Gregory A. Clark: If religion is ‘love’ we don’t need any hate

This ‘loving’ deity also drowned every baby on earth and slaughtered an entire nation of firstborns.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Work continues on the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during its renovation in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 2, 2021.

In his June 20 sermon for The Salt Lake Tribune, columnist Gordon Monson confesses that he’s breaking two of his personal rules of journalism. Apparently, accuracy isn’t one of them — or at least not one worth mentioning.

Monson writes, “In the Good Book ... as spoken by the Son of Man himself, it reads: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’.”

“Love is the answer,” Monson continues. Your religious beliefs don’t matter. That’s what “that Jesus fella was teaching.”

But here’s what Monson omits: Right after “that Jesus fella” first commanded “Love thy neighbor” (Leviticus 19), he also commanded this:

• Men having homosexual relationships? Kill them.

• Sassy kids who curse their parents? Kill them.

• Adulterers? Kill them.

• Wizards? Kill them, too.

This loving deity also drowned every baby on earth and slaughtered an entire nation of firstborns. With “love” like that, who needs hate?

“Love is a fairly comprehensive word,” says Monson. Yeah. But when words can mean anything, they mean nothing.

Spare everyone the “But that’s the Old Testament” apologetics. In Mormonism, the Old Testament Lord is “that Jesus fella.” In trinitarian Christianity, it’s God the Daddy-O, who’s also the Son-o’-God. Either way, He’s perfect.

It’s not irrelevant ancient scripture. The LDS Church prominently cited the Lord’s death decree when trying to force its anti-gay bigotry into secular law to ban same-sex marriage.

Religion shouldn’t affect employment, Monson says. But the church Monson supports makes religion a requirement even for jobs like janitor or portfolio manager, a position the supposedly secular University of Utah advertised and processed. When it comes to appeasing the religious, equality, diversity and inclusion gotta sit in the back of the bus — if they are allowed to board at all.

Monson freely calls others “narrow-minded,” “ignorant,” and “arrogant.”

“Narrow-minded”? You don’t get much more narrow-minded than preaching that black skin is a curse from God, practicing racial segregation, denying marriage and housing to same-sex couples, denying women body autonomy, or refusing a child medical care because of their mom’s faith, as Jesus himself did (Matthew 15).

Narrow-mindedness “goes both ways?” Get a grip. Major atheist organizations aren’t pushing to outlaw same-race or mixed-sex marriage.

“Ignorant”? You don’t get much more ignorant than believing that the Bible is historically true. As former Brigham Young University Dean Daniel Fairbanks wrote (“Relics of Eden”), denying evolution is “honest only in ignorance.” Book of Mormon? Same. Sayeth former Prophet Gordon Hinckley: If the BOM isn’t true, then Mormonism is a fraud. Yep. But when you preach a risible, counterfactual myth told by a magic rock in a hat, you abdicate much of your right to be taken seriously.

“Arrogant”? You don’t get much more arrogant than preaching that the Big Guy in the Sky talks to you personally, cures your cancer, makes it rain at your request, or wins you a sportsball game, while preaching the Divine’s righteousness in willfully letting 6 million Jews die in the Holocaust, as essentially all believing Christians and Mormons do.

Religious bigotry is too often socially A-OK. But religious bigotry is still bigotry. Bigotry with a smile is still bigotry. Bigotry disguised as love is still bigotry. Even the Christian KKK claims it’s “bringing a message of love, not hate.”

Your neighbor’s lawn flamingos may be tacky, but they’re harmless. Their religious bigotry isn’t. That’s a key difference. Sanctifying superstition and quackery is harmful, too.

Of course religious people can be good people overall. But, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali said, “tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.”

Religion is repugnant, ridiculous and dishonest. The repugnant deserves rejection. The ridiculous deserves ridicule. The dishonest deserves to be called out.

I’m wrong, you say? I call your bluff. Show me.

In his last words before ascending, Jesus preached that non-believers “shall be damned.” How tolerant. But “them that believe”? “If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them” (Mark 16). I’ve got a bottle of antifreeze that says otherwise. Any takers?

“Them that believe” are quick to quote Jesus and to support organizations that preach quackery and institutionalize bigotry when it harms others instead. But when it’s their own earthly self on the line? They’re all lip and no sip.

Gregory Clark

Gregory A. Clark is a Salt Lake City resident who cordially invites them that believe to show the true power of their Lord by instantly growing hair on the bald, or regrowing amputated limbs. Instead of, say, praying for rain somewhere, some day.