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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Rise of Religious Bigots in America

Seems to me that American religious bigots are increasing in number—or are at least being more upfront than they have been in decades.

Take, for example, the story of the Delaware school district that insists on praying "in Jesus' name" at school board meetings, despite a Jewish family's request for a more inclusive "in God's name." The aggression of the Protestant religious right in shoving its beliefs down everyone's throat frightens me and makes me ashamed to be a Christian. I don't want everyone thinking that all Christians act like these bigots.

My beliefs match those summarized by the Christian Alliance for Progress:
  • Compassion and care for "the least of these": We follow Jesus' call to compassion and his command to "love your neighbor as you love yourself."

  • Responsibility and obligation: We heed the call to take up our cross—to transform our lives, but also to do more: to move beyond the "personal" and to take responsibility in our communities and country.

  • Justice for all: We stand against powerful systems of human injustice in our world, as Jesus stood against them in his.

  • Equality and inclusiveness: Like Jesus did among women, tax collectors, Samaritans, and others, we reject hurtful exclusionary distinctions between "us" and "them."

  • Faithful stewardship: We follow Jesus' call for responsible stewardship—caring protection for the environment and sharing of our worldly treasure.

  • Right use of power: We turn away from fear; we use the power of God that flows through us to protect the innocent and build justice in the world, not to coerce others to our will or force others to accept our vision.

  • Spiritual foundation: We turn to God as our spiritual foundation.

What this means, among other things, is that I don't feel the need to press my religious beliefs on anyone.

I'm quite familiar with extreme Christians, so my abhorrence of religious bigots comes from experience. I was raised as a Southern Baptist to believe that men are leaders and women are not, to believe that being gay is a sin, and to go out and talk other people into believing the same things. As a young adult, I was so turned off by Baptist beliefs and the Baptist attitude that being human is bad that I avoided all religion for almost 15 years. I then spent about 10 years as a Presbyterian. Now I'm again reevaluating my spirituality, tired of the anti-gay stance of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Whatever your religion, there is no reason to force it on other people. Doing so devalues the concept of free will and the worth of each human being, tenets held by most major religions but apparently forgotten by today's bigots.


Cris said...

Amen, EM!

Imperatrix said...

I'm at the point now where if someone defines themselves as Christian, I withdraw. I've appreciated your comments here and elsewhere, because it's people like you who keep me from losing all respect for Christianity. So many of the folks who wear those WWJD bracelets, or shout their Christianity from the rooftops, seem never to have stopped to think about the Bible they so proudly memorize: If the Christian world truly followed the words of Christ, they would not start wars, they would not alienize those not like themselves, they would not take advantage of others with legal yet immoral business practices, and they would never dare to usurp the power of their God and judge anyone...OK, I'll stop now.

Imperatrix said...

Erm, that would be "alienate", now, wouldn't it? :-/

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

To use one of those possibly icky Christian words, Imperatrix, amen. ;-)

TFLS said...

My alienation from Catholicism pretty much follows your path to a
'T'. I found out that I prefer talking to god sans intermediary. I just don't do groups. I realize there are many people who prefer to go into a physical church. My best friend is that way. She adores the tradition of it. Me - I prefer sitting under a tree. To each their own; I just wish everyone would see it like you do! By the way – whatever was the local reaction to that flag?

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

I do the outdoors thing, too, FLS. A few years ago, I did my best meditating while race-walking through my neighborhood, noticing how everyone's trees and flowers were growing and listening to the birds sing.

Local reaction to our "impeach Bush and Cheney" flag? The pizza delivery people and regular mail carrier love it. The mail carrier even asked me to write down the URL to EditorMom Stuff so he could buy some of my anti-Bush items. Hardly anyone in our neighborhood has said a word about about the flag. But even one of our next-door neighbors, a Republican banker msrried to another Republican banker, was discussing our flag with my husband, and he allowed as how Bush is a total screwup, though he voted for Bush the first time around.

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