Michael Hamar

Gay Teen Suicide, Homophobia, Bullying and the Elephant in the Room: Religious Bigotry

Filed By Michael Hamar | October 02, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: freedom of religion, gay bullying, gay teen suicides, religious based prejudice, special rights, theocracy, U. S. Constitution

In the aftermath of a cluster of gay teen suicides, there has been a great deal of Maggie_Gallagher_0.jpgcommentary and discussion in the media, both LGBT and mainstream, about bullying and its destructiveness.

A number of bloggers and commentators have skirted around the issue without addressing the force that is the underlying force behind all of the homophobia and bullying: religious belief. And in particular, conservative Christian religious belief which has come to hold special rights in what is supposed to be a secular society and a governmental system that grants no special privileges to any particular religious denomination or dogma.

These special rights take many forms ranging from prayers opening public meetings where invoking the name of Christ is allowed no matter who in the public is offended to laws that enshrine conservative Christian beliefs in the civil laws. Such laws include, but are not limited to Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and/or laws that continue to protect LGBT citizens from forms of discrimination prohibited by state and federal law when the targets of discrimination are literally everyone else in America except LGBT citizens.

The principal proponents of anti-gay bullying - whether or not they have the honesty to admit it - are conservative religious leaders such as Pope Benedict who has described gays as "intrinsically disordered" toward "an objective moral evil," Richard Land and Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Convention. And, of course, professional Christians such as Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and down low pastor Eddie Long who enrich themselves in large part by peddling anti-gay hatred.

Jeremy Hooper has challenged their role in the "culture wars," but in my view these individuals and their organizations and institutions border on accessories to murder and need to be called out as such.

The constant anti-gay drum beat that these individuals and organizations disseminate is damaging in two ways: (1) it sends a message that anti-gay bigotry and bullying and other forms of anti-gay abuse are totally acceptable, and (2) it tells gay youth - and older gays as well - that they are damaged garbage unacceptable to the larger society. When one hears this message routinely and witnesses even the President of the United States and a strong plurality in the U.S. Senate lacking the integrity and resolve to end legalized discrimination and prejudice such as that embodied in DADT, the emotional and psychological damage to the targeted group can be lethal. Indeed, suicide comes to appear to be an attractive option.

Believe me, I know of what I speak as one who has had two serious suicide attempts driven largely by the brutalization I experienced from a prejudiced legal system.

Sadly, most courts - far too many politicians - lack the courage and respect for the U.S. Constitution to end the special rights given to anti-gay religious beliefs. A few courts have, however, recognized that Christianist religious beliefs should not shape the civil laws. One such court was the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum v. Brien, No. 07-1499, filed April 3, 2009, where that Court recognized that the underlying animus against homosexuals in general and in the facts before the Court in Varnum - gay marriage - is based on religion. The Iowa Supreme Court stated in relevant part as follows:

While unexpressed, religious sentiment most likely motivates many, if not most, opponents of same-sex civil marriage and perhaps even shapes the views of those people who may accept gay and lesbian unions but find the notion of same-sex marriage unsettling. . . . Consequently, we address the religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate as a means to fully explain our rationale for rejecting the dual-gender requirement of the marriage statute.

State government can have no religious views, either directly or indirectly, expressed through its legislation.... This proposition is the essence of the separation of church and state. As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all.

We in the LGBT community and the larger society can dance all around the issue of bullying, but in the context of anti-gay bullying, we will never solve the problem until we take on the driving force behind the phenomenon head on: religious bigotry and the improper enshrining of such bigotry in the nation's laws be it in the form of DADT or the deliberate exclusion of non-discrimination protections to LGBT citizens whether it be on the employment front, housing and accommodations or other everyday issues. The deference to religious persecution and bigotry must end and those who refuse to support Constitutional liberties for all citizens must be condemned without hesitation. Christianits can hold their toxic beliefs but it os far past time that they be excised from the nation's civil laws.

When looked at from this perspective, as a nation, the United States must decide whether or not it will live up to the promises of the Constitution granting all citizens religious freedom and barring religious tests or not. If Barack Obama and others lack the spine to demand that the Constitution be made paramount, then this nation becomes in many ways little more than a hypocritical farce. We condemn Islamic extremists and their effort to impose their warped religious beliefs on all, yet we allow our homer grown equivalents to do precisely what we claim to condemn. Meanwhile, expect the suicide deaths to continue. There is truly no way to end homophobia and anti-gay bullying/bigotry without taking on toxic forms of religious belief head on and that includes condemning Christianists as a clear and present danger to to constitutional government. Politely dancing around the subject cannot continue. The death toll is rising and will continue until this elephant in the room is confronted.


Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Mark McGovern | October 2, 2010 3:17 PM

Right on!

From the outside (Canada) looking in, the First Amendment has been made into a mockery. Freedom of speech is not supposed to mean freedom to tell whatever lies and propagate deceitful innuendo one wants.

Your country is CLEARLY devolving into theocracy. There are more than GLBT rights at stake here.

JonathonEdwards | October 2, 2010 3:17 PM

Michael,

I couldn't agree with you more. I would add a wrinkle here, however. As a gay Christian pastor, my experience has been that very loud anti-Christian voices in our movement won't let progressive religious voices speak. You will never be able to counter toxic religious arguments with secular humanist arguments. No matter how logical they may seem, the truth is that religious conviction is a far more powerful force than mere argumentation. If you want to defeat the religious roots of anti-gay bigotry, you have to let those of us with the religious tools needed for that fight into the ring. You don't have to adopt religious beliefs yourself, but if someone is saying "gay is bad because the bible says so", you need to let someone who can say "no, your wrong, the bible says exactly the opposite" take the microphone. Saying "the bible doesn't matter" is never going to fix the problem.

I and many many progressive Christians - clergy and lay people - have been screaming at the top of our lungs for decades that Christianity doesn't say the awful things these "Christianists" claim that it does. And we can go toe to toe with them, chapter and verse. Our arguments are better than theirs. Based on better scholarship. More ancient and numerous sources. They are just flat out wrong and we can prove it.

But when we try to refute their positions within the gay community, the gay community seems to insist on accepting their position as the final word and then attempting to defeat their arguments with anti-religious tirades instead of countering their bad theology with better theology. Which is just handing them a victory. The reason people believe this about Christianity is because the other voices are de-legitimized by the very people we are trying to help.

So yes. We do need to defeat the religious roots of homophobia. Amen brother. But the place to start that battle is not in the board rooms of secular glbt rights organizations. Its in progressive churches and synagogues and temples that need the community's support and encouragement.

I find this comment insulting, dishonest, and manipulative.

This, to me, is the crux of this christian's argument:

"You will never be able to counter toxic religious arguments with secular humanist arguments."

It seems reasonable to consider the Lawrence decision as the greatest triumph for gay rights to date. I reread the Kennedy's decision, and was struck at how well secular arguments work.

Kennedy looked at a large body of scholarship that contradicted the assertions made in Bowers. To make a long story short, secular arguments and good secular research were the reasons we won in Lawrence. Absent from Mr Kennedy's opinion was a mention that liberal christians do not discriminate against gays.

In the most recent secular success, Mr Walker's ruling on prop 8 followed the same general pattern. Lots of secular research were what Mr Walker used in determining that prop 8 violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the US constitution. In his decision, Mr Walker destroyed the "evidence" that the pro-prop 8 side used. Again, absent was any mention that moderate christians tolerate gays.

I want to emphasize that it has been secular research and secular humanist assumptions about the state and governance that led to Lawrence and to the Walker decision. Thus, contrary to this christian's statement that secular humanism offers no solution to gay rights, the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates otherwise.

I would also like to point out a couple of US trends.

1. The number of people who identify as non religious is growing.

2. The number of people who identify as what one my call progressive christians is dwindling.

3. The area of christianity that is growing is the fundamentalist gay hating christianity.

Therefore, I would like to know how embracing any kind of christian is in our best interests. It seems to me that what the gay community ought to do is show our support for groups that are advancing secularism. To this end, I think we have failed.

Instead of reaching out to the religious, we ought to be supporting and making alliances with groups such as these:

1. The National Center for Science Education.
http://ncse.com/
This group works tirelessly to keep creationism and intelligent design out of science classes. I contribute to them and they need more help. This group was extremely useful in the Dover trial, which kept intelligent design out of high school biology.

2. Center for Inquiry
http://www.centerforinquiry.net
This is their mission:
"The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values."

3. Freedom from Religion Foundation:
http://www.ffrf.org/

They have a number of billboards promoting secularism and atheism. They need your money.

It seems to me that this christian minister is more interested in keeping people religious, rather than increasing gay rights. I write this because secular humanist arguments have been extremely persuasive and have been the NUMBER ONE reason there are no more sodomy laws in America.

We gay people need alliances. We ought to be allying ourselves with secular groups. Our only chance for long term equality is to get religion out of politics. Supporting secular groups is where our money should go.

As to the religious, your religion has caused enough harm. I suggest that you keep from lying about the power of secular humanism, secular reason, and a secular government. If the religious want to encourage secular government, I applaud this. But, keep it secular and keep your religion out of it.

Joe

To Mr Edwards:

You wrote:
"You will never be able to counter toxic religious arguments with secular humanist arguments."

Our greatest success was with Lawrence. This came from solid secular research and argumentation. It had nothing to do with moderate or progressive christianity.

Another great success was Walker's ruling on prop 8. Again, this is another example of secular reason triumphing over religious dogmatism.

Thus, your argument that secular humanism will not get us equal rights is terribly flawed. Secular humanism and secular reasoning encourage and strengthen secular government.

This is also worth considering:

Those identify as non religious are growing.
Membership in moderate, progressive churches is dwindling.

For the sake of the gay rights movement, then, we need to support secular groups that are keeping religion out of biology classes, that are putting up billboards in support of atheism, and that are working to keep religion out of government.

It seems to me that you are using this blog to advertise for christianity rather than participating in gay rights.

To those who are progressive christians: support secularism and keep your religion out of gay rights.

Joe


So-called "progressive" Christians need to create a denomination instead of continuing to support those that sanction and promote bigotry. Apologizing for those "other" Christians doesn't accomplish anything.

Please explain, then, how 40 states have banned SSM via direct vote, gathering super-majorities when there are single issue ballots to be cast? How, when a legislature or court tries to grant SSM, do voters manage to force a direct vote to overturn SSM in almost every case?

I'll tell you why I think this happens. It is simply because once you start arguing scripture, you are in no position to say your interpretation is any better than theirs. I know *you* think so, but they think the same about themselves. The idea that God, Jesus, or the Bible says X only serves to have one person assert their opinion while trying to give it greater authority than the mere opinion of a human being.

Moreover, perhaps only a few Christian sects are really this extreme, but precious few are willing to admit that gay sex is not a sin. So at the heart of the matter, there is only a difference of degree, not kind.

The *fact* remains that since 1997 this country has become more stridently anti-gay. And it is only recently that many atheists started being vocal (unfortunately sometimes rudely). And it is only now that we are starting to see some real public opinion shift. A shift, mind you, that seems to correlate with a *secular* view of the arguments that are made against gays.

And the heart of the matter is arguing *policy* in terms of scripture is the problem here. There is only one approach to take vis-a-vis government, and frankly you should be on our side on this, which is that government and policy should not be religion based. Many of us who rail against religion do so in the context of religion in public policy. Bringing *more* religious argument into the mix seems to be a route to win the battle but lose the war.

It is really all too much to hear the religious complain about how mean us gays are to them, while religion is actively persecuting gays. Suck it up, and help us bash *political* religion as secularists, not as just another religious group amongst many competing religious views. Ally yourselves with us as secularists (which need not mean non-religious) instead of putting yourself in the same group that believes religion should have a say in policy. That is, unless you honestly think gays would really try to eliminate religious belief.

Lastly, I truly feel that religion needs some element of disrespect and mocking, because it is afforded respect by default. It would be best if people were judged on their actions not the thoughts in their head, but sadly the fact is the broad underlying assumption in society is religious = moral and good, atheist = immoral and bad. I cannot in good conscience continue to denigrate myself as an atheist to advance my rights as a homosexual. Sometimes, the enemy of my enemy just isn't enough.

Well said.

Instead of Christians continuing to apologize for "other" Christians, they need to determine which ones reject the traditional Christian belief that "homosexuality is wrong." So far, none have. Therefore, they're all the same - willing sponsors of bigotry, hatred, discrimination and the loss of innocent life.

Christians are doing this. They are the source. It needs to stop. Which Christians have the courage to lead the way?

Marja Erwin | October 2, 2010 7:01 PM

You have said this many times before. But repetition doesn't make it true.

1. I am a Christian. Homosexuality is not wrong. How many of us have already refuted your claim in this way?

2. Paul's sexual politics are messed up. Homophobic politics are wrong.

3. The concept of homosexuality as a) a condition and b) a condition including both men and womyn is modern. Homophobic churches are just as untraditional in rewriting Paul to fit modern concepts as supportive churches are untraditional in saying the Pauline passages are incorrect.

So what exactly do you want from us?

Which denomination?

Marja Erwin | October 2, 2010 7:35 PM

I'm unchurched. In part, that's because I reject the political maneuverings which led to the creeds of 325 and 381.

If you're not like all those "other" Christians, then you need a way for us to identify you. Otherwise, you are just like the others.

If there is a new brand of Christians that formally rejects the traditional teaching/belief that "homosexuality is wrong," you need to organize. At least become "New Christians." These new, improved bigotry-free Christians would be a good start.

The christian persecution of gay people began in 521 when Justinian had two gay bishops by emasculating them and holding them up to pubic ridicule. Christian hostility to gay people is certainly not modern.

Marja Erwin | October 2, 2010 8:04 PM

Arguably, persecution of trans people began in the late second or early third century. But the rationales for both persecutions have changed with time. LGBT people have existed for more than a million years, depending how widely we extend personhood, but the concept of LGBT people has developed within the last century, out of the concept of the "invert," out of the development of separate communities, and out of the defense of these communities against the same bigotry.

Rodney Hoffman | October 2, 2010 4:30 PM

I agree.

Furthermore, anyone who says, "Oh, no, we couldn't say anything against someone's religion!" is part of the problem. Stop giving religion undue deference. Religion is a choice. Tell people which choices demonstrably help lives and which hurt lives. Leave gay-bashing religions behind.

Renee Thomas | October 2, 2010 7:33 PM

To the (c)hristians peddling hate and threatening our youth, perhaps the time as come for you all to be put on notice.

. . . If we even see your shadow, you have no idea how fast and how hard we'll bring this fight to your doorstep.

to those who review the comments:

I made a rebuttal comment to Mr Edwards. It was not rude; I used no profanity, yet you didn't post it.

It was a long comment and I put some thought into it. I also made some good observations. So, I'm curious as to why you have omitted it.

May I ask why. If you'd like to reply to me via email:
joemoprod@gmail.com

Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | October 2, 2010 8:58 PM

Extraordinary post Michael.

As a “recovering Roman Catholic,” former Presbyterian Elder that finally told all family and friends a few years ago that I’ve always been, even when very young, a spiritual atheist, I find your analysis of what must change to be spot on!

The truth is that the Hebrew Torah (forget about the Christian Old Testament because Christian religious politicians edited out about 15% percent of the Torah some 1600 years ago), the Christian New Testament and Muslim Koran are essentially political manifestos. The Hebrew Torah and Christian New Testament are both “hearsay” written anonymously. Hearsay cannot ever be considered evidence of anything!

Michael is absolutely correct that our U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are secular documents and our 234 year old democratic republic is in fact a secular nation that tolerates religious expression so long as said religious expression, doctrine and beliefs are not made into any public law or public policy, ever! The collective conscience of our founders, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and Monroe all understood the danger posed by religious extremists, they were all very aware of the crimes committed in Salem Massachusetts by public officials while invoking God.

It is fact that the ultra conservatives in control of large portions of both Christianity and Islam deliberately contrived anti LGBT religious teachings in order to divide and concur people with political power in government. Both the ultra fascist Christian and Islamic sects to this day preach hatred, bigotry and fear instead of love and acceptance of all LGBT people. Any religious organization that refuses to preach absolute acceptance of all LGBT people, not tolerance, absolute acceptance while also preaching love for all humans is not a valid religious organization. There are some protestant Christian denominations that do teach absolute acceptance of and love for all LGBT people. I think the Episcopalian and Unitarian churches are examples though I don’t know that for fact.

I experienced bullying by other kids when I was in grammar and high school (Roman Catholic) and that bullying was both taught and encouraged by parents. This is no different from when the parents of white children taught their kids to hate and discriminate, even commit acts of violence against African Americans.

Sinclair Lewis correctly stated “when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross!”

The United States is currently embroiled in what I call “The Cold Civil War.” Miscreants like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Christine O’Donnell along with their miscreant propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and many others all toil tirelessly to make Sinclair Lewis’ prediction reality.

To Jonathan Edwards:

I agree with you too! I admire people like you who have religious belief and fight the good fight for full LGBT equality. I agree that too many atheists spend much of their time trying to convert people with religious belief. While I’ve never believed that Christ was God I’ve always tried and largely failed to live his message of love for all.

Unfortunately Jonathan, the bullies of many organized Christian and Islamic sects use their respective “bully pulpits” to perpetuate lies and hatred. Unfortunately many political leaders find it necessary to “kiss up” to these bogus religious leaders.

We in the LGBT community must put together a large group of religious, agnostic and atheistic spokespersons and make our unified arguments for full LGBT equality in the United States. We need to make the broadcast, cable, online and print news media aware of these spokespersons and insist that they be called on to refute religious and political leaders whenever they speak against or take actions to deny our birthrights.

Michael, Jonathan, the LGBT communities biggest problem is our own “alphabet soup” collection of advocacy groups. Just as the trade union movement united under the AFL-CIO banner we in the LGBT community need a single organization with a single unified message. Unless and until we have a single unified organization promoting full equality for all LGBT people those who oppose us will continue to divide and conquer us.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 3, 2010 5:14 AM

The elephant in the room is a killer - Republican bigotry. It's bigotry is evenly matched by the killer jackass in the room - Democrat bigotry.

Religion is obviously the origin of bigotry as well as backwardness and reactionary politics in general. In point of fact cultism and anti-LGBT politicians are joined at the hip.

Religion is a form of insanity composed of equal parts of greed, superstition and ignorance that comes howling straight out of the Dark Ages and prehistory. Religion is humankinds greatest tragedy.

The criminal intent of Islamists, christers and judaists is limited only by what they can do to us, not what they want to do to us. The cultists are not alone, they have friends in high places who pander to their vote generating capacity. Reagan did it, and so did the Clintons and the Bushes, Now Obama is doing it.

Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | October 3, 2010 7:05 AM

Ah Bill,

The list of American Presidents and politicians who pandered to religious extremists that they also distrusted, often despised is long and illustrious. Put Jefferson and Franklin at the top of that list.

Pam

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 3, 2010 10:49 AM

Ah Pam, nothing excuses the bigotry of the Clintons, the Bushes and Obama.

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear. Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

Lighthouses are more helpful than churches. Benjamin Franklin (Not a US President)

“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it”
John Adams

And etc. Many American presidents took a dim view of religious bigots but Obama is not one of them. He panders to it, and that pandering clearly helps create the climate of hated that leads to murder and violence.


Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | October 3, 2010 11:22 AM

I’m in absolute agreement with you Bill. My point is that Jefferson, Franklin and others kept their distrust of and disdain for religious leaders of their own time out of any public debate when they were alive. All presidents from Lincoln to Obama pandered publicly, I believe mostly out of political fear.

Alex Blaze asked this excellent question in his comment “Should more of us be engaging in theological debates with Christians or political debates with conservatives?” Unfortunately we’re stuck with engaging both simultaneously, but fortunately the courts have begun to help us strip religion away from our opponents arguments.

In the meantime how many more of us in the LGBT community must die before we have full equality under the law.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 3, 2010 12:19 PM

My comment is below.

I agree in the abstract, but I hope the message that people are taking here isn't "We should give up on helping LGBT youth in schools and just care about marriage, DADT repeal, and calling out/hating Republicans." That would make it all to easy, and it really wouldn't solve the problem.

I wouldn't call this the "elephant in the room" either - people have been responding to the "Gay marriage will solve anti-gay bullying" argument for a while here on TBP, which means that people have been making it for a while longer. The solutions to this problem are going to have to deal with schools at some point and are going to have to be based on the needs of LGBTQ students, not just what we observe from the outside. Otherwise we run the risk of co-opting these suicides for various gay goals (at this time, the right is already trying to co-opt these suicides as evidence that "homosexuality kills").

Perhaps you could clarify the solution you're proposing. Are you saying that laws based on religious anti-gay attitudes shouldn't be adopted or that anti-gay religious folks need to change their attitudes? Both should happen, and I'm thinking that the latter is the one that would actually help kids in schools more, but it also happens to be the one that's much, much harder. Should more of us be engaging in theological debates with Christians or political debates with conservatives?

If we stop TEACHING children that "homosexuality is wrong" the bullying in schools will stop. Christians sanction and promote the bullying by continuing to teach that lie.

Many gay Christians have shown up in these comments suggesting "it isn't ALL Christians" some of us have changed! Really, how do we identify you? Why don't these same enlightened Christians challenge their denominations to grow up and stop the bigotry, bullying and innocent loss of life?

Excellent point. In fact, these good Christians are quick to point out that it is only a vocal minority that is anti-gay. Which is easily countered by the fact that the only states that have SSM were the ones that managed to keep it from direct vote. In direct votes, 40 states banned SSM via super-majority. So really, stop telling me that only some of Christianity is anti-gay. It most clearly is predominantly, in a super-majority kind of way, anti-gay.

Any Christians who are gay friendly are adopting secular humanist views, not by any new discoveries of what Jesus said. Only evolving humans bringing a new reading. Gay friendly Christians are the furthest from the history and practice of Christianity than any others, and are the first to call the others "not-real-Christians". Whatever. To me anyone who calls themselves a Christian is a Christian.

I agree totally. Most Christians in the world are vehemently, if not violently homophobic, and the Christian religion has been that way for the overwhelming majority of its history. Gay-friendly Christians are a very recent phenomenon and still a rarity in most of the world.

If people who identify as Christians want to be pro-gay, then that's great, but we shouldn't kid ourselves into thinking that the Christian religion, on the whole, is going to change within our lifetimes. Just pay a visit to a church in Russia, Uganda or even the United States if you want to see what I mean, assuming you make it out alive.

The best thing we can do is kick religion out of the public square and eliminate religious people's ability to use their beliefs to oppress others.

Renee Thomas | October 3, 2010 9:15 PM

" . . . The best thing we can do is kick religion out of the public square and eliminate religious people's ability to use their beliefs to oppress others . . .”

Certainly I agree.

Perhaps the second best thing we can do is challenge all you so-called "enlightened Christians" who’ve chimed in to engage your individual denominations and insist that they specifically reject anti-gay and anti-trans bigotry in any and all forms. Inform them that their failure to do so will impel you to resign your associations with said denominations.

And then . . . plan on packing your theological bags with their predictable response.


Chris Hitchens is right . . . god is not great. At least not to the extent that most (c)hristians betray their understanding of Her.

Fine. They can start (yet another) religion identified as "Christian," but based on love and equality, not hate and discrimination. From a marketing perspective I think they'd do well. The only thing missing is courage.

Find some.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 3, 2010 12:17 PM

Hi Pam.

Regarding Alex's question I think debates with christers should be political, not theological. Who really cares about the proportion of gay vs. not-gay sky pixies dancing on the head of a pin.

We should ask them to explain why they shouldn't be taxed like Disney, Industrial Light and Magic and other fantasists.

We should ask them why cult schools should not be secularized (without compensation) to cut down, probably way down, on the rape of children.

We should ask them why their hate speech should not be criminalized because it leads to violence.

As for arguing with conservatives if you include all right centrist and bigoted Democrat and Republican politicians (that's everyone) in that category then I'm all for it.

We should ask them where they got the gall to ask for our votes when their hate speech and hate laws kill us, especially our LGBT children.

----------------

I think you're wrong about the leaders of the first American Revolution. They were pretty specific about saying openly that the US was a secular government.

The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . ." and in Article VI, Section 3, it says ". . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

The 1787 treaty with Tripoli, ratified by the Senate, says "As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." Obviously the Bushes, Clintons and Obama never read that treaty.

Of course you're right that all that eroded over time and now the question is whether or not the theocrats will win and fire up the ovens.

I don't think conversations with Christians should be theological or political. There are 2,300 types of Christians and they all think "they have it right." It's an exercise in futility. Because (as you have pointed out) religious bigotry is alive and well in BOTH parties, that political conversation is ineffective.

Instead, I believe a conversation about the basic human principle of Equality - without religion or politics is most effective. Only one-third of all self-defined "religious" people are "literalists," meaning "God told them so," but the majority hold religion more as an ideal or something "spiritual."

Two-thirds of our fellow Americans will stand with us for equality - unless you put religion or politics in the mix. Two-thirds supporting equality means game over for religious-based bigotry. That's the path to victory for the LGBT Community.

Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | October 3, 2010 3:20 PM

Hi Bill and Andrew,

I like this simple analogy, tell me what you both think?

Only 40 to 50 years ago left handed people were still discriminated against by the right handed majority until logic then medical research began to prove that left handed people are born the way they are just as right handed persons are. Prior to that enlightenment left handed children often endured having parents and teachers tie the left arm behind the lefties back to force them to write and eat right handed. I know many people my age and older who were forced to endure that indignity along with chastisement even bullying by peers.

All of us LGBT people are born the way we are just as right handed people and gender congruent heterosexuals are so why is it okay to deny LGBT persons their birthrights?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this discussion, thank you!

Pam

The difference being that religion (authority) never taught left-handedness was "wrong, sinful and deviant," it was just different. Religion teaches that LGBT persons are "lesser" human beings. Until that stops we will continue to see hatred, discrimination, bigotry, bullying and the innocent loss of life.

It's time for Christians to end the loss of innocent life and start acting humane and human. Which Christians want to lead the way?

Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | October 3, 2010 4:30 PM

Actually Andrew religion did play a role in discrimination against left-handed people though not to the degree we LGBT people have suffered and still endure. Check out these links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-handed

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmhansrd/vo980722/debtext/80722-15.htm

Bill, I hope you’ll check these links out as well.

Pam

Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | October 3, 2010 5:03 PM

Actually Andrew religion did play a role in discrimination against left-handed people though not to the degree we LGBT people have suffered and still endure. I tried including links but I guess Bilerico’s software frowns on that.

I like the simplicity of my analogy because society is overwhelmingly beyond discriminating against left handed people and lefties make up about 10% of all humans as do LGBT people.

My analogy plays best with people under the age of 40 because they already believe discriminating against LGBT people is silly and just plain wrong.

I was glad to see Ted Olsen and David Boies use in their arguments before Judge walker the 1967 Supreme Court Case that overturned a Virginia law that forbade whites from marrying African Americans, basically both are born the way they are and therefore have constitutional rights that no state can deny.

I like my “left handed” analogy mostly because it seems so ridiculous to many if not most I present it to. All discrimination against LGBT people is therefore equally ridiculous!

Pam

I think the Catholics had some left-handed dogma crap, but I think it was mostly just superstition. Christians are far more serious (and devious) about homosexuality.

I'm not sure if your analogy is an appeal to "wait" and let the Christian-bigotry continue because eventually it will disappear. Nobody has taught any silliness about left-handedness for centuries. Christians are still teaching homosexuality is wrong. Other Christians need to stop them - or put them out of business.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 4, 2010 4:36 AM

The difference is that christer bullies and thugs didn't chop off their left hands or drive them to suicide.

Some of us are people of faith who are not aligned with any religious movement at all, and find ourselves somewhat whipsawed between the total batshit loons of American apocalyptic Christianity(Please read Jeff Sharlett's "The Family" and be very,very afraid) and increasingly, if understandably, more aggressive speech and posturing from a movement that is no longer Agnostic or Atheist but flat out anti-religious.
I agree that the stupidity machine that is lorded over by Beck and Fox news is one reason why our young LGBT brothers ans sisters are being persecuted, but isn't part of it the hothouse nature of the Internet itself? Haven't we seen that phenomenon right here on this blog?
The ironies(and weirdness) can abound when the rhetoric gets this hot. Bill Maher rails against religions and their "Magic sky god" but then solemnly tells us that Vaccines aren't safe and that we all ought to be eating seeds.
I have a God of my own understanding, and frankly, it's none of your damn business as long as I remain open and tolerant.
Don't be surprised to hear a lot breaking glass before this is all over.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 4, 2010 7:17 AM

"I have a God of my own understanding, and frankly, it's none of your damn business as long as I remain open and tolerant."

If you don't want to make it our business don't proselytize and tell people of reality anything about your worship of sky pixies or whatever.

If that's the best you can do 'tolerance' is ok, but what we really need is your support for:

• unlimited legal equality enforced by draconian penalties for discrimination, harassment, violence, suicide by religion and murder by religious thugs.

• taxing cults and closing all cult schools to protect children from predators.

• the fight criminalize cult hate speech.

• a federally funded program to emancipate at GLBT children from LGBT-hating parents and place them with GLBT parents if they're too young to fend for themselves.

This has been a delightful read. Somehow I doubt if the teen suicide rate would decrease much at all if everyone in the world suddenly became atheists.

Why do you always have to play the Atheist-card?

It has NOTHING to do with non-believers and everything to do with believers. Christian "believers."

This Christian (a Baptist Minister) gets it:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/3479/why_anti-gay_bullying_is_a_theological_issue/

Interesting article. I disagree with his assertion that it is hard to imagine a society which persecutes "gay" without an underlying theological basis. It is very easy. Find me a single society that has not persecuted some of its members. Minorities always get persecuted. Those who "serve self" will always find a way to the top of the heap by garnering majority support built on abuse of the minorities. The evolution of our own Congress is a perfect example of that principal as wealth concentration slowly reinforced its own exaltation over the last hundred years or so.

So, I turn your own question back to you. Why do you always play the theology card? Are you blind to human nature or is it simply easier to indulge in the "blame game"?

Haha. I don't have a "theology-card," all my cards say "I don't know." Nobody knows. I'm okay "not knowing."

The point is religion is the source of the "idea" that homosexuality is wrong and it leads to bullying and suicide. Only religion teaches that Deena. It is the source.

That is BS Andrew. Culture teaches that and it has existed in cultures where Christianity and other "Judeo-christian" religions weren't even present. Surely you are a better student of history than your comments indicate.

While we are at it let's tackle another stupidity. People who are homosexual should not be divided into a hierarchy of those "born that way" and those who "choose to become" homosexual. Both exist. Nothing is stronger than human will and what is wrong with choosing to be Gay? The "born that way" reality should not be exalted over "choose to be". All that does is create another type of discrimination.

History is great, but in our lifetime and the short life of these teens, the source is religious doctrine. It is taught in church and it remains a traditional Christian belief.

I've never met anyone who "chose" to be a homosexual. I have a lot of bi friends and they have never suggested "choice," either. I actually think everybody is everything to varying degrees. I'm gay. I was fortunate to be born that way. When I was younger "church" told me it was a choice and they also told me it was "wrong." So, for me - church is ignorance.

Oh you might know a few but which would admit it? You see, the very idea has now become poison. I ask again ... what is wrong with choosing to be gay? That is where anti-gay should be confronted whether or not the sentiment is religious or simply culturally based. That is where the very concept of the right to a pursuit of happiness and individual freedom must be met. The "born that way" argument misses the whole point by asking for acceptance and inferring to the religious crowd that "God did it so its OK". That is weakness. I find it to be similar in a way to an MTF transsexual saying "I pass therefore I am a woman". Now that will probably raise a few shackles but wth. Jesus pissed off a lot of people too and as an upstanding Jewish man one thing he did not instruct his disciples to do is create religious institutions and pervert his message. Ah but then that is off topic.

I didn't say or imply there was anything "wrong" with choosing to be gay. I just haven't seen it. As far as people "hiding" the "choice" it seems less likely than hiding the reality.

But, none of this chatter excuses religion as the primary source of all LGBT hatred, bigotry, discrimination, bullying and the loss of innocent life. By the way, Christians "choose" to sanction the teachings/beliefs that harm us. Maybe someday they will reject them.

Pray on it, if you choose.

Oh I pray on many things Andrew. First is that each person will understand that no points are gained with God by saying "look over there, there is a worse sinner than me".

Chansity Luckett | October 9, 2010 3:04 PM

i dont think there is anything wrong with being gay even though i am not myself... no one should judge people who are because it is not their place.. so to all who are be happy with yourself beacause it doesnt matter what people think of you as long as you are happy