Advanced warning: I am not a religious person, but I have history. Lots of it. My family was Catholic during my childhood and at least for a generation before that, but has Jewish roots on one side and quite possibly on both. As a young boy I found great solace in church and its beautiful music, traditions, and order. Poverty, in my experience, finds comfort in religion.
In the past several weeks I have grown to realize that I have transferred some of my old religious beliefs to my chosen profession of psychology. The former got me through my childhood, the latter healed me from it in many ways. And, like the former, professional psychology has become a huge disappointment to me in its scandalous involvement with torture by the United States following the terrorist attacks of nearly 15 years ago.
The American Psychological Association is doing what it does: commissioning inquiries, publishing reports, working issues through thoughtful and, some would argue, tedious channels. In the end, things will change, but by then all of the passion will be distilled from it, including any semblance of real regret.
Still, the APA – though not operating at lightning speed – is nonetheless acknowledging wrongdoing to some extent. It is, after a fashion, being accountable for its grievous behaviors. Not so with Christian groups here and elsewhere.
Christianity’s role in genocides, colonialism, slavery, and terrorism goes unacknowledged. Its role in sexism, classism, ableism, racism, anti-gay oppression, anti-Muslim discrimination, and other oppressive systems also goes unacknowledged. I am old enough to see the irony in Christians expressing concern over the wearing of hijab or burkas when only a few decades ago Catholic women would not imagine entering church with an uncovered head. According to Paul, vanity required it. According to religious orders, chastity demanded even more.
The newest rounds of public attention to Christianity in the United States focus on attempts to make the bible an official state book, like the granite might be the official state rock, or religious bigot might be the official state legislator. Then, of course, tax exempt political organizations must have their rights preserved in so-called defense of religion acts.
Even some of my progressive friends are defending hiring and health care exemptions for religiously affiliated schools, hospitals and social service agencies. This is nonsense. If a school, hospital, or agency takes funds from taxpayers to provide services to residents, they ought to do so without prejudice. They have all the right in the world to complain about it when they lose funding for refusing to serve people or refusing to hire people or refusing to provide coverage for medically appropriate health care, but they don’t get to limit human rights and get government funds to do so.
Perhaps the most annoying aspect of these most recent actions in the name of religion is that other Christians are silent about these behaviors. I am not a religious person, but can still recognize the need to do so.
And you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am going to vomit you from my mouth.