By Dr. Henry Flores, NewsTaco
This Easter morning I contemplated the condition of humankind. This is a season, for Christians at least, of rebirth, rejuvenation, and recommitment to being Christians. Nevertheless, what I see in the United States and the world has led me to conclude that humankind has lost its ability to understand religion and concepts such as rebirth. It appears that many of the people who claim to be people of faith are only mouthing empty rhetoric.
The Empty Rhetoric
Where does one begin to “throw stones” when there are so many examples of hypocritical religious people in the world today? Among Christians this is exemplified by the violent, hateful rhetoric underlying the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law or the similarly named law in Arkansas. Here are folks who claim to be Christians passing laws that are substantively hateful and reflect a level of intolerance completely unjustified by the tenets of their faith. Where they are supposed to embrace their fellow humans, love their neighbors as implored by their scriptures instead they spew hate filled language and pass laws intended to keep their neighbors at arm’s length. In Texas, the “good” Christians use empty rhetoric to deny their neighbors health care, educational opportunities, the right to vote and substantive political representation. Then the “good” Christians in the Texas state legislature pass laws that legalize the carrying of concealed weapons not just everywhere but also on college campuses. No wonder the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Martin Luther King’s organization, has encouraged all Black folks to carry guns!
Intolerance of ISIS
What can I say about the horror occurring in the Middle East? You have people of faith, ISIS, who go about the countryside slaughtering all those who they deem heretics. They spout their chosen passages of the Koran to justify the terror they spread across the countries of Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Syria, and Iraq to name a few. They go about enslaving women, some as young as 14, and forcing them into so called “jihadist marriages.” Frankly, these are not marriages but the creation of sexual enslavements in the name of religion. These are not religious people but gangsters being manipulated by a few intellectual midgets claiming to be profits who will lead the religious transformation of the human race.
Religious Intolerance has become the Norm
What we are seeing across the globe is a regression from where we, humanity, were just a few years ago. The religious intolerance that has infected the United States over the last decade or so is an outgrowth of the “Southern Strategy” originated by President Nixon. He and his election team decided that they did not need the votes of Black people so instead “cow towed” to the lowest common denominator of human being in the United States, racists, in an effort at wresting the Southeastern United States away from the clutches of the Democratic Party. This had several implications. The first was that it transformed the party of Mr. Lincoln from one that championed racial justice into the party of racial hatred and intolerance. Secondly, it allowed racial bigots to gain control of the Republican Party apparatus. Nevertheless, white racists, many of whom saw themselves as god-fearing people refused to accept racial tolerance and integration as Christian values. Instead they saw integration and social justice as liberal, Democratic values imposed by a party entrenched in the northeastern United States. Eventually, this strange mix of religion and racism became a core value of today’s Republican Party.
To deny Blacks, Latinos, gays, Catholics, Jews, women and others who are not white and Christian is to be a “good Christian” in the eyes of many Republican operatives and voters. Unless, you are just like “good, white, Christians” and Republican you are not to be treated equally, you are different and unequal. If this were northern Iraq all of us would be considered “racial heretics” because we could not conform to the norm established by ISIS. We would be executed, instead we are made subject to political execution through the exclusionary laws of states like Indiana, Arkansas and Texas.
Henry Flores, PhD, is the Distinguished University Research Professor, Institute of Public Administration and Public Service; Director, Masters in Public Administration (MPA); Professor of International Relations and Political Science at St. Mary’s University. He is the author of Latinos and the Vorting Rights Act: The Search for Racial Purpose.
[Photo by anthony posey/Flickr]