Tag Archives: Carmel Priest

Suburban Republican Religion

A recent article in the Washington Post reported that, in the wake of Trump’s increasingly blatant racism, a number of Republicans who have long enabled him are now afraid of losing power and “forever associating their party with his racial animus.”

A bit late, aren’t they?

If Republicans serving in the House or Senate had pushed back on Trump’s bigotry–not to mention his constant corruption and his equally horrible Cabinet nominees–they might not now be fretting over his embrace of white supremacy and his defense of its symbols. (Not that most of them are fretting over the racism itself–just over the likelihood of an electoral rejection of it.)

White House insiders say that Trump has ignored the public criticism and reproofs from Republican operatives, and “remains convinced that following his own instincts on race and channeling the grievances of his core base of white voters” will carry him to victory. 

I don’t believe his base is large enough to hand him that victory, but one of the most depressing aspects of the past 4 years has been the incontrovertible evidence that the racists that comprise his base represent a much larger number of Americans than I would ever have imagined. Until this administration gave them permission to crawl out from under their rocks, I would have pegged the “deplorable” portion of the electorate at around 10%, not the 30% or so it evidently is.

A recent dust-up in Carmel, Indiana,  a prosperous suburb of Indianapolis just rubbed my face in it. 

The conflict began with a message written by a Catholic priest in his church bulletin, addressing the Black Lives Matter movement. Here’s a selection:

The only lives that matter are their own and the only power they seek is their own,” Rothrock wrote of Black Lives Matter organizers. “They are wolves in wolves clothing, masked thieves and bandits, seeking only to devour the life of the poor and profit from the fear of others. They are maggots and parasites at best, feeding off the isolation of addiction and broken families, and offering to replace any current frustration and anxiety with more misery and greater resentment.

The message was (understandably) met with outrage and (apparently in response to the blowback) the priest was suspended. I assumed that would be the end of it–or perhaps that anti-racists in Carmel might use the incident as a teaching tool. But it appears that lots of Trump people live in historically (and reliably) Republican Carmel.

Both inside and outside St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church on Sunday, the statement “Black lives matter” was said with conviction and met with opposition.

Outside, it was written on signs and chanted through megaphones by members of the community protesting remarks made late last month by the Rev. Theodore Rothrock calling Black Lives Matter organizers “maggots and parasites.”  

Those “Black lives matter!” chants were met with chants of “Go Father Ted!” from counterprotesters who oppose the suspension handed down to Rothrock and argue that he was speaking the truth.

The article quoted several of the people who had turned out to support Rothrock.  Mark J. Powell, who identified himself as a Lutheran pastor, chanted in support of Rothrock and verbally sparred with protesters.

The group Black Lives Matter is a Marxist front organization,” he said. “This is a call, as well as what Father Ted was saying, for people to wake up to what Black Lives Matter the organization is doing. They’re using race to destabilize and to divide this country over race during the time of a presidential election.”

Another group, organized by Jill Metz, gathered and prayed in support of Rothrock. Metz was quoted as saying

We feel that Father Ted spoke out in truth, and we’re to peaceably pray in support of all lives,” she said. “This should not be about Black lives. All lives matter. All lives.

I really have trouble getting my head around the fact that there are prosperous, privileged white suburbanites willing to join a public demonstration of support for a man who called Black activists “maggots and parasites”–not because they were counseling forgiveness for a racist message, but because they agreed with it.

In November, I guess we’ll see just how many of them there are, and whether those sudden Republican qualms are well-founded.