Ap­pre­ci­at­ing the flimsy faith of Amer­ica’s Chris­tian lead­ers

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

My friend has been ex­per­i­ment­ing with or­ganic mixol­ogy lately, and af­ter a sip of one of his lat­est cre­ations, the most en­cour­ag­ing re­view I could of­fer was, “It’s not as bad as I ex­pected it to be.”

“Well then, ‘Cheers!’” he said, glee­fully rais­ing his glass for a toast. “But it still won’t be­come a reg­u­lar recipe -- it’s hell try­ing to keep the Gouda liq­ue­fied.”

The only folks more des­per­ate for a com­pli­ment than At­lanta’s worst bar­tender are Amer­ica’s Chris­tian lead­ers, which is un­der­stand­able given how lovelorn they’ve been in re­cent years. Af­ter be­ing coldly scorned by the courts, pop cul­ture and big busi­ness re­gard­ing LGBT rights, they’ve be­come des­per­ate for any praise they can get, as ev­i­denced by an emerg­ing talk­ing point among Chris­tian con­ser­va­tives.

“Do you know where gay peo­ple are be­ing per­se­cuted right now?” GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ted Cruz asked ac­tress Ellen Page af­ter she con­fronted him at a cam­paign stop last year. “ISIS is ex­e­cut­ing gay peo­ple, Iran is ex­e­cut­ing ho­mo­sex­u­als, and on the left, you hear com­plete si­lence about Iran hang­ing ho­mo­sex­u­als.”

The re­cent up­roar over “re­li­gious lib­erty” bills has prompted Repub­li­can politi­cians from Mis­sis­sippi Gov. Phil Bryant to Ge­or­gia state Sen. Josh McKoon to de­cry the sup­posed hypocrisy of LGBT folks and lib­er­als for not con­demn­ing Is­lamic ho­mo­pho­bia with the same force that they crit­i­cize Chris­tian bak­ers.

This is of course un­true, since nei­ther Cruz nor McKoon would know about LGBT peo­ple be­ing thrown off build­ings in the Mid­dle East were it not for lib­eral and LGBT ac­tivism. And it’s telling that the re­li­gious right is not con­demn­ing the bru­tal­ity LGBT folks en­dure in Is­lamic cul­tures, but rather that it goes un­cred­ited for not be­head­ing ho­mo­sex­u­als in the U.S.

So let me for­mally thank Amer­i­can Chris­tians for their flimsy ad­her­ence to their faith, and for pre­tend­ing their god does not pro­scribe the same pun­ish­ment for homo-

“Throw $5 into a col­lec­tion plate, or make it through two months of a page-a-day cal­en­dar of Bi­ble verses, and many are ready to claim right­eous­ness and jus­tify any bias.”

sex­u­als that we see be­ing ad­min­is­tered by Mus­lim fun­da­men­tal­ists. For if they fol­lowed their lord’s com­mands as faith­fully as some Mus­lims do, Chris­tians would be as bar­baric and abom­inable as the “rad­i­cal Is­lamic ex­trem­ists” they reg­u­larly de­nounce.

A solid ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­can Chris­tians couldn’t be­gin to of­fer a the­o­log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion for why gay peo­ple should no longer be stoned or oth­er­wise “put to death.” Most would prob­a­bly guess, “Be­cause it’s in the Old Tes­ta­ment,” re­duc­ing half of their god’s word to a rough draft.

There are ben­e­fits to the su­per­fi­cial­ity of Amer­i­can Chris­tian­ity, but it also makes it easy for be­liev­ers to be ex­ploited by op­por­tunis­tic big­ots. Throw $5 into a col­lec­tion plate, or make it through two months of a page-a-day cal­en­dar of Bi­ble verses, and many are ready to claim right­eous­ness and jus­tify any bias.

While Chris­tians are beg­ging gov­ern­ment to pro­tect their “sin­cerely held re­li­gious be­liefs,” what they re­ally want is for pol­icy to en­force the in­co­her­ent ex­er­cise of their faith. One’s re­li­gion does not have to be per­fect to de­serve con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tion, but it shouldn’t per­mit folks to opt-out of public ac­com­mo­da­tions laws (i.e. civil de­cency codes) when they be­lieve the Bi­ble af­firms their pop­u­larly held prej­u­dices.

And Chris­tian lead­ers should stop in­vok­ing Is­lamic ho­mo­pho­bia as proof of their own virtue, be­cause all it does is ex­pose their spir­i­tual envy of a group that loves and hon­ors their god more than they ever could. Ryan Lee is an At­lanta writer.

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