One example of this is the recent "Manhattan Declaration". For those who have not heard of it, its official title is "The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,". It was signed by more than 150 Christian leaders from the evangelical community as well as the Roman Catholic Church. Other notable signers include Maggie Gallagher from the National Organization for Marriage and James Dobson of "Focus On the Family". Also included in the signers is Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop of Province III, Nigeria, who, According to Pams House Blend, has..
called for five years imprisonment for anyone who "performs, witnesses, aids, or abets" a same-sex marriage, and anyone who engaged in public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people
Lovely eh?...Given the divisions within the gay community lately regarding the fight for our own rights, we certainly have been good at uniting religious factions that, in the past, wouldn't have deigned to spit on each other if they were on fire. The Pope recent overtures to the Anglicans certainly bears this out. They are doing this because they feel under fire.
I didn't want to give this document any play whatsoever, as I believe it is a fearful and reactionary document more than the statement of defiance and intent to resist the signers billed it as. It also bears saying that this declaration doesn't single out gays, but also claims civil resistance to abortion rights, health care reform, climate change, and just about anything else the religious right has ever gotten its frock in a twist about. For those who haven't seen the Declaration in its craptastic entirety, it is available here on Good As You. It is simply too long to post here.
What has lead up to the drafting of this document? Perhaps a penchant for grand statements is simmering in the unconscious. You may remember that I recently adjusted the Declaration of Independence and read it on YouTube....talk about delusions of grandeur...
However...lately, Christian leaders have been on a huge martyr kick. The passage of hate crimes laws have left them defensive about their religious rights...especially about their right to continue to preach against homosexuality. They claim that the hate crimes law will officially sanction a ban on christian speech and that they are staring down the barrel of fines or imprisonment themselves. These attitudes are unfounded and in many cases purposely misrepresented. The same hate crimes law they fear, also explicitly protects their freedom to preach whatever they so chose. Even so, this besieged attitude has lead to the drafting of the "Manhattan Declaration" as a way to verbalise their intent to resist the government on matters they consider essential to their faith....regardless of the hundreds of other people of faith, they exclude from their little pact, who don't agree with them.
My beef with their position is that they picked this fight. They put gay marriage on the ballots for a vote. They mobilized their congregants to man phone banks. They used their pulpits to solicit funds for their political campaigns and to incite fear of the end times if they failed to achieve their goals of blocking GLBTQ civil liberties. They have attempted to bully governments by threatening to remove charitable services...services that they should be performing without thought of reward.
So where is the sense in the victim mentality?
They brought the fight to us and they are still engaging in it. Right now the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C., rather than minister to the poor and needy of D.C., are directing all their energies into resisting passage of gay marriage rights in the district.
If they feel under fire perhaps its because many believe that religious institutions have crossed a line by attempting to enforce their will on civil affairs and on politics in general. They have stopped being a guide to living a life of conscience and attempted to become rulers of men. In this, some have advocated removing the "tax exempt" status of organizations that participate in influencing public policy...like the churches. And now there are those that advocate for something more....outing priests...
www.churchouting.org is a sight dedicated to outing priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C. They believe that:
For generations, in Catholic churches across the country, LGBT youth are told they should be ashamed of who they are and that they should lead loveless lives as social and religious abominations. The emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse inflicted on them by Catholic priests and our church hierarchy is in reality as damaging as the physical or sexual child abuse anyone would quickly condemn. Yet to this abuse, few raise their voices and say "ENOUGH!"
It is shameful that in many Catholic churches, this abuse is being supported by men, who are gay themselves, leading closeted lives of self-persecution and quiet desperation.
Even more shameful, is that many of these priests, while remaining silent, actually lead duplicitous lives rich with romantic and sexual relationships -- both homosexual and heterosexual.
Their is value in exposing the hypocrisy present in the Catholic church. The priesthood is often the bastion of gay men and women who simply cannot accept their sexuality AND their faith, so one must be put aside. If they continue to espouse that homosexuality is an abomination, then they should not be able to enjoy the benefits of those relationships. We need to hold up a mirror to them, to let them see that they are what they claim to fight against.
To live a life of faith and conscience means you have to be willing to ask questions about what you believe in from time to time...and occasionally WHY you believe it. That is a scary thing to do but so necessary. Sadly, that's a question no one today, seems capable of facing...and culture war is the result.
Is there a larger picture to these happenings? There may be...but, from where I sit, it just seems like trading more trading broadsides in that ever widening Christian euphemism...."culture war".