Congressperson Lauren Boebert can benefit from some Catholic treatment. Once a week, when Catholics sin, they go to confession. It’s a sacrament. They kneel in the confessional and face a priest who has authority from the church to forgive sins.
“Bless me father for I have sinned,” the confession begins. A sincere Congressperson Boebert should state: “I have slandered and lied about US Rep. Ilhan Omar in front of an audience of fellow conservatives. I enjoyed the laughter I got from my slander. I told another slander and got more laughter. For this I am truly sorry.
“Father, let me continue. I wore a tee shirt to this constituent get-together that was reprehensible. The tee shirt says: ‘Guns don’t kill people. Alex Baldwin kills people.’ The tee shirt satirizes the tragic loss of life of a young woman. For this I am also truly sorry.”
Catholics may receive penance from the priest in the form of prayer. So for the above sins of lying, slander, demeaning another person, and making fun of the tragic death of a young woman, the priest might require ten “Our Fathers” and ten “Hail Mary’s” as penance.
The sinner, in this case the Congressperson, must kneel in front of the tabernacle and cross representing the Lord and pray, sincerely, by reciting ten “Our Fathers” and ten “Hail Mary’s.” With this confession and penance, sinner Boebert would be ready for communion, another holy sacrament, on the condition that she didn’t repeat the sins.
Priests may offer a more hands-on penance as an act of contrition, one that addresses the person sinned against in sincere apology. In sinner Boebert’s case, a priest might reject a bland apology such as this: “I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar.”
Why would a priest find this cliché apology insufficient? Congressperson Boebert offended specifically Omar, not a vague “anyone in the Muslim community.” Congressperson Boebert didn’t make a simple “comment” about Representative Omar. She told bad jokes with nasty intent. It appears she practiced these jokes because she told them before and with timing and inflection. She wore her tee shirt to gin up enthusiasm for her second amendment cause.
It’s not ‘woke’ to see this behavior as more than bad, even sinful in the Catholic sense. It’s the truth. In fact, Representative Boebert recognized her sinning when she stated that she’s a “good Christian” who shouldn’t talk trash about another person’s religion, as if that’s all she did.
Apparently the apology call to Representative Omar turned sour. Given the public positions of both Representatives, the publicity from the slam, and the evidence from the video that busted Congressperson Boebert, it’s appropriate that US Representative Omar would request a public apology. Congressperson Boebert started the mess and as an honorable person she should own up to the person she calumniated and to the public for her deed.
But no. Congressperson Boebert doubled down on her original sin in her apology phone call. It’s proper, thus, for the Colorado community to expect robust and faithful penance to redeem the Congressperson’s transgressions.
Here are some penance options:
For sin one, about the terrorist backpack. Congressperson Boebert will not carry any weapon of any kind for a month. She will then write a 500-word essay in support of the rights of the non-weapon carrying public in the face of the onslaught of self protection claims by armed civilians who’ve killed unarmed others.
For sin two, calling Representative Omar a member of “the jihad squad,” “blackhearted” and “evil” (from an earlier video of the Congressperson). Congressperson Boebert will wear a sign around her neck stating the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” She will then write a 500-word essay on the sins of talking trash about someone’s religion, lying, calling names, and dehumanizing a person.
For sin three, wearing the tee shirt with its horrible slogan. This may be the worst of the sins, a deeply mortal sin. The only penance option appropriate for this sin is a YouTube published video message to Alex Baldwin and the parents of the deceased apologizing for wearing the reprehensible shirt. And she needs to apologize to her constituents and everyone in Colorado for this disgraceful act. Any repeat of this behavior sends her you know where.
Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.