Last week, the Southern Baptist Convention passed
a declaration that they would be boycotting the Disney Corporation,
and affiliates such as ABC, because they provide benefits to partners
of their gay employees. Such a declaration has not gone unnoticed.
Some ministers are encouraging their parishioners to participate in
the boycott; some are remaining mum on the subject; there are,
theoretically, a few who might speak out on it.
This all seems kind of familiar. Ostracize a group... Condemn
them in public... Chastise and boycott those who are friendly to
I know where I've heard this before! Germany in the 1930s. I
suppose mandatory "treatment camps" are the next logical step, run by
cheerful, smiling people who sleep well at night with the reassurance
that God is on their side.
If I had paid enough attention to this issue, I might have
written to some of the major newspapers around me on this issue. My
letter would be something like this:
As a skeptic who finds the general principles of Christianity, or
at least Christian fundamentalism, at odds with what science and
reason tell me about the world, I have watched with interest the
Southern Baptists' decision to boycott Disney.
I am not, as one might suspect, in opposition to their action. It
is their right to do what they want. I do, however, feel that in the
future, this will be viewed with the same laughter of contempt as the
famous papal bull declaring that a particular comet was not, all
visual evidence to the contrary, in the sky.
And with that in mind, I applaud the Southern Baptists' recent
action. It is my hope that this action will serve to hasten the
demise of outdated mythologies that belong to an era two millennia
I'm not quite as adverse to Christianity as that letter would
make me sound -- that's a rhetorical exaggeration -- but I do
find fundamentalism distasteful. I have, generally, no respect for
the Southern Baptist Convention. Some of my closest and dearest
friends are Baptist, but I would consider their virtues to exist
despite their religious affiliation, rather than due to it.
To my mind, the SBC is one of the most contemptible religious
institutions to ever arise. They broke from the American Baptist
denomination at the time of the Civil War because of their belief
that slavery was sanctioned by God. Is it any surprise that a group
founded on prejudice, formed to "keep the niggers in their place," is
even today a bastion of narrow-minded bigotry?
This boycott is perfectly in keeping with the tradition of hatred
perpetuated by the denomination. They were forged in the oppression
of blacks, and they resisted the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Today, SBC members oppose science education in schools (evolution).
Some even carry "AIDS kills fags dead" signs at the funerals of AIDS
My disagreements with their ideology aside, that's rude, tacky
and hurtful. Dare I say it?, that is evil itself.
The Bible that the SBC claims as its authority says that you will
know a person's character by his or her deeds. People who would
perform actions such as these are much more harmful to the common
good than homosexuals or African-Americans or whatever religious
groups are their scapegoats for the day.
Although their moral character is above such actions, I would
almost like to open my newspaper and see a full-page ad with the
headline "We won't tell you where to go on vacation, which stores to
visit, or what television channels to watch," signed by the groups
represented in truly benevolent groups such as those represented in
the Interfaith Alliance.
There are religious groups who are out to help society. Groups
that allow their members to think for themselves include my church,
the Unitarian Universalists, the first religious group to reach out
to AIDS patients; Episcopalians, one of the first groups to welcome
lesbigay parishioners and the first Christian church in the U.S. to
ordain women, whose leadership recently decreed that it was
acceptable to ordain non-celibate gays and lesbians to the
priesthood; the Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians, all to some
extent active in involving women and lesbigays in the ministry.
The Disciples of Christ, American Baptists and the United Church
of Christ are liberal-friendly. Outside Christianity, many Jews,
Buddhists, and self-proclaimed Pagans are also active in putting a
productive influence on society, instead of trying to tear us
There are religious groups that can have a positive effect on
society. The Southern Baptist Convention will have some supporters,
no doubt; I'm sure the Pentecostals will join them, for instance. But
those who stand apart from the easy course of bigotry will show
themselves to have a much more valid claim towards goodness and the
grace of God, if such a being can be said to exist, and if S/He is
the being of love so many espouse.
And, hopefully, this boycott will eventually serve to discredit
those unpleasant little hypocrites who wrote, voted for and will
Thanks to Elizabeth Donald for the info on the Episcopal decision
that ordaining lesbigays was not against a Bishop's vows.