As you may have heard, a group of atheists or satan worshipers (depending on who and what you can believe) is planning on holding a black mass on the campus of Harvard University. Up to this point, Harvard is doing almost everything it can to distance itself from this event. I say almost because they have resisted the calls to shut it down. I thought Harvard’s lack of courage was reminiscent of a man we have heard about before.
May 8, 2014
President Drew G. Faust
Office of the President
Cambridge, MA 02138
Dear President Faust:
You are probably catching a lot of heat from Catholics and Christians who believe the planned Satanic Mass scheduled to take place on your campus is offensive. You must be very unhappy with all this publicity, but I thought one more open letter may help you see the light.
When confronted with this issue, you likely emphasize that Harvard is esteemed for the excellence of education and its mission to impact the world through brilliant alumnae, scholarly articles and educators who push the best and brightest to achieve the greatest intellectual potential their minds can muster.
Harvard does not desire the reputation as an institution who quietly participates in the hatred and mockery known as discrimination. To shun your responsibility to stand for knowledge and truth at this moment would be a stunning and discouraging example of cowardice and fear.
Has the Catholic Church somehow provoked this? Has a bishop or cardinal attempted to impose Catholic doctrine on Harvard University? Has a subversive group of orthodox Catholic students attempted to infiltrate Harvard University and threaten the beliefs of non-Catholics? Do Catholics hold meetings or services on your campus during which images of Satan, Satan himself or Satan worshipers are mocked? The answer to each of these questions is , “no”.
What has provoked this group to publicize the desecration of Jesus Christ Himself and what has caused Harvard University to be complicit in the act? I have no way of assessing the motives of the satan worshipers, but I have an inkling as to how one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions can try to wash their hands of this public execution. I believe it is the familiar excuse we hear from academia which usually sounds like this:
“(Insert name of school here) strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities. To these ends, we encourage students to respect ideas and their free expression, and to rejoice in discovery and in critical thought; to pursue excellence in a spirit of productive cooperation; and to assume responsibility for the consequences of personal actions.”
This type of a statement, which is found almost word-for-word in Harvard’s Mission Statement, always sounds so tolerant, accepting, open-minded and progressive. But the practical application can often be very messy. Especially when the group who takes advantage of the policy is close-minded and intolerant, such as atheists, satan worshipers and other groups who deny or distort the hope of the Gospel.
It gets even messier when you compare this specific situation to the school’s non-discrimination policy. These non-discrimination policies often state that neither the school, nor any sanctioned event or organization will engage in activity which, “discriminates on the basis of race, color, creed, …”. A creed, as used in this policy, refers to a formal set of religious beliefs. I see that Harvard University uses the word “creed” in its non-discrimination policies.
By allowing this Satanic Mass, Harvard is condoning and even participating in discrimination against the creed of its own Catholic employees, students and alumnae as well as the Catholic Church as a whole. Allowing this to continue does not promote a mission of respect, productive cooperation, critical thought, free expression or the assumption of responsibility for the consequences of personal actions. It simply promotes discrimination in the form of shocking, aggressive and abrasive, mockery and hatred.
You have a great opportunity to bring a sense of reality to this mess. You have the ability to remind people that this is discrimination and that nobody has the right to mock another person’s creed under the guise of education. You have the opportunity to show that Harvard University will not stand with cowards like Pontius Pilate. If you can avoid the urge to wash your hands of this public execution, you will show great courage, strength and wisdom.