In the last semester and the last few weeks, the Yale campus has been grounds for hateful speech. As a Christian social justice group, we have been troubled by all of these incidents of bigotry, but most especially the hate proliferated in the name of the Christian community.
For example, we disapprove of the homophobic e-mail circulated on National Coming Out Day by a pseudo-organization, NOGAYS, or National Organization for Gaining Acceptance for Your Sins. We believe that these students appropriated the Christian language of sin and redemption to advance a message of hate and intolerance.
In a similar vein, a recent blog publicized on Yale’s campus made claims that God hates Yale because the institution embraces queer people, Chinese people and “non-Christians soiling the memory of Dwight on a daily basis.” Not only does this blog disregard that Christian faith is based on verses such as “for God so loved the world” (John 3:16), but in its disparagement of campus diversity, the blog also fails to recognize the challenges faced by Yale’s sexual, ethnic and political minorities.
Most recently, we have been outraged to hear of the Connecticut funeral protests organized by Westboro Baptist Church, an independent, Kansas-based church. The group demonstrates its protest of American involvement in the Iraq war by claiming the United States is cursed because of its queer citizens. Many Christian groups have publicly disapproved of this group’s theology and actions, citing them as “hate-filled.”
We believe that the misuse of God’s word to advance mortal agendas of marginalization and hate constitutes idolatry and is a conflation of Christianity with degrading and nationalistic earthly ideologies.
Not only do some Christians disagree with the sentiments of these authors and groups, but many would also say these sentiments are not Christian. Readers should note that the views of the NOGAYS e-mail, the shameful blog and the funeral protests are not shared by all Christians and are certainly not reflective of the reconciliatory teachings of Christianity. Christians are called to love, not to use their commission as Christ’s disciples to oppress and exclude others.
As Christians, we stand in full solidarity with “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). We seek to defend the rights of persecuted communities. In accordance with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11), we believe in the resilience of the downtrodden and that all people are precious, belonging to and made in the image of God.
We do not write this out of a spirit of moral superiority but rather so that we may bring humble, compassionate criticism wherever it is due in this campus, city, nation and world.
At this point, we hope that all Christians think critically of Christ’s role in their life. Do we use Him to separate humanity or regard Him as our inspiration to love others and work for justice? As Christians, we must remember that we are instruments for God to work through and that our actions must reflect the spirit and righteousness of God. We pray that God will guide us to understanding during these difficult times.
Madeline Johnson is a freshman in Silliman College. Naima Coster is a junior in Timothy Dwight College. Both are members of Salt of the Earth: Christians for Social Justice.