Please, Do Not Help

My post yesterday might make it seem as if I’d like it if Christians fulfilled the mandate left for them by a guy who in all likelihood never existed. I do not. In fact, I’d really like it if they got out of the help business altogether because they always mess things up.

Shortly after I moved to California 31 years ago, I participated in an “outreach” the college group at my church did at Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. On the surface, Union Rescue Mission seems to be doing what their imaginary leader commanded. They are feeding the poor and giving shelter to them. They even have job training. Sounds really nice.

Wrong. (You didn’t see that coming? Seriously.)

At some point during my brief participation in this program, I learned the job training was only available to the converted. If you went forward during one of their nightly preaching sessions, and attendance is mandatory if you want to eat and have a warm bed to sleep in, then you could apply for their job training, and, if I recall correctly, be given a semi-permanent place to live during said training.

So, here’s the deal:

  1. To eat and gain a place to sleep, you had to be preached at…that night by a bunch of middle class white kids who, while we knew suffering (I was severely abused by my upstanding middle class parents) we didn’t know shit about homelessness.
  2. To be eligible for job training you had to convert to the religion of the Union Rescue Mission. You couldn’t just come and ask for help, you had to be “in with the in crowd.”

That is the Christian version of help. Be one of us, we’ll help you. Be a heathen, drop dead. And don’t get me started on Mother Teresa.

As for medical involvement, the Christians and other religionists fair no better.

I live in San Bernardino County and, due to some research I was doing, discovered that it is one of the worst places for LGBT care. There is, essentially, nothing here. There is barely an AIDS project, let alone surgical and other medical services for Transgender people. Even if you have money, you have to go to LA for treatment. If you are on Medi-Cal or another poor excuse for insurance, screw you. You may as well just become one of the statistics for all people care.

This is a serious problem, but the main hospital here is run by Seventh Day Adventists whose policy toward LGBT is to love them. This does not translate into providing adequate medical care any more than praying for the sick does. The same goes at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange where most of my children were born.

Across the street from St. Joseph’s, it’s a different story at CHOC, and further down the street, UCI Medical Center. These state run facilities have no qualms with helping everyone.

Let’s go back and consider the suicide rate among LGBT people. Is “loving them,” as suggested by the president of Loma Linda University Hospital, really what needs to be done? Considering that Christian love is couched in the belief that I can love you even though I know you are going to hell, I don’t think so. The attitude of the religionist is: “I don’t have to help you obtain the kind of care you need because I know if you’d convert then you’d see things my way and be “cured” of your LGBT-ness.”

This is a serious problem. Religion in medicine and in helping the poor and in education and in pretty much all areas of life is nearly impossible to eradicate in the United States. Most people here do not see it as a problem.

So, while religionists go on “loving” the poor and the medically needy, people will continue in poverty and the suicide rate amongst certain segments of society will not improve, because it’s not real love. It’s conditional, based on your conformity to my will. And that is abuse, not love.

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