On handling insults of the faith from wedding invitees


#1

I'm getting married this November.

To help with planning and guest notification, we use Facebook for instant communication with about two-thirds of the invitees.

For those of you who haven't used Facebook, it's a social interaction web site. You are a presence there, as others do, where you or anyone can talk or comment about anything as a group. It's similar to how this forum works, but more dynamic and less question-and-answer.

Here's the problem. The internet has a tendency to make people either speak their minds sincerely, or just rant without justification, on their own personal, uninformed authority. Facebook is no exception. With the latest wave of priest scandals in the Church, some of our wedding invitees seem more than willing to make *very *harsh and very untruthful commentaries on the Catholic faith.

These people also seem oblivious to the fact that they are being invited to a Catholic nuptial Mass. With lots of Catholics and other Christians. More so, the posters of insults seem oblivious to the fact that my fiancee and I can *see *their brusque, uncharitable opinions when posted to many mutual friends of Facebook.

I know what my fiancee will say on this: We can't and shouldn't "uninvite" people just because they have a differing opinion. I tend to agree. But when the disagreement changes into outright hostility on the Church, it begins to chafe or even cut at my personal conviction to the Church and our Lord.

A wedding is meant as a happy time. But I would also expect my friends--*our *friends--to have the civility to keep their opinions civil. One of my groomsmen is an atheist. He is a close friend, despite this, because he knows the boundaries. He has dropped everything to go to funeral Masses of mutual friends because he is respectful. For a guy that believes more in the Flying Spaghetti Monster than God, he is a good man, and is more representative of the friends on my side of the aisle.

It is easy to make "friends" on Facebook. These are, more often than not, mere acquaintances--friends of other friends you may never meet. Most of my friends are actually friends that I speak to without having some "internet persona", the pseudo-anonymity of the Internet that compels people to say things online that you would never, ever, say to my face. Many of my fiancee's friends are the ones who I have troubles with their opinions.

So, what would be the best tact to take?

Should I send a private message to those who seem to dislike the Church so much that they'd spontaneously combust on entering one? Ask them either to be less brusque or charitable in their comments, or even decline coming to the wedding?

Should I just toughen my skin and just ignore it?

Should we just dis-invite those who are troublesome (against the rules of wedding etiquette)?

Should I make a open letter to all my friends suggesting that, "If you can't be civil about our faith, please don't come to the wedding as you are doing a disservice to the bride and groom, not to mention your own criticisms"?

I know what I would do if I were the only person making this decision. I'm not, however. I need for my bride and I to be unified in this. She and I should make a stand for our faith for important reasons, I think. Thanks in advance for your charitable responses.


#2

I talk to my friends. If someone does not respect your Faith, they are not your friends. It is okay to distance yourself and pray for these people to come to Christ.

I would dis-invite someone rather than insult my Lord.


#3

I think a simple note on your own FB status such as “It is really hard when some of my own friends seem to distrust me so. I see so many of my friends making openly public hateful comments about my religion but RSVPing to my wedding. What does this say about their respect for the vows I am about to take?” I have a feeling most of your friends will respond quietly in a manner that will not make you have to make a decision at all. The ones that get loud are not worth keeping.


#4

I am not familiar with facebook per se but I think Miss Manners might agree (we would have to check with her and how she would interpret this according to traditional etiquette) but an invited guest who publicly, to the other guests and to the bridal couple themselves, mocks the actual wedding rite and criticizes the auspices under which that wedding will be celebrated, has effectively and publicly (and quite rudely) dis-invited himself and disassociated himself from the proceedings. I would politely remind him of that fact (and send back the gift, if any, with the notification).

Mr. & Mrs. Jack Rude

David and I were unaware, when we invited you to our wedding at St. Mary the Gracious Catholic Church in June, that we were insulting your own beliefs as you articulated them in your fascinating facebook post of April 1. This was not our intent and we apologize for not paying heed to your inveterate hatred for the Catholic Church and everything she stands for (in which we include ourselves, poor ignorant Catholics that we are). Consequently we quite understand that you cannot in good conscience attend our wedding in a Catholic Church. The combo coffee-cheese-flax seed grinder you sent was a nice thought, however, but under the circumstances of course we would not feel right enjoying it, so we are returning it to you.

Sincerely


#5

Personally, I would assume these folks would be decent and respectful during the wedding service, unless I had strong reason to believe they would act otherwise. My guess is that many of these people are acting out of anger about the scandals. It’s a very emotional hot-button topic these days. Your wedding may show them a beautiful and solemn side of the Church…it’s not the purpose of a wedding, but a pleasant side-effect nonetheless. They are allowed to have their opinions, but they shouldn’t be allowed to carry negativity to your wonderful special day. I disagree with sending a harsh/rude message to them, unless they were specifically attacking your marriage. They are entitled to their opinion and to express them (even though I find these particular comments frustrating as well).

If you think they are incapable of separating the two, I’d consider calling them or writing a note (I personally don’t care for FB communication for serious matters…super-poking is the exception:rolleyes:) and explain that they may have personal opinions but they need to be checked at the door because you would love to celebrate with them, and you want mutual respect. I’ve been to weddings at denominations I don’t agree with, big deal, I love the couple enough to share in their celebration.

Hope it works out for you. Congratulations!


#6

[quote="puzzleannie, post:4, topic:194903"]
I am not familiar with facebook per se but I think Miss Manners might agree (we would have to check with her and how she would interpret this according to traditional etiquette) but an invited guest who publicly, to the other guests and to the bridal couple themselves, mocks the actual wedding rite and criticizes the auspices under which that wedding will be celebrated, has effectively and publicly (and quite rudely) dis-invited himself and disassociated himself from the proceedings. I would politely remind him of that fact (and send back the gift, if any, with the notification).

Mr. & Mrs. Jack Rude

David and I were unaware, when we invited you to our wedding at St. Mary the Gracious Catholic Church in June, that we were insulting your own beliefs as you articulated them in your fascinating facebook post of April 1. This was not our intent and we apologize for not paying heed to your inveterate hatred for the Catholic Church and everything she stands for (in which we include ourselves, poor ignorant Catholics that we are). Consequently we quite understand that you cannot in good conscience attend our wedding in a Catholic Church. The combo coffee-cheese-flax seed grinder you sent was a nice thought, however, but under the circumstances of course we would not feel right enjoying it, so we are returning it to you.

Sincerely

[/quote]

Puzzleannie,

Your post has made my day. I would just re-gift the flax seed grinder anyway. :)


#7

[quote="puzzleannie, post:4, topic:194903"]
I am not familiar with facebook per se but I think Miss Manners might agree (we would have to check with her and how she would interpret this according to traditional etiquette) but an invited guest who publicly, to the other guests and to the bridal couple themselves, mocks the actual wedding rite and criticizes the auspices under which that wedding will be celebrated, has effectively and publicly (and quite rudely) dis-invited himself and disassociated himself from the proceedings. I would politely remind him of that fact (and send back the gift, if any, with the notification).

Mr. & Mrs. Jack Rude

David and I were unaware, when we invited you to our wedding at St. Mary the Gracious Catholic Church in June, that we were insulting your own beliefs as you articulated them in your fascinating facebook post of April 1. This was not our intent and we apologize for not paying heed to your inveterate hatred for the Catholic Church and everything she stands for (in which we include ourselves, poor ignorant Catholics that we are). Consequently we quite understand that you cannot in good conscience attend our wedding in a Catholic Church. The combo coffee-cheese-flax seed grinder you sent was a nice thought, however, but under the circumstances of course we would not feel right enjoying it, so we are returning it to you.

Sincerely

[/quote]

Annie, you ROCK.


#8

[quote="joandarc2008, post:3, topic:194903"]
I think a simple note on your own FB status such as "It is really hard when some of my own friends seem to distrust me so. I see so many of my friends making openly public hateful comments about my religion but RSVPing to my wedding. What does this say about their respect for the vows I am about to take?" I have a feeling most of your friends will respond quietly in a manner that will not make you have to make a decision at all. The ones that get loud are not worth keeping.

[/quote]

That is an an excellent idea. We have a private group page where posts are restricted only to the invitees, so it doesn't appear on the public news feed. After checking with my spouse, we may consider this as an indirect way to get people to realize what they're doing.

And yes, the loud ones are never worth keeping. Thanks.


#9

[quote="SarahR, post:5, topic:194903"]
Personally, I would assume these folks would be decent and respectful during the wedding service, unless I had strong reason to believe they would act otherwise. My guess is that many of these people are acting out of anger about the scandals. It's a very emotional hot-button topic these days. Your wedding may show them a beautiful and solemn side of the Church..it's not the purpose of a wedding, but a pleasant side-effect nonetheless. They are allowed to have their opinions, but they shouldn't be allowed to carry negativity to your wonderful special day. I disagree with sending a harsh/rude message to them, unless they were specifically attacking your marriage. They are entitled to their opinion and to express them (even though I find these particular comments frustrating as well).

If you think they are incapable of separating the two, I'd consider calling them or writing a note (I personally don't care for FB communication for serious matters....super-poking is the exception:rolleyes:) and explain that they may have personal opinions but they need to be checked at the door because you would love to celebrate with them, and you want mutual respect. I've been to weddings at denominations I don't agree with, big deal, I love the couple enough to share in their celebration.

Hope it works out for you. Congratulations!

[/quote]

Thank you, Sarah.

I'm hopeful that our guests can make the separation. It would be better if they were just more sincere of themselves. It may pay to remind people to check their opinions of the Church at the door, or just send us a gift if they want, rather than catch fire at the Mass...


#10

[quote="Spencerian, post:1, topic:194903"]
A wedding is meant as a happy time. But I would also expect my friends--*our *friends--to have the civility to keep their opinions civil.

[/quote]

I would simply post this on facebook and then, for those "friends" who continued to act otherwise, I would write them off my "friends" list both on facebook and in life. I would not uninvite them. This is a happy day for you and you needn't stain it with any unpleasantries.


#11

You might not have time to respond to every anti-Catholic Facebook comment from your friends, but, if someone posts something that I feel is against our/my Faith, I comment accordingly. Usually, I quote the bible ... 'cause I have seen comments like caling one's significant other a bad name, so I quoted something from the Songs, and, for someone bragging about losing their virginity, I quoted Corinthians, about love. I'm rather shocked, about these things from supposedly Catholic young people. Maybe you could put up an article, on your wall, about the problem being with 10% or whatever the figure is. It is really horrendous that a percentage of Priests/Brothers are guilty of this sin against children. Just accept that. You'll get farther with these friends, if you accept that it IS horrible! The Catholic Faith is bigger than the humans who are sinful, but hold positions of authority. Throughout history, there is always something. After the wedding, you may find that your friends will be those who respect your Faith and the others will drop away. Still, sometimes is IS family, who you will still be seeing.


#12

PuzzleAnnie, I am ROFL. Delightful!

Unfortunately, I am in the same position as Spencerian, with a wedding in a mere couple of weeks. What I have done with friends is, while not as humorous about it as PuzzleAnnie, reminded friends that they are under no obligation to attend if they are uncomfortable with our faith. I say (or type) it just as succinctly as that.

With family, it is tougher. Of course you very much want family to be there, but also want the witnessing of the sacrament to be special, and with love and respect for that sacrament.

My invites went out stating we were being "joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony at St. Mary" blah blah blah, so I think we did make the Catholic fact purdy darn clear.


#13

Since they are mostly your fiancee's friends, I would suggest talking it over with her. I would leave any response up to her as well. Definitely don't do anything without her knowing about it in advance.

Here's a question: Are these people posting anti-Catholic stuff on your wall, or on their own wall? You can't really "police" what other people choose for their own status updates. If you try, they would rightly be offended. On the other hand, if you have a special "Mr. & Mrs. Spencerian 11/2010" group page where they were posting such things, that would be a different story. If they were commenting on your posts with anti-Catholic stuff, that would also be a different story. Then you should definitely step in.

IMO, you need to be careful about your response. Facebook is not the ideal medium for intelligent discussions. You're not going to change someone's mind with a one sentence comment. If anything, you might only drive them further away from the Church. If you can make a succinct response in a very non-confrontational way, then that could be a good witness. Otherwise, it can devolve into ugliness very quickly.


#14

You made some very important points about the mechanism of Facebook and will take them to heed, for some of the things from which I felt insulted were not on my wall or wedding group page. I don’t *have *to read the posts of others.

I’ll disagree on one thing you said, however:

Facebook is not the ideal medium for intelligence, period. :slight_smile:


#15

[quote="SpaceNeedle, post:12, topic:194903"]
PuzzleAnnie, I am ROFL. Delightful!

Unfortunately, I am in the same position as Spencerian, with a wedding in a mere couple of weeks. What I have done with friends is, while not as humorous about it as PuzzleAnnie, *reminded friends that they are under no obligation to attend if they are uncomfortable with our faith. I say (or type) it just as succinctly as that. *

With family, it is tougher. Of course you very much want family to be there, but also want the witnessing of the sacrament to be special, and with love and respect for that sacrament.

My invites went out stating we were being "joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony at St. Mary" blah blah blah, so I think we did make the Catholic fact purdy darn clear.

[/quote]

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, too!

I may need to make your idea above part of the wedding group page as a gentle reminder. Thanks!


#16

Spencerian - If any of this is being posted on your wall or wedding wall then it is tacky and you have every right to kindly make a plea for them to show respect or not come to the wedding. If it is on their own walls, I would just ignore it.

Maybe you and your fiancé could write up a thoughtful note on Facebook about how excited you are for your wedding and explain the significance of a Catholic wedding. You don’t have to address any of the nasty things people said, but you can give your input about how important your faith is, even in the midst of struggles. Sometimes it is easy for people to attack those big, bad Catholics when they lose perspective on who exactly the Church is – us.


#17

[quote="Spencerian, post:14, topic:194903"]

I'll disagree on one thing you said, however:

Facebook is not the ideal medium for intelligence, period. :)

[/quote]

Ha! I stand corrected! :D


#18

I’m printing this out, and I’m adding it to my “Letter Writing for Ladies and Gentlemen.” :slight_smile:

I have, on one occasion, been moved to write on someone’s Wall, “Uh - you know that I can read this, right?” The posts I was reacting to were deleted without comment about an hour later. :smiley:


#19

BTW- spencerian congrats on your upcoming nuptials. Joan of Arc is also my Patron Saint. Just as a nice touch to your wedding and something to make it a bit more Catholic with the Big C we asked our Priest to add our Patron Saints names in the Prayer Intentions - he was a little suprised as most couples I guess never think of it and our Saints usually don’t lend themselves to marriage causes. But I will tell you something- later on during times of strife when we asked our Saints to intercede I think they remembered that we remembered them. :wink:


#20

Have you ever looked at Lamebook.com? Some of the language is rather raw, but they collect humorous Facebook postings. One of them was of a teenage daughter who posted for her status that the party was at her house on Saturday. Then her mom commented “Did you forget that I was your friend on Facebook? By the way, everyone, the party is cancelled.”

Anyway, your comment reminded me of that. :o


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