Yesterday I was on the phone with one of my lay leaders talking about the congregational meeting one of my parishes is having next Sunday. We hashed out some details and were about to hang up when he asked me, "Hey, what's up with this May 21st thing?" He joked with me about whether or not the world was about to end. I told him that if it was we sure didn't have to worry about the congregational meeting anymore.
A lot of people have asked me about May 21st this week. Christian fundamentalists are telling us that come Saturday the faithful will be raptured into heaven. No one who has asked me about it has actually believed it was going to happen.
The idea of the rapture is actually fairly new in Christian theology, appearing only in the past few centuries and not held by my mainline church. My parishioners and friends weren't wondering whether or not the rapture would occur, but they were curious where the campaign started. That got me curious.
It turns out that the man behind the end of the world panic is Harold Camping, the 89-year-old founder of Family Radio. Over the years Camping has used his right-wing religious radio station to spread his peculiar version of Christian faith. He's never been a champion of diversity or tolerance, so I didn't expect him to be a big believer in LGBTQ rights. But when I went to his website to read more, I was surprised to find exactly what he believed about us: We are responsible for the impending end of the world.
It turns out we're pretty important in Camping's May 21st vision. Gay pride, Camping states, was "planned by God as a sign of the end." I had no idea we were so important. But, according to Camping, when it comes to the end of days "no sign is as dramatic and clear as the phenomenal world-wide success of the gay pride movement."
The Christian right has long had a party line that LGBTQ people have an "agenda." Somewhere we supposedly have this agreed upon list of priorities which we all work together to achieve. Now, having worked with plenty of LGBT groups, I can attest to the fact that we generally can't follow a meeting agenda let alone a plan for world domination and the apocalypse. But don't tell Harold Camping that.
What has always been striking to me, though, is how much of an agenda the Christian right has. Camping's May 21st campaign is one example. But it's hardly the only one. In fact, it's not even the only one this week.
Last Sunday New York State Senator Ruben Diaz held a Bronx rally to oppose same-gender marriage. He tried to encourage attendance from Christians by writing, "We are asking every pastor in the city of New York to close their church and join us in the March for Morality this upcoming Sunday."
I stopped in disbelief when I read that. The anti-gay right wing has stooped to a lot of lows in their war against us. But this time, it was like they had finally shown all their cards: they wanted their political allies to stop worshiping God so that they could join them in their anti-gay campaign.
I don't know why that surprised me so much. The most zealous of anti-gay fanatics have long believed in replacing God's agenda with their own. They've just rarely made it this transparent.
I don't know if Ruben Diaz believes that the world is going to end this Saturday. I highly doubt it. But he and Harold Camping aren't so far apart. They both have used LGBT people as the stepping stones upon which they could gain personal notoriety and advance their own agendas. And they both have subverted God's agenda with their own.
In the end, this is how I've always understood my "gay agenda": I want my LGBT brothers and sisters to be treated with the same respect and compassion as any of God's other children. No more, no less.
And my gay agenda is not yours. And yours is not the next person's. But the thing that strikes me the most about the "agendas" of most LGBT people is how ordinary they are: build families, work without fear, go to school without harassment, worship in safety, live as who we truly are meant to be.
Apparently this is what destroys marriage. Apparently this rips apart the very foundation of our society. Apparently this brings about the end of the world.
But, of course, it doesn't. The world will not end May 21st. And it will not end on the day that same-gender marriage is the law of the land. And it will not end when we are guaranteed the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen. The only thing that will end is the justification for these extremists to keep their own idolatrous agendas alive.
And for them, that is the end of the world. That's a judgement day I can get behind.