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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crushed Graham & Amendment One

Let me clear, Billy Graham and I would almost never agree.

Rev. Graham is an right wing evangelical Christian and I am a Buddhist/ Christian skeptic needs science and reason to be at the center of my spirituality. I am a gay man who believes the LGBT people must have the same rights as all people before the law. Rev. Graham's relationship with US presidents, especially Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon made me very uncomfortable, bringing giving the right wing more access to the president then I like to see.

At the same time, I always found Billy Graham someone I could imagine talking across differences. He was never as hateful or divisive as Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, though his son and heir Franklin Graham talks MUCH more like those other two figures. For decades, Billy Graham has appealed to a broad spectrum of Americans with some positive things to say about being a good person and preaching a Christianity of service to others and trying to make the world a better place. He has been a person I had respect for until now.

I am very very disheartened at his vocal support of the anti-equal marriage Amendment One in North Carolina that is being voted on today. If you want to know about this evil law, the internet is fully of information. Basically, this law is designed to stop same sex couples from ever getting all of the rights and privileges that straight married people get. It would even ban domestic partnership/civil unions.

The idea that Rev. Graham would be against same sex marriage on the grounds of his faith is no surprise. While I know countless Christian theologians who would disagree with Rev. Graham's stand, he has a right to it. I think Billy Grahams has every right to preach against gay marriage, he has every right to not allow ministers in his faith to perform same sex blessings.

The problem is we are talking about civil law. The founders of this country were mainly  deists, who believed that a creator God brought the world into being then left it alone. They were very distrustful of organized religion being involved in politics and developed our government and laws to be separate and secular, to keep religious concerns at a distance.

As strongly as I support same sex couples having the same rights and privileges before the law as heterosexual couples, I equally support the right of churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. to say what they want about human sexuality (even if, on spiritual grounds I personally believe they are dead wrong) and to refuse to marry same sex couples.

Rev. Graham is violating that most treasured American value of keeping religious concerns out of government. A secular government has to treat all people with respect and dignity and has support some things (like racist clan marches, anti-choice protests, the refusal to ordain female clergy) that are against many of our values.

I used to respect Billy Graham as a reasonably intelligent man I disagreed with, but for whom who I had some respect. Now that respect for Billy Graham and his legacy is crushed. I now think of him as bigot who doesn't respect the fundamental separation of church and state and is so blinded by hatred for LGBT people that he won't allow the state to give us full and equal rights. If Billy really "loved the sinner and hated the sin" he would stay out of the legal process and preach against gay marriage in his churches and to his followers. Trying to stop the secular legal rights of a group of Americans is shameful. If I as an American must support the right of the KKK to exist, to parade, to write hateful anti-racist tomes, then Billy Graham can let the state give me and mine equal rights before the law and still preach and teach against who I am.