Monday, April 2, 2012

NOM and USCCB: Fanning the Flames of Social Hostility (a Holy Week Meditation)

The extremism--the toxic extremism--of the bishops' understanding of religious liberty and what they intend by the term "religious liberty" has, after all, been very easy for some of us to see for some time now.  Gay Catholics, survivors of clerical sexual abuse, many Catholic women: we've wondered for some time now why our centrist Catholic brothers and sisters can't decipher with their senses what we've long deciphered with our senses.

Here's Zack Ford writing last week at Think Progress about how National Organization for Marriage documents unsealed in Maine recently demonstrate that NOM has deliberately manufactured the notion that religious liberty is under attack by gays as a gimmick to gain support for its anti-gay politics: 

The most important takeaway from these memos is that NOM’s strategy has very little to do with actually making a case against same-sex marriage. The concept of “religious liberty,” like all of NOM’s tactics, is just another scare tactic designed to alienate constituencies and stigmatize gays, lesbians, and bisexuals:
  • Scare the Latino community into believing that supporting marriage equality constitutes an abandonment of tradition and assimilation into “Anglo” culture.
  • Scare parents with threats that their children will be “sexualized” through education about homosexuality.
  • Convince the people of society that gay rights can only advance at the expense of religious freedom.

Keep in mind as you read these bullet points that the very same documents outlining these strategies centered on bogus claims about religious liberty under attack boast of the "close relationship" NOM enjoys with the Catholic bishops of the U.S., and the use of parish priests as an army of foot soldiers in NOM's (and the USCCB's) phony crusade to protect "religious liberty."  Keep in mind that the U.S. Catholic bishops have set up an initiative to promote this phony crusade to protect "religious liberty," and that the man they have heading that office, William Lori, has a deplorable anti-gay record in his former position as bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  And that he has recently been made Cardinal* Archbishop of Baltimore.

Keep in mind that the very same documents in which NOM outlines its strategy to manufacture bogus claims that gays are attacking religious liberty also say that NOM intends to fan the flames of hostility between minority communities--specifically, between African Americans, Latinos, and gays.  And so keep in mind as you read the NOM documents and think about the remarkable overlap between NOM's hate-focused anti-gay politicking and the religious liberty initiative of the U.S. bishops that any critique one makes of NOM and its anti-gay politics has to be made simultaneously of the U.S. bishops and their anti-gay politics.

And as you keep all this in mind during this Holy Week, try to imagine the Jesus now walking towards his public brutalization by mocking Roman officials, his crowning with thorns, his procession to Calvary and his crucifixion: try to imagine that Jesus, who pleads for mercy for his tormentors as he hangs on the cross and who calls for the healing of the wounds of the world, standing with NOM and the USCCB in their abuse of marginalized minority groups and their attempt to manipulate and deepen the wounds of society.

*Thanks to John Bijarney for pointing out my dumb mistake here: Lori hasn't been made a cardinal.  Yet.

The graphic is from Douglas Blanchard's series "The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision," about which Kittredge Cherry has just begun a beautiful, thought-provoking series of meditations during Holy Week at her Jesus in Love blog site.

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