The story and its accompanying video first came to my attention, as so many factoids and headlines do these days, through my Facebook news feed. To say that I was surprised by the content would make me a fool.
It seems Pastor Kevin Swanson of the Reformation Church of Elizabeth, Colorado, went on quite a tear this past weekend at the National Religious Liberties Conference held in Des Moines, Iowa. He said:
There are instances in which both the Old and New Testament speak to the matter with unbelievable clarity. You know what that sin is -- it's the sin of homosexuality. In fact in Romans 1 Paul affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death. The Old and New Testament, I believe both speak with authority and we outta receive it.
Give me a 'Wow,' an 'Ouch' and an 'Oh My' on that one. I found myself shaking my head in disbelief that yet another pastor -- a professed Christian in a leadership position -- believes that homosexual people should be put to death. The other (one in a long line of many, I'm sure) is Arizona pastor Steven Anderson who back in December 2014 said the cure for AIDS was right there in the Bible all along. He turned to Leviticus 20:13 and read this cure: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them," He suggested that if people followed God's word and "executed the homos" we could be free of AIDS or at least "90 something percent" free of AIDS by Christmas 2014.
That's some radical thinking you've got going on there pastors Swanson and Anderson.
Here's where it gets personal. Those two pastors are talking about me. Even though I'm HIV negative I'm still a homosexual that would be executed if either of these men had their way. They're chips off Hitler's block.
You see that picture above this paragraph? That's me. I'm a person. I'm someone's child, someone's brother, someone's uncle. I'm a cousin, a nephew, a friend. I'm a human being. I deserve to live my life to the fullest just like anybody else.
The scary thing about people like these pastors is that, while they individually may not be the voice of the masses, they each have followers who are listening to their hateful words... and agreeing. Maybe you're saying: I don't feel like that but I agree that homosexuality is wrong. Hooray for you! And even if you don't believe in their extremes yet you choose to believe what the Bible says about homosexuality over say, your own homosexual child, that doesn't change the fact that these men are out there in the world spouting this garbage. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch, right? It's hard to get past the stench of those who continue to vomit such disgusting exhortations.
To boil this down in simple terms, they would have ME put to death. ME. The guy in the picture above. They don't even know me and yet because I'm a man who is homosexual they believe I should be put to death.
My existence as a human being -- a homosexual, a man -- is worthy of life, worthy of breath, worthy of opportunity to live and thrive and create and love and fight back against these men in leadership positions who would take it all away from me because they believe my life -- my very existence -- is worthy of nothing more than death. And all because the writer Paul says so in the book of Romans in the Bible, which should not be cited for making laws in this country.
When I saw the piece on Mr. Swanson (and the politicians' names connected to it) I couldn't stop myself from taking to Facebook, posting the following status: "As a human being who had the great fortune of being born gay, I find it terribly distressing that there's even a remote possibility that Cruz, Huckabee or Jindal could be President of my country. #equality #LGBTQ"
This is America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. We are so blessed here with the freedom of speech and the freedom of (or from) religion. Thank goodness. Because you know why? Men have taken it upon themselves to interpret the Bible to fulfill their own discriminatory, fear-inducing needs. I wasn't at the National Religious Liberties Conference, but do you know who was reportedly there? Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal. Those stalwart American politicians who want to be President of this great nation called America. (Hence the Facebook status). Again, I shake my head.
I am never more angry when religion and sexuality collide than when self-righteous Christian leaders spout death to the homosexuals from their pulpits to a congregation of blind faith followers who simply choose to agree rather than call them out on their acerbic hate speech!
What can I say that hasn't already been said by me and multitudes of others about the picking and choosing of verses in the Bible -- verses which many Christians believe should be law and followed to the letter? Nothing new. What I can do is ask: How can anyone call himself a Christian and be so filled with hate for a minority of human beings? How can he stand in front of people -- impressionistic children, for instance -- and spew such rhetoric? I was one of those children. I'm still trying to live a life that isn't consumed with the fear of fire and brimstone. It's not an easy lesson to unlearn when it's been drilled into one's head at such an early age. Words that heinous make me very angry.
Not one more child should have to hear words like the above preached from the pulpit in his church. Not one more child should have to grow up with the fear of burning in hell for eternity because of the way he was born. Not one more child should be afraid to be himself. Not one more child should feel less than anyone else. Not one more child should be subjected to this kind of mental abuse. Oh yes, it's definitely harmful, injurious, offensive i.e. abuse.
Here's another question I could pose: Are there instances where homosexuals are standing on platforms in front of people saying that Christians should be put to death? Are there? I haven't witnessed that either in person or in print or via video. Yet I've seen the video proof more than once of professed Christians calling for the death of homosexuals.
"Death doesn't discriminate between the sinners and the saints." So says the brilliant lyric from the song "Wait For It" from the even more brilliant musical Hamilton. (For the record, there's no distinction between the sinners and the saints in this story). There's truth in those nine words. Death doesn't discriminate. But man discriminates. And he discriminates until he feels he's high enough on his pedestal to sit in judgment of anyone who doesn't agree with him; anyone he feels doesn't deserve to breathe the air that for some reason he has deemed only worthy of consumption by the godly, the righteous, the morally superior.
Read your Bible's, pastors. Peter writes in Acts 10:34 that God was no respecter of persons. That means God (unlike man) shows no one favoritism over the other. Even the Declaration of Independence says, "All men are created equal."
Join us in the 21st Century, on the right side of history, ye condemners of death to the homosexuals. If you can't, at least wash the reek of manure off your shoes where you keep digging in your heals.