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“Ask a Priest: Was I Right to Skip a Pro-LGBT Restaurant?”
Q: I chose not to go to a restaurant that had an LGBT flag on the building, and certain family members challenged my decision. They asked why I would not eat at that restaurant when I eat at Asian restaurants that have a statue of a Buddha on display or at Indian restaurants where there are symbols of their beliefs that obviously are not in sync with mine as a Catholic. In trying to respond I got confused and would like to know how to answer those questions. – K.M.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It is admirable that you are trying to witness to your beliefs.
Strictly speaking, though, the way you answer would depend on what your own thinking is, which only you know.
Given the context of the situation, perhaps these points are worth considering.
Few people in North America would be scandalized by Christians eating at an Asian restaurant that display symbols of an Eastern religion. Many people might perceive them more as cultural symbols.
In any case, the liberty to practice one’s religious beliefs is something the Church respects. While Catholicism differs significantly from Eastern religions, we can recognize the right of others to practice their faith.
In the case of the LGBT flag, the restaurant seems to making a statement. Its proprietors are publicly showing support for groups that promote disordered behavior which can especially scandalize young people.
Here, it is a prudential decision whether someone chooses to eat at the restaurant. If you were to go there, someone might surmise that you are in favor of LGBT behavior. In that case you might be giving scandal. My guess is that you do not want to do anything that directly supports objectively sinful behavior. Nor you do want to be perceived as supporting it.
In this particular case, people would more likely think that you support LGBT lifestyles rather than, say, Buddhist beliefs, based on your choice of a restaurant.
This is not a black-and-white situation, however. Some people might not even know what the flag is about. They might not even notice the flag. They might just assume that customers going into the restaurant are simply hungry and aiming to get a good meal.
Or perhaps the restaurant is making a simple show of solidarity with LGBT folks, as a way of acknowledging their humanity. After all, even the Church reaches out to people who struggle in this area, without condoning their behavior.
As to your specific question: Someone who refuses to patronize an LGBT-flag restaurant might do so on the grounds of avoiding scandal and not wanting to send the wrong signal. All things considered, the risk of scandal would be less of a problem in the case of an Asian restaurant displaying a Buddha statue.
I hope some of this helps.
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