Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Offensive, Over-the-Top Rhetoric in Opposition to a Domestic Partnership Bill

I don't normally like to bash other religions. However, sometimes an official statement from a religious official bears mention and critique.

Apparently Guam is considering a domestic partnership proposal. For those who forget, Guam is actually a territory of the United States, has a non-voting member in Congress, votes in the presidential election (though without any electoral votes, that vote is meaningless), and sends delegates to the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Like other states that have considered domestic partnership laws (or gay marriage or other civil rights issues related to sexual orientation), debate on the issue is apparently impassioned.

However, the Catholic Archdiocese of Agaña (Guam) has stepped over -- way over -- the line of decency in a political debate on domestic issues. Here is the penultimate paragraph of a letter (the entire letter can be read here), allegedly* from the Archdiocese:
The culture of homosexuality is a culture of self-absorption because it does not value self-sacrifice. It is a glaring example of what John Paul II has called the culture of death. Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior by death. Their culture is anything but one of self-absorption. It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers (women as well as men) is a culture that at least knows how to value self-sacrifice. Terrorism as a way to oppose the degeneration of the culture is to be rejected completely since such violence is itself another form of degeneracy. One, however, does not have to agree with the gruesome ways that the fundamentalists use to curb the forces that undermine their culture to admit that the Islamic fundamentalist charge that Western Civilization in general and the U.S.A. in particular is the “Great Satan” is not without an element of truth. It makes no sense for the U.S. Government to send our boys to fight Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, while at the same time it embraces the social policies embodied in Bill 185 (as President Obama has done). Such policies only furnish further arguments for the fundamentalists in their efforts to gain more recruits for the war against the “Great Satan.”
I'm short on time today, so I'm not going to go through a line-by-line examination of how flawed the reasoning and offensive the conclusions of this letter really are. Besides, I think the letter really does speak for itself. But query what it is about homosexuality -- and not, by way of comparison, the death penalty, torture, degradation of the environment, or any of a host of other issues -- that leads anyone, let alone a church, to condone such an offensive viewpoint.

*I say "allegedly" because I have been unable to confirm that this letter really does come from the Archdiocese of Agana. The website for the Archdiocese does not appear to have been updated since February 2009 (at the latest). However, I have seen numerous references to the above-quoted letter as well as a second (far less inflammatory letter on different letterhead from the Archbishop of Agaña) and I have not found any indication of a claim by the Archdiocese that it is not responsible for the quoted letter. Nevertheless, I recognize that until the authorship of the letter has been verified, criticism of the Archdiocese needs to be tempered. If this letter was not authored by the Archdiocese, you would certainly expect a strong (and prompt?) denunciation of the viewpoints attributed to the Archdiocese by the author of the letter. If, on the other hand, the Archdiocese is the author of the letter, then I would also expect strong denunciations of those viewpoints from a whole host of sources.

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