In Switzerland a controversial Catholic Bishop faces three years in prison for “inciting people to crime or violence” after using the Bible to call for the execution of gays and lesbians.
In a disturbing lecture delivered July 31, Vitus Huonder, the Catholic Bishop of Chur located in eastern Switzerland, told a cheering audience in Germany that gays should be punished with death.
(Yes, reports indicate the conservative Catholic crowd gathered at the “Joy in Faith” forum in the German city of Fulda did not recoil in horror at the suggestion that gays be punished with death, instead they cheered.)
Claiming homosexuality is an “abomination,” Bishop Huonder used Leviticus to justify the death penalty for gays and lesbians in a 50-minute address titled “Marriage – a Gift, Sacrament and Order” delivered at the “Joy in Faith” forum in the German city of Fulda.
In his anti-gay lecture Bishop Huonder quoted various Biblical passages backing up his views that homosexuals should be punished by death, most notably from the book of Leviticus:
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.
– Leviticus 20:13
Bishop Huonder told the anti-gay, Roman Catholic audience that such passages “alone suffice to clarify unambiguously the church’s position on homosexuality.”
After a great deal of public outrage over the insensitive and intolerant remarks a criminal complaint against Bishop Huonder was filed by Pink Cross, an umbrella association for Swiss gay groups. If found guilty, Huonder faces up to three years in prison.
After originally refusing to apologize, Bishop Huonder has now issued an apology, although he mistakenly listed the wrong date of his speech in his statement. The following is an excerpt from that apology:
I am sorry if my 50 minute lecture in Fulda on 2 August 2015, which dealt with the biblical basis for marriage and family, was understood as diminishing homosexual people.
This was not my intention. During the lecture I quoted several uncomfortable passages from the Old Testament to do with marriage, sexuality and family. I want to clarify that I… would in no way wish to diminish homosexual people.
Wait. What? Bishop Huonder did not mean to “diminish” gay people while calling for their execution and death?
It is difficult to determine which is worse: the fact that Bishop Huonder would cite biblical passages advocating the death penalty for gays, or the fact that a room full of conservative Roman Catholics would cheer such open and dangerous anti-gay hate speech.
One thing is clear: religion is often dangerous and toxic. Bishop Huonder and the Roman Catholics who support him are yet another example of the dangerous and toxic nature of religious superstition.
(Portions of this post were previously published here.)