10 Pictures that Explain Why I Agree with USA Gymnastics #BoycottIndiana
Religion and politics–two things that I try pretty hard to avoid making public comment on because almost no good comes from entering debates where everyone is so emotionally charged that none of us can think straight. It just alienates people from reading this blog, which is about doing good things for kids using sports. So talking about religion and politics just detracts from that message and makes people angry. And those are two things that I don’t want to do.
But sometimes doing the right thing costs more than we want to pay. So here I go:
As a child I was baptized as a Roman Catholic and educated for 13 years in Catholic schools. I have a deep and abiding respect for religion that I can only describe as part of my DNA guided by two parents who took their religious obligations so seriously that if had been Jewish we would have been considered ultra-orthodox.
These same two parents raised me to believe that while attending to my religious responsibilities was important (I was never given permission to miss a Sunday or holy day of obligation, even for a major gymnastics meet which lead to some interesting adventures of finding a mass while at away meets…), but always underscored that religion is an action word. In other words, how I acted and treated other people was what counted. For instance, saying the rosary was important but remembering that all people are created in God’s image and therefore are worthy of our love was essential, especially those who most needed our love and support because they are marginalized from society. (And this is why I never tasted iceberg lettuce or green grapes until I was in college…migrant farm works and Cesar Chavez, look it up. But that’s another story…) While I am no longer a Catholic, the action part of religion ingrained in me. Especially the part about accepting everyone because we are all created in God’s image.
Politically, my beliefs are best described as libertarian: I want to let people have as much autonomy and political choice as is possible. So, when I learned of the Indiana’s law passed last week–a “religious freedom” bill–I was immediately conflicted. I believe in people having religious freedom. I also believe that all people should be treated equally no matter their gender, race, religion, political orientation or sexual preference.
I am proud that USA Gymnastics has come out against this law. And I hope that the #BoycottIndiana movement will motivate lawmakers to reconsider the law. I know that I could have remained quiet on the topic, but I felt strongly that USA Gymnastics deserves the support of its members. And, the libertarian in me suggests to let logical consequences follow: those who are bigoted will be revealed and their businesses will be hurt. The Christian part of me as well as the historian (I was a history major in college) cannot stand by quietly.
As I struggled to find the words to explain why it was necessary that I speak up, I was drawn to several pictures that illustrate (pun intended) why I feel how I feel:
First, I remembered this poem:
And, I recalled these times:
And I acknowledged that while religious freedom is a core value of our country, there are many atrocities that can be attributed to religion. Including some of the most pressing threats to American security today:
I am also passionate about preventing suicide. LBGTQ kids are four to six times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual teens. We also need to think about unintended message laws like Indiana’s send to our youth, especially those who are LBGTQ:
Finally, as a country we hold tight to the ideal:
and Jesus’ greatest commandment of all, the one that He says supersedes all others, is this:
Because in the last analysis, I believe this: