Last Wednesday, the Tennessee House voted 68-22 for a bill that would allow mental health professionals to refuse to treat patients on the grounds of the counselors’ religious beliefs. It’s just another “hate the fags” law and a big sign that on this issue at least, the cultural Christians are not only losing, they are terrified. This vote reminds me of the comment from yesterday’s anniversary post where an explicitly racist judge ranted from the bench.
Let’s think about this for a moment. This law is designed to make it harder for LGBT people to get counseling services. In what way is this Christian? In the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t have a problem going around and ministering to anyone at all. But apparently, these Christian counselors have to be protected from the rules of their profession, the American Counseling Association, that they can’t tell LGBT people that they are wrong or sinful. You have to ask: why didn’t such counselors go into the church instead?
Think of a lawyer who is defending a murderer. I would assume that the lawyer would be against murder; pretty much everyone is; the truth is that the vast majority of murderers are against murder. But the purpose of the lawyer is not to judge the murderer but to provide them legal services as dictated by the ABA. Yet where are the laws being passed to protect Christian defense attorneys from having to defend people who have sinned in God’s eyes? I’ve never heard of any such thing, and I have no doubt that such a law would go down in flames in the Tennessee House.
Cultural Christians and Bigotry
So this really isn’t about Christianity. This is just about attacking one minority group that a certain section of cultural Christians have decided is more important than everything else. And shame on them for using the cover of their religious freedom to justify it. These are not just bad Christians and bad Americans, these are anti-Christians and anti-Americans. These are people for whom their bigotry is more important than both their religion and their country.
Meanwhile, we had the Catholic Church release, The Joy of Love. And yes, it isn’t radical. I actually get rather cross at people who think that the Catholic Church is suddenly going to accept same sex marriage or allow priests to marry. But the document is about acceptance. And based upon where the document started two years ago, we know that Francis himself would like to go a good deal further on these matters. But my point is that even the sclerotic Catholic Church is trying to reach out, but these American cultural Christians just want to segregate.
Two days before the House voted on its ridiculous bill, the Tennessee Senate voted on an even more ridiculous bill, SB1108, which “designates the Holy Bible as the official state book.” The House approved the same thing last year by a vote of 55-38. The Senate passed SB1108 by a vote of 16-8.
I’d like to say that it is obviously unconstitutional, but it is hard to say anything is obvious in the federal courts anymore. But most opponents are making that argument. Happily, some Christians are making the argument that making the Bible the state book “trivializes something they hold sacred.” Yes! If you actually care about your religion, you treat your holy texts as something more than a cultural symbol of how “everyone ’round here believes it!”
The world of religion is wild and wacky. And I’m always interested to hear what serious people think about religion. But what I come upon in this country is mostly a bunch of people who believe it because it is in that book that their parents told them was the truth. Cultural Christians have absolutely nothing to add to any theological discussion. They use their religion as a cultural signifier to tell the world that they are the right kind of people and the rest of us aren’t.