North Carolina’s Immaculata Catholic School is facing backlash after inviting openly gay councilwoman — and a graduate of the school — Vernetta Alston (below) to speak to students for Black History Month… only to cancel her presentation after groups threatened to demonstrate outside the building.
… all classes at the religious institution were canceled [Friday] after church officials said concerns had been raised about her inclusion in the event by several — still unnamed — groups.
Pastor Christopher VanHaight said in a letter to parents that he had heard from a “variety of sources” a “number of groups” were planning to demonstrate outside the school. “I cannot place our Immaculata students into this contentious environment,” he wrote.
On the school’s website a notice confirmed the entire campus was closed…
Alston’s attendance was organized by the school’s African American Heritage Committee, which today blasted the decision from officials to scrub the morning event.
“Questions were raised about her sexual orientation and her public stance in support of gay marriage as contrary to Catholic doctrine,” a statement posted to Facebook read.
To be sure, even Pope Francis has said there’s nothing wrong with being gay, only acting on it, but if the Catholic Church dismissed people who held views contrary to Vatican doctrine, its own pews would empty out quickly.
The mature response here would have been for critics to look past Alston’s political views and appreciate the value of what she had to say regarding a completely unrelated subject. That’s what reasonable adults do: agree to disagree while focusing on the positive things they have in common. In this case, the need for Black History education should far outweigh any concern about the morality of Alston’s sexual identity and political views. Apparently that was asking too much.
Hopefully, Alston can speak elsewhere in a religiously neutral setting. The school probably has no idea — or just doesn’t care — that the students were wronged by their decision as well. In today’s polarizing racist climate, they really could have benefited from what Alston had to say.