Faith: Defiling sacred spaces

By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI Religion Correspondent   |   Aug. 21, 2002 at 4:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Imagine you walked into the Holy Mosque in Mecca at prayer time, hand-in-hand with your girl friend. Of course they wouldn't let you in together. So you would have had to dress her up as a man -- an Arab man wearing a headscarf, a long white robe, and perhaps a fake beard.

Imagine, further, the two of you lifting your robes and lowering your pants right there in the sanctuary, and then copulating furiously, while the other worshippers praised God.

You don't need much imagination to figure out what would happen next. On the positive side, you wouldn't have to worry about your next haircut or excessive funeral charges because -- and that's the negative prospect -- there soon wouldn't be much left of the two of you to cut or to bury.

Imagine then a commercial radio station had sent someone along to air your performance live. Chances are someone would lob a bomb into that station. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and areligious sponsors alike would certainly shun the outfit. At any rate, it would be off the air for good.

Well, something like this allegedly has just happened, though not in a mosque, but in St. Patrick's Cathedral, in New York City.

"It would have been bad enough had this been a prank by teenagers at 4 a.m. in a confessional booth," Catholic League president William Donohue told United Press International on Wednesday.

"But this happened at four in the afternoon when the pews were filled with praying women and children. And the actors weren't kids but a 37-year-old man and a 35-year old woman."

A lawyer for the couple says they were simulating sex.

A 42-year-old man used his cell phone to describe their sex act graphically to WNEW's "Opie and Anthony" radio show, which broadcast it live.

This begs the question: What late-pubescent and culturally suicidal dementia has afflicted the West that grown people insist on defiling and slandering the very faith to which we owe our civilization?

Whence those media thugs, whose programs get coarser and coarser? Is there no limit to the revolting boardroom greed of companies sponsoring this offense against what most Americans still hold sacred?

This is not a unique event. In the Advent season of 1989, when the late Cardinal John O'Connor celebrated Mass in St. Patrick's, a group of homosexual activists burst into the cathedral, spat the Communion wafers on the ground and forcibly prevented others from receiving the Sacrament.

Loathing of the sacred is not exclusively directed against Roman Catholics, however. Other Christians have similar experiences. This writer is a trustee of a Lutheran Church in central Washington, D.C., where every day, one wall of our beautiful sanctuary is deliberately targeted for defecation.

Clergy, too, are known to have participated in the desecration of their houses of worship. A sadomasochistic orgy by priests with imported toy boys in front of the altar of an Episcopal church in Brooklyn, N.Y., comes to mind.

Neither is anti-Christian media mischief an exclusively American domain. Thomas Kuettler, the Lutheran regional bishop of the formerly East German city of Plauen, once complained that today's TV attacks on Christian symbols and doctrine were even more "spiteful and disgusting" than those by the now-defunct communist media.

In a nightly entertainment show the Eucharist was mocked as a "religious snack." One TV entertainer announced that a "spray version of the Holy Spirit" would soon be for sale.

On one cover page of Titanic, a satirical magazine, the crucified Christ was portrayed as a dispenser of toilet paper. In a comic series God taunted Jesus on the cross, calling him names that remain unprintable in a family newspaper.

In Norway, one 1,000-year-old wooden church after another has fallen victim to a campaign of arson attacks engineered via the Internet by a well-organized Satanist group that also seems to be behind the desecration of Christian sanctuaries and cemeteries in other parts of Europe.

Of course this columnist does not claim that those who now allegedly defiled St. Patrick's were devil-worshipers. Perhaps they were just riding the wave of the unpleasant zeitgeist that has erased the distinctions between proper venues. Alas, gone seems to be the cultured days when people knew what to do where: eat at a table, not while walking in the street; make love in your home, not in church.

Yet, there is an analogy here between the mindsets of Satanists and those whose urge to scandalize knows no limit. Both despise God and his faithful; otherwise they wouldn't do it.

This leads to a troubling conclusion: By their behavior these folks are feeding the false notion of Muslim extremists that Western society is so rotten, so perverted that it merits only rapid destruction. In other words, they have -- doubtless unwittingly -- become fifth columnists of those who seek our demise.

This is why the only good outcome of this latest alleged attack on Christendom seems to be a nugget of information from the Catholic League's William Donohue:

"I have received many calls and messages from liberals and progressives, who do not normally support us. But now they say, enough is enough. The breaking point has been reached."

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