It has become a cliché to say that you spotted an article online that was so strange you first assumed it was from The Onion.
Yet that happened to me over the weekend. Several people posted a story to social media from Blount County, Tenn., concerning a resolution introduced by Karen Miller, a member of the county commission, that implores God to spare the county when he unleashes his wrath on the nation for permitting marriage equality.
“That has to be a joke,” I thought. But I spent some time digging, and no, it’s no joke. Miller is real; she means it.
Her resolution reads in part, “We adopt this Resolution before God that He pass us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our Country and He did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities. As the Passover Lamb was a means of salvation to the ancient Children of Israel, so we stand upon the safety of the Lamb of God to save us.” (Gee, Karen, do you unnecessarily capitalize much?)
But wait, there’s more! The resolution also condemns the Supreme Court, which it helpfully points out is “not the sole and final arbiter of the powers of the States under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, when it acts in an area outside of it jurisdiction.” It also calls on Tennessee officials to “utilize all authority within their power to protect Natural Marriage from lawless court opinions.”
I have a few questions for Miller:
One: Can you be more specific about when we can expect the wrath of God? The marriage-equality decision was handed down June 26. More than three months have passed, and to be honest, it doesn’t feel to me like much has changed. Americans are continuing with their lives, and except for a few Kim Davises out there, people seem to be moving on. So what’s the hold-up? Is it possible that God’s not as torqued off as you seem to think?
Two: What form will the wrath take and how will we distinguish it from regular natural disasters? Those of us on the East Coast had a close brush with a hurricane this past weekend. But that couldn’t have been it. God-fearing South Carolina, which fought same-sex marriage to the bitter end, got slammed, while those of us in Maryland, where we approved marriage equality by ballot referendum in 2012, just had to deal with some rain.
Three: Is there any chance the wrath will be especially creative? Let’s face it, the fire-and-brimstone threats are getting kind of old. I’m not exactly itching to live through Miller’s idea of the wrath of God, but I have to admit that if it took the form of, say, a battle between Godzilla and Rodan, that might be cool to see – even if my house gets crushed in the process.
Four: What are they putting in the water in Blount County?
It’s easy to joke about stuff like this. What’s not funny is that religious extremists continue their crusade to base public policy for all of us on narrow interpretations of the Bible. They are free to worship a god of wrath, hate and destruction, but millions of other Americans don’t care to tremble before that deity.
One of those people is Ginny West Case, a retired Christian educator at First United Methodist Church in Maryville. Case told the Maryville Daily Times that she doesn’t recognize the god described in Miller’s resolution.
“That is not a primary characteristic of the God I know and love,” Case said. “I’m tired of God being used as a battering ram. The Bible, over and over, tells us God is the God of love and grace and mercy.”
Bingo. People disagree on these matters. That’s why Miller’s resolution would be fine if passed by her church, but it’s wholly inappropriate for a government entity.
Because it’s a resolution, some might say this is no big deal. After all, it doesn’t have the force of law and doesn’t require anyone to do anything. I disagree. The language here is so over the top that not only would Miller’s resolution be a significant embarrassment for the county if it were to pass, it would also raise constitutional concerns.
Miller’s resolution is a sad commentary from a fundamentalist zealot. It deserves to die a quick death, crushed under the weight of its own absurdity.