Ever notice how often human rights come under the attack of groups like Christian Action Network and Family Policy Institute lately? They have a unique name for human rights, these fundamentalist radicals - they call it "secular humanism" and they call it a religion - just as they claim that atheism is also a religion - although how an absence of apples still counts as apples is unclear to me. By their contributions to the storehouse of radical fundamentalist literary material, you will see they are certainly not overly fond of the concept.
Yesterday I ran across a letter by Taryn Hodgson, main spokesperson for Africa Christian Action (aka Christian Action Network and a dozen other names) attacking the move to legalize prostitution in South Africa. She was taking it on the angle of "protecting women" in SA - because women need "protecting" in SA, don't you know. I am pretty sure some women do need protecting, and having read her letter, I am quite convinced that she is one of them. This same person, and this same group are also very vociferous about their hatred for homosexuals, transsexuals and other sinful deviants, like myself of course.
All right, auntie Taryn.
It is ironic that you are so concerned with "protecting women" - but tell me, I am interested to know - who would protect fellow citizens of this country, including women - who are neither Christian, nor heterosexual - from you and your conservative and clearly fundamentalist group?
Now before somebody attacks me for being a "baby killer" (that sounded plain stupid back in the Vietnam war protests - and it sounds plain stupid now too) I am not in favor of either prostitution or abortion (at least for its own sake), but as far as I - or the SA constitution are concerned - abortion is a private issue for the individual to decide, and as for prostitution, I know for certain that no law will ever prevent that issue from being a fact of life, as it has been since there have been human beings, sex, poverty and currency. As far as I can tell, as long as those things are a part of the circle of life, then there will always be prostitutes. Ask the chimps living in the jungle who pay each other for sex with bribes of food, they will tell you - or at least they would, if you could understand "chimp".
If Taryn Hodgson and CAN are truly concerned about "protecting" women that they would not simply be trying to prevent the passing of legislation (on "moral" grounds) that would significantly ease their plight and make working conditions much safer for them. No, they would be setting up initiatives to help get women away from the sex industry by offering them attractive and practical long-term alternatives to it. However it seems to me she is as serious about "protecting women" as James Dobson is about "protecting the family" - from itself.
Taryn made an interesting comment in her letter - which has the feel of an ACA press release sent to multiple publications - that the right to have an abortion is simply "to protect men who do not want to take responsibility for their children". This makes little if no sense - and provides an interesting take on the fundamentalist view of human rights and the flexible morality of such groups.
They call caring about what happens to other people and the suffering of fellow human beings "usurping God", and "replacing God's law with human rights". Their prime gripe is the fact that God has been booted out of Government and the SA Constitution and replaced with the rule of non-religious law. In fact, it is pretty clear what they think of human rights as a whole when it comes to their relentless attack on the civil rights and equalities of the pink community, whom they demonize and persecute at every possible turn.
It would seem that taking the appearance of "protecting women" is not her true intent here - for she failed to mention the real reasons for having abortion on demand - the right of a woman to have final say over her own body - especially when it comes to unwanted pregnancies, health matters - and of course as a result of rape.
An undeveloped fetus is not "a baby girl", any more than an apple is a tree, nor is a bundle of unwanted cells in any way a human being.
Her arguments against abortion in terms of "increased risk of cancer" etc make as little sense as her previous arguments against homosexuality. I am quite certain, that should this unpleasant consequence of the actions of another befall her, she would sing a different tune entirely.
My opinion on abortion, homosexuality, transsexuality and prostitution can be summed up in one sentence: My body, my rules.
Now I am not saying that they SHOULD legalize prostitution, but what I am saying is that Ms Hodgson should be making practical suggestions to deal with the issue instead of tackling side issues such as abortion on demand - and making life even harder for sex-workers who obviously have enough problems of their own - and no better way to survive than they are employing already.
I am most disturbed by WOMEN such as Taryn taking sides against WOMEN's human rights on the side of a PATRIARCHAL religious fundamentalist viewpoint. The fact that she does not even see this is almost as disturbing. And this on the very day after Women's Day? Talk about one in the eye for women's equality!
CAN and it's affiliates are distracted from their usual routine of attacking gay rights right now with the whole issue surrounding the proposed legalization of the sex industry - but once that has been settled, never fear - they will turn their attentions back to us again.
Conservatives and religious fundamentalists seem to be saying that "true" Christians cannot be human rights supporters. They try to show that you are either a Christian - or a "secular humanist" who places mankind's interests above those of their God. Just like they say you are either an "evolutionist" or a "Creationist" - never both - nor will they entertain any form of logical compromise. Now I find myself wondering what needs does a God that created the universe have? They make human rights out to be some kind of idol which supplants their own ideas of what God is supposed to be - a policeman, or a bogey man out to get anyone who dares to step out of line. To them, God is an angry, hateful deity who created gay and transgender people in order to hate them, perhaps even to give his loyal followers something to amuse themselves with when they have some time and some extra rope and matches on their hands.
They will demand of me as a transgender woman "how can I call God my father?" They will tell me if I am a lesbian who calls myself a Christian that I am spitting in God's face. No, I say - I do not spit in God's face - but in theirs.
Life is so much simpler when you call yourself an agnostic instead of a Christian - because admitting that you "don't know" is so much more honest - not to mention peaceful and comforting - and it certainly leads to less arguments about who invented religion and who was made better than who.
So if you dare to stand in their way - or side with a group of people who they would otherwise sink their fangs into and tear apart, and defend their humanity and rights to equality, then you are "siding against God" and not a "true" Christian? I find comparisons between ideologies such as this and the command in the bible where Christ tells people to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves - or to defend the weak or helpless - profound to say the least.
Does this sound like Christianity to you?
Okay, predictable answer there - what I meant was, does this sound like the kind of Christianity that follows a loving creator God, a God that supposedly loves all his creations? Or is that more like the other kind of Christianity? The kind that held an Inquisition and burned half of Europe as "witches" to settle personal scores and confiscate property, the kind of Christianity that conquered South America and slaughtered its native inhabitants in its quest for power, riches and to stamp out diverse beliefs and cultures?
How much true, raw evil has been done to others in the name of "good"?
In which of these two choices do you see God? In which of these do you see a Christ who is said to have given his own life and suffered and died for the sake of all people - even those who might never know his name and think like those in the other camp?
I think you know the answer to that one.