Last night’s “community conversation” about the expansion of Jacksonville’s existing Human Rights Ordinance was about “religious freedoms, thoughts and beliefs.” If you’d like background on what I’m talking about and the last “community conversation,” I cover it in a previous blog post. And we really do need you to help us promote fairness and equality in Jacksonville. There are some pretty easy ways to do that.
But last night’s meeting was a whole new level of crazy. To be honest, as I write this, I’m too exhausted to waste more energy on the ignorance. I’m sure you can imagine, plus I live tweeted portions of the “conversation,” so I won’t mention them here.
Just like last time, a relative few number of people in the audience were able to provide commentary and the comments had to be kept to two minutes. With that in mind, here’s what I would’ve said:
Mayor Curry, thank you for this opportunity.
LGBT Christians exist and there are MILLIONS of Christians — including many in Jacksonville — who believe that we should have these protections. In fact, over 75 religious leaders in town have signed on in support of this change.
One of the most frequent narratives of Jesus is “fear not” or a variation thereof, yet all I hear from the opposition is fear:
- Fear that this will give LGBT people “special rights,” even though other groups — like churches — already have these same protections.
- Fear that there will suddenly be a huge increase in lawsuits — even though this has not happened in cities with similar protections.
- Fear that there will be an increase of bathroom attacks — even though this has not happened in cities with similar protections.
- Fear that this will hurt businesses — even though this legislation wouldn’t even apply to businesses with fewer than 15 employees and over 150 small businesses support this change.
Jesus doesn’t want us to fear, but Mark 12 tells us what he DOES want: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus says there is no greater commandment than these.
How does opposing this measure show love? Not some “we are showing tough love” BS, but actual, tangible, everyone-can-feel-it-and-no-one-can-deny-what-it-is sort of love.
Jesus himself never condemned homosexuality, but he did challenge divorce, wealth, spiritual pride and exclusion. So I challenge all Christian opposition here tonight to think about that popular acronym — WWJD.
Would Jesus be focused on fear and exclusion or love and inclusion?
Ask yourself how many bus loads of congregants your church takes to feed the hungry compared to how many were brought here tonight.
Jesus also asks us to pray for those who persecute us. And I want all of you who oppose this to know — I’ll be praying for you.
I’m supposed to use this time for a question, so here it is: If Jesus commands us to love our neighbors and even our enemies, in what way does opposing a more inclusive HRO show actual, tangible, real love for the LGBT community?