Connie Schultz: Praise God and bash the gays

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz

This past week, I read that “social conservatives” will attempt to reinvigorate their anti-gay campaign for the 2016 presidential race. Briefly, I succumbed to the old response of bracing myself.

More hate on the way. Oh, joy.

James Hohmann, writing for Politico from Des Moines, Iowa: “The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on gay marriage once and for all in June, and there are many Republicans who privately would love nothing more than to have the question settled and off the table in time for the 2016 presidential election.

“It’s not going to happen. Social conservatives here are determined to keep the issue alive during the run-up to next February’s Republican caucuses, no matter how the high court rules or how much some establishment figures would like to move on.”

Such a curious term, “social conservative,” when there is nothing cordial or hospitable in wielding God as a political 2-by-4 in the fight to deny basic human rights — in this case, the right to marry.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. I live in one of the holdouts, Ohio. I’m not proud of that, but I can say it out loud without the usual spine rattle because I’m confident that on this issue, the bigots’ days are numbered from sea to shining sea. You can tell by the desperate, ridiculous things they’re saying lately, particularly in Iowa.

My favorite quotation so far came out of Mike Huckabee, who showed up at Iowa’s conservative summit. Rep. Steve King organized the gathering. His most famous contribution to public discourse is his 2013 description of immigrants as dealers dragging their drugs across the desert with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Not to change the subject, but I’ve always wondered why the congressman was spending so much time looking at those guys’ legs. It’s the kind of thing that makes you go “hmm.”

Anyway, back to Huckabee. He likened laws allowing gay people to marry to the U.S. Supreme Court’s racist 1857 Dred Scott decision, which said that no black person, free or enslaved, could become an American citizen.

And this, Huckabee argued, is why gays can’t marry.

“Nobody argues that Abraham Lincoln should have abided by the Dred Scott decision,” Huckabee said. “We recognize that he had the courage to realize that he didn’t have to enforce something that was morally wrong.”

If you think you should be able to figure out how Huckabee managed to connect those dots, you’re in for an even longer Republican presidential primary than the rest of us. Don’t try to make sense of this stuff.

I’m making light of this only because for too long, I was angry with people like Huckabee and didn’t like what it did to me. More to the point, I didn’t like how I was letting their nonsense whittle down faith. For a while there, I was reluctant to say I was Christian for fear that someone might think I was one of them. In my worst moments, I began to wonder where God fit into all of this.

I used to resent fundamentalists for this internal crisis of mine, but now I thank them. I hear them saying stupid things about gay people they’ve never met and feel the tug of my Christian roots, which taught me that faith is a riverbed where hope bubbles up and carries us along.

One of my favorite books is a collection of sermon excerpts by the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin. That man was a Christian willing to take on his own people.

“It is not Scripture that creates hostility to homosexuality,” he wrote, “but rather hostility to homosexuals that prompts some Christians to recite a few sentences from Paul and retain passages from an otherwise discarded Old Testament law code.

“In abolishing slavery and in ordaining women we’ve gone beyond biblical literalism. It’s time we did the same with gays and lesbians. The problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but rather how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ. It can’t be done.”

It can’t be done, he said.

Let justice flow like a mighty river.


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