Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And around and around we go ...

You can set your clock by it. Everytime there's another move in the chess game called "marriage equality" the talk shows in general -- and Larry King in particular -- drag out their "diverse panel of experts" and let them have at it.
Last night it was "boys against girls" -- Bishop Harry Jackson and talk show guy Dennis Prager vs. CA Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris and talk show chick Stephanie Miller.

Stephanie was cute, funny and heartfelt. Kamala was spot on with the legal arguments. And neither of them brought ANYTHING to the party for the faith based, "traditional values" arguments Prager and Jackson brought. So nobody unrang the bells in the messages they continue to get out the American public.

Two particularly egregious "misses" struck me -- as I watched the segment from my Washington DC hotel room after a day saturated with message training, focus groups and "why family values that value all families make us a stronger America" sound bites.

Prager made the statement (and I'm paraphrasing -- the transcript isn't up yet): "But the churches never supported racism."

Really? What country did he grow up in? Ask my rector about the sermons he heard preached as a boy explicitly proclaiming from the pulpit: "God is a segregationist!" Just for starters. Ask the African American woman who showed up for an Episcopal Sunday service billed as Holy Communion and found it suddenly changed to Morning Prayer. Because there was no way they were going to let "her" take communion at "their" altar rail.

The church -- to its shame -- was in many, many ways and places on the wrong side of history on racism. Prager should know better. And if he doesn't we should tell him.

The second was Jackson dragging out the story we've heard over and over again about the adoption agency in Massachusetts that closed down rather than place children in need of stable families with same-sex families.

Here's the Word the Lord has laid on my heart for Bishop Jackson: Matthew 25:40. "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it to me." Not inasmuch as you have infused your bias and bigotry against same sex families and kept children from getting the homes they yearn for.

Meanwhile, here's the rebuttal story I want to hear the next time this story comes up on Larry King ... because it will. It's the story about the Holy Family Adoption Agency in Los Angeles that was de-funded by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese because it was committed to finding the BEST home for children in need ... committed to family values that value all families. They lost their funding and almost shut down ... until they -- the adoption agency -- was adopted by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

THOSE are family values. THAT's what builds up families, communities and makes us a stronger America. And we need -- we DESERVE -- strong, progressive faith voices out there to get that message into the mix.
Where was the Reverend Dr. Eric Lee from the SCLC -- a valiant supporter of justice for ALL in the fight for marriage equality? Where was Rabbi Denise Eger -- president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and a pastoral, prophetic voice for traditional values that value all families? Where was Bishop Gene Robinson or Diana Butler Bass or Ed Bacon ... or, or, or, or.

When are we going to stop letting these powerful progressive voices of faith be invisible on the airwaves? When are we going to jump up and down wherever and whenever we can and support the advocacy of organizations like California Faith for Equality and HRC's Faith & Religion Department and call for broader representation of faith based family values that value all families and a Protect Marriage Movement the protects all marriages?

What could we do? How can we claim our power and get our voices out there to balance those who want to use our faith traditions as weapons of mass disinformation? Is it letters? A Facebook group? Tweets? Phone calls to stations?
OK ... here endeth the rant. Getting close to time to board (I hope) for my return flight. But let's think about this. What could we do?


IT said...

I agree, the media decides on a dynamic and finds people to support it. I'd like to see Ed Bacon take on the Washington minister, for example.

uffda51 said...

Well, it wasn't the airwaves, but I did get a letter published in the Glendale paper today in response to comments written by the two most conservative clergy members of the group who regularly participate in the Saturday religion feature called "In Theory."
Saturday's topic - Judge Walker's Prop. 8 trial decision.

The commentators attacked Judge Walker and cleverly pointed out that we don't allow farmers to marry cows and we don't issue dog licenses to cats.

My letter appeared along with a photo of Prop. 8 challengers Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo.

Here's the letter.

Dear Editor:

Those who oppose Judge Walker’s decision in the Prop. 8 trial need to read the trial transcripts. The pro-Prop 8 team presented a total of two witnesses, one of whom, David Blankenthorn, had only one peer-reviewed article to his credit, a thesis on a labor dispute between cabinetmaker unions in Britain. Although Blankenhorn was being offered as an expert witness on how same-sex marriages are detrimental to heterosexual marriages and children, his education had been in history. He has no degree in psychology, psychiatry, sociology or anthropology. However, in 2007 Blankenhorn correctly wrote "We would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”

The snarky, ignorant, homophobic comments and straw man arguments so common to blogs, placards, and letters-to-the-editor don’t work in fact-based trials. Attacking the judge won’t change the findings of fact in the case. Nor will quoting the Bible. The Bronze-age writers of Leviticus knew as much about human sexuality and epigenetics as they knew about DNA and the Hubble Constant – nothing. We cannot base 21st century public policy in America on the age-old demonization of the “the other.” The real question is, why do so many conservatives desire to do just that?

Preachers are free to spout their intolerant and divisive views from their pulpits but we do not vote on the civil rights of statistical minorities in the United States. The “yes” on Prop. 8 supporters, and those who sent millions from out of state to support them, are the ones incapable of honoring the Constitution.