Self-appointed arbiters of personhood

Dear President Trump,

This is not an original thought, but it hit me yesterday in a clearer way than ever before that religion is frequently used as a cudgel to deny certain people full personhood. The core messages of the central religious tracts we say are foundational to our country focus on treating others as we want to be treated ourselves and loving our neighbors as ourselves, and yet we resort to base tribalism and use the very tools meant to help us transcend these instincts to justify them. It doesn’t matter that Jesus’s teachings were focused on loving, respecting, and empowering everyone, including poor and disenfranchised people. If a motivated, righteous Christian can find just one biblical example that can be weaponized, then he or she seems to feel free to use it to argue that certain people should not have the rights and responsibilities of full personhood. Women should be subservient to their husbands and not be allowed to decide when and whether to have children. LGBTQ people should not marry one another or adopt children. Asylum seeking immigrants must forfeit their family ties upon crossing the border because a government’s laws are holy.

For many, it’s apparently “doing God’s work” to take select bible verses, interpreted just so, to justify enacting laws to keep some of us in our places (or to justify repealing laws that righted these old wrongs). And what a scam – it’s ok to ignore the vast teachings professing love and mutual respect and single out the handful of nasty, divisive bits and claim they are “The Word Of God” to be wielded as tools (cudgels) for social control. Plus, it’s apparently ok to claim they are “my beliefs, my convictions” and therefor are off-limits, untouchable – how handy.

Obviously I’m drawing this out in a very basic way, but I think these issues do boil down to some people having appointed themselves arbiters of personhood for other people. Well, like I said the other day, you can’t just stuff the Jeannie back in the bottle and those of us who have fought to have our full personhood recognized are not going to willingly cede the ground we’ve gained, stacked conservative majority Supreme Court or no.

May we all be safe to claim full personhood.
May we all be happy to recognize one anothers’ full personhood.
May we see that arguing that others are less than undermines everyone’s health.
May we see that peace will elude us until everyone’s full personhood is recognized.

Tracy Simpson

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