12 June 2014

A Religious Edict To Exterminate Us

Once I almost got killed by a guy who turned purple with rage for daring to even suggest that Islam had anything in common with his religion.

The comparison?  That both recognize that there is a tension between the way of God (Allah) and the ways of the world or mankind.  I pointed out that jihad means, basically, "striving in the way of God".

Of course, someone like that man hears the word "jihad" and thinks a suicide bomber is right around the corner.  He would also denounce--rightly, I believe--a fatwa calling for the murder of somoene deemed an infidel. The difference, though, is that I would abhor the killing but he would hate the one who ordered it.

More accurately, he would be upset at the use of the word "fatwa", just he went ballistic over "jihad".  I wonder, though, how he feels about an American president's order to kill someone he deems an enemy of this country or a governor's order to execute someone deemed guilty of a particular crime.

I pondered this question after reading the resolution Denny Burk proposed to the Southern Baptist Convention.  Burk teaches Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate division of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  In many ways, it's just a long-winded version of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" argument you hear from those who use cherry-picked Bible verses (or merely their own religious ideas) to rationalize their homophobia and transphobia.  

But the last part of the resolution is what makes it as dangerous as any order to kill issued by an Ayatollah:

RESOLVED, That we oppose efforts to alter one’s bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to refashion it to conform with one’s perceived gender identity; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy (Isaiah 5:20); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we oppose all cultural efforts to validate claims to transgender identity.

What, exactly, does it mean to oppose a claim of individual or group identity.  As best as I can tell, it means saying that they, in essence, don't exist or that they are lesser beings.  If someone thinks that someone else doesn't have the same right to exist, it makes it that much easier to deny him or her sustenance, education, employment, housing--or life itself.  That is what makes every kind of oppression possible, and that is how people are convinced to go out and murder people they've never before met and who have done them no harm--who have done nothing more, in fact, than to have been born in another country, in another skin color, in a different gender identity or with a different sexual orientation.  Or, for that matter, who merely worship in a different way or call attention to the missteps or corruption of the people who run institutions of worship.

Some might argue that it's no different from a fatwa.  I'd agree--at least, if you think, as most Americans do, that a fatwa is on order to kill semeone. (The first time most Americans heard the term was when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued one calling for the execution of Salman Rushdie, who wrote The Satanic Verses.)  But the real meaning of "fatwa" is simply a legal opinion or learned interpretation a mufti or qualified jurist can give on an issue pertaining to Islamic law.  They have been issued on some of the issues one might expect, such as smoking, drinking and nudity.  However, the right to issue a fatwa has been abused or resulted in some simply ridiculous pronouncements, such as this one.

But even with the most absurd pronouncements made by actual or self-proclaimed Islamic scholars, I think comparing the Professor Burk's  resolution to a fatwa gives Professor Burk's resolution more dignity than it deserves.  This self-professed man of God is more disingenuous and insidious in his hatred--and wish to exterminate trans people--than almost anyone who has issued a fatwa.