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Monday, February 24, 2014

Outraged!

I started writing a blog the other day.  It was a rather personal piece of writing - a sort of apology for certain things I’ve said or done in my ministerial pursuit that may have inadvertently been hurtful.  Misunderstandings and misconceptions, poor choices and broken promises; all good intentioned behaviors, but I was a bit naive.  A retrospective reveals the need for apologetics.  Another time.

While that blog is important, at least to me.  (In fact, it may only be important to me), there are more important things to address.  In the meantime, I realize it’s time for me to speak out from the pulpit, so to speak.  As a priest – as a pastor – as a human being – in Arizona, I cannot stand by as our legislators attempt to make injustice legal.  As just about everyone knows by now, SB 1062 is a bill intended to amend the religious freedom statutes in Arizona.  If the bill is passed, the statutes could be interpreted in such a way that it could allow individuals -- and businesses – to exercise their “freedom of religion” in ways that would be hurtful to others.  Business owners could refuse to do business with people whose religious beliefs, cultural practices, or lifestyles are disagreeable to them based on their “religious beliefs.”

While there is nothing in the bill that outright states that one could discriminate against the LGBTQ community or any other group of people, it can be interpreted as such.  Of course, this bill has caused outrage.  I am outraged.  If this bill is passed, the state of Arizona will have taken a big step backwards.  Though it has generally been declared an “anti-gay” bill, I think it’s more than that.  While openly gay couples could easily be identified and discriminated against, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to imagine that a Native American could be targeted because they might practice “Native American religion.”  It’s easy to imagine a person with a crucifix instead of an empty cross being told to leave an establishment owned by a fundamentalist literalist “Christian” because they believe Catholicism is Satanic. I have personally met individuals who are convinced that Catholics are of the devil.

Progressive Christians, fans of Monica Coleman, Marcus Borg, Dominic Crossan, or Bishop Spong might be forced out – I have been told by one person that “that Spong is the devil incarnate.”  And of course, my Wiccan and Pagan friends could be turned away at the door of an establishment owned by someone like this.  I could go on and on…bi-racial couples, single mothers or fathers, atheists…who knows where it could lead?

I hope Governor Brewer vetoes the bill.  I wish she had heard of it and instantly read it and took out her veto pen.  She’s taking some time to vacillate – which way should I go?  With the bigots or the rest of the people?  It’s been pointed out that this bill would be bad for the economy of Arizona.  Businesses won’t come, sports events will stay away, thinking people will move away.  To me, that’s not the real reason to veto the bill, but it’s a good start.  Arizona is becoming known as a “hate state.”  It’s gotten to the point that if one loves activism and gets their energy for life by “fighting for the right,” Arizona is the place to be.  There’s plenty to fight against here.  And to fight for.

St. Brigid in the Desert is a church for everyone.  I mean EVERYONE.  If you seek a spiritual home and your favorite outfit is a homemade replica of a 1950’s robot, you will find a home with us.  If you are a member of a mainline Protestant church, but are seeking a place where the Feminine Divine is celebrated and honored, you will find a home with us.  If you are a Wiccan, but love the Jesus who taught justice and righteous indignation for injustice, you will find a home with us.  If you are a Buddhist with Christian tendencies, or a Christian with Buddhist tendencies, you will find a home with us.

Our home is in the connection of our hearts most of the year right now.  We meet approximately 8 times per year in different places, usually in nature.  One day, St. Brigid in the Desert will have a place to call our own, but for now, we are a fully, even radically inclusive, open-door church.  Watch for opportunities to worship with us.

In the meantime, stand with us against injustice.  Demand that Governor Jan Brewer veto SB 1062 and any other legislation that opens to door to hate.  Watch other states as some of them attempt the same kind of legislation.  Stop it before it happens again.  Our great civil rights leaders and those who gave their lives to the freedom of others shall not have lived and died in vain.

For the past few days, since this bill has become the subject of the evening news every day, I have been thinking of this scene from the classic cult film Billy Jack.  It makes me want to cry.



But let us be hopeful.  Let us speak up.  Let us work against hatred and prejudice.

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