Saturday, April 15, 2017
Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, April 15, 2017 - Freedom of Religion to Discriminate? Prove it.
It should come as no surprise that the ultra-religious in this country would prefer to turn to their scripture as proof of the right to exclude, discriminate, harass, and literally reprogram those who do not conform to their idea of a “proper” human being. However, there is no religious law which allows that. On the contrary, religion requires us to exist in a state of welcoming for others. Especially those with whom we disagree. If the LGBTQ community is their enemy, why are they not loving their enemy as their teacher has instructed?
Someday I would like to see a judge ask someone requesting from the court permission to turn away, fire, evict, or attack someone based on their sexuality or gender identity what proof they have that their religion compels them to these actions. When will an officer of the court insist that they demonstrate incontrovertible proof that they are directed to exclude or harm anyone? Even where it says that homosexuality is outside of tradition (which is what the original text actually says, rather than the mistranslation of “abomination”), it does not prescribe hostility as the solution.
Christianity in particular. It would seem to me that the easiest way to end the discussion is to ask: Who is the leader of the Christian movement? The answer would of course be, Jesus. What does Jesus say about homosexuals? Nothing. It’s the difference between Christianity and Biblicanism. Jesus did not agree with everything in what ultimately became the Bible. Christianity is the practice of the teachings of Jesus, including his disagreements with the old ways. Biblicanism is the blind adherence to all things Biblical, including its open contradictions.
Ultimately, it isn’t about what Jesus didn’t say, but rather what he did say that matters. His teachings about nonresistance, forgiveness, compassion, hospitality and empowerment easily trump all scripture to the contrary. We are expected to love our neighbor, our enemies, and be welcoming to those who appear lost. Even prisoners who have committed a legitimate crime are supposed to be visited and cared for, despite the personal feelings of the caregiver about the crime they may have committed. It is explicitly not their place to judge.
Some have concluded that since Jesus didn’t talk about it, he must have been in agreement with the rules of the Old Testament advocating not to lie with man as with woman. But Jesus was not always a fan of the Old Testament either. And while he didn’t offer a law by law commentary on all 613 rules, what he did offer is telling enough. He turns the old rules on their heads. “You have heard it said, ‘eye for an eye,’ But I tell you, turn the other cheek.”
The arc of history is proving this reality for us. The old ways did not bring people together, they keep people apart—exactly the opposite of what religion expects of us. The world is changing for the better in spite of the ultra-religious’ desire to return to the old ways. And that’s exactly how it should be. Take comfort in being on the right side of history. Love those who are incapable of loving us return. It’s just good advice.
Posted by Wil Darcangelo at 12:00 AM