Friday, November 28, 2008

Prop 8

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light…” Dylan Thomas

Don Brennan

84 % of regular churchgoers in California voted yes on Proposition 8 on Nov. 4, 2008, to disallow marriage among gay, lesbian and transgender couples. (SF Chronicle, “Why Prop. 8 confounded pre-eleection pollsters” by Mark DiCamillo, Nov. 10.)

Organized Christianity has an embarrassing history of bigotry. Christian congregations have consistently discriminated against one another since the Jamestown incursion of 1607.

When European seekers of religious freedom colonized North America, they withdrew into sectarian strongholds (Puritans to New England, Catholics to Baltimore, etc.). When the worshipers eventually spread throughout the West, they brought their meanness and xenophobia with them. Besides oppressing and excluding one another, they have for generations fought to exclude people of non-European ancestry as well as Jews, women, and homosexuals, from the right to be “real” Americans.

Conservative at its core, in a culture where that high sounding term has become a euphemism for exclusion, Christianity has shown contempt rather than reverence for constitutional protections of liberty, and typically defines justice in terms of retribution rather than fairness. Sadly, Christian history has shown little regard for the love of humanity. Churches are self-seeking rather than caring, judgmental rather than compassionate, and preach hate in the name of their own “Prince of Peace”.

From the beginning, European-American Christians have chosen to interpret the Industrial Revolution as some sort of divine proof of white supremacy, and proceeded to patch together a pseudo-spirituality with variations on the inane concept of Manifest Destiny.

Cultural integrity in the European colonies died in the womb, as it were, and its stillborn corpse was then embalmed with the most toxic ingredients, viz. slavery and genocide. The corpse has long since turned to dust, but its grotesque skeleton - our lynching, ghettoizing, housing project and reservation building culture, continues its death dance inside the American religious establishment.

Indeed, organized religion in the USA perennially reveals itself as soulless, often hateful and, at times, as thousands of Mathew Shepherds have learned, murderous. So it is not surprising that the trampling of human rights by electoral mandate continues to haunt and disrupt the lives of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender couples from coast to coast.

Just as ethnic minorities struggle every day against white supremacy for jobs, housing and education, as do women against male supremacy, so gays must fight their own unending battles against denial of full citizenship. Homophobic persecution is morally wrong, flies in the face of the Constitution’s protections of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So the struggle must go on, and it will.

Like slavery and the male ownership of women, sexuality-based assaults on human rights must become just shameful relics of the past. Let us hope as well that Christian bigotry joins them there.


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