Well, folks, progress has been hijacked by the usual suspects – vapid votaries of the one true god.
This week, Georgia’s General Assembly supported the faithful’s right to discriminate. According to the proposal, the government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a law, rule, regulation, ordinance or resolution of general applicability.”
Although it hasn’t been signed yet by Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal (and there’s some doubt whether he will), the bill also makes provisions for protecting faith-based organizations from incurring penalties upon refusing to provide “social, educational or charitable services that violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” Consequently, they’ll also be able to discriminate in hiring practices if the applicant’s religious beliefs differ from that of the organization.
Of course, we’re really only talking about the gays. Or so says State Senator Greg Kirk, a Republican (gasp!).
“When the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage, dynamics changed. There was a need for a law, this law, and it took Georgia to lead the way of the country to put this law together.”
(What is it with these people and their fucking unnavigable syntax?)
Why should we give anyone free rein to discriminate based on an old book that encourages slavery, the slaughtering of captives and the stoning of disobedient sons? Why should we listen to rabid preachers and “prayer warriors” who use their faith as a bludgeon? Why shouldn’t we unmask shallow interpretations of scripture, which are metaphorical texts describing the psycho-spiritual landscape of the human experience? We should all demand more from the spiritual traditions which have held countless people at literal and metaphorical gunpoint for thousands of years.
Standing politely behind some invisible line in the sand – linked, no doubt, to the invisible god in the sky – we give people of faith a pass for their levitical rhetoric, because we’ve been taught not to talk about religion or politics. Even Michael B. Curry, the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal church, and an all-around progressive, remarkable man (also the first black presiding bishop) was more intent on playing nicey-nice during an Episcopal conference than taking bigots to task. In his interview this week with the New York Times, he was asked about his support of gay marriage (yay!) and how he presented his position to African church leadership who are opposed to same-sex marriage. With great political acumen, he said of his fellow clergy, “I respect their differences and their different perspectives.”
It’s no longer enough that we sing kumbaya with people complicit in torment and murder. When religious leaders whip up the public to hate others, that means that God must support the denigration of said others; therefore, putting men-who-lie-with-men to death is doing God’s will. This is how homophobia has strengthened its death grip in the 2,000 years since Christianity wrapped its tentacles around the globe. Clergy are closer to God. Clergy tell us what to do. We do what the clergy says. Therefore, we are closer to God. Quid pro quo.
Bishop Curry talks about God’s love not being “coercive,” so he has to “respect [his] brothers and sisters on this question, enough not to be coercive.” But it’s important to remember that Christ didn’t just stroke people’s turned cheeks and tell them to love their neighbors as themselves. He also censured the corrupt, the cruel and the powerful who thought it was their business to interpret God’s will for the rest of us. When things got tough, he got tougher, because holding compassion for the world means you’ve got to respond to everyone in the way that is most effective for a world where love is the only law. If you want a flourishing garden, you’ve got to rip out the weeds.
But never mind fine theological points. Most of the faithful are only interested in being told what to do, not in discovering who they are.
Until next Sunday… the heretic’s day.
In others news of the faithful:
The pontiff is fast reaching rock star status, as evidenced by his new Instagram account, #papalpalace. There’s also rumors out that Francis is going to hand Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano a pink slip. He’s the guy who seemingly tricked the pope into meeting with the unkempt Kim Davis during his U.S. tour.
Divinity schools are foregoing gothic courtyards overlooked by saints in favor of online education with some going so far as to downplay theological competency in favor of people skills. Sure, the bible is a lot of hokum, but shouldn’t you have read it a few times to be a minister?
ISIS’ culture of rape among their prisoners and the obsession with giving them birth control was a hot article for the New York Times two weeks ago prompting them to follow-up with a series of readers’ questions about the topic. Strangely, no one made the connection that women imprisoned and tortured by madmen are having an easier time getting birth control than women in the U.S., who routinely can’t afford it.
Boko Haram employed women as suicide bombers at a Nigerian mosque. So, women, denigrated by Islam, are blowing up mosques. How Jungian.