I was shocked, offended, and confused on Wednesday to learn that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had thrown down $200K to back Prop 8, which would revoke the right of same-sex couples to get married. I love Jesus, and I thought they loved Jesus too.
Wednesday night, while I walked the streets until two in the morning to distribute voter guides and talk with folks about the 37 propositions on the San Francisco ballot this year, no less than 15 people asked me for money to eat. I gave them what I had, but $200K would have gone a lot farther than the 20 bucks I had in my wallet.
I also must have seen at least 20 people sleeping in the streets. It's been raining this weekend, so some of them have hung tarps or plastic bags over their small sections of sidewalk to keep their sleeping bags and few belongings at least semi-dry. I wonder how many people would have a warm and dry place to sleep this weekend if that $200K went instead to build shelters or affordable housing.
I live a few blocks away from SF General Hospital. That's the place where poor people go to the emergency room. If they had insurance, they probably would have gone to the doctor a long time ago, rather than run to the ER for an expensive visit that costs taxpayers significantly more mnoney than it would have cost to insure them in the first place. I'll bet those Catholic Bishops - the ones who threw down $200K to back Prop 8 - I'll bet they all have health insurance.
Where would Jesus put his $200K? If we're going to politicize Jesus, then let's chat about Prop 6 for a minute. Prop 6 would invest billions of dollars that we don't have in California to build more youth prisons, and to put more youth in those prisons. You know what that means? That means that youth get taken away from their families and communities, and undocumented youth whose parents brought them here for a chance at a better life will get sent right back wherever they came from, with nothing in hand. Jesus wouldn't want to send more youth to prison, or to take them away from their families. Jesus would want creative solutions to keep those kids out of prison, and to help them make healthy choices in their lives. And if he had any money in the first place, Jesus would give $200K to defeat Prop 6.
I'm just a young gay Christian man without a lot of money or power. But if they'd have me, I'd like to lead those Catholic Bishops in a Bible study on one of my favorite passages from the New Testament - Matthew 25: 41-45. I'd also like to invite my sisters and brothers from Focus on the Family, who gave a whopping $450K to Prop 8. Oh, and also the American Family Association, who topped them all with $500K! All together, that's more than one million Christian dollars wasted on discrimination and hate, when it could have gone to make people's lives better.
This passage is one of the main reasons I believe that Christianity still has some relevance in the world, and it merits a literal reading here:
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"