It was swell when the pope apologized for the hundreds of years of anti-Jewish hatred propagated by the Roman Catholic Church.
And it was peachy when white Southern Baptists apologized for the propagation of hatred toward blacks by their church over the course of many years.
For that matter, who couldn't help feeling all warm and fuzzy when, in 1978, the Mormon church repudiated its practice of not only denying black males admission to the priesthood but asserting that blacks are prevented admission to the highest levels of the celestial Kingdom.
Who could blame the Mormons, after all? It appears the one thing these groups have in common is a complete awareness of the perspective and wishes of God himself.
Representative of such an exalted position, Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie epitomized the self-assured proclamations of these disparate groups in his individual way:
The Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, ...but this inequality is not of man's origin. It is the Lord's doing, is based on his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their First Estate [the pre-existence]. Mormon Doctrine, p. 527 - 528, 1966 edition.
Now these groups are collectively repudiating their past behavior, the institutionalized humiliations, the tortures, the slaughter. Oops!
It's the homosexuals God doesn't like.
These religious guys know how God feels about things, just ask them. Sure they made a couple of teensy-weensy mistakes in the past but they said they were sorry. Besides, they didn't actually make the mistakes, it was their forebears.
America's religious fundamentalists are now calling for a constitutional amendment to institutionalize proscriptions against the current object of their fear and loathing: homosexuals. They purport to know what sin is and continue to make every effort to eliminate it through Draconian forms of legalism or, when possible, physical isolation or worse, eradication.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist would "absolutely" support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Have I mentioned the Nazis also institutionalized the persecution of homosexuals?
Mind you, I spontaneously avert my eyes when guys kiss; I find it creepy watching men express sexual intimacy. But I neither hate them nor perceive their behavior as sinful or transgressive. Maybe it's because I'm not religious.
I find claims of absolute morality spurious in the extreme. Beware anyone who asserts we are all born in sin and surrounded by sin. We're talking major issues here!
Yet I doubt religion per se is the cause. An enormous number of American blacks are Southern Baptist but their church doesn't seem to propagate hatred.
Could it be a white thing? I don't think so.
I'm white but I don't hate Jews, blacks or homosexuals. I was about to say I don't hate anyone but I must admit I hate the stupid.
However, in saying so I realize such an assertion of hatred falls short of the sort of profundity evinced by those that represent the will of God. I wouldn't humiliate, torture or kill; ethnic cleansing must be too religious in its application.
Furthermore, I acknowledge love and believe the spectrum of its expression is analogous to that of flowers. Nature has blessed us with an incredibly diverse array of flora and it precisely this diversity that illustrates the spontaneously infinite variety of life itself.
By the same token, the largest flower in the world is said to smell like rotting meat. Though I might find it distasteful would I seek to eliminate all examples of it?
What kind of person would? Whence this predisposition to hatred shared by the religious right, the Republican Party and Nazis? Isn't it interesting that all three groups speak of being uniquely representative of purity?
No, America's religious right and the political party representing them do not wish to put homosexuals to the torch, as their ilk have done in the past. They simply wish to deny them and their mates equal rights under the law.
Yeah, it's the same thing the Roman Catholics did to the Jews and the Southern Baptists and Mormons did to blacks, but that was all just a big mistake.
Can you blame me for hating the stupid?
R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.