How the Right Wing is really the biggest threat to the concept of religious freedom in this country
The book pictured above is Jack Rogers’ thesis on his exploration of the Christian look at homosexuality. It is specifically addressing his own personal journey from an active opponent of LGBTQ equality within the Presbyterian Church USA to acceptance and advocacy for equality for ALL Christians.
Although the book is quite short, at only about 126 pages of actual text, it is jammed full of detail and theological analysis, again from the history of Reformed tradition. However, much of it is translatable to anybody in any religious community in that it looks at the various ways that the Christian Church has sinned against different demographics over the centuries.
The first, and most obvious, is the Black community. This demographic was discriminated on for centuries, at least two and to some extent still, in this country including with approval for such discrimination by the Church. Specific texts were used, which were assigned meaning related to the Black community, by the church theologians and slavery was seen as their deserved status. You said, according to the argument put forth, Africans were descended from Ham who was cursed to be a servant by his father for a supposed sexual sin. Ham sinned, the entire Black community was condoned based on that sin, and away we went.
The second was the 2nd class citizenship, and church membership accorded to women. That one was attributed to the sin of Eve, and therefore from thenceforth, no woman was able to be a leader of any type in the church.
What both arguments failed to take into account was the historical time when those passages were written and the culture of that day. We live in different times, and did even 200 years ago, from that long-ago time, and certainly, Jesus is a teacher of love who would argue against such discrimination. However, legalistic Christian scholars held on to the old proof-texting and sustained the discrimination.
From Jack Rogers's point of view, and mine, I might add, they continue to use the same legalistic approach, often applying Paul’s bombastic statements that were meant for one particular person or group to attack whole populations.
I pride myself on being on the front lines in the Presbyterian Church and being involved in the evolution of that denomination in moving to full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the full life, including leadership on all levels, of the church. Although I admit that I was only one of literally thousands that accomplished that goal, I was there on the front lines and it is one of the things that I have accomplished that I am proudest of.
You see, I believe that the Christian faith is all about inclusion rather than rejection and condemnation and now finally, we are moving from the condemnation stage about the LGBTQ community….in large measure, although there are still outshoots of bigotry out there.
The one issue that I feel Rogers did not consider is that controversy started in the very first century with the fight over whether or not Gentiles could truly be Christians without becoming Jews first. Peter’s vision was of all sort of Gentile food, but afterward, there is no continued emphasis on what they ate, but rather who was included. Gentiles were included, so inclusion was an issue from the beginning. People don’t often focus on that particular “battle” because 99 percent of those now considered Christian would not have been allowed if things hadn’t changed. The only way we would have been included was the whole range of Jewish laws with emphasis on including Jesus as part of it. So it is easy for people today to forget that inclusion was not an idea that started to begin with, and each group that was included had to be fought over.
But setting aside ALL of this, what we are left with right now is the right-wing folks who appeal to Christianity as part of their political states, grouse about so-called threats to religious freedom when it is THEY who want to curtain religious freedom for others. Nobody is going to say that they have to preach favorably about any of the topics mentioned…but they don’t have the right to shove their religious beliefs down my, or others like me’s, throats either.
Religious freedom means that everybody gets to decide for themselves. The government is not to impose one religious belief on us all. My Church teaches God loves LGBTQ equally with everybody else. Nobody has the right to legally deny me the right to belief…not when they claim to be for “religious freedom”. Abbott and DeSantis are literally attacking the idea of religious freedom when they ban women’s choice, whether they acknowledge it or not to the extent that they claim to do it on religious grounds.