earlier this week, an old friend forwarded me a link stating that newly elected, eccentric and quite energetic president Trump promised he’d uphold previous presidential orders protecting LGBT federal workers.
while many of my pastoral colleagues applauded this move (and more than a few folks in my Boystown neighborhood breathed a sigh of relief), it appears those sentiments may have been premature.
in response, i confessed i wasn’t entirely trusting the president would uphold his promise – not just because he’s proven himself to be a pathological liar, but equally because of his engagement with the evangelical right throughout the campaign and election process.
he’s made some promises to them, too…a bit of a quid pro quo.
<if i were more tech savvy, i’d have a silence of the lambs GIF here.>
news this week of Trump’s conservative supreme court justice nomination and the ironic yet predictable tapping of jerry falwell jr. to lead a panel on ‘higher education’ along with inviting über conservative leader tony perkins to the white house precipitated The Nation leaking an as-yet-unsigned executive order.
this came on the heels of the president’s meeting with the vehemently anti-gay perkins explaining the confidence with which he spoke of president trump securing ‘religious liberty.’
for those who have somehow not yet realized – the term ‘religious liberty’ is being used consistently by conservatives as a dog whistle.
a code word.
it essentially means ‘the right to discriminate against the Other in the name of God and religion.’
as rightly reported by The Nation investigative journalist sarah posner – ‘if signed, [this] order would create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and trans identity.
at thinkprogress.org zack ford also wrote up a brilliant if/then breakdown of the implications of the EO which extend beyond the LGBTQ community, stating ‘this executive order would essentially let anyone discriminate against LGBT people, people who’ve had sex outside of marriage, or people who’ve had or want to have abortions simply by claiming that a religious belief motivated the discrimination.’
this is about conservative evangelical leaders attempting to reclaim a puritanical culture. it’s an organized movement – the late jerry falwell’s ‘moral majority’ clawing after their slipping control over the collective conscious of a culture moving in the direction of freedom and liberty, attempting to dictate legislation to keep those damned kids off the lawn (or perhaps better, trapped on the lawn of legalism by an electric fence of religiosity).
and it is not a new fight.
these are the same conversations that have been intensifying for years now – everything from 2009’s original declaration prompting and promoting the current socio-political religious insanity; to boycotting oreos for being ‘too gay’; to christians supporting the chick-fil-a debacle because they weren’t; to conservative church leaders doubling down in ironic opposition to the SCOTUS marriage equality decision (a ruling which simply follows what their sacred text and savior dubbed ‘the Golden Rule’); to World Vision’s constituents preferring to starve children in christ’s name rather than let a lesbian participate in feeding them; to the bullshit excommunication of any LGBTQ affirming church in the name of ‘spiritual or biblical integrity’; to these same religious leaders encouraging flower shops, photographers and bakers to discriminate in jesus’ name.
it’s a bastardized version of christianity.
i appreciate that some conservative evangelical leaders are speaking out against the current administration and their recent asinine executive orders – which are bound to continue at the same rapid pace on our path toward global and civil ‘unrest’ for purposes far above the presidents’ own pay grade – pointing out the religious intolerance, racism and misogyny along with a slew of other toxic symptoms of the Groupishness which got this maniac elected in the first place.
to his credit, even eric teetsel made a sign in protest pointing out the hypocrisy of claiming to be ‘pro-life’ while supporting policies of death::
— Adam Phillips (@phillipsan) February 2, 2017
yet the same man regularly pits himself against marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples and actively works to encourage others to vote against the humanization of those who identify as LGBTQ by providing the same rights he enjoys himself.
this position is not only hypocritical, but fundamentally illogical (and, i would argue [even from the bible, using conservative evangelical hermeneutics] un-christlike. more on that later).
when we stigmatize, marginalize, dehumanize and demonize anyone we consider ‘Other’, we set a precedent and carve a path toward the persecution of all of us – not just the so-called ‘Other’, but one another.
likewise, when our philosophy, theology and laws permit the legalized killing of another person for any reason, we set a course toward ‘criminalized’ killings.
this is as true internationally as it is domestically – and we’re reaping the benefits of religious leaders failing to follow their Great Teachers by justifying war in the name of their Creator in both settings.
since i hail from the faith and family tradition which claims to proclaim ‘good news to all’ – i’ll just call out the faux evangelicals who are promoting anything but ‘good news‘.
the jesus of the gospels consistently took a posture of solidarity with the marginalized.
he never positioned himself in allegiance with the authorities (whether roman or religious) to gain or maintain power by force.
he never discriminated against those the ancient texts of his own religion (nor the contemporary teachings of his rabbinical peers) deemed ‘sinners’ or ‘unworthy’ – even to the point he himself was declared to be unfit for service and a false teacher due to his gospel of grace.
his reputation was that of a drunkard and a glutton, as one cannot be fully immersed in incarnation without getting into a little bit of trouble with those who deem themselves separate and holy.
he did, however, save his harshest words for the religious leaders who pointed fingers at Others – calling them hypocrites, play-actors. white-washed tombs. empty. dead and dying wolves in sheep’s clothing. vipers. children of the devil. liars. the list goes on.
in summary, he called them blind pharisees.
in an environment when our religious leaders are defending the discriminatory actions and policies of this current president in exchange for a promise of religious protection (plus a seat or two in the white house and the supreme court) at the expense of those deemed Other, these words seem more relevant than ever. i
think it’s time we say so.
what do you think?