Have you ever wonder how an all-loving God condemns LGBTQ folks to hell? It’s something I call the “I’m Special Confirmation Bias.”
There’s nothing like taking a group that the Bible is mostly disinterested in (7 or fewer verses out of more than 31,000 verse) and turning them into one of the most vile groups in the eyes of God to really build up your “I’m more special” needs without having to do anything other than be judgmental about other people.
See how beautifully it works?
Over the ages, the “I’m Special Confirmation Bias” has helped Christians justify slavery, the holocaust, segregation, subjugation of women, apartheid, the Spanish Inquisition, domestic violence, all sorts of exploitation, and the list could go on and on. We felt completely justified in our loveless actions in the name of a loving god because we believed ourselves to be confirmed in our specialness with an ability to hand-out and extract what we thought of as “justice.”
The Christian exceptionalism we see so heavy-handedly practiced in the US is rooted in this “I’m Special Confirmation Bias.” It’s a bias that is so strong, it over powers unambiguous teachings of Jesus like: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,” “love your enemy,” “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone,” and “why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own eye?”
When those who society already provides special privileges (people like white folks, men, the rich, people who identify as straight, and, yes, Christians themselves) turn a blind eye to the needs of those who are marginalized, we set our nation on a course of intolerance, hate, and ruin.
We must remember that the horrors of events like the Holocaust (or HaShoah) didn’t start with gas chambers. It started with politicians dividing people. Building up the idea that some people were more special than others. It started with intolerance and hate speech. It started when people became desensitized to it all and turned a blind eye because they were safe – they somewhat peacefully resided in the dominate parts of society.
The following poem (credited to German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller) is found carved into the walls of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The truth is Niemöller himself isn’t sure if he said it exactly that way, but here’s something that he did say in a speech to the Confessing Church in Frankfurt that may be the root of the poem:
…when the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers.Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians – “should I be my brother’s keeper?
Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? — Only then did the church as such take note.
Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. Can we say, we aren’t guilty/responsible? The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written in the newspapers.
I believe, we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa! We can talk ourselves out of it with the excuse that it would have cost me my head if I had spoken out.
And here’s the thing, yes, it can get so bad that you risk your head for speaking out. That is actually one of the reasons we must always speak out long before it goes that far. Turning a blind eye in the face of others being abused, belittled, and even bludgeon, is the opposite of spirituality. There is nothing of the higher good in it. It puts you on a “I am more special” pedestal and ignores the struggles of others.
As Niemöller suggested, we must not only speak out, we must also not allow anyone to silence us –- not the government, not our friends, not even our family. As a matter of fact, if it is necessary, we must break laws to do so. You see, a law that prevents you from speaking up for what is right is and unjust law. And as Dr. Martin Luther King said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
When governments act to divide us, to promote some people as more special or more acceptable than others, resistance becomes a necessary spiritual practice. It must be a daily practice. It is our spiritual responsibility to stay informed. It is our faithful duty to stay vigilant. It is our moral obligation to make our voices heard and to share with those most in need the access that our places of privilege offers. We must stand up not only for our own rights and interest but for the rights and interests of others. We must promote equality, justice, and love in our every action, but not fall victim to the false perspective that to do so means we do so timidly and with trepidation.
And finally, at this moment in time, at this moment in history, the most important thing we can do is vote for those who hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created EQUAL; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
So, please, speak up. Always. And, please, get out and vote.