A quick word for Christian readers. I know you aren’t all like Charles Worley, or those anti-gay preachers in Montana. I’m one of you, so trust me, I know. But if you find yourself wanting to email me or leave a comment telling me that all Christians aren’t like that watch this recent video from Dan Savage and take his advice: Don’t tell me, tell them.
I have a really bad habit, when I get on cable news or radio, or sometimes in front of people of starting to pound the podium, and “Goddamn Christians this, Goddamn Christians that.” I’m not always careful to qualify “Christian,” or to put it in quotes.
Not all Christians are anti-gay bigots, my mother chief among them. I am not an anti-Christian bigot. The very last thing I did for my mother on her deathbed was run through a hospital in search of a priest. I’m not hostile to religious people or belief or faith. I was raised Catholic, I consider myself culturally Catholic. I’ve actually read the Bible, which is something that a lot of Christians, particularly Catholics, haven’t done, and I think there are great moral truths and great moral outrages in the Bible, including the slavery stuff – and the masturbation stuff, hello? So by no stretch do I want to be perceived as, nor am I, an anti-Christian bigot.
Here’s what drives me fucking up the wall about welcoming, affirming, tolerant, liberal Christians and their denominations. When I get into a lather and I’m pounding the podium about a Tony Perkins and I neglect to qualify “Christian” with “rightwing fundamentalist batshit asshole douchebag Christian,” they sneak up behind me or get on email and they whisper, “We’re not all like that.”
I know. I know you’re not all like that. Tony Perkins doesn’t. Tell him.
Tell all the rightwing batshit fundamentalist Christians who have usurped Christianity, who claim to speak for all of you – the Christian Family Association, not the evangelical Taliban Christian Family Association, the Christian Family Association. They’re the ones who have created the impression that to be Christian is to be anti-gay, that to identify yourself as Christian is to take sides in a war against lesbian, gay, bi, trans people in this country.
Don’t tell me. I know. Tell them. Be loud.
We need liberal, progressive Christians to be as active, organized, and loud as Tony Perkins. And you need to get in not my face, when I argue with Tony Perkins on CNN and condemn his brand of Christianity, but get in his face. And get in CNN’s face for helping to promote the idea that all Christians are anti-gay bigots.
There was a poll out recently, a couple of years ago, that showed that the fastest growing religious group in the country is non-affiliated, no religion, no expressed preference. And the atheists, the Christopher Hitchenses of the world, held that up and went, “See? People are…” Richard Dawkins said, “Oh yay, look, our group is growing more and more people.” And then when they dug into the numbers, they found that a lot of those people who were unaffiliated were actually Christians who didn’t want to identify publicly as Christian, because that meant that they were anti-gay.
How did that happen? I didn’t do that by neglecting to qualify “Christian” on CNN. Tony Perkins did that. Donald Wildmon did that, Maggie Gallagher did that, and they did it with the silent complicity of liberal Christians and liberal denominations that allowed them to hijack Christianity.
So my advice to liberal and progressive Christians is, stop whispering in my ear and start screaming in Tony Perkins’ face.
Like Dan or not (he tends to be a polarizing figure), what he says here is absolutely true. I’ve seen far too many self-identified supportive Christians shrink from voicing their support for or condemning the mistreatment of LGBT people for fear of being mistreated and ostracized themselves. If that’s your level of support, there’s not much I can do to make you stand up for your beliefs. Just don’t whisper in our ears that you really do support us if you’re not willing to stand against other Christians who would prefer to see us discriminated against, abused, deported, or, as we’ve seen this week, murdered.