A Nov. 9 letter to The Times ("Resident proud Nuns on the Bus were challenged") was a belated attempt on the part of a local "9-12 Project" honcho to "justify" the actions of local tea partiers, Republican politicians, and alleged "Christians" who gathered on Front Street Oct. 15 to demonize and humiliate representatives of the Catholic Network for Social Justice who visited Marietta to meet with Congressman Bill Johnson. The sole intent of the Nuns' visit to this community was to discuss their concern for the poor, the "working-poor," unemployed persons, seniors, children, and others put at risk by draconian cuts to social programs included in the so-called "budget plan" put forth by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis).
Despite misleading statements put out by local Catholic officials, the Nuns' activities are not "radical." If any activities deserve to be characterized as "radical," it is the actions of members of the "9-12 Project" like the letter writer, whose notions have been shaped, not by Christ's teachings, but by the views of extremist TV/radio demagogues like Glenn Beck, and fringe types like the 1950s atheist writer Ayn Rand (whose silly theories about "makers" vs. "takers" have influenced the "thinking" of many rightwing politicos, including Congressman Ryan. The Nuns on the Bus visit had nothing to do with the issues of "abortion," "contraception," or presidential politics. However, since the same (though not necessarily sane) folks who protested the Nuns are also currently in deep denial about the recent re-election of the nation's first African-American president, it could be said that their views on politics likewise reflect their chronic xenophobla and complete disconnection from reality.
Recent letters to The Times have accurately described this incident. It has been reported nationally - not only by the left-leaning Huffington Post - but by CNN, The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, and numerous online venues that include video confirmation of the crowd's boorish behavior. This alleged "protest" resembled something one might have observed in 17th-century Salem, Mass., but not in any community that wants to be thought of as "modern" or "progressive." Is this how Marietta wants to be viewed by outsiders? I surely hope not!
The Nuns' mission on poverty was inspired by similar views put forth by a committee within the United States Council of Catholic Bishops that condemned the Ryan Budget as "immoral." What the protesters failed to recognize is the fact that - despite the Vatican hierarchy's sometimes archaic opinions on women's issues - the Roman Catholic Church is actually a "big tent" that includes many diverse viewpoints within the United States and in other nations around the world. But the message of the Nuns on the Bus is not a "new" idea, but is part of an established Catholic tradition that has existed within the church since the 12th century when St. Francis of Assisi preached peace, charity, and humility in Italian villages. That tradition regarding poverty has been reiterated by Catholic groups around the globe, and even by prelates like Pope Benedict XVI. As some have observed: "only in Marietta ..."
As far as the Oct. 15 "protest," the letter writer's lame attempt to "justify" such thuggish behavior is a perfect example of how far some will go to "put lipstick on a pig"!