Holy Embarrassment.

I am not a particularly religious person.  I do not pray or attend church regularly.  I am one of those “Christmas & Easter Christians” who twice a year puts on my best red sweater / pastel button down and checks “church” off the to-do list en route to honey baked ham and apple pie.  

As a child, my parents took me to Sunday School every week for the majority of my young life.  My mom’s father was a religion editor for a major newspaper and my dad’s parents attended church every Sunday until they were physically unable to get there.  From these upbringings they knew the importance of the church not necessarily as a connection to the big guy upstairs, but as the foundation of a proper moral compass.

Stories about the Good Samaritan and other parables that showed the importance of living by the Golden Rule are what still stick with me all these years later.  I learned about Christianity as the religion of people who would rather spend their Thanksgiving in a soup kitchen rather than sipping from crystal glasses, of people who would give the shirt off their back to someone in need, and of people who show kindness to all others above all else.

This is why this recent trend of states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi to name a few – considering and/or passing laws in the name of “religious freedom” that serve only to restrict the freedom of others has me completely baffled.  Looking back, I cannot remember a single parable, sermon, or story that ended with the pastor saying “and that is why Jesus refused to wash the gay man’s feet.”

I don’t remember that happening because such a tale would have flown in the face of every moral lesson the church is supposed to teach.  If all of these “Christian bakers” wanted to demonstrate the true nature of their Christianity, rather than reject payment from Adam and Steve for their wedding cake, they would deliver it with a handwritten message of good luck for a lifetime of happiness and prosperity.  

Over the course of history religion has been used to justify some truly horrible things.  The reason this country was founded on the basis of religious freedom to start with was because of the vast persecution of the religious minorities who first came here.  Our founders would be rolling over in their graves if they knew that the First Amendment of the Constitution was being used to justify the denial of services to Americans, by Americans.

Remember the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Simple, right?  Help others in their time of need.  Be good-natured and accepting as there is not a soul on this planet who wishes to be discriminated against.

If toddlers can grasp that concept, then elected leaders should be able to, too.

Photo Credit: [L”Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP]

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