In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick tweeted out–you guessed it–a biblical phrase: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” –Galatians 6-7
In the wake of a tragedy that took 50 lives, this poor excuse for a human being decided to blame the victims for not living in accordance with his warped version of Christianity.
Yesterday, I posted about just this sort of use of “Christianity” (note quotation marks) in the service of hate. It isn’t just Christianity, of course; any religion can be pressed into that service, and all of them have been and continue to be so used.
There is something so smarmy, so distasteful, about people like Dan Patrick. Their willingness to use tragedy as an occasion for moral posturing is small and mean and utterly despicable.
This sort of offensive faux piety from deeply flawed public officials drives me nuts. And Patrick is far from alone. Texas politicians are currently among the worst, but Indiana is hardly in a position to point fingers.
Hoosiers who read this blog have probably seen the bright blue and gold yard signs proclaiming “Pence Must Go.” They are the brainchild of Kevin Warren, a local realtor, and his husband Neil Bagadiong, who established pencemustgo.org as a political action committee in reaction to the Indiana Governor’s RFRA debacle.
RFRA was an effort to legitimize the sort of attitude displayed by Dan Patrick–to create a culture in which LGBT persons would be legally “less.” Given the number of “Pence Must Go” signs I see, it seems a lot of Hoosiers understand where the attitudes such measures foster can lead.
The original signs have been joined by a number of others: Women’s Health Matters, Separation of Church and State, and Indiana Needs Leadership, among others. (Hoosiers can also buy anti-Pence hats, mugs and bumper stickers on the political action organization’s website.)
One of the newer yard signs that particularly appeals to me is “Pence is Not a Mensch.”
Mensch is a yiddish word that literally translates into “a real human being.” In usage, it is intended to refer to upstanding, worthy, honorable people–people who exhibit compassion and loving-kindness, who are not judgmental or–to use the biblical phrase–“stiff-necked.”
When my children were very young, I used to tell them that I didn’t care what professions they chose, what interests they pursued, what beliefs they embraced or who they chose to love….but I did want them to grow up to be mentsches.
Self-satisfied public officials who use the power of the state to marginalize and stigmatize people who are different, who ignore the Constitutional separation of church and state in order to privilege their particular belief systems, who ignore the needs of those in need–those officials are not mentsches. Not even close.
When people in leadership positions signal that bigotry is acceptable, when they contribute to an environment that diminishes and marginalizes people who do not fit within the narrow categories they deem biblically appropriate, that sends a signal to unstable and troubled individuals.
The message is: these people are unworthy, sinful, expendable. Attacks on them are “God’s work.”
It’s a gross oversimplification, but at some level, the world is divided between two groups of humans: mensches and assholes.
Pence, Patrick and their ilk are definitely not mensches.