Does a Pride flag mean EVERYONE is welcome?

A Facebook friend shared the following post from a Conservative Rabbi:

(i.e., a prime spot for a Black Lives Matter sign (in a nearly-all-white town, of course, with restrictive zoning to keep it that way) was taken up with a different victim group’s banner)

He added “We stand for radical hospitality. EVERYONE is welcome!”

Of course, I had to ask “Would someone who advocated for strict adherence to Leviticus 18 and 20 be welcome?” (see Wikipedia for “Orthodox Judaism generally prohibits homosexual conduct”)

There was a bit of back and forth, leading me to suggest an update: “everyone who agrees with us is welcome”

A righteous congregation member replied “Do you mean to suggest that the hypothetical conservative people you reference would be unable to respect that others have different moral perspectives from them, and would make a scene harassing others, causing them to be asked to leave?”

I refined the question: Okay, so the hypothetical person comes to the “EVERYONE is welcome” temple wearing a T-shirt reading “Follow Leviticus 18/20” on the front. On the back is “Outlaw abortion after a heartbeat can be heard”. On the head of this person is a red MAGA hat. The person is carrying (not on Shabbat, I hope!) Tefillin in a Trump Hotel laundry bag in one hand and a Reelect Trump 2020 tote bag in the other hand. Will this person be just as welcome as a person wearing a rainbow T-shirt?

A sincere congregation member: I imagine such a shirt might prompt conversation, and as long as all parties engaged in conversation in good faith, I have trouble believing Mr. T-Shirt Man (as I’m now thinking of him/you) would be asked to leave.

I asked how this would be different from a Catholic Church putting out a “Stop abortions now” (an issue on which Americans disagree) and saying “EVERYONE is welcome,”

The righteous response: a key difference is that the Catholic Church promotes a moral code that is anti-abortion, and presumably could even excommunicate members who have abortions. Therefore, such signage would be hypocritical. It seems that perhaps you are perceiving there are “two sides” that are mirrors of one another, but there are crucial differences between a Catholic or Evangelical church that says “abortion is immoral” and are working to criminalize abortion—but still say “all are welcome” — and a Jewish Temple or, say, a UU church that sees abortion as a medical procedure between a women and her doctor (but not going around and foisting the procedure on others) and welcomes all comers. The former groups are trying to control / legislate others’ behavior, but the latter groups are not.

I pointed out that the LGBTQ banner was sometimes unfurled in order to control and coerce others, e.g., preventing Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants, forcing the Colorado baker to make a same-sex wedding cake, or boycotting Israel (maybe they’d rather visit one of the anti-Israel countries in which homosexual acts are punishable by death?).

Me: Circling back to the original post, would your temple be equally welcoming to the Colorado baker who was the subject of the Supreme Court case as you would be to someone wearing a Provincetown Pride T-shirt? If not, it is inaccurate to say that EVERYONE is welcome!

Congregation Member 1: exerting pressure on corporations to change their practices is not the same as legislating the elimination of human rights for certain groups of people. Apples and oranges.

Congregation Member 2: you seem to say above that a flag representing “[Jewish] gays are welcome,” is a point of view?

Readers: What do you think? Does hanging a pride flag signal adherence to a political point of view and therefore tend to exclude people who don’t agree with that point of view (e.g., Orthodox Jews, observant Muslims, Catholics, etc.)? Or is it legitimately characterized as an “EVERYONE is welcome” sign?

8 thoughts on “Does a Pride flag mean EVERYONE is welcome?

  1. The traditional Jewish perspective, i.e., the Torah, does not support this. See for example on You Tube Rav Soloveitchik’s explanation, most clearly expressed by Rabbi Bar-Haim — i.e., a mjorh theme in the Torah is about requiring people to control their desires and homosexuality is one of aspects of human behavior that needs to be controlled. Also interesting is how the topic of homosexuality is dealt with in Scrugim, the terrific Israeli TV series available for free on Amazon Prime.

  2. Are Midianites welcome? Is Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, a hero for stopping the plague or a villain for his murderous intolerance? c.f. Numbers, Chapter 25.

  3. Usually when people subscribe to a religion, it means that they have some views that are shared by others.

  4. “Do you mean to suggest that the hypothetical conservative people you reference would be unable to respect that others have different moral perspectives from them”

    Can they respect Muslims whose moral perspective is that homosexual acts are immoral and should be punished by death?

  5. Phil: Both groups are in fact trying to coerce people. The Unitarian Universalists want unrestricted, consequence-free sexual behavior. Because nature does not allow sex to be consequence-free, they have set up a system to externalize the consequences of behavior they enjoy onto others, by using the state to provide a safe, legal environment for people to kill their children, with dehumanizing justifications. Right or wrong, it is definitely coercion for the government to provide a safe haven for such activity, because if you accept the personhood of a fetus, it follows that the government should deter their killing like they do for the rest of us. I don’t think anyone denies this in other instances of the government providing a safe haven for people engaging in coercion.

    The Catholics and Evangelicals want to restrict sexual behavior, in part because of it’s consequences, so they support criminalizing abortion. This undeniably coerces people quite a bit. But it’s just a matter of who is being coerced.

    Same with LGBT issues, both sides are trying to coerce the other, both with legal and other means. Libertarianism does not work in practice on these issues, they are inherently conflictual.

    • Also, from a Catholic and Evangelical perspective, everyone IS welcome, just not on their own terms. A gay person is welcome so long as they make an effort to remain chaste, in that sense they are no different than someone with a porn habit. Someone who had an abortion is welcome, provided they repent. But you’re not welcome to come in and raise money for planned parenthood. I suppose these rainbow flag groups take the same line.

  6. ‘… respect that others have different moral perspectives from them …’.

    Many many years ago, Primo Levi (who should be above all woke suspect, as he did survive the Holocaust in the most direct and personal way), pointed out that moral codes come with the fine print that different moral codes are naturally incompatible. So ‘respect that others have different moral perspectives from them’ means either (1) a truce between people who despise each other or (2) that the Righteous assume that their own beliefs about what tolerance is, are so universal that nobody would ever challenge them. Since case (1) is unlikely, the poor fools believe in (2). They will live in disappointment.

    I do admit that a world peopled by folks with the cardinal moral axis of ‘basically mind your own business in a somewhat spiritual way’ is likely to be a better, rather than worse world 99% of the time, and I’d rather live in that world than not. Yet there is a difference between admitting that the teachings have been condensed to ‘mind of your own business, intervene only if authoritative people, or a mob, tell you to do so’, and a named religion.

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