Friday, November 12, 2004

The gift of emotional turbulence

Last night my darling wife took me to her church for their regular popcorn-n-theology series. Did I mention it was my birthday? And that I myself am not Christian? Yet I had agreed to this, both because I love my wife, and because I had enjoyed some of the previous movies in the series. Last night's movie was Amen, about the Holocaust and the unwillingness of Christians to speak out against it. As I watched the film I grew angrier and angrier about the way these religious leaders so blithely regarded Jews as subhuman. But I was not only angry because of what happened 60+ years ago. I saw in those leaders' attitudes towards Jews the same attitudes contemporary religious leaders have towards homosexuals.

In 1920, members of the German Nazi Party announced that Jews were not part of normal German society and should not have the same rights. In 1933, Jews were prohibited from government work, restricted in attending universities, and prevented from becoming lawyers or doctors. In 1935 Jews were stripped of citizenship and told they couldn't marry or have sex with non-jewish Germans. Eventually businesses and property were taken away, Jews were barred from all public areas, and requried to add "Israel" or "Sara" to their names to indicate their "racial identity."

Does any of this sound familiar? Religious conservatives in the US have been stripping the legal rights from homosexuals for many years. They have passed laws telling them who they can't marry, who they can't have sex with, and quashed laws that would protect people from being fired for being homosexual. South Carolina's newly elected Republican Senator DeMint said gays and lesbians should not be allowed to teach. Oklahoma's newly elected Republican Senator Tom Coburn has said that high school girls shouldn't be allowed in bathrooms together because "rampant lesbianism is plaguing Oklahoma high schools." Here is a long list of other attacks.

In Germany in the 1930s, there weren't enough good people standing up to say that Jews are people who deserve equal rights. In the United States in the 2000s, will there be enough good people standing up for the homosexuals?

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