Updated: Jan 25
Some conservative religious groups are all twisted up in a homophobic knot over a possible U.S. Senate vote on the Equality Act, which would further prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ folks. Y'all, I'm so tired of all this never-ending nonsense and bigotry. It's really all about access to government money and the freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ folks while hiding behind religion. Naturally, as a queer man and an ordained minister, I do have a few choice words, so let's get into it.
To the concern raised by Todd McFarland, associate general counsel for the Seventh-day Adventist Church: "I couldn't have gone to Southern Adventist University without student loans, which I'm still paying off. The threat is there, that we would lose that funding and the ability of our students to get Pell Grants, to get student loans."
Well, guess what, sweetie--yes, you should lose that funding because it's taxpayer money being used to discriminate. And as a gay man who pays taxes--it's kinda my money, too. Oh sure, you're fine taking tax money from LGBTQ people (wait, isn't it sin money??) but then you want to be able to use it however you please. No, you don't have a right to that money. The government does have a right to set how that money is used. You are still free to choose whether you go to an Adventist university or not--you just can't do it using taxpayer money. After all, when did being a good Christian become easy? You may actually have to make a choice on what's more important--taxpayer money for your education or funding your education in another way that better reflects your morals and values. I don't see what the problem is here. Take up your cross, Todd--am I right?
I found an article from 2019 where Rabbi Avi Shafran of the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America wrote that the Equality Act would: "coerce religious Americans into betraying our sincere, time-honored convictions ... [and] would aid those who seek to deny America's religious heritage ... ."
Wow, this is rich coming from a Jewish person. It seems, Rabbi, that you overlook the "sincere, time-honored convictions" of Christians in the good ol' USA that once discriminated against Jews like yourself. And that "religious heritage" you speak of so fondly? Yeah, not Jewish. But here you are taking the same discriminatory language once used against Jews and slinging it at LGBTQ folks. Besides, it isn't the government's job to affirm or deny this country's religious heritage, however that is defined. The government's job is to ensure rights and prevent discrimination. This country's religious heritage is what it is; it has already been written. As far as how it evolves, that's up to us as private citizens--not the government.
Other religious critics of the Equality Act fret over what they perceive of as the removal of protections they were guaranteed by the older Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Problem is, that legislation has actually allowed religious groups to engage in discrimination under the guise of "religious freedom." Be very, very wary whenever large and powerful religious institutions like the Catholic Church (referenced here) and the alleged "nonpartisan" allies who support them start attacking groups of people who have historically faced discrimination. News flash--true spirituality and religion is about lifting people up and advocating for those on the margins of society--not about protecting your parochial programs and institutions. If institutions become more important than people, you have lost your way.
So if it needs to be said, I am a queer ordained Pagan and interfaith minister who supports the Equality Act.