Fargo Faints: Catholic Teen Refused Confirmation After Pro-Gay Marriage Photo Posted on Facebook

The media in Fargo, North Dakota were scandalized when a nearby Minnesota priest informed the parents of Lennon Cihak that he would not be confirmed in the local Catholic church after he posted a picture on Facebook supporting gay marriage (or a No vote on the traditional-marriage ballot initiative). Naturally, the liberal parents – who agree with their son – were shocked, shocked that the church would stand for something.

“You kind of know the Catholic beliefs, but I never thought they would deny somebody confirmation because you weren’t 100 percent. I guess that’s what shocks me,” Shana Cihak said. That’s exactly how the Fargo Forum sold it:

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – If you want to be a Catholic, you have to be 100 percent Catholic.

That’s the lesson one family here learned after their 17-year-old son was denied confirmation after the priest at the Assumption Church here found a pro same-sex marriage post on the teen’s Facebook.

Neither the priest nor the local bishop spoke to the newspaper (and reporters somehow aren't smart enough to figure out that "confirmation" is a sacrament where the believer says he or she accepts the entirety of the Catholic faith. It's not a graduation ceremony that you get to attend if you pass a test.)  So they felt free to just champion the liberal family, who agree with their son on the political question:

Lennon said fellow students in his confirmation class “liked” the photo on Facebook, but they were still allowed to be confirmed.

“I just thought it was wrong to single him out,” Shana said.

Her husband, Doug Cihak, agreed.

“(LaMoine) was talking about ‘God doesn’t believe in this.’ Well, God created Lennon,” said Doug, adding that he was baptized and raised in the same church.

But now the family is not allowed to participate in Communion there, Doug said, and he’s worried as to how far the sanctions will go, expressing concern about being able to be buried alongside his parents.

Still, Doug insists he’s not mad at LaMoine, calling him just a “messenger” of the church. The same could not be said for his wife, who said she doesn’t plan on returning to the church ever again, her son nodding in agreement.

“You should be able to go to a church for support, help,” Lennon said. “He pushed me away.”

But the ending was the biggest “facepalm” of all:

“But through it all, Lennon said his faith hasn’t faltered.

“I don’t want the church to be put down. I don’t want the Catholic religion to be put down,” he said. “It’s just the way the priest has things running. He’s so strict. He won’t loosen up about things.”

Naturally, Lennon wanted to "give peace a chance."

Liberals never seem to understand that when you join a church (or even when you are raised from birth in a church), it might take certain moral positions that do not change. They always expect churches to "loosen up about things." The local CBS affiliate WDAY also let the liberal argument dominate:

On Barnesville's Main Street, from the beauty salons to cafes, 17-year old Lennon Cihak was the talk of the town. A much respected teen-ager who is known for his work ethic and music. Ask his next door neighbors, the Raftevolds.

LoAnn Raftevold/Lennon's Neighbor: "The controversy started here at Assumption Catholic Church in Barnesville, where the priest refused confirmation after Lennon made a post on Facebook supporting a No vote on Minnesota's Gay Marriage Ammendment. The priest met with Lennon's parents, that not only supported their son, but shared his opinion. Even the Bishop at the Diocese in Crookston would not grant Lennon an appeal. Friends who liked Lennon's post on Facebook got confirmed, Lennon did not."

Lennon's family did not want to speak on camera about the story, but Grandma Cihak sure did.

Dianne Cihak goes to the same church. She's disappointed in her church. Proud of her grandson.

Dianne Cihak/grandmother: "It is a shock for the family. All baptized, married here at Assumption. Now the couple says they cannot even have communion here. Lennon's mother says she won't return. A church, she says, should be welcoming people, not pushing them away."

We contacted the diocese of Crookston for a comment on the story. The Bishop is out of town right now.

Some responsibility for this liberal tilt has to be put on the doorstep of the church and the Bishop's office. When you make a decision like this, it should be entirely expected that the secular liberal press will be highly agitated. It's a chance to preach the church's message. A "No comment" is no way to win hearts and minds.

As someone who teaches the sacrament of confirmation, if I had been in that parish, I would followed all the reporters around and made sure they balanced the story out. They clearly had no professional interest in a fair and balanced story.

(HT Daily Kos, which wrote, "Pope Ratzinger’s plan for a smaller, purer Church continues swimmingly.")

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis