Monday, February 29, 2016

Hate the Sin of Homophobia, Not the Homophobic Sinner

We knew that those who oppose marriage equality would not just go away. Legislatures and political candidates are calling for laws and constitutional amendments that would attempt to continue to dehumanize, demonize, and demoralize same-gender loving people.
The evil of state mandated discrimination should horrify all good people, but what is as bothersome to me is when the extreme Religious Right has the temerity to claim that denying them the opportunity to discriminate is somehow discriminatory toward them!
Religious people do not have to welcome LBGT folk into their congregations (decency would demand that they do so, but no law requires it). Religious people are free to even teach their children to hate LBGT people (again, decency is trampled upon in such a case, but not the constitution). Both freedom of religion and freedom of expression entitle one to be a jerk, but those freedoms do not extend to denying LBGT people full citizenship and full equality.
Now, in response to the Queer community demanding full and equal citizenship, the far Right will accuse us of being “intolerant.” What a bizarre argument! If we do not thank them for their intolerance, then we are intolerant of their intolerance, which, they insist, makes us intolerant. That would be, by the way, a prime example of nonsense.
You can't condemn people and say that is your religious right to do so, and then say those who resent being condemned are intolerant of your religion! Religion is about how YOU relate to the God of YOUR understanding; it is not about YOU deciding who is unworthy of dignity and respect.
Yes, gays will no longer tolerate being bullied. Yes, gays will insist they are fully human and deserve equal rights. Yes, gays will call out homophobia and bigotry no matter how much one insists that such hatefulness is faith-based. No one wants to deny anyone their religious experience; we simply deny that any religious experience is a good enough excuse to oppress the LBGT community.
Finally, those who swing religion like a club will say, “We hate the sin but we love the sinner." I don’t consider being called a sinner terribly loving, but also, that phrase is ridiculously misused. “Hate the sin, not the sinner” or “hate the sin, love the sinner” are derivatives of something Gandhi said. He was referring to the "sin" of colonization. Gandhi, in his non-violent way, was telling people to hate oppression without hating the oppressor. The Religious Right has stolen that phrase to justify their prejudices, cheapening their own religion and dishonoring Gandhi's intent at the same time. The truth is, fundamentalists don't wage war on every "sin” but have a couple of hot topics they focus on and when called out on it, then refer to that old, tired, trite, misunderstood sound bite to justify their prejudices.
I suppose in response to their hateful, myopic attacks on the LBGT community, we should hate their sin of homophobia without hating the self-righteous perpetrators of that sin, but even without hating them, we must resist their attempts to marginalize us.

Durrell Watkins is the senior minister of
Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.
Sunshine Cathedral is a “different kind
of church.”

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