Category Archives: social justice

“in Christian Love” #not

So yesterday I did something unusual – I listened to a sermon, specifically a sermon from my old church in Savannah. It popped up in one of my social media feeds, and being the curious grrrl that I am, I had to listen for myself.

The topic was on homosexuality and gay marriage – an issue that’s admittedly close to my heart. I suppose there was a part of me (a small part) who was hoping my past church had moved on past its discriminatory views that I remembered.

Of course I was disappointed.

I chose to listen to the sermon on my evening walk, so last night if you saw me muttering aloud to myself as I walked, now you know why.

The sermon is the last part of the “You Asked for It” series, where congregants wrote in topic suggestions for sermons. The minister delivering the talk is the same one who has been the pastor there ever since I was little.

If you check out the church’s Facebook page where the video is posted, you’ll see nothing but glowing comments about how “compassionate” and “balanced” this sermon is. Part of me is hoping that negative comments about it have been scrubbed, because I have a hard time believing that we watched the same sermon.

Here’s what I saw:

I saw a minister who abused his position of power. I saw someone who knows he is influential in the lives of so many who look up to him and consider him as a spiritual leader in their lives. And yet this leader can in one breath say that he “loves” you, but then quickly turn around to dismiss/discredit/destroy you. That kind of faux compassion is nauseating to witness (both in person and on tape).

[For example, in the midst of his homosexual shaming, there was also some slut-shaming also thrown in for good measure -- In reference to his point on “addictive homosexual behaviour", here's an actual quote: “girls in every high school in our community are addicted to the attention that sex can bring, and they discover that lesbian behaviour will turn on guys, and they push that button. Like a drug user.”]

Also throughout the sermon I saw this minister cite shoddy research, more than once, to bolster his argument. In the beginning of his talk, there were huge generalizations made about vague scientific studies and psychological findings. The dismissive label of “urban legend” was tossed about when referring to any recent findings of genetic dispositions to homosexuality (though no sources cited to back this supposed legend).

Later in the sermon, as he started to cite specific research to back more of his more odious points, he cited research that was anywhere from 21 to 36 years old.

For example, one of his key pieces of evidence was that “only 1% of the American population is homosexual.”  What wasn’t mentioned is that this stat is at least 21 years old, as it comes from this 1993 NYTimes article.  And this decades-old statistic is the most recent research that’s cited in the sermon!

Other claims and sources used as evidence:

Of course when the pastor cites this research, it was never stated how old these findings were. Just how relevant are these results, decades later? A precursory google search reveals that several of these studies have questionable issues with them, but for someone who’s listening in the congregation, are they going to take the time to follow up on the information that is being presented? It is completely disingenuous on his part to present these findings as relevant facts for people to consider.

But beyond the large amounts of faux piety and substandard research in the sermon, what bothers me the most is the damage it will cause to people sitting in the pews who are in fact members of the LGBT community. Do you know what was the “solution” that was given to these individuals? Choosing to live a life of being single and celibate. Because according to this minister, sex isn’t a physical need, it’s just a desire – so, in order to be an accepted member of this religious community (and by extension, loved by the God of this community), you will need to reject and suppress intrinsic parts of yourself and your identity.

While I’m pretty good these days about leaving religious people alone with their beliefs, this is one place where I have to call BULLSHIT. Why would anyone want live under the weight of this kind of hurtful dogma, especially when there are real-life people who are being crushed in the process?

If there’s a bright side to be found in this situation, it’s this: I am so glad that views like these are being recorded and broadcast. These desperate pleas to maintain religious dogma at the expense of human beings are being more and more drowned out in our society. Having a sermon like this recorded for posterity is important — so when (not if, but when!) it’s a foregone conclusion in our society that LOVE IS LOVE and no government should stand in the way of same-sex commitments, we will be able to pull up these videos and remind ourselves of how hurtful some religious beliefs can be.

I don’t regret rejecting this belief system at all.

Keep asking hard questions

As I wrote about earlier, Tuesday night was a huge night for the Democratic party and liberals.  Not only did Obama get reelected, but there was a huge repudiation against many GOPers who had spoken out about their pro-life positions in ways that were shocking (but consistent) with their extreme ideology.

Rachel had an epic takedown of some these politicians in her show on Wednesday night:

Here’s where the Republicans ran into trouble — they had to justify what their supposedly “pro-life” views looked like when applied to actual people. It didn’t go over so well. From Rachel:

Where they were in power between the 2010 elections and the 2012 elections, Republicans governed very, very, very aggressively on this issue [of restricting access to reproductive choices]. They governed so aggressively on this issue, it was unprecedented.

What happened then, though, which maybe the Republican were not counting on was that Democrats decided they were going to make the Republicans explain themselves. Democrats decided they were going to hold Republicans to account for what they had been doing in terms of their governance and their philosophy on this issue, and what they planned to
keep doing if Americans elected them again.

And when Republicans started having to answer specific appointed questions about their issue on abortion, some creepy stuff happened this year. We learned a great deal, very specific, very creepy detail of what Republicans really do believe about this issue they’ve been so energized about.

Yes, who would have guessed that the “gotcha” moments for these Republicans would simply be to have them explain themselves on this issue?

In all honesty, though, I’m not surprised. Asking hard questions is now my preferred way of talking to people about reproductive choice, as I’m no longer that concerned about persuading people to my side of the issue. What I want to hear is how pro-lifers justify their ideology being applied to someone else. It’s all fine and good to say that “life begins at conception!” — but what does that LOOK like in our society? What are the implications of that statement in terms of the law?

The other line of approach I’m taking when it comes to discussing abortion is to say this: There is no such thing as no abortions. There is only such a thing as no safe abortions. Think about that. Does the “life” portion of being pro-life apply to the lives of women who die from unsafe procedures? If the ultimate goal of the pro-life movement is to reduce the amount of abortions that are taking place every day, why isn’t there more support for women to have access to contraceptives?

The best article/essay I’ve read on that question is this one: How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement. So much of this essay has resonated with me, because I, too, once counted myself in the “pro-life” ranks.  PLEASE take the time to read this article, no matter where you fall on the issue — it’s going to be one that I read over and over again.

From her conclusion:

The reality is that so-called pro-life movement is not about saving babies. It’s about regulating sex. That’s why they oppose birth control. That’s why they want to ban abortion even though doing so will simply drive women to have dangerous back alley abortions. That’s why they want to penalize women who take public assistance and then dare to have sex, leaving an exemption for those who become pregnant from rape. It’s not about babies. If it were about babies, they would be making access to birth control widespread and free and creating a comprehensive social safety net so that no woman finds herself with a pregnancy she can’t afford. They would be raising money for research on why half of all zygotes fail to implant and working to prevent miscarriages. It’s not about babies. It’s about controlling women. It’s about making sure they have consequences for having unapproved sex.

But I am very sure that there are other dupes out there. If you’re sitting there reading this thinking “but I really am in it to save unborn babies,” I am sure you’re not alone. After all, I was one of you.

If you are one who has been a part of the pro-life movement because you really do believe in “saving unborn babies,” it’s time to cut your ties with the movement. You may be an honest and kind-hearted person, but you’ve been had. You’ve been taken in. It’s time to let go.

This is an important enough issue that these difficult conversations need to keep happening — on my part, I’ll keep asking the hard questions.

Fear and Prejudice on Trial

Go. Go now. Go now and watch “8″: A Play About the Fight for Marriage Equality

Jerry and I watched it tonight, and if ever there’s a church service for someone like me, this. is. it.  One of the final monologues by Martin Sheen (playing the role of the plaintiff’s attorney Ted Olsen) is simply ELECTRIC.

The final scene of the play includes the plaintiffs addressing the audience, talking about the reasons why they put themselves, their relationships, and their family in the public spotlight for this trial.  I was struck by how their primary motivation wasn’t to secure their own individual rights to marry, but the rights of other couples.

Hearing this made me think of one of my favorite high school teachers, Ms. Hearn, who taught me AP US History. I remember that we spent WEEKS studying the ins and outs of the Constitution, including many of the court cases fought that ended up securing some of the rights we enjoy today.  Now, 17+ years later, I can remember how Ms. Hearn impressed upon us how hard others have had to fight to give us the freedoms we so often take for granted.

And that’s how I see these plaintiffs. Ordinary Americans who are doing something extraordinary. Not just for themselves, but for everyone — gay and straight alike.  It’s only a matter of time before everyone back home will be able to marry the person they love — and no piously-driven homophobia will stand in the way.

David Boies (the other plaintiff attorney) put it best: “We put fear and prejudice on trial – and fear and prejudice lost.”

How did I spend my Saturday morning?

Not watching cartoons or sports, but watching the Senate edge even closer to ending a discriminatory policy.

Final vote on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is expected at 3pm EST today.  I’ll be watching.

The girl effect, revisited

How a 12-year-old girl could be the solution the world needs right now:

Girls Count.

Focus on your own family

I just finished watching the 2010 documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition (link is to the full movie online).  I’ve known about the film since it’s preview days, and I was happy to see that it’s now available to view online (though I don’t know how long that link will be active, so get to watching it, ASAP).

I spent the first half-hour of the film in tears — though not all of the sad kind. I loved hearing the story of one of the first same-sex couples in California to get married.

But not all of my tears were happy ones — I really had a difficult time hearing of the horrible discrimination this couple felt by some of their religious family members, the ones who reacted negatively to the news of their marriage.

[note: If any of my friends or family members were to ever reject Emma should she grow up and be a lesbian, I can confidently state right now that it would be the end of my relationship with them.  There is simply NO EXCUSE for that kind of rejection or judgement, and such a oppressive ideology has no place in my (or my family's) life.]

The film is definitely worth a watch, if only to learn about the deceit and maliciousness of the movement to pass Prop 8 — a political effort spearheaded by the LDS church.  The film also spends much of its time focusing on the HUMAN damage caused by the implications of Prop 8 and the relational damage of blind religious obedience to hurtful dogma.

Of course, watching this film was positively influenced by the news of the Prop 8 trial decision from a month or so ago — not to mention that I can already feel the tides of history changing, because soon it won’t be an issue for ANYone to be married, if they so choose.

I’m just glad I’m on the ethical side of this issue.  I know one day I’ll be able to tell my daughter about this human rights battle and about who said what and where when it came to marriage equality.  Plus I’ll also have access to all the YouTube clips of all the hateful, vile religious leaders who spewed their bigotry in their quest to preserve discrimination.  If watching those videos doesn’t turn people away from these faith ideologies, I don’t know what else will.

Bring on the Supreme Court, I say. No more H8.

the girl effect

more here.