Does America Really Need Fatima? Fordham Event Dialogue Faces Discrimination

Not Everything in the Bible Should be Taken Literally in Our Modern Society


My first impression upon hearing about the “Learning to Listen: Voices of Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church” dialogue held on Sept. 16 at Fordham University was that the dialogue needed to happen. The America Needs Fatima group that protested the dialogue in their blog felt otherwise.

Despite the need for civil discussions on the topic of sexual diversity in our times, the organization America Needs Fatima expressed shock that a Catholic university would even consider hosting such an event. According to their website, they feel that Fordham should be “promoting and accepting official Church teaching on homosexual sin.”

But can we still afford to read blindly from the scriptures? Can we assume that a significant portion of the population, more specifically the Christian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, can continue leading lives that go against their own natures? I think not.

On the contrary, there is a great need for open dialogue so that modern Christians can discover modern interpretations of the laws written in the Old Testament. They forget that Fordham, as a Jesuit institution, promotes “the study of the living tradition of Catholicism, and it provides a place where religious traditions may interact with each other and with contemporary cultures.” The “Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church” dialogue fits into such an agenda. In this dialogue, respectful and open-minded discussion is the goal whether participants are “pro-homosexual” or “anti-homosexual.”

I’d like to talk a bit more about America Needs Fatima. As far as “anti-homosexual” is concerned, America Needs Fatima has a very … interesting blog devoted to posting entries that showcase their revulsion of people who are pro-homosexual or pro-choice and encourages anything that they deem acceptable.

On Aug. 3, they posted a blog entry entitled, “Please protest a pro-homosexual event called ‘Learning to Listen’ at Jesuit Fordham University.” In the entry they requested that their supporters join their protest. They argued that the event hosted by Fordham is supporting those who go against God’s teachings.

When people make references to this “teaching,” I assume that they are referring to the Old Testament laws of Leviticus. Since this issue concerns homosexuals, let’s take a look at the verse concerning homosexuals. According to Leviticus 18:13, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

Though, of course, when people allude to Leviticus in their arguments, it always brings me back to my first theology class, Faith and Critical Reason. For my final paper, I chose to write about how the Bible should be interpreted differently in modern times. After all, when you read the rest of Leviticus, not just the parts that are popularized, it’s clear that many of these laws cannot be upheld in present day Western society.

For example, Leviticus 20:9 states that “For every one who curses his father or his mother shall be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his blood is upon him.” Something tells me that if this was a law today, there wouldn’t be as many American teenagers in the world.

Another one of my favorites is Leviticus 20:10, which says, “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.” The only thought going through my mind when reading this verse was that there also wouldn’t be as many politicians in the world—the tragedy of which is arguable.

However, in all seriousness, when groups like America Needs Fatima imply that we must follow the laws in the Bible, I assume that they mean all of the laws. But to me, it makes no sense to completely focus on one law and forget the particulars of the rest.

These are modern times and I don’t think that the Bible was meant to be read the same way now as it was thousands of years ago. So, instead of blindly latching onto the idea that homosexuality is a sin and protesting the very idea of discussing an issue that concerns the lives and happiness of a large group, I’d like everyone to calm down, put bias away and listen to what people have to say.

America Needs Fatima is beyond annoying in their violation of this right to free speech. They claim that there is no “personal hatred” for those who support this dialogue, but this hatred isn’t the point. By protesting, this group isn’t even bothering to encourage people to listen to what others have to say and I doubt that anyone who follows them would have actually gone to the event. This inability to listen is a problem.

We live in a society where everyone has a voice and the right to use it. Let’s try and act like it. Let’s hear what those different from us have to say.