And If St. Patrick Doesn’t Agree With It, He Has To Go, Too

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On Friday, the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade here in Boston announced that an advocacy group for LGBTQ veterans, OutVets, will be marching in the parade to commemorate the Irish saint on Sunday, March 19.

For those who have not been following this issue over the last few weeks, please allow me to catch you up. The organizers had originally denied the group a place in the parade solely on the basis that it violated the principles of the event to have an organization dedicated to sexual orientation advocacy represented.

Let me repeat, at no point did anyone say anything against OutVets, or against the mission of their organization. Indeed, the organizers’ statement went so far as to say:  “The question at hand is not one of inclusion or discrimination.” They had merely deemed, as was their constitutional right, that this, a parade in honor of a Catholic saint, was not the time nor the place for advocacy on the behalf of sexual orientation. It was a time for unity and paying tribute to Boston’s strong Irish-Catholic heritage, not a place for political agendas to be on display.

Well, cue the hysteria. Roll out the tar and the feathers. There was a perceived slight, and there would be hell to pay. (Though not actually Hell … that’s much too religious-sounding. Let’s just say a pound of flesh. That’s Shakespearean, it’s safe.)

Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker, never ones to shy away from an opportunity to show their support for the progressive cause du jour, condemned the parade organizers’ decision and said they would boycott the parade. How noble our fearless leaders are.

Big name sponsors, such as the City of Boston Credit Union, pulled their financial support from the parade, indignant and furious at the bigotry on display. “[We] take pride in working with community organizations that welcome all people, with no room for discrimination,” the bank wrote in a self-righteous huff.

The drama played out in an almost boringly predictable fashion. After a few days of the mounting pressure, the parade organizers folded. Their chief had a sudden turn of heart, the kind that would almost seem genuine if it didn’t so conveniently fit with the financial and political payoffs to be had. He pulled together another council vote, and the council flip-flopped.

Job well done, fearless knights of the Left. You defeated bigotry and intolerance.

Of course, one could also say that you managed to shove your agenda into a parade that in theory is supposed to transcend political differences.

One could also say that you attacked the religious principles of the parade’s saintly namesake.

One could also point out that because of your determination to twist and turn every public event into a moment of advocacy, regardless of whether or not it is the appropriate moment to do so, you forced a number of Catholic institutions, ones that have abided by the parade’s code of conduct for decades, to back out of the parade, lest they compromise their own values.

The greatest irony of this whole melodrama is that St. Patrick is a man who was actually persecuted for his religious beliefs — his code of conduct, if you will. He faced capture and imprisonment, yet his faith never wavered, and he never altered the truth for which he stood.

Of course, no Credit Union pulled its financial backing, and no governor threatened to boycott his first Mass. If that had been the case, maybe he too would have let his principles fold like a house of cards. Fortunately for us, he only had to contend with persecution by the Druids and abduction by pirates.

But by all means, let’s honor him by allowing political advocacy groups, who undermine the very faith he stood for, to march in his parade. And if anyone dares suggest it’s not the time or place for such advocacy, let’s crucify them on the altar of progressivism.

I’m sure it’s what St. Patrick would have wanted.

Kelly Thomas received her B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and her M.A. in Terrorism, Security and Society from the War Studies Department at King’s College London, exploring the intersection of religious expression in the public square and the fight against terrorism. Read her past articles here.