3 Easy Ways to Respect Your Catholic Friend or Co-worker
A quick distinction – people vs beliefs
This blog isn’t about why or how you should respect the Catholic Church, Christianity, or even God. I believe that you should, but that’s not the topic at hand. What I’m talking about is treating your friends and co-workers with respect. People, unlike ideas, can be respected even if they’re completely wrong.
I’ve found that most of the time, when people offend and disrespect their friends, it’s out of ignorance. I can think of so many times in my own life I’ve found out that someone is angry, and had no idea what I did. And the same is usually the case in when others offend me, especially when it comes to my faith.
I think the culture is also a big part of the confusion. Generally, in mainstream culture, religion is not a thing worthy of respect. One of the subtle effects of this is that well-meaning people don’t necessarily even consider a person’s religious beliefs in how they act toward that person.
But, whatever the reason, I think a lot of people could use some simple suggestions on how to relate to Catholics.
1. Don’t Use the Name of God the Son as a Curse
This is probably the most common, and most insulting, form of disrespect that every Christian in the workplace and most other social settings receives. The name of Jesus is sacred. To Christians it is an unbelievable privilege that we even know His name, and have the ability to speak it. The fact that it is so commonly dragged through the dirt is something that makes me sick to my stomach.
We’ve written on this topic before, from the perspective of explaining to Catholics why, in particular, the name is sacred to us, and demands reverence. Obviously, that duty doesn’t apply to non-Christians, but a bare minimum level of respect for others should prevent us from taking what is most sacred to them and casually treating it like trash.
2. Don’t Apply the Stereotypes to Them
This one is pretty straightforward, and it really applies to any religion (or even other groups of people). Just don’t assume that another person is a walking “religious-person” stereotype. Don’t act surprised when they are smart, logical, funny, easygoing, or anything else religious people aren’t supposed to be.
Contrary to pop-culture, not every serious Christian is Angela from The Office, or that crazy abstinence-education lady from Parks and Rec (I don’t know if she has a name, I just know every time I see her I think ‘yep, this is who r/atheism thinks I am’). We are actual humans. Some of us are uptight accountants and political activists, true. Some of us are scientists and engineers. Enough said, I think.
3. Learn, don’t Assume
Most people don’t have much knowledge about the Church; what she is, why she exists, and why she teaches what she does. And if that’s you, it’s completely fine. Feel free to ask questions (depending on your friend – if he’s a jerk about it, don’t blame me).
Just don’t be the guy who says, “I know all about the Catholic Church, I went to Catholic school for 14 years”. Not only does that guy not know much of anything, he’s also impossible to talk to. As a Catholic, I have to walk away from anyone who says this before I get angry.
Kind of like number two, this could apply to any religion, but it happens very often to Canadian Catholics because of the publicly funded “Catholic” school system (it’s not the topic, but suffice to say that what you learn in Catholic schools is often equal-parts Protestantism and hallmark-greeting-card-ism, with a small grain of Catholicism buried somewhere).
Well, that’s three basic ways to respect Catholics. If you’ve made it this far (God bless you), I really hope it helps you out. And if you’ve got some more ideas, or you want to share how people could respect you and your beliefs better, feel free to leave a comment!