Patricia Nell Warren

Needed: A Better Definition of Bigotry

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | November 17, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: anti-Semitism, bigotry, established religion, First Amendment, free speech, freedom of religion, Freemasons, George Washington, intolerance, Muslims, Native American spirituality, persecution, prejudice, Puritans, Wicca

Recently I ran across a striking comment by George Washington. In 1790, one year into his presidency, the former general wrote these words to a Jewish group in New Jersey: "The Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens."

Sad to say, if Washington were alive today, he would frown to see how open and powerful bigotry has become. It not only drives major government policy -- it is socially acceptable, even admirable, to many Americans.

Indeed, while Washington didn't shrink from using that word, some Americans are ouchy about saying it out loud. Conservatives don't like to hear the word "bigot" applied to them. Many liberals -- including some LGBT people -- are convinced that it's not cool to refer to other people that way.

I disagree 110 percent. "Bigot" is an excellent word -- a necessary word. If it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. History has shown us the awful picture of how bigots operate, and why we shouldn't mis-define their activities today. Read on and see why.

So who is a "bigot," exactly? What makes a bigot different from a person who is merely over-zealous in promoting their personal religion?

The New American Dictionary on my office shelf describes a bigot simply as: "A person of strong conviction or prejudice, especially in matters of religion, race or politics, who is intolerant of those who differ with him."

Whereas Websters-Merriam's online dictionary goes a bit farther, saying that a bigot is "one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance." Hatred is the operative word in the Websters definition.

But if these definitions are accurate, then bigotry can't be what Washington meant. After all, the U.S. courts have made it clear that "freedom of speech" guarantees the right to be that dictionary definition of bigoted. I.e. all of us do have the basic right to believe, and to talk about our belief publicly, no matter how stupid or idiotic or superstitious our beliefs may look to others.

The First Amendment even grants us the dictionary-defined right to hate others who don't believe as we do -- as long as we exercise self-control and keep our hatred from propelling us into hurtful or violent actions against those others.

Unfortunately, the dictionaries miss the mark. Down through the centuries of Western civilization, the biggest motive of bigots is not just personal -- it is political. It is to establish a state religion -- their own personal brand of religion, naturally.

Hate Crimes Legislation Won't Help Much

Right now, bullets of bigotry are aimed at the LGBT community. Some of us hope that the newly signed Matthew Shepard Bill, which amends previous federal legislation, would cut down on American anti-gay bigotry. It expands federal prosecution to crimes targeting gender identity and sexual orientation, and removes the old prerequisite that a victim must have been engaged in a federally protected activity, like voting or attending school.

But there is a lot of hate-and-intolerance damage that bigots can do to us without technically breaking this new law. Especially since the previous hate-crimes law contains a home-free provision: "Nothing in this Act...shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."

So my proposed new definition is this:

A real bigot goes beyond expression that is protected by the First Amendment -- beyond what is protected by the above-mentioned clause in the Matthew Shepard Act. He or she even goes beyond hate speech -- which is knowingly and purposefully inflaming others to take violent action against those of whom he or she disapproves.

The real bigot openly works for the establishment of state religion -- his or her religion, naturally. Whether as a voter or lobbyist or legislator or judge or media person, he or she aims to see draconian laws passed that would deprive the disapprovees of their civil rights. In the name of state religion, the bigot wants to harass them, silence them, beat up on them, jail them, even torture them and kill them, if possible. Their mission statements make it very clear that this is what they aim to do.

In other words, the essence of bigotry is feeling entitled to rule the world. The real bigot believes that extreme violence against the "enemy" is justified, because it is done "in the name of the Lord."

Bigotry Background in Europe

Where did today's flaming Christian bigotry come from? It has its deep roots in state-supported intolerance. Indeed, in many Western countries, it has persecuted those liberal brands of Christianity that do shrink from intolerance -- the ones that preach love and tolerance of all.

Let's look at one example -- England, mother of our 13 east-coast colonies.

For three centuries, after King Henry VIII broke with Roman Catholicism in 1534 and established an independent state church headed by himself, England persecuted any citizens who wanted to continue practicing their Catholic religion. When Henry's daughter Mary became queen, she reverted the state religion to Catholicism...and was equally fierce in persecuting Protestants, to the point where she was nicknamed "Bloody Mary." Henry's other daughter Queen Elizabeth I swung the country back to Protestant/Anglican state worship...and made being Catholic an actual act of treason.

In the 1600s, when dissenting sects of Protestants began popping up in England -- Puritans, Presbyterians, Quakers, etc. -- they were persecuted by the Anglican establishment in their turn. Attendance at Anglican church services was mandatory for all, as was an Anglican marriage ceremony. Not till 1689, when King James II suspended the penal laws under which dissenters were punished, did religious persecution begin to wane in England. Yet marriage in the Anglican church was still mandatory until 1837!

Meanwhile, a few of the North American colonies went as bloodthirsty as the mother country. In 1620 Puritans went to Massachusetts to escape Anglican persecution. Yet there, they established their own little bigoted dictatorship and persecuted anybody who was non-Puritan -- notably the liberal-thinking pastor Roger Williams, who had to run for his life. Williams eventually founded his own colony (Rhode Island) where all beliefs were tolerated.

In Spain, the nation that colonized some of our southern and western regions, official Catholic intolerance started running state policy in 1492. This was the year that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel united Spain and went to persecuting Muslims and Jews in captured territory. With the exception of two brief republics, Spain spent the next four centuries sunk in extreme Catholic bigotry. Not till the fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975 did Spain finally move towards democracy and freedom of religion.

Bigotry of ruling authorities usually trickled down through society and poisoned the hearts of many ordinary citizens. People were compelled by law to take sides against the "enemy," so they had to demonstrate their loyalty to the ruling faith. As a result, many citizens were ever ready to form into mobs, to assist the government in policing dissenters -- even to show up at public executions and jeer the suffering victims.

Rise of Bigotry in the U.S.

Perhaps because of that ugly history in our mother countries, the habit of bigotry got deeply rooted in the United States -- even with the First Amendment passed as a safeguard. Even slavery and racial discrimination were justified by bigots, who saw the Bible as granting a license for white supremacy.

With our first 13 states being heavily Protestant in their cultural character, the United States of America was pretty rough on Catholic and Jewish immigrants till well into the 1800s.

Other imported religions suffered harassment as well. During the Gold Rush, when Asian immigrants flooded into California, they started building their Buddhist temples -- many of which have been burned down by Christian bigots. (Most recent temple arson: the Buddhist Church in Gardena, CA in 1981.) Muslim immigrants have run into even fiercer opposition. Even before 9/11 stirred up a national firestorm of anti-Muslim feeling, city zoning laws were frequently used by bigots to prevent mosques from being built.

As new U.S.-based minority religions came along -- Latter Day Saints, Christian Science, Santeria, Scientology, Wicca, to name just a few -- each found itself facing public hostility. Wicca, for instance, has been targeted by local bigots who use zoning laws to prevent covens from having their ceremonies in private homes. In 1985, two bigots in Congress, namely Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Representative Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, introduced measures that would have denied IRS tax-exempt status to Wiccan and other and Neo-pagan groups. Fortunately Congress had the good sense to reject these bills.

In Los Angeles County, which is supposedly such a "liberal" region, I watched the bigot brigade hard at work in Calabasas, near where I lived in the early '90s. Local fundamentalists had invoked zoning laws when the L.A. Hindu community decided to build a traditional Hindu temple on a wooded property they'd purchased there. The bigot objection was to "pagan rituals" that would be open to the public. But the Hindus were well monied and politically savvy, and they were supported by local liberals who knew bigotry when they saw it. So the fundamentalists had to stand back and watch those magnificent deity-sculptured towers rise above the live oaks. Today the temple is thriving and well-attended.

Though atheism doesn't describe itself as a religion, Christian bigots reserve a special kind of religious hatred for it. President George Bush took American intolerance to a new low when he said, "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots."

Meanwhile, starting in the late 1800s, conquered Native American tribes were denied any religious freedom at all until recent decades, when they were finally allowed to do the forbidden traditional ceremonies and healings openly.

Today the United States pretends to be a country where all religions are treated equally. Yet conservative Christian practices and policies are becoming deeply entrenched in government and public life.

The latest wave of organized bigotry is the Teabagger movement. Teabaggers even rush to defame our new President by calling him a Muslim and an anti-Christ. They have no problem with the fact that their violent rhetoric might spark harm to the President -- not to mention inciting people to kill abortion doctors, to bully gay kids at school, and to burn books that they believe are "evil." These people are true bigots because they lobby for laws that will put ultraconservative Christian religion in civil control all over the country.

Bi-Partisan Bigotry

Bigotry is even getting a bipartisan free ride. Some prominent members of both the Republican and Democrat parties are turning a blind eye to it.

During the Bush years, bigotry made a major breakthrough when the U.S. military started allowing the blatant right-wing proselytizing of our troops by evangelical clergy. The brass also tolerate the bullying of non-Christian soldiers because they don't attend Christian services. A terrible example was set by Republican presidential candidate John McCain when he teamed up with Sarah Palin -- she is provably connected with a radical bigot fringe called the New Apostolic Reformation that aims to create an American state "ruled by King Jesus."

But some Democrats play the same game as they court votes from the right. President Clinton made the religious right happy when he signed onto Internet censorship with the 1996 Communications Decency Act (later declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court). Today the Obama administration is playing footsie with some of these same bigoted elements. Sad to say, Obama has done nothing (so far) to stop the proselytizing and bullying among our troops, according to a recent Harper's report.

Individual bigots like Lou Engle and Rick Warren, and organizations like The Family, The Call and the New Apostolic Reformation, are now cozily accepted in the Republican Party, and are working to embed themselves in the Democratic party as well. According to political reporter Jeff Sharlet in his recent exposé The Family, even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can be seen hobnobbing at the National Prayer Breakfast sponsored by these people. Sharlet's book bristles with disturbing documentation on how the Democratic party is forgetting what it supposedly stands for.

Bigots Try to Turn the Tables

Naturally the bigots always hurl accusations of bigotry at anyone who dares to call them a bigot. This is where the definition question really gets interesting.

Going by the dictionaries, there IS routine hatred and intolerance between various religions. No love is lost between some Protestants and Catholics. After all, their ancestors spent hundreds of years burning each other at the stake all across Europe. Right in the Montana small town where I grew up, they were still jeering at each others beliefs, with Protestants calling Catholics "mackerel snappers" and the Catholics calling the Protestants "bible thumpers." Some members of both religions joined in sneering at the town's Christian Scientists and the splinter group of Reformed Latter Day Saints who had a tiny temple there. None of them had kind words for Jews, who were noticeably scarce in Montana's population, though a few Jewish families could be found in the bigger cities.

The definition gets even more interesting with LGBT people. The Christian bigots rush to call us bigots whenever we criticize them or oppose them. There's no doubt that many of us harbor feelings of fierce hatred and intolerance towards conservative church-ism, and it comes out in some of our activism. This anti-religious streak also fuels the anti-marriage faction among LGBT activists.

But we LGBT people don't fit the expanded definition of bigotry. We don't aim to take over governments, and rule the world, and kill and torture everybody we don't like. That's the difference between our political aims and the aims of the real bigots. And that difference is why the American people should put a stop to what the Christian bigots are doing.

The only LGBTs who will have any luck ruling the world are the closet cases on the other side.

How Do We Put an End to Bigotry?

Yes, George Washington would be horrified if he could see what is going on. Our first President may have attended church now and then, but he was also a Freemason. He had to be acutely conscious of how the Masonic Order was fiercely persecuted in Europe by both Catholics and Protestants.

How do we turn things around? More laws? More investigations? More court fights? There's a saying, that you can't legislate enlightenment. So I'm not sure that more laws and legal opinions will do the job.

But we can start by exposing these crimes in the media, so the American public gets educated about what the real bigots are up to. We must put that label on the politicians and the lobbyists and the celebrities and the corporate figureheads who deserve it. We have to hold them up to public censure -- prevent them from hiding behind the user-friendly labels that they stick on themselves, like "patriot" and "good Christian." The extreme right launched its Teabagger movement -- we have to launch our Teabigot movement.

Little by little, more Americans have to get deeply shocked and embarrassed about bigotry. Being a bigot, as I define it, needs to become socially unacceptable. The bigoted high-school student, who mouths his parents' attitudes as he beats up on some transgendered kid in the boys' bathroom, has to find himself shunned by other students. The bigots in the media who pretend to be political reporters, like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, have to see the bottom fall out of their ratings. Bigots on the U.S. Supreme Court won't be replaced. The High Court has made some bigoted decisions in the past, as it did when it found in favor of slavery, but sooner or later the Justices reflect deep shifts in American viewpoint and they get it right.

Once the majority of Americans get embarrassed and disgusted with bigotry, and recognize it when they see it, the bigots who run for office will start losing elections.

Only then will we match George Washington's definition of the U.S.A. as a country "which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."


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Patricia,

Interesting history lesson. Enlightenment or "changing minds" is the key to ending bigotry.

I do not agree that calling people "bigots" actually helps. Here's the problem: Bigotry is the result of religious beliefs. Therefore these believes - in these individuals minds - are thought to be from God. For these people there is no "higher authority." You can't even discuss it with them.

I would suggest an alternative: define their belief systems as "bigoted." For instance, Mormons have a bigoted belief system because they believe homosexuals are "lesser" than heterosexuals. Baptists have a bigoted belief system because they believe women are lesser than men.

I think name calling is far less effective than actually defining their belief system.

Denominations with bigoted belief systems cannot believe in "equality." Our main goal is equality and the very clear enemy is religious institutions with bigoted beliefs systems.

Many denominations are maturing, or being enlightened by their memberships. Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians are all dividing over the issue of biblical teaching - on one side the "literal" interpretation crowd (conservative) or those that accept a more liberal interpretation (progressives).

Based on research, I believe the majority of those self-defined as "religious" are progressive and therefore believe in equality. Engaging and enrolling them would be better than calling the minority of religious people "bigots." These denominations NEED to split - all of Christianity does. Calling them names only delays the inevitable. We need to do everything we can to help the "progressive" Christians escape the bigoted belief systems of the traditional Christians.

Name calling, redefined by the opposition as "persecution," is one of their favorite motivators - let's not use it.

Unlike you, Andrew, I don't hold out any hope that refraining from what you call "name calling" is going to help us. The real bigots are busy conquering the world -- they don't care what we do.

To say that their beliefs are bigoted, but they are not bigots, is a little like saying that killing a person is murder, but the person who commits the crime is not a murderer. How do you separate the person from the action? Belief systems are created by people. The person who massacred and mutilated Jorge Mercado in Puerto Rico is a MURDERER, not just someone who committed a MURDER. And if it's shown that the murderer's authoritarian religious reliefs were a factor in the crime, that makes him a BIGOT -- not just a person who operated off BIGOTED beliefs.

If you read my piece again, you'll see that I don't advocate using the word for everybody who is conservative, the Presbyterians who might turn progressive, etc. I am targeting that minority who openly and specifically state that they want to see Christianity spread all over the world and imposed through civil government, and that they want their enemies eliminated through extreme violence.

Time to call a spade a spade.

The only believers we have a real hope of reaching are the ones who are less stubbornly stuck in belief -- who are capable of feeling that profound embarrassment and shock that suddenly comes when they know in their hearts that the church politicos they always supported have gone off the deep end and don't merit support any longer.

Patricia,

I think you missed my point.

If the murderer in Puerto Rico was brought up religiously, he inherited a "belief system" from some Christian faith. That's what religion gives people - "beliefs." Everything from "talking snakes" to "homosexuality is wrong."

Religion is inherited - typically at a very young age. 98% of "religious" people are the SAME religion as their parents. If Jerry Falwell had been born in Iraq, he would have been a Muslim.

EVERY religion IS a "belief system." Religion teaches people how to believe and what to believe. For instance, the whole idea (belief) that "homosexuality is wrong" was invented by religion and religion is the ONLY institution that teaches homosexuality is wrong.

Those "beliefs" that are implanted at a young (impressionable) age are done so with the "authority of God." To deny that reality renders any effort to eliminate it "useless." An enlightened approach would identify the actual problem, not the victims (believers).

As long as religion continues to infect people with those beliefs - we will make no progress. That's why your suggestion that we call these people "bigots" instead of referring to their denominations is a waste of time.

It's easy to call people "bigots" based on the beliefs they've inherited - it's more difficult to actually change the conversation and identify the "source" of the problem.

You suggest the problem is the minority of Christians wanting to "take over the world," rather than the "belief" that has defined us and harmed us for 2,000 years. The LGBT Community suffers from the negative "branding" of us, not efforts to control the world.

What MUST be changed is the "perception" of homosexuals and an effort to redefine and re-brand ourselves. To that end, it's helpful to identify which religions (belief systems) continue to teach that we are wrong, sinful and deviant. We will never be 100% equal until those teachings/beliefs end.

If Christians want to make a stand for equality - they can force their religions to change their beliefs or they can leave. Episcopalians, Lutherans and others have begun that process. If our community engages in calling them "bigots" INSTEAD of their denomination, we just inflame them. Persecution inspires them.

Too many in the LGBT Community fail to honestly identify the SOURCE of all the hatred and discrimination of gay people - it is the belief that we are wrong. That belief is created by religion and religion alone. Therefore, I suggest we fight the battle with the appropriate enemy - the religions, not the believers.

If Chrysler made a defective automobile, we would attack Chrysler - not the unfortunate drivers. Religion made the problem, not the believers.

Following the dialogue here, I think we're missing a certain simplicity, and a certain optimism.

That missing piece is this: how many people in this country believe what? How many believe the US should be governed as a Christian theocracy? How many believe we are sinful and bad? And how many either support our equality, or simply haven't thought too much about what they've heard from their churches and their societies?

The vast majority of Americans fall into that last category. That is a real opportunity for excitement and inspiration!

Yes, there is a minority that firmly believe that we are not equals, that we are sinners, and that the government must legislate based on that moral code. You and I, in private, would happily call them whackjobs. Fundies. Bigots.

But in public discourse, that is counter-productive and damaging. Here's why: that fundamental minority is the loudest. And by speaking (or screaming) the loudest, they have tricked us into believing they are much larger and more significant than they actually are. The "bigots" claim to speak for any and all people of faith. They claim to speak the religious truth and the religious facts, to which every religious person must adhere.

And every time we push back against them, we lend them credibility. They're claiming to be the "moral opposition," and we only reinforce that claim when we attack them for their beliefs, or call them names because of the superstitions they have been taught. By fighting them as "bigots," we accidentally endorse them as a legitimate voice in this fight.

The quiet majority - who may actually reject that teaching and instead support equality, if only someone would ask - don't even want to be in this fight, so they don't speak up - we only hear the "bigots." This is where we fall into the trap by taking the negative path. When we scream at the religious extreme, we appear to be attacking all religious people. It does nothing to present the majority with an alternative, something supportive they can believe. It just leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

When we attack the bigots, we're expending our energy on an angry minority, and a group who will not change their minds, no matter what we say to them. If we appeal to the moderate, spiritual majority instead, by asking for their help and support, we can actually change the world. The loud, bigoted minority will get even louder. Spittle will fly. And churches will divide, as AndrewW explained.

That potentially-supportive majority will not be drawn to the spittle-spewing bigots. That minority will become irrelevant in this conversation. They will be marginalized. They will start to look just as crazy we've always known they are. And we will start to see public opinion shift in our favor.

But in order for this to happen, we have to ask for help. We have to convince the majority to take a decisive stand for our equality. So let's do it.

I think that dialogue as a whole, with the Domionists, is a lost cause. They cannot discuss, they can only preach. They cannot negotiate, they can only demand, they cannot compromise, they can only anhilate dissent. To do otherwise would be to sin in their weltenschauung.

They are not dying, they are holding on and becoming increasingly desparate and militant.

If they practice bigotry, they are bigots; their beliefs are concurrently bigoted. In the end, Christianity has historically been unwilling to co-exist with dissent.

Patricia,
this was extremely well done. The difficulty is, in the end, the Religious Right's dominionist belief that discrimination is merely enacting god's law upon a subject earth

Thanks, once again, for bringing attention to an insidious issue. I think calling a spade a spade is fine, but in Butte we say "time to call a spade a goddam shovel."
Way to go.

I also agree... calling a spade a spade is a good thing. But I'm not sure that the new definition of bigotry applies just to those who want to impose their religious beliefs. Why have so many amendments and referendums been approved by a majority of voters? Sure, religion has taken a very visible leadership role, but I also believe there are voters who don't subscribe to any particular faith that joined the religious right in denying our rights. There are some that just don't like the idea of two dudes or two chicks, or guys and girls of different races together.. I call it "the ICK factor". Would someone who denies me my rights simply because my life makes them uncomfortable be considered a bigot too?

It's not the "ick factor." They were TAUGHT that we are "wrong, sinful and deviant" If they were never taught that, there simply wouldn't be any "ick."

Religion invented the "idea" that homosexuality is wrong and they continue to "teach" it. That's THE problem. Until that ends, we will never be equal.

The good news is the "majority" of "religious people" are not stuck in the ancient "literal" interpretation of the bible (Leviticus). But, we don't do anything to enroll their support, instead ....

.... we just call them names.

This is a good question. Let's look at a historical example or two.

A number of states used to have laws barring interracial marriages. Many of those states' citizens (not just the state government) were made "uncomfortable" by the idea of whites having sex with people of color and making children with them. They were particularly "uncomfortable" about the idea of white women having sex with black men.

The "discomfort" was blatantly based on religious belief, i.e. these people's interpretation of the Bible on racial mingling and slavery. The citizens who felt "uncomfortable" may not have been members of any particular church, but they were permeated by a local culture that was rooted in that kind of religious belief.

So civil rights relating to marriage were denied on the basis of a religious belief. Not only that, but black men were persecuted and horribly lynched over a long period of time, because of "discomfort" relating to this religious belief about sex between races.

That "discomfort," or ICK factor, is bigotry.

Typically the bigots feel very "uncomfortable" about any situations that go against the grain of their beliefs. European Catholic and Protestant bigots felt very "uncomfortable" and "icky" about the idea of women witches, and this too was based on religious teaching about the evils of witchcraft. Hence a long and horrible era during which countless women were persecuted as "witches."

These citizens are the ones I talk about in my post, whose minds are poisoned by the religious dictums of the governing authoritarians. They go along with the governing religion, and support it with mob action, even though their thinking about those religious beliefs is hazier than that of the the policy-makers. Thus, the South had its citizens who didn't feel at all "uncomfortable" attending a lynching where a black man was mutilated, burned and hung. In fact, they viewed it as a fun Sunday picnic and sent photo postcards of the lynching to friends.

That kind of "comfort" with injustice and cruelty is the mark of a real bigot.

So -- to get back to your question -- voters who turned out to support Prop 8 because they feel "icky" about same-sex marriage are definitely bigoted, in my opinion. Because the source of their feeling is right-wing religious teaching based on Old Testament passages.

My previous comment was aimed at responding to SCBobcatt's question about the "ick" factor.

Patricia,

You keep sounding more and more like the angry atheist Bill Perdue. While many of us believe religion is the source of ALL our discrimination, hatred and bigotry - trying to eliminate the whole institution of religion DOES NOT help LGBT Equality efforts. Sam Harris makes a very compelling argument in his book "The End of Faith," but the result he strives for is decades (if not centuries) away. I want our equality NOW and I am very willing to USE religion.

Here's another way to look at it: Religion is losing importance, especially among younger people. The "importance" of religion is stronger for people over 45 and weakens dramatically for those under 45. The difference in these two groups is whether or not they believe literally in the Bible - as "God's Word." We have collectively "matured" in our beliefs. For example more than half of all Christians believe in evolution, contrary to a literal interpretation of talking snakes, burning bushes and a boatload of animals. It is very real progress that we should not ignore.

Our biggest disagreement with religion isn't that they want to "rule the world" (it's not really a possibility), but the fact they they have for 2,000 years "made us wrong, sinful and deviant." Religion branded us and it has made our lives very difficult and painful. That makes ALL of us angry at religion, but our anger isn't a strategy - it isn't productive.

The good news: Religion is changing rapidly, either for "marketing purposes" intended to attract young people who have wandered to "spirituality" or "enlightenment, or because the majority of "believers" have moved away from "literal interpretation" because they too are angered/ashamed by the religious extremists.

Some religions continue to promote homosexuality as a "choice," while enlightened minds understand that isn't true. In fact, some denominations have already endorsed the idea that "God made us this way." That is intellectual progress and can be a major step forward for LGBT persons.

I understand the anger towards the crazy right and religious fanatics, but I caution against attacking them and spoiling the progress that has been made. If you attack a Catholic because "his beliefs" suggest bigotry - you attack all Catholics. That's not productive.

The more thoughtful strategy is "divide and conquer." Religion is already dividing - without our help. We should help. We do that by embracing those that have grown beyond "literal interpretation" and asking for their support.

Here's the math: only 1/3 of those who describe themselves as "religious" fit your defined enemy - those spewing "bigotry." If you continue to attack them you lose the "others," the 2/3 that are not attacking us and also do not believe we have chosen a "lifestyle."

I can't help but suggest this idea shared by both you and the almighty atheist Bill Perdue to respond to "ignorance" (bigotry) with anger is in every way stupid. There is absolutely NO evidence that anger eliminates ignorance - in fact, it inspires it. It also cancels any attempt to enroll those who have matured in their personal views/beliefs.

The continued use of anger and protest simply delays our opportunity to enroll others in our struggle. There are two very well defined "minorities" in our Country: Religious "extremists" and the LGBT Community. If these two groups keep fighting with each other, they seal their fate. But, we, as a community, should ignore the crazies and instead invite the majority of Americans that "believe in equality" to join us. Successfully doing so would accomplish two benefits:

1. Marginalizing the religious zealots.
2. Creating a "movement" for equality.

In order for us to achieve equality we MUST enroll people - we must ask for their help. They are ready, willing and able to help create our equality. We're just too busy slapping bigots.

I would have been in the mob that grabbed Jerry Falwell and hung him by his testicles, but I have learned that while that may make me feel better (temporarily) it won't help us achieve our equality. I also have sufficient testicles to admit that many of our strategies-from-the-past no longer work in a new world - a world that is changing in our direction. A new world requires new ideas.

I hope you really try to understand my point and do the math - our equality is waiting.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 17, 2009 8:56 PM

As you quoted Washington and his letter to New Jersey I immediately mentally leapt to David McCullough's book "John Adams." In seeking support from Catholic France and Europe Adams, Jefferson, Franklin (and I believe Washington) attended a Roman Catholic church service together to attempt to understand these very different people...Europeans.

Even though Adams later description betrayed sympathy for those poor Catholics, mumbling Latin they did not understand back at a priest. Adams knew they did not understand what they were saying back to the priest because he was fluent in Latin as educated men of the day would have been.

This very act demonstrated to me that we catered to religious bigotry for "our liberty" from it's very beginnings. Franklin spent years in France as did Adams in France and Europe raising funds, French royal patronage and munitions for "our liberty."

Once attained we "Free White Male, landed voting Americans" felt safely secure beyond the sea from Europe to indulge in our own domestic bigotry as you point out. It is insidious and we have never been without it. It may even be a portion of human hard wiring for survival as our earliest ancestors competed for resources.

It is the solution that is most evasive.

Since the 1960's I have felt that the need to feel superior to someone else is the glue that holds whole communities together. Firstly when Protestants complained about a Catholic president, later when I observed the obvious fear that an advantage to any other race might be a cost to one's own race. Even now, the hard right rail against "special rights" for LGBT persons.

As always, thank you.

Leave it to Patricia to find topics that shake things up and make people think about fundamentals.

Bigotry is prevalent in US society for specific reasons that, now matter how they're masked, are always political and economic. The fight against bigotry is a key tool in the ongoing struggles to bring democracy to our society.

The most pervasive and ingrained form of bigotry in the US is racism, a fairly modern invention with deep connections to religious cults. The first slaves in the colonies were from persecuted groups like the Quakers, Irish people who survived English colonialism and genocide only to be enslaved and poor people shanghaied by the English courts. Some were chattel slaves and some indentured but all of them were capable of running away and integrating themselves with native peoples or in another colony.

Native peoples, because of vast cultural differences, weren't easily enslaved, often escaped, fell to disease or simply killed themselves.

Africans were imported as slaves to stop the problem of runaways because their skin color identified them. American anglo-catholic and protestant cults invented slave based racism and gave it a religious basis to ‘justify’ the horrors of the slave trade and the treatment of slaves. It paid off for the cults as they and the colonies grew rich stealing the lives and labor of millions to build the infrastructure of the colonial and US economies.

The political and economic function of racist bigotry is still used as an excuse to underpay and overexploit descendents of slaves. In fact, racism, like war, is one of the fundamental foundations of modern capitalism.

The same can be said for misogyny and homohating. Both have cult/religious origins and are tied to economic exploitation. Until very recently women were treated as chattel in traditional marriages. The cults still tell us that women are inferior, evil and must obey men. (If you visit southwest Utah and bits of northern Arizona you can see this in practice watching conservative lds families. The men walk in front, women behind and whole tribes of children follow . They're all dressed like they just walked of the set of Little House On The Prairie.

Until recently, when trade unions began to specifically include us in contract language GLBT folks were often underpaid and victimized on the job. In non-union situations that's still a major problem, which is why business groups were so thrilled with liberal Democrat Barney Frank when he raped ENDA in 2007.

There are plenty of other forms of bigotry including the common idea that "The only good Indian is a dead Indian", something copied by zionists in their relations with Palestinians. Immigrant bashing has received a new lease on life because corporations import workers and pay them low wages and few benefits by s holding the threat of deportation over their heads. This form of apartheid is also popular in the US's zionist client state.

All these forms of bigotry exist to make businesses and landlords richer at the expense of working people, all were or still are sanctified by cults and all continue to play major roles in the economic and political life of the US.

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Conservatives oppose the use of the term bigot for obvious reasons - they are bigots.

Liberals fear the word because they panic at the thought of becoming involved in ‘won’t take no for an answer’ struggles for the rights or working people, minorities based on language and skin color, women and ourselves. They fear, and rightly so, that those kind of fights get out of hand. For the same reason revolutionists embrace those struggles.
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As for calling bigots bigots, it’s a political necessity. We have to identify our enemies and understand their role to win against them. All they have to do to avoid it is to stop being bigots.

It’s easy - islamists, christers and judaicists have to renounce their toxic superstitions and understand that their holy books are badly written (for the most part) historical fantasies. They have to dismantle their cults and stop teaching bigotry to their children. Like I said, it’s easy.

Right on, Bill. I am going to continue this thread with other posts, and will deal with racist bigotry shortly.

I agree up to a point. But you're forgetting a wonderful tactic: If you give 'em enough rope...

If you scold the "bigots," you will not change their minds. They don't care if you call them bigots, because they know you're a sinner, and that they're doing Gawd's work. And who gives a damn, they're a minority. Trouble is, you aren't going to pull any of the moderate majority to our side, either. Those moderates are not attracted to the angry extreme on the right, and they aren't attracted by angry extremism on the left either. We throw grenades at each other, and all the moderates want to do is stay out of the crossfire.

If you start putting your energy towards that moderate majority, appealing to them and asking for there help, and thereby IGNORING the "bigots," you still won't change the bigots' minds. But you will find a tremendous amount of reasonable people joining us, standing with us, and taking a personal responsibility for our equality. You will see them turning away from the hateful churches and the bigoted belief systems in droves. It's already happening, to some extent, in all of the major denominations. But we aren't encouraging them with our movement. No one has ever led a national movement with this strategy.

We have the same goal in mind, I just don't think you've figured out a way to get there. You're just suggesting more of the same "fight" that we've known for decades. Calling Carrie Prejean a bigot is no different than calling Anita Bryant a bigot. In the thirty years since AB, religion hasn't gone away. The religious minority hasn't even changed its mind. And as long as they don't have 8 sex tapes floating around, they get to play the poor little victim. It doesn't help. It doesn't change anything at all.

That is not a strategy. That is not a way to achieve our common goal.

I definitely have a strategy in mind. Actually I've already discussed some of it in recent posts. I'll get back to that subject shortly.

This is one of the best posts every published on Bilerico Project. Period.

I can't even stammer up something to continue the conversation. I just keep sitting here and scrolling through the post while nodding my head in agreement...

I totally agree - this is excellent and says a lot of things that mist be said if we are really to make progress in fighting the bigotry and hate - and that is what it is - we face as LGBT people

thank you, Patricia

Excellent post, Patricia. The only thing I can think to add is an observation: You wrote, "Williams eventually founded his own colony (Rhode Island) where all beliefs were tolerated."

Funny, then (and not in a good way), that Rhode Island is the only New England state that has never enacted domestic partnerships, civil unions, or marriage for same-sex couples.

Yes, Rhode Island's turnaround is a sad example of some of the scary directions that American history has taken.

It's interesting to see Bill Perdue chime in with his endorsement. His ideas are the same ideas we've been hearing about for 40 years. But, they still haven't worked.

This recalcitrant idea that we need more anger and more defiance are so ineffective. Now, we're implored by Patricia to turn up the volume. Sure, louder is a plan.

This commentary is a good reflection of our Community - just keep fighting. It ignores the actual problem we have - peoples "perception" of gays. People are afraid of us because that's what they've been taught. They believe we are "wrong" because that's what they've been taught.

Understanding that simple reality and the suggestion is to call them names - bigots. Just call them out and make them wrong. After 40 years, it still won't work.

The branding of homosexuals has been going on for 2,000 years and we do nothing but throw gasoline on the fire by defaulting to name calling. We do nothing to change the minds of our fellow citizens. We never ask for their help. We just want to scold them.

Our biggest problem is that 90% of our community is not involved in our struggle. That means they do not see a way to win our equality. We will not win until we figure out how to get them involved. More anger will not accomplish that. WE are frustrated and very tired of the same old ideas.

We need some new ideas and new leadership. The world has changed, we haven't.

Whoever our leaders are, the only way LGBT people are going to win a change in "perceptions of us" is if we are joined with a larger mass of non-LGBT Americans who share our clear understanding of the dangers facing American democracy. We are too small a demographic, numerically speaking, to effect change all by ourselves.

In this article, when I talk about what "we" need to do, I mean the larger mass of Americans (including us) who need to start fighting TOGETHER to stop the extreme right-wing takeover trend.

This is a good debate -- one that we've needed to have. I'm going to be writing more about this.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 19, 2009 8:07 AM

Horray! "Looking for our natural allies" is a recurring theme of mine, but it gets lost in other divisive issues...and dare I call them diversions?

Andrew, that’s really good news that something finally piqued your interest. Although I’ve been an advocate of naming them bigots for a long, long time I’m always happy to ‘chime in’ with anyone who thinks the same.

You claim that Based on research, I believe the majority of those self-defined as "religious" are progressive and therefore believe in equality. Care to provide some proof other than the feeble attempts of most cults to cover their asses for their centuries long records of racism, homohating and misogyny? And their careful legal strategy of providing a public record so they can claim plausible deniability when GLBT folks get murdered.

The problem is, as you say, misleadership but it’s misleadership by Stonewall Democrats, GLBT cult affiliates and Log Cabin Republicans who participate in parties and cults that cater to bigots and foster bigotry. The way to win is to launch a militant campaign to suppress cult bigotry, tax the cults and close their schools. Our relationship with the cults, is defined by their defined by their bigotry cannot be other than confrontational and hostile. Huge numbers of priests, mullahs, rabbis, imams, pastors and preachers make their living promoting hate. They have no intentions of finding honest work.

In LA in the late '80s or early '90's, in the worst years of the plague there was a series of murders of transfolks similar to the horrific death of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado in Puerto Rico. Most of the victims were Latino/Latina. Mutilations and burning the bodies were the MO there too. The stories were never front page news in the LA Times and the LAPD didn't create a huge 'task force' like they did with other mass murderers. I don't remember seeing any news that the killer was ever caught.

The link between LA and Cayey, Puerto Rico is the howling madness of the cults who unleash a barrage of rabid hatred 24/7/365 that prompts and condones violence. Hate speech like that will have to be suppressed but parties like the Democrats and Republicans who cater to the cults and to bigotry aren't capable of it.

Enlightenment or "changing minds" is the key to ending bigotry. If you mean the way the Red Army and others 'enlightened' the Nazis about anti-Semitism I couldn’t agree more, but I suspect that what you have in mind is more like a big group hug with the bigots and some encounter sessions. Let us know if you survive the hug.

Wear body armor to the encounter sessions.

1776. Again.

Gee whiz Bill. Everything you talk about is in the past. Now, 1776? That's a record for you.

You and your generation(s) have been fighting the same battle, with the same weapons, for a long time. You have NOTHING to show for it.

That's the truth.

Now, try to understand that we live in a newer, different world. New tools, new ideas and especially new people. This is NOT your Grandparents America.

Go ahead and keep suggesting a "political" solution to our struggle. Keep helping HRC and the DNC. Keep contributing to our 50 years of failure.

There is no "group hug" or anything else in my comments. There is a desire to find new ideas, new tactics and a new strategy for the LGBT Community.

If we keep doing what we're doing, we'll keep getting what we're getting. It is because of this "clinging to the past" that 90% of our community does nothing. Why would they if they listen to your ancient ideas?

Angry demands and name calling don't produce results. We need the young people in the LGBT Community to create solutions and get excited. You - are not helping.

Jeepers W, it's obvious that your lack of knowledge of history is unqualified. You say no progress has been made in the last 40 or 50 years and try to reduce the entire content and agenda of the LGBT liberation and equality movements to hating christians.

No doubt you grew up on Callisto or Ganymede and only rarely had access to Earth news. That may explain why your ideas about history and mass action are so monumentally - odd. So much so that I'll refrain from repeating the old adage that those who can't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

That's because I can't really imagine anyone but you rejecting history and political action. You adamantly opposed the march on Washington, the best thing that's happened to movement building in the last decade. To that you counterpoise gathering round the campfire and singing Cumbaya with the modern equivalent of the inquisition.

Be my guest. We'll take a collection and fly you to the Vatican. Just don’t get upset when we giggle a lot, and don’t forget to take along some silvadene for the burns in case der Papenfuehrer gets really inquisitive.

Bill,

You simply cannot read. Go back and try again. You and your "mass action." Gee whiz, you suggest, we'd have our equal rights if we just demanded more often or got louder. Volume, huh?

You actually believe people do not know about our struggle?

The National Equality March was a waste of $50 million. IF 100,000 people (half the reported attendance) traveled to D.C. and participated, they each spent about $500 for travel and lodging. That's $50 million. Money that could have been spent on something that actually has a chance of working. Yeah, I do not believe it accomplished anything beyond a social event for activists.

Your failure to acknowledge that the world has changed keeps you in the past. Please have the common sense to not keep the movement there, too.

Sit with your history books and yearn for yesterday, while today's young people create a new strategy. You've had 40 years. Don't suggest we have something to show for it, either. We have NEVER passed a law or won a popular vote.

Plus, young gay teens are still dying - either by religious-shame-induced suicide or religiously-affected murderers. Tell those young people how much progress you've made.

Bill, there's absolutely nothing of substance in your comment, and I imagine that's why you reverted to a montage of queeny snipes. Right down to the crack about Kumbaya campfires.

I don't want to hug Jerry Falwell. I don't want to sing songs with the Pope. I don't believe AndrewW wants to either. I would expect that no one reading this website wants to have playdates with any members of that religious minority with bigoted beliefs.

The difference between us - a very significant difference - is that you want to egg their houses and call that progress. You want to piss the whole world off with your screaming.

We simply want to ignore them. Let them spin themselves out of control. Let the moderate majority escape - let them stand up so that they are no longer associated with the crazies. That will happen. It already is, despite your temper tantrums. And we haven't even asked for their help.

You make snarky comments about history, but I think that's simply because you don't have anything to point to. You can't say, "Yes, we egged the Vatican, and that's why we have....." You can't boast, "We screamed the loudest, and that's why the entire world has joined us, standing for equality."

Yes, we've now got half - half - of the American population that doesn't believe we are morally wrong. [Gallup] My goodness! Can we have the cake now, or should we wait until 51%?

You can't credit screaming for these moderate gains. You can only acknowledge the natural, gradual march of time. More old people, stuck in their beliefs, dying. More people learning the truth about gays when they're young.

So you can credit the LGBT people who are brave enough, and feel safe enough, to live their lives openly. But even now, in the 21st Century, only half of us feel safe enough to live outside of the closet. [HRC] Screaming doesn't help that, either. When you're done beating your tired, antique drums, let's come up with a new plan.

Patricia Said:

"The real bigot openly works for the establishment of state religion -- his or her religion, naturally. Whether as a voter or lobbyist or legislator or judge or media person, he or she aims to see draconian laws passed that would deprive the disapprovees of their civil rights. In the name of state religion, the bigot wants to harass them, silence them, beat up on them, jail them, even torture them and kill them, if possible. Their mission statements make it very clear that this is what they aim to do.

In other words, the essence of bigotry is feeling entitled to rule the world. The real bigot believes that extreme violence against the "enemy" is justified, because it is done "in the name of the Lord."

This is not only untrue, it's not even a remote possibility. Hopefully, thinking people understand the reality and don't fall for this ancient assertion that religion is "trying to takeover." It's silly.

The "bigoted" religious fools (literal/conservative) are declining in numbers and have been for decades. The new "majority" of religious persons are moderate or progressive - by varying estimates, 60-70% percent of "religious people."

Focusing on the group that makes the most noise, only misses the opportunity to marginalize them. "Religious zealots" that may want to take over the world and our Democracy are growing old - and, thankfully dying.

Why call them names on the way to the cemetery?

Andrew, you're confusing all of Christian "religion," in all its forms, with the minority of so-called Christians who actually want to rule the world through capturing civil government everywhere.

This powerful minority are the "real bigots." And they do intend to take over the United States. They are very clear about it in all their writings and statements. As a start, you might study the website Talk2Action.org, where a group of alarmed political researchers have been studying their moves -- not only in the U.S., but in other countries, especially in Africa, where their activities are far more blatant.

The "thinking people" that you mention ARE located in the majority, as you say, and they aren't the "real bigots." They don't intend to take over the country. Probably many of them quietly support the idea of gay civil rights. But they don't have nearly the political presence or high visibility that the bigoted minority do. To the point where I'm concerned about why they aren't more organized and proactive. Example: Where were these "thinking people" when we needed their marriage votes in California and Maine??

The real bigots are gaining ground politically because they are noisier and better organized. Look how much negative impact they've already had on the healthcare reform bill.

Patricia Said: "Probably many of them quietly support the idea of gay civil rights. But they don't have nearly the political presence or high visibility that the bigoted minority do. To the point where I'm concerned about why they aren't more organized and proactive. Example: Where were these "thinking people" when we needed their marriage votes in California and Maine??"

We didn't invite them ... we were too busy yelling at the "bigots."

Plus, have a look at this article from NewsWeek:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/192583

It's called "The Fall of Christian America."

Here's a small part:

"While we remain a nation decisively shaped by religious faith, our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago."

Enjoy.

That's a wonderful article. Another good quote:

Political victories are therefore intrinsically transitory...Christians are "bound to exert their influence to secure a legislation that is in accordance with the law of God." Worldly success tends to mark the beginning of the end for the overtly religious in politics. Prohibition was initially seen as a great moral victory, but its failure and ultimate repeal show that a movement should always be careful what it wishes for: in America, the will of the broad whole tends to win out over even the most devoted of narrower interests.

So prohibition woke America up, to realize that maybe a theocracy ain't all it's cracked up to be.
No one had to yell, or scream, try to silence them, or call them bigots. They didn't have to fight against the self-proclaimed agents of morality. Anti-prohibitionists simply had to ask people to join them in creating a better society.

Patricia,

I'm not "confusing" Christians - I'm sorting them out. I want to know which Christians are with us and which are not. This will require splitting many of these denominations.

The Lutherans have already begun that process.

Lutherans just voted to split BECAUSE of a few votes allowing gays to be members of their clergy. As best i can tell about 35% of Lutherans are leaving to form their own "version" of Lutheran - a very "literal interpretation" conservative group and very clearly anti-gay. It makes these Lutherans look more like Baptists.

Here's the Press Release from Lutheran CORE:

http://www.lutherancore.org/menu_call_pages/newsrel111809.shtml

Odd as is may sound to some (especially "angry atheist" Bill Perdue), there will be "good Christians" and "bad Christians." For our purposes, good Christians believe in "equality."

How can you say that bigotry would not exist without religion since it is impossible to know how humans would behave toward each other without the influence of group think, aka religion? One could argue that religion is an evolutionary by-product of group selection. Those who did not identify with the majority were ignored and therefore did not reproduce. If you don't reproduce you don't count (evolutionarily). People who are predisposed (genetically) to group think are more likely to survive (with the help of their fellow believers) and reproduce (with their fellow believers). Those who do not proscribe to group think are weeded out, as are the genes responsible for independent thought. You will notice that some individuals are capable of independent thought, but they are rare. I propose that instead of focusing on what religion teaches us and how we can undo it, we should focus on education and independence of thought.

This is an interesting point. Did you read my post about the discovery of "Ardi" and the new light being shed on human evolution?

I would differ with you on a couple of points, though. If religion and group-think was indeed a factor in later human evolution, the people who didn't disagree could and did reproduce, even though they might have been ignored by the majority. Typically the ones who disagreed would finally split away from the main group and go off to be free to start their own group-think.

The religious righters like to allege that LGBT people shouldn't belong because we don't reproduce. Ah, but many of us DO reproduce...when we mate with heterosexuals, as we have so often been pressured to do throughout history.

So...if there is anything genetic and evolution-related about variations in gender and sexual orientation, the human mainstream has kept our variant genes alive in the gene pool precisely by pressuring us to conform with the group-think and perform "heterosexually." Their very efforts to make us obey have ensured our survival.

This is delightfully ironic, when you think about it.

Kian Said: "I propose that instead of focusing on what religion teaches us and how we can undo it, we should focus on education and independence of thought."

I agree. How about a new group thought - we are all equal.

Someday, religion will stop teaching that homosexuals are wrong. In fact, many have already begun that - Episcopalians and Lutherans (with much resistance) but the majority of "religious people" DO NOT cling to a literal interpretation of the bible AND they believe in equality. THEY should be our target. They are already engaging in some "independence of thought." Add to this reality that most human beings are fair and compassionate - we can create an incredible LGBT Equality Group. That would also be called "winning."

The problem with any LGBT-Religion conversation is that many see it only as an "either or" outcome. It becomes religious Vs. atheists. For the religious, atheist is even worse than homosexual. In the latest polls nearly 20% of those calling themselves "religious" identified more with the term "spiritual." The majority did not consider the bible LITERALLY God's word. Very good news.

That's our opportunity. IGNORE and eventually marginalize the loud, crazies (30% of the religious) and embrace those who have, as Kian said, accepted (at least some) "education and independence of thought."

Calling people bigots (because they have a bigoted belief system) only makes them more important. No matter what new fangled definition for Bigot you might come up with.

W intones "Based on research, I believe the majority of those self-defined as "religious" are progressive and therefore believe in equality." and his research is "The Fall of Christian America."? That's it? That’s the research?

Actually the article points out that "... while the percentage of Christians may be shrinking, rumors of the death of Christianity are greatly exaggerated."

Nevertheless W says that we should "IGNORE and eventually marginalize the loud, crazies..." who W says are the born again dummies. Actually that bizarre and unscientific assumption ignores powerful and dangerous cults like the mormons, the neo-fascist Slavic cults in California and the roman cult.

W, did you happen to notice what the butcher who tortured and burned and hacked Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was wearing around his neck. Can you spell rosary?

We can't ignore them because they kill us, and all you so called 'good' christers don't bat an eye. Lets wait a day or two and see if Obama, a constitutional lawyer, has anything thing to say about the killers 'gay panic' defense, or the killing, or any of the other 25 plus murders and hundreds of beatings and millions of incidents of verbal harassment that occur 24/7/365 in these christian United States.

In the mean time you've proven that your advice to ignore the murderers is very dangerous. Lets hope that no one listens to you – not that there’s much danger of that happening.

We shouldn't ignore the bigots we should suppress them and if it takes fundamentally changing US society to do that then lets get cracking.

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W, why are your estimates of the NEM at variance with everyone else’s, including the DC police? What should the money have been spent on. Ecumenical eucharist gab fests with christers? Please. Explain.

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Queeny? Explain yourself, stud.

Bill, I have spent a lot on research and the search for some good ideas. I will make them available soon. The numbers I quoted are accurate. The Newsweek article was just "good reading."

You do advise us to 'ignore' the killers and you're wrong about that. We should be angry about hate speech and the violence it causes.

We should 'engage' with the cults with pickets and demonstrations at temples, mosques and cathedrals when they interfere with politics.

We should try to end their unfair tax exemptions and secularize their schools.

Mass action, whether it takes the form of self defense as it did at Lexington and Concord, or in the factory sit-ins of the thirties, or the demonstrations that forced the US military brass out of Vietnam or won (some) reproductive and voter rights is far and away the most successful engine of social change.

Bill Perdue = Same old, same old.

Andrew - same nothing, same nothing. No ideas, no proof, no research. Nothing. Well, except the noise. Theres a lot of it but what it covers is a vacuity.

Bill, have some coffee and open your eyes.

Listing a bunch of historical events and saying that demonstrations were the stimulus for change, without any support, is already assuming too much.

But to say, without any supporting evidence, that our demonstrations are the same and will achieve the same results is wildly without basis.


Here's the rundown:

- The Revolutionary War didn't end because of demonstrations. It ended because of warfare. Bullets.

- The factories gave in because they couldn't make things. Bad for business. A result of a smart demonstration. Not a result of anger.

- Military brass finally got asses on helicopters because the majority of voters wanted the war to be over, and were willing to vote out incumbents to do it. Not because of some marches.

- When were there ever abortion marches? Besides, reproductive rights are strictly a judicial victory, unrelated to demonstrations or the "will of the people." As a result, those rights are incredibly insecure, even today.

Change happens when there's a good reason for change. Sometimes, that's because of demonstrations. Demonstrations work when they: a) Threaten financial bottom lines; b) Threaten politicians' jobs; or c) Manage to convince enough people to stand with us and help.

None of the demonstrations discussed in this thread do any of those three things. Angrily march around outside churches and mosques and you will achieve... a day in which you have angrily marched around. If you get media coverage, it won't be very in depth. It will look like you're attacking people of faith. Because you are. And there are a lot of people of faith. Oh... and they vote [see Maine, California for details]. Attack their financial bottom line by going after taxes and schools and you'll come across as attacking people of faith. Trying to suppress religious belief. Whether that is a valid exercise generally, it's counter-productive to the cause: equality.

You may not like faith. Frankly, I think faith is silly. But the vast majority of this country, to one extent or another, disagrees with you. And you may want to get equality without their help, but if that's the case, I hope you have an extra few centuries to spare. And it's rather self-important to put your own views on religion ahead of the equality of everyone.

So if you want to engage in demonstrations, Jesus, at least be smart about it. Instead of screaming outside an extremist church (one which will not change its views no matter what you yell), stand outside a moderate church and ask for their help. Let them know that they, as individuals, are invaluable in the equality movement. Because they will help. Popular opinion will swing our direction. And you won't lose your voice from all that screaming.

That's what it means to ignore the extremes. It means an intelligent, strategic, and targeted approach. Instead of blowing our wads in all the wrong places.

Or, you know, do whatever. Go with your Revolutionary War method.

We rarely meet someone like Mark, W’s protector, whose understanding of history and politics can only be expressed in negative values.

Mark, declaims that bullets, not masses of patriots won the revolutionary war. He unable to see that mass action can have a military form during revolutionary situations. In the Revolutionary War masses of mostly young men and women joined and trained in military-revolutionary movements like the he Minutemen and later in the regiments of the Continental Army. Marks score on history - FAIL.

Mark says “- The factories gave in because they couldn't make things. Bad for business. A result of a smart demonstration. Not a result of anger. Of course the mass action sit-ins were smart and of course they defeated management in spite of the bosses threats and violence. Thanks for proving my point. And for the record there was immense anger generated by the Depression am it helped fuel the rise of the CIO. Marks score in debate COUNTERPRODUCTIVE; and in use of logic and reasoning – FAIL.

Without batting an eye, Mark tells us Military brass finally got asses on helicopters because the majority of voters wanted the war to be over, and were willing to vote out incumbents to do it. Not because of some marches. That’s a lie. McGovern the Democrats fake ‘peace candidate’ was resoundingly beaten by Nixon in ’72. Nixon, like Obama now, ran on prowar ‘phased withdrawal’ platform and the US was forced out by a combination of years of huge mass action, the intransigence of the Vietnamese patriots and a growing antiwar sentiment in the military which threatened a new kind of mass action – mass mutiny. Obama and the Democrats face learning the same hard lesson, but only after they’ve accumulated a lot more civilian and military casualities. Lesson for Mark, W’s little protector, TRY STICKING TO THE FACTS.

Then Mark tells us that the rise of the feminist movement and marches for reproductive rights had nothing to do with the Supremes decision in Roe vs. Wade. Mark, score: FAIL

The rest of what Marks says repeats almost word for word the self defeating ideas of W and like W creates strawmen that can then be heroically attacked.

There are no ‘people of faith’, there are however, many unfortunate people bamboozled by superstition and ignorance whose cults have taken the lead in denying us equality in the US and promoting violence against us. Instead of accommodating to the cults we should go after them with a persistent campaign of demonstrations and legal actions that explain the need for laws and regulations that forbid priests, imams, preachers, rabbis, mullahs or pastors near children without armed guards being present to prevent more rapes.

It’s time to ask the DoJ to extradite and arrest members of the roman cult’s college of cardinals, bishops and archbishops as accessories to rape and child molestation. Start with cardinal Law of Boston, currently hiding out in vatican city. If they can go after Roman Polanski they can go after Bertrand Law.

It’s time to explain the need to confiscate all the wealth of the roman cult and the other cults to compensate their victims.

It’s time to mount a campaign to tax the cults, secularize their schools, hospitals and universities and close their seminaries.

Religion is the enemy of humankind and its greatest tragedy. It’s time to fight back.

All right, Bill, this is getting tiring. For starters, it was me, Travis. Not Mark. And somehow, in five thousand words, you didn't respond to anything I said. Perhaps because you thought you were talking to someone else.

Not only did you misrepresent the events that led to those revolutionary changes - you misrepresented my arguments. Yes, I acknowledged that anger can lead to change, but only when it is informed by a rational, constructive strategy. The factory workers had a strategy that brought business to a halt. Vietnam protesters had a strategy that managed to bring the voting population to their side. Abortion supporters had a court decision, and 56% (and rising! - Gallup) of the population still believes abortion is morally wrong. Not a lasting strategy. The patriots of the Revolutionary War killed people they disagree with. Now there's a strategy! You draw parallels between our struggle and the revolutionary war, and you wonder why some people here say you sound like a terrorist. You want to go all Black Panthers (what would it be for us? Pink Pathers?), but please, restrain yourself. Your anger for the sake of anger doesn't help us get our equality. It only makes our potential friends - our potential supporters - run away from the conversation.

What you so stubbornly refuse to recognize, much to the detriment of all of us here, is that the theocrat Christians cannot "take over government" unless the voters PUT THEM THERE. You can't shut down the churches - through taxes, schools, or DOJ raids - unless the voters support it. And they don't.

Your strategy is to condescend and to patronize. Your strategy is to tell a person of faith that she isn't actually a person of faith, just someone who has been 'bamboozled.' She will spit in your face. She will not help you.

And we need help.

Your strategy is to make enemies, and to crush them through policy. Your strategy turns our allies away. Any short term gains made by your strategy would be immediately overturned by the angry backlash of an injured majority. Your strategy is not smart.

I understand the anger and frustration directed towards religion in general. I'm frustrated and angry too. We all are. But it's childish to put your own little tirade ahead of a strategy that would actually obtain our equality.

Let me know when you decide that our equality is more important than your own anger - a priority over settling your own scores. Otherwise I'll just continue working with constructive people, and leave the angry old children to play.

Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis, For starters, it was me, Travis. Not Mark.

Oops, sorry. You have the same party line, word for word. And the same losing tactic - cuddle with the cults. And you repeat the same lies.

So you'll pardon us if we get a little confused about which personality we're speaking to. Not that it makes any difference.

Bill Perdue: You have no credibility. Andrew NEVER suggested that we "ignore the murderers." The fact that you would suggest that means you can't engage in a reasonable, honest conversation.

Andrew said ignore the 1/3 of the "religious" people that will never listen to us. He suggested we spend our time and resources on the other 2/3.

Inserting "ignore the murderers" is plain and simple bullshit from an old man that refuses to grow up. I get being "angry," most of us are - but lying is not an acceptable response.

I, too have grown tired of your strategy of making threats and expecting positive results. You just want to fight bigotry with anger and can't see any thing else.

You and Patricia can yell all you want - it doesn't matter. Just don't get gun permits.

Mr. Cahill, please be so kind as to explain what you mean by this remark You and Patricia can yell all you want - it doesn't matter. Just don't get gun permits.

I don't know what Patricia thinks but I'd like to know what you mean. Pretend you're at a deposition and explain that remark.

It sounds very much like you're saying that our principled opposition to cult bigotry leads to terrorism. I know that Pat Robertson and the Iranian ayatollahs would agree on that but how could some one who alleges that they’re for GLBT equality say that.

I do not see any "principled opposition" from you and Patricia. I see more anger, more yelling and more useless calls for "mass demonstration." Your ideas have no support, thankfully.

I suggested that all you have is anger - you, Patricia and a small group of malcontents. PLEASE don't get gun permits. I don't want the "bigots" to have guns either. Both groups are crazy - guns are a bad idea.

Nowhere in my post do I call for "mass demonstrations," Mark. I do call for more of the major media to expose the political machinations of bigots who want to take over civil government. People need to be INFORMED, and media are the best way.

Right now, CNN and most other TV news media (except for MSNBC) are avoiding this subject. (The exception is FOX, which is owned by the bigots.) For example, none of them want to talk turkey about the extremist factions that support Sarah Palin, even though she's touted as the #1 Republican choice for President.

If the majority of Americans stay uninformed, and they do decide to go along with the bigots' plans for U.S. government, they certainly have the power (at the polls) to start making this happen in 2010, and again in 2012. And then all of us will have to live with what the majority created, until a majority wake up and get sick of it.

There are history examples of this process that we can look at. Spain, for instance.

Even though the Spanish people never got to vote General Franco into office, I would say that in 1939, when he and his army finally destroyed the Spanish Republic and won the Civil War, a majority of war-weary Spanish people supported the Nationalist government. What this meant was a restoration of the old regime that they were used to -- state religion based on ultra conservative Catholicism, and a scarcity of human rights, that had governed Spain for centuries.

It took Spain another 30 years for the liberal/human rights point of view to re-emerge. But by the 1960s, a growing majority of Spanish Catholics had grown sick of watching the Catholic Church support the Franco dictatorship. By 1970, only about 15 or 20 percent of the population were still practicing Catholicism. By 1970, the country was boiling with hope for change. When Franco died in 1975, the government and political parties moved pretty quickly to dismantle the old regime and create a constitutional monarchy/democracy with free elections.

I hate to say this, but maybe that conservative American voting bloc will take the United States along the same route that Spain went. This will certainly happen if the rest of us don't make a huge effort to inform voters about the danger that waits ahead.

Right now, the Teabaggers and their religious leaders are mouthing all that churchy rhetoric, and most Americans have NO IDEA what their lives will mean when the rhetoric is translated into daily reality. Unlike many Europeans, the American people have no recent experience with religious dictatorship, so the rhetoric sounds reasonable to many of them.

Once the bigots are in power, it may take 30 or 40 years for the American people to realize that they don't want a religious dictatorship -- and to organize effectively so they can get rid of it.

Exactly the point I made in a detailed Comment below, that was 80 years ago AND this is NOT Spain.

The mere suggestion that we may suffer the same fate as Spain in the 1930s, denies and mocks the progress we've made as a Country. I'll remind you that we just elected a BlackPresident with a Muslim-ish name.

Your fear of Sarah Palin is bizarre - only 28% of Americans think she's even "qualified" to be President - probably less think she should be President. She represents that 1/3 of America you want to shout at - the more you acknowledge her, the more you empower her, and her crazy followers. Consider ignoring ignorance, instead of highlighting it. In other words, leave them in the dark.

It's typical of christians like Robertson, Dobson and their apologists to claim that folks in the GLBT movement are motivated by unhealthy personalities, hatred and etc. They say we're 'broken'.

Mark-Andrew-Justin endlessly repeats this lie and make up new ones. I see more anger, more yelling and more useless calls for "mass demonstration." Your ideas have no support, thankfully.

No ones yelling but Mark-Andrew-Justin and no ones particularly enraged but Mark-Andrew-Justin, and their rage is directed against the mass action strategy of the March on Washington and to principled activists in the fight against the christers and the politicians who pander to them. Mark-Andrew-Justin is on the wrong side of the trenches.

When Mark-Andrew-Justin rage against movement building and t mass actions as a strategy they want to dismiss it with the lie that ” Your ideas (for mass demonstrations-bp) have no support, thankfully.”

There were two hundred thousand or so people in DC a month or so ago who say that’s a lie. And there will be lots more to come. People are planning marches to oppose the Democrats union busting strategy and to oppose Obamas mass murder in Afghanistan and the continued presence of huge US military forces in Iraq. After the Democrats phony health care reform passes that will lead to more demonstrations for real reform. Etc.

Those demonstrations will occur because they, as part of a strategy that includes independent political action and sharply focused legal attacks, comprise the engine that drives social change.

Opposed to that is non-strategy of Mark-Andrew-Justin which emphasizes cuddling with cults and avoiding anything that will offend cultists and the bigots who infest the cults. Our enemies are the leaders of the cults and the politicians who pander to them. This non strategy is supposed to be based on 'classified' information that will be ‘revealed’ soon. Will it be written on golden plates or on tablets containing instructions to “honor thy cultist and thy bigot”? No doubt.

Sometimes, you're really are foolish Bill. You mis-stated much of what I suggested. I never said "born again dummies," as you claim. I said those that claim the bible to be "literally" from God. That group of Christians is about 1/3 of the total and it is futile to converse with them. Using their words, they're not even "savable."

Also, I never said "ignore the murderers" as you claim. I said ignore the crazy bigots instead of engaging with them and giving them more importance. Indifference (and even laughing) is better than dignifying their bigotry with vitriol. You give them more importance by acknowledging them. Please stop.

Of course, murderers should be punished. Unfortunately, we're not allowed to punish those that put the beliefs in their heads by teaching homosexuals are wrong.

Mormons are crazy. Telling them they're crazy doesn't change anything. God talks to them - rendering you, and your words way beyond insignificant.

The estimates of the NEM are all over the place. It was the organizers who claimed 200,000. Half of those people traveled and incurred expenses of $500 each. THAT is $50 million. It was a complete waste of $50 million in LGBT resources.

Clearly, the LGBT Community lacks a strategy or plan. Even you, in a rare moment of clarity, suggested that the money left over from the NEM ($80,000) should be used to create a "strategy" for the LGBT Community. We can at least agree on that. I believe 90% of our brothers and sisters do not participate or contribute primarily because we do not have a strategy. We are also not united. A strategy would help solve both of those problems.

Aside from the misinformation of your comment and our single point of agreement, you neglected to make the case for your continued "angry demands" and "mass demonstration."

Please, if you actually think those tactics are effective, explain how. It seems most have concluded they do not have a valuable place in today's world.

We need new ideas. Give it a try. The LGBT Movement (if we can actually have one) needs old dogs doing new tricks. We also need the benefit of your experience, insight and your fighting spirit. We can also learn from each others mistakes and mis-steps.

Dear Patricia,

If a Christian organization wants to "take over our government" that would be called "ambition," not bigotry.

Please try to understand the difference.

So, for the sake of argument, the Nazis were merely ambitious?

No, Gregory they weren't "merely ambitious," but it was their ambition that drove them.

Making the claim that the extreme right religious nut jobs "want to take over our government" IS ambition. It also has NO chance of success.

These alarmist ideas to hopefully inspire an angry response are just plain stupid. We hear too much from the extreme right (religious) crazies AND the old timers stuck in the past. Both groups express bigotry and anger.

Bill Perdue wants the DOJ to extradite and arrest members of the Catholic Church. He stops short of wanting to burn them at the stake. But, more than half of all Catholics support LGBT rights. Well, not after Bill launches his attack on them.

An example of "good" ambition would be trying to figure out how WE can win, not punish others.

Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis is lying again. Here's the lie: "Bill Perdue wants the DOJ to extradite and arrest members of the Catholic Church. He stops short of wanting to burn them at the stake."

Referring to the catholic cults overabundance of child rapists what I actually said was "... None of the enablers and promoters of sexual abuse like Boston cardinal Law are in jail and some like Law are hiding from prosecution in the vatican.

Papenfuehrer Ratzinger is one of those enablers and if he sets foot on US soil he should be arrested. We should insist that Obama's DoJ, who went after Polanski, should (also go after cardinal who should be) indicted and extradited from his hideaway in the vatican.

We need laws and regulations that forbid priests, imams, preachers, rabbis, mullahs or pastors near children without armed guards being present to prevent more rapes.

We need laws to confiscate the wealth of the roman cult and the other cults that promote child abuse and rape to compensate their victims. It’s time to reenergize the fight to tax the cults, secularize their schools, hospitals and universities and close their seminaries.

In other words, channeling Roy Cohn, Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis just makes stuff up, creates straw men and then ever so cleverly joust with them. It's enough to make me angry, if it weren't so pathetic.

In another post on the recent murders of gay youths by christer thugs I said "We should also demand that the roman catholic cult, whose bigotry promotes violence, be fined the equivalent of $100 million dollars a year for the next 10 years to compensate his family, fund anti-violence and anti-bigotry programs, fund a massive distribution of condoms and fund programs to help GLBT youth who end up being forced out of their homes or into prostitution.

Those are both entirely reasonable approaches to christian bigotry.

Equating all Christians in government to Nazis. Ah. That's helpful.

I'm amazed that you see these particular Christians as merely "ambitious" when they're the ones who aim to wipe you off the face of the Earth.

Amazed or not Patricia, the idea is preposterous. The Mormons and Baptists are not going to "wipe us off the face of the Earth." It would take a lot more than "magic underpants" and the book of Leviticus to eliminate us.

It would actually take incredible stupidity on our part to do that. Maybe like the alarmist rhetoric in your comment above and Bill Perdue's weapon-generating "call to arms."

I happen to think the LGBT Community is much smarter than that. Stop fighting and start creating. .. America is waiting. Well, at least two-thirds of America is waiting.

You keep sounding more and more like the angry atheist Bill Perdue. While many of us believe religion is the source of ALL our discrimination, hatred and bigotry - trying to eliminate the whole institution of religion DOES NOT help LGBT Equality efforts. Sam Harris makes a very compelling argument in his book "The End of Faith," but the result he strives for is decades (if not centuries) away. I want our equality NOW and I am very willing to USE religion.

Here's another way to look at it: Religion is losing importance, especially among younger people. The "importance" of religion is stronger for people over 45 and weakens dramatically for those under 45. The difference in these two groups is whether or not they believe literally in the Bible - as "God's Word." We have collectively "matured" in our beliefs. For example more than half of all Christians believe in evolution, contrary to a literal interpretation of talking snakes, burning bushes and a boatload of animals. It is very real progress that we should not ignore.

Our biggest disagreement with religion isn't that they want to "rule the world" (it's not really a possibility), but the fact they they have for 2,000 years "made us wrong, sinful and deviant." Religion branded us and it has made our lives very difficult and painful. That makes ALL of us angry at religion, but our anger isn't a strategy - it isn't productive.

The good news: Religion is changing rapidly, either for "marketing purposes" intended to attract young people who have wandered to "spirituality" or "enlightenment, or because the majority of "believers" have moved away from "literal interpretation" because they too are angered/ashamed by the religious extremists.
Some religions continue to promote homosexuality as a "choice," while enlightened minds understand that isn't true. In fact, some denominations have already endorsed the idea that "God made us this way." That is intellectual progress and can be a major step forward for LGBT persons.

I understand the anger towards the crazy right and religious fanatics, but I caution against attacking them and spoiling the progress that has been made. If you attack a Catholic because "his beliefs" suggest bigotry - you attack all Catholics. That's not productive.

The more thoughtful strategy is "divide and conquer." Religion is already dividing - without our help. We should help. We do that by embracing those that have grown beyond "literal interpretation" and asking for their support.
Here's the math: only 1/3 of those who describe themselves as "religious" fit your defined enemy - those spewing "bigotry." If you continue to attack them you lose the "others," the 2/3 that are not attacking us and also do not believe we have chosen a "lifestyle."

I can't help but suggest this idea shared by both you and the almighty atheist Bill Perdue to respond to "ignorance" (bigotry) with anger is in every way stupid. There is absolutely NO evidence that anger eliminates ignorance - in fact, it inspires it. It also cancels any attempt to enroll those who have matured in their personal views/beliefs.

The continued use of anger and protest simply delays our opportunity to enroll others in our struggle. There are two very well defined "minorities" in our Country: Religious "extremists" and the LGBT Community. If these two groups keep fighting with each other, they seal their fate. But, we, as a community, should ignore the crazies and instead invite the majority of Americans that "believe in equality" to join us. Successfully doing so would accomplish two benefits:

1. Marginalizing the religious zealots.
2. Creating a "movement" for equality.

In order for us to achieve equality we MUST enroll people - we must ask for their help. They are ready, willing and able to help create our equality. We're just too busy slapping bigots.
I would have been in the mob that grabbed Jerry Falwell and hung him by his testicles, but I have learned that while that may make me feel better (temporarily) it won't help us achieve our equality. I also have sufficient testicles to admit that many of our strategies-from-the-past no longer work in a new world - a world that is changing in our direction. A new world requires new ideas.

I hope you really try to understand my point and actually do the math - our equality is waiting.

Andrew, you keep trying to make a case by persistently misquoting me. I have never said that I want to (in your words) "eliminate the whole institution of religion."

I am only interested in stopping a particular group of people from using THEIR extremist brand of religion as a political tool to take over the country. They are very open about their intentions to do just that.

Mark-Andrew-Justin, feel free to cuddle with cultists all you want. Carefully explain that you're cool with bigotry and superstition.

Organize them. Go on. Do it. And after you and the cults have won equality for the GLBT communities get back to us with the glad news. We'll jump up and down and speak in tounges and shout "Hallelujah" and "Hossana" and stuff like that.

Until then don't bother the people really fighting of GLBT rights by calling a bigot a bigot. Your lies about what we say don't fool or impress anyone.

Bill, repeating your cute little line of "cuddling cultists" 20, 30, or even 40 times will not lend you any more credibility - anyone with an attention span and a short term memory will be able to read through this forum and see that no one has suggested that. They will read and understand that "marginalizing" the minority is in no way the same thing as "cuddling" them. Maybe I'm having a dialogue with a wall, though. Maybe I'm the last person who is foolish enough to read through an entire post that's signed "Bill Perdue."

You have failed. In all of these comments, you have yet to explain how you are fighting for rights by "calling a bigot a bigot." Even when presented with four or five different people's arguments about how you are working AGAINST our equality with that behavior.

And now, someone has actually joined the conversation who WANTS to help us. Who is a person of faith, and still thinks we are equal and should be treated as such. Someone who reached out a hand! And you celebrate the occasion by spitting in his/her face.

My god, you have failed.

Bill,

I have concluded that "conversation" with you is not possible. With all the information and ideas shared in this Blog you once again claim:

"feel free to cuddle with cultists all you want. Carefully explain that you're cool with bigotry and superstition."

Nobody said any one of us was cool with "bigotry or superstition." And then you add:

"Until then don't bother the people really fighting of GLBT rights by calling a bigot a bigot."

That's it? Just call them "bigots?" That's "really fighting?" You and your angry-activist-crowd have been doing that for 50 years. It hasn't worked. But, I must admit that when you hit Anita Bryant in the face with a cream pie, well that was really entertaining.

Name calling, with or without pie, is all you have. It doesn't matter that you seek to multiply your ineffective strategy and get whole groups to yell and call names. Louder isn't smarter.

Once again, you have provided NO evidence that screaming and yelling and demanding works - none. I think 50 years is enough. Get some rest.

Patricia Said: "I am only interested in stopping a particular group of people from using THEIR extremist brand of religion as a political tool to take over the country. They are very open about their intentions to do just that."

Your original article said "Christianity" and you claimed (repeated in your comments) that they are trying to "take over the Country," "establish a state religion" and/or "wipe us off the face of the earth." (Your words).

Please share, who are "they?"

You claim they are very "open about their intentions." So, let's hear it - which denominations?

Without defining who you mean by "they," you just sound a lot like atheist-activist Bill Perdue. When he is presented an idea that suggests "dividing religion" into two camps, with one camp that would actually help and support us - he accuses people of "coddling bigots and murderers." He never gets past that. The rest is just insults aimed at people who "believe in something" or don't believe he's right.

It would be helpful to clarify your comments and further distance yourself from "anti-religion-no-matter-what" nut job Bill Perdue. He continues to damage LGBT Equality efforts by failing to recognize any differences in those that consider themselves "religious." By repeatedly calling all of them "stupid," he just helps the rest of us define him.

I would like to respond as a conservative Christian, and I appreciated this discussion.

I don't have percentages or raw numbers, I'm afraid I must simply say that "many" Christians, while not approving of homosexual activity, do not hate members of the LGBT community. I certainly agree that there are far too many who do, and those who fall under that umbrella qualify as "Christians" in that they don't practice Judaism or Islam or Bhuddism, etc. The Biblical definition of Christianity excludes such people. The tragedy is the damage done by these haters, not to the credibility of Christians and Christianity, but to human relations. I'm sure that many who read my first line have formed opinions as to who I am and what I believe. Some will be correct, some will be incorrect; that's because I'm human and so are you.

True Christians, those who practice what we understand Jesus to have taught, understand this one phrase: "Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone." Your best friends in every struggle for equality will be true Christians, because we understand that we all stand equal before Christ, undeserving of His gifts, grace, and forgiveness.

We don't like being equated with those who would advocate harm, and yet we cannot get a voice in the media to express that. The media sensationalizes everything, not to say that these stories don't need told, but rather than identify an offender as not being associated with a Christian church, the media says that this person calls himself a Christian. I know most people have felt the injustice of being found guilty by association, and unfortunately a vocal and badly-behaved minority, and yes, I believe they are the minority, has grabbed the media's attention and convinced the nation that they represent all of Christianity in their thirst for violence and eradication of all things and opinions different than than own.

I can do very little to change the minds of people bent on bigotry, regardless of how it is defined. I support equal rights for all members of society. I do not support calling different unions by same names, because they are different types of unions. Not different commitments underlying, but different nonetheless. And laws must protect rights of individuals.

Most of my conservative Christian friends feel the same way I do. I hate the barrier that prevents what would be rich, rewarding relationships is built on improperly applied labels.

So what can true Christians do to work with you?

Attend demonstrations like the March on
Washington. Assemble all your friends and form a contngent of conservative christians for GLBT rights and march under your own banner especially when we picket mormon temples and roman catholic cathedrals.

Publically and repeatedly denounce homohating at your local cult center. Demand the resignation of pastors, priests, imams, mullahs and rabbis who promote anti-GLBT hate and violence.

Join us in insisting that the unfair policy of making us pay for cult taxes be stopped and that to prevent more child abuse and the widespread rape of children that cult schools be secularized.

Never, never insult us by prostylizing and telling us that jebuz loves us.

SFY -

Thank you for joining this conversation. I truly appreciate your bold gesture, and I support you in your efforts to self-identify, rather than letting a vocal minority define you. Your personal struggle, in that regard, is more like the LGBT equality struggle than you may realize.

I am so glad that you want to help. My simple note of advice is to talk to your friends and your neighbors. Talk to the people in your church congregation. Talk to your priests. You may not be able to get media attention at the moment, but you can get the attention of people you already know. Have a simple, honest conversation. Ask them to help. These are people who maybe haven't thought much about equality, but would do the right thing if someone asked them to take a personal stake in equality. When enough people start having this conversation, and enough religious people start vocally supporting equality, then you will have a movement. Media will come. But you have to get people talking first.

You and I won't agree on everything, but I'm encouraged by your belief in equality. For instance, I can't agree that true equality can be realized by equal rights, or equal protections, or equal benefits. In true equality, no identities or orientations are confused with behaviors. Equal benefits are not sufficient when they are housed in unequal, separate institutions. I hope that even you will push your understanding of equality even further. But I am very glad to have your support while you do.

@ SFY:

Thank you for your comment.

In just the same manner that members of the LGBT Community are wise to avoid the "religious nuts on the right," the religious community should avoid Bill Perdue - he does not speak for us in any way, shape or manner. He simply embarrasses us.

Many in the LGBT Community are happy to engage in meaningful conversation with sincere religious people. Equality is something we all deserve.

Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis speaks only for the right when denouncing the fight for equality and mass marches. That attack on our best organizing tool mirrors the fear of the cults and politicians that cater to them. They dread the day when we succeed in organizing ourselves in huge numbers to suppress the ability of cults to engage in hate speech.

That congruence of animosity between Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis and the christer right towards the mass action, self organizing efforts going on in the GLBT communities explains the wolf pack approach of having many ‘voices’ who say exactly the same thing using exactly the same words to joust with straw men. The christer right and Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis share the same desperate hatred for idea of a mass actin campaign against bigotry and shere the same deliberate ignorance of its effects in producing violence.

GLBT folks have lived with that bigotry too long to do anything but dismiss Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis and their apologias for bigotry out of hand. We understand the dangerous power of the bigots. Nothing will erase the life experiences of millions of LGBT folks. Certainly not Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis who seems to think that making a lot of noise will somehow deflect from the real discussion of supressing bigot violence. It hasn’t worked.

They claim that GLBT folks who criticize the cults for promoting bigotry are bad people, people possessed by demons of anger, broken people, damaged people. The vatican, Dobson or Robertson couldn’t have said it better.

There's never been a 'conversation' here. The discussion has consisted of false claims of having a strategy beyond hopping in bed with the cults, of research that's never produced and of christian claims that GLBT atheists are bad people. It's not likely that can be any real conversation between people who think that The Exorcist was a documentary and sane people.

The exception is that soon we will have a political conversation, a little talk with the bigots about who makes and who enforces the rules about promoting hate speech and violence. The LGBT movements are growing in power and political independence and the day when we can have that 'conversation' with the bigots is getting nearer.

This is an excellent and sometimes troubling conversation, interrupted only by Mr. Perdue's childish name-calling.

I am also a Christian and I do take offense at calling members of my Faith "bigots." While some are, we are not all against the rights of gays. As is the case with many organizations, there are varying beliefs and behaviors.

I have tried to change minds at my Methodist Church and I think it has been helpful. More than half of my congregation is clearly in favor of equal rights. Yes, we have a few that I would say are clinging to the past (Leviticus), but if they come under attack by the Ms. Warren and people like Mr. Perdue, I think most of us will go back into hiding.

I would also like to know who the group Ms. Warren refers to as "they" actually is. Are Methodists part of "they?"

Ed, I too have been troubled by this discussion, because a few of the commenters insist that I am attacking all Christians. Yet I made my real position quite clear in my post and my own comments.

My definition of bigotry -- which expanded on the dictionary definitions -- is above, towards the top of the article:

"The real bigot openly works for the establishment of state religion -- his or her religion, naturally. Whether as a voter or lobbyist or legislator or judge or media person, he or she aims to see draconian laws passed that would deprive the disapprovees of their civil rights. In the name of state religion, the bigot wants to harass them, silence them, beat up on them, jail them, even torture them and kill them, if possible. Their mission statements make it very clear that this is what they aim to do."

To put it another way, bigotry (as I define it) does NOT characterize any church or denominational splinter group that is content to co-exist peacefully with other religions or viewpoints, and supports human rights for all. I am aware that many denominations are splitting over some issues right now, with part of the membership taking a more extremist position and the other part going to a more moderate or liberal position.

By my definition, most religions and believers of any kind in the U.S. would NOT be considered bigots. The ones that fit my definition are a minority who are very active and noisy and (despite their small numerical size) politically powerful right now. They comprise a number of churches, nonprofits and activist groups. But their statements and actions all make it 100 percent clear that this is what they aim to do.

I'm not going to publish an exhaustive list of every single person or group I consider to be bigoted. In the past, here at Bilerico, I have written about a few that seriously concern me, including the New Apostolic Reformation aka Joel's Army that is connected with Sarah Palin. In the near future I will be writing about a few other groups.

But anybody can look around at America's hundreds of faith-based activist organizations and churches, read their writings and press releases, and take note of what bills in Congress and state referendums they support, to see what they're really up to.

If any person or church is advocating, and working towards, the establishment of an oppressive state religion that aims to control government at federal and state levels -- if they aim to limit the civil rights of certain citizens based on that person's or church's religious beliefs -- then that person or church fits my definition of "bigoted."

"By their deeds ye shall know them."

I certainly don't advocate attacking anybody who doesn't fit my proposed definition. And it sounds like you and your Methodist colleagues are people who support civil rights for all, including LGBT people. I applaud and respect that, and hope that you will stand with us, and with all Americans whose rights are in danger of being denied in this manner.


Patricia - with much respect, I think that most reasonable people understand that you make a distinction between various shades of religious belief. We understand that you don't lump the rational majority with the extremist minority. I am satisfied and content with your explanation of the nuanced spectrum of believers, which may or may not support equality. Anyone who thinks otherwise has probably been misled by Bill Perdue's smash-the-church rants, which have unfortunately hijacked your original message.

Where commenters like myself take issue with your article is on how to treat the extreme minority on that religious spectrum. You advocate aggression, suppression, and actively stopping them with the doomsday prophecy that we will otherwise wind up in a far-right theocracy.

We, or at least I, find this counter-productive at best. I argue that when you treat them as a legitimate threat, not only are you expending energy that would be better suited to bringing the moderate majority onto our side, but you're lending the extremists credibility and undue attention. This is an important distinction, and it's one that you have neglected thus far to address.

Think of it this way - when are the Scientologists weakest? Is it when we yell at them? Scream at them? Should we picket outside their churches, or should we launch campaigns to keep them out of government? Should we outright attack them?

No. We should marginalize them, and generally ignore them. Because Scientologists are weakest when we are laughing at them. When we listen to stories of Xenu, and spaceships, and pre-historic atomic bombs, and thetans, and the boatloads of money it takes to learn these "secret truths." And then we laugh so hard we cry.

I hope that you'll address this crucial strategic difference.

Hopefully, Patricia will also read SFY's generous comment above and try to see the possibility it contains. Although, I'm not sure if she will consider SFY part of the "they" (loosely defined as Christians or religious) that she has mentioned a dozen times.

“Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man.” Thomas Jefferson

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.” Thomas Jefferson


“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? …superstition, bigotry, and persecution.” James Madison


“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity” Thomas Paine

“Lighthouses are more useful than churches” Benjamin Franklin

The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."

"My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures have become clearer and stronger with advancing years, and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them." Abraham Lincoln

"Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror. "Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense."

"Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world." Voltaire

”When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.” Oscar Wilde, gay Irish author

” I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. Bertrand Russell English philosopher

” If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.” General Marquis De Lafayette

"“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”"

Bill Perdue? No, Adolf Hitler.

Gosh, Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis, that wasn't me attacking religion and and by extension cult cuddling apologists like you, it was the leaders of the First and Second American Revolutions.

They didn't particularly like those who bow down to the old order or pander to the cults and bigots who represent it.

In fact one of them, speaking about people like you said:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!” Sam Adams

Patricia Nell Warren said:

"these particular Christians."

Which particular Christians?

Father Bill, check my response to Ed Martin above. It will answer your question.

No kidding? "They" are Joel's Army. Wow.

By all accounts this group may be an army of about 100,000 way, way right Christians. Do you really want anyone - even these Dominionist nut jobs - to believe Joel's Army has any chance of "creating a state religion" in America? Or "wiping us off the face of the Earth?" Or even "take over the Country?"

I'm sorry, but that's actually crazier than their crazy. It really is.

It took all the comments to give unhelpful attention to a small group of idiots. It allowed Bill Perdue the opportunity to promote atheism and socialism. It may have even missed an opportunity to reach out to a "conservative Christian" and a Methodist that chimed in.

What a colossal waste of time.

So, Patricia, it was really all about Sarah Palin, wasn't it?

Right now Palin is viewed by many as the Republicans' #1 choice for President. So you'd better hope she isn't elected.

Thanks Patricia,

I understand the fear of Palin. I just thought this Blog, and the many comments, were actually about LGBT Equality and a sincere discussion of religion and strategies.

Well, maybe next time.

"were actually about LGBT Equality and a sincere discussion of religion and strategies.

It can't be 'sincere' or real if Mark-Andrew-Justin-Travis comments because he has no strategy other than kowtowing to cultists and opposing GLBT liberation from superstition, ignorance and the bigotry they breed.

Great post. I think I disagree, or maybe I don't, and was hoping you'd expand a little on the origins of bigotry. I don't think that all bigotry has its roots in religion - xenophobia is a good example. While many immigrants coming to the US have had different religions than conservative Protestantism - like the Irish, Italians, and Polish - I think it's inaccurate to say that current anti-immigrant rhetoric is rooted in religious differences between Mexican and other latino groups and Catholics and Protestants that are already here in the US.

I'd place the origin of bigotry on authoritarianism generally, economic exploitation, and tribalism, and religion is a tool each of them uses to expand and solidify power.

I've known a few racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist atheists/agnostics/non-religious. And I think they'd be loathe to see themselves referred to as a "religion."

Also too, I didn't read all the comments, but this one stood out:

This is not only untrue, it's not even a remote possibility. Hopefully, thinking people understand the reality and don't fall for this ancient assertion that religion is "trying to takeover." It's silly.

May I ask you, then, on what planet do you spend most of your time? Religion's always trying to take over. That's, you know, the center of the Dark Ages and the very meaning of "theocracy," plenty of which exist on Earth today.

Alex, this is a good question. I already talked a little about inter-religion hostility and can enlarge on this subject in the next post.

It's another way of looking at the process of how true bigotry (in my opinion) is always about gaining political, ideological, civil and even penal control over large populations of people.

ALL religions believe they have the "truth." They also believe that they will someday rule the world. Many participate in politics.

But, if you and Patricia actually believe that any one of the dozens of different denominations in the United States has any chance of "taking over our government," I have to ask what planet are you from?

Suggesting that we are at risk of takeover or extinction from a religious group is even crazier than those groups. Suggesting and promoting "fear" is a lot like what most religions do. It's unfortunate to see our members of our community do it also.

The sky is not falling.

Passionate Patricia,
Wow when you write the education you really stir the cosmic classroom, girlfriend. Thank you everyone above for your indepth sharings!

When I became an adult and realized I was a minority it had seemed bigotry was a package symptom. Free speech brought many gifts including bigotry. Kind of like too much rain brings floods.
I was fortunate to be raised in the wilderness by Wisdom Elders who practiced Rituals everyday to keep our noses in front of us. If we let our nose get in others' business our LifeWork was stolen. As well as it was none of our business what others thought of us. This kind of Teaching meant I get to be really functional. Well now as an adult I am not really functional a lot of the time and my LifeWork gets bumped to the curb. So I wonder??? Is it possible that my lack of participation in my life energetically adds to the energy of the crazy bastards who bring bigotry? or is my lack of participation in my own life a bigotry of myself?
EarthThunder

Its harsh but I have to agree with you.
"So, we are living in a land where 80% of the populace is either stupid or ignorant. Until we can educate that other 30% to think, we are lost."

I think its the ignorance that comes into place. Bigotry is so open and powerful, its education that we need nothing else.

I will tell you why they voted as they did. 50% OF THE POPULATION HAS AN IQ BELOW 100, these folks do not operate on any kind of system except the one they were taught to "believe" in. They do not know how to process facts as opposed to beliefs -- these 50% are lost to any enlightenment because they do not have the mental capacity to comprehend anything beyond their limited belief system. Of those 50% who have a higher IQ, only 20% have a degree beyond high school and have got a mind trained to think critically. So, we are living in a land where 80% of the populace is either stupid or ignorant. Until we can educate that other 30% to think, we are lost.

Wow, you really said that only those with a college degree are able to think critically. Actually, scratch that, for you a college degree is a prerequisite for thinking at all. You actually said that only those who go to college have intelligence or high IQs.

That's very helpful. Everyone will flock to our aid and support now. You make such an appealing case.

You pretentious prick.

"They" are those who would capitulate to their faith instead of conforming to the rule of law (the U.S. Constitution). "They" are the one's who place their belief in whatever god above the law and would enslave the rest of us by the tyranny of the majority, rather than upholding the U.S. Constitution.

spiritwalker | March 27, 2010 4:44 AM

Excellent article. My only nit-pick is the assertion that bigotry is religious. Obviously religion (especially fundamentalist religion) is severely infected with bigotry...and the bible-based religions only have to point to the usual passages to "justify" their point of view.

My argument is that the people who injected their bigotry into the bible and other religious texts did so mainly from a personal and political perspective. They hijacked the "faith" of the times for political reasons, and their bigoted contributions to what evolved into the so-called sacred texts were absorbed into the religions as a result. I think there is room to debate whether the earliest forms of what became the precursors to the religions we know now were less prejudiced.

The point is well-taken. A large proportion of mainstream religion is certainly bigoted. I have heard some argue that the screeching and ranting factions who seem to dominate religious views about hot-button issues in the media represent only a minority of the religious community in the US. Perhaps. But raw numbers are less important than public perception. The most visible and vocal elements who get media coverage have much greater influence in shaping public opinion and policy than the silent cowards who refuse to confront them.

That "minority" is well-organized and well-funded, with ready access to the media and government representatives. They gather under umbrellas like "reconstructionist" and "dominion theology", and their aim is indeed to take all of the key power positions, from local school boards to the white house, congress and the supreme court. Their goal is to "take the country (back) for Christ" and then move on to global domination in the name of their religion. Look them up, there is plenty of material about them.

however, with all of that said, there are also plenty of bigots who do not use religion to justify their hatred of others. Bigotry has deep religious roots, to be sure, but it is larger than that.

Religion invented the idea that homosexuality is wrong.

The only reason some religious people no longer believe literally what they were taught by their particular religion is that they've matured and understand that religion is just a "story."

WE spend too much time and energy promoting that other minority - religious literalists. Tow-thirds of self-defined "religious people" actually support equality. We should be asking them to stand with us and stop attacking and in the process promoting the fundamentalists.

This is the best article on bigotry I've ever read!

Dr. Joyce Brothers has said that all bigotry is rooted in ignorance.

My Mom used to say, "Ignorance is bliss, and there are a lot of blisters out there!"

Tea-Baggers call President Obama everything but the one thing they really want to call him - the "N" word, but that might show them to be the bigots they really are.

Some new polling suggests that Tea-Baggers (Klansmen without the sheets and all the K's) are - for the most part - well educated, which tells me that bigotry has no bounds.

As Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote in SOUTH PACIFIC, "You have to be Carefully Taught to hate." It would appear that members of the LGBT community are the last bastions of bigotry. Who's left?

But when these so-called Christians use the Bible to justify their personal biases, something tells me this isn't exactly what Jesus Christ had in mind. But Christians wouldn't be happy if they didn't have someone to hate. It makes them feel better about themselves. It's worth remembering here what Carl Jung said: "The things that irritate us about others, is often a reflection of ourselves..." Hmmmm.

In Germany, the Scientologists have been outlawed. I'm all for that.