Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Op/Ed: I’m ashamed of my hate-filled fellow Christians

Pittsburgh resident Angelle Guyette lives out the faith she believes by laying out an impassioned argument against those within her Christian community who hide behind hate, intolerance and fear toward the gay community.

 (crossposted from Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents)

Angelle Guyette lives out the faith she believes by laying out an impassioned argument against those within her Christian community who hide behind hate, intolerance and fear toward the gay community.

This lady pulls no punches. She trotted out into the cold to attend the Allegheny County Council hearing on the proposed Human Rights Commission on January 15, 2009 (adroit reference to the fact that the PG reporter didn't talk with Christians wearing the pro-ordinance stickers) and came away with utter disappointment in the hypocrisy of her Christian comrades.

This ordinance would create a county-wide commission to educate and enforce protections based on multiple protected classes, including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

But Angelle picked up a pen and did something with those feelings. She affirmed that the Christian faith requires tolerance of all AND acknowledged the perversions that drove opponents to twist fairness issues into religious oppression.

At this County Council meeting, you could know most of them by the hatred on their faces. The leaders of the religious opponents were the worst, displaying physical revulsion at having to stand near people they figured were gay. They looked like they'd have stoned Mary Magdalene, and her friends, too.

One minister's face contorted as he spoke, “Homosexuality is offensive because it is a sin. People choose to commit this sin. My congregants should not have to hire gays and condone a sinful lifestyle they find offensive.”

One of his followers spat out, “I should not have to rent to those people. I don't want them sinning in my properties.”

This made me recall a minister I had dated who had cheated on me when I thought we were practicing abstinence. Nice, clean-cut looking fellow. Dirty rat.

“I don't want them sinning on my properties”? Wow. Them's some pretty high standards and one has to wonder if this good Christian has other morality clauses build into his lease (or if he takes action to prevent current tenants from homosexual sinning)?

Some opponents of the anti-discrimination legislation wanted me to know that they're caring people, just afraid of the effect homosexuals might have on their families.

When I was in school, I saw great damage done to a young man ostracized as a “faggot” by his holier-than-thou Christian brethren, called unmanly by his own father and left unprotected by his mother against all the abuse. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, on the other hand, showed him care and compassion.

Has anyone stopped to consider the effect that so much hatred and fear might have on their families? Seriously, do the children of these good Christians see their papas and mamas braving the cold to speak out for legislation/policy on the Top Ten list … killing, stealing, coveting, etc. Or policy issues related to the Beatitudes? Do they turn out en masse to support legislation to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless? Maybe, but never en masse enough to draw the attention of the Post-Gazette.

Angelle has an interesting final point.

Are we not our brothers' keepers, bound to love and protect everyone?

How do others see you?

Catholic? Protestant? Jew? Muslim? Black? White? Brown? Do you look “un-American”? What about Republican? Democrat?

Let's hope they don't assume you are gay.

Our laws should protect everyone. This is the only way to protect our own freedoms against those who might one day turn on you, or me, or us.

Actually, there are a few points to tease out from this ending.

First, the assumption of gayness which is pretty ridiculous on the part of being able “to tell” and the part of gay being such a bad thing that even an assumption of association is considered tantamount to deep offense. This is something the ordinance addresses — protecting people who don't conform to gender normative behavior. I'm talking about a woman who is perceived to be a lesbian because of her hair cut, her clothing style and her mannerisms. She can be fired even if she straight. There's many a good Christian woman who might fit right into these stereotypes and should perhaps be a little mindful that the girdle of faith doesn't make her immune to the barbs of her contemporaries.

There's also a key point about laws protecting everyone. James Madison aka Publius argued against the negative consequences of factions in the Federalist Papers. Religious leaders are trying to set up a false dichotomy of gay rights versus religious rights, counting on the sheer number of Christian identified Americans to carry the day. But that is not what the law intends. The law says that where your personal beliefs intersect the general public, you have to give a little ground to respect the rights of others. Christian wingnuts cannot refuse to rent an apartment to Orthodox Jews no matter how abhorrent they find their faith. It is the exact same thing. If you want to enter the public sphere as a business owner, you clearly leave some of your personal rights at the front door.

No one is forcing Christian people to give up their faith or compromise their values.

Playing the Jesus card is misleading and unfortunate.

Thanks for writing, Angelle, and reminding Pittsburgh’s newspaper reading community that not all Christians use the Jesus card to impose intolerance on society. Thank you also for reminding us in a very powerful way the importance of the public word from our allies, particularly those from communities of faith.

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