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Because my mind's cross scars are real, painful, and seemingly unending

by Jeremy Hooper

I, Jeremy, was listening to the radio this afternoon, and heard a caller on a certain show talk about how someone with a very bad drug addiction had their life turned around by a church outreach program. My immediate reaction? To roll my eyes, as my mind instinctively envisioned an evangelical conversion program in which actual problems like drug abuse are lumped in with beautiful parts of the life's spectrum (i.e. homosexuality). I probably even let out an audible "Ugh."

But after listening a little longer and further researching the place online, I learned that the program is actually an inclusive place of faith. A spiritual home that's out to actually help people, the way that the faithful should be helping. It's not a place of judgement. It's not an arm of conservative politics. It's a genuine outreach program meant to combat true societal ills, one that proudly embraces the LGBT community. Exactly the kind of thing that faith-based efforts should be focused upon. Exactly the kind of place where I would gladly volunteer my time.

So do I have egg on my face for casting such an immediate aspersion? Nope. Not even a little bit. Because the generalized religious war on LGBT people's lives and loves is still all-too-prevailing, which makes my gut response a common and even expected presumption when hearing such a mention. How could I not react in such a way? Day after day, I hear the most prominent people of faith lumping all "sinners" into one bus of immorality, with the suggestion that all, from the heroin addict to the married gay, must "change" their "lifestyle" if they want to grab decency's brass ring. Hell, people with these views even get booked on high profile shows like "Today", secure speaking gigs at presidential inaugurations, advertise during the Super Bowl, and earn entrance into certain president's Oval Office. Not only is the anti-scientific "gays can and should change" mindset not a deal breaker in this country: It's largely seen as a casual, benign part of the godly package! Something about which we should all just "agree to disagree," even if one side's agreement seeks untenable and offensive invalidation of millions of people's lives! The situation is as enraging as it is sweeping.

So when I hear a caller say that someone was saved from a hard life of daily drug abuse and prostitution, I do, admittedly, think that the referred-to program also wants to force me into divorce court with my husband so that I can have an all-inclusive eternal honeymoon on God's Love Boat. That's a shame for all of the wonderfully inclusive faith-based people and groups who understand the need to cull ideas about the known realm from actuality rather than just a few personally-interpreted clobber passages, who do amazing charitable work as an expression of their faith, and who deserve LGBT support. But the finger of blame cannot and should not be pointed towards the LGBT people who ASS-outta-U-&-MEd anti-gayness where there is none. The finger is pointed firmly at those among the faithful flock who've declared a "culture war" on certain kinds of people, with a treaty whose conditions demand "reparative therapy," celibacy, or worse.  The overheated words have drowned out so much good.  

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