Mallory McMorrow brought lessons from a Catholic upbringing and four years at the University of Notre Dame to her breakout moment in front of the state Senate last week.
In a speech Tuesday that went mega-viral, she scorched Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton for "performative nonsense" such "writing 'Christian' in your Twitter bio and using that as a shield to target and marginalize already marginalized people." (Six days earlier, McMorrow walked out during a session-opening invocation by Sen. Lana Theis, who said: "Our children are under attack. There are forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know.")
McMorrow, a first-term Democrat from Royal Oak, wants to to "reclaim faith from people who were using it as a weapon to hate people," she says in a Religion News Service" interview posted this weekend.
Here are five excerpts from her replies to the nonprofit site at the University of Missouri School of Journalism:
♦ Senate speech goal: "Frankly, part of what I wanted to do this week is reclaim faith from people who were using it as a weapon to hate people."
♦ 'Performative Christianity:' "We’ve seen throughout history that religion and faith can be incredibly powerful and a source of hope and community. But it can also be used for really dark things.
"That is, I think, what we’re seeing play out right now: this performative Christianity and this idea that if you say in your Twitter bio that you're a wife and a Christian, that somehow that gives you authority to tell anybody who isn't that they're less than and to push policies and rhetoric that's just hateful. That’s why I walked out of the [April 13] prayer. ...
"We [legislators] are all in service to 10 million people in the state of Michigan, and usually it [the invocation] is fairly innocuous and really talks about that responsibility, and we can come together and hopefully we can find guidance. This was a thinly veiled attack on the gay community, on the LGBTQ community, trying to use sort of similar language as Florida's 'Don't Say Gay" bill and claim our children are under attack."
♦ Why words matter: "It's the hypocrisy to say 'our children are under attack' while not caring about those [LGBTQ] kids, that they don't count. I just found that so disgusting and such a misuse of prayer. ...
"You can't simultaneously claim you are a person of faith and you want to protect children without really taking a step back and thinking about how your words impact others. … You can't just throw words around."
♦ Her religious foundation: "I was raised Catholic, and we were very active in our church growing up. I sang in the choir, my mom taught CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, or Sunday school). We were active not only every week, but in the middle of the week and there all the time. ...
"The things that I really liked and were really positive were the sense of community and giving back. That was always something that I held very personally."
♦ College years (2004-08): "One of the things that drew me to Notre Dame was that it was still grounded in service. I would attend services in our dorms because you could show up in your pajamas. It was given by our rectors, and it was much more casual.
"I loved our comparative religion class. I loved learning about all of the similarities between Catholicism and the Jewish faith and the Muslim faith. It was just tearing down the idea that we’re so different when there’s so much that is actually similar. ...
"I hold (then-university president] Father Theodore Hesburgh up in very high regard as somebody who recognized his position, his privilege as a faith leader and as a white man. ... He was on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement well before it was popular, and to me that is what Christianity is all about -- faith and service."