By Jessica Stoll

Campus Times Staff

I think the bumper sticker that annoys me the most has to be “America – Love It or Leave It.” Not coincidentally, my favorite protest chant – aside from the March for Women’s Lives classic “2, 4, 6, 8, don’t like it don’t ejaculate” – is “This is what democracy looks like.” I believe that anyone who plasters that sticker on their car has never read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments.

These were written by men and women who loved America too much to either leave it, or leave it as it was.

Our country was born from the idea that when we find something wrong, it is not only our right, but also our duty to change it. To sit idly by is not just laziness, it’s treason.

Maybe that’s why being a female, pro-choice American Catholic can be such a strange thing sometimes. Almost everyone concedes that the Catholic Church is imperfect.

To some of us, however – especially pro-choice women – the imperfections are more glaring. I’m lucky, in that I got both my faith and my pro-choice politics from my mother, so the contradictions there are nothing new to me. But it is, to say the least, disconcerting to be told that one part of your faith – religion – holds the other part – your equality to men and your control over your body – to be wrong.

Being American makes things even trickier. One obvious solution, and one chosen by many, is to leave the Church. Yet, to abandon something because of its flaws seems un-American. It’s not love it or leave it – it’s love it enough that you’ll fight for what you believe it could be. The Catholic Church has done great things for many people, including many women around the world, and has inspired many other people to do great things. It could be even better.

The American ideal of fighting for what you believe in is made harder by the Church. While in America we are all given a voice in our nation’s future, in the Church it is not so.

Even with reforms that attempt to give the laity more input, the fact remains that in the Catholic Church, it is only the clergy that have a real voice.

Yes, the clergy can speak for those who cannot, but you can’t count on it. It’s why Susan B. Anthony, who we honored this past Sunday with the third annual Legacy Race, fought so hard for women’s suffrage – not only is it imperative in and of itself, but it guarantees that women will forever have a voice in government, that they will have to be listened to and that they can protect themselves instead of relying on others to do it for them.

The only solution I can offer is for the Church to take a lesson from Anthony, as well as every other American who fought for the right to be heard. Let the people have a voice, not just those in authority, but those who are subject to it. Maybe that would stem the tide of frustrated young women who, seeing no other option, have left Catholicism behind.

Stoll can be reached at jstoll@campustimes.org.



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