“Textual Harassment” on display at City Hall

Christian theologian Mary Ann Tolbert called it “textual harassment,” the misuse of the Bible to reject other human beings. That phrase comes to mind as I consider the parade of sanctimony at City Hall on Tuesday. Last week it was Syrian Rabbis making me feel ashamed for my chosen profession; this week, the shame is much further away theologically, but much closer geographically.

The issue: allowing unmarried domestic partners of City employees to purchase health insurance. It was made policy at a budget hearing several days ago, and upon hearing about it, El Paso’s social conservatives got organized. They showed up at City Hall on Tuesday morning, and a few pastors spoke against the decision during the open comments section of the meeting, prompting City Representative Beto O’Rourke to spend some time with them outside of chambers. Newspaper Tree has done a fine job of covering the story, with a narrative piece, transcripts of the pastors, and a transcript of Lisa Turner’s response.

I’ll probably say more about this at our Shabbat Morning Service on August 22 (Parashat Shofetim). For now, I want to be on record (speaking only for myself, but certainly from within the mainstream of Reform Jewish teaching over the last few decades). Yasher Koach, City Council (well, six of you, anyway)! And shame on those who would use the Bible as a bludgeon!

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