Blacks’ Lives Matter. But So Does the Truth

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Everyone can say “the lives of blacks matter,” but you might decline to say “Black Lives Matter.”

Here’s why: it’s obvious that the lives of black people matter, but the Black Lives Matter movement is a political movement with a clear agenda and an ideology that goes beyond affirming the sacredness of the lives of people of color.

Like heresies, ideologies always contain at least a kernel of truth. That’s why they’re attractive. Very few people will believe a complete lie or be drawn into a movement that is one hundred percent bogus.

Beware Slogans

 

The Black Lives Matter movement begins with a simple slogan everyone can agree with—that the lives of people of color are important. They matter. According to the webpage on the Black Lives Matter site, we can see what else they believe and work for. They stand for “justice and freedom for black people—and by extension for all people.” In other words, “All lives matter.” So far so good. That is also something with which every right-minded person can agree.Taking their words on the website at face value, there are other idealistic and worthy causes to which most decent people can give a nod. When we read their manifesto to the end, however, we discover further aims:

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

I see. Now the LGBTQ and feminist agendas have been snapped on to the BLM manifesto. This is understandable as the recent Supreme Court ruling has done the same thing in pasting the LGBTQ agenda into the racism and equal rights legislation.

It is an addendum that Catholics would resist. Do LGBTQ persons deserve respect and freedom from discrimination? Yes. Do we endorse collectivism and the destruction of marriage and traditional understandings of sexuality and the family? Here we must demur.

Heresies and Ideologies

Ideologies are like heresies. They have at their heart a simple truth, a worthy idea, or a noble cause that most people cannot dispute. That core idea is most often set up as a correction for an abuse or the promotion of something that was missing. For example, the Protestants wished to redress what they saw as the neglect of Sacred Scripture in the Catholic Church and the abuse of ecclesial authority, so the heresy of sola Scriptura blossomed.

Every ideology, like every heresy, is adhered to passionately, and it is understandable that the new idea becomes not only a central tenet of a movement, but the lens through which members of the movement view everything else. This emphasis on the core idea, and viewing everything through the lens of that core idea, soon causes the movement’s understanding of other truths to become distorted, and as their understanding of other truths becomes distorted, their perception of reality becomes distorted, and with their skewed perception of reality, irrational behaviors soon follow.

For the ideologue and the heretic all truth becomes subservient to the core truth. The final distortion is that once all truth becomes subservient to the core truth, falsehood can also sneak in, but because their perception is already distorted, the ideologue and the heretic will be blind to the lie.

To use sola Scriptura as an example, it is not uncommon to meet a fundamentalist Protestant who is so wedded to sola Scriptura that he takes a ridiculously literal approach not only to the Bible but to a particular translation of the Bible. He not only rejects other forms of theological authority, but he also suspects common sense and other sources of information. His devotion to sola Scriptura can lead to young earth creationism, a denial of science, a belief in “the rapture,” and all sorts of bizarre and unreasonable beliefs, practices, and conspiracy theories.

Ideologues and Enemies

Because they distort all truth at the expense of promoting a single truth, ideologies and heresies are false religions. The same energy that simmers within the heretics and ideologues mimics that which should motivate true religion. Their devotees invariably operate with a missionary zeal. Furthermore, like all false religions, heresies and ideologies don’t only have devotees. They have enemies.

Because they spring from a correction, heresies and ideologies are invariably protest movements, and because they are protest movements they are reacting against an idea, an individual, or an institution. As a protest movement, therefore, they must always have an enemy. The enemy gives their movement meaning and purpose. Without the enemy they would have no reason to be.

This is why heresies are so stubborn and ideologies so militant. This is also why they will never be appeased. If you attempt to appease a heretic or an ideologue, he will accept your offering, then in a moment find another argument and make another demand. This is because it is not about the demands. It is about the struggle. The struggle gives meaning, identity, self-esteem, and purpose to the heretic and the ideologue.

This is also why they do not negotiate. Discussion is not only not desired; it is not permitted. Disagreement is not allowed. Silence is not enough. Agreement is not enough. You may not simply agree with their core truth. You must join the movement. Not to join the movement and not to sign the creed is to be one of the enemy. To question even one plank on the party platform is to be a traitor, and the only thing worse than the enemy from without is the enemy within.

Relativism and Ideologies

The collapse of reasonable discourse into the fanaticism of ideologies is one of the fruits of relativism and why Pope Benedict XVI referred to the “dictatorship of relativism.” Ideologies are the fruit of relativism simply because humanity cannot live for very long in the uncertain bog of relativism.

People need something to live for and something to die for. Life needs to have meaning, and without an ideal, a worthy cause, and a lofty goal human beings drift into nihilism and despair. Without a religion human beings soon make a religion. Ideologies become their idols and the worthy cause becomes the only cause.

In reaction to every ideology with its single-minded vision, the Catholic Church is stereoscopic. It sees with two eyes and seeks the fullness of truth rightly ordered. Truth matters, and part of that whole body of beautiful truth is that crime, social violence, and police brutality are all forms of injustice, that racism is evil, and that black people—with all their brothers and sisters—are God’s children and their lives matter both now and into eternity.

Photo credit: Peter Summers/Getty Images News

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

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Father Dwight Longenecker is the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, South Carolina. He is the author, most recently, of Immortal Combat: Confronting the Heart of Darkness (Sophia Institute Press, 2020). Read more at www.dwightlongenecker.com.

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