It gets so bad at times that I'm often derided as a Christian apologist. And need I remind you that I'm an atheist scientist.
A case in point is over on Counterlight's blog, where a man named Tristan is tarring all Christians with the common brush, in his outrage and anger at being denied his civil rights by so-called Christians, who use their faith as a justification to oppress him. In one post he mentions he studied for the ministry, so further I think he's one of those angry atheists I mentioned earlier, who has literally been driven away by the heterosexism of much of Christianity and he is deeply, deeply hurting as a result.
I have lived some of Tristan's conflict, as I think any gay person has. In my case, I'm a non-believer, yet married to one who is quite devout, and trying to reconcile my anger at organized religion that so relentlessly attacks us.
Case in point: the shady National Organization for Marriage (NOM) which acts as a money-laundering organization for the Roman Catholic church and the Mormons to attack equality around the country-- not just marriage equality, but civil union legislation and other equality efforts too.
NOM is run by conservative Catholics, fronted by Maggie Gallagher, whose testimony in Maryland was so demonizing that it flipped one state senator into the pro-marriage column. NOM is an active donor to the campaigns for anti-marriage amendment now heating up in MN and NC. Its arguments are vicious, based in lies, and justified by their view of religion.
Heck, just read any online comments following a newspaper article about LGBT equality and see how it devolves: any statement in favor will be followed by critics citing the Bible to oppose marriage and calling LGBT people perverts, which will generally be followed by someone deriding Chrisitanity and demanding civil rights. And round and round we go.
Is it any wonder the LGBT community is so anti-religion?
We talked a few weeks ago about Dan Savage's challenge to the NALTS, whom he calls one of the two barriers to marriage equality.
[A]ll those quiet, timid, and cowardly NALT Christians out there who support marriage equality but have allowed their conservative coreligionists to hijack Christianity. ("NALT" stands for "not all like that," the phrase you hear from liberal Christians whenever you bitch about conservative Christians, i.e., "We're not all like that!" Yes, yes, NALTs—we know. You're not all like that. Don't tell us. Tell Tony Perkins, tell the pope, tell Maggie Gallagher.)That's because right now, the Christian Right has succeeded in defining "Christianity" and the terms of the debate. They have established the Them vs Us definitions that the media uses. Telling the LGBT community, that is hurting so much, that there really ARE Christians supporting them, is of limited help, if you don't fight the lies. Recent polls from HRC and PRR show "Christians", particularly (yes) Roman Catholic laity and mainline Protestants, are really quite positive about LGBT rights including marriage. Those people need to speak out. It's why the HRC Clergy Call is important-- boots on the ground, so to speak, as diverse clergy including our own Susan Russell speak out on Capitol Hill.
I too was subsumed by a lot of anger against religion, particularly against the patriarchal, misogynistic, homophobic Roman Catholic Church in which I grew up. But yet I found myself with a woman of passionate Catholic faith, whose intelligence I deeply respect, and who was not going to give up her faith even as the church abused her. In a classic example of NALT, the majority of her RC friends were very supportive of us personally, and of our marriage. But even so, they saw no problem in asking BP to live a don't-ask-don't-tell life to remain there.
So I set myself the task of finding out how that conflict could be resolved, and thanks to Gene Robinson's consecration, that led me to the Episocopal blogosphere, and the rest, as they say, is history. My wife 's Catholicism is now joyfully expressed in an Anglican flavor. And as part of her journey, I've learned the nuance-- and tamed a lot of my own anger in the process. But we're not done yet.
So here I stand, trying to bridge the communities and bring us together for a common cause. I have a series my blog Gay Married Californian, called Voices of Faith Speak out, where I hope to show the LGBT community that they have allies. And here, I needle you about equality so you can do your share too. The Episcopal Church has done a great job in many places of binding the wounds of hurting people. As Gene Robinson says, though, you can't just pull the people out of the river. You have to go upstream and stop the person who is throwing them in.