The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

The real meaning of God's love

North Carolina is much like any state in our union, made up of all kinds of folks and faiths. And a large part of our state’s history is marked by a bloody struggle for racial justice and cross-cultural understanding. Throughout this steady ebb and flow towards justice, religion has been appropriated strategically to organize people, raise funds and nudge our social consciousness in distinct directions.

My personal journey with organized religion, nominally Christianity, began at birth. Raised in a small church where my father has served as pastor for over 30 years, I listened and learned much about respect, responsibility and — most importantly — love. But never have I heard my father use his pulpit to espouse such explicit hatred as Charles Worley of Maiden exhibited last week.

I am typically overjoyed when I see my state appear on national news, and more often than not, such coverage is linked to this great institution. But watching national news this week, I was left dismayed.

From Anderson Cooper to my local news, Worley’s words were aired for all to hear, leaving me questioning his understanding of the core message of love I learned so many years ago.

As Worley outlined his plan to confine all gays and lesbians behind a massive electrified fence, I could not hold back the thoughts of 1939 Germany and the mass extermination of an estimated 17 million innocent civilians.

Regardless of what your personal beliefs on homosexuality are, all citizens of our democracy must question speech that serves no legitimate purpose other than to exalt the perceived moral purity of some while placing unwarranted shame on the backs of others.

I have had enough of the nonsense. I have had enough of the ignorance. People of faith everywhere should join me in asking religious leaders across our state to examine the exclusive environments their words can — and have — created in our communities.

If any region in our nation should be equipped to identify the striking rhetorical parallels between the use of religious texts to justify the denial of suffrage for women or the enslavement of Africans with its modern-day use to deny equal rights and protection for gays and lesbians, we are the region.

Sadly, many are failing the task at hand.

Amendment One has passed. With it, many communities have become divided — yard sign against yard sign. What, in truth, is improved when we deny rights to gays and lesbians? What heterosexual union is made stronger, less likely to end in divorce or abuse, when same-sex couples are denied the opportunity to wed? What gay North Carolinian now feels more at ease, free to flourish in his or her own hometown?

I am certainly no expert on religion. And I do not claim to be an expert on our constitution. But my time as a student in Chapel Hill has taught me that we are, indeed, a world of many kinds of people, of all walks of life and many faiths. It has instilled in me a hope that we can all coexist peacefully, free to believe what and behave how we will. Church should be no exception.

Yet when bodies of faith veer from personal guidance into the realm of encouraging the enslavement and stigmatization of others outside their own community, I take issue. Nothing good comes from hatred, however much you “love the sinner.” As a community of people, we have a vested interest in ensuring all of us have a fair chance, an equal stake in the conversation and a safe environment to call home.

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