On Heaven’s Selective Silence
“Gods always behave like the people who make them”-Zora Neale Hurtson
On June 26th, 2013 the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. While GLBT Americans and their allies across the country welcomed the decision, others were quite displeased. The angry and caustic remarks in the wake of the decision didn’t surprise me. After all, haters gonna hate! What I find interesting, however, is the idea that ‘God’ is going to ‘punish’ the United States for the ruling. Pat Robertson warned that God may do something “pretty drastic’. Now some will assert that Roberston is a fringe crank, but I don’t think his views are as rare as some would like to believe. This is not the first time a religious figure has made such remarks publicly, and I myself have heard such sentiments from the pulpit. In 1999 I sat in the folded chairs of my non-denominational church, listening to my pastor preach. In his sermon he gleefully referred to gay men as faggots, daring anyone to take offense and challenge him for preaching what the ‘word of Gawd’ supposedly said about homosexuality. “Ya’ll better GET right and STAY right with God on this”, he stated, smirking at the congregation as he swaggered across the altar ,” because JUDGMENT is coming! God is going to send a mighty earthquake to Seattle for condoning such abominations, you just wait and see!” In the wake of 9/11 fundamentalists claimed the true blame for the attacks lay at the feet of “the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians”. After natural disasters and school shootings there is always a loudmouth proclaiming this is all part of God’s judgement on the US.
When I hear them I can’t help but reflect on both American history and their chosen deity’s selective silence. After centuries of the oppression of African and Indigenous peoples in the US, I’m supposed to believe that ‘God’ is outraged NOW? NOW God’s representatives claim He may feel the need to do something drastic? I wish there had been drastic divine intervention when my ancestors lay chained in misery as slave ships carried them to oblivion. I wish the heavens had thought to come the rescue when our families were ripped apart on the auction block. Where was God’s divine judgement and action when Indigenous peoples were getting slaughtered at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, their children later kidnapped and brainwashed by the government in Indian boarding schools? The history of the United States is replete with episodes that chill my bones, yet in the minds of fundamentalists none of them are egregious enough to provoke divine wrath. No, it is only our country’s baby steps towards acknowledging the humanity and rights of GLBT individuals that warrants the judgment of God in their eyes. I find such a mentality to be truly disconcerting. The Pat Roberstons and Jerry Falwells of the world can keep their God. Any God who would accept slavery and dispossession, yet throw a temper tantrum over the overturn DOMA, is a God I want no part of.