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A Florida church refused to rent space to a mom who conceived her kids through IVF
"I started defending my children... Are you telling me they’re a mistake?" said Katy Rey
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A Catholic church in Florida told a woman she couldn’t host an event on their premises because, when they looked her up, they discovered she had committed the grave sin of having children through in vitro fertilization.
While it’s legal for the Church to set their own rules on these matters—and the woman says she won’t be filing a lawsuit (because it wouldn’t get anywhere)—that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what a short-sighted and hypocritical move this is on the Church’s part.
Katy Rey has been outspoken about her IVF journey on social media. She’s also, for what it’s worth, a very savvy self-promoter. (This story involved a literal press release.) Rey does a lot of life coaching and that includes an event called CelebrateYou, which, last year, was hosted in a gymnasium inside Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Dunedin without a problem.
That was the plan for next year’s event in January. Rey signed the paperwork and gave the church the down payment on the rental. But soon after, the church told her they couldn’t accommodate her request and returned the money. The reason? They looked her up and realized she promoted IVF as a treatment for infertility.
The Catholic Church opposes any kind of pregnancy that doesn’t involve one male and one female, going at it in missionary position, without any assistance (oh, and by the way, they need to double-check your birth certificates).
It’s the same reason Catholic hospitals won’t help women with infertility. They oppose “any technique used to achieve conception by the use of gametes coming from at least one donor other than the spouses.” That includes sperm donation, the use of surrogates, and in vitro fertilization (because that might involve the destruction of embryos). The Church says these things are “contrary to the covenant of marriage, the unity of the spouses, and the dignity proper to parents and the child.”
Even though Rey has spent years talking about how IVF helped her have three children, no one at the church seems to have noticed this until recently. Which is why they canceled her reservation.
“I was taken aback because my children were a beautiful collaboration between God, science and the universe, and every day I look at them, I am so grateful they are with me. This specific annual event was created with the passion I have for everyone to embrace who they are and not compare or judge each other on their journeys. I was shocked that I could be kicked out of somewhere for deciding I wanted to fight to have children and utilize resources around me.”
I’ve said this before, but it’s always shocking when people are shocked by the Catholic Church putting dogma over decency. They do it all the time and the surprise factor should have worn off by now. But everyone realizes that at different times; this just happens to be when Rey figured it out. So now she’s going public with it—and good for her.
Reporter Keely McCormick of ABC Action News covered the story and (intentionally?) included this shot outside the church, with its sign falsely claiming “ALL ARE WELCOME!”
That phrase is missing the necessary asterisk.
The reason the church’s move here is so comically inept is because there’s no doubt they ignore the “sins” of other people who rent out their space. Have they looked into the marital records of people to see if they’ve been divorced? Do they know if the people who want to use their gymnasium or attend Mass have had (or paid for) an abortion? Do they have members sign paperwork saying they oppose same-sex marriage and believe transgender people don’t really exist?
Of course they don’t. They punished Rey because she’s open about a particular position that goes against Catholic doctrine, but church leaders routinely ignore when members are quieter about it—or just hide it. That’s why they’ll go after gay Catholic school teachers who post their wedding photos online but ignore the teachers who privately have affairs or use condoms.
They would never kick out church members who oppose Catholic doctrine because the pews would empty out fast. Most practicing Catholics are far more tolerant than the pope or the Vatican. In the United States, 61% of Catholics support marriage equality while 76% believe society should be accepting of homosexuality. When it comes to trans people, they’re less understanding, with only 37% of U.S. Catholics acknowledging the existence of trans people, but that’s also in line with Americans as a whole and it’s 37% higher than the Vatican wants to see.
The fact is: Most Catholics wouldn’t be allowed in the Catholic Church if there was consistency in who the Church kicked out, but the rules punish people on an individual basis. It’s why we’ve heard plenty of stories about whether pro-choice Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi should be allowed to partake in Communion but Catholic Republicans who promote cruel, heartless policies against immigrants get a pass.
The solution, of course, would be for decent Catholics to walk away from the Church. I won’t hold my breath. In the meantime, though, they don’t have to give the Church any business. Rey has already found a different (secular) venue for her January event.
And if this story is what it took for her to realize how messed up the Catholic Church’s views are, then let’s celebrate the fact that she’s using her platform to inform others. She’s not anti-religious; she credits God and science for her children. That’s why it’s so important to hear her voice right now. You can’t accuse her of being anti-religious. Hell, she held her event at this church last year and wanted to do it again! But when someone like her, rather than someone like me, speaks out against this kind of faith-based heartlessness, it might connect with more people who wouldn’t otherwise hear the message.
Rey, incidentally, says she has a gay dad and no longer goes to any church largely because so many of them discriminate instead of judging people for who they are.