Hate Unleashed in DC: A Religious Value?

Christian clergy will spew hatred in Washington DC on Monday.  Their fury has been aroused by the new Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.   Venomous, hate-filled language is an odd thing for religious folk to spend time on.  Imagine that energy being used to promote compassion, love, mercy, justice or feeding the hungry. Gay and lesbian people are the target of this vitriol.  Religiously motivated disdain and hatred are not pretty.  Or spiritual.  Why this bizarre confluence of hate toward LGBT people?

The organizers of the Rally for Religious Freedom say they want to raise “alarm” over the new hate crimes law.  They claim that the new legislation infringes on their religious right to rail against lesbian and gay people.  They say the legislation prevents them from proclaiming the “whole counsel of God”.  They believe that the “whole counsel of God” includes stirring up disdain and hatred towards LGBT people.

Outside the Justice Department building in DC these religious leaders hope to be arrested for their proclamation against gay and lesbian Americans.  This coalition, which includes the Christian Anti Defamation Commission and Liberty Council, is a more polished iteration of Fred Phelps’ one gospel tune of protesting gays wherever he imagines us to be found, including the burial of US soldiers.

I’ve been the target of Fred Phelps’ protests.  The level of venom and hatred is so shocking to most people that it invites a lot of personal reflection.  Most Americans are decent folks who do not want to be associated with such naked hatred.  Fred Phelps, like the organizers of Monday’s protests, actually becomes ambassadors of a more tolerant, diverse America.

The spit-fire from Monday’s protests is also aimed at the Obama administration.  One of the organizers, Gary Cass, believes that Obama’s support of the legislation was to “pay back militant homosexual activists who raised millions of dollars for his campaign and worked to get him elected.”  Cass says that this is all part of Obama’s “radical, anti-Christian agenda”.

The legislation is named in honor of Matthew Shepard who was murdered in Wyoming for being gay.  The new law makes acts of violence against LGBT people illegal.   Is it radical to legislate to ensure that no young woman or man is put to death as Matthew Shepard was? Is it radical to enshrine in our laws that every human life is sacred and should be free of the threat of violent acts?

The Judeo-Christian scriptures have very little to say about homosexuality as we know it.  They do have a lot to say about loving our neighbor as ourselves.  They speak at length about mercy, justice and love for all.  The defining mark of these sacred texts is love of others.  It is the mirror image of loving God.  This is the “whole counsel” of spirituality!  It is a way of seeking dignity and freedom for all people.

Hate is a consuming business.  The wisdom of most spiritual traditions is about compassion.  Spirituality is about becoming fully alive.  The path of becoming fully alive is sabotaged by the energy needed to keep fueling hatred.

I’ll happily cast my lot with Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Bono, Thich Nhat Hahn and the other spiritual bearers of love and compassion.  Our human story is about seeking goodness in one another.

Not far from Monday’s protesters is a small park with a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.  In the park is his mantra – “My life is my message”.   Love and compassion for Gandhi were never known in tearing down or inciting hatreds.  The good spiritual energy is known when we detach from disdain and hatred and cast our lot with love, compassion and justice.  For all.

Read more at www.robertvtaylor.com

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6 Comments

  1. I spoke about this predjudice at the Interfaith Church yesterday when I was presenting about the WarmforWinter project( later a blessing of the hats and scarves) and the “undercurrent around homelessnes.” I did not name the religous institution threatening to stop serving the homeless in DC if DC jurisdiction voted to allow same gender marriages. ( see change.org- homeless)I have no idea how these are connected. Side note: in Dallas they are threatening to close a church that is feeding the homeless.
    I am sorry about this hate that is being espoused today, I experience it every day and I have no recourse currently to stop the hate as many persons who claim they are peaceloving are the espousers.

  2. Thank you, Robert, for your comments. I do look quizzically upon that small subset of Christians who feel we need *not* to be curtailed in hating & harming people. That whole “love your neighbor as yourself” piece… doesn’t that fit into Christian spirituality prominently?

    Like you, I too have stood in the unfortunate focal point of Fred Phelps and his protests. And, also like you, I’ve enjoyed seeing how out of such ugliness there actually rises up an opportunity for people to see just how ‘radical’ and ‘threatening’ the open & affirming churches are… radical enough to say “God loves you for precisely who you are.”

    I understand that people can have different opinions, and engage in respectful discourse, but I sure don’t understand how people expect (demand) the right to be hateful and violent, particularly in the name of Christ.

  3. Amazingly enough this extreme hate is starting to make many of these religious organizations look very silly to so many of their followers. Belief in a movement towards god and for good is one thing but active bigotry and hatred is another. Many of those who i was raised with in DC in the Catholic church are appalled by the Church’s stance lately…willing to hurt the needy because of a difference in belief..People are compassionate…and the churches that keep drifting away are going to lose more and more (at least that is my hope). Thanks for spreading goodness out there Robert.

    Wes

  4. Very well said. Hate and anger are masks, and this level of vitriol makes one ponder what Fred Phelps & all other hate mongers are so fiercely hiding from and running from within themselves. Persecution of others reflects one’s inner state, and the painful drive of self-hatred and blind fear. What irony that Christianity, founded on love, tolerance & forgiveness, is so brutally perverted by these ‘Christians’ whose anger & hate are their true religion.

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