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Natural disasters can bring out people’s best. As Hurricane Sandy roared across the Northeast, people joined together to pile sandbags; they reached out to neighbors who needed a dry place; they risked life and limb to save strangers from a watery grave. Would that all neighbors be treated with such respect in political storms as well.
As the political storm season comes to a climax, there are unnatural disasters that speak of the human capacity to harm each other.
In a category 1 unnatural disaster, cartoonish leaders demean religion by blaming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for the hurricane. Linda Wall , prominent anti-LGBT lawyer claims that the USA is under “God’s judgment.” The Rev. John McTernan blames marriage equality laws for God’s “destructive judgments.”
In a category 2 unnatural disaster last week, Maryland pastor Robert Anderson, part of a coalition of Black pastors sponsored by the conservative National Organization for Marriage quoted the final lines of the first chapter of Romans in the Bible to proclaim that gay and lesbian people deserve death. He received “Amens” and “Excellent! Excellent!” along with applause. Never mind that the very next line, Romans 2:1, states, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Despite a press statement disclaimer from NOM, Anderson stands behind his statements.
If these beliefs were not so unnaturally disastrous we could laugh it off, but we are leaders of two global networks of congregations founded on the belief that all are equal in God’s sight regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We have seen the un-natural disaster of suicides, homeless teens on the streets, and the profound grief of people who have been told they are going to hell because of whom they love and who they are. Families are told by Bible-thumping ministers to turn their backs on their LGBT family members as some kind of tough love—when what they need is God’s love and the love of a church that has matured beyond proof-texting prejudice.
Both of us are Christians and we lead churches grounded in the Word of God, but the Bible tells us to love our neighbor, not judge our neighbor.
In what appeared to be a category 3 unnatural disaster, millions were reminded of how the Bible can be used for evil when they viewed Missouri pastor Phil Snider’s anti-gay speech with the twist that it was composed of quotes from white religious leaders who supported the unnatural disaster of slavery and segregation. Gratefully, there are dozens of pastors of all races who now speak out in support of marriage equality as a simple matter of fairness and equal treatment before the law.
Finally, a category 4 unnatural disaster has been brewing in the over-heated waters of disdain toward our first African American president. With documented strategies of using gay issues to divide and conquer Black and Latino voters, voter ID laws in 10 states and voter intimidation now being investigated by the FBI, it is increasingly clear that some political forces would throw away our entire democracy to gain power.
A Bloomberg headline says it all, “Felony Warnings Combine With Bogus Mail to Limit Voter Turnout.” Despite being investigated for voter registration fraud in 2004, the same company was hired by the national Republican Party and Republicans in Florida and then fired by both when fraudulent voter registrations surfaced.
This category 4 unnatural disaster seeks a platform of power but erodes the pillars called “We The People” which hold that platform in place. This un-natural disaster can only be thwarted by voters who conquer every obstacle, face down every conjured up threat, and bravely challenge every illegal activity designed to keep them from voting.
We are two church women of African and European descent who lead international faith organizations. We vote and we work together because it matters. We remember Fannie Lou Hamer who was beaten to within an inch of her life, just for registering to vote. We remember Susan B. Anthony and hundreds of other women who were arrested and often brutalized in prison for demanding the vote.
We do not forget! Our votes are the result of struggle and we will continue to cast them with pride. No one is gonna turn us around!”
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches. Bishop Yvette Flunder, founder of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco, is presiding bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries