FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Religious Barbarians

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

It was humanity at its best.  Showing compassion for the quick and the dead.  The quick made news in Tbilisi, Georgia.  The dead made news in Worcester, Massachusetts.

May 17, 2013, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, a mob of more than 10,000 people led by men of the cloth from the Georgian Orthodox Church, attacked 50 gay rights demonstrators marching in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia.   The rally had been moved to a public garden on Tbilisi’s Freedom Square after the crowd of 10,000 made it impossible for the rally to take place at the location that had originally been selected.  The mob was inspired by Patriarch Illya II, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church who said the demonstration by the gay-rights activists should not take place.  In a statement issued May 15, 2013, two days before the demonstrations, he said that homosexuality is an “anomaly and disease”, the gay-pride rally would be “an insult” to Georgian tradition” and was a “violation of the rights of the majority” of Georgians.  Inspired by the beloved prelate’s words, ultraconservative Orthodox believers, said they would disrupt the rally.  They did.

The mob of more than 10,000 met the 50 activists bearing signs saying “no to mental genocide,” “Stop Homosexual Propaganda in Georgia,” “Not in our city” and “No to gays.”  Notwithstanding a heavy security presence the mob broke through police cordons and threw rocks and eggs at the 50 gay-rights activists forcing them to get into minibuses furnished by the police and flee the scene.  Not wanting them to leave the scene unharmed, the mob tried to break the windows of the buses using rocks and trashcans.  Eight or nine of the gay-rights activists were injured.  One of the protestors who had travelled from a distant city to protest the gay-rights demonstration explained that the purpose of the mob’s actions was to “treat their [homosexual’s] illness.”  A well-thrown stone can, of course, completely cure an homosexual’s illness as well as any other inflictions from which the victim was suffering prior to being struck.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, the question was not how to deal with an unpopular minority but how to deal with a corpse.  The corpse belonged to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two infamous Boston marathon bombers.  Few, if any, mourned his death.  Nonetheless, once dead one would have thought the question of his burial would not consume much time or attention.  That was the wrong thing to think.  Although not matching the Georgians in intensity, those who belonged to the “no burial in my backyard” crowd gathered in front of the funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, to protest the presence of the corpse in their fair city and to make sure it did not find final repose there lest the city’s reputation be permanently stained.  Protesters said the body should be cremated or thrown in the ocean,  presumably after the fashion of the tea that had been thrown in the ocean some years earlier. Even two cemeteries in Boston that specialize in Muslim burials were unwilling to permit this particular corpse use it as a final place of repose.

The funeral home where the corpse rested while awaiting final disposition is in Worcester and one of the protestors demonstrating in front of the funeral home explained why he opposed burying the corpse in Worcester.  “It’s going to give this neighborhood a bad name. This guy doesn’t belong here.”  It did not occur to him that he and other protestors were also giving the neighborhood a bad name.  Another protester who objected to the fact that Peter Stefan, the director of the funeral home where the corpse lay, was trying to find a local cemetery to accept the corpse, had driven an hour to get to the protest.  She carried a  somewhat respectful sign saying “Shame on you Mr. Stefan.”  Robert Healy, the Cambridge city manager said:  “It is not in the best interest of ‘peace within the city’ to execute a cemetery deed.” Cambridge was Tamerlan’s home as well as the home of such esteemed institutions of higher education as Harvard and MIT.  Its congressman, Edward Markey, now a Democratic candidate for the U.S.  Senate said: “If the people of Massachusetts do not want that terrorist to be buried on our soil, then it should not be.” Such heroic statements do not mean the United States is like Georgia.  It was not reported that any church leaders participated in the demonstrations in front of the funeral home or that they publicly came out objecting to Tamerlan’s burial nor was it reported that any church leaders objected to the protests.

G. Jeffrey MacDonald writes for Religion News Service.  He devoted a column to the fact that Christian leaders in Boston had by and large been silent in the face of the controversy.  Joel Anderle, the president of the Massachusetts Council of Churches said:  “This is one of those curious areas where Christianity, and in particular Protestant Christianity, has come to believe that it doesn’t have a voice.”  James Keenan,  a moral theologian at Boston College observed that:  “To say ‘we won’t bury him’ makes us barbaric.  It takes away mercy, the trademark of Christians. … . . I’m talking about this because someone should.”  He got that right.  At least the clergy were not inciting the demonstrators.  That is some, albeit small, consolation.

Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 01, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Fictitious Economy: Hiding How the Economy Really Works
Joseph Natoli
The Fourth Estate vs. the Trump Regime
Kim C. Domenico
A Deconstruction of Whiteness: Unsafe Among My Own Kind
Yoav Litvin
American Dystopia – A Future of Racists, Snitches and Outcasts
Dan Glazebrook
From Kissinger’s Playbook: Flynn is Gone, His Russia Policy Lives On
Peter Mayo
Storming “Fortress Europe” in Search of a Social World
Sam Gordon
The Audacity of Sacrilege
Arnold August
Fidel, Political Power and the New Culture of Communication
Linn Washington Jr.
Black History in Cyberspace: British 3D App Game Features Forgotten Facts
Norman Pollack
Trump’s Neo-Fascist Discourse: CPAC Revisited
Nyla Ali Khan
Women in Conflict Zones: Escaping Masculine Socialization and Generating a Transformative Vision
Sam Husseini
Questioning Pelosi and Schumer
Jesse Jackson
Private Prisons Slam the Door on Justice
February 28, 2017
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East: Iran as the Solution, Not the Problem
Paul Street
Big Brother Capitalism Strikes Back
Stephen Cooper
Trump’s Pusillanimous Immigration Policy Imperils the Public and the Police
Vincent Emanuele
The Madness of U.S. Empire
Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec
We Need the Endangered Species Act Now More Than Ever
David Underhill
Oops, They Did It Again: Crowd Bowls Over Rep in Beery Alley
John Eskow
Jimmy Kimmel is a Total Dick and Other Reflections on the Oscars
Steve Horn
Trump’s Top Energy Aide, Mike Catanzaro Peddled Climate Change Denial
Jack Random
The Trump Diaries: Week Five
Robert Fisk
The Education of Marine Le Pen
Pauline Murphy
Felicia Browne’s Fight Against Fascism
Mary Lynn Cramer
Fearing the Trump Impeachment
Mel Gurtov
While Our Attention is Elsewhere, Climate Change Worsens
Dan Bacher
Extinction 2017: California Edition
Abel Cohen
The Trojan President: America Never Saw It Coming
February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail