My dear friends,
By now you have undoubtedly heard about state legislatures once again dehumanizing and demonizing same-gender loving people and people who do not fit into false gender binary constructs. It is heartbreaking.
It was naïve to think that peddlers of bigotry would quietly accept the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling and it was myopic of LBGT organizations to not prepare us for such eventualities. Nevertheless, we cannot be silent as states continue to devalue their LGBTQQIA citizens.
To the councils and legislatures of municipalities and state halls of government, we must raise our voices with the prophet Amos to say, “Let justice roll on like many waters!”
To houses of worship and those who preach a pugnacious piety rather than a liberating gospel, we must raise our voices with a contributor to the Book of Isaiah to say, “Sacred space is to be a house of prayer for all people!”
To the holders and keepers of power and privilege who use every means at their disposal to enforce bigotry, division, and oppression, we must raise our voices with a legendary liberator to say, “Let my people go!”
To those who use religion, tradition, and sacred texts to demean and diminish the Queer children of God, we must raise our voices with an early church writer to say, “God is love and WHOEVER lives in love lives in God and God lives in them.”
Dozens of anti-LBGT laws and ordinances have been proposed in the last several months in multiple states and municipalities. These laws claim to protect religion (though people remain free to worship wherever and however they choose), privacy (while publicly demonizing LBGT people), and personal safety (portraying LBGT people as predatory, violent criminals lying in wait to harm innocent victims); but in truth, these laws are little more than attempts to legalize discrimination against people who have suffered throughout history for simply being different from the majority. These hateful laws do not advance liberty but deter it and people of conscience and character, courage and conviction must resist these attempts to oppress Queer people.
Of the many proposals to legalize and legitimate discrimination, North Carolina takes the lead in passing what is widely regarded as the most sweeping anti-LBGT legislation in the US. Justice workers are calling the new draconian law a “hostile takeover of civil rights.” Mississippi recently passed similar anti-LBGT legislation as did Georgia, but unlike North Carolina and Mississippi, Georgia’s governor vetoed the reprehensible bill.
We are currently in a climate where Muslims are routinely slandered, women are frequently insulted, immigrants regardless of documentation status are viewed with suspicion, transgender people are portrayed as a threat, and gays and lesbians are continually called “sinful” for their love and attractions. What is worse is that this despicable climate is encouraged by various political and religious leaders. It would be absolutely immoral for us to be silent in this growing climate of hatred.
Some political leaders, some religious leaders, some business leaders, and some community leaders are speaking out, and God bless them for it. It is now time that we all speak out. With our charitable giving, our spending, our speech, our votes, with every tool at the disposal of decent people, we must try to turn the tide of hatred and honor our national pledge that affirms “liberty and justice for ALL.”
I can promise you that the leadership of Sunshine Cathedral will not be silent while LBGT people and others are constantly vilified and attacked. We will with as much fervor as ever affirm the sacred value of ALL people, and we will declare boldly and consistently that religion used to promote discrimination is misused. We will not passively allow religion to be the weapon used to oppress LBGT people or anyone else.
In the name of all prophets, preachers, and poets of Justice, we will not be silent. Your continued, faithful, prayerful support of Sunshine Cathedral will help our collective voices be heard. Our work is not yet done...
Your fellow laborer in the vineyard of justice,
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins