Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Comment of the Week: Rev. Emily Heath on Christians

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | July 03, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Andrew Sullivan, Barack Obama, gay marriage, Maggie Gallagher, segregation, states rights

Comment of the WeekOn Michael Hamar's post,Christianists, the Bible and Tyranny of the Majority, which discusses the idea that Christianist opposition to same sex marriage is about the authoritarian power and control of organized religion that has led to war and oppression, Rev. Emily C. Heath comments:

"Perhaps one should make a distinction between those who stood in the halls of Albany last week using their Bibles to preach hate and those many Christian clergy members who came last week and used their Bibles to preach love? I was there all week and advocated for same sex marriage everyday. Don't say I'm the same as the Christians who teach hate."

What say you, Projectors? Is organized religion bad for LGBT freedoms, or is it just a few bad apples?


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I'm not a "fan" of organized religion by ANY Kinsey Scale. But as much as I disagree w/Rev. Heath on a million chapters and verse of real life... I truly do respect her positive mission.

She rocks.

What a battle.
She is getting it from friendly's and the enemy.

I grew up in a half Mexican/Irish "Catoholic" home. 12yrs of Parochial School. So I have very DEEP "issues" w/organized religion. I adore the pageantry and hate the politics.

80% of the nuns I grew up with were so OBVIOS closet dykes. I can't even call them "lesbians"... because the ID seems to sexually packaged for women who gave up their sexuality for Christ.

I can't give up meat on Friday during Lent and I'm suppose to be a PC dyke and do "free range" chickens regularly... so need I say more?

Free Range::: $8.99 a lb
Slaughterhouse:::: $1.99 lb

I have FIVE teenagers!!! I can't afford the PC bullshit.
It's a f**king chicken.

Maybe in the end that is how I view organized religion.

It's packaged BEAUTIFULLY... and it's suppose to make me feel good.
But the price really is too high.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 4, 2011 7:59 AM

"Is organized religion bad for LGBT freedoms"?

At the risk of seeming flip in response to what I consider a very valid question, I would first observe that the question itself presupposes answers (or maybe the lack of consensus on them) to some slightly more general but related questions:

"Is religion bad generally regardless of issue"?
"Is organized religion in general worse than (unorganized?) religion"?
"Is religion bad in particular for LGBT freedoms"?

Over time commentators on this site and elsewhere have weighed in on whether or not religion generally is the enemy of LGBT folks and their causes. I would suspect that for the most part, whether or not the religion is "organized" isn't really the issue.......I suspect that a very highly organized LGBT-friendly/acceptang/affirming faith would be seen by most as a good thing. On the other hand, if the tenants of a particular denomination (or those "bad apples" who claim to speak for it) don't have those benevolent characteristics, then the more highly organized, the more a threat to LGBT folks and their causes.

And then of course there's the distinction between "religion", which seems to be viewed as a negative by many in the LGBT community, and "spirituality", which gets a more favorable nod. I vote for "highly organized spirituality".......so long as its minions understand that I'm on the "don't call" list insofar as asking for donations is concerned.

Organized religion is bad for anyone and mankind in general. In the grand scheme of things it always caused far more problems than it solved and has only held us back.

People who feel the need for spirituality and faith should do so on their on time. Why do they need to tell other people what to believe?

Argh! Correction!

That should say "Why do they need other people to tell them what to believe?"

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 4, 2011 9:15 AM

I'm glad you clarified that comment, Steve, because I was about to respond that there is a difference between explaining one's own beliefs and attempting to dictate those beliefs on others who don't want to be imposed upon.

Yeah, that typo totally changed the meaning. It wasn't meant to be in any way about proselytizing or evangelism

In response to similar pleas to those of Ms. Heath for differentiation between "good" Christians and "bad" Christians, Dan Savage has made the argument that "good" Christians have not done a very good job of protecting Christianity from those who have effectively hijacked it, those who use the Bible as a club. I have to agree. I'd go a step further, though, and suggest that organized religion by definition and design is intended to separate the chosen from the outsiders, and they do this by enacting moral strictures reflective of collective prejudices. They are, in other words, divisive rather than inclusive, and therefore quite often happily ostracize those most in need of the human understand and love they purport to offer. I prefer to find my spiritual fulfillment on my own, and to look for opportunity to personally give thanks for the good fortune others have helped me to achieve.

I'd add to that that the desert monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) grow from a tradition of religion as a means of social control, especially in matters of sexuality -- if you control sex, you control the population. They are all strongly patriarchal religions, and patriarchal societies have a deep-seated horror of homosexuality. They are also ill-equipped to deal with a society that permits a diversity of religious beliefs -- they are all about unquestioned authority.

On the immediate question, Tim K and Dan Savage have it right: "good" Christians have tended to keep a low profile in this particular civil rights movement. It's not entirely their fault: the corporate media have enabled the professional heterosexists to grab the spotlight, to the extent that leaders of recognized hate groups regularly get guest spots on talk shows and contribute op eds to major print outlets. It's the controversy -- they're not really interested any more, it seems, in actual journalism.

The answer, of course, is that you can't stand quietly in the hallway at the statehouse clutching a Bible -- you've got to yell. You've got to push and shove. You've got to be a little obnoxious, or no one will pay attention because there's too much going on and your opponents are pushing, shoving, and yelling. I realize it may be expecting a lot to want a Methodist to carry on like that, but they have to decide what's more important. Anyone remember the Berrigans?

While there have undoubtedly been large numbers of Christians who have acted ethically and in furtherance of the betterment of humanity, they've been far outnumbered in influence Christianist leaders who've used the charade of faith to make life worse.

For every Desmond Tutu, how many Ian Paisleys, Pat Robertsons, Roman Catholic bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes are there? How many Christian leaders have denounced the viciousness of the Fundamentalists in Congress, the self-proclaimed "born-agains," who have gone out of their way to take food from the mouths of the hungry, healthcare from the sick, heat from the freezing, etc.?

The sickos who preach a God of hate lack all inhibitions. While Jesus did preach that people should do good and not make a big deal out of it, nonetheless in self-defense, if nothing else, those who do do good do NO good by allowing the hatemongerers to speak for them, too.

It is no longer simply, "a few bad apples" when those "bad apples" have more of a media voice than all of the others combined. At that point the qualifier "few" more aptly describes the good apples than the bad ones.When your farm grows more bad crop than good crop... wouldn't it become appropriate to call it a bad farm? The majority of voice in the matter is going against human rights at this point. this makes it bad overall. Yes, there are good people there... but if they want to be separated from the bad apples, they need to be VISIBLY good apples.(If the farmer cannot tell the difference, he's probably not going to risk feeding it to his family.) That means that they need to earn that separation by doing SOMETHING to fix the problem. Good people do good work. Bad people do bad work. people who sit in the middle don't make it good.Those are the people who don't have a voice. they are not active, they are not heard.They do not count. Until more religious groups are willing to truly put their names behind human rights, and risk their reputation with other religious groups on it... they're neutral at best. Those in an organization who act, are the organization. those who just sit there to be counted on the roster aren't functionally...well... anything.

Each church that forces people to sin by refusing to marry them is still causing other people to sin. It is the fault of every person who pays that person's pay check that that person was forced to sin because they financially back policies that contradict their own bible.The bible tells you not to force people to sin. By not marrying them you force them into adultery. The bible tells you not to turn people away from Christ, and that you will be responsible for those you turn away. By making yourselves bigots, you are turning many people away forever. They are allowing people to be forced away by their ignorance.

It is Every Religious person's job to fight bigots politically, if they ever hope the church as a body to be ethical or pure. It is Every Religious person's job to fight bigots in the church to prevent sin, and keep the body moral. The movements against LGBT rights throughout the united states is solid proof that the body is neither ethical, not moral as a whole due to inaction. If the body is to be "good" it must do good things. As a whole, it does not, because the voice is still that of the impurity who try to deny people rights. the voice of an organization determines the organization. If there were are homophobes in glad, or hrc, or any other lgbt organization...and no one heard them, and their opinions don't influence the whole... then hrc or glad would STILL be dedicated to equal rights. If there are people who support rights in religions but no one hears them,and their opinions don't influence the whole, then religion is still going to be dedicated to crushing people's rights.

I agree with a lot of posters on here. I get a lot of grief from family and friends because I am an atheist and I post things on Facebook that highlight the bigotry of many Christian. I get the occasion messages back saying don't lump all Christians in etc. What annoys me is these people claim to be on my side but don't dare speak up in their own churches. My aunt is a perfect example. She is a Catholic and is personally very supportive of me. But I guarantee you if her priest speaks at the pulpit against my community she sits there silently and says nothing. I am sorry then you are part of the problem. That is the problem many are unwilling to challenge and stand up.

Dan Massey | July 5, 2011 12:35 PM

Myth based religion has never done anything but degrade human progress. Essentially all contemporary religions are myth based. Christianity fails the test of worth in totality to the extent it relies on Hebrew racial myth (the old testament) and Greek philosophical myth (the concept of the Christos). We know that nothing that draws on such ancient Sci-Fi can be either true, good, or beautiful, and this stands forever opposed to the power of love in the world.

There are, fortunately, many people (now and in the past 2000 years), who love others, serve others, do good to others, and make our world more beautiful by their efforts. Some of these people call themselves Christians or Jews or Muslims or Atheists or something else, which is their choice, but their lives have taken inspiration from the universal powers of love and truth the human mind, not from religious myth or dogma, neither of which have a place in the life of mature personalities.

I have actually taught and guest lectured on this particular topic. It was a class for future mental health professionals. But my end point is always this. Religion is a double edge sword. It can bring healing, love and community, but can also bring isolation, rigid thinking and oppositional thinking.

When I was kicked out of my church it wasn't the loss of religion that I cried over. It was the loss of my community. My parish is where I volunteered. It is where I gained my values in how I treat others. It was a large part in how I grew into myself.

Catholics won't change. They are stubborn that way, but the people can learn to love. The same parish that threw me out and poignant talk about Matthew Shepard from a Deacon whose daughter is a lesbian and welcomes her with open arms.

Gary, IN has a pride parade for the last 4 years. My marching band from Chicago marched with them. What was amazing was that organized and accepting parishes were VERY present in bringing this community together.

I am not Catholic and Christian or really have any faith now, but I know of its importance to people. I usually make great effort to make fun of organized religion. Still I still miss that community, but I have built a new one for myself.

In the end though we can not change religion and have no legal actions for this. If anything the hate groups bring us sympathizers. (No one loves Westboro Baptist Church afterall). In the end I stick to the idea of a double edge sword. Something that brings us together and separates us. It is all in how we handle it.