Students of history are familiar with the Crusades that were religiously motivated campaigns conducted between the 11th and 16th centuries by Christians against Muslims, but also against pagans, heretics, and regular people for a mixture of religious, economic, and political reasons Crusaders considered sins. History is repeating itself in America and the same religious organization that initiated and sponsored the Crusades over 500 years ago has been actively pursuing a campaign against what they consider pagans, heretics, and regular Americans for not adhering to their religious dogma. The current crusade has been ongoing for over five years, but as of this past Sunday, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops has sent out a call to arms urging Catholic adherents to begin a concerted inundation of opposition against the gay community ahead of an expected Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.
The nation’s highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sent out a bulletin delivered to Catholics around the nation warning congregants that the Supreme Court may be on the verge of affirming marriage equality for the LGBT community. Dolan’s bulletin called on Catholics to push back against a possible ruling that gives same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples to marry the person they love with sermons and to visit a website about “life and marriage liberty” to learn how to discriminate against same-sex couples with a “commitment to praying and fasting for life, marriage, and religious liberty.” The USCCB also scheduled another “Fortnight for Freedom” and asked Catholics to donate “time, talent, and/or treasure” to continue the crusade of discrimination against the gay community. Dolan warned that “a negative ruling would redefine marriage in the law” and “become the Roe v. Wade of marriage.”
According to the head Catholic, “everyone has inviolable dignity and deserves love and respect, but redefining marriage serves no-ones rights,” and he encouraged parishioners to talk about “marriage’s unique meaning with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers” as a way to “share the truth in love.” Dolan’s brand of truth in love has been polluting American politics since President Obama included contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act, and like the opposition to marriage equality, it is another case of religion attempting to impose its will on all Americans. Dolan’s call for sermons denouncing marriage equality is a dangerous portent for gays as violence against the LGBT community has risen over the past year where “As of Friday night, New York City has been home to nine anti-LGBT violent hate crimes this month, and 27 this year — almost double the rate of last year, which saw a double-digit increase over the previous year” according to The New Civil Rights Movement. What better way for Dolan’s crusade to ramp up violence against gays than a rash of religious vitriol and anti-gay rhetoric from the pulpit on a weekly basis to accompany fear-mongering by the faithful intent on perpetuating hate and discrimination against gays under the guise of “sharing the truth in love.”
The anti-gay crusade picked up more steam last week when three-fifths of the delegates to the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council voted to lift the ban on openly gay youth, but preserved the ban on gay adult leaders and volunteers’ involvement with the BSA. The vote against religious discrimination against gay youth enraged anti-LGBT extremists who expressed outrage and vitriol at ending the BSA’s exclusionary policies, and brought out shining examples of fervent religious intolerance from politicians and religious leaders alike. Texas Governor and devout Christian Rick Perry said he was “saddened the BSA bends to the whims of political correctness,” and Oklahoma congressional representative Jim Bridenstine said, “If the Left were truly tolerant, they would tolerate the Boy Scouts being who they have always been” informing that many religious right adherents believe it is a virtue to tolerate bigotry. It is a sad assumption and exposes the twisted mindset and hatred inherent in the religious right’s anti-gay crusade to decry intolerance for not accepting discrimination and bigotry.
The religious right’s most ardent anti-gay extremists joined Republican politicians in denouncing the BSA decision with perennial hate-monger Bryan Fischer that claiming that the “BSA now stands for Boy Sodomizers of America, because that’s what will happen. Mark my words.” Tony Perkins, another religious right hate crusader claimed the “Boy Scouts’ decision is another casualty of moral compromise,” and came closest to the real problem evangelicals, like the USCCB, have with equality for the LGBT community; it is contrary to their particular anti-Christian religious beliefs they insist on imposing on all Americans. Setting aside that America is not a Christian theocracy bound to biblical edicts, these religious extremists are the antipathy of the religion’s namesake, Jesus Christ.
The so-called “truth in love” that Cardinal Dolan and evangelicals purport entails discrimination and hate is contrary to everything Jesus Christ taught his followers to observe in their interactions with other human beings as true followers of Christ. The hatred inherent in these faux-Christians against gays is as far removed from Christ’s admonition to “love your neighbor as yourself” as the Earth is from the Sun, and belies their contention they are Christians founded in love for their fellow man. They are also far removed from the sentiment held by most Americans that gays are human beings who deserve the same rights and privileges as any other American citizens guaranteed in the nation’s founding document, but they also are of the false belief that the Christian bible (minus Christ’s teaching) is the law of the land.
The Christian extremists’ crusade of hate and intolerance is not going to end with the Boy Scouts of America allowing openly gay youth members, or a Supreme Court ruling striking down blatant discrimination borne of anti-gay bigotry any more than evangelicals denying women the right to choose their own reproductive health will. Their twisted belief that they, and they alone, are the arbiters of morality belies the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom from religious imposition, and their insistence that discrimination by religious edict is representative of “truth in love” signals their absence of understanding of the teachings of their religion’s namesake. Little has changed in the 500 years since the last Crusade, and doubtless between the Catholic leadership’s call to arms against marriage equality and religious right’s hatred of Boy Scout’s shift toward tolerance will have unfortunate consequences for the LGBT community, but at least they are restrained from revisiting 14th century Inquisitions.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.