One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’
‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.‘”
There’s a storm blowing in Houston that involves a city equal rights ordinance, religious liberty, and the separation of church and state.
On May 28th, Houston’s Lesbian mayor signed an ordinance into law that, according to the Houston Chronicle:
[B]ans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.
The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.”
After the anti-discrimination bill was signed into law, opponents began a petition drive to launch a referendum that could overturn the measure. The problem arose when preachers at several Houston churches began to speak from their pulpits and instruct their members to sign the petition.
The petition drive fell 2000 votes short. Opponents of the equal rights policy then, in conjunction with “the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group focused largely on opposing same-sex marriage and abortion,” (http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/houston.asp) sued the city and placed the law on hold. The city of Houston, in return, subpoenaed the sermons of many of the pastors who had campaigned for the referendum from their pulpits, in order to investigate if the churches had violated the city’s charter rules, and if those churches should maintain their tax exempt status in light of their violation of the laws regarding the separation of church and state. The case continues….
I found out about this story when someone told me their church would be showing a video about the case at Sunday night services. This video would most certainly attempt to paint the story as one of evil liberals attempting to quash and oppress right-thinking and morally upright Christians. I almost jumped up and down this made me so angry.
First, don’t ANYBODY dare try to justify equal rights for some and not ALL in the name of MY Jesus. I can’t imagine anything less Christ-like. Everyone is entitled to their own religious opinions about issues of morality. I respect that as much as I want people to respect my own beliefs. But no one who calls themselves a Christian should be for discrimination towards any of God’s creations or against loving your neighbor as yourself.
In the version of this Greatest Commandment story in Luke 10:25-37, the practitioner of Torah law goes on to ask Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”. And Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. In the parable, the “clergy” – the Jewish Priest and the Jewish Levite – pass the beaten Jew, crossing over to the other side of the road. The Samaritan, whose people are sworn enemies of the Jews, stops and through his actions, becomes a minister and a neighbor to the injured, helpless man.
Dear Houston, dear Christians, dear world, in the words of Jesus, “Go and do likewise.”
Now for my REAL rant.
If your preacher ever tells you how to vote, stand up, march out of the sanctuary and don’t come back, first for the simple, vital importance of upholding the separation of church and state.
Conservative Christians like to say the United States is a “Christian country” and should be governed thusly. But why can’t those people have the foresight to see the danger in religion becoming entrenched in national policy. Christian government might sound great to you if you’re a Christian, but how would you feel if you were Islamic or Buddhist or Jewish or Atheist?
Can’t picture that? Let’s talk about ISIS and the other extreme Islamic groups who want to impose their religious beliefs on the people of their countries? That’s not religious freedom. That’s the imposition of religion. That’s all the Caliphate which ISIS is fighting (read: slaughtering) to institute is – a region ruled entirely by Islamic law.
Think that doesn’t matter because your Christianity is going to remain the majority religion in the United States? Guess again. According to a survey conducted in 2012, numbers of Americans self-reporting as “Christian” continue to drop, while Mormonism (Are Mormons Christians? I don’t know. I’m not here to argue that with you.) and Islam are the fastest growing religions in the US. So all you folks who wouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney because he was Mormon? Give that a think. And what happens in 20 years when the majority claims that the U.S. is a Muslim nation. What do you want your religious freedom as a United States Christian to mean then?
Finally, the other reason you need to run for the hills if your preacher gets political is that God created you in God’s image to think for yourself – to love God with all your MIND.
Many people believe that being a minister gives you a special Batphone to God that the laity don’t have. That’s some bullshit.
If you go to a mainline church, your preacher has probably gone to theology school and graduated with a Master’s degree. That may give them more theological education that you. But it doesn’t make them holier or smarter than you.
If you go to a specious church, your pastor might be, well, just anybody.
I, myself, went to theology school for a few years, but left short of my Master’s. But let me tell you, there were plenty of folks studying there who were dumbasses and dickholes – some of them already serving churches. I think the moment I became totally disillusioned and decided to quit school was one night in my “History of American Theology” class. We were supposed to read something by Adrienne Rich and be prepared to discuss it in class.
When it was time for the discussion to begin, the good ol’ South Georgia middle aged white men in the back of the room drawled to the teacher, “We didn’t read that Adrienne Rich crap. She was against the war in Viet-NAM!”
I don’t want those morons who can’t even have an open-minded discussion, who are afraid to even read something that might challenge their preconceptions, telling me how to vote or how to think. Your pastor right now very well could be one of those close-minded, small-minded, feeble-minded dumbasses or dickholes.
So open your mind. And open your eyes. Embrace the true depth and meaning and power of the Commandment to love God with your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Imagine being a minority, being excluded, being passed by. Understand that God has called us all to a purpose in this life, not just those who minister with a title from the pulpit. And know that we all have direct, open lines of communication to God, our creator and our image, 24/7. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
|PlainT on Straight Genderqueer Woman|
|Finn on Things I Hate About Tae Kwon…|
|dmcco01 on Straight Genderqueer Woman|
|IGN on Straight Genderqueer Woman|
|Thomas Jones on Waiting To Exhale|