Friday, January 07, 2005

Hijacking the spirit of Christ

The past few weeks have been difficult for me. Since I starting working with other parents to oppose the recall group's attempts to control our childrens' curriculum, I've had to do a lot of research on groups and ideas that seem so profoundly driven by hatred, that I have often come away feeling physically ill.

It's difficult for me to understand the mindset of people who are so completely preoccupied with keeping other people from having even the most basic levels of rights—the right to just be able to live in this world with some kind of dignity, and to simply be left alone by people who, for whatever reason, don't like how they live their lives.

I recognize that not everyone in this world is going to be comfortable with the fact that there are and always will be gay people among us. I don't think anyone expects to be fully accepted by every other person. I know that I personally can live with the fact that not everyone is going to like me, and I suspect that most gay people accept that too.

But with all of the many ways a person can use their energy to try to change the world we live in—helping homeless people, caring for abused or neglected children, or just doing the best they can to treat others with respect—I don't understand how anyone can justify spending the most valuable resources we as human beings have—our time, our energy, and our intellectual abilities, on denying other people basic rights.

And what's most astounding, is that in this situation, it's all being done in the name of Christ.

I don't think anyone needs to be a biblical scholar to get the essence of what Christ was all about, and what his message really was. If the Gospels are to be accepted as accurate portrayals of his life, then it's clear that what he came to teach was kindness, justice, forgiveness, and peace. He taught people that they could be more than what they believed—more than what society told them they were, when they were being told they were not acceptable because of their mistakes, or their jobs, or because of where they were born, or whom they were born to. Whether of high or low birth; Jew or Gentile; tax collector, shepherd, or Pharisee; healthy or leper, Jesus treated all people the same. He taught by example to be courageous in fighting for other peoples' rights, and he never lifted a finger to deny rights to anyone.

And curiously enough, based on what's in the Bible, something Jesus never uttered a single word about, was homosexuality.

That's strange, considering that the leaders of the religious right would have us believe they are collectively the devil incarnate. These leaders have folks all riled up and filled with fear of a so-called "gay agenda." They would have you believe that gay people want to get rid of marriage, recruit and corrupt all of our children, and infiltrate our schools. They would have you believe they are all deviants and morally corrupt.

But for me, what's morally corrupt is promoting hatred and actively fighting against justice.

If you think I'm making all of this hate stuff up, read for yourself. Here's some of what the religious right (including the 'exgay' crowd) says about gay people:
"Satan uses homosexuals as pawns. They're in, as you know, key positions in the media, they're in the White House, they're in everything, they're in Hollywood now. Then, unfortunately, after he uses them, he infects them with AIDS and then they die."

Anthony Falzarano, PFOX, Janet Parshall's America, 2/27/96

Michael Johnston, head of Kerusso Ministries (an "ex-gay" conversion center): "You know, really, when you think about it -- let me just be blunt here -- when an individual 'comes out' and proclaims their homosexuality, really, what they are doing is standing up and saying, 'I'm a sexual deviant, and I'm proud of it.'"

Oct 16, 96 - Family Research Council Web site

Dr. Paul Cameron: "Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals." According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.

Mark E. Pietrzyk, News-Telegraph, March 10, 1995.

I don't know what kind of spirit would compel people to say these kinds of things, but I know it's not the spirit of Christ. This, for me, exemplifies the spirit of Christ:
"This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends"

John 15:12-13

I will leave you with words from someone who knows about hatred toward gays, and what that leads to—Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard:
Redouble efforts

On this fifth year since I lost my son, I plan to redouble my efforts to find solutions to this problem. One solution begins with parents. We have the opportunity to teach our children to understand and accept diversity long before hate can provoke violent reactions.

We can "arm" them with this education before their school years begin and require our educators to continue the job after that. Hate is a learned behavior, but it's never too late to empower a young adult with the tools to improve his or her life choices and beliefs.

If a child is taught to hate and fear diversity at home, then the next place he or she gets to practice hate is in the halls of education. Ten percent of hate crimes occur at schools and colleges. A gay teen is bashed; a disabled teen is tormented; a Jewish, black or Muslim teen is taunted. The cycle continues, until that hate-filled child becomes a citizen in our community, and sometimes, a perpetrator.

Teach your children to accept and understand diversity because the consequences of hate hurt the families of the victim. It also hurts the families of the perpetrators. Lives are ended and lives are changed forever.

Read the full story here: Five years later, progress against gay hatred lags


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this beautiful post.

Andrea Kline

January 08, 2005 4:12 PM  
Blogger bookbug said...

Besides the fact that those who oppress others in the name of the Christ have a soiled spirit, they often justify their views with quotes from the Old Testament. I personally do not see how the Old Testament fits into any kind of Christianity whatsoever. It is how the world was BEFORE Christ. Christ taught a new way. And that way was basic acceptance and forgiveness. People who quote the Old Testament do not have the right to call themselves Christians.

January 10, 2005 3:44 PM  

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