A controversial new law co-written by a right wing policy group and a Christian legal organization and passed by the Arizona legislature is called the “Religion Bill.” Supposedly it’s about “religious freedom” for business owners who don’t want to serve or have any business dealings with gays because it offends their religious beliefs. It has other ominous features to it but its thrust is discrimination against those in the LBGTQ community.
The legislation has not yet been signed by Governor Jan Brewer, a staunch Conservative and Tea Party advocate, but the fact it ever reached her desk is dismaying and alarming.
The growing audacity and bullying tactics of radicals in the Christian conservative movement carries so many contradictions to the true spirit of Christianity and the whole idea of religion. These people have lost their way. There is nothing that identifies them any longer with the Jesus they claim to worship and serve.
I personally find their schemes, their gimmicks, their theology, their agenda and their behavior a dangerous and offensive sham.
And it troubles me that we don’t hear much outrage from the Christian community about this. I have pastors, minister friends on my Facebook page but so far nothing from any of them. And nearly everyone I know on Facebook claims to be Christian. And yet only a few, basically my gay friends, have posted anything in opposition to this bizarre legislation.
I know the mention of Hitler is a tiresome reference these days when it comes to politics or religion. But do we really want to ever forget the monstrous, the hideously inhuman things he and the Nazi movement did in their long regime of terror?
I mention him because there has always been this phony claim by believers that he was an atheist, a humanist, or some follower of pagan mythology. The historical fact is, he was a Christian. He openly, in speeches and in his infamous magnum opus, Mein Kampf, the collection of his thoughts and philosophies and yes his religious beliefs, spoke eloquently of his faith in Jesus Christ. He grew up a Catholic, was an acolyte, went to a monastery school, and often said he had always wanted to be a priest. He loved the music, the liturgy, the pomp and circumstance of the Catholic Mass. And he incorporated elements of these things into the twisted campaign of indoctrination and propaganda of his Third Reich.
Hitler believed he was following Jesus in his brutality against the Jews. “My feelings as a Christian,” he said in one of his speeches, “points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! Was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.” As the crowd listened in awe he went on, “In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells me how the Lord at last rose in his might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison” (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942).
Hitler did not invent hatred for the Jews, he got it from the preaching of Catholic priests and Protestant ministers who had been spewing this for years all over Germany. Out of his own brutal childhood, out of the humiliating failures he experienced as a budding architect and painter, out of the obsessive need to be liked and adored, he found in the Church a way to use its glories for the re-creation of his own damaged ego. Never in all of his fiendish savagery did he ever renounce his Christian beliefs and his love of Christ.
Think about that. Never, in all of the slaughter and bitter hatred of Jews, did he stop talking about his faith. He was in part worshiped by countless gullible Christian Germans because they thought he was so religious and sincere.
And here’s the really scary thing. In 1933 Hitler established the German Reich Christian Church which united Protestant churches across Germany and called on them to put their faith in what came to be called a national German Christianity.
Today we face what very well could be a similar nightmare.
The fanatical, headstrong, determined push by highly partisan right wing politicians, and goading agitating Christian extremists of their narrow religious beliefs, their own interpretation of Christianity, to be forced upon the rest of us, is not something to be lightly dismissed.
The Arizona “Religion Bill” against gays is a dangerous perversion of religious faith. It has nothing whatsoever to do with freedom. It is a grotesque piece of legislation of hate and discrimination against our fellow citizens. And it is an appalling defilement of the basic tenets of Christianity.
I hope Christians will speak against this in both private and public conversations with family and friends, with their minister or priest or rabbi, with their church friends. I hope Christians will write letters to their Congresspersons and let them know their disapproval. I hope they will write to Governor Jan Brewer and ask her to not only not sign but to repudiate this vile piece of legislation.
For those who think they are doing something good and right, who believe they are being true to their faith and following Scripture by denying basic rights to the LBGTQ community and to our family and friends who are gay—I remind them of this famous line of Adolph Hitler’s in Mein Kampf, “By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
Was evil ever given more dignity and power?
© 2014 Timothy Moody