For the most part I try to stay out of politics. The wheelings and dealings on any capitol hill tend to make the muscle along my right eye spasm uncontrollably. Needless to say, the politics in the Church make me just as uncomfortable, but at least in that realm I know it’s possible to stand up for myself. In national government, however, I tend to feel powerless when lawmakers get to decide on how I’m allowed to live without ever having to hear my voice. They are allowed to rule from on high on the quality of my life and allow my no protection to their personal agendas, prejudices or bigotry. Thus I’m a monk and try to keep to the well being of my Church where at least I feel I can make an iota of difference.
That being said, every now and then there’s such an act of absurdity on capitol hill that I can’t help but comment. The latest is from the Republican Congresswoman of North Carolina. The seemingly grandmotherly Virginia Foxx was speaking before the House on the expansion of the hate crime bill. Now, whether you agree on hate crime legislation or not is not the issue here. What floored me it what this Republican representative had to say about the murder of Matthew Shepard.
That’s right. According to Mrs. Foxx, Matthew Shepard’s murder had nothing at all to do with his sexuality. To her, it was just a robbery gone wrong. The idea that is was in anyway related to Matthew Shepard being gay is just a “hoax.”
Madame, the intentional brutality with which Matthew Shepard was killed does not come from a robbery gone wrong. Never mind that fact that one of the girlfriends testified that the defendants had been planning to rob a specifically gay man. Never mind the fact that the defendants tried to use the “gay panic defense.” How can a woman who is so obviously biased and subversive of fact be on a committee who’s sole purpose to write legislation to help protect minorities?
But for many who still hate others and expect laws to allow them to do so…for many Christians who choose to twist the Bible and use it as a weapon and means of justification for abusing and killing others, it takes this degree of mental gymnastics and outright avoidance of reality to continue in their fragile world. In my line of work I have dealt with and continue to deal with many conservative and fundamentalist Christians. They are fine spouting hate. But what they refuse to take responsibility for is natural consequence of their preaching. If you preach hate towards one group long enough…if you continue to use one group as a scapegoat for your anger and own issues…if you continue to target one group of people as worthy of God’s punishment…then when one of your flock finally follows through with what you’ve taught them and they beat, butcher and slaughter those people, then your hands are just as red with an innocent’s blood.
As a contemplative I strive to experience and live my life out of the compassionate Love of God. But even as a monk, people like Virginia Foxx make that extremely difficult.
Lord, I pray that someday we may all look upon one another out of compassion instead of derision, out of acceptance instead of violently defended prejudice, out of hope instead of deeply seated fears. Amen.