Thursday, April 08, 2010

dear religious people: stop picking and choosing bigotry

Eric Zorn: Hateful parents, teens conspire to throw fake prom for learning disabled students and a lesbian couple

I had a few assumptions already in my mind about this small community and this latest story just confirmed them.

Assumption: this town is all about conformity and tightly regulated social order.
Assumption: this town is to outsiders.
Assumption: this town has the small-minded meanness required to maintain a rigid social structure.

Check, check and check.

Zorn links to a post here (and here) that has even more details on what kind of mind could think this was ok.

It's interesting to note what kind of blinders they're using to justify their really cruel behavior.
They just wanted a regular prom.
They didn't want all the attention (hence 'laying low.')
They didn't want to knuckle under the 'demands' of a student 'no one really liked anyway.'
They wanted to end the year 'right.'
They wanted their year 'back on track.'

What all this equals to is selfishness (as well as a huge gulp of bigotry.)

The notions of fair play, equality, kindness, ethical behavior, or even basic decency didn't enter their minds.

Before all the kids put their Facebook profiles on lockdown, they were pretty vocal about how much they loved Jesus but it's clear they didn't internalize any of the Sunday school lessons embodied by Jesus' encounters with the socially marginalized. 

If these kids saw the woman by the well, what would they have done?
If they came across the prostitute about to be stoned by the Pharisees, what would they have done?
If they were forced to have dinner with a tax collector, what would they have said?

Is it a stretch to guess these kids and their parents would have no problem shunning, stoning or isolating people who aren't like them? 

Is that what Jesus taught?

Superficially religious folk conveniently ignore the simple lessons Jesus taught.  Of course they cling to the Pauline injunctions against homosexuality  - which also happen to support their bigotry.  Their stubborn privileging of this injunction rather than the commandment to 'love your neighbor and treat others like you'd be treated' supposedly gives them cover for righteous behavior. 

After all, they say 'you can't pick and choose' which parts of the Bible you're going to believe and live by.  Good point. But picking and choosing, however, is exactly what you're doing when you choose to treat someone with hate and exclusion rather than love and compassion. 

Here's an exegetical tip to folks who use the picking/choosing to justify their bigoted reading of scripture: when you are confronted by an apparent conflict in the Bible (in this case the conflict between loving your neighbor or telling your neighbor to go to a fake prom because you hate gay people), err on the side of love and acceptance.

And if that's not enough to give pause to knee-jerk bigotry, here's my question to all those self-righteous religous folk out there who'd rather be an empty tomb than filled with the love of Christ:

When it's your time to meet your Lord, do you really think God is going to judge you if you treat gays, lesbians and trans people like human beings?

(yeah. don't get a baptist preacher's daugher on your back about jesus, man.)


Joy said...

Amen. And ten points for the use of exegetical.

Trope said...

Thank you.

thenutfantastic said...

It's interesting that your post comes on the heals of a conversation I sort of had with coworkers Monday afternoon. What sticks in my mind is the one coworker (who was afraid to go do Diversity Thrift because she might get hit on; who doesn't like hugging women because boobs might touch; who doesn't like women standing behind her because boobs might touch; who doesn't hesitate to let everyone know she thinks being gay is an abomination) said her Christian faith tells her being gay is wrong. Then she looked at me and said, "Doesn't yours?"

To which I said, "My faith says we're supposed to love each other as ourselves and god will be the judge of just how good/bad our lives were."

She said something to the effect that in the bible it stays being gay is wrong and that's what she believes.

Needless to say we tried to steer the conversation elsewhere because religion and politics at work don't mix.

P.S. Oh, now I remember how the conversation started. We somehow got on the topic of our children coming out. All but me decided they would still love their children but wouldn't want that kind of life for them because it would be...are you ready? Too hard. Due to everyone elses thoughts on the subject. They got to learn the words 'heteronormative' and 'heterocentric' that day.

thenutfantastic said...


thenutfantastic said...


And Diversity Thrift is also the Gay Community Center here.

Anonymous said...

It's legalism. Some how people seem to think law, law,thus saith the Lord, and cleverly choose their rights and wrongs instead of thinking love your neighbor as thyself. Sometimes our neighbors may not be like us, sometimes our neighbors have something to teach us about ourselves. If evangelicals only will get grace and love down right then stupid things like that will not occur.

Delia Christina said...

@the Nut Fantastic - i am gobsmacked by your coworker. and the conversation. what a total lack of awareness. yes, things are 'mysteriously' hard for queer kids! gee! wonder why??

@anonymous - it is legalism and i always thought jesus was supposed to put an end to all that. silly me.