Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Small Voice Against Those Who Demean God

I was truly angered by the statements of Susanne Atanus, an American Republican candidate for congress who has explained, helpfully, that autism and dementia are God's punishment for gay rights and gay marriage. This is one uglier step forward from David Silvester a British politician, who asserts that God had punished the United Kingdom with bad weather due to their acceptance of gay marriage. Of the two, Atanus' suggesting that disease and disability are punishment meted out by an angry God on families and society is the most disturbing. The pairing of disability and sin is not new and we know it's not benign. Horrible things have happened when sin, blame and shame are combined with disability in the minds of hateful others. Simply put, while others call her a 'wingnut' and dismiss her, she scares the hell out of me.

These two, Atanus and Silvester are people who have some reach, Silvester is an elected official and Atanus is running for office and has a significant number of backers. As a citizen who is both gay and disabled, I am appalled by what they say. As someone who, and this is often hard for me to say out loud, professes a Christian faith, I find this even more appalling. I am distressed by what these folks are saying and how they pervert the reputation of God ... I am equally distressed by seeing little in the way of LOUD PUBLIC backlash from the Christian community.

Silence is consent.

Do they agree?

I've heard disgust and anger expressed in the gay community. It isn't hard to find someone speaking out about these ludicrous and ridiculous statements. I've heard real anger expressed by the disability community and particularly those who have autism. It wasn't hard to find. But I've found very little expressions of outrage from those who say they love God. 

Disability does not equal sin.

Disability is not punishment for the sin of the parents.

Weather is weather ... the rain falls on the just and the unjust.

But were are our allies?

I am writing this because I want to say that I am a believer and my God isn't hateful. My voice will be dismissed by many, my sexuality makes my faith suspect, my disability confirms the suspicion that God had truly punished me. But even so, let me say to Atanus and Silvester ... if you believe that God punishes sin ... I'd be careful crossing the street.


Tamara said...

Totally agree, with everything - except that Atanus has a significant number of backers. She's running for congress from Illinois' 9th congressional district. I thought it was a liberal district, so I checked Wikipedia. They haven't elected a Republican since 1949. That's probably why many are calling her a "wingnut" and dismissing her. They know she won't win in that district. There are always people like her coming out and saying ridiculous things. In some ways, the fact that she made it into the news is evidence that she's being ridiculed for the things she's saying.

That said - this is still scary stuff. She does have an audience,and the more people who believe the garbage she spews, the more hate is created for all pegs who don't fit in the standard square.

A friend of mine wrote a really good FB post in response. Her dad has dementia and she focused on that. I'll see if I can share it on my FB page so you can read it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

in my believe system god just stands for the one "force/power, etc." in the universe, we can not fathom. It is not judging, at least not in the way these people try to use it for their power.

It is - for me - at leats the ultimate spark that brought the us into us. Like when the egg and the sperm melt together and we are/were given a mind of our own...

What we do with it, and if we are able to use it in love is up to us.

No child is given a disability as a punishment for people loving out of the mindframe of philistians.


Anonymous said...

These people have a funny, vengeful God.

My God doesn't make junk, only people who should be loved, and tells us we are all brothers and sisters.

My God made you and Joe and me and all the folk you serve and the ones I share an illness with...

And he made us the way we are, which we try to take from a raw form and perfect by loving others as He loved us. THAT's being Christian.

He died on the cross for our sins - that's over: there can be no bigger price paid.

He healed the sick and comforted the afflicted.

I'm with you on this. I don't know how those people who hate can live with themselves.

Jan Goldfield said...

Dave, the only God that exists is the one we invent in our heads. The one those people invent reflects who they are and how they think. It's sad when so many organized religions today preach hatred and that people who do not believe as they do are 'lesser' than they are. But that is how religions/states gain power. Give the believers people to look down on and somehow it makes them more important and powerful. I wonder if we will ever progress beyond that kind of thinking. Doubtful. And sad.

Penelope said...

One of the saddest experiences I've ever had was when another disabled person told me that becoming disabled was punishment and that if I wanted to feel better (part of my conditions is severe chronic pain), I needed to pray. The guy had CP and his family really did believe that his CP was punishment for something his mother had done. He hadn't had exposure to anyone outside his specific brand of Christianity (lived in rural Texas, homeschooled with a religious curriculum and was going off to a fundamentalist Christian college). I have no idea if he has ever expanded his views because I stopped talking to him around 10 years ago when he told me that my being raped was punishment for being lesbian/bisexual (can't remember how I IDed when I knew him). I hadn't had any disability culture experience when I knew him so I couldn't try to expand his views at least of himself, but I can only hope that somewhere he's found someone who has given him a more positive outlook on his own life.

Anonymous said...

I hate to have to say this, but the only sensible conclusion here is that you're not hearing waves of protest from Christians because most Christians are closed-minded idiots; and if most people who believe in something are closed-minded idiots, then that probably says quite a lot about the thing they all believe in....

Princeton Posse said...

I agree Dave, very scary. It's a slippery slope when we try to blame or question "God". I try to remember that we were made in his/her image, not the other way around!

Anonymous said...

My God isn't hateful either. Thank you for your voice against the hate.

Maggie said...

I'm not a Christian, myself, but I have a number of good friends who are believers. I'm afraid the reason you haven't heard more from them is their level of disgust and denial about the nonsense being spouted in the name of their religion and the God they love with all their hearts.

Some are in denial - "nobody would believe that, it's just some nutjob talking" - and some just have no hope of being heard. A few are afraid that if they came out and said, "I'm X and I don't believe Y" that the original speaker (or supporters) would take potshots at them, too.

Some years ago Pat Robertson blamed some dreadful weather event - maybe Hurricane Katrina? I don't remember - on the fact that the VA had just approved a few non-Christian symbols (including a Wiccan Pentagram) for use on the tombstones of soldiers buried in national cemeteries.


Education: Exploring Online Learning said...

I'm a Christian and this is the first I've heard of either of these! How terrible. Thank you for making me aware and for speaking out.

Colleen said...

We are made in his image - all of us! I identify as a Christian and I have not heard of either of these people. I agree Dave, this is dangerous. And full of hatred.

Anonymous said...

Amen to today's blog.
My God is also not a hateful god, rather s/he is a loving non punishing God who loves and supports us all regardless of who we are or were we are on our life paths.
As a person with a disability I just wish that those who assert that their faith (including my own Grandmother) does not give them the right to sit it judgement of us on the basis of our disability.

Anonymous said...

Dave my opinion is that you are an exceptional Christian. In the uk I’m often aware of Muslims speaking out against what others have said/done claiming thier basis in Islam. We hear on the news, ‘Moderate Muslim community leaders have distanced themselves saying Islam does not advocate (horrible things that have been said)’. I guess they don’t label themselves as moderates, i guess that’s added in the reporting.
I don’t hear this from Christians unless it’s about something they advocate e.g. someone says women shouldn’t hold office in the church, and then those that are part of the church that do allow this, say so.
I sometimes hear on the radio individual christians with a platform like thought for the day talk about the true nature of christianity.
But not ‘the church’. Is this because every brand of Christianity believe that they ARE the church, and the others... well what are they? What is the christian brotherhood?
As a non-christian, it’s all opaque and not palatable to me.
Please Christians, don’t tell me off about it, say something to restore trust and respect if you think I am wrong about this.
I started out as a kid thinking that loving Jesus would make people good people. Now I can’t see that.

Mary said...

If it helps... Silvester was only a town councillor, which is not an influential position. It's like the bottom rung of hyper-local politics, only one notch up from "church fete organising committee". Henley on Thames has 10,000 residents and 21 town councillors. This is not a man with a serious political career.

The leader of UKIP, the fringe political party to which this clown was affiliated, is an intolerant bigot through and through, and even he has stated publicly that the party needs to ditch "barmy" (his word) elements like Silvester.

I'm not saying we shouldn't be wary of people like this entering the political sphere... but I feel that full-on fear may be disproportionate at this stage.

Anonymous said...

People have a way of making God in their own image. Bigots have a bigoted God.

Anyway, has Atanus not noticed that dementias have been around a long, long time? Propaganda pretends autism hasn't, but any ninny knows senility's ages old.