For the briefest of moments, Sister John Bauer’s sparkling smile — framed by her nun’s habit, as she held the 10-point, 200-pound buck she bagged in Elk County, about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh — went viral statewide.
Within hours, the photo of the Elk County Catholic High School teacher received more than a million views on the Erie County Roman Catholic Diocese’s Facebook page.
She told local reporters she didn’t understand all the fuss: "In St. Marys, this is what you do. You go hunting. And everybody goes hunting. The coach, myself. The students."
She learned to hunt while serving in the Navy.
She bagged the buck on deer season’s opening day; after three hours alone in her tree stand, waiting for a target to pass by, she prayed the rosary.
"After I realized I got the deer, I thanked God," she said, explaining that she views hunting as a spiritual endeavor and a form of conservation, a way to help ensure the deer population can be sustained by the land.
She shared the butchered meat — sausage and steaks — with two families.
Within days, the nearby Erie Diocese removed the Facebook post because of nasty comments posted by activists who apparently were offended enough by guns, God and hunting to feel justified in reacting offensively and lewdly.
God, guns and prayer have been intertwined as enemies of the political left ever since Barack Obama described Pennsylvania voters as being "bitter" over job losses and surmised that "they cling to guns or religion."
Despite handily winning this state twice, his and the left’s hatred for the very people who voted for him has never waned. As with everything else he dislikes about traditional American culture, he has sought to "correct" the behavior of those people.
Last week, that corrective zeal reached an entirely new level when the left condemned the act of offering thoughts and prayers to the grieving, treating it as code for gun ownership.
The left wants religion confined to the four walls of a house of worship for a few hours on Sundays.
It tolerates the invocation of religion — mostly, the Gospel of Luke — only when necessary to coerce the devout to spend more money on government aid programs. The left uses religious metaphors as a way to reach the rabble; otherwise, it doesn’t respect it.
This is no different than the left’s occasional references to believing in our "hunting heritage" and "sporting traditions" instead of simply believing in a right to self-defense and gun ownership.
When the left unleashed aggressive social-media condemnations of people and politicians who offered prayers for those lost in the San Bernardino terror attack, many Americans (not just Republicans) were stupefied, angry — and then totally depressed to realize we had passed a tipping point.
The incident has caused Main Street Americans to confront the challenges their kids and grandkids will face in a post-Christian America.
American leftists have made a religion out of government; they were angry, not because people called for appeals to a higher being, but because it was to God — not government.
The left does not want Americans to lift up victims in prayer because it wants us to seek solace in public policy. Left-wing politicians think religion is an opiate for the masses, and they want to take the rabble off that drug.
It was no accident that this outburst of liberal anger included both guns and religion. The modern urban-coastal left believes guns and religion are totems for fools.
Even many liberal religious leaders have use for prayer only when it does not get in the way of liberal secular political aims.
That is why the liberal Interfaith Alliance, right after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, sent out a news release sharing sympathies and prayers with families of those attacks’ victims. Yet that same group ripped on prayer in the aftermath of the terror attack on American soil, declaring: "It’s time for a moratorium on thoughts and prayers."
Shaming the call for prayer in America is tragic. It is shaming our most basic freedoms, and it is the left’s way to finally break through on shaming gun ownership — correcting what they see as one of America’s great fault lines.
Salena Zito covers politics for Trib Total Media ([email protected]).