Why is religion so anti-gay? I was asked this question recently on the heals of Uganda passing legislation which makes homosexuality a capital offense. The short answer is that a superficial reading of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures clearly gives the impression that homosexuality is forbidden by God. This has affected the stance towards homosexual persons by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Within each of those traditions there exist literalists (who see the written word as THE law) and progressives (who look beyond the written text and seek understanding of the Divine intent.)
There is a comprehensible repulsion towards and rejection of organized religion by many LGBT people. Many LGBT people have found themselves the victims of verbal, emotional/psychological and physical abuse due to religious organizations. Heads of religious organizations have publicly condemned homosexuals as being both reprobate and representing a moral danger to society. The result of such teachings and preaching has been to create a culture of hatred towards individuals who are homosexuals.
It is important here to pause and recall that the pink triangle, which has become a symbol for LGBT people, was in fact assigned to us in order to target us for abuse and genocide. The Nazis were not an organized religion, but a secular political party. Under Joseph Stalin in the former Soviet Union, an officially atheist state, homosexuals were also targeted for abuse, imprisonment and death. We fared little better under Chairman Mao and his officially atheist regime. The point here is that we are a minority and have been, like other minorities, always held as “suspect” by the ruling elite.
It is therefore an error of logic to deduce that the problem is “religion.” The problem is the desire of social and political elites to control others through homogeneity. The great contribution and arguably the genius of Western Civilization has been the concept of limiting the power of government. Magna Carta, the establishment of representative governance and the elimination autocracy were hard fought battles to establish protection of individuals and their rights. All of these represent a movement towards limiting the power and control of the state (elite) over individuals in society. Toleration, pluralism, and in short greater respect for individual rights and human dignity are the legacy offered us by those who have thrown off the yoke of tyranny.
Although these human rights are innate and self-evident, sadly they are not guaranteed. There have always been and will always be individuals and groups who will seek to seize political control and reshape society/culture to create their utopian ideal. If individuals and their rights are trampled in the process, so be it. Homogeneity of thought, behavior and of society (the world?) were the dreams of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the Taliban and Christian fundamentalists (both Protestant and Catholic). LGBT people, like people possessing recessive genetic traits, will always constitute a numerical minority within any society. We simply don’t “fit in.” The Japanese have a saying “The nail that juts up must be pounded flush.”
LGBT people have been targeted in Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and most recently in Atheist societies. In fundamentalist thought, we represent an exception and therefore a threat to homogeneity. We are the “nail” that juts up, we constitute a living challenge to a “one size fits all” social order and to those who would control that social order. We should not be surprised to see this clip from the Rachel Maddow Show.
We should however be angry and appalled, because this republic was established precisely in opposition to such social tyranny. We should be alarmed because infectious and cancerous ideologies have arisen countless times in human history. These attempts at utopia have inflicted incalculable human suffering and cost innumerable innocent human lives. At the beginning of the 21st century religious fundamentalism has imposed itself in various nations. We need to WAKE-UP and realize that we are not merely fighting for our civil rights we are fighting for our lives. We need to understand that anti-LGBT language of Rick Warren, Cardinal Barragan, and the signatories of the "Manhattan Declaration" does not merely end with the denial of the right to civil marriage for same sex couples. Its logical conclusion are draconian laws like those passed in Uganda.
What can you do?
1) Write a personal letter to your senator, congressional representative and to the President. Ask them to impose diplomatic sanctions and an economic embargo on Uganda until these genocidal laws are repealed. Ask three of your friends to do the same.
2) Write to the Secretary of State and to the Department of Justice and ask them to investigate American citizens who have encouraged Ugandan officials to enact these genocidal laws.
3) If you have investments, divest from any company doing business with Uganda. Ask three of your friends to do the same.
4) If you are clergy, prepare a sermon in which you explain what is happening in Uganda. Ask your congregants to execute the three points listed above.
5) Father Tony has asked me to include the following link. If you are Catholic this provides you with yet an additional thing which you may do to fight the forces of bigotry.
6) Visit the website Church Outing and expose those who publicly attack LGBT civil rights from the pulpit.
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- How It All began
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.