Letters to the Editor: March 12, 2014

other_letters_editorNo sacrament honors hatred and bigotry

The March 9 column by Tim Wildmon, president of the only group in Tupelo labeled a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a shameful rant.

He labels those liberals who dare to believe that all people deserve to be treated equally as “Gay Gestapo” wearing jackboots to squash freedom of conscience. He claims that “Christian” businesses ought not be required to do business with people they don’t like or agree with. He claims that some states have forced businesses to close when they would not provide their services to LGBT people and he decries this as forcing them “to violate a sacrament of their faith.”

Personally, I don’t think government ought to tell a business who to do business with. If a baker won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, so be it; but, so be it also if people who believe in equal treatment of all people decide to boycott that baker. Those who boycott such a business are unlikely to wear jackboots nor do they deserve the label “Gestapo.”

When Tim and the AFA boycott businesses do they apply that label to themselves?

Just what “sacrament of faith” is it that permits Christians to celebrate bigotry? I have studied several translations of the New Testament and nowhere do I find a sacrament or command to celebrate intolerance of another group or person.

Instead I find commandments such as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Judge not” and words that endorse getting along in an inclusive community.

Asking, or requiring a business to be open to all customers is a very reasonable rule.

We do not permit businesses to discriminate against people of color or people who are mobility challenged. We must not permit businesses to refuse service to people based on who they love.

This state has many people who claim to be “God Fearing Christians” but far too many of them preach about Jesus and love while practicing bigotry and prejudice – Tim Wildmon and his AFA being principal among them.

Bob Spencer

Tupelo

Founder of Give Hate a Holiday

Member of Equality Mississippi

Member of PFLAG Tupelo

Lay minister of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tupelo

  • Sue Roediger

    oh……..very well said !!!!

  • Jeff

    It is a disgrace that a journalistic organ that purports to represent an entire region of this state would give a platform to the president of a designated hate group. Surely a more thoughtful representative of the conservative ideology could have been chosen who does not mistake demonization for argument.

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  • tom Neiman

    True believers in Jesus Christ are known by what they love as well as what they hate. Their can be no real love without hatred. I know many of you bloggers will accuse me of beating you over the head with the Bible. But if you are going to use the Biblical phrase such as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” let’s try to put the phrase in its proper context. The Apostle Paul said it best in Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil: cleave to that which is good.” Again in Romans 13:8,9 “Owe no man any thing but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” These verses make clear that if you love your neighbor then you will not love their sin. Before any of you bloggers criticize me or accuse me of not interpreting these verses in their proper context, read the whole book of Romans, then you are welcome to get back with me.

    • FrereJocques

      I’ll tell you what, Mr. Neiman, I’ll work on not taking Bible texts out of context if the Radical Religious Right will do the same, and also work on getting accurate TRANSLATIONS of the Bible. Many Bible scholars and language experts have concluded that the biblical passages in the modern translations, such as the KJV, referring to homosexual relations, have been mis-interpreted through the millenia. Remember that there was no specific word in the Greek language (which the New Testament was written in) for “homosexual”. Many references to homosexual acts in the Greek language were talking about pagan rituals where ordinarily heterosexual people performed homosexual acts to their pagan gods and idols, out of a sense of duty and responsibility (and probably fear) rather than love or enjoyment of gay sex.

      The story of Sodom is also incorrectly used against gay people. The story of the Sodomites and Lot and the angels is so obviously misconstrued that it is a sin unto itself. That story is not about loving, caring, consensual same-sex partners; it is about an assault and attempted RAPE. The true sins of the Sodomites are described elsewhere in the Bible, and do not mention homosexuality as one of them.

      Remove the beam from thine own eye, to better see to remove the mote from thy brother’s eye.

    • 1941641

      The bible is not a book that truly rational men believe in. It can be cherry-picked and interpreted and twisted to suit what one wants to believe in and wants others to believe in.

  • Corey Blount

    Well since it was published, I’ll post my letter to the editor here:

    The Other Side of the Argument

    The recent community column post by Tim Wildmon regarding the Mississippi Religious Restoration Act (Senate Bill 2681) warrants a rebuttal and an alternate perspective. The
    article discusses the government’s potential infringement on the religious rights of citizens by being legally compelled to provide services to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. Much of the media’s reporting on SB 2681 use situations where businesses are reprimanded for refusing services to same-sex couples on the basis that it goes against
    one’s religious beliefs. Wildmon goes on to say that members of the LGBQ want to see Christian-owned businesses shut down.

    As a Christian, it saddens me to see another making such accusations against a minority to whom he has no affiliation. As a gay person, it frightens me to see the potential effects of this Bill in the hands of those who would use it to discriminate against a minority group. This reminds me of the Jim Crowe era and how African Americans were treated as second-rate citizens (at best) because of their skin pigmentation. Like skin color, sexuality is not something that can be chosen.

    The article largely consists of a quote from radio host Tammy Bruce. Both Bruce and Wildmon refer to LGBTQ civil rights activists as the “Gay Gestapo”. It may be of interest to know that the Gestapo was an entity representing the majority German National Socialist (Nazi) regime used to
    persecute political dissidents, segregate racial minorities, and purify perceived genetic defects—such as homosexuality. The only “agenda” I see from the LGBTQ community is the pursuit for equality. He uses examples such as a Jewish photographer being forced to take pictures of skinheads and an African-American printer being forced to make posters for a Ku Klux Klan rally as a comparison of Christians being forced to provide services to LGBTQ people. Unlike the aforementioned examples, the LGBTQ community is not a hate group and does not have a history of killing Christians. Many of us, in fact, are Christians.

    The “live and let live” philosophy mentioned in Wildmon’s article isn’t applicable in this sense; rather, one should use the phrase “Separate, but Equal”. The ramifications of using one’s religious convictions to refuse service goes beyond baked goods. For instance, should a justice of the peace be allowed to refuse to perform an interracial marriage ceremony because it goes against his/her “moral” conscience? One can certainly turn to the passages in the Old Testament of the Bible when the various tribes weren’t allowed to intermarry to support their beliefs. Should a Where does it end, and how can it be regulated? My problem isn’t with the law itself; it’s with the vagueness of the law and the ramifications of its implementation in the hands of people who would use it to hurt others.

    While I agree with the stance that government should not regulate business transactions that go against a person’s religious beliefs or conscience, I do believe the comparisons used to illustrate the point are inappropriate. Adding the LGBTQ community to the litany of hate groups like the KKK is absurd and, quite frankly, insulting. The LGBTQ community is doing nothing more than seeking the same thing everyone else has – equality. Separate is not equal. It never has been, and it never will be.

  • 1941641

    Tupelo MS has a very distinct “Dark Side” to be an otherwise “All American City”. Tupelo shall overcome!