When I opened my browser to Religion News Service on Monday, October 5, six of the seven featured news stories were in one way or another related to LGBT issues. I don’t blame Religion News Service. I blame us.
(Me included. I did write a book on this subject. It was only one of my books. I have written nineteen others. No one much wants to talk with me about the other nineteen…)
People, this LGBT/sexuality fixation is really getting out of hand. Can it really be that we have nothing else to talk about? There’s nothing else, nothing at all, that might appropriately deserve our religious and moral concern?
Most of the world’s major religions say that they care very seriously about a wide range of moral issues having to do with human well-being. Most say they have an agenda to fight for life and prevent unnecessary death.
So what would our religion news headlines look like if our moral concerns on the afternoon of October 5th tracked more closely with the world’ s major problems?
It might look something like this:
(1) “US Religious Leaders Agree to Tackle Leading Causes of Preventable Death”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “the five leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and unintentional injuries.” CDC goes on to say that 20 to 40 percent of these deaths are preventable.
Risk factors for heart disease, cancer, and stroke include smoking, poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, lack of physical activity, and Type 2 diabetes — essentially, all the lifestyle-related things we know about.
Alcohol is a risk factor for cancer, stroke, and unintentional injury. Environmental toxins contribute to cancer and respiratory disease. Consumer product dangers, lack of seatbelt use, lack of motorcycle helmet use, occupational hazards, unsafe home and community environments, and prescription drug abuse are risk factors for unintentional injury.
Imagine America’s religious leaders uniting on an agenda of tackling our food problem, encouraging exercise, reducing smoking, addressing drug and alcohol abuse, improving roadway safety, addressing workplace safety and consumer product safety, and attacking the problem of environmental toxins.
Would anyone be interested if they did?
Or how about this?
(2) “World’s Religious Leaders Agree to Tackle Top Ten Leading Causes of Preventable Death in Poor Countries”
According to the World Health Organization, the top ten leading causes of death in the poorest countries are lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, stroke, heart disease, malaria, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia and birth trauma, and protein energy malnutrition.
These are complicated problems, but we can say that they are strongly related to global environmental degradation, women’s disempowerment, inadequate health care services, lack of adequate food, and lack of accessible clean water.
Imagine six of seven of the day’s religion news stories focusing on these issues, including the efforts of a mighty global coalition of religious groups working to address them!
This is not even to begin to mention other perfectly preventable causes of death in the United States — like, say, gun massacres, suicides, and accidents. Like, say, the lingering anachronism of the death penalty, which continues to take a small, random number of lives in our country in a few states that still insist on doing it to a few of their convicts.
Actually, I am being hyperbolic. Many religious people and organizations do good work on important issues like these. But they rarely get news headlines or trend on twitter. And precisely because many of these issues actually unite rather than divide, they are intrinsically uninteresting from a news-as-conflict angle.
There is so much else to talk about. There is so much else to do. I am ready to move on from our current fixation. Are you?