Sin

When I was younger, I thought that taking God’s name in vain was saying something like, “Christ on a bike.” You know what it really is? It’s using God’s name to justify actions and attitudes that are truly unholy. Whether you use it to justify subway explosions, or edicts like the Doctrine of Discovery, or camps for conversion therapy, you are committing what some would call a mortal sin. I don’t threaten people with damnation; that tactic belongs to another sect. In fact, I don’t even believe in damnation–or at least not in the vindictive, I-loved-you-once-but-now-I-hate-you kind of thing. But do I think that this sort of name-in-vaining can damn well summon hell.

(Originally posted November 20, 2016)

Solidarity

As a member of the Christian left, I’d like to show Christians (and non-Christians) that liberal Christianity is a robust and hallowed alternative to conservative “Christianity.” Liberal Christianity gave this country the first college that educated blacks and women; it was one of the major instigators of the abolitionist movement. (In fact, many of the little Christian colleges that sprang up in the midwest were essentially abolitionist strongholds.) My denomination was the first to ordain an openly gay minister in 1972. And it has sought to strike down the Doctrine of Discovery, which was an 1823 Supreme Court decision that said white settlers could take land from any indigenous person they wanted. (This ruling was last used in 2005, btw.) This is the Christianity that stands with Mary’s Magnificat, which is such a call to revolution that Guatemalan despots outlawed it in the 1980s. Liberal Christianity has its faults; historically it dallied with the eugenics movement and the Native American boarding schools. (Many of us have since apologized for both.) But if its voice isn’t as strident as those who support Trump, it’s because it speaks from peace instead of condemnation, ecumenicism instead of fear, and reason instead of hostility. We are here. We stand against Trump. And we stand with you.

(Originally posted October 11, 2016)

The Doctrine of Discovery

Do you know, dearies, about the Doctrine of Discovery? In 1823, the US Supreme Court passed this lovely ruling, which declared how the US inherited all of its land from Great Britain, and could therefore do what they pleased with any part of it, despite protestations from indigenous peoples. (The original colonies didn’t extend too far past the Atlantic seaboard, but apparently that’s a technicality.) Courts have used this doctrine in land disputes with Native Americans as late as 2005.

(Originally posted September 29, 2016)