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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Christianity Now Has A Different Meaning to Me


    I was raised a Roman Catholic and was educated in Catholic schools through high school.  When I was growing up if you were asked about your religion you responded either Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish.  Rarely did anyone answer with the name of a protestant denomination.  No one ever simply said "Christian".  Even though there was some prejudice towards Catholics and Jews in my home town, usually nobody cared about your religion.  The religions I knew when I was growing up were the mainstream established religions such as Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist.  There were really no storefront churches or so called evangelical churches yet. I didn't really give much thought to religion, other than going to church because my parents made me or during religion class in school.  The only time I felt uncomfortable with religion was when the nuns and priests condemned gays as sinners as I expected at that time that I was gay.  I thought this was odd as I found out later that many of these teachers were gay themselves!

    When I was in college I almost began  to accept myself as being gay, while at the same time seeing the rise of the "born again" Christian movement.  After graduation I began questioning some of the teachings that were hurled at me in Catholic school and in Catholic church.  I saw the hypocrisy of many of the teachings and the teachers.  As I began to accept myself more I became braver in questioning my religion or any religion for that matter.  With the growing strength of the Civil Rights movement and the gay rights movement, I saw the growing strength of new "Christian" churches and religions .  It seemed as though anybody could start a church with a couple of followers and a vacant storefront.  When I was growing up, my church and other mainstream churches held festivals, bake sales and food and clothing drives to help the poor.  After all that is what Jesus Christ taught us to do. What was obvious to me was that these new "Christians" were not teaching the love of Christ, but were constantly preaching hate and intolerance.  They were against anyone or anything that was different or that they did not understand, including other religions. It seemed as though every time I went shopping in downtown Boston, where I lived after college, there was some deranged "Bible thumper" filling the air with vitriol about gays, gamblers, atheists or anyone who was in the least way slightly different from what they believed to be a true Christian.  Even at work I met a few fellow employees who were insistent that I was an atheist because I was a Catholic.  Their church taught them that Catholics were not Christians.

    With the advent of cable TV these so called "Christians" soon took over the airways.  I was annoyed by having to pay for religious channels that attacked me and others who did not fit their idea of a human being.  Christianity was no longer a religion but a business.  It was sickening to see the poor and elderly being promised a place in heaven for turning over a large portion of what little money they had to a religious business tycoon!  Once they were on the airways they metastasized to the political arena to spread their hatred and to fleece their ignorant followers.  They have become known as "the Christian Right" and have taken over the Republican Party.  Instead of espousing true Christian values the have been bastardizing the Christian faith to form strong opposition to such issues as gay rights, abortion, same sex marriage, women's rights and even public education.  The time honored bastion of our democracy, the Separation of Church and State, is slowly being obliterated.  They are now attacking the basic human rights of millions of Americans with the implementation of religious liberty laws that basically give right wing Christians the right to legally discriminate against anyone whom they find to be different, on the grounds that these people offend their religious values!

    These hate mongers, posing as Christians and wrapping themselves in cherry picked Bible quotes, are so filled with hate and bigotry that they have mocked Christ by supporting an adulterous, misogynist, racist, sexual abuser as president.  The very ideals of Christianity, which would preclude a really religious Christian from supporting Donald Trump, are completely thrown aside in favor of promoting bigotry and racism.  Decades of advancement in civil and human rights are in danger of being destroyed by Trump and his Supreme Court nominees and his racist Attorney General, who support religious liberty laws.  With what is happening with the Trump administration's war on immigrants, more correctly, non-white immigrants, one would expects religious leaders and churches to actively oppose the disgusting actions of our government, but it's not happening! The mainstream Churches are stepping up, but what is surprising is that the far religious right either remain silent or are in lock step with Trump.

    I probably now pay much more attention to religion, than I did when I was younger, but for a different reason.  Now I pay attention to religion more of a means of self protection or self preservation!  Years ago when a person told me what religion they belonged to I considered it as a point of information and nothing more.  But today when someone tells me they are Christian I immediately shy away from them.  Today when someone says they are Christian I interpret that as being a white supremacist or a bigot.  (The same way I view the confederate flag.)  Being gay I automatically mistrust them. They are not the Christians I knew growing up.  I see them as enemies trying to destroy my marriage and denying my civil and human rights.  I have heard Christian preachers call for my death, simply because I am gay!  That's not what Christ would do!

    To these fake Christians I would say if you don't like abortion, don't get an abortion. If you disagree with same sex marriage, don't marry a member of the same sex. If you don't like transgender people, don't become transgender. My being gay or being in a same sex marriage does not affect you in any way, but your hatred and intolerance affects me and millions of others.  I don't care how you live your lives, but don't try to legislate how I live mine. Live and let live and as Christ said "Love thy neighbor as thyself", even the Gay, the Brown, the Black, the Muslim, the Jewish, the transgendered and sinful neighbor!


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