Remember that time, right after and extending from 9/11, when there was much incendiary, spittle-flying, vein-popping debate about whether there was a good Muslim to be found anywhere on this earth? Pundits, politicians and just plain people couldn't seem to wrap their brains around the idea that even within this seemingly fire-breathing religion there were many who did not support terrorism, did not subscribe to specific hate-filled passages of the Koran, did not believe all non-Muslims were infidels, everyone in the West was Satan or fatwas against writers and cartoonists were the best way to make a point.
"OK," they were challenged, "then where are your leaders, your Imams, your cultural mentors to stand up, denounce terrorism, speak out loudly against hate and intolerance?" It was suggested -- no, demanded -- that moderate Muslims step up and make themselves known. They had "an obligation," opinion leaders insisted, to show their faces, assert to the world that they, as moderate Muslims, did, in fact, exist; proof that not ALL of the faith were honor-killing, genital-mutilating, women-oppressing, terrorism-facilitating West-haters. For those Muslims for whom bridging the gap of hate and cultural divide was essential, that challenge was met in a myriad of ways, by many people, and in a wide variety of mediums. We met them, saw them; read them, heard from them. Some in the audience were convinced, others not so much; the debate, of course, rages on... and likely always will.
But it got me to thinking.
I'd like to make a similar suggestion -- no, demand -- to the moderate Protestants, liberal Catholics, open-minded Unitarians, and the generally NOT crazy Christians to get up, stand up and make it known that not all who believe in the doctrine of Jesus Christ Superstar are narrow-minded misogynists, sexual repressionists, moral dictators, delusional cultists; myopic, regressive, tyrannical, tunnel-visioned, dogma driven, homophobic Neanderthals.
Could you just do that? Prove to the world that there are some moderate, contemporary, realistic Christians out there who don't run to "war" jargon every time someone disagrees with them. Who don't hyperventilate when it's suggested civil rights actually apply to all people, not just heterosexuals and Christians. Who don't get hysterical when insurance reform appropriately takes into account the needs of all women. And who understand that religious freedom also applies to the freedom from religion.
I'd like to hear from some of you, loud and clear.
I know you're out there. I know many of you myself. Catholics who vote Democratic, support gay marriage, believe in women's rights and take birth control pills along with 98% of other Catholic women. I know members of various Protestant groups who attend church, believe strongly in their doctrine, pray daily, but have no investment in proselytizing and pontificating to others who don't. I know adherents of Community or Unitarian churches who shudder at the homophobia of many Christians, embrace a liberal social agenda, actually care about the less fortunate and believe we're only as strong as the weakest among us. I'm sure many of you know others similarly positioned.
So why is it we're mostly hearing from the Godflagrating zealots, Bible-thumping conservatives, and the hyperbolic "war on religion" crowd? Why are we being treated to temper tantrums from those crying about losing religious freedom every time constitutionally-mandated neutrality is appropriately enforced? Why do the fundamentalists holler louder than everyone else to insist that "America is a Christian country" and they're damn well going to take it back for all their beleaguered brethren being downright "persecuted" by our demographically evolving nation? And why on earth is uber-Catholic Sean Hannity surveying a cabal of Christian male hysterics (one even declaring "give me non-birth-control-pilled-pro-life-no-sex-before-heterosexual-marriage Catholic women or give me death!!") on the topic of reproductive issues, with not a gal in the gallery and no one there with the slightest clue of what it means to be a woman dealing with men, bearing or not bearing children, and trying to do it all within the confines of whatever it is they embrace of their religion? I mean, really! Thank God we've got Jon Stewart to blessedly skewer this ridiculous display of Christian male arrogance in his aptly titled segment Vagina Ideologues. What would we do without humor, right?
We'd tear our hair out, that's what.
I've tried to remain civil, considerate, and understanding about the passionate beliefs of many religious folk struggling to live in a modern world while immersed in ancient ideology. But when you've got Catholic bishops sitting high on their horses droning on like wheezing, out-of-touch absolutists decreeing outrageous demands and treating women of their flock as if they were chattel, my very last nerve snaps.
The nerve of them.
So please, my moderate, loving, non-crazy Christian brothers and sisters, will you take 'em on? Will you step out from behind the curtain of religious acquiescence to tell these bishops you're one of the 98% who subscribes to religion but also to birth control pills? Will you take the stand to assert that true Christianity embraces ALL members and supports equal rights for everyone, including non-Christians, homosexuals in their quest for marriage rights, and women in theirs for reproductive freedom? Will you loudly state that you want insurance reform that cares for the needier amongst us, immigration reform that refuses to marginalize and demonize, and a healthier, more empathetic worldview that accepts the beliefs of others while keeping your own to yourself?
PLEASE. We need to hear from you. Just as we needed to hear from our moderate brethren of the Muslim faith. Please speak up. Loudly, clearly and compassionately.
Otherwise the noise from the madding crowd gets just deafening.