Do We Have Enough Religion?

One Pulse

Jonathan Swift, 17th Century Satirist, Clergyman, Writer (Gulliver’s Travels), Political Activist said, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”

I wonder why that is.

But I don’t question it.

I see it.  All around.  In different religions.

The shooter, who claimed to be Muslim, on June 12.

The response to the shooting by those claiming to be Christian:

Pastor Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento told his congregation, “Christians shouldn’t be mourning the death of 50 sodomites…the tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.  The tragedy is – I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job…I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out.” 

Jimenez posted his sermon, in which he made these remarks, on his church’s website under the title, “The Christian response to the Orlando murders.”

So that’s the Christian response? That’s how Jesus would respond?

Pastor Steven Anderson, who has previously said that gay people are “worthy of death,” weighed in with these words:

“The Bible says that homosexuals should be put death in Leviticus 20:13.  Obviously, it’s not right for someone to just shoot up the place because that’s not going through the proper channels.  But these people all should have been killed anyway but they should have been killed through the proper channels as in, they should have been executed by a righteous government that would have tried them, convicted them, and saw them them executed…That’s what the Bible says. Plain and simple…the bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive, so they’re going to continue to molest children and recruit people into their filthy homosexual lifestyle.”

Hateful speech has punctured the airwaves for years:

In 2012, Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in North Carolina told his congregation, “Build a  great, big large fence – 150 or 100 mile long – put all the lesbians in there…Do the same things for queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why?  They can’t reproduce!”

Last year, Matt McLaughlin proposed a ballot measure in California mandating the execution of all homosexuals by “bullets to the head” or “any other convenient method.” He explained that it is “better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath.”

Connecting gays with God’s punishment is not new.

John Hagee, in a 2006 interview, described Hurricane Katrina as “God’s retribution for a planned gay pride parade.

In 1988, as Hurricane Bonnie set its course toward Orlando, Pat Robertson pre-emptively blamed gays at Disney World’s Gay Days Weekend for being the cause of the pending storm.  “Hold the judgment, Pat!” The storm changed course, completely missed Florida but hit the rest of the East coast.  One of the hardest hit areas was Hampton Roads, VA, where Robertson’s 700 Club is based.  Oops.

Following the 9-11 attack, Jerry Falwell said, “I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way all of them who have tried to secularize America.  I point the finger in their face and say, ‘you helped this happen.’”

In January, 2016, Franklin Graham said in a radio interview,

“We have allowed the Enemy to come into our churches.  I was talking to some Christians and they were talking about how they invited these gay children to come into their home and to come into the church and that they were wanting to influence them.  And I thought to myself, they’re not going to influence those kids; those kids are going to  influence those parent’s children.  

What happens is we think we can fight by smiling and being real nice and loving.  We have to understand who the Enemy is and what he wants to do. He wants to devour our homes.  He wants to devour this nation and we have to be so careful who we let out kids hang out with.  We have to be careful who we let into the churches.  You have immoral people who get into the churches and it begins to effect the others in the church and it is dangerous.”

LGBT kids, the enemy?  Did he really say that?

40% of homeless children in the United States are LGBTQ.

68% of them report their homelessness is due to family rejection because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, often by religious parents.

Is there a connection between those statistics and the sentiment expressed in Franklin’s words?  How could there not be?

Is there any wonder why our LGBTQ friends hesitate or refuse to enter the doors of most churches?

How much religion do we have? Enough to love?

Are we following the ethical progression in the Bible?  God calls us to a higher and higher ethic.  I see this in Jesus’ repeated phrase: “You have heard it said…but I say to you…”

The Bible, in both Testaments, condone slavery.  Yet, we abhor and condemn slavery today.  Why? Ethical progression.  Jesus is constantly calling us to a higher ethic of love.  The Spirit of Jesus has transformed how we interpret and apply the Biblical passages on slavery.

It’s easy to look at the Orlando shooting and make judgments about the shooter’s religion.

Are we willing to look at our own?


Thank You, Alan Turing

Alan Turing

How do you like your computer gadgets – your iPad, your laptop, your smart phone?

How do you like living under a democracy instead of a dictatorial Nazism?

We can thank Alan Turing for both.

Alan Turing, Ph.D in Mathematics, was a logician, cryptanalyst, code-breaking phenom and marathon runner.

He is considered the father of the modern computer. Time Magazine had this to say about him, “The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.”

He was considered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as the one who made the single-biggest contribution to the Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.

He never fired a shot.

Here’s how he did it.

As a member of a secret British counterintelligence team during WW2, Alan Turing developed a method of cracking the previously unbreakable Nazi codes –a revolution that shortened the war by an estimated two years and saved thousands of lives.

A hero. But unrecognized.

Did you catch the word “secret”?

The Allies kept the work of Turing’s team a secret. The documents weren’t declassified until the 1970s.

There was another secret. Alan Turing was gay. Some knew. Most did not. In England at that time being gay was a crime. In 1952 Turing was arrested and charged with “gross indecency” under the Victorian-era Criminal Law Amendment Act, once used to imprison Oscar Wilde. Turing’s punishment came during a backlash against gays, a “drive against male vice” the Home Secretary enacted to “rid England of this plague.”

His punishment? Chemical castration. He was injected with female hormones designed to suppress his libido. It did more than that. It destroyed his athletic build, affected his mind, and, according to one biographer, set the genius on a “slow, sad descent into grief and madness.”

The descent led Turing, on June 7, 1954, to kill himself by taking a bite of a cyanide-laced apple. It was two weeks shy of his 42nd birthday.

Now there is The Imitation Game – a movie about Alan Turing.

My wife and I watched it last night. I had never heard of it until this year’s Academy Awards Show at which writer Graham Moore received the Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

We cried. Not unusual for me. But for my wife, it is. She is emotionally tougher than I.

We cried for Alan Turing.

We cried for others, friends of ours, who have experienced discrimination.

We cried for those who discriminate – also friends of ours.

We cried for a culture that has difficulty grasping and practicing “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In September, 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a public apology to Turing: “Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”

 Parliament brought up a bill of “pardon” in 2013, and on Christmas Eve, 2013, Queen Elizabeth granted Turing pardon posthumously.

Too little too late? I think so. But, I learn something in the title of the Paul Billheimer’s book, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows. Let’s use history to learn to improve the present.

A lesson on hypocrisy. Do you think it’s a bit ironic that a man so instrumental in bringing down Nazism, an oppressive regime, intolerant of any form of difference was himself a victim of laws that criminalized homosexuality.

A lesson on prejudice. Until this movie, I had not heard of Alan Turing. How about you? If he had not been gay, might his name have been a household name like Einstein or Galileo?   How do we explain that a person who did so much is known by so few?

We pay a high price for prejudice.

Turing’s old colleague at Bletchley Park (the lab where the German code was broken), Professor Jack Good, who died in 2009 at the age of 92 made this observation: it “was a good thing the authorities hadn’t known Turing was a homosexual during the war, because if they had, they would have fired him – and we would have lost.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Turing in the movie, said, “It’s not an isolated moment in history. It’s a lesson and a warning that our prejudices can still rise and destroy those who are fragile, different and can make an incredible difference in our lives. We differentiate between what’s us and what’s them at our own peril – orientation, religion, creed.”

I wonder what other discoveries and inventions Alan Turing would have made had his life not been cut short by discrimination.

What do you think of the way Alan Turing was treated?

I can’t imagine even the most adamant opponent of homosexuality today being “ok” with how Alan Turing was treated. Well, maybe I can. But, for the most part, people would not condone, if not condemn, the criminalization of homosexuality (Homosexuality was decriminalized in England in 1967 and in the United States in 2003).   Culture has moved toward a better ethic.

Even the Christian community has moved from:

*“It’s a choice and an abomination,” to

*”It’s hard to change orientation but it can be done through God’s power and spiritual disciplines,” to

*“While the orientation may be unchangeable acting on it is a choice, so people can choose to live a celibate life or a heterosexual life.”

The movement of the Christian community is heard in these words by Dr. Albert Mohler, spoken at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission conference last fall: “One of the things we should not be embarrassed to say is that we are learning…Now early in this controversy, I felt it quite necessary…to deny anything like a sexual orientation…I repent of that.”

“We are learning.”

Is it possible that something we learn today can disprove what we learned yesterday?

“Repent” A strong word. A Bible word. It literally means “to change one’s mind – to go the opposite direction.”

Is it possible that previously held views are so wrong that we must “repent” of them?

Some in the Christian community have moved to an understanding that none of the Scriptures that prohibit same-sex behavior apply to modern-day monogamous, committed gay relationships.

The movement toward a better ethic is good. Let’s continue to learn.  Let’s repent when we’re wrong.  Let’s pursue an ethic that reflects Jesus.

Yes, thank you Alan Turing.

For freedom. For our gadgets. For the lessons we learn from your life.