Hate isn’t okayPublished 8:48am Monday, August 6, 2012
I’m likely not eating a Chick-fil-A again. I’m not asking you to join me in that decision. That’s your choice. I made my decision and you should make yours.
Before you decide why I feel this way, let me make a couple of things clear.
One, I consider myself a Christian. I’m not perfect and I never will be, but I believe in God’s love for all of us.
I was brought up in a fundamental Christian church. I mean hellfire and brimstone, speaking in tongues and all the other Pentecostal things you have heard about. I spent most of my early life in those churches.
My life also began in a small, rural community; mostly white, mostly Christian and mostly closed-minded.
When I was 15 or 16, I faced a decision. I had two friends – one black and one white – who started dating. While I was spared the racist drivel that was prevalent in the generation before me, I had always believed interracial relationships were wrong.
I made a decision that my two friends were more important than some stereotype and thus began the process of me purposely being more open-minded about things that I didn’t totally understand.
When I was 18 years old, I went to college and met some of the best friends of my life. One of them happens to be gay. Honestly, I knew it the day I met him, although he didn’t “come out of the closet” until several years later.
It didn’t matter to me then and it doesn’t now. What matters to me is that he is my friend. I’ve often said the definition of a real friend is someone you can call at 4 a.m. and say I need you here now and they get in the car without asking a question. He is one of those people.
Another guy I knew and respected greatly in college is gay as well, but I never knew it. I’m not sure why, but it never clicked. He was someone I respected greatly, and still is.
Since then I’ve met and befriended other people who were gay. Some of them played sports at what was then Chowan College and another played for me at Bertie High School. They were and are incredible people who I treasure both for who they are and for the important part they played in my life.
I also want to make it clear that Dan Cathy can say anything he likes. He can believe anything he likes. It is a right that’s not only protected by the United States Constitution; it is also a moral absolute. If those idiots at Westboro Baptist Church have freedom of speech, so does he.
And I’m not staying away from his restaurant because of his opinion. I’m doing it because he spends money made at that restaurant to fund organizations who oppose gay marriage. While that is also his choice, he won’t spend another dime of my money to do it. I don’t support his beliefs and he will not spend my money to support causes I strongly oppose.
You see, the ability of gay people to get married isn’t a concept for me, it’s a real issue. When people speak out against gay marriage, they’re talking about my friends, people I care about and people I love – people for whom I want the same rights I have.
The issue is personal to me. It’s about the people I’ve mentioned in this column and many, many more. That vitriol and hate that is directed at the gay community is directed at people I care about and I take it personally. And while I know not everyone who went to Chick-fil-A Wednesday expressed that hate, I think they endorsed people who do.
You can use the Bible for whatever hate message you like. It’s been done before – against Jews, against Blacks, against Muslims, against just about every other minority in this country. Read the two commandments of Jesus and you will see quickly that hate isn’t okay with him because they both are about love.
The U.S. Constitution also forbids us from using religion as a basis for establishing law. Those of us who are Christians may want to remember that, because one day we may be in the minority and the hate may be directed toward us.
The bottom line is this: Hate isn’t okay – I don’t care if you wrap it in the American flag, the Bible, a white sheet or a Nazi swastika.
Thadd White is Managing Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 332-7211.