Posts Tagged marriage equality
It is amazing, and with that I mean appallingly frightening, to watch the mental gymnastics religious people will go through to justify bigotry and hate and the extent to which they are willing to hide behind the Bible to justify their narrow-mindedness and intolerance.
The hatred and bigotry of religious people these days, among a myriad of other things, appears to be particularly focused on gays and lesbians and doing everything possible to humiliate and degrade them, including denying them their basic human and civil rights, and defending such thinly veiled bigotry, by making appeals to “traditional values”, “god” and other nice-sounding and “wholesome” terms.
It is a tragic testament to the state of affairs that gays and lesbians are being scapegoated when in reality those who have done, and continue to do, the most harm to society and its people are not gays and lesbians, but heterosexual, most notably religious, men (women too, but I say men because our political landscape – from Congress to state governments – as well as the business sphere are predominately populated by men). Which is not to say that a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation should be used to pass judgement on their character and actions. It is merely to point out that if you are going to blame someone for the shit we’re in, maybe you may want to rethink whether someone’s sexual origination should be relevant in answering that question. And if it is not, then you should ask yourself why you think being gay or lesbian, and thus someone’s queerness, could somehow lead to the breakdown of society.
The sad thing, of course, is that even self proclaimed “reasonable” religious folks believe that at the end of the day it is ok, acceptable and understandable to deny gays and lesbians equal rights, or to at least curtail those, such as a same-sex couple should have to undergo more stringent scrutiny when trying to adopt and so forth. And the thing is, such people don’t even feel bad about. On the contrary, they make such claims with a good conscience and they sleep well at night, too. No compunction.
One such individual is Mark David Hall, a “traditional, orthodox Christian” who believes that “God designed marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman.”
Hall is this week’s guest columnist at Oregon Live. Hall, who undoubtedly must have Jesus as his role model, and I can see that just by looking at all the love, caring and acceptance that is so shining through in his column, just like Jesus would do, defends the “right” (ahem) of religious people to
deny services to discriminate against anyone mainly gays and lesbians and deny them services of any kind, especially when serving gays and lesbians constitutes “endorsing a practice” (homosexuality) that disagrees with the Christian’s beliefs hateful, ignorant notions. Although he personally would never to do it, as he assures us, Hall, nonetheless, fully supports business owners who want to be able to legally deny people services if they believe that rendering such a service would violate the tenets of their religion.
He believes that the “religious convictions of these individuals [who wish to discriminate] should be respected” because allegedly this country was founded on “the conviction that men and women should be able to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences.“
Yeah, I don’t think so.
The First Amendment
The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That is all the protection and “right to religion” the US Constitution provides. Full stop.
A place of business is a place of business. Baking a cake, serving food, selling furniture, AstroTurf, cars , clothes etc. are not exercise of one’s religion which would necessitate First Amendment protections.
What Hall is proposing is, therefore nothing but pure, cold, hard, unadulterated, not to mention legalized, discrimination.
The Demand For Legalized Discrimination
I am no legal expert but if the government, through laws and legislation, were to actually grant business owners the right, the legal right, to deny services to gays and lesbians (or any number and creed of people religious business owners do not like) if they felt that providing those services would violate their religious rights, then that would, in fact, constitute the government “respecting an establishment of religion”, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment.
Now, I don’t feel inclined to get into a discussion about how under the umbrella of “religious beliefs” millions of people have been killed, oppressed, subjugated and otherwise harmed over the millennia and continue to be killed, oppressed, subjugated and otherwise harmed, but I will say that such a measure, if made into law, would be nothing more than a license to discriminate. A licence which a myriad of companies out there could potentially use to discriminate against a host of people they don’t like and/or whose life style choices and/or various other inherent attributes they do not agree with.
After all, what if business owners decide that they do not want to sell to blacks and Muslims, atheists and women, red heads or people with tattoos? This is no different than having a black only section in your restaurant or a”White Only” lunch counter at the diner – only that in this case religion is used to accomplish the same, which is to deny certain people, whom religious people deem abnormal or unworthy, access.
And make no mistake about it, granting certain people rights while denying the same rights to others based on any attribute you do not like is discrimination.
Separate But Equal and the Jim Crow laws that enforced them were terribly unjust and discriminatory, not to mention that under Separate But Equal, there was, in fact, no equality for those who had to be separated, by law, from the rest of the (white) population that felt threatened by black emancipation.
The irony here, of course, is that under the umbrella of “religious freedom” such a law would mainly be utilized to deny services to gays and lesbians and only gays and lesbians. In fact, this appears to be directed at gays and lesbians only as there is rarely any talk about denying other entities that violate biblical laws (and we all know that they exist) services. They do call it religious freedom but that is only a scaffold beneath their bigotry.
Sweet Taste of Wickedness
Last year, the owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, told a lesbian couple that “we don’t do same-sex marriages.”
It is interesting to note that there is nothing there to indicate that Sweet Cakes by Melissa was denying to bake wedding cakes for other biblically non-approved actions, such as for couples for whom this is the second marriage (i.e. who have been divorced), for example, or inter-faith marriages. There is nothing in there about doing hymen inspections to sanction the validity of a heterosexual engagement before agreeing to bake a cake. In fact, the owner was more than happy to bake a cake for all people no questions asked but decided to throw the Good Book at her same-sex wedding customers, claiming that apparently in this instance, and in this instance only, her religious convictions were being violated.
Surely, if one were so obliged so as to deny people services because it disagrees with one’s religion, one would do so for all actions that violate religious doctrine.
See how religious/Christian supremacy works? Religious people have put everyone on the defense, playing the victims whose rights are being allegedly neglected and stomped on. As the privileged, dominant entity they really believe that they are entitled to their privilege and dominance and that demands for equality infringe upon their rights to subjugate, discriminate, oppress and harm others. And they think they have that right, that entitlement, because it is in the name of god and religion.
This “right to discriminate” legislation which Hall supports with bells and whistles, is a hate filled piece of legislation directed at gays and lesbians only. This is not about right to religion. This is legislated hate under the guise of right to religion.
The new name for bigotry these days seem to be “religious freedom” which religious people have taken to mean that it should be upheld to the point where it should supersede and trump someone else’s human and civil rights.
* * *
Religion is harmful, in case you had not gotten that message from the eleventy million other examples and cases I have talked about and explored here.
Trying to have a constructive, intelligent and meaningful conversation and/or even debate with religious people is impossible. It is more likely to be hit by a meteor than find a religious person capable of engaging in intelligent, meaningful discourse about religion, life and existence, and with that I mean not using fiction such as the Bible, god and Jesus, as the “back up” and back bone of their arguments.
Eventually such conversations take on the form where you see yourself educating a grown-ass human being with all their mental faculties intact on basic tenets of deductive reasoning and coherent thought, which, invariably, sounds condescending and patronizing, making the religious people feel like you are talking down on them or treating them like an idiot, which is certainly not intentional but merely what happens when you talk to someone who is the intellectual equivalent of a strawberry short-cake incapable of rational thought, or unwilling – the science is still out on that one.
The thing is, I do not look forward to putting religious people down and talk down on them or even come across as patronizing, they do it to themselves. After all, how do you have a conversation with someone who, upon being presented with facts about something, goes back to citing Jesus, the Bible and thus the kind of unbelievable crap that a fifth grader could disprove, as their “source” or “evidence”?
If you believe the things written in the Bible, and I mean everything, not just cherry-picked items you find convenient to believe in and adhere to – including that the Earth is 6000 years old, that a woman was made using a man’s rib, talking snakes that coax people into eating fruits that then get them banned and the myriad of other fairy tales and fables in the Bible – then that not only sets you up for being rebutted, ridiculed and utterly creamed in a debate – which in turn you find offensive, mean and harsh- but it also makes you an idiot.
If you believe that the billion-galaxy universe was just created for us, you are an idiot.
If you believe that a man can come back from the dead, then you are an idiot.
If you believe that a man can part a body of water through sheer will power, then you are an idiot.
If you believe that a virgin can become pregnant by some invisible being, then you are an idiot.
If you believe that a woman was created by taking the osteopathic tissue of a male, then you are an idiot.
If you believe that god answering the prayers of overpaid thespians and athletes while ignoring the plight of starving children in Sudan makes sense and is just a matter of god working in mysterious ways, and a matter of free will, the you are an idiot.
When you live in a world in which 26,000 starve to death every day yet you keep thanking god for the food he allegedly put on your table and thus for personally feeding you, then you are an idiot.
The list of such absurdities goes on and on and the religious person’s defense of them is always “free will”, “evil” and “faith.”
It is like this guy Ray Comfort who, upon being asked what he would do if he had indisputable proof that god, in fact, did not exist, responded that he would just go and pray to god to give him clarity while he contemplates that.
Really? You expect me to respect that?
Conversations with theists almost always take on the same form to the point where I can anticipate precisely what they are going to say next.
Usually it goes something like this:
1) Religious person makes some hateful or unfounded claim, and I say unfounded because said religious person’s source(s) for making the claim are almost always The Bible, god, Jesus – i.e. fiction (or whatever prophet and/or holy person the religious person is adhering to). Not all my conversations are with Christians. I have debates with all sorts of religious people and suffice it to say that the arguments, if one can call it that, they present are the same in essence with only the names of holy people and locales changed.
2) I respond with facts and referencing historic, biological, physical and anthropological realities.
3) Religious person responds with some more bizarre, incoherent babble, citing the Bible and Jesus and other works of fiction as the source for their ignorant, detrimental and often hateful claims, peppered with false analogies, strawmen and a host of other just factually wrong things.
4) I respond with some more facts refuting the ridiculous claim religious person makes.
At this point, my contempt and frustration is becoming more evident and surfacing. It is as if I was witness to a hilarious skit whose plot begins to slowly fade into the macabre and heinous and ridiculous and my smile fades equally as I am faced with the sad, baffling and horrific realization that I am talking to someone trapped in so much self-delusion and ignorance, nothing seems able to get them out of it. Reason, facts, physical laws, reality are all secondary when you deal with someone whose main reason for believing in humbug and fiction is faith, also known as wishful thinking.
5) Religious person then short-circuits and gets frustrated/confused/overwhelmed with all those facts presented to him or her and the nullification of their absurd claims, prompting them to grasp for straws, including playing the victim and whining about how unfair it is of us terrible, angry, mean atheists/critics to point out inconsistencies, injustices and a host of other detrimental acts of the church/bible/religion.
The same person that just spent the last hour telling us that gay people, for example, should not get married and thus be treated like second class human beings and citizens, suddenly begins whining, kicking and screaming about how unfair I am to them and how mean it is of me to not respect their beliefs and symbols and religious icons etc. etc.
Playing the victim is then quickly followed by something in the order of “Oh, my faith is strong so what you say doesn’t bother me” blah blah blah and such a proclamation is accompanied usually by various ad hominem attacks and disparaging “observations” about my person and personality: you sound angry, you sound bitter, you sound unloved, you sound like something bad happened to you and you never got over it, you poor thing, I feel sorry for you, I pity you, god loves you though, oh my dear I can tell someone has hurt you and you are speaking out of hurt, you are intolerant, you have no sense of humor, you have no hope blah blah yawn.
Every. Single. Time, this is the pattern. And this is the pattern because, at the end of the day, religious people have absolutely no backing of their claims. When you reference
Hobbits, goblins, unicorns, god, Jesus, Muhammad, the Koran, the Jedi mind shit, Gremlins and other fictitious characters and entities to make your point or worse, to make claims about life, existence and such things, you have no argument.
When you have no argument, other than the fictitious entities mentioned above and such things as “free will”, “satan” and “faith” – well that makes you quickly look like an idiot, which I can see, can be frustrating.
Case in point, the son in the Facebook conversation depicted here. His mother pisses and moans about his atheism and asks him why he has to share his terrible lack of belief with the world (which is darn rich coming from people who are always more than eager and willing to shove their backwards religious beliefs up everyone’s asses and vaginas, literally) and when her son responds by citing her her very own fucking Bible, she brushes him off with something patronizingly stupid like “Oh, at least you read it” obviously, and true to form, not having understood a single word he just said.
Note that how religious people behave now, feeling that their faith and beliefs are under attack – which is absurd because how can someone’s demands for equality constitute a threat to religious people – unless, of course, said religious person’s beliefs require them to hate – is the same line of arguing white supremacists used during segregation and the Civil Rights movement.
They, as the privileged and dominant as well as oppressive entity, suddenly claimed to be the victims who had to protect themselves against the blacks who had the NAACP on their side while those, poor white folks had nothing to protect them against the black man and his reefer but the KKK.
In reality, black people in this country wanted nothing more than equality and dignity instead of being subjugated, scapegoated, lynched and treated as sub-human.
Only in the minds of religious people is seeking equality “bullying,” as Michelle Bachman put it earlier this week when lamenting Arizona’s failed “right-to-discriminate” bill by stating that “the gay community have so bullied the American people” – as if gay people were not legitimate citizens of their own country but just these other disgusting, bullying entities pestering an entire nation with their calls for equality. I mean how dare they demand equality and infringe upon Michelle Bachman and other religious peoples’ right to subjugate, humiliate and discriminate against an entire marginalized segment of the population?
Yes, only in the diseased minds and hearts of god-loving, religious people are demands for equality “bullying”, while casually dismissing an entire marginalized population as illegitimate citizens of their own country is considered “traditional values.”
Of course, when – as an atheist – one points out such hate and inconsistencies, one is called angry, militant, intolerant and hateful. If religion and its followers are one thing, then it is sadly predictable and thoroughly harmful.
Religion is harmful. I cannot repeat this enough and I am going to continue repeating it a hundred million more times: religion is harmful.
Religious people, especially in this country, always piss and moan about how unfair everyone is to them. That their god, and Jesus, and Bible and Cross and Guns and Christmas and overall “right” to shit on people as they feel they are entitled to, are all under so much assault by them evil, gawd-less atheists, homosexuals and Liberals.
The hatred and vile diatribes lodged against women, homosexuals, transgendered people, atheists, liberals and evolutionists is mortifying but religious people continue playing the victim card, branding critics as intolerant, militant and haters.
Criticizing religion and speaking up against the religious powers (and lobbyists) that be is often futile and is generally considered bad form. “Ohhh, don’t criticize the religious person and their faith, you hurt their feelings“. “Oh no, you cannot say that to them, it is rude.” “Just be careful to not hurt their feelings – oh no.”
“You should respect people’s beliefs“, I am always told. “It is not polite to criticize someone’s faith“, a guest once said to Bill Maher, trying to shame Maher who was, rightfully so, speaking out against the massive amount of ignorance and hatred religion spreads and purports, into not “criticizing” people for their faith. Often you are dismissed as being miserable, unhappy, bitter, picky…you name it.
My own co-worker who considers himself a man of god has an irrational disdain for gay people and has, on many occasions, referred to them as “faggots”. Yet when I even make the mention of religion, I am admonished and asked to “not start again.” He can go on and on about how terrible atheists and gays are trying to “impose” their lack of religiosity and homosexuality, respectively, onto others, and he makes sure anyone who may be interested finds out just how critical he is of atheists because they are “so extreme” but if anyone mentions the widely-spread religious bigotry in this country, including his homophobia, he feels offended and under attack, playing the wrongfully vilified victim.
Then there is the often-used bad-apple analogy: “I am religious but my group/church/denomination is totally not like that. The problem is not religion, it is just those religious extremists that are the exception/a small minority“. You will be hard pressed to find a religious person who does not employ the “oh yeah them, not me” trope. Only that even so-called moderates subscribe to unfounded and harmful beliefs that they then want to impose on others in the form of legislation.
Case in point, the theocratic government of Arizona, a state whose legislature is infested by religion and religious ideology to such a degree that the long list of measures and laws the state has enacted resemble more something the Ayatollahs in Iran might agree with than legislation one would expect to find in the constitution of a state of the United States.
The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), a conservative Christian advocacy organization, is responsible for having backed and co-drafted 123 laws and measures since the group’s 1995 establishment, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod.
Just this month, measure SB 1062 was signed into law — a measure that would have allowed business owners to reject services to any individual on religious grounds, effectively discriminating against the LGBT community. While that measure was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), on Thursday, the state House passed another controversial measure: the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” (I love it how they try to drown the harmful legislation they just drafted in euphemisms) or HB 2884 which seeks to permit surprise inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant.
Despite the national outcry and bipartisan opposition to the group’s most recent legislative affront on LGBT rights, a number of CAP’s controversial bills continue to make their way through the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature. Here are four more such similar legislation pushed entirlye by the state’s religious activist groups, seriously bringing into question religious peoples’ claims that their beliefs are “merely private” and do not hurt anyone:
HB 2565: Criminalizing assisted suicide
Passed the House, referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Although Arizona already has a law banning assisted suicide, HB 2565 seeks to expand the definition of manslaughter to include “offering or providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge” that the individual intends to end his or her life.
House Bill 2284 would allow unannounced government inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. The legislation also seeks to make it a class 1 misdemeanor to help “a minor avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirements” to obtain an abortion. Furthermore, the bill would require abortion clinics to submit an extensive report of each abortion performed at the facility, including “what steps are taken to save that child’s life.”
SB 1048: Corporate scholarship tax credit
Passed the Senate, passed the House Ways & Means Committee. Referred to the House Rules Committee.
By expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program, SB 1048 would permit small businesses organized as S corporations to claim tax credits for contributions to “school tuition organizations” — tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that allocate the majority of their annual revenue to scholarships or grants for private schools. Opponents of the bill argue that it would divert funding from public school districts.
House Bill 2281 would exempt nonprofit religious assemblies, as well as institutions leasing “property, buildings and fixtures,” from paying property taxes. A similar CAP-backed effort was vetoed by Brewer in 2013.
Here are 13 of the 123 CAP-supported bills that have been signed into Arizona law:
- Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, strengthening informed consent requirements and requiring FDA compliance for medication abortions (2012). The 20-week ban was later ruled unconstitutional.
- Exempting religiously-affiliated employers from being forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or contraception (2012). Viagra is ok, though.
- Ensuring that arts funding is not spent on obscenity or material that disgraces the flags of Arizona or the United States (2012).
- Ending taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for government employees’ abortions (2010).
- Banning partial-birth abortion (2009).
- The Abortion Consent Act: requiring informed consent, enhancing parental consent and expanding rights of conscience protections for healthcare workers (2009). Also known as shaming and manipulating a woman into carrying to term a pregnancy she does not want and overall making access to abortion as hard as possible for women.
- Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the Arizona Constitution (2008). This bill was advanced through a ballot initiative.
- Funding community-based marriage classes (2007).
- Banning taxpayer funding of human cloning (2005).
Religion a private matter?
Religion does not hurt anyone?
One should not criticize religion?
I beg to differ and the facts about the harm of religion stand for themselves.
Religious people have set into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card not realizing that their “right” to religion ends when someone else’s rights are being trampled upon by that religion.
The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Religious people are, per the First Amendment, free to exercise their faith without government persecution but they are not free to make laws or establish policy that incorporates and respects their faith.
Why do religious and non-religious people alike not understand that and call demands for them to stop infesting public policy and government as infringing upon their freedom to religion?
It is like the King of France saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them. It is utterly absurd.
For far too long, religious people have put intellectuals and rational people on the defense forcing them to, time and again, guard against and explain themselves to these delusional fools.
It was about time, however, that religious people started defending their unfounded stance, their delusions, their fairy tales, their bigotry, their hatred, their ignorance. No one should have to politely nod when religious people and their actions hurt people in a very real way while taking humanity down a dangerous path.
Religion is harmful.
Yesterday Pope Francis of holier-than-thou and west-catholic-shit-church street said “Who am I to judge a gay person?” Well, I don’t know, the fucking Pope and self proclaimed spiritual leader of a corrupt faith that everyone sees as holy and an authority? But, er, I’m digressing. Anyway, his exact words were “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? […] You can’t marginalize these people.”
I don’t know. Call me a cynic or a skeptic who isn’t easily fooled by someone’s empty words but the Pope paying lip service and saying he now accepts gays means nothing to me, nor does it change how I feel about religion, him and about how detrimental and dangerous and harmful religion is.
Facts speak louder than words: The Knights of Columbus poured over $2 million during the last election cycle alone on funding anti same sex marriage legislation and they are continuing to do so as we speak. Does anyone really believe that these haters and bigots will now suddenly support same sex marriage because the Pope says in some sort of an afterthought that he does not think gays are dirt beneath our feet? Who the fuck cares that he said gay people are good people? If he really believes that, then why treat them like second class human beings and deny them equal rights? Is he for same sex marriage now? Is he for gay adoption? No. Case closed.
Finally, I find it sad that our expectations of religious leaders are so low that we are actually grateful and elated that some religious figure doesn’t insult gay people to the maximum and wishes death and misery upon them. I mean, really? Are these the low standards we have subscribed to these days? Be thankful that he at least didn’t they say he hates them – never mind he still is not willing to grant them equal rights?
The Pope’s pandering to the gay community is just that, pandering. How magnanimous to say gay people are not automatically deserving of eternal damnation, but of course with the addendum that while homosexuals deserve a chance to find grace, they can only do so if they are celibate. So being gay is okay, so long as you never act on your homosexuality. It’s the old “love the sinner, hate the sin” tripe that is simply an insult.
The Pope and his sheep followers with their insincere protestations of acceptance of homosexuals can kiss my ass.