Thursday, November 20, 2008

▪ why is only your "choice" protected?

So the argument goes something like this; homosexuality is not something you were born with –it is a choice. Or at the very least you have the choice to act on it. Therefore, it is not something that can be protected by law.

Now if for the moment we concede the whole ‘homosexuality is a choice’ nonsense, there is a very significant problem for the religious right with this argument. If they are going to maintain that something that is chosen is therefore not at all protected under the Constitution, then are they themselves willing to give up the protection they enjoy for religious beliefs that they have chosen?

So let’s apply the same “it’s a choice” logic to religious faith…

Christianity is a choice!

So, why is it protected under the Constitution? After all, they weren’t born “Christians.” There is no scientific proof of Christianity being genetic. They are a product of their environment; they were influenced by others. They made a decision at 6 or 16, or 26, etc., to choose to believe in the Christian faith. They chose to practice it as they see fit. Why should their behavior be protected?

Christians are trying to come into our schools and convert innocent children. They run recruitment “Bible Camps” where they try to indoctrinate unsuspecting kids as young as toddlers. They want their understanding of science to be taught in our schools. They want to impose their idea of marriage on the rest of us, whether we like it or not.

We must stop them before they pervert our American way of life. We need to get a Constitutional provision on the next ballot preventing the continued spread of this plague.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t hide behind the protected freedom of your personal choice to strip others of their rights based on what you perceive as their choice.

(NOTE: As I have said, I do not advocate stripping anyone of their right of freedom of religion. The First Amendment is a glorious thing! And this is not meant as an attack on all things Christian. It is just my way of pointing out that many of the arguments of those that would use their religious beliefs to curtail the rights of others don't hold water.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

▪ what would jesus do?

Author's note: This is an elaboration of part of an earlier post, "prop 8: bigotry and hate masked as law."

Whatever the religious right might say about the religious basis for their opposition to equality for gay people, the truth remains it is not in keeping with the fundamental teachings of Christ. Jesus made it very clear what his Gospel was all about:

When asked how one inherits eternal life he made it clear that one must love God and love his neighbor as himself. Luke 10:25-28

To illustrate the point he described how one goes about loving one’s neighbor.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matt 7:12

Notice he didn’t say, “Be sure to point out your moral superiority to your neighbor.”

He didn’t say, “Love them by taking their rights and civil liberties away.”

He didn’t say, “Love your neighbor unless you find something about your neighbor’s life makes you uncomfortable.”

No… he said, “Treat them the way you would want to be treated.”

So let me ask you; would I be treating you the way you would want to be treated by trying to pass a constitutional amendment banning you from practicing your religious beliefs because I thought it was in the best interest of society?

Let me put it another way…

What Would Jesus Do?

Be careful how you answer. Very often your answer will tell us more about you than what Jesus would actually do or what he actually taught.

Monday, November 10, 2008

▪ changing one heart at a time

If the courts don’t decide the issue of equality for gay people, there are a small percentage of people in this state that need to be persuaded in order to see something like Prop 8 struck down. Prop 8 passed by a fairly narrow margin. I would be willing to bet that margin represents people who, while not fundamentally anti-gay, were swayed by the misinformation and lies put out by the proponents of Prop 8. Those are the ones that we need to persuade. And it can be done. I am an example.

I wasn’t persuaded by an individual, I was persuaded by what I experienced. For 25 years I was part of a rather conservative Christian denomination; 10 of those years I was a pastor. And while I never advocated withholding the civil rights of gay people, my beliefs about homosexuality were pretty much in keeping with much of the religious right. So what happened? How did my perspective, my views, my beliefs change?

Witnessing firsthand how gay people lived their lives. Sounds pretty simple but that was basically it. I got to know them, became friends with them, watched them go to work, live their lives and go through life just like the rest of us. But, probably the most profound part of the experience was watching a co-worker lose his partner to AIDS. It made me think… what is the difference between his loss and if I lost my wife? Was his grief any less because he was gay? Certainly not. There was no difference. And if there was no difference between his grief and what would be my grief, then was there anything really fundamentally different in our relationships? No not at all.

My point is that we can change hearts one-at-a-time by just living our lives and demonstrating that our lives (both straight and gay) are no different than theirs.

▪ keeping the civil rights struggle civil

Late last week it was reported that several churches here in California were vandalized. Some churches were spray painted with ‘no on prop 8’ slogans, while others were just vandalized. I would imagine some of this was just the work of vandals who were looking for an excuse for mischief, but no doubt some of it was by people angered by churches that want to force their brand of morality down the throats of the rest of us. In any case, it doesn’t promote the cause of civil rights for gay Californians.

We need to keep the civil rights fight civil. This kind of thing just gives the other side another reason to dismiss the rights and wishes of the gay community. We need to turn our anger and frustration into positive action. Sounds simple enough, but in the heat of the moment it can be difficult. Just reading through a few message boards this morning got my blood boiling; the stupidity, the hate, the ignorance… it gets to you. But, those aren’t the people we need to persuade—they will never be persuaded (the good news is that not that many people who need to be persuaded).

Anger and rage produces a great amount of emotional energy. Energy that can be redirected in very positive ways. We need to keep fighting, but through peaceful means lest we become our own worst enemy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

▪ prop 8: bigotry and hate masked as law

This was my response to a post in the Rants and Raves section of Craig's List:

“Homosexuals already have all of the rights of married people with civil unions"

All I have to say is... Brown vs. The Board of Education.

Separate but equal is by definition, unequal. It's not about philosophical or religious differences about sexuality. I don't really care what your view is of the yin and yang of sexual interplay. Our Constitution (I am speaking of the US Constitution) defines separations between church and state, religious belief and law. Obviously, that line was crossed in the Prop. 8 campaign. So much so that the tax-exempt status of some religious organizations is being called into question (the Mormon church spent about 18 million on prop 8, many pastors told their flock how they had to vote).

Prop 8 is religious hate and bigotry masked as law. It is ugly. The way it was forced down people’s throats with lies and fear tactics was despicable. I am amazed at how the religious right feels justified in resorting to lies and hate to reach its goals. What happen to truth and love?

The gospel of Jesus is very simple (10 years as a pastor and 25 years as a Christian I think gives me some credibility here). Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s it. Period. When asked how one loves his neighbor, Jesus simply said, “do to your neighbor what you would want done to you.”

When Christians violate this “golden” rule… they do so at their own peril. Because, if the religious right feels they're are within their right to do to others in this manner and strip people of rights… it is just a matter of time before some other group decides it is time to strip the religious right of their rights.

What happens when society is so fed up with the bigotry, hate, and meddling in the personal lives of others of the religious right that it decides to take away their rights? It might start with the tax-exemption being revoked and from there… who knows.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating anything like that and would not support it. As fucked up as much of organized religion is in this country, freedom of religion is a fundamental right as far as I am concerned.

But think about. If we truly live in a free society, then it means we must allow certain freedoms that we may not like in order to enjoy the freedoms that we personally cherish. Taking away others freedoms puts us on a dangerous path that threatens the very freedom that is at the core of this great nation.

So let me put it this way... you allow the same freedoms and rights that you enjoy to be enjoyed by all people and you get to continue to enjoy your religious freedom. Deal? I don't think you will like the alternative.