Far from my religion tempering my prejudices, racial prejudice was actually instilled in me by my evangelical Christian church. I grew up in North Carolina in what we call the Bible Belt. My church taught me that segregation was the will of God and quoted the Bible to prove it. It taught me that men were by nature superior to woman and quoted the Bible to prove it. It taught me that it was o.k. to hate other religions, and especially the Jews, and quoted the Bible to prove it. It taught me that homosexual persons were either mentally sick or morally depraved and, of course, quoted the Bible to prove it. So the idea that being religious might make one less prejudiced is a fantasy. It appears to make people more prejudiced, or at the least, not to confront their prejudices.
Recall that it was the most overtly religious Bible reading, church-going part of our nation that practiced slavery until compelled to give it up by defeat on a battle field. It was then that same region, my home, which practiced segregation with all of its terrors and resisted in every way possible, including fire hoses and police dogs, the march for civil rights and the laws passed by the Congress to insure equality for blacks. After Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 it was not possible to be elected to office in the Bible Belt, if one did not campaign against the Supreme Court. This was when code words like “activist judges,” or “making laws instead of interpreting the Constitution” and the cliché “strict constructionist judges” became the battle cry of the conservative politicians. That is nothing but racism perfumed with pious rhetoric. They did not want the Supreme Court to support for equality for all, they wanted a referendum (in which blacks were not able to participate except in small numbers) to vote on who was to be treated equally and who was not. They did not and in many current political manifestations today, do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy and a mobocracy.
Today it is from this same part of America, the most overtly religious part, that most of the hostility toward equality in the pursuit of justice for gay and lesbian people comes. The question that should be asked is: What is there about religion in general and Christianity in particular that continues to fuel the prejudices of our day?