The Separation of Church and Hate– Elaina Portugal
August 20th, 2015
I needed to be talked off the ledge last night. I can’t remember the last time I felt such rage. To be fair, I’ve been on a slow burn for a few weeks, but last night sent me right to the edge. I took my oldest son to Boy Scouts and the group leader sat the boys down to tell him he was leaving as their Scout Master because, according to him, they’ve ruined the organization by allowing homosexuals to be leaders. He went on to say that as a good Christian man, he could not be part of an organization that allows these sinners to be part of the group. At this point, I began to gather my belongings, because I knew if he continued in this vein, I would take my son and leave. Well, he continued. I stood up in the middle of his tirade about these sinners who CHOOSE to sin 24/7, 365 days a year and told my son it was time to go. The Scout Master looked at me, and I glared at him. I was at Boy Scouts, not church, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be at his church.
I wanted to say so many things to him. The word homosexual didn’t show up in the Bible until 1946. Homosexuality wasn’t even a concept until the late 1880s. Therefore, the word homosexual was never used in the Bible because the writers of the Bible had no concept of sexual orientation. I wanted to ask him if he knew the Bible was originally written in Ancient Hebrew and the word they used was qadesh, not homosexual. Qadesh is a temple prostitute representing a pagan god, and back in ancient Israel, adolescent boys -prostitutes- were used to represent this god in ritualistic pagan sex. God called this ritual to’ebah, not abominable, which is also a mistranslation. The original word to’ebah means taboo. It was taboo for the Israelites to engage in pagan rituals; the ritual was taboo, not the people. I wanted to ask him if he knew any of that.
I wanted to call out his duplicity because I’ve seen this man eat pork sausage. He cuts his hair at the sides, and while I haven’t looked at the labels of his clothing, I’d venture to say he wears some mixed fabrics. I also know the company he works for is an equal opportunity employer, yet he still works for them. Why is it okay to choose one Levitical Law to spew hatred about, but ignore the rest? The ugly side of me wanted to ask him when he chose to be straight since he stated one chooses to be gay.
But, I didn’t say any of these things, because I, too, am a Christian. I believe we should love thy neighbor as thyself, even when he is being hateful. I also realized that he believes he’s right just as much as I believe I am right. I’m okay to agree to disagree, but I’m not okay with him using his role as Scout Master to spread his message of hatred to children. His role is to teach them about hiking and camping, not preaching. He could have simply stated that he didn’t agree with the ruling and kept his personal views on homosexuality to himself.
The idea of using religion to spread hate and oppression is widespread and has been around for as long as religion itself. This week I read an article about some evangelist preaching that Robin Williams killed himself because he didn’t have Jesus in his heart. Not only did he trivialize depression and send a horrible message to those with the disease, but there are millions of people who don’t have Jesus in their heart who aren’t killing themselves. The reverse is also true. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple is an example of 900 people who either killed themselves or were killed in the name of their religion. In the recent past, Hobby Lobby used religion to push a personal agenda that oppressed women. The list of examples is huge, and this is not strictly a Christian phenomenon either. One only has to read the headlines about suicide bombers and ISIS to know that other religions spread hate and bigotry as well.
We need to separate church from hate. If you hate homosexuals, that is your right. Don’t hide behind religion to justify your feelings. If you are a misogynist and feel you’re superior to women, don’t hide behind your religion to justify your bigotry. If you want to control people, bend them to your will, and have them follow you like sheep to the slaughter, don’t use the Bible to condone your behavior. Take responsibility for your beliefs and your behaviors, and if you find they are based in your religion, maybe you ought to question that.
My husband asked me why I was writing about this. He believes no matter what I write, I’m not going to change the Boy Scout leader’s mind, or anyone else who uses religion to justify their hatred. My husband is probably right. However, my Christianity is way too important to me to allow myself to sit idle while someone spews hatred in the name of the God I love and cherish. I write today’s letter because I did not know about qadesh or to’ebah. The churches I attended never taught this and I wonder if any of them even knew this information, or if like the Scout Master, they simply parrotted what they’d been taught. Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He did not specify what “another” should be. Christianity is centered around Jesus, and Jesus is love.
I am not a theologian nor do I purport to know everything there is about the Bible. However, I do know God said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and I would rather be wrong than a hypocrite.
To read more of Elaina’s letters, click here.
To read more of our authors’ letters, click here.
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