Friday, June 20, 2014

What Do You Do When Everyone Else Throws a Human Rights Party, but Your Church Leaders Pitch a Fit Instead?

What do you do when you belong — when you chose to belong — to a church which preaches that every human being deserves human rights, including the right to work, to adequate medical care, to shelter, to freedom from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and in healthcare, but which waffles on all of those rights when the discussion of human rights turns to you? Which, when the discussion turns to you, waffles simply because you're gay.

What do you do when you've chosen to belong to a church whose catechism states (§2358), "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their [i.e., those who are gay] regard should be avoided," but whose "apostolic nuncio" to your nation attends a public event designed to demonize you just because of who God happens to have made you to be?

An event at which people freely display signs that say things like this about you and others like you:

On the same day that another Christian church makes this decision . . . . 

What do you do when you turn to what's regarded as your country's most liberal newspaper in your particular church tradition to read the daily news, and you come across something like this, written by someone who contributes regularly to the discussions at this newspaper's website, and which is very similar to what she writes repeatedly in these discussions — from which she is never banned for making such statements? 

But from a medical and public health perspective there are also excellent reasons not to place children in a home in which homosexual activity takes place. Explicit allusion to these reasons will, obviously, get a comment disappeared, but anybody with a scintilla of imagination knows what the mechanism is. (Just read the signs in the photographs of the NOM rally.) 
If it were merely a case of people doing things that harm only their own health, one could turn a blind eye, as with smoking and over-eating. But when there is danger of contagion, and especially danger of contagion to vulnerable children who are placed at risk before they are able to consent, adults have an obligation to protest on their behalf.

And so you have to go through the weary work of once again flagging this contributor's hate-filled comment, which is designed to elicit gross prejudice against the minority group to which you happen to belong, knowing that she'll be back all over again another day to post similar toxic statements at this website representing the "liberal" values of your faith community, even when this particular comment may eventually be removed from the discussion thread, as the preceding comment finally was. (It was in response to this article and was by one Purgatrix Ineptiae.)

What do you do when the church to which you have chosen to belong preaches what it does not practice — what it egregiously does not practice — in your case, and those who are part of the liberal commentariat of your church, the people who pay lip service to your church's generous teachings about human rights and social justice, write nonsense like this in response to your president's announcement that he intends to issue an executive order protecting you and others like you from discrimination?

The Obama administration appears ready to wade into the murky waters of anti-discrimination policy.  . . . 
We tend to forget that the 1964 Civil Rights Act included robust exemptions for religious organizations out of deference to First Amendment concerns. But, you can bet this administration is unlikely to recognize the value of such robust exemptions.   . . . 
While all of us fund the lawyers at the Department of Justice with our tax dollars, those who draft regulations should be cognizant of the fact that religious organization should not have to shell out tons of money to their lawyers to defend what has been common practice in federal policy, the enactment of generous exemptions out of deference to the vital role religious organizations play in our society.

Because anti-discrimination initiatives protecting the human rights of everyone, are, you understand, "murky." The obligation to protect everyone from discrimination is not a bright and shining line within religious traditions, a line that must not waver under any circumstances, since injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, as Dr. King told us. 

That line should, the best and brightest of your tradition want to inform you from their bully perches, waver when you happen to be the object of the discussion about nondiscrimination, since "religious organizations" must be afforded special rights to discriminate when they choose to discriminate. Even though they preach that discrimination is wrong!

"Religious organizations" need to have "robust exemptions" of the kind they were afforded in 1964 when religion was used to justify discrimination against people on grounds of skin color. Just because. Because they're religious, for goodness's sake.

(And you, of course, aren't part of what these liberal commentariat types mean when they use the word "church," since you are, by definition, the antithesis of what is meant by church or religion. You have no voice at all — no mechanisms are ever established to solicit your input or to make your voice heard — when your own human life is discussed in the most intimate of details by members of your church defining that human life without your contribution. You are the perpetually defined, not the definer, even of your own personhood, and it behooves you not to forget this!)

And what do you when other members of your church's liberal commentariat, its journalistic and academic best and brightest, write nonsense like this in response to an announcement that a presidential order will soon prohibit discrimination against you and others like you, if you're a federal employee?

The timing of the Obama announcement could not have been worse, just before the U.S. bishops' Fortnight of Freedom, which begins June 21. Up until now, the fortnight focused on the bishops' opposition to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The Obama announcement will undoubtedly spur Catholic bishops to redouble their efforts to rouse public opinion to see this as another threat to religious liberty.

What do you do when that statement seems nothing more than a polite liberal version of this statement from the rabid right wing of your church, so that the "centrist" position defended by your best and brightest liberal journalists  and academics really coalesces with (and is a cover for) the rabid right wing of your church — and never for those defending that bright and shining line of human rights that should never waver and is at the very heart of your church's teaching about social justice and human rights?

According to the National Catholic Reporter, the Obama White House claims that “in preparing the order it will listen to all interested parties.” Yeah right! That sounds familiar. We know where that led last time. It led to the Obama team shoving its progressive agenda right down our throats. 
So, get set for another big fight. Just like with the HHS Mandate, we’re not going to budge. We refuse to go down without a fight. This is far too important an issue.

What do you do when the bigots who use your church's teachings and tradition not to heal but to inflict wounds on you and others like you argue loudly for years that they aren't like the bigots of the past — say, the kind who wanted to use religious warrants to deny human rights to people on the basis of skin color — but now turn around and say that they should be given the same "generous exemptions" afforded to bigoted people of faith in 1964? When they turn around and press this argument now that they're losing their battle to demonize gay folks in the name of God, and are finally willing to admit that this new battle is simply the latest iteration of the same kind of battle we saw in the 1950s and 1960s over the issue of race?

Same-sex marriage is, of course, not the first issue to divide Americans. Slavery, segregation, and abortion led to civil war, vigilante violence, and massive protest movements. 
But opponents of same-sex marriage say that even in those instances there was détente after passions cooled. One-time segregationists remained in the upper echelons of American public life through the 1990s. This time, opponents of same-sex marriage fear that supporters will not be happy until their side has been run out of polite society and forced to retract their previously held views.

What do you do when your church, the church to which you've chosen to belong, preaches against bigotry, but demands "generous exemptions" to practice bigotry? Just because. Because it's gay folks with whom we're dealing, for God's sake!

And when the "apostolic nuncio" of your church attends a faith-based "march" that is all about attacking you and others like you, at which the leader of a movement to deny rights to your sort in France, who belongs to your church and has just met with the top leader of your church for a generous photo-op session featuring her next to that smiling leader, attends that same event? An event organized and funded very largely by people representing your own church? At which an top leader in your church who runs the church of a major city full of people like you proudly and defiantly participates in this "march" that appears to the public actually to be sponsored by your very own church?

Here's what you do: you run. Away. As fast as you can.

Because all that you believe in, all that drew you to that church in the first place, is so grossly belied by what your church is actually doing in your case and that of others like you, that you have no choice except to run. To find spiritual support and community someplace else.

If you really happen to believe in the human rights teachings of your own church (and the gospels), that is . . . . 

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