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Friday, November 7, 2008

Church and State

The protests in California to Proposition 8 have specifically targeted the Mormon church for its role in the campaign. The conflict has taken a dangerous “gay vs. religion” turn.

I have little sympathy for the Mormon church itself. Frankly, if you put your church in the middle of a highly emotional political conflict, on a side that seeks to deprive your fellow citizens of their civil rights, and you end up with angry protesters outside of your church… good. But I do feel bad for the Mormons who weren’t involved and just want to practice their religion and not be harassed by protesters -- the Mormons who are tolerant, and I have many Mormon friends who are. Who, even if they believe homosexuality is a sin, think that it isn’t their place to make decisions for other people and decide what rights they should get under a secular government. But I hope these protests will cause a rumble within the church of "See what happens when you butt into politics?!"

The actions of the church in calling upon its members to rally to this cause, is despicable. At a time of economic distress, at a time when unemployment has reached its highest levels in 14 years, a church that actively encourages its members to have as many children as possible wants its members to donate to a cause depriving people of their civil rights. Not helping its members who might be struggling in these tough times, not doing good in the world, but just spreading bigotry. Shame on them. But I don’t think the criticism should be just targeted at the Mormons, even if they were the most active in this campaign. Also, shame on the evangelical Bible thumpers, and other religions rallying to this terrible cause. But mostly shame on the Catholics.

The Catholic Church’s official stance on homosexuality and gay marriage is no different than the rest. However, individual parishes, and priests, have a great deal of autonomy when it comes to what they actually do. No, they won’t perform any gay marriages, but a large number of parishes have opened their arms to gay parishioners. In San Francisco, a significant portion of the parishioners is gay. Which I think is wonderful. I’m glad that so many priests in my religion have chosen to welcome gay members and understand that God loves them just as much as straight people. However, there is something especially wrong about a Church that welcomes a group of people to come worship, partake of the Eucharist, and in particular, give the Church money, and then support an effort to strip them of rights under secular laws. At least the Mormons aren’t taking money from gay people and then discriminating against them. (They’re just discriminating against them.) I just think it hurts a little more when it comes from your own religion.

Granted, it probably wasn’t the more tolerant parishes that were heavily involved in this effort. The Knights of Columbus, a group that donates considerably to charity but is mostly involved in political activism, had the biggest hand in this. It’s shameful and a complete disgrace that an organization that is supposed to be centered on “charity” chooses to spend its valuable resources on campaigns of discrimination.

Anyway, this issue isn’t about religion at all. Some people are just rallying behind it as an excuse to support discrimination and invoke God to do it. How often has religion been invoked when arguing why something horrible is justified? Slavery? Oppression against women? War? But it isn’t the time to blame religion. It's a time to separate religion from this conflict and not allow people to hide behind their Bibles (or Book of Mormon) as a justification for their bigotry.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Check your email! :)