For over ten years, my life was paralyzed with an education that focused on the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Every morning, we sang the pledge of allegiance and then shifted our right hand from our heart to our forehead, chest, and shoulders.
In fifth grade, I was threatened with suspension when I wrote that abortion was a woman’s choice. In eighth grade, I was threatened again when I refused to sign a chastity agreement. In high school, I wasn’t allowed to touch the topic of abortion unless I was willing to be pro-life. Every year, I was left out of the March for Life field trips to Washington D.C.
For ten years, I was trained to be anti-abortion. But, as a Junior at the University of Miami, I feel compelled to argue that this framework to educate young minds is toxic. To educate children that religion should go above the law to control a woman’s right to choose is simply undemocratic, unconstitutional, and most poignantly, un-American.
On January 18th, the trials of Catholic school education reached national news. And, I saw the ten years of my Catholic education reflected in a picture of a male student in a red “Make America Great Again” hat smirking at a Native elder at the March for Life 2019 rally.
This student, surrounded by several other male students from Covington Catholic High School were seen and filmed visibly mocking Nathan Phillips, an elder of the Omaha Nation. Phillips was attending the Indigenous People’s March.
While that situation escalated to reach national outlets, facing dueling arguments. The controversy most fail to realize is the fact that Covington Catholic High School is an all-boys school; capturing the essence of our modern times by wearing President Trump’s signature red campaign hat and attending a march that focused on destabilizing a woman’s right to her own body.
In 2015, about 31 percent of the U.S. Congress was Catholic and many attended Catholic schools. Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh attended Catholic and Jesuit schools. President Trump’s top attorney in the White House, Pat Cipollone, graduated from Covington Catholic High School in 1984. The grinning MAGA hat-wearing Covington High School students have the potential to earn a winning seat in conservative politics.
Conservatism fueled by anti-abortion beliefs in our national politics has taken place for decades. In 1972, President Richard Nixon ran his reelection campaign seeking to “drive a wedge right down the middle of the Democratic party,” said Nixon’s strategist and speechwriter, Patrick Buchanan, “with messages that targeted Catholic voters who fight abortion in their legislatures, send their kids to Catholic schools… they are where our votes are.”
And, 1972 was when abortion and resistance began to take the center stage in American politics. In 1973, Roe v. Wade was passed, further fueling the abortion resistance and still holding precedence 47 years later.
History gives meanings to the confrontations that echoed my rejection towards religious indoctrination. However, several of the men who shape modern American politics are products of the pedagogy I grew to despise. And, every March for Life, I will be reminded how it’s a yearly touchstone of the conservative movement. One that will continue progressing to remove hinder a woman’s right to choose.
Photo: Urban Isthmus, CC BY-NC 2.0 (Flickr)