A couple of weeks ago I had an acquaintance mention to me that they used to read my blog and thought I was a good writer, but they had to stop because I was “so anti-Christian” and it made them uncomfortable. I was a little bit taken aback by the comment, because I don’t think I’m anti-Christian and I’ve never intended to come across as anti-Christian, although admittedly I’ve been critical of certain kinds of “Christian” on this blog… specifically the sort that wilfully embraces ignorance, and the closely-related sort which embraces homophobia and bigotry and, I’ll admit, I’m pretty forceful in my opposition to homophobia… although I don’t think homophobia is a Christian value.
Frankly, I assume if a couple of mild objections to that sort of so-called “Christianity” is striking a reader as sufficiently “anti-Christian” that they’d boycott my work then they’re probably one of the very people I’m criticizing, so the loss of their readership isn’t too onerous. I didn’t say that out loud, of course: We were at an SCA event and I wasn’t in the mood to make a scene. So I sort of brushed off the conversation, but it’s been nagging away at the back of my mind ever since.
It was brought back to the forefront of my attention this morning by The Wife™ sharing a post on Facebook. She shared an article on Pastor Scotty Lively, who will be standing trial for crimes against humanity for helping to orchestrate Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” Bill. Her comment on the article was “Out of curiosity I did a quick search for Christians and Churches that have denounced this man and his ideas. Even with those search terms I found page after page of Christian support for his ideals and almost no objections or mention of opposition of his doings.”
And that’s when I realized what my primary objection to self-identified Christians is: It’s easy to dislike and ridicule the ones who are actively promoting homophobia and hate, but the ones who really offend me are the ones who don’t speak up.
Look, I’m not trying to tar all Christians with the same brush, but I think we all have to agree that there is a perception that self-identifying Christians are generally anti-LGBT. I’m sure there are LGBT-friendly Christian organizations, but even the simplest Google search for “Christians Who Support Gay Rights” comes up with a couple of positive hits, a large number of “teach the controversy” hits, and a shitload of hits along the theme of “Christians who support gay rights are trying to silence real Christians.”
I try to be patient about this sort of thing. I try to acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their opinion. I try and respect religious differences, even when the person I’m differing-with doesn’t show me the same respect. And when it comes to Christians, I try tell myself that this shit isn’t coming from all Christians, it’s just a vocal minority with an agenda.
But when The Wife™ posted her comment this morning, I flashed on a scene from one of favourite TV shows, The West Wing. Not the famous scene where President Bartlett schools a homophobic talk-radio host with biblical quotations (although that is high on my list of favourites) but the scene from the pilot episode which introduced the character of the President with Martin Sheen’s characteristic one-two punch; an amiable velvet-glove-hiding-the-iron-fist: “You’ll denounce these people, Al. You’ll do it publicly. And until you do, you can all get your fat asses out of my White House.”
That coldness, that contempt.
That’s what I feel about Christians who listen to the radicals, the hypocrites and the haters and then choose to stay silent. I was a bisexual youth raised in a practicing Catholic Christian household, active in a Catholic Christian parish and educated through the Catholic Christian school system, which by age eighteen taught me everything I ever needed to know about hypocrisy in all its diversity of shapes and forms… and the hypocrisy of silence was the worst of all. Hypocrisy is not a uniquely Christian vice, I will admit, but many of the Christians I’ve met seem have a real talent for it.
If you identify as Christian and honestly believe that LGBT people are evil or misguided or a threat to society, I acknowledge your right to your opinion and kindly go fuck yourself.
Or maybe you identify as a Christian and you don’t see homophobia as such a big deal, which is sad because it is a big deal: people are dying because of it! Pay attention!
And if you identify as a Christian and disagree with the homophobic fringe using Christianity as their excuse, then that’s to your credit… but if you disagree with them and refuse to denounce them, if you refuse to actively oppose them, then I think you’re a worse problem than the homophobes, because qui tacet consentire videtur: He who is silent is seen to agree.
There are Christians who stand up for LGBT rights. There are Christians who denounce bigoted scum like Scott Lively. There are Christians who stand against that vocal minority of homophobes… but I’m going to be blunt and say that from the outside looking in, those kinds of Christians seem to be an even-smaller minority and not nearly so vocal.
From where I stand, the vast majority of Christians have merely chosen to be silent while people speak in their names. I used to be a Christian but I’m not anymore and never will be again. Part of that is feeling, as an LGBT person, that I’m not welcome among Christians but most of it is my disgust at the hypocrisy of staying silent while homophobes use the religion as both a shield and a weapon to abuse a minority.
Does that make me anti-Christian? I don’t know. I’m not anti-Christianity, and I certainly don’t intend to be anti-Christian… but I know, I just know, that I’ll be bouncing comments on this blog post which will say “you’re just as big a hypocrite and a hater for saying this.”
And you know what? If saying that Christians need to get their house in order and rein in the homophobes makes me an anti-Christian hypocrite, well, so be it, because Christians need to get their fucking house in order and rein in the homophobes who are discrediting the name of Christianity.
I’m writing this knowing I’m going to offend and upset people, and some of those people who I’m going to offend and upset are people I love. But I’m tired, okay? I’m tired of reading, every day, about the Religious Right’s efforts to deny LGBT people their civil rights. I’m tired of openly homophobic politicians. I’m tired of people using “family values” as an excuse to shame and isolate LGBT people. I’m tired of transphobia. I’m tired of the stories of petty hatreds and hypocrisies being perpetrated day after day by smugly righteous Christians who sleep soundly every night knowing that they’ve done God’s work.
If you identify as a Christian and aren’t a homophobe then you need to speak up. Please speak up. Because if you don’t speak up, if you don’t let the world know that you oppose the homophobes, then I know you’re with the ones who hate me for no better reason than I was born this way.
And I expect better of you.