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Hating on trans folk: The moral collapse of the Christian right

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My blog on transphobia, published yesterday, was highly critical of a University of California, Berkeley student named Isabella Chow, who claims to be a loving Christian but is one of the leaders on her campus to marginalize transgendered people and deprive them of their rights. After I published an open letter to her on her Facebook page, her friends rushed to her defense. They offered the most pitifully weak rationales for siding with her—rationales that a six-year old could easily destroy. But for me, the most objectionable is their theory, constantly resurrected by rightwing religious extremists, that the Founding Fathers were bible-thumping Christians, the implication being that America is a Christian nation.

Nothing is more unacceptable to those who understand History, and who respect our Constitution.

I don’t know what educational level Chow’s friend, Jonathan Sarfati, has reached, but his ignorance of our country’s roots is profound. (His spelling and factual errors suggest a limited education.) He wrote:

This [First] amendment [to the Constitution] was to marginaliza [sic] the government [sic], not Christians. When Jefferson talked about the extra-constitutional [?] phrase of separation of church and state, he was talking about protecting the church from being invaded by the state.

Can you believe it? Here’s what the First Amendment actually says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. It seems to me, and I would think all reasonable people would agree, that this twofold proposition grants to religion the freedom not to be interfered with by government, and grants the American people the right not to have the Congress (the lawmaking branch of government) interfered with by religion.

That’s a wise solution to an old problem: our Founders really got it right. But it’s easy to see that religious fanatics like Sarfati believe only in the first part of the equation (no government interference in religion) but not the second (no religious interference in government). And, in fact, they allege that any attempt to limit religious interference in government represents governmental interference in religion! How weird is that? It’s like saying that if a cop arrests a crook, the cop is interfering in that crook’s freedom!

Of course, these radical Christians want to protect the ability of their particular religion to interfere in government. That’s why they elect fanatics, like Marsha Blackburn, to Congress. They want their religion to influence the debate on gay rights, on abortion, on taxes (Does Jesus really have a position on tax rates?), on the rights of corporations as opposed to the rights of the people (Was Jesus in favor of Citizens United?), on protecting the environment, on creches in front of City Halls, on Christian crosses on public lands, on forcing school children to accept Christian prayers in the classroom, on Trump’s Muslim ban, and on almost every issue you can name. They want to reshape the laws of America so that they foster evangelical/fundamentalist/Catholic/Mormon values, not democratic, pluralistic ones.

Another of Chow’s friends accused me, predictably, of being a Christian-basher. I replied, No, I’m not. Jesus was a Jew; as a Jew, I love his teachings. It’s what the church later became that is offensive. There are many branches of Christianity I respect: Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, in fact any Christian branch that welcomes LGBTQ people. But I an unalterably opposed to the rightwing, Trump-affiliated, homophobic sects, of which the leaders are Catholics, Mormons, evangelicals and fundamentalists.

People like Chow and Sarfati want government to keep its hands off religion (well, their religion, anyway). But they want their religion to get its hands all over our government. (By the way, the Chow-Sarfati argument that religions in America should be free of government interference clearly doesn’t apply to non-Christian religions, such as Islam, Wicca, Native American, etc., which these Christian extremists, led by the former agnostic, now newly-born Christian, Donald Trump, would like to see extirpated from our shores. It’s also bizarre that Chow, who I believe is of Chinese descent, apparently has forgotten that the Chinese were the LGBTQ community of California 150 years ago–hated and discriminated against by–guess who?–Christians!)

Another defense of Chow that is being peddled by her friends is that she’s a decent, loving Christian woman who has only the warmest and most tender feelings towards LGBTQ people. Here, for instance, is Amanda Raghunandan, advancing this howler: “[Chow] has not bashed the lgbtq community, she has been polite in explaining her stance. However, for doing so she has been bashed and harassed by the students at UC Berkeley.”

As I wrote yesterday, this is reminiscent of the Spanish inquisitor, Torquemada, “praying for the souls of ‘heretics’ even as he stretched them on the rack, waterboarded them, tore out their entrails, and set fire to the kindling (the ‘faggots’) upon which their bodies were bound.” I can see Chow saying “I love you” to a gay person, even as she gives them electroshock conversion “therapy.”

The Spanish Inquisition started a war against “heretics,” mainly Jews and Protestants, a war they could not and did not win, and that has stained the Roman Catholic church with a deserved reputation for violence and truth-squashing—a stain that mars the church to this very day, when they have spent billions of dollars defending pedophile priests and covering up their indefensible sexual crimes against children. How anyone could conceivably still view the Roman Catholic church as a legitimate institution, worthy of respect, is beyond me; and I will add fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity and Mormonism to that list of deplorables.

We have got to recognize that there are dangerous people in this country, self-identifying as Christian, who pose a clear and present danger to our way of life. I’ve had it up to here with trying to be reasonable with them, with trying to bargain with them, with trying to teach them that LGBTQ peoples’ rights are worth defending. I mean, their favorite president is a serial adulterer, and they don’t care! I’ve had it up to here listening to their nonsense about the bible, a concoction of fairy tales. I’ve had it up to here with them trying to sneak their hatred and prejudice into our laws. They have to be resisted—indeed, that is one of the main tent-poles of The Resistance against Trump. And let’s remember this: The Resistance just won the midterms in a massive, historic, still-building Blue Wave! So Chow, Sarfati, Raghunandan and all who would destroy American democracy and create a theocracy: you have been repudiated by the great majority of the American people. We don’t want you! Please go away. Nurse your grievances within the halls of your churches and prayer groups, and leave the rest of us alone!

  1. “Jesus was a Jew; as a Jew, I love his teachings. It’s what the church later became that is offensive.”
    I’ve seen this encapsulated as a quote attributed to Ghandi (but which may not be true): “I like your Christ. It’s your Christians I don’t like.”

  2. Bob Rossi: I think I heard that, too.

  3. Cool. So the endgame for you people is to throw all the Christians to the lions, like in old times. Better if we just have nothing to do with each other. You live your life, I live mine. We don’t interact. Isabella Chow has the right to her own beliefs as long as she doesn’t force them on anyone else, which is what she did – she abstained. You people demand war on those who don’t share your views. On that path lies nothing but death and destruction. You’ll find a lot of people waiting for you on the other side.

  4. Dear Mr. Doe, I find it so amusing that you profess to be all upset by the intolerance of the Left–and yet, when Christians routinely insult and assault LGBTQ people, and try to take away their legal and civil rights, you are strangely mute. How can this inaction be explained? Simple: You are homophobes–and this is what we resist. Being intolerant of LGBTQ people is no different from being intolerant of Black people, or Jews, or disabled people, or Muslims. Until and unless you can overcome your own personal animus to LGBTQ people, you must expect decent Americans to resist you, by every means necessary, because you are being anti-American and are attempting to force your particular religion upon everyone else. Now, what part of that don’t you understand? Let me know, because, really, I can be as articulate as you require.

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