Gary Glenn, executive director American Family Association - Michigan, was interviewed Monday by WEYI-TV Channel 25 (Flint). Mr. Glenn and mid-Michigan right-wing fundamentalist religious leaders filed lawsuit through the Ann Arbor Thomas More Law Center challenging the "constitutionality" of the federal hate crimes law. According to Mr. Glenn the new hate crimes law can be used against them for saying "homosexuality is a sin". Seriously.
"We filed a lawsuit to protect religious free speech rights of individuals who want to continue to speak out for their religious values."
Mr. Glenn's AFA-Michigan website points to a five year old 2005 Saginaw News article which quotes Jeffrey Montogmery, former executive director of the Detroit Triangle Foundation, as saying:
...crimes against homosexuals are on the rise. He says "The vocal anti-gay activists should be held accountable as accessories to these crimes because, many times, it is their rhetoric that led the perpetrators to believe that their crimes are O.K."
Mr. Glenn, you and your colleagues are safe; saying homosexuality is a sin will not land you in jail. However, if you want to spew from the pulpit the extreme rhetoric like that of Pastor Anderson, then you should be more ashamed of yourself then worried about your religious free speech rights.
Should this type of religious free speech rights be protected if it results in violent acts being committed?
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others--even our enemies--is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings--even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
Sadly, this is not what Gary Glenn and the religious-right agenda has on their agenda. Shameful.