The weekend before I returned to the US, Jackson, MI celebrated their first Pride. Despite a threat of protesters, none showed up. However, five days later someone burned down the house of the director of the Jackson Pride Center. Although he and his partner were not at home, they lost everything, including their five pets. Despite the Mayor insisting that this is not a hate crime, because, as he says, hate crimes do not happen in Jackson, the connection is clear.
Jackson County is overwhelmingly conservative. I’ve been hearing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric since before I understood what the word homosexual meant. And it has all come from people who call themselves Christians, who invoke the Word of God as justification for their bigotry.
And I have to say I’m tired of it all. I’m tired of people twisting the words of my Savior. I’m tired of people turning my faith into something bigoted and hypocritical. I’m tired of Christianity being synonymous with hate.
Some days I think there must be another version of the Bible out there, something completely different from what I read. I try to guess what this Bible must look like. Does it say things like “Do not judge, unless this person looks or loves or believes different than you. Then you should make sure to tell them they are going to hell every chance you get”? Does it say “Blessed are those who persecute people for their differences, for theirs is the kingdom of God”? Does this other Bible show Jesus eating with Pharisees and berating the tax collectors for their sins? Does he tell them to come back when their lives look more like the Pharisees’?
I don’t believe that it’s a sin to be gay, bi, transgender, or any of those other letters (but that’s a whole other post in itself). But even to those of you who sincerely believe that it is, ask yourself this: what part of the Bible lets you justify treating the LGBTQ community in the way that you do? Where do you get the idea that Jesus would want you to discriminate against people? Why do you believe you are called to deny people housing and jobs and services? Why do you believe that the man who was ostracized for going out of his way to minister to the outcasts of his society would advocate for the persecution of anyone?
Can you not see the hypocrisy? Do you not realize that your legalistic religion, that rejects not only LGBTQ people, but also single mothers, battered women, drug addicts, alcoholics, prisoners and ex-convicts, the homeless, the mentally ill, and anyone else you view as lesser, bears far closer resemblance to the Pharisees than to Jesus and his disciples? Do you honestly believe that if Jesus were physically present today he would be sitting in your churches and not out on the streets with the vulnerable people you reject so callously?
I am tired of hearing people say “As a Christian I have a right to discriminate, it’s freedom of religion.” Maybe your religion tells you that you have to, but stop applying the word Christian to it. What you are doing bears no resemblance to Christ or his ministry. Christ ministered to the most vulnerable of his society. He berated the religious leaders of his day for mistreating them. He broke religious laws to care for people. He loved unconditionally.
If you want to claim religious freedom to discriminate, don’t you dare do it in Jesus’ name