Stop The Hate

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A reader writes:

I must say that I’ve been disturbed by the gay community’s approach in reproving the Mormon Church’s for its financial role in the “Yes on 8” campaign.  Though I have little sympathy for the actions undertaken by the church to thwart marriage equality in California, I do not believe that picketing in front of its temples or boycotting the entire state of Utah will do much to combat its promotion of intolerance.  If anything, these sorts of actions will only escalate tension between conservative religious groups and our embattled community.  Yes, we must fight back, but we must also fight smart.  Too often, our actions as a community have been motivated by a desire for mass personal catharsis, rather than by an intelligent evaluation of what means would best further our cause.

I would advocate a reconciliatory approach in which gay spokespersons reach out to their conservative religious counterparts and attempt to stimulate a dialogue based on some level of mutual respect. This approach might not bear immediate fruits, but, as history has shown, homophobia has a tendency to melt away when the unknown “Other” lurking in the shadows of one’s fearful subconscious takes on the face of a family member, a co-worker, or a friend. If we can forge some degree of amity between new guard evangelicals such as Rick Warren, if we can make one such crack in the glass ceiling of anti-gay bigotry, that ceiling will shatter much sooner than if we continue to provoke antipathy within the religious community. We can no longer afford to simply preach to our own choir, our sermon must also sing for those who have not yet heard its plain, simple call- let us love.

I agree and have tried to do this over the years (and failed at times). But there also comes a time when it is clear that reason is not motivating the other side and it becomes humanly very difficult to negotiate with people whose non-negotiable principle is retaining the power to define and control your lives. They key is finding those religious interlocutors open to listening. Their numbers have dwindled under the force of resurgent fundamentalism.

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