Guest Blogger

'Religious Freedom' and the World War on LGBTQ People

Filed By Guest Blogger | April 22, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: controversy, fundamentalism, oppression, religion and homosexuality, religious freedom, religious liberty, science, war on religion, world war

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Dominick L. Auci earned his Ph.D. in Pathology from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and served for many years as Assistant Professor. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and currently resides with his husband in San Diego, California.

The LGBTQ community is in a state of global war with religion. Concurrent with historic victories in the Americas and Europe are renewed faith-based persecutions in Asia and Africa. In our own country, we find ourselves in a pseudo-debate with a nightmarish, Nazi-esque specter of hateful discrimination in the guise of "religious freedom."

religious_war-lg.jpgIt is impossible not to notice that wherever religion is strongest, we suffer most. As the fallacy of a creative universal intelligence yields to the relentless advance of science, the desperation and viciousness of our enemies increases. Their efforts shift to the promulgation of their hateful delusions among the world's poorest, most uneducated and ignorant masses.

Such vitriolic, irrational hatred is powerful evidence, perhaps proof, that religious thinking -- the belief that knowledge comes from divine revelation -- is indeed a form of mental illness.

Unless one is being purposely evasive, there is little difficulty in defining mental illness, at least broadly. The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines it as "a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning."

There is little rational counterpoint to the conclusion that this definition applies precisely to religious fundamentalists, who bomb parades, abortion clinics, bring down airplanes or fly them into buildings. This argument has been made eloquently in recent work from neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor at Oxford University, but can it be applied to so-called moderates in any meaningful way? If so, how might this insight impact the way the LGBTQ community deals with its friends and enemies?

All three of the world's great monotheistic cults have moderated their dogmas significantly over the last half-dozen centuries yielding, more or less, to the advancement of science and the topic of coin. This was not done happily or willingly, but only after violent opposition to every millimeter of human progress.

Bitter experience and common sense show that religion and science are utterly opposed and cannot in any meaningful way co-exist or be reconciled. One expands at the expense of the other. Both are epistemologies that attempt to explain why things are the way they are.

religion-vs-science.jpgReligion is absolute, non-negotiable, and utterly independent -- indeed defiant -- of observation. Science, on the other hand, is tentative, endlessly debatable, and utterly dependent on reproducible, empirical evidence.

It is important to take a few moments to make vital distinction between religion and spirituality or meditative disciplines such as Buddhism, which are in no sense religions. They resemble science in their tentative, observation-based natures, but differ dramatically in that they deal exclusively with inner experience that cannot be falsified or independently confirmed.

In contrast, science is something that must be done in a community because it requires independent confirmation of observation, something quite impossible when discussing one's own personal experience of inner life. Lip service must also be given to the preposterous claim that science is a form of religion. Succinctly, science is a religion like "off" is a TV channel.

Religion: Participation = Complicity

To a person, the moderately religious cling, like children unwilling to let go of Santa Claus, to the fool's hope that there is some means to rectify and reconcile religion and science. This is a grave error with catastrophic consequences.

First, participation in monotheistic cults enhances their curb appeal and supports, both physically and intellectually, the basic premise of fundamentalism: that there is some great virtue in belief despite evidence. This is a falsehood.

Secondly, it perpetuates a perceived equivalency between faith and reason, between religion and science. This is an extremely dangerous falsehood that may very well drive our species to extinction. Lastly, and perhaps most cruelly, moderates pass on their 'faith' to children, promulgating the god delusion in perpetuity, where, like a cancerous stem cell, it inevitably metastasizes and grows again into a new and venomous malignancy.

Thus, however well-intentioned, moderates are vital accomplices to the atrocities of fundamentalists. So what is the payoff for moderates? Why do they cling to the irrational? Put simply, it is the fear of death and the desperate hope to some how, in some way, be reunited with loved ones in the hereafter. This is very the snake oil of priest craft.

And so we come to the heart of the matter. The LGBTQ community is targeted for the same reason the Jews of Europe were targeted for holocaust: because our very existence gives lie to the comforting common mythology and provokes in the masses the irrational fear of death.

quit_squirming.jpgPriests and politicians are expert at turning fear to their own advantage. And so the difference between fundamentalists and moderates is not categorical but rather a continuum, like mental health itself, with most folks falling somewhere in between, with more or less fluidity to move in either direction on the scale.

It is useless for moderates to argue that religion teaches anything but overt and deadly hostility to homosexuality. The Koran, Torah, and New Testaments are all rife with unequivocal scripture not only condemning romantic same-sex love, but also demanding the harshest possible punishments.

It is absurd to claim that Jesus Christ made no specific pronouncements against gay sex as he also made no specific pronouncements against bestiality or pedophilia. There is compelling historical and archeological evidence to suggest that Joshua Bar Josef, if he indeed existed, was an Essene Jew, and as such almost certainly held views on these subjects similar to his contemporaries and indistinguishable from those of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Religion is not equivocal on the subject of homosexuality without desperate, illogical and wholly unfounded intellectual contortions. According to religion, homosexuality is an abomination, a crime against nature and offensive to the very fabric of the godhead.

Science: A Rational View

Science is equally unequivocal in the face of overwhelming evidence that homosexuality is a polymorphism of animal sexuality in general and human sexuality in particular. It has its basis in a complex interplay of nature and nurture, genetic and environmental factors, that contribute to a familiar continuum of expression, with folks falling somewhere in between extremes.

To be sure, the science is incomplete. We don't know the relative contributions made by genes and the environment. No genes have been isolated and we're not sure of the myriad environmental factors that go into the mix.

Be that as it may, based on biology, psychology and a shared human experience, sexual orientation isn't a choice anymore than right- or left-handedness. The simple observation that sexual orientation precedes the development of secondary sexual characteristics is powerful evidence of a primary neurological hard wring that preempts beyond choice.

The science is incomplete, but unequivocal: being gay is not a choice. There is no reason to oppose LGBTQ equality except on religious grounds. There is no denying that the persecutors of our community are almost exclusively religious thinkers.

Religion is the #1 Enemy of LGBTQ Equality

These observations drive towards some unpleasant, yet vital conclusions in our struggle for equality.

First and foremost, religion is our number one enemy. Moderates, while valuable allies, wittingly or unwittingly give aid and comfort to our deadly enemy.

That blunt fact must be made very clear to them in the context of the grave damage it does to us. If they are truly our friends, the magnitude of the damage and its requisite injustice must make them question their faith.

This is not to say that the LGBTQ community should not welcome and be grateful for their support. The bitter truth is that we're hopelessly outnumbered and fighting a desperate battle. Without them, our cause is lost and our lives little less.

Some have argued that moderates -- for example, our allies on the Christian left -- are natural mediators on the path to reconciliation. The powerful question that ought to effect the future behavior of the LGBTQ community is whether or not they do us more harm than good.

Secondly, if it were possible to argue logically with fundamentalists, there wouldn't be any. With the certainty of madness, they are not conscious of having lost the battle on equality.

They believe in their marrow that the omnipotent and omnipresent maker of heaven and earth is on their side. They do not think it possible to lose. They believe only that god is testing them, and if they fail to exterminate us, they will share our eternal punishment. They believe this unswervingly and unalterably and are invulnerable to the argument of evidence.

There is no kumbayah moment coming with such people. They are deadly foes, impervious to the logic of science. They are, however, exquisitely sensitive to the logic of force.

History teaches that oppressors never stop until the oppressed make the price of oppression, in blood and treasure, higher than the oppressors are willing to pay. Like the African-American struggle for equality, driven as much by Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, and Huey P. Newton as by Martin Luther King Jr., the LGBTQ community must demand equality.

This struggle is not a polite disagreement -- it is a world war against religion. It is a stark realization, but true nonetheless, that equality, like power, is not something anyone -- not even friends -- can ever give. It is something that must be taken, by any means necessary.

Knight cartoon via Philosophical Disquisitions.
"Quit Squirming" cartoon by artist Mike Ritter of the GA Voice.

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