Monday, September 26, 2011

Religious allies

I am a harsh critic of hard-right religious groups, but I have nothing against religion or Christianity. My fight is with those who would use their religion as a weapon to beat others into submission, the folks who wield their cross like a sword against those who have different views. But that is a political fight having nothing whatsoever to do with religion or religious belief.

In fact, there are a great many Christians who are true to the faith and who are speaking out in defence of Christian values. They are a salve against the acidic burning of the radical right religious people. I admire them for doing to.

Here are two more examples.

First, John Shore, who writes for the Huffington Post, as well as his own site, among other places. Reacting to the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer after years of anti-gay bullying, Shore wrote:
“If you’re a Christian who believes that being gay is a morally reprehensible offense against God, then you share a mindset, worldview, and moral structure with the kids who hounded Jamey Rodemeyer, literally, to death. It is your ethos, your convictions, and your theology that informed, supported, and encouraged their cruelty.”
“We Christians who believe that God created gay people as much in His own image as he did straight people are begging you to reconsider your theology — to do nothing more than be open to an alternative, fully credible, scholastically sound interpretation of one or two lines from Paul.


“How can you be unwilling to do something so simple, when you see the horrible ultimate cost of that refusal?”
I thought his piece was very well argued. The anti-gay industry has made stopping anti-bullying programmes one of their top agenda items. The biggest item, of course, is stopping marriage equality. Even here, however, there are Christian voices of reason.

Kristina Keneally is a member of the New South Wales (Australia) Labor Party. She was the 42nd Premier of New South Wales. She's also a married, heterosexual Roman Catholic, and she recently published what I think is one of the best religious arguments in favour of marriage equality, particularly from a Catholic perspective, that I've seen. She said:
“If we accept that heterosexual people who are physically unable to have children are able to express themselves in physical acts, why then aren't people who God created with a homosexual orientation able to do the same?”


“But Jesus did have a lot to say about self-sacrifice, laying down one's life for another, and loving one another as he loved us. When I see homosexual couples in mutually loving relationships, or giving self-sacrificing love to a child, how can I not but see a mirror of Jesus' love for us?

“Taking a contrary view to Church teaching is not a position I come to lightly. It is formed by prayer, reading, and reflection. It gives me no relish to be at odds with my Church. But it also gives me no joy to see people who are created in God's image unable to fully express their humanity, or live with the rights and dignity that heterosexual people are afforded.

“I act in good conscience — as a Catholic, I can do nothing else. “
When I was younger, and still a practicing Christian, I was told I must never question another person’s religious faith because “you can’t know what’s in their heart.” Maybe not, but their words and actions tell us what’s in their brain and we have every right to denounce their theology as false and to brand it as what it is: Counterfeit Christianity. We also have an obligation to praise that which is good.

I hope more rational Christians start to speak up, as the need for them to do so becomes increasingly urgent. So expect me to continue to highlight people like John Shore, Kristina Keneally, Jay Bakker and others who speak the truth of Christianity, because they must be heard, too.

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