The assault on human rights occurring in Texas is absolutely horrendous but the votes in the legislature tell only part of the story.
On the legislative front, Texas is set to adopt measures to permit state-funded adoption and foster care agencies to refuse services to couples because of their sexual orientation or religious preferences.
They’re also ready to approve legislation that would allow nurses to violate normal standards of care if they decided that those standards conflicted with their personal religious beliefs. According to the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), for example, if a nurse, on religious grounds, viewed the husband to be the head of the household, the proposed law would permit the nurse to breach patient confidentiality and disclose medical information to the husband over the wishes of the wife.
And Texas is also set to enact a bill limiting bathroom access for transgender public school students. This movement was originally defeated as a free-standing bill and then was added as an amendment to a piece of legislation on school emergency and safety plans. In response, Kathy Miller, president of TFN, decried the damage such an amendment would do.
“Supporters of this amendment suggested they were trying to find a middle ground by avoiding an explicit requirement that public schools discriminate against transgender students while also giving a nod to political pressure groups that have insisted on doing so. But there is no moral middle ground on discrimination. Either you discriminate, or you don’t. This amendment, if it becomes law, would leave transgender students even more vulnerable to being stigmatized and bullied simply because they are different. It would be far better if our lawmakers rejected these cynical and dishonest efforts to turn transgender Texans into pawns for advancing discriminatory public policies."
But, as I said above, this tells only part of the story. The hatred, bigotry and discrimination that will surely follow the passage of these unconscionable acts have already begun. Steven Hotze, the head of Conservative Republicans of Texas, an organization that has called transgender individuals “perverted,” “deviant” and “wicked,” has just taken his despicable rhetoric to the next level. He’s now asking his followers to adopt an imprecatory prayer for the “wicked state legislators” who oppose legalizing bigotry.
(For those of you who are unclear on the meaning of imprecatory prayer, it is a prayer calling for evil to befall on one’s enemies.)
The evil that Hotze asks follows to pray for is nothing mild. Instead he calls for specific terrible things to happen to those legislators who have a position different from his. His prayer, in part, says: “May they receive what their unfaithful ways deserve. May they be consumed, collapse, rot and be blown away as dust from their current positions because of their wicked works, thoughts and deeds. May people scorn them and nations abhor them.”
“Consumed, collapse, rot.” This is what conservative Republicans in Texas wish for their political opponents and they are imploring their God to make it happen.
The clergy I know, the clergy who comprise The Clergy Letter Project, don’t call for the death and destruction of those with whom they disagree. Instead they call for dialogue and discussion.
Indeed, The Clergy Letter Project is a grass roots organization of more than 14,600 clergy members from all across the United States advocating for evolution to be taught in our public schools. Their position on evolution and their deep religious beliefs have led members of The Clergy Letter Project to condemn homophobia and Islamophobia while promoting the rights of all people, even people whose beliefs differ from their own.
Members of The Clergy Letter Project, like most individuals, believe that discussion is far more productive than violence, that education can bring about more meaningful change than can intimidation.
Unfortunately, a majority of Texas legislators and Conservative Republicans in Texas feel otherwise. I fear for the type of society we are creating with such legislation and such prayers.