The above painting “Jesus at the Table” is meant to portray a personal relationship of acceptance, inclusion, unconditional love, peaceful fellowship, and an invitation to sit at the table with Christ, to receive the physical and spiritual food that keeps humanity whole. Even if one does not subscribe to a religion, the concepts of peace and unity are noble aims. A practicing person of faith is meant to honor those aims.
When an entire religion is condemned, censored, and persecuted, often the justification is that these people are “hypocrites”, as they are allegedly not living a moral life, and are somehow a poisonous hateful contagion to the universe. But the logical fallacy is that lapsed people of faith, those who do not practice their supposed faith at all, and those who pervert, deceive, and manipulate their aligned religion are held up as examples. These people are not hypocrites, they are people who don’t practice the faith they claim to subscribe to.
Imagine a man who has committed several crimes. In the past, he was a law student. He failed the bar exam, and is ignorant about many aspects of the law. Yet, he decides to represent himself in court, and he describes himself as an attorney. He does a horrible job, and comes across as an arrogant fool. He’s also an unlikable person who offends everyone in the court.
What would the response be? Would people say, “that proves that we should have no more lawyers… these people are horrible and should be purged. They believe in laws that no judge would honor. They are stupid. They are mean. They say that they believe in justice but commit crimes themselves and expect to get away with it. All lawyers are hypocrites!” No, of course not. They’d look at that guy and see him as a FAILED lawyer. In fact, he’s not really a lawyer at all. He’s unqualified to speak about the law he allegedly believes in, and he doesn’t practice the law properly either.
In much the same way, it is logical to judge people as individuals, not as a collective. The motive for condemning an entire group is often political, for means of power and control. When viewed as a voting block, for example, certain groups tend to vote the same way. So, if that vote is damaging to a government or party, it would be advantageous to demonize and purge those groups, in effort to break up the voting block and destroy their political enemies. The same is true when groups are seen as “dissidents” (people who would likely be opposed to government policies and control).
When the reason for hatred and bigotry is part of a political/government agenda, the masses who aid the agenda are acting as enforcers of the State. Why would they do this? Sometimes it’s because they believe in the political causes that the government (pretends to?) plans to enforce. Sometimes it’s because people have secretly resented religious groups for personal reasons that have spawned malice (unresolved anger and bitterness that has led to a grudge, envy, fear, or any other unhealthy motive for condemning an entire group of fellow humans).
There are ways to fight policies and decisions without attacking the personal faith of one’s opponent. When people choose to go after religion, emotional responses often cloud the original issue and even conflate it. Issues that could be considered independently and separately on a case by case basis are aligned with this group or that, as if all persons associated with traits of that group think the same way. That’s highly unlikely. Few social groups reach 100% consensus on any given topic, even what snacks- if any- will be served. How is it that thousands, or millions, of people can be classified as thinking the same way about a complex subject? It’s simply not logical.
Propaganda is effective in sanctioning lies that benefit powerful groups, while hurting innocent people. On this Holy Saturday, I am reflecting upon the death threats against me, the crimes committed against me, and all of the hatred I have experienced over the past decade. I have done nothing to deserve any of it, but I forgive all who participate in it. As in, I release them from my spirit. Their redemption is their own free will choice, independent of my spiritual journey. I am free.
In the video below, I am singing with my children in the choir. This was before the ban on singing that continues to this day.