Good Jews, Muslims and Christians work together for peace

First of all, this is going to be a religious piece…but one with political impact. The United States is a comglomerate of all srots of people. Fortunately, for every kkk member, there is a person advocating for racial equality. For every white nationalist, someone who understands that Black Lives Matter is an important voice and needs to be heard. In short, for ever bigot and every person who wants to deingrate others, there is at least one person that wants to build EVERYBODY up.

Secondly, no political party is perfect. The democrats are awful in some areas, only to be seen as good in comparison to the bigoty, war mongering, and corporationism of the republicans. However,the American Progressive Party and the Green Party are important statements of what might be possible if we all were given fair treatment…if workers were given credit for the fact that it is THEY even more so than so-called “capital” that has allowed us to progress in this country.

Finally, no religion has ever been perfect….no, not one. Each religion was founded during a period of time. The scriptures were written by humanity, and colored by the social and scienctific knowledge of the day. Isreal in those days formed a faith that was very good for tis day. The purity rules about food were health requirmeents and helped the people stay well. As is often the case, those rules got codified, and intrepreted and became something totally different.

The same thing is true of the Muslim and Christian faith. With all the hope imbedde4d in the essential message, there was a lot of bigotry and us vs them that entered in. Chriatianity, which I am more familar with than any of the other two because more about the words of Paul than the words and actions of Jesus. Paul was an authoritarian and in many ways a very narror man who had the philosophy of “my way or the highway”. In case you are thinking this is an idea that I got in my own head, it is consistant with the teachings in Old and New Testament that I have recently been a student with EFM (Education for Ministry) in the Episopal Church. It is an underatanding that many theorlogicans would agree to with very little argurement if any.

At a certain point, it is important to look at our faith and update it. Understanding that the religion was impacted by the cultural understanding centuries old, ideas that we no longer accept as valid in society today for good reason, the faith needs to grow abnd accept newly understood truths.

For years, I, raised in the Christian faith would have told you than the Jewish faith was a narrow religion and that there was no hope extended to anybody not Jewish in that faith. The Old Testament has a lot of smitting and attacking and “totally wiping out” of all the peoples in the land that God supposedly told them to subdue. However, right along with that, are stories of Moabites being welcomed. Ruth was a Moabite woman that was welcomed into the fold, and, as scripture has it, was the ancestor of Jesus himself, seen as the most holy man of all time by hundreds of millions today. Please not that Ruth was NOT weclcomed in Christian times, but Jewish times. So the Isrealis welcome her.

However, fortunately today for every bigot who wants to hate or at least subject other bodies to lesser treatment, be they christian, Muslim or Jewish, there is a counter voice. Here are three examples, one from each faith tradition.

This is a group of Muslims whose message is that there is a current of love and peace within the Muslim religion. Just as the Old Testament featured both volence against the other, and acceptance, so is the case within Muslim faith. This group is often involved in the reistance to trump efforts…the efforts to allow all people to be truely equal. They have a strongly inclusive message, and accept and acknowledge as equal the LGBTQ communities. There is even a facebook page, where Queer Muslems speak loud and proud about the truth of who they are.

This organizaation, billed by the Anti-defamation League as anti-Zionist, would likely not be that adverse to that title. They stand with Muslims, LGBTQ and Hispanics in the current resistance to the trump administration’s bigotry and bias in treatment of the various groups, but also for the Palistinians in the Isreal-Palestinian dispute. In other words, they want peace and understand that the Isreali governments discrimination and virtual imprisonment of those in the Palestinian areas of the country, much of which Isreal is occupting wrongly…like Gaza and the West Bank.

They understand that peace will never come as long as the Isreali goverment continues to make war on people within its own borders. For all the good that Isreal has done with their acceptance of LGBTQ, they are still mounting volence against the Palestinians in the lands that they have equal claim to. The Jewish Voices for Peace are fully engaged with BDS which is essentially an attempt to undercut and sanction Isreal for its treatment of those of Palestinian birth.

There are likely other example, the Episopal comes to mind, but this is the one I know the most about. They are, obviously, a Christian example of the idea of moving on from outdated and cultural biased positions to fuller acceptance of what we now know about the human condition and make up. With the More Light causus group, they have moved from being a traditional and rather conservative faith to being on the front line with LGBTQ rights.

Not only do they support equality in the public marketplace for LGBTQ folks, and have for a number of years, but they have now moved beyond that. They acknowledge both the right of members of those communities to be involved as members, but also as clergy and elders. In other words, all things being equal, there is no discrimination by the church against LGBTQ persons. I was one of the steps on that pathway, when about 15 or 20 years ago, I was ordained as the first out Gay man as an elder in my congreation.

Since then, there have been several more, in fact, there is one that i know of that is currently an elder in that congregation, and there may be more than one. Since the elders are the group that run the local congregation, you can see how far the church has come. Also, there are members of the LGBTQ communities in pastorial positions. One of the Presbyterian congreations in New Orleans was a gay man.

The Presbyterian church has also moved to make marriage equal, so as a same sex couple, one can get their reltionahip acknowledged in a religious setting, just like opposite gendered couples can. And the local Presbyterian Church identies themselves as Trans siupporter with signs advising persons needing to use the bathroom facilities to use th eone with which they identify without necessary adherence to birth gender.

The PCUSA also partitiipates in the BDS economic sanctions of Islreal so therefore is consistent in standing with those movements that work for the benefit of everyone.

So, for those who think that one religion or the other, or all three, iw without hope for a progressive, there are at least one exception in each of the three Abrahamic faiths…and likely more that could be found with a bit of research. Yes, there are people in all three faiths that understand that the biases of 1000, 2000, or 3000 years ago do not need to move into the future with us….and can’t if we really want to achieve anything approaching peace and fairness and decency as a world population.

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66 and retired, and living my dream free, knowing that only by working with a union am I fortunate enough to be able to be where I am.