“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many of my readers know me personally, and therefore are quite aware that one of my major, major problems with religion is…well, many of them hate me. Especially the big ones. If you’re a member of one of the Big Three, no matter what your personal feelings on the matter, your holy book considers me to be an evil aberration. You can choose to ignore that, and I encourage you to do so, but it’s there, it’s a part of what you’re supposed to believe, and if you don’t, you’re doing it wrong. Personally, I’m really glad you’re doing it wrong since I’m allergic to large rocks being thrown at my head.
Why do I say you’re doing it wrong? Because your leaders are saying the same thing. For example, if you’re pro-equality and Catholic, you can be assured that you’re contributing to the end of humanity. Quoth the Pope, in context of protecting the family, “…based on the marriage of a man and a woman”:
“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
Am I the only person that considers it hard to follow the catechism section 2358 that demands that Catholics treat LGBT people “with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” while also saying that they’re responsible for the end of humanity? I can at least say this isn’t as crazy-wacky as the following from the Bishop of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernández, who said:
“The Minister for Family of the Papal Government, Cardinal Antonelli, told me a few days ago in Zaragoza that UNESCO has a program for the next 20 years to make half the world population homosexual. To do this they have distinct programs, and will continue to implant the ideology that is already present in our schools.”
And let us not forget Archibishop Timothy Dolan (wasn’t he a part of the Monkees?), the guy who compares living in a place with marriage equality to living in China or North Korea and spent a gathering of the organization he is president of, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, not talking about how to combat poverty or income inequality, choosing instead to focus on stopping gay marriage and reproductive rights. That guy has signed an open letter with 40 other religious leaders, including Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and H. David Burton, presiding bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, calling for a protection of their religious freedom to deny rights to other people (much like the Civil War was about “states’ rights,” i.e. the rights of states to keep human beings as pets). I wonder what Archbishop, soon to be Cardinal, Dolan, has to say about other moral failings?
But it’s not all Catholics. We also have a number of black Protestants teaming up with the likes of Pete LaBarbara, Linda Harvey, Matt Barber, and a whole lot of other liars and charlatains to whine about their religious liberty (I again point out, the freedom to deny rights to others) and, in the case of the black churches, how unfair it is that gay people want civil rights and that’s what they fought for regarding racial issues, so clearly the LGBT community is taking their movement away. Likely they are fairly under-educated on that movement or they would know figures like Bayard Rustin and how vital they were to the black civil rights movement, but a culture propagated by the myth so closely held by these men made Rustin and those like him disappear from the pages of history.
I could absolutely go on and on, but it’s not necessary. If you’re reading this, you probably know how discriminatory religious communities can be, and how sick it is that they’ve taken up the argument that it’s a violation of their religious liberty when society includes people they don’t like. I do recognize, however, that not all believers, certainly not all Christians, buy into this claptrap. However, arguments like “nobody takes them seriously,” “not all [insert believer here] are like that,” and “they’re in the minority,” just aren’t cutting it any more. Lots of powerful people take them seriously, while most by a vast majority aren’t, far too many are like that, and their minority status is meaningless when they’re the only ones doing the talking.
Ok, today I’m talking to moderate Christians. Nothing personal, guys, you know I love you, but I really, really need you to step up. Let’s be honest, I’m not even talking to every moderate Christian, but I am talking to the ones who can do more, who sit quietly, who are loving and accepting and say nothing when people preach hate around them. If you guys are going to worship a guy rumored to have been a rabble-rousing troublemaker who upset the normal religious order in the name of love and goodness, it’s time to be more Christ-like.
Listen, I’m not trying to scold here, but I think a lot of you don’t know what you can do. And there’s a whole lot of options out there for the moderate Christian on the go. Here’s some examples:
1. Stand up for all rights Not just some rights, all rights. If you see somebody being discriminated against, don’t let it go. It’s easier for not only the oppressed to believe that you care, which can be difficult given the deafening silence we hear from you guys when things are tough, but also makes our (that’s you and me) opponents take you more seriously.
I’ll give you an example: Jessica Alhquist is not queer. She’s an atheist who recently won a court case to have a banner entitled “School Prayer” that began with “Our Heavenly Father” and ended with “Amen” taken down as a violation of the Establishment Clause. The case was open and shut, but since agreeing to be the plantiff in the case, she has received harassment, death threats, and condemnation, even from her state representative who called her “an evil little thing” for having the temerity to stand up for the Constitution that this elected official considers meaningless. Since then, atheists have been helping to defend her from the outpouring of Christian love she’s received on her Twitter and YouTube accounts, including death and rape threats. Go and support her. Tell her that even though you believe something different, you respect her, and shout down the people giving you guys a bad name. Just saying you support somebody is nice, but it’s better to be there to hold them when they stumble, and even better to do that publicly.
Similarly, if there’s something I’m missing, let me know and I’ll be there. I try to stay informed, I know it’s hard, but just read here and I’ll happily point you to places where we can use the help. And leave me comments if you can use the help as well.
2. Be informed and inform others This is a tough one. It requires research. Not a ton of it, but enough to know what the common arguments are and why they don’t stand up to scrutiny. Use reason, logic, and knowledge to support the point, and when it comes time, let others know. Don’t let your friends get away with “innocent” bigotry, gently inform them of why what they’re doing is wrong.
2a. Talk to your religious leader One of the major problems with the use of religion to promote discrimination is that it sometimes takes people off guard. Who knew that the kindly old guy at the pulpit was capable of spewing vitriol of that magnitude the minute somebody mentioned gay marriage? So don’t be surprised. Set some time aside, talk to your pastor/preacher/minister/priest/shepard/whatever, find out what they believe. If they’re pro-equality, ask them to preach about it more directly and the importance of being active in the fight. If they’re anti-equality, find out why and be ready to argue about why it’s not in line with their professed beliefs. They may not agree, but it’s important you give it a shot and not let casual bigotry pass unmentioned.
3. Don’t assume a vocal minority is as ineffective as you seem to think. One thing that can be said for the most vocal supporters of discrimination: they have power disproportionate to their numbers. They do this by being loud, being active, and being politically significant. You can do all of those. You may be in the majority, but your silence renders that majority meaningless. This goes for any moderate movement that claims it’s not as bad as the extremists but watches without protest while those extremists run the show.
So, you think that homophobia is wrong? Refuse to vote for any candidate that expresses it, and make it known to them by calling or emailing their campaigns. Don’t like anti-equality protests? Go out and counterprotest (there are more of you, after all). Tired of hearing all of these famous preachers saying stupid things? Search out and promote those who say smart things in the name of your faith. They’re there and can use the link love as much as your friends might need the education. In fact, try being one of those people if you’re not already.
Guys, I love the support. Really, I do. But those who want to deny me my rights while simultaneously ruining your faith are not content to listen and shake their heads when they hear something they disagree with. They shout, they bang on the walls, they make a huge deal out of every little thing that doesn’t cater directly to their desire to be the dominant faith, and they won’t shut up until somebody shuts them up. We’re trying, but we’re a minority even compared to that minority. We need your numbers, we need your love, we need you to be active and passionate.
Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Not only did he say the quote at the head of his post, he also said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Don’t be silent. I know you have lives and it’s a lot to ask to put them on hold, even for a few hours occasionally, but if you do nothing besides talk to your religious leader about being active in loving LGBTs and tell your friends to stop using “gay” as a pejorative around you, that’s something.
But just being nice isn’t enough. I’m sorry, it isn’t. We need you to stand with us, not just avoid standing against us. We need you to not just be nice to our face, but to show kindness in the face of adversity. We need your voices to make our chorus loud enough to drown out the voices of hate that sing in your name.