Bertlesman: Tolerance needed in espousing religious views

"Did you know the Bible condemns gay people?!" a Bible verse chalker shouted at the group I was walking with outside of Mary Jemison Dining Hall one evening, definitely unprovoked.

Coming back from a community builder with some resident assistants and our residents, we were all shocked at this sudden outburst.

After the silent confusion had left my companions, we all spoke about the obvious responses to that question:

"Did you know Jesus was accepting?"

"Do you know the context in which that is said?"

"Do you know how and who the Bible was written by?"

I am a firm believer in freedom of speech, but it made me deeply question the true motives of the religious chalkers. When the verses first appeared on campus I remembered thinking how it was great to see such a faithful person's perspective, but after the incident, I began to wonder where belief in words ends and acceptance of humanity begins.

The words - some of them inspirational and beautiful, juvenilely and innocently drawn with sidewalk chalk - suddenly become a little more hateful, burning with less diversity and more criticism.

As someone who was raised very religiously and is good friends with many religious people, it made me upset that a terrible stigma was now attached to words that were meant for good.

I was always taught to believe in God as loving before persecuting. Of course the issue of the Bible being written by men with "divine intervention," not directly communicating with "God," leads to falsehoods. Against the more romantic Psalms that have been written on the concrete, the closest thing the Bible says to condemning homosexuality is that "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

The Bible also uses the word "abomination" when referring to dietary restrictions against eating creatures with four legs, certain fowl and shellfish.

I am sure that Bible verse chalker has had a turkey sandwich from the building he was standing in front of, and hope that he prays for his own beefy abominations when he does for lesbians before he sleeps at night.

To clarify; I don't condemn religion. I believe that good things are misrepresented and misunderstood. I don't hate the religious chalker, and I could have misunderstood him. But I will "rejoice and be glad" because it rained Tuesday night.

Deb Bertlesman is a sophomore English major who likes Muddy Waters a lot.