Browsing the archives for the Pew Research tag

God Pukes at Gays?

Robert V. Taylor

This blog appeared on Huffington Post January 27, 2012

Does God vomit at the thought of gay and lesbian people? That’s the graphic image that O’Neal Dozier, pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach Florida, uses. It’s radically different from the one that many of us know of as a God of inclusion and love. Not vomiting but smiling on us – all of us!

What makes Dozier’s view so prominent is that he is the Honorary Chair of Rick Santorum’s Florida campaign. Although Dozier believes that homosexuality is the “paramount of sins” he is an equal opportunity exclusionist. Mother Jones reveals that his Islamaphobia and local crusade against Muslims are fueled by his belief that Muslims have an agenda for taking over America. Dozier, who claims to know the mind of God on election results, has used his position on the Florida judicial nominating committee to seek “God-fearing” judges. The test for him is whether those nominees support anti-sodomy laws.

Dozier believes America should be taken over by those who share his exclusionist views and create a fundamentalist theocracy. The constitution in his view was created only for those who are a “moral and religious people.” God-fearing in his view translates into a projectile God who throws up on those who do not share his religious vision. Thankfully there are other more spacious religious and spiritual paths.

Like millions of other LGBT people I feared God as a young person because of the religious messages I received that God had disdainful disgust for us. Like millions of other young LGBT people I considered suicide. That is one of the reasons that Dozier’s imagery and words are destructive not life-giving.

If the arc of spirituality bends towards inclusion Dozier’s views are not part of that moral trajectory. Pew Research polls reveal approximately 65% of Catholics and Protestants have positive views of gays, while only 29% of Evangelicals do. Among Post-Moderns 91% have favorable views of LGBT people while 80% of them support same-sex marriage.

The moral arc towards inclusion has a foundation of spiritual wisdom from many traditions. Christian wisdom settles largely on a message of generous expansive love matched by acts of mercy, kindness and justice. The notion of repairing the world is a central underpinning in most branches of Judaism. While Buddhist philosophy is rooted in seeking the happiness or well-being of all Buddhist practice points to the inter-connectedness of all sentient beings.

Religious leaders can be found in most traditions that, like Dozier, use their position and authority to tear apart, diminish and demean others at any cost. The climate they create is quite different than that of those who beg to differ but who seek a world in which none are harmed or excluded. The bullies who cloak themselves with the mantle of the Divine are no different than schoolyard bullies who are stopped only when their behavior is challenged.  That choice is in our hands.

We participate in the movement of the moral arc of inclusion when we actively engage in creating a world which acknowledges the goodness and compassion inherent in every person. A world in which imagery of a puking God is replaced with a spiritual path of generous inclusion in which there are no outcasts. That is a life-giving journey acknowledging and celebrating difference.

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MLK: Envy or the Beloved Community?

Robert V. Taylor

The “politics of envy” in the United States is political fodder masking a truth that Dr. Martin Luther King pointed to almost 50 years ago. He said his entire work pointed to one goal – the creation of a “beloved community” of Americans. His prescient words invite a new conversation about who we are.

The Pew Research Center reports that two thirds of Americans believe that conflicts between the rich and the poor are strong or very strong. The stagnant or falling wages for the poor and the middle class over the last decade stands in sharp contrast to increasing wealth held by a few. The Great Recession and the Occupy movement make those data starker.  

The data do not reveal envy of the wealthy.  Instead Pew and the latest Gallup research reveal that most people want jobs, fair wages and opportunities to work and succeed. Fairness is a very different conversation than the envy that some expediently talk about.

It’s not politically fashionable to talk about the poor these days. Those who dare to couch it in language about the “working poor” as if honest honorable work is a bearer of poverty. The political consensus that most of us implicitly support is that it is more prudent to worry about the middle class. It is a false either/or compact. It diminishes all of us by casting some aside.

Marti Luther King believed that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.  While we celebrate his leadership on civil rights we generally ignore his leadership on economic issues made plain in his Poor People’s Campaign.

King was clear that civil rights and economic opportunities are questions of justice collectively pointing to the overarching vision of creating a new “beloved community” in the United States. His faith and politics were rooted in how to create that community.

Imagine leaders who lead us to a new sense of oneness as people; who remind us of our need for one another; who celebrate the richness of our collective strengths; who see strength in our diversity and who are not fearful of the truth that none of us prosper unless the well-being of all is possible.

Imagine that leader being you and working intentionally to make a beloved community possible. It’s often said that we get the leaders we deserve. I’m not sure that is true. Instead we often cede the public conversation and leadership to the alpha types who have their own agenda about political power.  All too often we disengage out of exasperation.

There is another path that celebrates Dr. King’s living legacy. Celebrating your leadership and work to bring about the beloved community, you begin to shift the expectations of what kind of society and people we want to be.  King believed that it was possible to “transform opposers into friends” and “transform the deep gloom of the old age into exuberant gladness of the new age.” That possibility lies in your hands; in the possibility of organizing for our oneness when the well-being of all is a value.

This moment in history is an invitation to that dream becoming a reality.

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