Here’s MY Lord Christ… may my right hand wither if I don’t follow Him. SLAVA BOGU!
Do I agree completely with the following? NO… but it has much less wrong with it than the Republican assault on civil society and civil behaviour. If you sell flowers for an atheist wedding… you don’t partake of or endorse atheism. If you bake a cake for a Pentecostalist wedding… you don’t partake of or endorse Pentecostalism. If you take photos of a Mormon wedding… you don’t partake of or endorse Mormonism. If you rent tuxedos for an Evangelical wedding, you don’t partake of or endorse Radical American Sectarianism. Therefore, if you drive a limo for a gay wedding, you don’t partake of or endorse homosexuality. You’re simply offering a commercial service. If you choose to do business for the public, well, you can’t discriminate. The only way ‘round it is to explicitly label your business “For Christians (actually, Sectarians, for we Orthodox and Catholics wouldn’t be welcomed, either) ONLY!”
THAT would be honest. I note a general lack of such honesty amongst “conservatives”. Fancy that. Again… I don’t totally agree with the following, but the author makes many good points… give it a read… I did… twice…
As Indiana peddles its “religious freedom” garbage, it’s time to call the religious right’s trash what it really is
Just in time for Holy Week, the State of Indiana passed a new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law explicitly permits for-profit corporations from practising the “free exercise of religion” and it allows them to use the “exercise of religion” as a defence against any lawsuits whether from the government or from private entities. The primary narrative against this law has been about the potential ways that small businesses owned by Christians could invoke it as a defence against having to, for instance, sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding.
Any time right-wing conservatives declare that they’re trying to restore or reclaim something, we should all be very afraid. Usually, this means the country or, in this case, the state of Indiana is about to be treated to another round of backward time travel, to the supposedly idyllic environs of the 1950s, wherein women, and gays, and blacks knew their respective places and stayed in them. While the unspoken religious subtext of this law is rooted in conservative anxieties over the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Indiana, Black people and women, and all the intersections thereof (for instance Black lesbians) should be very afraid of what this new law portends.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby decision that corporations could exercise religious freedom, which means that corporations can deny insurance coverage for birth control. Now, some use this same logic to curtail and abridge the right of gay people to enjoy the same freedoms and legal protections that heterosexual citizens enjoy. Given our current anti-Black racial climate, there’s no reason to trust that some won’t eventually use these laws for acts of racially inflected religious discrimination, perhaps against Black Muslims or Muslims of Arab descent, for instance. Surely, this kind of law in this political climate sanctions the exercise of Islamophobia.
As a practising Christian, I found these calls for restoration and reclamation in the name of religious freedom deeply infuriating. This kind of legislation is largely driven by conservative Christian men and women, who hold political views that are antagonistic to every single group of people who are not white, male, Christian, cisgender, straight and middle-class. Jesus, a brown, working-class, Jew, doesn’t even meet all the qualifications. Nothing about the cultural and moral régime of the religious right in this country signals any kind of freedom. In fact, this kind of legislation is rooted in a politics that gives white people the authority to police and terrorise people of colour, queer people, and poor women. That means these people don’t represent any kind of Christianity that looks anything like the kind that I practise.
To be clear, because I’m an academic, I get static often from folks who wonder how I could dare ally myself in name and religious affiliation with the kind of morally misguided, politically violent people who think it reasonable to force women to have babies they don’t want and who think their opinions about whom and how others should marry matters even a little bit. I often ask myself whether I really do worship the same God of white religious conservatives. On this Holy Week, when I reflect on the Christian story of Christ crucified, it’s a story to me of a man who came, radically served his community, challenged the unjust show of state power, embraced children, working-class men and promiscuous women and sexual minorities (eunuchs). Of the many things Jesus preached about, he never found time to even mention gay people, let alone condemn them. His message of radical inclusivity was so threatening that the state lynched him for fear that he was fomenting a cultural and political rebellion. They viewed such acts as criminal acts and they treated Jesus as a criminal. Moreover, they marked all who followed him for death.
This is why I identify with the story of Jesus. In addition, frankly, it is the only story there really is. This white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, gun-toting, Bible-quoting Jesus of the religious right is a god of their own making. I call this god, the god of white supremacy and patriarchy. There’s nothing about their god that speaks to me as a Black woman of working-class background living in a country where police routinely murder black men and beat the hell out of black women, where the rich get richer while politicians find ever more reasons to extract from the poor, and where the lives the church imagines for women still centre around marriage and motherhood, and no sex if you’re single. This God isn’t the God that I serve. There is nothing holy, loving, righteous, inclusive, liberatory, or theologically sound about him. He might be “biblical”, but he’s also an asshole.
The Jesus I know, love, talk about and choose to keep was a radical, freedom loving, justice seeking, potentially queer (because he was either asexual or a priest married to a prostitute), feminist healer, unimpressed by scripture-quoters and religious law-keepers, seduced neither by power nor evil. That’s the story I choose to reflect on this Holy Week. The Christian lawmakers seeking to use the law to discriminate against gay people are indicative of every violent, unrighteous, immoral impulse that organised religion continues to represent in this country. Recently, I said elsewhere that it’s a problem to treat racism as if it’d simply go extinct. However, as I watch the religious right engineer pain and obstacles for queer people in America’s heartland, I find myself wishing that this particularly violent and vicious breed of Christianity would die off.
I can’t stand in a church and worship on Sunday alongside those who on the next Monday co-sign every kind of legislation that devalues the lives of Black people, women, and gay people. I’m a firm believer that our theology implicates our politics. If your politics are rooted in the contemporary anti-Black, misogynist, homophobic conservatism, then we aren’t serving the same God. Period. Moreover, more of us who love Jesus, despite our ambivalence about Christianity, the Church or organised religion, need to stand up and begin to do some reclamation of our own.
I’m heartened to say that there is a generation of young people of faith rising up, spurred on by the Ferguson events of last summer. A group of young seminarians at Union Theology Seminary in New York City were at the fore of effort to #ReclaimHolyWeek. I spoke with one of the organisers, Candace Simpson, who told me that, “#ReclaimHolyWeek is a way for us to challenge and disrupt the sanitised stories we share during Holy Week. We refuse to pretend as though the main story of Jesus’ resurrection was that He ‘died for our sins’. We need to be better in discussing the ways Jesus represented a threat to His empire, that His teachings disrupt power structures. We pretend that we’d be mourning at his tomb, but it’s clear in the ways we blame victims of the system that we aren’t as moral as we pretend to be”. They’ll spend this week protesting various forms of state-sanctioned violence against Black and Brown people.
What this vocal contingent of the religious right is seeking to restore isn’t religious freedom, but a sense of safety in expressing and imposing dangerous, retrograde, and discriminatory ideas in the name of religion. I continue to support the free and unimpeded expression of religion. Moreover, I am hopeful that Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s call for “clarification of the law” amidst a massive backlash will actually force the Legislature to explicitly ban discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Then, perhaps, the law could do what some legal scholars claim it was meant to do, namely, protect freedom of religious expression for religious minorities in the USA.
Alongside that, I maintain that another kind of reclamation needs to occur. We need to reclaim the narrative of Jesus’ life and death from the Evangelical Right. They haven’t been good stewards over the narrative. They’ve pimped Jesus’ death to support the global spread of American empire vis-à-vis war, “missions”, and “free trade”, the abuse of native peoples, the continued subjugation of Black people, and the regulation of the sexual lives of women and gay people. Let’s mark this Holy Week by declaring the death to the unholy trinity of white supremacist, capitalist, heteropatriarchy. Once these systems die, may they die finally, never to be resurrected.
1 April 2015