|Senators Tim Scott, Kamalah Harris and Cory Booker, sponsors of the Anti-Lynching Bill|
I John 2:9-11
For Christians, this is Epiphany, the season of light. We celebrate the light of the world, which we see in Jesus. And we remind ourselves that we believe in light rather than darkness.
Regardless of our religious affiliation or lack of it, light is a powerful image which speaks to the heart of our spiritual journey. We are always seeking more light; always doing our best to choose light over darkness; reminding ourselves that we can trust the light.
It is a struggle, because we are tempted by the darkness. Often the world seems to love darkness more than light. And there are some who will try to make us believe that darkness is light, and light is darkness.
Sometimes the campaign against the light is led by people who call themselves Christian.
In an online article for NBC News, Brooke Sopelsa reports that the Liberty Counsel, a self-proclaimed evangelical nonprofit that opposes gay rights, is opposing a bill that would explicitly make lynching a federal crime.
Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver explained that the group opposes the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act because it specifically includes protections for LGBTQ people.
"The old saying is once that camel gets the nose in the tent, you can't stop them from coming the rest of the way in," Staver told the conservative Christian news outlet OneNewsNow. “This is a way to slip it in under a so-called anti-lynching bill, and to then to sort of circle the wagon and then go for the juggler [sic] at some time in the future."
The anti-lynching bill was introduced in June by by the Senate’s three black members, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. It addresses lynchings motivated by a victim’s “actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”
In a statement after the bill passed the senate unanimously, Senator Booker remarked:
“For over a century, members of Congress have attempted to pass some version of a bill that would recognize lynching for what it is: a bias-motivated act of terror. And for more than a century, and more than 200 attempts, this body has failed. We have righted that wrong and taken corrective action that recognizes this stain on our country’s history.”
One might think that an anti-lynching bill was at least a century too late to make any difference, but the opposition proves it is still needed.
Mat Staver and the Liberty Counsel hope they can stop it before it passes the house where they are lobbying Lawmakers to remove protections for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” before taking a vote.
They want to make it clear: they oppose lynching. They simply object to including the specific protections for LGBTQ persons.
The Liberty Counsel is not promoting liberty or Christianity. They are darkness rather than light.
In the words of John’s letter, “whoever hates a brother or sister is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.”
Epiphany is a good time to remind ourselves that Christians are always called to walk in the light, and choose light over darkness. Bigotry is always wrong.
But Christians have a special responsibility to reject bigotry in the name of God.
Bigotry in the name of God is blasphemy.
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