Have We Overcome?

This piece can be seen here on Huffington Post. If you like it, buzz me up.

Isn’t it ironic that as we’re congratulating ourselves on our ability to elect a black president we are simultaneously lamenting the passage of Proposition 8? We Americans have been quite pleased with ourselves because we were able to elect a black man to the highest office in the land. I would argue that we may have overcome something, but it is not bigotry. The day we will really know we have overcome bigotry is the day we elect a black, Atheist, lesbian–THAT would be a feat.

Inherent in the post-election discussions of race and politics is the conclusion that because large segments of our population have moved away from open racism, we are beyond bigotry. Nothing could be further from the truth; we have simply traded one for another, or several others, as the case may be. And these latest forms of intolerance and discrimination are often made more palatable through religion, as open racism against blacks used to be.

Because of religion and its ever-encroaching move into the political spectrum, Americans were forced to live through an administration that would not allow medical research on single cells to help find cures for diseases in people who are alive right now. Because of religion, pro-life politicians gain support from citizens whose actual interests are ignored in favor of policies that benefit the extremely wealthy. Because of religion, all over the country laws like Proposition 8 proliferate.

In spite of Obama’s election, what America has not given up and seems loathe to give up, regardless how far backward we move socially, morally, and legally, is religion. Why should it? Religion allows people to vilify those they don’t understand. Simply claim that anything different from you is against your religion and you are protected by your God-given, inalienable right to believe.

It is truly a significant step in the right direction that a black man will be our president. It is evidence that progress is possible and that society is able to make changes that seemed impossible only decades earlier. Yet is seems to me that if we are ever able to really end bigotry, if we are ever able to end all forms of discrimination, we are going to have to take a cold, hard, honest look at religion and its role in the promulgation of hate and intolerance. Only then will we truly overcome.

2 thoughts on “Have We Overcome?

  1. You might think that the fact that you use words as “vilify” makes you an authority on something which you obviously know nothing about. You vilify Christians in the same breath you claim we vilify you. You don’t understand us, but yet we are supposed to understand you. It seems that whenever any group of people creates a movement with the same rhetoric you espouse, you want to play with a different set of rules and on a different playing field. Your attitude and language mirrors that which you abhor in Christians. Have you thought about that? You make leaps and bounds and speak with hyperbole, and use circular reasoning to prove your point. I don’t think you’re going see people give up on religion. After all, religion is a word that people don’t understand. What we really focus on is a relationship with Jesus Christ. You don’t have to understand us or believe the way we believe, especially with regard to sin and our own sinfulness. But, then again, we don’t have to understand you or believe the way you believe, either–even if you don’t want to believe that there is such a thing as sin. So, I will respect you and let you live the life you want to live; but, please, respect me and let me live the life I want to live without the name-calling and generalizations. The proposition was voted, and unfortunately for you, you are in the minority.

    Grace and Peace!

  2. When I tackle a large problem, I need to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Obama’s victory is a small but significant step towards altering the bigotry landscape. Personally, I don’t think its really going away. The focus of the bigotry will simply shift to another group. Perhaps that is what happened with the vote for Obama and against Prop 8.

    As for religion, I think the same rules apply. Religion isn’t going away. However in the last 40-50 years, I believe its role and purpose in this society has been in a constant state of disequilibrium. For instance, look at how dramatically the Catholic church has been forced to re-examine its shameful coverup.

    The change is happening all the time in small ways, and then occasionally big chunks of change move us to do things like vote for Obama.

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