Religion And The Beating Of Homosexuals

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Cody J. Sanders argues anti-gay bullying is a theological issue:

If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is. Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack. The good news is that we don't need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.

I don't think the teaching can always be so easily equated with violence itself, but I do think indirect rhetorical responsibility is real. The following, for example, was written in 1986 by a man who is currently the Pope:

The proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.

My italics. Here, in his 1986 "Letter On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons," the current Pope is clearly saying that the gay rights movement is responsible for violence against homosexuals and that if gay rights advance, we should not be surprised when "irrational and violent reactions increase". This shifts the moral responsibility for violence from the thug to the victim. And when that message is sent from the very top of the church, those far less scrupulous can find moral justification for torture, beating and murder.

Gladly, Ratzinger is not the only voice in the church on anti-gay violence. Catholic theologian M. Shawn Copeland  via Cody Sanders:

“If my sister or brother is not at the table, we are not the flesh of Christ. If my sister’s mark of sexuality must be obscured, if my brother’s mark of race must be disguised, if my sister’s mark of culture must be repressed, then we are not the flesh of Christ. For, it is through and in Christ’s own flesh that the ‘other’ is my sister, is my brother; indeed, the ‘other’ is me…”

More context on the image above here and here. The tattoo was worn by a friend of a man who beat a homosexual to the point of a fractured jaw, rib fractures and a lacerated spleen. The beating was captured on tape.

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