Dear Religious Freedom
Dear “Religious Freedom,”
I am writing you as a US citizen, an ordained minister, an ally (not despite but because of my faith), and as someone who grew up in a home with two moms.
My family was fortunate to attend an open and affirming congregation. The only time I felt awkward with my moms at church was when I attended my first Love Feast. In case you are unfamiliar with it, Love Feast is basically a worship service that reenacts the Last Supper—a Church of the Brethren tradition which includes self-examination, feet-washing, a simple meal, and bread and cup communion.
Like I said, it was my first Love Feast and I wasn’t about to wash my mom’s feet—NOT because she was a lesbian – NO! but because I was in middle school and she was my mom. Now, Love feast has become a favorite part of my faith tradition. And I would gladly wash the feet of either of my moms, or let them wash mine.
So I’ve been wondering lately… If we are having a conversation about “religious beliefs” then what happens to my religious conviction that God celebrates diversity—and that includes gender expression? What happens to my religious conviction that God rejoices when two people fall in love and commit their lives to one another without regard to their sex or gender identity? What about my belief that Jesus started his ministry [Luke 4] by returning into his hometown synagogue to read from the prophet Isaiah which says: ‘God’s blessing is coming to all.’ Translation: it goes beyond those who already live like they are blessed; God’s blessing is coming, and (like the prophet Isaiah said, ) it is coming to the poor; God’s blessing is coming to all people, regardless of race and religion; it’s coming to the wrongly condemned! What about my belief that God’s blessing is coming and it prioritizes those who are oppressed and those who are pushed to the margins of society?
Christianity includes four Gospels—multiple versions of the Good News—four accounts of Jesus life, ministry, death, and resurrection; four accounts, which are occasionally in tension with one another; four different accounts of Jesus in conversation with one another. If Christianity includes FOUR Gospels in ONE Holy Bible there is room for diversity in my faith tradition! But this is not just about my religious beliefs or your religious beliefs. Because America is not a theocracy. America at its best, is a democracy!
We are not talking about “an issue.” We are talking about people.
This is not just about me and my moms; This is about our neighbors who don’t want “separate but equal” and sure as hell are tired of “unequal.” This is about your sisters and brothers and their freedom to love without being victims of hate crimes. This is about your parents and grandparents having the same legal rights that are automatically assumed in heterosexual marriages. This is about your children and many generations to come who need a welcoming society—one that will not leave them vulnerable to violence or discrimination. This is about you!
We are talking about people! AND You don’t have to conform to gender stereotypes to be a person. You don’t have to love someone of the opposite sex to be a person. You shouldn’t have to live in-the-closet to be a person. You don’t have to be Chuck Norris to be a man and you certainly don’t have to be Mrs. Cleaver to be a woman. You don’t have to be married with 2.3 children to be a person. Guess what?! (I’m talking to you too, progressives.) You don’t have to be a Prius-driving, NPR-listening, PC-policing, Sorting-your-recyclables-in-a-Trader-Joes-tote-bag-hippie-Flower-child to be a person!!
O, America, its coming! You can help facilitate its arrival. Good luck trying to resist it. Whether you call it God’s blessing, or the right side of history, or justice no-longer-delayed, a new solidarity is on the horizon. Its growing where you don’t want—just like a mustard tree. It’s knocking on your doors, churches and federal buildings. The tides are turning. DOMA has been declared Unconstitutional, and I can’t keep track of all the states who have since said “yes” to marriage Equality—any day now the Supreme Court will do the same. The U.N. says: all people are born free and equal, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The tides are turning,
like a riveting conversation,
like the verse of poetic anticipation,
one line turning to the next
turning like the shakers song:
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right
Stay in touch, Religious Freedom. We have so much more to talk about!
Peace and Grace,
Rev. Dylan Dell-Haro