Is aid-in-dying worth a public conversation? 1-26/27-19
Is the 'Religious Left' really a thing? 1-29-19

The American Bible Society's bigotry: 1-28-19

Some day, I hope and believe, nearly all people of faith will look back on the abominable ways religions and religious people have treated LGBTQ people and shudder in shame

Abs-logoFor a long, long time the Bible has been misused as a weapon against gay people based on the ways certain passages have been misread. You can read my essay about that here. Many Jews and Christians finally have recognized the interpretive errors they've made on this matter and have repented, opening up full membership in synagogues and churches to all.

But the American Bible Society, of all organizations, still is lurching about in darkness on this issue. As Religion News Service reports, the society now is requiring all employees to "sign a statement promising that they will attend church and abstain from sex before marriage, which it defines as between a man and a woman.

"Anyone who doesn’t sign the Affirmation of Biblical Community will be out of a job effective Feb. 1. . .(T)he effect of the policy will be to allow the society to terminate LGBT employees and unmarried heterosexuals who are not celibate."

So far, RNS says, 36 employees have quit.

Religion -- especially the Abrahamic faiths -- has at its roots ideas about welcoming the stranger, being gracious to all because God has been gracious to us. When religion comes down just to a list of rules about behavior, it loses its vibrancy, its reason for being. When it teaches its followers that some individuals are of less value in God's sight than others it has completely lost its way. That's what's happened here.

Religion should be a leader in freeing people, not in preventing them from living full, healthy, open lives that are a testimony to the beauty of the variety of God's creation. The false certitude of the American Bible Society about whether LGBTQ people are worthy of respect is just another example of religion run amok. And it's another reason why so many people under age 40 are so done with religious affiliation. As the Shutdowner-in-Chief might say, sad.

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Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American elected to Congress, is running for president, and she has written this RNS column decrying religious bigotry. She writes, "We must all stand for religious freedom and call out this bigotry whenever it raises its ugly head." She's got that right.

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P.S.: My latest Flatland column -- about a secular Kansas City group called the Community of Reason -- now is online here.


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