The Georgetown Perspective: Religion and Peace
By: Tim Rosenberger
February 11, 2016
Pastor Scott Lively, the activist pastor once tied to such American political endeavors such as California’s Proposition 8 battle, will be tried for crimes against humanity for his role in inciting violence against the LGBT community in countries like Uganda. Lively was directly involved in lobbying efforts that led to Uganda’s controversial “kill the gays” law.
Reading about this development in Lively’s case, I was struck less by the content of Lively’s religious beliefs and more by how he has chosen to live out his faith. I was especially struck by how antithetical Lively’s work is to the kind of religiously motivated justice work that is emphasized at Georgetown.
I do not agree with Lively’s beliefs regarding the LGBT community, but that is not why his Christian views are especially problematic. Lively is using his religion to encourage physical harm against a group of people. Putting aside the morality of those living openly as LGBT persons, Lively has set a dangerous precedent that suggests religious leaders from powerful and wealthy countries, having lost culture wars on their home turf, can move their efforts to a less developed country with more success. Money and celebrity status just go further in countries like Uganda where Lively can shape international conversations—and more devastatingly, violent movements—with relative impunity.
At Georgetown we believe that faith should inform lived action. We emphasize the importance of fighting for justice on behalf of the disadvantaged, and we dedicate significant resources to serving communities in which we live and minister. Georgetown, as a Catholic institution, does not share my views on LGBT issues. Despite this, the only action the university presently takes towards LGBT persons is well-intentioned ministry.
I believe an important part of why Georgetown can tackle difficult issues ranging from orientation to documentation status is the way that it understands peace as a value that we must live with and infuse into religion. Peace must be pursued alongside spiritual growth, and courses of action which incite violence or undermine human dignity are rarely those we should support.
To truly live religion we must commit ourselves to peace.