By Melanie Nathan, February 10, 2015.
President Obama raised a brow or two when reflecting on extremist violence perpetrated in the name of Islam as not being the only religion used in such egregious a fashion. When the President raised Christianity’s history of tyranny, he failed to reflect on how it is still being used as a tool of persecution, on our watch.
At the controversial annual prayer breakfast the President noted in his speech: “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ…. Slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
The President absolutely correct to remind that Christianity has had its share of misuse in the past, omitted to remind us that persecution and murder in the name of Christianity is an ongoing problem by those extremists who misuse the religion against LGBTI people around the globe, and especially in Africa.
Watching the extreme right wing pundit Pat Buchannan respond on American TV, with his revisionist reflection that Christianity never hurt anyone, made my blood boil, as I reflect on the brand of Christianity that he seems to endorse, which has been stepping up its support and direct influence on Africa to eradicate homosexuals. The missionaries in Africa continue these crusades, persecuting Africans and others around the globe, using the Bible as a tool to incite violence against LGBTI people.
While the likes of Buchanan cannot eradicate history, his ‘head in the sand’ revision serves only to spur on his faith-based pals, who can certainly speak out now against the persecution of gays. Instead they are actively preaching against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender communities all across Africa, inciting violence and persecution. While some invoke the Bible others remain silent as their colleagues get to brand Christianity using it as a tool of persecution.
Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists have enveloped Africa in an overt anti-LGBTI crusade, with heightened intent over the past decade, holding prayer rallies and services that directly attack gays and infusing Parliamentarians with reasons why their legislation should include the death penalty for gays. The Bible, they note, provides license to eradicate the world of homosexuals.
Indeed we cannot blame only the so called “fringe” – but also all who remain silent – they too are participating in this crusade to eradicate Africa of homosexuals.
The Christians who go to Africa and preach against gays, lesbians and bisexuals are Christian Jihadists.
How should we describe the silent? Some have encouraged the death penalty for gays, others have endorsed through their silence. Asking for life in prison for a homosexual is tantamount to sentencing one to a concentration camp – sexuality cannot be criminalized. The push for heightened criminal terms in prison to enhance Penal Codes because the ‘bible says so,’ is as bad as any death penalty. It incites mob violence and robs people of their liberation because they do not share a majority sexuality.
Let us not pretend. This IS being done in the name of Christianity. And if you believe this is not your brand or stance as a Christian – then why are you not down there now preaching for a re-branding where love can supersede misinterpretation and failed teachings, also in the name of Christian beliefs?
Joel? Joyce? Rick? And the rest of you?
At this time several affirming and progressive ministries and faith-based coalitions are working very hard to undo the harm. But they do not have the mega millions or the following of the likes of Joel Osteen and Joyce Myers and Rick Warren and the Truro Church of Northern Virginia (to name but a few).
(It can be said that Rick Warren originally participated in an overt crusade against gays in Africa– but seems to have withdrawn his overt support – though has done very little to counter the harm he already caused and continues to provide back up rhetoric through his US based ministries. Pat Robertson and the 7000 club is a preach machine in Africa and Osteen boasts of hundreds of thousands of followers on the continent. Lest we forget the Catholic Church and its constant anti-gay rhetoric.)
President Obama was on target when reminding the world of the part Christianity has played historically in global persecution – but not on target when he failed to inform that this is an ongoing problem, right now, targeting LGBTI people around the world.
In all fairness, drawing the comparison to Christianity in no way derogates from the extreme nature of the current ISIS abuse of Islam, and the association with Islam, requiring a much stronger reaction by Muslims around the world and Islamists in the region.
Obama’s reflection should not allow moderate Muslims off the hook. However at the same time it should be a call to all religious extremists and especially those from within the very faiths currently used as tools of persecution. Stand up vigorously against those who use Bible or Koran as their tools of abuse. If anything, surely the powerful preachers amongst us should be considering scripture as tools of humanity and liberation? And if indeed they do – can they please speak out Speak loudly. Relieve your LGBTI victims from those who continue to abuse scripture and faith as their tool for eradication.
By Melanie Nathan, firstname.lastname@example.org