Advocate writer Kurt Niece makes a bold statement that religion is the biggest bully in the room. To be perfectly honest, as a believer myself still, I don’t blame him for thinking this way at all:
Either you’re for it or against it. It’s the topic that isn’t discussed with strangers and has ruined as many holiday meals as politics. And not surprisingly, politics and religion at family dinners are a combination about as constructive as Fukushima and an earthquake. Nothing good ever comes from it.
As a gay man, Niece’s disillusionment and ultimate departure from religion makes even more sense in light of religious anti-gay fervor:
I had a very hard time coming out. Like I said, it was a different time and there were no role models. I was incredibly ashamed. So, I went to this church with my “girlfriend” and tried to pray the gay away.
Ahem … it didn’t work, after a rain of “Amens” and before “It’s Raining Men” caused a stampede to the dance floor. But I kept an open mind in that goofy little pre-New Age church in the basement of some obscure building in Akron, Ohio. I patiently awaited for the spirit to flood me. I was promised it would if I prayed hard enough…
How many wars, how much death, and how much havoc has been wrought over who is most loved by the biggest, baddest God…How many people, in this country alone, have been enslaved and oppressed, because the Bible or the Koran said so? How much longer will “faith” be confused with morality?
It’s so tempting to pull out the No True Scotsman card to explain away all of this, as if the people who told him his sexuality could or should be changed were not “real” Christians. If my three years at Campus Crusade for Christ taught me anything, it’s that “true” Christians look, believe, and act a Certain Way. You can (supposedly) pick them out of the crowd due to the aura-like atmosphere about them, something that says I’m different. I was taught that Jesus made people better, and that “betterness” was proof of salvation (even though good works weren’t going to get us into Heaven).
That was before I learned there are at least 40,000 Christian denominations in this world, if not more. That was before I started to question how homophobia and sexism could be reconciled with the teachings of a man who preached loving your neighbor as yourself. I still have questions, and while I haven’t lost belief in God, I have a whole lot of skepticism about a growing number of aspects of the Christian faith.
The “No True Scotsman” card is an easy way to remove the stain of guilt by association. I no longer fear my reputation being tarnished by the actions of those who believe in the same God as I do. I’ve reached an understanding that my faith is my own, separate from those who use it to manipulate and hurt other people. There is no contradiction in admitting that, yes, religion can and absolutely does hurt people. The best I can do is make sure that mine never does.
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