On the Betrayal and Persecution of Gloria Purvis
You may recall Gloria Purvis from last week. She was the one who posted this perfectly orthodox expression of Catholic piety and was instantly whitesplained to that Jesus was Jewish:
Gloria is a faithful daughter of Holy Church who loves Jesus and believes the teachings of the Church. One would think that was sufficient. She is a smart, good woman and cares about the things of God. She has a show called “Morning Glory” over at EWTN where she has been challenging Catholics to take a hard look at America’s legacy of racism and to confront it where we see it–even in the Church.
Over at OSV, Brian Fraga did a nice profile of her recently. Here’s a taste, but do read the whole thing:
Gloria Purvis’ radio show and Twitter feed have become go-to destinations for Catholics interested in learning about the history and nature of racism in the United States and how the call to racial justice comports with the Gospel.
However, Purvis’ more active stance on race relations — sparked in large part by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, among several recent examples — also has provoked vitriol and racist insults from often anonymous individuals who accuse her of race-baiting and sacrilege when she tweets about racism and shares images of Black Catholic iconography.
“We have people who are very forcefully trying to deflect and derail the conversation, and it’s most disappointing when you see that kind of vitriol coming from your fellow Catholics,” said Purvis, the host of the EWTN radio show “Morning Glory.”
Purvis, a member of the National Black Catholic Congress’ Leadership Commission on Social Justice, has long been involved in the pro-life movement. She is a board member for the Northwest Pregnancy Center and chairperson of Black Catholics United for Life. In a recent interview with Our Sunday Visitor, Purvis described how she sees the movement for Black equality as synonymous with her pro-life activism.
Our Sunday Visitor: How is racism a life issue?
Gloria Purvis: First, it doesn’t mean that we don’t seek the legal protection of the child in the womb. I think that’s what everybody is so worried about. What it means is that because we believe in the dignity of the person from the womb to the tomb, we have a Gospel imperative to protect and defend the oppressed and vulnerable. We then have, by our Gospel call, a responsibility to defend the lives of people who are the subject of being treated unjustly because of their race.
So we need to look at not only personally racist behavior but what some people call structures of sin, which is perhaps an easier way to consider systemic racism — cultural practices, attitudes and traditions that are racist and which lead to a diminishment of Black people as human persons. We should be examining all that, because those are the many things that lead to police brutality, that lead to the devaluing of Black lives across the board, whether it’s substandard medical care, negative outcomes in education and housing. All these things come into play. At some point, someone made a deliberate decision to enact policies that on their face may not have explicitly said, “We’re going to harm this community,” but their intention was to do so, and the way these laws and practices are followed has most definitely led to that.
Our Sunday Visitor: What kind of reactions have you received to your radio segments and social media posts on racism?
Purvis: You have people who are openly hostile and angry, and don’t want me to talk about it anymore, so they’d like to eliminate any access I have to a platform to be able to speak. They outright deny that racism exists. They call me a race-baiter. They resort to name-calling, because they don’t want to confront the reality of this situation and have a conversation that is really difficult.
I’ve also had some positive experiences with people writing to me saying, “Thank you. I’ve never heard these things before, and it’s led to some self-reflection.” I will say, though, that the overwhelming hatred is palpable. So it is a light in the darkness to have people who say, “We understand this. We support you. We want to change things because we want to serve the Lord.”
Our Sunday Visitor: Where do you think the anger and hostility come from?
Purvis: The Devil. I honestly think racism is demonic. I think it’s something we’ve never bothered to contend with seriously in this country. We haven’t done it on a spiritual level. We haven’t done it in terms of our policies to really try to effect change. We’ve done things like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, which are good, but I think we still have far to go.
There is this attitude of, “Why aren’t you satisfied, Black people? It’s better than what it was.” That is an unfair question. Why should we be satisfied with anything less than being considered sons and daughters of the King and treated with that same dignity and respect that we deserve? To be satisfied with anything less than that is to be satisfied with anything less than the Gospel, and that’s not what we want.
Well, that’s not the sort of thing we hear from EWTN too often now, is it?
No. It certainly is not. And so very shortly after this interview, Guadalupe Radio Network, which is (if memory serves) the biggest EWTN affiliate, announced that Gloria was being punished:
Recently, the Guadalupe Radio Network (GRN) has made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend airing the EWTN radio show “Morning Glory” (7 AM ET & 6 AM CT) across the English stations of our network. The “Morning Glory” program has been one of our favorite Monday to Friday programs, as we have enjoyed the camaraderie, energy, and scope covered by the Hosts, and all from a Catholic perspective. This EWTN show originally started broadcasting from our own GRN studio in Washington DC during its early years of being on the air. As you also know, the current Hosts are Monsignor Charles Pope (who is a longtime GRN supporter in DC), Fr Vincent DeRosa, Deacon Harold Burke Sivers (who has spoken at several of our Fishers of Men Dinners), and Gloria Purvis (also a speaker at past GRN events). So why would we stop airing this program if we loved it so much?
Some of the accusations cast against us, in light of our decision, have assumed that we “canceled” their show because Gloria Purvis was discussing the evil of racism. Is this the case? Emphatically, NO!
Let us be clear. First, the Guadalupe Radio Network has not “canceled” the EWTN program, rather we have temporarily suspended airing the show on the GRN for reasons we will make clear in a moment. As an EWTN radio affiliate, we are in no way obligated to air any specific program provided to us from EWTN. Secondly, we are not bothered in the least that “Morning Glory” took on the difficult, but needed, topic of the evil of racism. In fact, we feel our audience is looking for a clear Catholic response to all they are seeing in our society right now. It is our hope and prayer that the issues we have raised with EWTN, in regards to “Morning Glory” will be addressed properly so that we can once again proudly air this program across the GRN. Why then did we do it if we agree that racism is evil and needs to be discussed?
During these last couple of weeks we have heard a “spirit of contention” growing among the Hosts live on-air. Yes, it is a difficult subject and can become a spirited one for sure. However, it has become more and more awkward and uncomfortable to listen to. Attached are 2 “sound bites” from shows that aired on June 17th, and June 25th. We feel it is clear that there is a real disconnect among the team, becoming more and more obvious, and we feel that should be addressed. We do not feel that this type of exchange is edifying, nor is it clarifying for anyone, especially a Catholic radio listener who wants clarity. You can hear the full shows for both June 17th and 25th at the following links https://www.ewtn.com/radio/podcasts/morning-glory-~HD.
Never before have we received as many complaints about any EWTN show as we have about Morning Glory as of late. Our efforts to try and correct the situation before were not successful. So, we felt we had no other option other than to temporarily suspend airing this program.
The unfounded and uncharitable accusations hurled at GRN, without the facts, have been terrible. As you well know, Satan is the father of lies. Unfortunately, that is what is happening here in this situation – lies are being told, and spread around, on the internet about us. We hope you will help in sharing the true story!
Our decision to temporarily stop carrying the program was not made lightly but was made after a LOT of prayer. Again, it is our hope that the “Morning Glory” team will be able to come together to correct the contention of the show to be the program that we have always loved to air across the GRN.
Gloria graciously took it in stride:
But I’m not going to. Let take a look at this bigoted, ass-covering bushwah from GRN, shall we?
The stress on this being temporary means “We know that trying to silence Gloria Purvis at the height of awareness of systemic racism in the US and the biggest unrest over civil rights in 50 years is an incredibly bad look. So what we hope to do is just put the fear of God into Gloria to shut her pie hole about racism without actually coming out and saying that. Then we will have her back on while sending the message that she learned her lesson and won’t be any trouble any more. That’s what we are hoping to achieve here.”
Then they get down to business. The real issue is their donor base of comfy white Trump supporters. “Never before have we received as many complaints about any EWTN show as we have about Morning Glory as of late.” You know, the exact same people who think that Raymond Arroyo’s sycophantic, groveling, fawning, lickspittle, butt-kissing informercials for Trump are “Catholic journalism”. If you have the stomach for it, you can see for yourself what I mean:
That is the mental world in which the angry donors to GRN (and EWTN) live and move and have their being. Is it any wonder then that, with their jitters on full alert over black people wishing not to suffocate like George Floyd, be murdered for dancing like Elijah McClain, and shot while sleeping like Breonna Taylor, these people with the worst prudence and judgment on planet Earth would suddenly have their spidey-sense detect a “spirit of contention” from the black woman saying that racism is demonic?
All you have to do is listen to the sound bites they post to hear that the problem is not a “spirit of contention” from Gloria Purvis. Rather, this is the actual dynamic:
The most incredible (and yet utterly unsurprising) part of the whole statement is the outburst of self-pity from GRN in which they have the chutzpah to complain about being victims of the lies of Satan for their gutless cowardice in stabbing a faithful daughter of Holy Church in the back and holding her up to public opprobrium for saying nothing false or uncharitable.
EWTN has, to their credit, stood by Gloria Purvis and continued to air her show. But this incident only underscores the fact that conservative Catholic media has morphed from platforming a fight against 80s theologically liberal Catholicism (the sort that offered insufferably tepid music and groovy priests with groanworthy homilies based on sports heroes and dated pop culture refs) to becoming a devoted part of the MAGA feeder belt for votes for Trump and the GOP. It responds to FOXian culture war fears, slogans, myths, and rhetoric. It sees the Holy Father as a threat. It privileges right wing junk over “liberal” facts–and it therefore inevitably sees Gloria Purvis as a threat not because she opposes the Church’s teaching, but because she upholds it.
Gloria Purvis actually believes the whole teaching of the Church, not just the bits that accessorize a right wing political agenda. She is perfectly pious and devout (which is why they gave her a show). But because she has experienced the Church and America as a black woman, she can see what the whites who run the Guadalupe Radio Network and who watch and listen to EWTN shows are blind to. And when she says what she sees, she is perceived as “contentious” (the word used to be “uppity”) because she is not harmonizing with the Republic Rite narrative that the network has blinded itself into thinking is “Catholic orthodoxy”. In short, she is a threat for the same reason the Holy Father is a threat. Because the masters of right wing Catholic media in the US are slaves to the GOP and don’t even realize it any more while she, believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, knows the truth. And the truth shall make you free.
We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).
No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.
The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven. – Nostra Aetate