Friday, February 6, 2015

Islam, Christianity, and Barbaric Violence: Discussion of the Issues in a U.S. Catholic Forum, National Catholic Reporter

In response to an article by Sister Maureen Fiedler in National Catholic Reporter this morning about the bogus controversy following President Obama's statements that Christianity has its own history of violence to face, a Catholic regular at NCR who is ever ready to demonize Muslims, one Purgatrix Ineptiae, writes,*

Christianity was barbaric when the whole world was barbaric. Islam is still barbaric when barbarism has receded from much of the world. Isn't that different?

Islam: bad. Christianity: good. Islam: barbaric. Christianity: non-barbaric.

Do you imagine that Ms. Ineptiae thinks the practice of injecting poisons into the bloodstream of convicted criminals to execute them is not barbaric?  Last I checked, Oklahoma is in the list of the top 10 most "Christian" states in the Union. Its governor, Mary Fallin, is an outspoken Christian who has defended the right of her state to refuse to permit gay citizens to enjoy the right of civil marriage because of religious belief, and who has asked her state's inhabitants to pray for rain in periods of drought. 

Sally Kern, who's filing bills right and left of late in the Oklahoma legislature to inform her gay neighbors that they are unwelcome in her Christian state, is the wife of a Southern Baptist minister.

Christianity (of an evangelical bent) is Oklahoma. 

Along with the use of lethal injections to put human beings to death.

Or, for that matter, there's Oklahoma's neighboring state of Texas, where, as Bill Moyers reminds us, this happened in 1916:

After listening to one newscast after another rightly condemn the barbaric killing of that Jordanian air force pilot at the bloody hands of ISIS, I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept roaming the past trying to retrieve a vaguely remembered photograph that I had seen long ago in the archives of a college library in Texas. 
Suddenly, around two in the morning, the image materialized in my head. I made my way down the hall to my computer and typed in: "Waco, Texas. Lynching."
Sure enough, there it was: the charred corpse of a young black man, tied to a blistered tree in the heart of the Texas Bible Belt. Next to the burned body, young white men can be seen smiling and grinning, seemingly jubilant at their front-row seats in a carnival of death. One of them sent a picture postcard home: “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe."

In the heart of the Texas Bible Belt, as Bill Moyers writes. Only a few years before my parents were born. In Waco, home of the prestigious Southern Baptist university Baylor. A city that prides itself on being religious (that is, Christian in affiliation) at rates vastly exceeding the average in the U.S.

Moyers continues, 

When the flames died away, [Jesse] Washington’s body was torn apart and the pieces were sold as souvenirs. The party was over.

If that's not the very definition of barbaric, I'll eat my hat. And if Ms. Ineptiae imagines the vast majority of those engaged in this act of barbarism in Waco in 1916 were not Christians, then she's very much self-deluded, indeed. 

It's altogether too easy to divide the world into those stark goods and bads, in a way that lets us off the hook, and permits us to ignore the complexity, ambiguity, and, yes, continuing barbarism of our own history. The exclusion and denigration of gay human beings that Ms. Ineptiae routinely defends in NCR threads (she's there today defending Archbishop Cordileone's new anti-gay handbook for Catholic school employees in San Francisco) is nothing short of barbaric.

It assaults human dignity, makes LGBT human beings and their families miserable, and radically undercuts everything the leaders of the church say about human rights, social justice, and God as love.

And it's eminently Christian.

*Later, 3:15 P.M. CST, 6 February: I find that NCR has deleted this comment. Good for NCR.

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