Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says gay people aren't distracted by things like religion.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says that Republicans need to get the money flowing the way the gay community does for Democrats -- though it helps, he said, that gay people aren't distracted by things like religion. (Full Story)

I cannot tell you what a wonderful epiphany this has been for me personally! That I have not been “distracted by things like religion.” I guess that the three years of undergraduate studies, the four years of post graduate studies in the seminary had nothing to do with religion. The twenty-three years of ministerial service as a priest had nothing to do with religion. Since I am gay, I have never been distracted by religion.

Perhaps I am being oversensitive. Perhaps I am the only gay priest on planet earth. Perhaps there are no lesbian nuns. Perhaps the many Catholic parishioners who confided in me that they were lesbian/gay are a statistical anomaly. After all, who could question the omniscient and objective insight of a professional politician who views religion as a distraction from politics?

A philosophy professor of mine said that it was important to define terminology. So, what do we mean by “religion?” What defines a person as being religious? The Hebrew word “Amen” translated into English means “I believe this and I live this.” The Jewish understanding of religion was not simply a social association, not simply an intellectual ascent to a certain dogmas; but rather, a total ascent of one’s life to God. Curiously, this is one of the few Hebrew words that has survived in contemporary Christian worship.

Who is truly worthy of speaking the word “Amen” as a personal response to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount? To what Jesus taught was the Greatest Commandment (to love God unreservedly and our neighbor as our self)?

Senator Hatch reveals what he believes is the hallmark of authentic religion when he stated to college students: "Gays and lesbians don't pay tithing, their religion is politics," By those standards, most Catholics and most Protestants are not religious, since most of these do not pay 10% of their gross income to their Church. Mormons; however, are required to pay the 10% tithe. By Senator Hatch’s standard, only those who pay a 10% tithe may be classified as “religious.” I wonder Senator, does that include paying 10% on Campaign contributions?

Jesus made this comment on tithing “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” [Matthew 23: 23-24]

Jesus’ words require no further commentary.


Terence Weldon said...


Huw Richardson said...

Dear Father - while you're not the only gay priest out there (I'm one and I know a couple of others) many of my gay friends are as passionate about their politics as we are for our faith. It is as if politics is their religion.

Of course this is only true because of the way religions have treated them.

The irony is that A) the Senator is partly right and B) the idea of "unity" on the left is humorous. But, really... we like to imagine that same kind of unity on the right, when it serves our purpose - usually to scare up funds.

Father Geoff said...

Dear Father Raphael,

Thank you for your insights. Someone once quipped, I don't believed in organized political parties, I'm a Democrat.

Just look at the recent vote on the Health Care Bill. All the Senate Republicans voted against the Bill. Whereas, many Democratic Senators defected and voted with their Republican counterparts.

What do you think would happen to a Republican Senator who defected and voted with the Democrats?

As you correctly point out, this is not limited to party politics. Unity on the "left" remains elusive. We need to pause and ask ourselves why.

Mareczku said...

It seems that Senator Hatch is annoyed that gay people have found a voice. He surely doesn't know a lot about the Catholic Church with his comments though. I have read many times that the Catholic Church could not function with the gay priests, nuns, music directors, etc. You do have a point in your comments though, Father Raphael.

KJ said...

I guess I can't begrudge his erroneous conclusion, since I spent 40 years believing I was the only Christian gay man on the planet.

Dan said...

Father, you say: " Unity on the "left" remains elusive. We need to pause and ask ourselves why."

I think 'unity of the right' is a fairly recent development. I seem to recall that around the time of Pres. Reagan, the so called unity of the right was manifested almost entirely by their "no's" to every bill that came up for vote. Then the "moral majority" raised it's voice and became a powerful lobbying force - It basically hijacked the Republican Party.

The problem for the "left" is that "leftists" tend to be "yes" sayers, and there is just too much out there that needs to be said "yes" to, and too many arguments as to what constitutes that "yes."

Father Geoff said...

Dear Dan,

I recall the late President Richard M. Nixon quipped after the Roe v. Wade decision, "Now the wackos will take control of the [Republican] party."

A law professor told our class that when the Supreme Court rules ahead of society (e.g. Roe v. Wade) then there is usually a social and political backlash.

The late Pope John Paul II spoke of the "Culture Wars." The battle to repeal Roe v. Wade, then became expanded to a war against homosexuals.

In a nutshell, I think that accounts in large part for the "unity" on the side of the political right.

I asked a reflective/rhetorical question regarding unity on the side of the "left." There is much I can say; however, I prefer to have people think about these matters.

Unknown said...

Sen. Hatch is simply trying Karl Rove tactics to re-energize his base. A May 11 article in the Salt Lake Tribune indicates that his election bid may be in trouble. He's paying lip service to the Tea Baggers. As reprehensible as his comments are, they need to be put in that context.
Unity on the Left would be a nice thing; but at what cost? There are many on the Right that feel their movement has been hijacked because no one dared stand up to the Moral Majority as it began to exert pressure on the platform. A little dis-unity means that discussions are open and honest.