You know how it feels when your words come back and bite you in the ass? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, I think I’m about to experience that once again. The other day, I wrote an article about people calling themselves “spiritual, but not religious” titled, of all things, “Spiritual, But not Religious“. In it, I talked about how saying and doing things to separate yourself from more conservative Christians draws a line between you and that’s wrong. I still believe that, but I’m about step perilously close to drawing lines myself. I plan to justify it by saying that I’m not opting out, I’m staying and fighting to show that all Christians aren’t the same. Yeah, I know it’s thin, but it’s all I’ve got. Anyway, what’s got my panties in a wad this morning is an open letter from “Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans“. I’ll give you a few minutes to read it.
Okay, I have a lot of problems with this thing. First of all, the title and authorship is disingenuous. It’s written in such a was as to convey the idea that all the religious leaders in this country (and by extension, all religious people) are on board with what’s being said. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you bother to read who is actually a signatory on this turd of a document, you’ll see that it’s practically a compendium of fundamental, evangelical Christian churches and groups in this country. To their credit, there is a tiny bit of diversity here: two Jewish rabbis and a Catholic cardinal (designate) also signed. That’s nice, but hardly an exhaustive list of all the religious leaders in America. Getting into the meat of the letter, this thing is a tour de force of bigotry, fear-mongering and outright desperation. According to the authors, the only definition of marriage that’s accurate is one that restricts it to “one man and one woman” and it should be protected for “the good of society”. How is withholding rights from anyone good for society? Wasn’t that idea squashed by the end of slavery and the civil rights movement? The fear-mongering comes with the insinuation (even though there is a cursory attempt to discount it) that government storm-troopers will swarm in and arrest good, God-fearing pastors who refuse to perform ceremonies for LGBT couples. That leads to one of the most interesting statements in the letter:
” While we cannot rule out this possibility entirely, we believe that the First Amendment creates a very high bar to such attempts.”
Yes, those are conservatives attempting to invoke “separation of church and state”. Let’s all take a second to savor the irony of them falling back on a concept they’ve done their utmost to dismantle. I mentioned “outright desperation” a few lines earlier and I’m sure you’re waiting to see what I’m talking about. The entire tone of the letter smacks of people who see their perch at the top of the heap imperiled and they’re willing to do anything to protect it. In her book “The Great Emergence” Phyllis Tickle tells us that the battle over sexuality is the final fight over Sola Scripturea and, once this issue is resolved, that view of the authority of scripture will be dead. In that light, the reluctance of conservative Christians on this issue is understandable even if we find it abhorrent.
Basically, I’ve taken over 500 words to say that, despite what this letter might imply, all Christians aren’t in accord on the issue of sexuality or marriage. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my more conservative brothers and sisters or that I want to be separated from them. I’m just saying I’d appreciate it if those who disagree with my beliefs wouldn’t say they speak for me. I piss off enough people on my own.