Saturday, March 19, 2011

Christian Group-Think is Harmful to My Health: Another Rant

Dr. Ken Kinnamon, my mentor and friend, is a fundamentalist Christian from Denison, Texas.  I’ve written about him before (see my posts”Dr. K” 12/19/2010 and “Fundamentally Wrong” 1/30/2011).  I love this man, even though he is Republican, Christian fundamentalist, and from Texas!!!

Dr. K was raised by a mother whose belief in the Bible was absolute.  She took Dr. K and his sister to hours-long Pentecostal services every Sunday.  Dr. K KNEW his Bible long before he learned all about the biomedical sciences in his four graduate degree programs and in a career spent in a laboratory studying tropical diseases.  Dr. K could not accept that any physical expression of my gay sexuality was anything but the “abomination” his Bible says it is.  He had spent many years, however, thinking about the Scripture.  He thought about Scripture as he thought about his field of renal; physiology: with great curiosity; with a willingness to be convinced of any truth, Biblical or not; and with an openness to the realities of human life in the twentieth and twenty–first centuries.  He did not believe abortion was addressed in Scripture, for example, so he believed it was not prohibited by God, and therefore  morally okay.  He is, in my opinion, one of the fundamentalists whose faith and understanding have grown and perfected throughout his lifetime.

One day, Dr. K and I were talking about his mother, who had just died at the age of 99.  I said to him that it must have been a comfort to Dr. K and his family that his mother believed in the Bible with such beautiful simplicity.  She died knowing that she was going to meet and live forever with her much–loved Lord and Savior.  Dr. K said that he was comforted by that knowledge.  I said that I envied her certainty; she believed as strongly and as simply in God at the age of 99 as she had at the age of 10.  Dr. K said that he, too, envied his mother that belief. . . to a point.  We went on to talk about the value of doubt and independent understanding of Scripture and of God.  We agreed that, to be fully human, a person has to question, to analyze, and to grow.  For neither of us was it possible to believe as an adult the same things, and in the same way, as we had believed as boys.  For both of us, adult doubt had sharpened our understanding and had forced each of us to make belief our own.  The orthodox Catholics in my world totally disagree with where my thinking journey has brought me.  The pastor in Dr. K’s church asked him to avoid certain topics—his view on abortion and the Scriptures among them—when he was in his Sunday School class.

It IS possible, then, to believe as a fundamentalist Christian, and still think as an educated, questioning human being.  It’s possible, it really is, but it is RARE.

I feel vulnerable today.  Yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a story  ( about a 70–year–old gay man who was stoned to death by a friend to whom the gay man had, apparently, made sexual advances.  The “stoner” gave as his excuse the fact that the Scriptures prescribe stoning as a punishment for being gay.

Where had this man heard such a thing?  In his church?  On the internet?  Wherever he heard it, this horrible, superstitious, inhuman, and godless action can be traced to Christian teaching.  I say “Christian teaching” because, even though the relevant Scripture is in the Old Testament, Jewish teachers today do NOT teach it as in any way applicable to modern life.  The Christian Church, however, has some preachers who preach that this old superstitious bullshit is the “Word of God” and should be obeyed.  So the Christian Church, the group of people who profess to worship a God who is Love, keeps teaching hatred and its pastors keep giving sermons that result in the death of good, loving, caring, and vulnerable gay men.

When will Christians, especially Christian fundamentalists, let their minds grow?  When will they leave the group–think of simplistic belief that their mothers taught them when they were kids?  When will they THINK FOR THEMSELVES???  This isn’t a question whose answer is academic.  This is a question with life–and–death consequences.  Until fundamentalist Christians understand that preachers who preach anti–gay sermons are engaging in hate speech, until Christians take responsibility for the effect these sermons have on innocent gay men and women, until Christians put aside their blind thinking and think as educated adults, then I believe each and every Christian has a share of the blame when a 70–year–old gay man is stoned to death in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2011.

One last part of this rant: Imagine that a Muslim had stoned to death a woman in Philadelphia last week for committing adultery.  What would fundamentalist Christians have to say about that?  Would there be hearings in Congress?  Can’t you just hear Pat Robertson decrying the crimes of the infidel?

Think about it.