Gov. Perry’s Anti- Gay Christianity Is Not My ChristianityBy: Shay Dawkins
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s anti-gay “Strong” TV advertisement has been getting a lot of air time in Iowa in the run up to the Jan. 3 Republican caucus. It’s also getting some surprising reaction among his fellow conservatives.
I, for one, am happy to see that his ad failed to win the endorsements of a couple of key anti-gay groups: the American Family Association and Family Leader. Because Perry’s Christianity is not my Christianity.
I’m a heterosexual raised in the Pentecostal and Baptist faiths deep in the Bible belt state of Alabama. I studied the Bible in search of the Scripture that commands Christians to judge homosexuals and I didn’t find it. Instead, I found just the opposite. For my book, The Good News: How Revealing Delusions in Christianity Will Bring Peace to All, (www.thegoodnewsbook.com), I also looked for the biblical basis for other “Christian” beliefs, including opposing abortion. I didn’t find it.
In the “Strong” ad, Perry says, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian but you don’t need to be in a pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military.”
Why would it matter whether a soldier is homosexual or heterosexual? If he or she is ready, willing and able to defend us, our country and our freedoms – including Christians’ freedom to be Christian – isn’t that all that matters? Perry’s Christianity brands gays as evil. It seeks to turn “God-fearing” heterosexuals against their fellow man. That is not my Christianity. The true message of Jesus and the Christian Bible is to bring people comfort, not misery; promote unity, not division; and bring hope, not fear.
It’s not Jesus or the Bible that teaches Christians to be intolerant – it is other Christians. The Bible says that we should judge/condemn only people who act with the intent to hurt or harm other people (Romans 14: 13). It tells us to love our neighbors, welcome strangers, and even to love our enemies.
Jesus states that “his commandment is to love one another” (John 13: 34). The Bible goes as far as stating that “all the law of the world is fulfilled in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5: 14) and that “without love a person with everything has nothing” (1 Corinthians 13).
Perry likes to conclude his speaking engagements with “Here is what I want you to leave with: Somebody’s values are going to decide the issues of the day … somebody’s values are going to be installed. The question is going to be whose values? Is it going to be those of us of faith or somebody else’s values?”
He does not understand that his “religious beliefs/values” are based on other men’s beliefs and values; clergy often are taught what to believe in seminary. Perry’s “faith” is based on man-made, false religious doctrine -- “somebody else’s values,” as he likes to say. I’ve combed through the Scriptures and rather than finding support for Perry’s stand on homosexuality, I found a half-dozen verses that tell us homosexuality is not “sinful” for everyone.
No one should judge or condemn anyone else for being heterosexual or homosexual, atheist or believer, black or white, fat or skinny, attractive or unattractive. The Bible instructs us to be slow to judge others as “you will be judged by the same amount that you judge others” (Matthew 7: 2) and “to not make snap judgments of others” (John 7: 24).
Imagine a world where people judged and condemned only for how people treated others. I’m not sure if peace on Earth is possible, but I do know the world would be a much happier place if everyone lived by the Golden Rule, “treat others as you would like to be treated” or as Jesus stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 39).
About Shay Dawkins: Shay Dawkins is a Tuscaloosa, Ala., businessman who grew up in Baptist and Pentecostal churches. His observances about how Christianity can be divisive despite being based on one book led to his analysis of the Bible. He is the author of “The Good News: How Revealing Delusions in Christianity Will Bring Peace to All” (www.thegoodnewsbook.com).
While I have to say that I am not surprised, it is truly troubling that it has taken this long for the US to acquit itself of the issue of LGBT persons in the military. Worse, that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" continues to be a talking point, and it still continues to be debated after DADT was repealed -- long after all its allies in NATO, with the exception of Turkey, declared it's not an issue at all nor should it be and that not only are such persons welcome in the military but to discriminate against them will come under the same scrutiny as discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sex.
Here in Canada, for example, we lifted the ban in 1992, during the Mulroney administration. That's right, it was Mulroney, not Chrétien or Martin. And far as I can tell, Harper has no intention of making it an issue again. Perry is a paleolithic guy on this one: He'd turn the clock back to before DADT and send the "guilty" to a term in a military brig before being dishonourably discharged. Now, he also wants to ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest. And with nothing to offer women as an alternative either. Perry wants to bitch about unfunded mandates. Maybe someone should bitch to him about his being a "Christian" who only accepts fellow Christians who fit his definition of one.
What are America's top priorities? A sane person would say, jobs, strong families, and making America respected. Rick Perry seems to think America's priorities should be big business, letting televangelists continue to commit financial acts that would be considered tax evasion in the secular world, and making America a laughing stock. Nice choice Iowa has. No wonder why a loser like Newt Gingrich looks so much better by comparison. Yikes.