Yes, Anti-LGBT Religious Groups Are Hate Groups

On Sept. 25, The New York Times ran an article entitled "Retailers Are Put on the Spot Over Anti-Gay Aid." This excerpt sums up the article nicely:

The advocates are demanding that the retailers end their association with an Internet marketer that gets a commission from the retailers for each online customer it gives them. It is a routine arrangement on hundreds of e-commerce sites, but with a twist here: a share of the commission that retailers pay is donated to a Christian charity of the buyer's choice, from a list that includes prominent conservative evangelical groups like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.

In response to this article and the increasingly articulated position that Focus on the Family and groups like them who oppose gay marriage and have worked to create public policy like the Defense of Marriage Act are actually hate groups, Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, wrote a response entitled "My Take: 'Hate' is too big a word to be used with such little restraint."

Mr. Daly claims gay activists have abandoned reasoned dialogue in favor of name-calling, primarily calling leaders like him hateful. He justifies his work to enshrine one-man-and-one-woman-equals-marriage policy as the result of a Biblical mandate. He conveniently forgets that David, one of God's favorites, had multiple wives and concubines and still had the time and energy to commit adultery. Solomon had 700 wives and concubines. One-man-plus-one-woman is not the only Biblical witness for marriage. Mr. Daly may claim that the Bible is the infallible, inspired Word, with no contradictions or mistakes, but he especially thinks that about the texts he likes, not the ones that might contradict what he already believes.

A standard of using a Biblical witness to dictate public policy is troubling. As a Lutheran, we have a strong tradition of interpreting scripture and bringing the best of science, reason and public conversation to bear on our understanding of how God continues to speak to us today. For instance, God seems to have a lot to say about how we should use our wealth and other resources to assist the least and the last among us, but Jesus never did say anything against gay folks. But, read in a proof text manner, anyone can find verses and rip them out of the larger narrative to prove any preexisting point.

This has been a shameful part of our history. Christians used scripture to justify slavery. Christians used scripture to justify and further Jim Crow and the miscegenation laws of the past. Christians use scripture to justify why a husband could beat his wife and the wife should just take it. The Bible, used as a tool to prove our preexisting points, becomes a blunt object used to beat others who are different from us.

Mr. Daly also claims that "study after study" has proven children are best reared in a married, heterosexual household, a result he already held. What studies? Cite them, put them alongside the 2010 study by Nanette Gartrell and Henry Bos that found that the children lesbian parents "scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression."

As a devout, orthodox Christian and Jesus freak, I do not think using the word "hate" to describe what Mr. Daly and the people at Focus on the Family and other organizations are trying to do is too strong. 1 John 4:20 puts it this way:"Those who say, 'I love God,' and hate their brothers or sisters are liars."

Mr. Daly, you do hate gay people. You just hate to admit it.

It is worth remembering that the effort to kill Jesus really picked up steam after he disrupted the temple's monetary system when he cleansed the temple. It is worth remembering that Dr. King was killed when he began focusing on issues of poverty, which would have disturbed our financial systems. It is worth remembering that we have in place an expanded lobbying system paid for by banks and hedge funds to make sure that we do not regulate our monetary systems to assure financial practices are fair, transparent and won't result in the near collapse of the world's economy.

It is worth remembering that when we mess with someone's income stream, from the corner drug dealer who slings to make bank, to Jim Daly, who receives substantial income from the commissions retailers pay that is channeled to his group, there will be a substantial pushback, not always resulting in death but always in some form of self-justifying outrage.

Mr. Daly may not liked to be called hateful, but he dislikes his funds to be taken away from him even more.

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