Thursday, June 19, 2008

Concerned Women of America Are Concerned!

I've just listened to an audio clip of an interview with Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America. Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) interviewed her on 17 June (

Of course, she's on about gay marriage. To shore up her argument that legal acceptance of gay marriage may force people of faith to violate their religious beliefs, she cites the case of Catholic Charities in Boston.

As Ms. Wright notes, in March 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston closed its doors, rather than accede to legal requirements that it place adopted children with gay couples. Ms. Wright uses this case as an example of how churches and people of faith may increasingly be required to do what their faith forbids, if we permit gay marriage.

What Ms. Wright does not say--and what her organization must know, due to its high-profile position and its constant monitoring of the news--is significant. She does not note that in December 2005, the 42-member board of Catholic Charities in Boston voted unanimously to continue adoptive services to gay parents--services already being provided by Catholic Charities of Boston. Nor does she note that when the Massachusetts bishops drew a line in the sand in 2006 and forced Catholic Charities to stop providing adoption to gay parents, eight board members resigned in protest.

This is the worm in the apple of the argument of the religious right, when it comes to these purported clashes of religious freedom and legal requirements in a democratic society: some people of faith do not favor discrimination. Some people of faith are moved by their faith to build participatory democracies in which everyone has a place at the table.

It is not self-apparent to many people of faith that being a Christian requires demonization of gay human beings, discrimination against gay human beings, second-class citizenship for gay human beings. Or, for that matter, lying and cheating and employing banal legal tricks to foster hatred of gay human beings and to silence free, honest discourse about the lives of gay human beings.

On the day Ms. Wright appeared on CBN, Concerned Women announced a day of fasting and prayer to ask God to stop gay marriage . . . implying, of course, that they own God and that all believers stand solidly with them in their crusade to deny fundamental rights to gay persons (see A California-based group calling itself Protect Marriage (which is endorsed by Concerned Women) has just announced a similar 40-day fast--see

When I read about these fasts, I ask myself if these biblically-based groups that are so intent on following God's word literally have read Isaiah 58:6. Are they aware of the kind of fast their Lord approves, according to Isaiah?

Are they aware that the Jewish prophets lambasted those who thought they could turn God into a puppet--their puppet--through religious chicanery like fasts and rituals? Fasts and rituals disconnected from religious observance. Religious observance focused on living lives of mercy connected to justice.

The Isaiah text states, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"

When I hear of the concerns of Concerned Women of America, curiously enough, loosing the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, and breaking every yoke are not the first things that leap to my mind.

More's the pity. These Christians groups might convince us of the legitimacy of their crusade against gay human beings if they more transparently demonstrate a concern to be faithful to God's word and to fast in the way God chooses . . . . Somehow, when I hear the phrase "Concerned Women of America," I tend to think of laying yokes on folks' shoulders, rather than vice versa.

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