Colonial Fool: Part IV – The REAL war on Religion

Sam Rohrer, president of the Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network, stated that he was “stunned at [the decisions on DOMA and Prop 8] today to take a 360-degree turn away from the biblical definition of marriage.…we must continue to work to keep marriages and families intact, the way God intended them, and pray for a continued revival of the values upon which this country was founded,” said Rohrer.1

When I was 15 years old I created a 2 and a half foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe.  It was quite an engineering feat: there she was in all of her youthful voluptuousness striding forward supported on nothing more than two strappy sandal, stiletto high heels.  I determined that once dried and kilned, she would balance perfectly.  Her curves, her expression her pose evoked a totally different era for womanhood…both good and bad.  Tragically, she exploded in the kiln due to unseen air pockets throughout.  That’s what I think of as I watch Paula Deen’s demise and it is also what I think of when I watch some of the conservative Christian reaction to the demise of DOMA and Prop 8.

Poor Paula.  She doesn’t understand why people get upset when she uses the word ‘nigger’ when she is angry or threatened or why having it as a part of her personal vocabulary is seen as…uh, questionable.  But then this shouldn’t be surprising coming from a woman who was fully willing to recreate a “Gone With the Wind” era South, complete with black slave help, for someone’s wedding2.

But remember, Paula Deen has always been this way; we’re just finding out about it.  We still lapped up every dollop of butter she served and bought every book and laughed with her when she was brained by a ham.  So what’s so different now.  Well, now we know.

So what do Paula Deen and Conservative Christians against Marriage Equality have in common?  A lot more than meets the swollen ham eye.  Although statements like Sam Roher’s and pretty much anything Michelle Bachmann has ever said, are just plain offensive, they point to a deeper more restrictive concept of religion than the one they are touting as being solely for married heterosexual couples and couples in waiting (aka their offspring) in much the same way that Paula Deen’s claim that ‘nigger’ is a fun expression is a sign of a deeper set of flaws.  These limited religious factions have decided that there is only one God, and only one interpretation of God not to mention deciding for everyone that there IS a God.  Last time I checked, most Atheists didn’t quite run that way, Hindus are creeped out by that kind of limitation in the concept of existence, Pagans question “just one?”,and well, us Unitarian Universalists don’t accept anything that hasn’t been decided by committee.

Before MB makes a statement like:

Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted….For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations.3

She might want to consult a Rabbi:

RebJeff on “What does the Bible say about marriage”

If you didn’t navigate away and look at Reb Jeff’s article on marriage (from 2012 but effective nonetheless) he basically says that the Bible just doesn’t lay it out that clearly.  He also brings up American law that only in the last 100 years gave married women ANY rights at all to their own property…largely because they were property themselves.

And Lord knows Michelle might be pretty confused by some of the “ins and outs” of Kosher sex…particularly where it says that the woman may not withhold sex or it is grounds for divorce.4

If the conservative Christians are not willing to accept even the twisted and conflicting language of their own Bible, do we really believe that they are going to take the time to truly accept Sikhs, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, Zoroastrians, Shinto or any tribal religions?  The framework that Roher, Bachmann et al are using is to declare Protestant Christianity the official national religion of the United States.  I will not argue that Protestant Christianity is what the dominant population who founded this country practiced.  But that same dominant population also practiced and perpetuated slavery, genocide, dowry rituals, marital rape, incest (first cousin marriage is still legal in 20 US states5) blood letting,  and more recently pre-frontal lobotomies, thalidomide, ‘hygenic’ circumcision, silicone breast implants and anti-miscegenation.  Not a great track record.

In the world of Bachmann, church is on Sunday, sex is in missionary position (appropriately named), marriage equals babies, people are either white or something else and God is God.  The terrifying part is that there are an awful lot of people in America who think this same way on some level, just like Paula Deen ignorantly accepts ‘nigger’ as a form of endearment (and she is definitely no rapper.)  The repulsion to same sex marriage is just the tip of the iceberg here.  This is a group of people that does not want to see beyond their limited view and gay marriage is the current whipping boy.  After 9/11 Muslims got their wrath (and still carry it.)  Next year, there will be a new ‘other’ for them to be afraid of.  Prior to 1967, it was interracial marriage and before that integration in general and throughout our history any kind of immigrants.  These are all assaults on diversity and our rights to seek independent truth.

I return to my ill fated Marilyn statue, beautiful in some ways though she was, she could never have survived…and that is a good thing; let her rest in peace with all the conflict of talent, honest womanhood and male objectification and victimization she has come to represent.  Similarly, we need to see the limited thinkers who invoke the US founding fathers to foist their beliefs on the rest of us just for what they are: perilously constructed statues of dead icons, waiting to self destruct in the kiln of modern justice.

Footnotes

1. Christians Stunned Disappointed in DOMA Prop 8 Decisions
2. Paula Deen uses the n-word: 8 Shocking Details from her Deposition
3. Michelle Bachmann Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 Attack our Constitution
4.Kosher Sex
5.Wikipedia – Cousin Marriage

The Big Day

This is a big day…for those of us who grew up in shadows, hiding our desires and feeling like criminals for acting on them.  The shame of desire, the social orphan pariah…to have come out of the shadows, into the light of recognition and to have come even this far with the rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 is nothing short of a miracle.

But I point to this as being a big day not for the actual decisions, but for the direction in which it is now pointing us.  As far as I’ve been able to read the opinions of the court, there is still a lot of gray area.  In fact, I feel as if the court has squarely kicked the ball back to us the people and in particular to faith communities.  WE need to figure this out.  There is no amount of legislation or “legaleze” that will transform people’s hearts.

So the real work must begin.  Lay people, faith leaders, communities, must now come together and have real conversations about how to live peacefully and supportively of each other.  I encourage you to have the tough conversations with each other, but first have the conversation with yourself to ask, not just what you believe, but how do your beliefs play out in a world that is built on love and not fear.  How do you love someone…and I don’t mean love the person/hate the sin, because being LGBTQ is not a sin…I mean how do you genuinely love someone through their difference from you?

May it be so.

Colonial Fool Part III: The Common Good

“The Common Good” is the first of two sermons being debuted at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento this summer, June 23 & August 4.  I decided to post this sermon partly in response to the irrational and misguided ignorance of the United States Supreme Court in their decision to gut the Voting Rights Act.  I have never seen a more clear example of narrow perception entirely changing someone’s world view and how the white male, heterosexual dominated concept of “common good” has a catastrophic strangle hold on our country.  Despite the lives lost over the years and the continuing restrictions on voting placed on non privileged and predominantly brown people in this country, four white men (and ‘Uncle’ Clarence) have decided that we’re done with Civil Rights.  

They have unleashed an unthinkable fury.

*** 

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

When I was in rehearsal for the Broadway show Ragtime, the Musical back in 1996, the whole performing cast had the good fortune to work closely with the creative team.  It was a heady experience working with the likes of E.L. Doctorow, Terrence McNallly, choreographer, Graciella Danielle; director, Frank Galati; composer, Stephen Flaherty and lyricist, Lynn Ahrens.  Not many people realized it but, Lynn Ahrens wrote many of the School House Rock tunes and lyrics including the “Preamble”…not the actual Preamble but the TV song.  I had some wonderful conversations with her about the craft of songwriting.  As a lyricist myself, I was very eager to share with her how much her music (prior to creating award winning shows like Ragtime, Once on This Island and Lucky Stiff) had meant to me as a very young person who was fascinated by communicating through song.  I told her that the “Preamble” was one of the tunes that I hummed constantly as a child and always looked forward to during my Saturday morning cartoons.  It was as a result of hearing catchy commercial music like this as well as studying the classics and a host of other music that led me to actually doing a show like Ragtime.  She was of course, flattered.  What is interesting to me now, however, is that there I was talking to her about the preamble of the United States Constitution, a paragraph that, although it has no real legal meaning, sets up the entirety of the rest of the Constitution as an instrument designed for the common good.  Yet, the show we were working on, Ragtime, was about the very different perceptions of what the common good actually is; how one person because of their sex, religion or race or social status, can experience the world as a very different set of outcomes entirely.  Ragtime is a musical about how different the common good looks to different people and how ill fitting the American dream really can be and the sacrifices that are made emotionally, culturally and even spiritually to live into that dream.

I was recently reading the book, Lovingkindness: the Revolutionary Art of Happiness.  The author, Sharon Salzberg shares a great deal about her own experience with discovering and embracing Buddhism.  I am struck by the clarity of her writing and I expect I will enjoy putting the book into action…not that it is an instruction manual on Buddhism, but rather a guide toward discovering ways to be genuinely happy through meditation and focus.  However, there is another part of me that is puzzled.  Salzberg, like many Westerners, traveled to the East to seek spiritual enlightenment, specifically through Buddhism.  This is something we hear a lot about, and we see a great deal right here in the Bay Area…Westerners embracing Buddhism.  I wonder, why don’t we hear about people coming from the East seeking spiritual enlightenment here in the states…seeking it from Christianity…Judaism…Unitarian Universalism?  No, instead, we hear about people coming here in search of wealth, or ways to learn how to be more wealthy.  That says a lot.  Why is this such a one way street?  Is it that the spiritual grass is that much greener?  Is Buddhism that much “better?”  I am not raising this question to at all be critical of Buddhism or those seeking/ practicing Buddhism.  I am just asking, rhetorically, what is missing in our own Western based spiritual practices that leaves us lacking?

Have we considered that it may not be lacking at all?

Consider this, every religion and spiritual practice seeks to do the same thing: make sense out of existence.  Whether that is to prepare us for the afterlife, death, or birth, or give us tools to sustain adversity, to give us hope, to build community, all of it is aimed at satisfying the answer to the perpetual “why?”  Even the lack of spiritual practice, even the determined belief that this is all we’ve got here and now, is a way of processing how we are in our existence.  It is human nature to ask “why” and that, as I see it, is about the only real common good that we can legitimately pursue: finding a personally satisfying explanation for the question “why life?”

Westerners traveling East to find “Truth.”  Odd thing, so if on a certain basic level we are all seeking the same thing, why would someone have to go to East to find truth?  What’s to say we aren’t able to attain the same level of enlightenment through our own Western traditions?  Are they that tainted?  Or are we?  Why should we have to learn someone else’s ways to find enlightenment.  The human animal, regardless of where they are, seeks peace in its heart.  It seeks oneness with existence.  In our largely Judeo Christian shaped Western world, we actually have the same goal of peace, enlightenment and truth as any Buddhist or Muslim, but we suffer from uniquely Western challenges of life. But Buddhists, Muslims and everyone else also suffers from their own unique challenges of life.  No human is perfect and no human is outwardly the same.  What binds us together is a sameness of inner purpose…not a sameness of outward practice.  If the purpose is linked to our being human and not how we are human, then it stands to reason that we should be able to find that “truth” within; regardless of how we choose to practice that truth.

I like to study anthropology in my spare time…genetics and human migrations.  It amazes me that humans who exist with no knowledge of one another all come up with the same stuff.  On a biological level, we all eat and secrete, we all procreate and die, but then also on a spiritual level, we all stand in awe of things we can’t explain and we seek an answer…whether that be through faith or science or both or neither. I love the fact that many scientists are actually deeply spiritual just for this reason. Ancient drawings, statues, language…all of these attest to the inner sameness of the human animal.  This is the reason every culture has ritual and spiritual practices and sometimes what we call religion.  There is a human tendency toward humility for our existence that wants to package that immense knowledge into something that is comprehensible; the real common good.

I try not to be the black guy who gets up and always talks about being black; and I don’t believe that conversations about race are all about black and white.  But I’m going to go there to demonstrate a related point.  I cannot stand the expression “post racial.”  It implies that we have “overcome” and hints at a job well done for everyone who was fighting through the sixties and seventies…yay, its all over now.   Many achievements have been made admittedly, but the same attitudes that created slavery in America still exist.  Slavery wasn’t created out of meanness.  Slavery was created out of ignorance and selfishness…and a sense of inherent superiority.  The assumed cultural superiority that created that disparity is still evident in advertising, public policy and pretty much everything else in this country that continues to live by a government and Constitution that was created by wealthy white men in a time long gone.  The more I study politics, I believe we will not ever be able to claim a cultural position in the United States of being “post racial” unless we are willing to give up the foundation of our government and start again by including all of the voices that make up the population.  My generation (Generation X) in the United States is the generation of deconstruction; we think…often too much.  Wedged between technology and the death of religion, civil and human rights and Reaganomics, we saw the world of the 60’s and 70’s spun completely out of control (my apologies to the Baby Boomers) and reaching adulthood said, quite simply, enough.  The words “post racial” are part of that spinning out of control “oh, we worked so hard, so there must be a result, right?”  There is indeed a result, but its not that easy.

Again, I am put off by calling something “post racial.”  For me “post racial” conjures up language like “color blindness” or believing that people of all races are the same or leveling the playing field.  I don’t want to leave my cultural, racial-isms behind…If I do, what does that leave me?  You see, the problem with the concept of “post racial” as it is largely presented is that it is based on a white Western concept of “commonality” which is fine if you are white and Western but rather lacking if you aren’t.  There is this assumption in “post racial” that my unique racial-ness can and WANTS to be blended into the concept of the “melting pot” and that this will be for the “common good.” But that is the same assumption that told me to straighten my hair.  It is the same assumption that told me to be a lawyer or doctor or banker.  It is the same assumption that says I should want a heterosexual modeled relationship.  But no, those priorities still leave one group calling the shots.  Ask the descendants of the Nisenan people, the Southern Madiu people, the Valley Miwok and Me-Wuk people, the Patwin people, the Wintun People and the Wintu people any of the indigenous people of the land we are sitting on nowAsk an Australian Aboriginal…ask different people what their “common good” represents and you will get very different answers.

The way in which we need most to become “post racial” isn’t by becoming “post racial” at all.  It is by becoming “post colonial”…letting go of a colonial Western centered world view.  When you look at indigenous people living off of the land or in nomadic tribes, do you see someone who has “less” or do you see someone living their truth?  When you see Shinto ritual, do you see primitive religion, or do you see honest insight into the heart of a culture?  News flash: some people not only want to live in villages, but they don’t understand why we don’t want to live close to our multiple generations and instead choose to cocoon ourselves in homes where we have so much “space” that we rarely see our children.  Some people don’t actually want to support endeavors that use money to make money.  Some people don’t want to be rich or even have any major stake in what our financial system is about, just ask some of our homeless populations.  Yes, we all need water, but at the cost of displacing people?  We all need clothing, but at the cost of modern slavery and the serious threat to health?  Are money and wealth and “prosperity” bad?  It really depends on who is pushed out of the way or manipulated to create that wealth.  And it definitely depends on who is defining what “wealth” really is.

In certain social justice circles there is a lot of talk today about “equity” and “sustainability” and “resilience.” But to what end?  Equity…so we can all have two leased cars a home with a mortgage and raise children who will spend 40 years working just so they can afford to retire? Who decided that our “American Way of Life” was such a good thing?  I actually don’t understand why we should have to live a lifestyle where we need to take 2 weeks of vacation.  If we were actually living in balance with what our bodies and minds and communities need, we would have no need for vacation.  We might actually live in balance with the seasons and also be able to embrace the shifts in ourselves from one time of life to the next, from day to day and from hour to hour.  There would be no retirement, because there would be an important role in the community waiting for us as elders and everyone in the community would want to support that role and all the other natural roles that are part of our human way of being.

The world that we…that’s you and me, people over the age of 40 have created, has reached a saturation point.  We cannot sustain any more useless attorneys.  We cannot build any more hospitals for rich people, and staff them with professionals who look at medicine as a profit centered business.  We cannot create any more schools of “higher learning” that are jammed with students who have to wait until someone else dies so that they can get a job.  We cannot pump any more pollution into the earth.  We cannot make our way of governing and our stewardship of the land we stole any more complicated.  We cannot keep doing this.  The next generations see it clear as a bell.  And although they love us, I do believe they are perfectly willing to let us charge headlong off the cliff…letting us die in the mess that we have created…because this world of capitalist pursuit without consequence does not suit THEIR common good.

Let me close by bringing this back around to our faith.  In his Berry Street Lecture “There’s a Change A-comin’” last year, Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Muir criticized what he calls the “iChurch” and rabid individualism among Unitarian Universalists.  It is a fascinating and delicious talk, but I caution against the negative framing of the Apple industries “i” in that the next stewards of our existence have a very different view of that little letter and the technology it represents.  Instead, I think it is more a question of whether we belong to a  “we-ligion” or a “me-ligion?”  I see ME-ligion as the faith practice that is purely driven by individual goals and desires and the individual truth.  We see this a lot.  Some of those same people who have gone abroad seeking Buddhism or other enlightenment come squarely from this space.  As do some people who experienced oppression in the name of other traditions they grew up with and carry that damage looking for healing and self reconciliation.  This is an important part of Unitarian Universalism that is even lifted up in our fourth principle “A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”  There is nothing wrong with self awareness.  But taken to an extreme, ME-ligion begins to assume that everyone is doing the same self centered practice.  WE-ligion on the other hand has the potential to acknowledge the identity of the self, while pointing more toward our sixth principle “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”  Humility.  Here I believe is one place where we start to point toward that truth, that real “common good” that I speak of.  It is a common good that is small and simple enough to acknowledge that life and existence, however we experience it or explain it on a personal level, was here before us, is greater than us and will go on after us.  Yet it is a common good that is spacious enough for us to be our whole selves beyond the imaginary boundaries of “states” or the history of slavery and genocide, and allows us to access what is at our unique cores outside of Western contexts.  It is a common good that will enable the next generations to reclaim what it means to be truly human and wrest it from the priorities established in a monochromatic, monophonic world dominated by a handful of cultures who were motivated by fear.  And they will replace it with love.  Let us help them.  May it be so

Last Splash

Okay folks, this one hurts.  I know that people passing is part of the circle of life, and when our favorite stars go, it should really just be a general sadness for them and their families while we enjoy the biography specials and the exposes on E!, but when I read that Esther Williams died today at 91, it kind of hit my like a truck.  You see, when I was an adolescent, trying to figure out just what was going on for me in terms of my not being attracted to girls and having a rather powerful crush on one of my male neighbors, I was also watching old movies on the TV.  Debbie Reynolds and Judy Garland were favorites; but above them all, standing on perfectly arched feet was Esther Williams.

I’m not quite sure what it was…maybe not so much a single quality, but a combination of things that made her seem at once other worldly and totally human.  In my youthful mind, she had the perfect body and face…which is a little ironic, because when I look at her now, she’s built a bit like a boy…clearly, I had formed my likes by this point.  She also seemed to have an irrepressible sense of humor.  When I watch her films now, I get the sense that frequently they had to do multiple takes because she was always cracking up.

It seemed to me that even though she was stunningly beautiful, she never took herself too seriously.  Although, that was different when it came to her swimming.  Watching her glide through the water, you could tell that this was a trained athlete, with flawless timing and technique…at least to a non-athletic swimmer like me.  She was beauty and strength and humility and glamour.  Wow.  Watching a woman like this in action gave me incredible respect for the full dimension of feminine culture.  In a bizarre way, seeing her was the beginning of me understanding that the other little boys and the terrible way they talked about girls as objects wasn’t right; nor was the way that some of the little girls acted like objects.  There was obviously much, much more to being a woman.  What a great foundation for getting to know the powerful young women of my teens not to mention the women of my family.

So to Esther and her family, I send a prayer, immense gratitude and a wish that somewhere some little gay boy is watching your old movies, looking at you and thinking, as I did, “if that is what a woman can be,  then I will always be in awe of what woman can be.”

RIP

Colonial Fool Part II: Let My People Go

“Have they ever hung from trees?” … “Were they ever slaves for 500 years, then I don’t think so. I don’t think [the issues are] equal … Simple as that.” – Rep. Monique Davis

[Rep. Jehan] Gordon-Booth said [same sex marriage] has “really taken a toll” on her and she will keep her religious background in mind when she takes a position. “I’m a Christian before I’m a black woman before I’m a Democrat,” she said. “Before all of that, I’m a Christian.“I have to live with what I do or don’t do. And so it’s a vote I have to take that I can be comfortable with the rest of my life. This is history.” – The Chicago Sun

“Today our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has won!” [Bishop Larry] Trotter wrote. “Pastor James Meeks, Bishop Lance Davis and I are so proud of the God fearing Black Caucus members who withstood the pressure of the LGBT forces and allowed God’s word concerning marriage to remain between one man and one woman in Illinois.” – Chicago Tribune

What the f**k?!

I have spent the last couple of weeks diving into research on what I consider to be the primary issue facing America today: Colonialism.  We are still living in a society that is defined by the conquest of a privileged ruling class where people who aren’t part of that ruling class are either enslaved by their position in society or they are systematically and deliberately eliminated.  This isn’t just about black and white, because America is much more than that at this point, although, it still very much has those shades; this is about cultural power and perceived wealth and concepts of everything from self esteem to personal identity…and yes, freedom.  Sadly, by the statements above by certain black leaders in the Illinois battle over same sex marriage, we once again see how the echo of colonialism, like the waves from a far off storm, have come ashore, yet again.

I love the depth of faith that some people in the black community share.  The commitment to a life lived in community and equality and to a life that is not just about what we ‘have’ but who we are.  In fact I applaud anyone who lives by what they believe, and I will not ask them to change their beliefs.  But a belief is just that; it is not a rule of fact for anyone other than the person who holds that belief.  We cannot experience life in other people’s beings; we cannot tell one another what is ‘truth’.  This is the most difficult part of being human…co-existing.  So when I read statements like those above I have to ask myself “what went wrong?”

Back when slavery was introduced in the Americas (1500’s) the first people bringing slaves to this country (Spanish) were overthrown by their captives. There is a long history of slave rebellion that gets very little airing.  We seem to be sadly content to think that captive Africans were docile and subdued relatively easily by the slave traders…but that’s another blog altogether.  On the contrary, slaves and indentured servants were not easily subdued by any  means.  There were three primary tools used to keep slaves enslaved.  First, it took the physical threat of guns and shackles to “keep them in line” although that didn’t always work.  Countless people died attempting to escape slavery.  This was a constant problem for slave masters and one look at the history of the Constitution of the United States makes it very clear just how big a deal this issue was/is.  The Constitution is the second tool.  The system of “government” that created this great land both embraced and promoted slavery and the classification of slaves as not holding full personhood rights.  This is most notably evident in language of the “Three Fifths Compromise.”

But one tool was more effective than the gun in making space for slavery to continue as long as it did: Christianity.  Christianity was forced on the slaves as much as the shackles and the unwanted advances of horny slave masters.  Slave masters, who were first reluctant to let slaves engage in worship, found that by imposing the Christian religion on them, they could in essence control their minds.  But being far more intelligent than they were given credit for, slaves learned to use Christian worship as a tool for communication, and sustaining themselves as a community.  The black church today owes its continued success entirely to the ability of early Africans in this country having the ability take poison and turn it into a poultice.  But that doesn’t change the fact that Christianity, for all of the good it does some people in the black community today, was unwillingly forced on the slaves.

But we are not living in the 1600’s.  We are not fighting the battles of oppression the same ways.  Specifically for black Americans today, the shackles are frequently financial and the guns we fear are those we turn on ourselves; and sadly the Christianity of the black church serves, in this case, to divide us more than bring us together.  In a twisted way, we have learned to do the work of the slave master to ourselves.  I think the three statements that begin this post exemplify ways in which the black community has turned the tools of colonial oppression on itself and is sinking fast.

Guns – Rep. Monique Davis sounds like a child who is using words she doesn’t understand.  If she doesn’t know or remember that Matthew Shepherd existed, that gays and lesbians have been beaten to death in this country this year, that trans-women are shot at point blank range for no reason, that the Holocaust targeted gays, that laws still exist worldwide that support murdering people for having sex with the same sex, then she probably doesn’t know about how well she fits the model of black people that D.W. Griffith portrayed in Birth of a Nation.  Ignorance like this kills.

Government – Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth doesn’t understand separation of church and state.  Truth be told, I’m not one to really make a big stink about this particular argument because I don’t think we can actually claim that there ever was or will be a truly secular system of government in America unless we chuck all of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and all of our legal procedures and our monetary system that use Abrahamic language, symbology and ethics.  However, If Rep. Gordon-Booth heard someone in the Middle East make this same statement in the name of Allah while quoting the Hadith in the Qu’ran where it makes reference to being stoned to death for sodomy, she might think again.

God – Bishop Larry Trotter hasn’t read a Bible. Last time I checked, Jesus Christ wasn’t fighting any battles and had nothing to “win.”  Language like this is straight out of that other great movement that oppressed people of color…the Spanish Inquisition.  He might want to take into account that the “LGBT(Q) forces” he is so afraid of are not outside of the church and that the same word of God that he’s referring to, saw Lot sleep with his daughters (Gen. 19: 30-36) and allowed (enforced even) slavery.

My point is twofold.  We cannot impose our beliefs on anyone.  The Marriage Equality Movement is not asking to impose anything on anyone, it is only asking to be released from restriction.  My favorite quote about marriage equality is: “if you don’t like gay marriage…don’t get gay married.”  Equal protection under the law, is not forcing people to do anything they don’t want.  We do not live in a society of restrictions.  If we did, we wouldn’t have the KKK or the Nation of Islam or free blacks in America.

My second point is, when are black American leaders going to wake up to the fact that we continue to see ourselves in relation to our colonial past.  The reasons that some black American’s cling to their religion is damaging our own success.  It is time for black American faith and faith in general to grow up.  Our faith can do remarkable work in building bridges, in giving hope, sustaining people through tragedy and helping us explain an inexplicable world…if it is faith that we want.  But faith and religion can and have done unthinkable damage.  No matter what, faith and religion cannot force us to love someone we don’t love; nor can it forbid us from loving someone we love.  Love is basic, and according to my beliefs (and I only take responsibility for my beliefs) love is God given as part of being alive.

A few sources:

Slave Rebellions

US Constitution and Slavery

Holy Qu’ran

Christianity and Slavery