Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Radical Middle

Isn't there a Beatles song about dreaming about....please enlighten me with a comment, anonymous or otherwise. Anyway, my dream is buried in this exchange from sojourners

A frequent problem is the oppressed becoming the oppressor. By framing gay issues as civil rights issues rather than religious disagreements, the trends you mention could well end up with me being despised as a bigot, much as many people now look down on a good 'ole boy with a Confederate flag on his pickup(i.e. assuming he's a racist). Legally, a sermon on the Ten Commandments could be viewed by a court sympathetic to GLBT issues as an incitement for a drunk to beat up a gay person in a bar nearby that evening. If such a crime actually occurred, the victim could sue and compel the pastor/church to spend a fortune on a legal defense. In California a fertility clinic was successfully sued for referring a lesbian couple to a different clinic for religious reasons. Also in California, people are being denied their right to vote in citizen petitions. So as fervently as I want you to be physically safe, I don't support much of what is now occurring. Your psychological well-being is important, but freedom and the democratic process are important to the nation as a whole.
A plea for Christians to work for the physical safety of GLBT folk overseas even as we oppose gay marriage here in the US for religious reasons. This is the sort of radical middle thing that should appeal to Sojourners Magazine; unfortunately they are more just the Christian left these days. Which is their right, of course, but a disappointment to folks like me who were big fans of Jim Wallis back in the 1980's

I would also like to affirm JamesM: "So many people dehumanize others and think that that is what they are called to do. Maybe if they had a real heart-to-heart with people who have experienced what you have, they would change their tune."///More on hate crimes:Perhaps you[a person I'm debating on] support hate crimes legislation for honorable reasons. I oppose it from the reasons given by this Jewish letter writer, published in response to Cornel West: September 29, 2007
CORNEL WEST and Sylvia Rhue's arguments about hate crimes legislation border on hatred itself, such as when they accuse people who oppose this legislation as being guilty of "falsehoods and bigotry" ("Fabricated fears about hate crimes legislation," Op-ed, Sept. 25).
Hate crimes legislation is unnecessary. A crime is a crime. Hate is a motive. Making a motive a crime is legislating thought. Matthew Shepard was murdered. That was the crime. Perhaps hatred of homosexuals was the motive. Every crime has a motive. Greed can cause theft. Jealousy can cause people to kill the lovers of their mates. Anger can lead to assault and battery. Anger, jealousy, and greed are not crimes. Assault and battery, murder, and theft are crimes. Hate also should not be a crime. We need to keep our senses, even if we don't like the reason that someone commits a crime.
B. M. C.


Anonymous said...

You wrote: "[I wrote] 'makes me grateful that I live in the United States, where we have so much more freedom.' AMEN!
A frequent problem is the oppressed becoming the oppressor. By framing gay issues as civil rights issues rather than religious disagreements, the trends you mention could well end up with me being despised as a bigot, much as many people now look down on a good 'ole boy with a Confederate flag on his pickup(i.e. assuming he's a racist). "

Although I am White, I am a veteran of the Southern Black Civil Rights Movement. I spent 1965-66 in Mississippi. I still am active in the Civil Rights Veterans organization ( I've traveled to Mississippi for several reunions and memorial services for Civil Rights Martyrs. Unfortunately, when I was active in Mississippi in the 1960s, a Confederate flag on a car or truck was an overt statement of support for racism and violence against "uppity [N word]s" and "civil rights agitators." Whenever we saw a truck or car with a Confederate flag, that symbol filled us with fear. We faced overt violence every day. Many people were murdered and assaulted because of their involvement in the Civil Rights struggle. I was assaulted in a Mississippi jail and wound up being taken to the hospital. I still get that connection even now whenever I see a car/truck with a Confederate flag. I rationally realize that not everyone having a Confederate flag on their car is a racist. Still the symbol makes me cautious. If I were Black, I would be even more cautious.

Gay rights ARE civil rights issues. We may have to disagree on that, even as some people still disagree that Black rights are civil rights issues rather than "religious differences." I happen to believe that those who would deny basic civil rights to anyone because of race/gender/nationality/religion/color/sexual orientation/gender identity/economic class/disability are practicing discrimination regardless of reason, even if their religion believes in denying these basic civil rights. There are limits to religious beliefs. I don't think that any religion that believes in ritual sacrifice will be allowed to practice these beliefs. Even free speech has its limits (i.e. calling out "fire" in a crowded theatre).

As for the clinic, I believe in private property up to a point. As a Civil Rights worker, I fought for Public Accomodations Laws concerning restaurtants, hotels, hospitals and other public places. I've known of Blacks who have died because of being refused admission to "White" hospitals. I don't think that a hospital should be allowed to refuse anyone for essential treatment because of "religious differences" or any other difference. However, a fertility clinic usually doesn't supply essential life-saving treatment. So I would support a fertility clinic's right to refuse service to anyone for any reasons, including religious reasons. Just my opinions, and I know that these opinions might make me "politically incorrect" in various quarters, both "right" and "left."

As for a sermon on the Ten Commandments. I would always welcome a sermon on the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments don't advocate any sort of discrminatory practice (unless someone might think that thievers, liars, and adulterers are being discriminated against). The Ten Commandments doesn't mention any race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, disabilty. The Ten Commandments is about ethical and Godly behavior.

As for "hate crime legislation." I do believe that hate crimes do exist. I know that I've personally have witnessed and have been victimized by crimes motivated by predudice and bigotry. However, legislation that defines "hate crimes" causes many problems. For instance, rape is frequently a crime motivated by hatred of women. However, very few of the "hate crime" statutes mention women as one of the protected groups. Child abuse is frequently motivated by hatred of children, and yet children are not protected by any "hate crime" legislation that I know of. And of course there are many "hate crime" statutes on the books that don't protect against crimes motivated by prejudice against people because of sexual orientation. Matthew Sheppard was one such victim. He was tortured and murdered simply for being Gay. There were no "hate crime" statutes in the state of Wyoming, where the murder took place. And yet the judge was allowed to take account in aggrevating circumstances, that the murder was motivated by bigotry against Gays. The murderers received the maximum sentence. They didn't not receive the death penalty because the victim's mother (like myself) doesn't believe in capital punishment and her wishes were respected. I personally believe that issues of prejudice as motivation for crimes is best handled by the courts in taking into account aggravating circumstances. I do believe in keeping statistics on crimes motivated by prejudice. However, I really don't believe in legislation separate "hate crimes" because some people are protected and some are not, depending upon the whims of currently politics. Again, this might make my opinions "politically incorrect" in some circles. But these are my opinions.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely prophetic on the hate-crimes stuff. Bible-believing Christians will soon be spending time in jail. And absolutely Jesus-like on loving the *persons*. Delighted that someone else is thinking about walking that line!