John Becker from The Bilerico Project demands, with reason, that the rest of us don’t say to survivors of the RCC’s anti-gay abuses two statements which we’re apt to use: “what did they expect?” and “why do they belong to an organization that hates them?”
Well, how else do we who are not or were never raised Catholic respond to a profoundly-undemocratic, intelligence-insulting, hierarchical culture that encourages the firings of church employees over LGBT identity? How do we respond in regards to Mormon excommunications of LGBT people (and feminists)? Or less-episcopalian polities like some rinky-dinky SBC Baptist church?
We’re outside of the culture, and there is no means for us to respond to their behavior except through the civil sphere or the liberal-religious niche outlets like Religion Dispatches, fully knowing that we will not be listened to or considered. So what can we say when our options are limited in communicating to members of a religious sect that their rhetoric is uncivil and bigoted?
Some of us tune them out. We tune out the bald-faced lies and scaremongering apocalypticism. We don’t dissect any of it, or at least we stop trying to dissect it. We just treat it like a bad dream on the periphery of our eyesight.
After so long of angrily tuning it out, we then hear of the firings, the excommunications, the “loyalty oath”-like contracts, and we hear of those turned out of their small lower niche of the religious hierarchy for their LGBT identity or their feminist critique. We wonder “how was I ever in such a position when I’ve lived my life in reality for so long?”
We remember our own subjection to abuse and bigoted rhetoric. Then, freshly recalling the trauma, we ask “what did they expect?” and “why do they belong to an organization that hates them?”
We were traumatized. Our intelligence was insulted. But we tuned all of it out. We don’t maintain contact with most members. We ultimately “other” the organization, leading to our wondering about how anyone, including ourselves, could stay in such an organization.
We project our trauma, even with such trauma being distinct in some way from someone else’s experience. Maybe it is not appropriate. Maybe it is an unthinking reflex.
But because we tuned out the experience for our own mental stability, we may not have the proper words, let alone actions, to expressing our solidarity.
What are those words of solidarity? What are those actions of solidarity? What are those expressions which can transcend between my “non-denominational” experience and the experience of those raised in the “Catholic” religion?
And how can we even begin to move forward in that solidarity?
We’re being told that it probably isn’t beneficial to encourage survivors of anti-LGBT abuse to leave their religion altogether, or that it is rather smug to encourage survivors to choose another religion or congregation that is more welcoming. What is the necessary solidarity?
Until these questions are answered, until *real* progress is possible at such levels, our questions of “what did they expect?” and “why do they belong to an organization that hates them?” will be the default.