Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blast From The Past - Beware of Bigots

Most of you who follow my blogs know that my father, who died of brain cancer at age 38, was bi-sexual with a tendency toward being attracted to men more than women.

He was a public school music teacher in the 80's, and most people had some idea that he might not be heterosexual. And yet, it just wasn't safe to come out back then... not that it's much safer now more than 20 years later.

I miss my father and would give anything to have him alive today. Still, there's a part of me that is glad he isn't around to see just how poorly things have developed.

Sure, there's been progress made, but when fast-food restaurants owned by religious groups are donating millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations that exist solely to restrict the freedoms of those in the GLBT category, we can't be very proud of who we are as humans just yet.

I have quite a few former classmates from grade school who are religious zealots. They do not question where their religious holy book came from or whether it makes sense to blindly believe what it says (or what they are told that what someone else thinks it says means). It's bad enough that when they are part of any debate, they constantly cite their "Holy Bible" as why "being gay is wrong". (Forget that they are cherry-picking and ignoring the fact that working on the sabbath is listed as a sin that one should be killed for right next to "lying with a man as you would with a woman"...) but what they don't seem to understand is that their view that "being gay is wrong" does not entitle them to make decisions on what types of legal contracts they are allowed to enter into, and what our government should be allowed to call those contracts.

The idea that any religion should have a say in public policy is about as un-American as it gets. And yet, there are people who not only believe that their religious views give them the right to restrict the freedoms of others who do not share their views, they actually come up with some rather bizarre reasons why two people of the same sex should not be able to use the word "marriage" in their legally binding, non-religious, civil marriage contract.

(FYI: Marriage dates back more than 4,000 years, and there is evidence of homosexual marriage that far back as well. This means that Christians did not invent marriage, nor do they own the monopoly on the word.)

Covenant is another word that is used by both governments and religions. That doesn't mean that one has the authority to dictate how the other must define it.

In a social network debate with one of said religious zealots from my grade school years, I challenged his views. His response? That I just don't understand, and that the reason why gay people should not be legally allowed to marry is that it "forces him to redefine his view of  marriage".

No. It doesn't. He is still free to view marriage however he so chooses. How others view it, including how the law views it for the purposes of legal marriage contracts, does not have the power to force him to change his definition of the word at all.

To say otherwise would be like saying that the military practice of bringing back the remains of dead, non-Islamic soldiers in airplanes should not be allowed because it forces Islamic military people to redefine their definition of proper burial practices. No. It doesn't. Islamic people are still perfectly capable of maintaining their own burial practices, and my classmate is still perfectly capable of maintaining his view of marriage.

He then went on to tell me that even if he is able to maintain his definition of marriage, it is "offensive" to him because "the Christian view of marriage does not include gay marriage" and that it is therefore "stepping on his toes" and "forcing it on him" to allow gay people to enter into civil marriage contracts.

Really? How is allowing OTHER people who do NOT SHARE YOUR RELIGIOUS WORLD VIEW to enter into legally binding, civil marriage contacts, "forcing gay marriage" on anyone? No one is forcing you to get "gay married". They are simply not allowing you to control whether other people who are gay can enter into civil marriage contracts.

When these types of zealots realize that they've lost that debate, they then turn to insisting that gay couples should be relegated to having *their* civil marriage contracts be called "civil unions". The reason why that doesn't make sense is that the legally recognized form of marriage in the U.S. since the 1800's is already a civil union and has absolutely nothing to do with religion. (This is why getting married in a church does not make you legally married unless you have a civil marriage license from the courthouse. It is also why you can be legally married without a church wedding at all.)

Why should the same exact thing have two different names dependent on the sex of the parties to the contract? Should we start calling business partnerships that include gay people or same-sex business partners "civil business unions" instead of partnerships? It's absurd. It's neurotic. It's also un-American to single out a segment of the population to be treated differently under the law. Separating personal civil commitment contracts into two different names based on sexual orientation is no different than having separate schools or separate bathrooms for people of different races. If you wouldn't tolerate one, you shouldn't tolerate the other.

My classmate began to get extremely irritated with me as I continued to point out his logical fallacies, evening using "f-ing" at some point. (I'm always amused at how people think that leaving a few letters out makes a word any less profane, and really see no problem with profanity anyway when used as an exclamation point in a conversation, which is why it exists in the first place.)

I then pointed out to him that there are MANY CHRISTIAN SECTS that do NOT share his views and that they even perform marriages IN THEIR CHURCH. Why doesn't he have a problem with that? He can't force them to change, because their religion is protected under the law, just like the rights of gay people to enter into legally binding marriage contracts should be and increasingly is, as people evolve out of their bigotry and recognize that religion does not have the authority to dictate the civil rights of anyone.

He didn't have a response for that. Instead, he just kept on ranting about how offensive it was to him and "Christians" in general.

I pointed out that even the Episcopal church now recognizes gay married couples and even performs blessings on same-sex couples. They are Christians, too. I'm quite certain that they would be offended by any Southern Baptist's assertion that they should not be allowed to do that because Southern Baptist's find that "offensive".

My point is to demonstrate that anyone who attempts to restrict the freedoms of groups of people whom they do not view as obedient to their religion or even their version of any particular religion are, by nature, so self-centered that they actually believe THEIR rights are being infringed upon because they are not allowed to infringe upon the rights of OTHERS.

I have many Christian friends (including other former classmates) who are just as disgusted with this attitude from so many religionists as I am. It's disturbing that anyone could be so out of touch with American values of freedom (including religious freedom of those who do not agree with YOUR brand of religion) that they would resort to whining that their rights are lessened by allowing others to have the same rights that they enjoy.

I think what disturbed me most about learning of my former classmate's views was that I had always viewed him as an intelligent person capable of sound logical thinking skills.

However, as I remember back to our high school years, I recall a rather selfish move on his part that was very hurtful to me and which should have lessened my level of shock at his ability to let selfishness overrule decency and logic even as an adult.

You see, we dated for a short time one summer, and after school started back he informed me one day that he no longer wished to be involved with me. When I asked him why, he told me point blank that "I really like you, but I don't want the other kids to make fun of me for dating you."

I was not very popular back then. I was a nerd (still am) and kind of quiet (am not still quiet, at least not when confronted with something that needs a good dose of critical thinking skills and logic). I was very much an outcast. My mother was out of the picture at that time and, despite having a bi/gay dad, my fashion sense was awful and nobody was able to show me how to pull myself together. Many kids shunned me because I didn't know how to dress very well (still don't) and I was awkward, and then there were the bullies who gave me a hard time because Dad, whom they knew from having him as a music teacher, was gay. (Yep. Kids have a way of knowing things that adults either don't know or pretend not to know.)

Bigot is a word that many people who are accurately described by it find extremely offensive. They don't seem to understand that it applies to anyone who believes a segment of the population should be treated differently than them or have less freedom than they enjoy. It's not a nice word because it describes nasty behavior. I have no qualms about using the word when confronting people who have that attitude, because they need to understand that, while they have the right to have those attitudes, there are social consequences for holding on to them.

I can respect that people have different views than I do. I don't have to respect them for having those views, nor do I have to tolerate them attempting to restrict the freedoms of those with whom they disagree.

What's telling about the people who try to do those sorts of things, is that they pick only those things listed in their holy books as "abominations" that personally offend them, while ignoring other things that are listed as abominations that they themselves do on a regular basis (like wearing clothing of mixed fabrics, eating shrimp and lobster and other shellfish, and working on the sabbath, if they can even agree with one another on what day actually IS the sabbath). That is the perfect example of a hypocrite, and the word "bigotry" actually evolved from the French word "hypocrite".

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that someone who would break up with me to avoid being made fun of by other kids would have such a selfish attitude toward gay people and others who do not share his religious views as an adult, but I suppose the pollyanna in me had just assumed he'd grown out of it.

Clearly, some things never change.



  1. Nicely said Angie. I'm sharing this....

  2. You are confusing stating the truth about sin with bigotry.

    1. A parallel would be the difference between me stating that I think religious people are crazy, and me attempting to pass laws preventing religious people from having the right to practice their religion. Huge difference.

    2. Nope. That would be true if I were only talking about stating an opinion on sin. The fact that they have gone WAY beyond that in attempting to LEGISLATE LAWS PREVENTING THOSE WHOM THEY VIEW AS SINFUL FROM HAVING THE SAME RIGHTS AS THEM is what qualifies it as bigotry.

      The functional definition of bigotry is that you are attempting to prevent others from having the same freedoms as you based on religion or other arbitrary criteria. It's far beyond just stating an opinion - it's donating $5 million to a certified hate group that is aggressively seeking to restrict freedoms and participation in PRIVATE LEGAL CONTRACTS that have NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with their religion. Nice try, but no cigar.

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  4. Laws are passed in order to protect society from sin. Like MySpace says 'Without rules, there's chaos'. Passing laws against evil isn' hate against persons. See my blog about the Bible Belt:

    1. We do not pass laws regarding "sin" in this country. To do so would be unconstitutional, since sin is a religious concept. Our laws are based on freedom, and criminal laws deal with those who steal the freedom of others or their property, not based on superstitious books. If your statement were true, we would have to outlaw eating shrimp, working on the sabbath, and wearing mixed fabrics, all listed as "abominable sins" in the Christian holy book.

  5. Don't atheists want to pass laws against religion? That'a What the Freedom Form Religion Foundation is all about. So atheists are JUST AS "bigoted" as some of the religious. And you assume Christians are hypocrites. Atheists are hypocrites when they condemn Christians for the very same thing they are doing.

    1. Nice try, but you clearly do not understand what the FFRF is about.

    2. No. You are very mistaken if you believe that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is attempting to PASS laws at all, much less against religion. They only seek to enforce EXISTING LAWS which our FOREFATHERS, who were VERY MUCH AGAINST RELIGION, wrote into the constitution.

      The freedom of religion premise by definition requires freedom FROM religion as well, since no one can be free to practice their own religion (even a different brand of Christianity than you choose) unless they are FREE from YOUR version of religion. The Supreme Court has affirmed this, and have stated that whether you practice a religion or choose NOT to practice religion, no one has the right to force their religious activities on you or anyone else. This means that you do not get special privileges to be the only religion represented or recognized at football games at schools, on government property, or anywhere else related to the government or public property.

      What you do in your church or on private property is your business, and you are COMPLETELY FREE TO PRAY AT ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL OR EVENT OR ON GOVERNMENT PROPERTY, but you are NOT free to demand that the school, government institution, or public property give you special recognition or allow you to pray over a loud speaker as part of any official mandate.

      Otherwise, a witch could force you to listen over a loudspeaker as they call the corners before a football game, or a Muslim could force you to listen as they read from the Quran before a football game or public meeting.

      We do NOT live in a democracy, but a democratic REPUBLIC. "...and to the REPUBLIC, for which it stands..." This means that the Christian majority does NOT have the right to take away the rights of the MINORITIES who choose a different religion.

      The only way ANY atheist would be guilty of BIGOTRY would be if we acted to make PRACTICING RELIGION ILLEGAL ALTOGETHER! That will not happen, because atheists are not as selfish as many religious people, and we respect the rights of those who choose to practice religion, even though we do not agree with it. That's the difference between us and people like you.

      Those who attempt to change laws based on their religion (which is something that our forefathers were VERY MUCH AGAINST) are practicing bigotry because they seek to PREVENT OTHERS WHO ARE NOT A PART OF THEIR RELIGION FROM LIVING THEIR LIVES AS THEY CHOOSE TO LIVE THEM. You are ALSO violating the rights of Christians who marry gay people in their church because they see NOTHING WHATSOEVER WRONG WITH IT.

      In fact, Jesus affirmed a gay couple in "The Holy Bible":

      The fact that you are not JUST AS ENTHUSIASTIC about making it ILLEGAL TO EAT SHELLFISH, work on the sabbath, or wear mixed fabrics is what gives away your bigotry, because if you were TRULY CONCERNED ABOUT FOLLOWING THE LAWS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT (which is where homosexuality is mentioned), you would be fighting just as hard for all of the other things to be illegal as you are for trying to prevent gay couples from entering into PRIVATE MARRIAGE CONTRACTS which have NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH RELIGION. Marriage is NOT owned by Christians, and was around LONG before the Christians came along, and it was NOT originally a religious institution, but a legal one that goes back more than 4,000 years.

      I am appalled at the gross ignorance and lack of basic education and understanding of laws, the U.S. Constitution, and human sexuality displayed by religious zealots who spend far too much time with their noses in superstition holy books and not nearly enough time studying our nation's legal system, despite the fact that they are attempting to manipulate it for their selfish ends.

      Fact: marriage in the Christian holy book was between one man and many women, including wives, concubines, slaves, and women they raped and then by law owned the women they had raped, forcing the victim of rape to marry them and live with them forever since they could not divorce them.

    3. If you are so keen on that version of marriage, I would suggest you go to a third world country. You are no different than the terrorists who murdered 3,000+ people on 9/11/2001. They had "perfect faith" in their superstitions as well. The fact that you haven't gotten as crazy as some Christians do (like Eric Robert Rudolph, who murdered a doctor at an abortion clinic) is simply a matter of chance. Perfect faith is dangerous when there is a 50/50 chance that you'll end up having faith in something that motivates you to commit violence against those you disagree with, and attempting to force others to live by your RELIGIOUS LAWS is almost as bad as committing violence. In fact, it IS a form of LEGAL VIOLENCE, since it diminishes the lives and the pursuit of happiness for those who would be victims of your bigotry-motivated actions.

    4. Why do atheists not realize that it's not JUST Freedom FROM Religion, but also Freedom OF Religion?


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