Copyright 2009 by Gary Konecky, 2010  by and Gary Konecky, 2011 by Gary Konecky

Some of the most challenging questions are:  “What does G-d want from us?  Why are we here?  What is the purpose of our existence?”  The answer to these questions lies in a medieval Jewish proverb:  “In prayer we speak to G-d, but in study G-d speaks to us.” (note 1) Yet often instead of listening to G-d speak to us, we have self-appointed prophets  (false prophets), telling us not what G-d is saying to us, but what their opinion is.  This is especially true when it comes to civil rights for gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities.  Usually these self-appointed prophets and false prophets scream loudly, publicly and at every opportunity about the sin of homosexuality.  As gays and lesbians bear the brunt of religious hate by these self-appointed prophets, I am going to spend the remainder of this work in study, trying to hear G-d.  I am delighted that you have decided to join me. 

When we are done, I hope that we will be able to:

·        Identify a false prophet

·        Know if someone spouting bible verses actually knows what they are talking about

·        Know is someone is using religion for something other than the service of G-d (political power or greed)

·        Know if someone is truthful to the word of G-d, or is knowledgeable about the word of G-d, or is ignorant, or is mistaken, or is mean-spirited, or is a plain ole bigot. 

To accomplish this challenging task, I am going to start by asking; what religion is supposed to teach us?  The following are a series of quotes that I hope will provide an answer.

What is our mission?  What is expected of us?  What does G-d want from us?

“…what the L-rd demands of you; but to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your G-d.” – Micah 6:8

On being true to one’s self and trying to live up to one’s potential:

"When I die and come before the heavenly court, if they ask me, 'Zusha, why were you not as great as Abraham?' I will not be afraid. I will say that I was not born with Abraham's intellectual capabilities. And if they ask me, 'Zusha, why were you not Moses?' I will say that I did not have Moses' leadership abilities. But when they ask me, 'Zusha, why were you not Zusha?' for that I will have no answer." - Hasidic Rebbe Zusha

“Ben Zoma would say: Who is wise? One who learns from every man…Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations…Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot…Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows…”  - Ethics of the Fathers (chapter four)

“The Lord is my Shepherd and he knows I'm gay." - Rev. Troy Perry

On our duties to each other:

"Just as G-d clothes the naked... so must you clothe the naked. The Holy Blessed One visits the sick... so you must also visit the sick. The Holy Blessed One comforts mourners... so must you comfort mourners. The Holy Blessed One buries the dead... so must you bury the dead." - Talmud, Sotah 14a 

"If all the sufferings and pain in the world were gathered (on one side of the scale) and poverty was on the other side, poverty would outweigh them all." - Exodus Rabbah 31:14

On hurting each other:

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." - Hillel (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)

"Not everything that is thought should be said.  And not everything that is said should be repeated.  And not everything that is repeated should be remembered." - Rabbi Israel Salanter

On marriage:

“Marriage should be available to all couples whose relationships are marked by fidelity and commitment.  Those relationships should be recognized by the state and blessed by the church.” – Mark Beckwith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark

On the world we live in:

"When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: Look at my works! See how beautiful they are, how excellent! For your sake I created them all. Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you." - Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13

When I look at this, I do not see preaching about sexual orientation as a priority.  I do not see condemning sin as a priority.  I see us charged with caring for ourselves, each other, and the world we live in.  I see us receiving instructions not to do things that are hurtful to each other.  We are told to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with G-d.

If this is the purpose of religion, then why does organized religion single out the LGBTI community as targets to be vilified, persecuted, and hated?  Why is the LGBTI community the recipients of so much pain from those who should know not to cause hurt and pain?  Could the answer be a simple as hate is a product that sells and generates huge profits?  Let’s look at something from the 2007-2008 GAAMC Pride Guide:

  • Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network had 2005 revenue of over $236 million.

  • James Dobson’s Focus on the Family had 2005 revenue of over $137 million.

  • James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries had 2005 revenue of over $38 million.

  • Alan Sears’s Alliance Defense Fund had 2005 revenue of almost $22 million. 

  • Donald Wildom’s American Family Association had 2006 revenue of almost $17 million.

  • Pat Robertson’s and Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice reported 2005 revenue of $14 million.

  • James Dobson’s and Tony Perkins’s Family Research Council had 2005 revenue of almost $10 million.

  • Jerry Falwell’s Jerry Falwell Ministries had 2005 revenue of nearly $9 million.

  • Tim and Beverly LaHayes' Concerned Women for America had 2006 revenue over $8 million.

  • Louis Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition had 2005 revenue of over $6 million.

Every organization on the above list is a right wing Christian organization that uses the demonization of the LGBTI community as a fund raising tool. Many of the above organizations have been cited by the respected Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as hate groups.  Some of those hate groups are using the SPLC designation as a hate group in their fundraising appeals.  (Please see the links that follow this at the end)  This is not about feeding the hungry, or clothing the naked, or visiting the sick, or doing justice, or loving kindness as described in the quotes above; this is about using hate to generate millions and millions of dollars in sales and profits.

Is this to say that every preacher who condemns the LGBTI community is saying it to make a buck?  No.  There are preachers who do feel homosexuality is a sin.  I will deal with their beliefs in future installments.  I just find it telling that those who seem to condemn the LGBTI community the loudest seem to have chosen preaching hate as a business model and they are using religion to become multimillionaires.

Religion is supposed to teach us how to relate to G-d and each other.  Just as G-d loves us and helps us, so we should love and help one another.

Note 1:  As quoted on page 168 of The Book of Jewish Values, A Day-By-Day Guide to Ethical Living, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, published by Bell Tower, copyright 2000.

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