Sunday, May 11, 2014

Oakland's Morality Clause and The Laramie Project

Educators at Bishop O’Dowd High School have been making the headlines of newspapers across the country regarding a new part to their contract entitled the “Morality Clause.” (If you haven’t heard about this, do yourself a favor and do a quick Google search or check out this article from the SFGate.)

Ironically, this is also the closing weekend of Bishop O’Dowd’s production of The Laramie Project, a play about the notorious Matthew Shepard case, a violent gay hate crime that occurred in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998.

The best part of the show last night occurred in response to a line delivered by Nate Gipson when playing the role of Laramie’s Catholic priest, Father Roger Schmit. While ruminating over whether or not to ask the Bishop’s permission to host a vigil for Matthew Shepard, Gipson’s character stated, “The Bishop’s permission doesn't make it correct. What is correct is correct.”

The timing and delivery could not have been more perfect.

The audience which had been mostly docile and observant throughout the emotionally dense play, erupted in applause. Gentle laughter, mumbled comments between neighbors, and nods of approval rolled through the crowd and slowly subsided leaving no doubts to the viewers’ feelings about the recent news of the Bishop's morality clause.

While the Bishop claims the new clause is anything but a witch-hunt, it seems the students, faculty, and parents of Bishop O'Dowd are not convinced. It's basic relationship 101. If you tell your girlfriend she should "put on something else", she will most like interpret it to mean "I hate that outfit" or "You look fat in that dress." 

Unless the Bishop becomes completely transparent about his intentions on a public level, the most likely assumption people will jump to is, "he's trying to find and fire anyone who goes against Catholic doctrine."

This is just one of many ways in which leaders of the Catholic church continue to alienate themselves from their congregations.