Hostages of Bigotry

I am truly disgusted by the latest moves by conservative churches to deny services to the homeless and hungry in order to protest gay civil rights ordinances by local governments.

The needs of the poor and homeless have nothing to do with the civil rights of the LGBT community. Yet these conservative churches have decided to express their displeasure over the legal protection of LGBT families by leveraging much-needed social services.

What this means is that these churches are going to refuse to serve a hot meal to a homeless family in Washington D.C. because they don’t want to respect Adam and Steve’s love and commitment to each other.

It’s a heartless political move, and they will one day be ashamed of themselves.  Right now, Christian charities that serve the hungry and homeless should be worried about filling the gap of those who are food insecure, making sure kids have enough to eat so that they can stay focused in school and learn more effectively. Instead, they are worried about their influence over local governments to continue the discrimination of LGBT people and families and deny their civil rights. It is seemingly more important to them to make a statement about homosexuality than it is to feed the hungry or shelter the homeless.

It strikes me that many conservative Christians resent being called bigots when they express their anti-gay sentiment. They claim to love gay people, but acts like this, withholding social services in the name of discrimination, this is not a loving act. It is an act of bald-faced bigotry.

I bet Jesus would overturn the tables in the temple.

Bigotry of the AFA

I subscribe to the American Family Association email alerts because I want to know what they’re up to. Mostly they send out emails about what companies you should boycott because they offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples, and its a great way for me to know that I should write to thank Wal-Mart or the Home Depot for supporting their gay and lesbian employees.

Lately, the email alerts have been particularly disturbing because they are so blatantly trying to encourage hatred and intolerance for Muslims in the US. In the midst of everything that has been happening in the last seven years, this is very dangerous.

In November, I received an email telling me I should write to my representatives asking them to support legislation that would require that all elected officials take the oath of office on the Bible. This was in response to the announcement that Keith Ellison, the first elected Muslim in the US (go Minnesota!) planned to take his oath of office on the Quran.

I was livid. This is craziness. There are so many things wrong with this. First, what about the separation of church and state? Second, what about freedom of religion? Third, what about freedom of speech? I could go on about the fact that any oath that a Muslim would take on the Bible would be meaningless to that person, or how we should take a note from the Quakers don’t take oaths because they believe that they should be truthful all of the time. But this is like trying to have a rational argument with an irrational person.

This past week, I received a survey from the AFA on Islam. I’m sure they ramped up again because of all of the folks taking office in Washington this week, including Keith Ellison. Again, they got on their bandwagon of intolerance and peppered their constituents with questions about their opinion of Islam in America. The questions reveal an agenda to spread misinformation and hatred of Muslims, taking advantage of an already tense and fearful climate.

All of this scares, angers, and saddens me. It is so wrong, and I wish that it weren’t out there in the public sphere because of the hateful attitudes is espouses. On the other hand, I think its ultimately good that the AFA is revealing its blatant hate-mongering agenda. Let the people see it for what it is.

I identify as a Christian, a mantle I have reclaimed in recent years because I was tired of a small and hateful minority plucking my religious tradition out of my spiritual life. In the spirit of ecumenism, I do not begrudge the AFA from claiming its Christian identity. However, they are hijacking a peaceful tradition that is about unconditional love and radical social justice.

The AFA promotes bigotry thinly veiled behind a mask of Christianity that they claim gives them a moral high-ground. I am pleased that they are showing themselves more and more as the bigots they really are, making it clear that they alone are responsible for shaping the hateful attitudes they hold about those who are different from them.

Yesterday, Keith Ellison was sworn in as the first Muslim member of Congress using a Quran that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. I am proud that my home state of Minnesota elected him.