his views? In the name of tolerance?

Obviously I did not believe the imam’s statement that I am risking damnation by rejecting Islam. I told him so—trying to frame my response as diplomatically as he had made his warning. We accepted the fact that we disagreed on a very important matter, and finished our dinner together amicably.

So why can homosexual activists not accept Dermody’s statement of faith? Even if they dismiss the Biblical condemnation of homosexual acts, why can they not respect someone who does hold to the Christian moral code? There is definitely a display of intolerance here, and not by Dermody.

In fact, the final sentence in the pitcher’s second Tweet might make a good slogan for Pride Month: “The Truth is love.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Retired01 - Jun. 12, 2023 1:30 PM ET USA

    The progressive slogan for the Pride Month is "my way or the highway."

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jun. 12, 2023 10:52 AM ET USA

    I'm always amazed that sports journalists -- who cover a field in which results are so obviously determined to a large degree by skill and effort -- are so liberal politically. If they applied their politics to sports, every game would feature mediocre play and end in a tie. It's as if they have no insight about what they are seeing in front of them.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 10, 2023 3:10 PM ET USA

    It's an unarmed civil war--so far. One side is fighting, and most on the other side are confused or cowering.

  • Posted by: td4207 - Jun. 09, 2023 7:10 PM ET USA

    Disagreement with the current culture's mores has now been (illegitimately) equated to active hatred.