Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Resistance Is Futile

Thinking about all the gay-hating homophobic groups infesting our fair country today, and masquerading as religious institutions - I counted the big boys. Right at the top of the list of loonies, there's the "Christian Action Network" (CAN), a vocal umbrella body which has fallen remarkably silent of late - while it seems other newer associated groups which haven't been around long enough to lose their veneer of respectability yet, have taken their repugnant agenda into the halls of government.

Rhema Church and its NILC body seem by their level of involvement in the ANC and Parliament to be virtually employed by the ruling party to achieve their aim of policing the morality of South Africans. Who can forget their apt and fitting moniker, "Zuma's God Squad"? Yes, I can picture them driving black squad-cars and paddy-wagons around town, riding over pedestrians and arriving in the nick of time to block a child-endangering Pride march or to haul same sex couples off to jail for threatening "the family" with public displays of affection.

Aside from the derogatory comments and snide remarks from other groups in this country with vested interests in actual politics (such as the ACDP, CDA, PACYL and other comics), these are the biggest religious fundamentalist bodies muscling in on political matters surrounding civil rights of an entire sector of South African society.

I stopped for a moment to take stock of some of the newer religious right wing groups surfacing in South Africa. Top of the list has got to be Erroll Naidoo's Family Policy Institute (FPI). Based in Cape Town, this group is supported directly by the US religious right wing group the Family Research Council. The FRC, as I've reported before, is a recognized hate-group in the USA. Who do they hate? Well, probably everybody who isn't a Christian fundamentalist with extremist views on abortion, secularism, evolution, home-schooling, gun laws or homosexuality. Naidoo hates gay people - in fact, he even admitted it in an interview - and he has spent at least 15 years proving it by taking action to oppose or undo every single human or civil rights gain our community has made since 1992. Currently he is working on overturning gay marriage equality, but warming up on prostitution and pornography first.

An interesting new arrival on the scene in South Africa is the "GODLY GOVERNANCE NETWORK" There is more to the GGN than meets the eye - they seem to be birds of a feather with the same principles as Errol and CAN - and I wouldn't be surprised if there is ACDP involvement and connections to the Family Policy Institute or CAN too. Looking on their website, I found just what I was looking for - posted articles by Peter Hammond (CAN), Steve Swart (ACDP) and Erroll Naidoo (FPI) - and all of them outspoken haters of gay people. The GGN is in my opinion, just another head of the same right wing "great commissionist" hydra monster which is currently raising head after head in local politics.

It seems to me that like the CAN, FPI and any other group which uses the words "salt and light" as mystical symbols, this is yet another US religious right supported group which should be avoided by anyone actually looking for a church that will actually teach you Christianity.

Then there is the JASA, or rather poorly named "Justice Alliance of SA". This group is fronted by a man who brands himself as "John Smyth QC" - the QC is for "Queens Council", which is an English law practitioner, and incidentally not of any import in South Africa. Mr Smyth also brands himself as an expert in constitutional law - and chiefly in the context of finding ways to defeat it in order to advance his religious fundamentalist agenda.

During the court battle for gay marriage in 2005-6, he was a "friend of the court" on the side against marriage equality. Mr Smyth is also neck-deep in the pig-pit called "Doctors For Life" - a group of charlatans pretending to be bona fide medical experts, banding together to push religious fundamentalist clap-trap as medical and scientific fact. DFL's chief concern was (and still is) gay rights, gay marriage, numerous slanderous and manufactured lies surrounding health risks and gay sex, HIV, and naturally, abortion. In the "world view" of groups of this ilk, ALL life is sacred - unless of course, if it is gay.

According to Mr Smyth's personal website, "In 1984 John and Anne Smyth moved with their family to Zimbabwe to do mission work. After two years with African Enterprise they founded Zambesi Ministries which they directed for the next 15 years until John reached 60. Anne and John now make their home in Cape Town. John is available as a consultant in constitutional law and serves Doctors for Life International and the Justice Alliance of South Africa."

African Enterprise, I might point out, was heavily involved in the fight to deprive gay people of the right to marriage equality in South Africa in 2005-6. Their fearless leader, Michael Cassidy (yet another homophobic American evangelist living here and heading up their multinational operation) was also leading another group called the Marriage Alliance of SA (MASA), a splinter group of SACLA - the religious right wing organisation which declared open war on homosexuality in 2004-5 during the lead-up to the court case. Both Cassidy and Naidoo made spectacles of themselves, grandstanding in the press, making slanderous remarks about the Pink Community. Nowadays Cassidy seems to be exploiting ways to unite all the charismatic churches into one ecumenical movement, and supporting that other champion of the Patriarchy and cave-man lifestyle - "pray-away-the-gay" wing nut and potato prophet, Angus Buchan.

In my experience, the deeper you dig into this tar pit of dark ambition and fascist fervor, the more worms you will find squirming around in the daylight, the more narrow-minded little people you will find with links to multiple little fundamentalist organizations and back-yard or basement groups, each conspiring in their own zealous little way to bring about their religious fundamentalist revolution.

You will find some people who lead one little group, sitting over drinks (non-alcoholic of course) with buddies who run similar organizations, and you will find them sitting on the same Boards or Interest Groups of other bodies together, having fingers in the pie in several Community Based Organizations or Non Profit Organizations. Naturally they will all be respected members of high-flying charismatic churches, and raking in the money to do "God's work", building a better mouse-trap.

It is very strange to me now, thinking back to when I was a kid - when people spoke of conservative churches, I used to think in terms of what people wore to church and what kind of music they played there. The "conservative" churches forced people to wear suits or neat prim dresses and Sunday hats - and sang songs you could slit your wrists to with a smile. The "nice" churches used to let you wear a nice pair of jeans or a smart short or skirt and a t-shirt and sneakers - and had ministers that led worship with a guitar.

These days it seems to me the churches full of youth clad in jeans, t-shirts and gym-shoes, with live bands and multimedia displays who are the conservative ones. Why conservative? Because while the music may be easier on the ear, the message isn't the inclusiveness of God's love - it's the CONTROL and DOMINION they want to extend over every part of every person's life, whether they are Christian or not. In fact the whole machine doesn't even seem to compute that there is such a scenario - if you're not a Christian, resistance is futile - you WILL be assimilated. And you WILL obey. Suddenly, the old folks with their formality and suits and Sunday hats don't seem quite as bad, do they?

Conservatives. Religious fundamentalists. Extremists. They are to my mind, a bunch of people whose asses are so tight, if they were to fart, only a dog could hear it.

It is alarming to me to see an increasing number of these religious fundamentalist organizations whose entire existence seems focused on politics, government and on getting into it - with clear intentions of turning the country into a theocratic state or theonomy. If they seem obsessed with government, politics and power - and getting into it as soon as possible, it's because they ARE. I have to ask myself, how long will it take before they succeed? Or will the moderate, inert majority that makes up society, slow them down and frustrate them until they weary of their fervor, zealotry and fanaticism? I hope so.

And what is with Cape Town anyway? Of all the groups I have found so far that have founded themselves on homophobic notions, paranoia, extremism and hysteria in this country - most of them are based in the Cape Town area! Is it something in the water? Is it the close proximity to the nuclear power station? Is it, like, the mountain, man? What?

CAN (and most of it's hundred-plus affiliates, including Africa Christian Action, Gospel Defence League and Frontline Fellowship), Family Policy Institute, Doctors For Life, and Nurses For Life (the last two of which also have offices in Holland). There are at least four different "ex-gay" so-called "ministries" in Cape Town, with sub-branches and representatives and "cell-groups" around the country, with a steady supply of fresh victims referred to them by local churches who believe it is possible to pray away the gay - or torture it out of you. All of these are foreign imports connected to either NARTH or Exodus International, both American groups shirking the blame for hundreds of thousands, if not millions - of ruined lives over the years. But yes, it is a small price to pay for salvation, and the cost of keeping children safe from perverts - and church doors open *wink*.

"Godly Governance Network" on the other hand, are registered in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape - at the opposite end of the country. Hmm. From one extreme to another.

Religion - The Guilt-Edged Sword

When we think of human relationships, the relationships between people, whether friendships or romances, we often come to a point where there is a parting of ways - a place where friendships stop being rewarding, when a love relationship ceases to be a love relationship and just devolves into something less. Just like a marriage where the love has exited stage left, all things end - and attempting to keep them alive artificially serves no purpose other than to drag things out to the very bitter, painful end.

Guilt shouldn't bind you to a person or trap you in a failed relationship. If it isn't love that keeps you there, but guilt - then you're both better off with someone else - or alone, because otherwise you will be doing yourself (and each other) more harm than good.

In many ways, the same thing can be said about religion.

Religion is a complex subject. I suppose this is because it comes down to what people believe, what people WANT to believe, and what people NEED to believe - and even more complex - what people believe in groups, and what they convince each other to believe - and what they are willing to do in the name of that belief in order to continue to cling to it.

At the moment, I am past being a disillusioned Christian - I don't believe in anything anymore. In my more melancholic periods, I even stop believing in love, but regardless of all that introspection, in terms of religion, I consider myself agnostic - which in my humble opinion, is a technical term for being open minded. I don't know if Christ ever actually existed, or if he was an invention of a growing religious movement of the 1st century A.D. - and so far there has been no concrete proof to convince me otherwise - but if he did exist, he was most likely seen as such a big threat by the Jewish and Roman authorities, that not only was he eliminated with extreme prejudice, but so was the new religion that he founded.

Oh, you think the Christian church attempting to dominate the world today is even remotely "Christian" at all?

As anyone who has done a little digging can attest, the modern Christian church is not really Christian at all, at least not by the nature of its beliefs - which are the foundation of any actual religion - but the legacy of the conniving and resourceful Roman emperor Constantine, and the descendant of a merger of facetious patriarchal pseudo-Christian traditions and beliefs blended with bastardized mythology and all the other older pagan religions of ancient Rome.

The Roman Catholic Church, not being actually Christian in any way - later gave rise to the Protestant movement - which in itself was based upon the foundations of this earlier bastardized religion, which of course means that, at its root, it is no more "Christian" than it's predecessor.

The original Christianity was far more gnostic in nature and even magical too in some ways - and because it encouraged free thought and undermined the established system of control in the world, it was viewed as revolutionary and subsequently virtually wiped out in the first two centuries AD by the Roman church which proclaimed it "heretical" and made war on it.

Perhaps I'm being a bit whimsical by saying "that sounds very familiar"? Perhaps not. The modern church still seems to be very paranoid, obsessed with "threats" and seems prone to declaring war on anything that fits the bill. Everyone who doesn't fit in is targeted, demeaned and ostracized. The phrase "Jesus loves you" is employed as a weapon, a bullet in a gun which people point at those they don't like, don't agree with and want to turn into mindless little clones of themselves.

And when people don't give in to pressure, succumb to persecution, disappear or become silent and invisible like the self-flagellating martyrs all good Christians "should" be - then all stops are pulled out to destroy them by various means - such as isolating them socially, and campaigning and working towards removing their legal protections and civil rights - and trying to get ancient obsolete and barbaric (and remarkably biblical) penalties installed into the legal system. Oddly enough, this very scenario has been playing out across Africa for the past few years - and especially in Uganda, and even now such a move is afoot in South Africa.

Sad to say, despite claims that we live in a so-called "Christian country" - there seem to be very few people today who identify with Christ and who seem truly Christ-like.

I find this to be profoundly ironic.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Of Proof And Puddings

The evidence against South Africa's own government continues to mount. Remember how it started in December 2008 when the SA government refused to sign the UN Declaration to Decriminalize Homosexuality? Well, obviously it didn't end there.

SOUTH AFRICA FAILS LGBT PEOPLE AT UN - "In February 2009, South Africa acted as spokesperson for African nations demanding the removal of references to sexual orientation from the draft declaration of the second UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance." How much more proof do you need that SA's government has an anti GLBTI, anti human rights agenda?

The above article described this as "failing the GLBTI people". In my opinion this is not "failing LGBT people" - it is an outright BETRAYAL!

Not only is this all blatantly conservative behavior (which is not technically criminal by itself), but it is patently unconstitutional. The government of South Africa is supposed to cherish and honor the Constitution, and promote and defend its values at home and abroad - and instead, the way it has been acting over the past decade - it has in fact done the complete opposite. In acting against the interests of its GLBTI people and the Pink Community abroad, and in undermining the principles of dignity and equality for all as enshrined in the Constitution - it has itself acted in violation of the South African Constitution and potentially committed acts which can be interpreted as human rights violations and abuses.

These past incidents have now been compounded by the following:

"On Tuesday, the South African representative to the UNHRC, Jerry Matjila, told the council that placing homophobia on a similar level to racism “demeans the legitimate plight of the victims of racism"."

Somebody in Guv-ah-ment needs to get a handle on their minions representing us in the UN. I mean, if SA's government is truly representative of all its people - including us LGBTI folks - then why are idi- I mean, representatives allowed to say such inexcusable things on behalf of the country, or even the continent? If parading little drama queens such as this Jerry Matjila wish to vent their prejudice as individuals, then so be it - but not while they are acting in an official capacity and representing all South Africans!

Such a biased statement is in fact beneath a country such as South Africa, which over the past 15 years has risen above such petty apartheid-style prejudice to produce a largely tolerant and open-minded society which claims to cherish equality, human rights and individual freedom. At least, I thought it had.

The only way this statement made by him could ever be justified or defended is by insisting that the lives, dignity and humanity of GLBTI people all over the world are in no way similar, or as precious as those who have suffered abuse and prejudice at the hands of racist persecution in the past. Is this what they are saying? I think it is obvious that it is.

When you connect these incidents with the numerous others of late, such as the Minister of Arts and Culture's little hissy-fit about tasteful semi-nude photographs at an art display, and the Department of Home Affairs current foray into conservative territory on the question of pornography - as well as its growing partnership with religious fundamentalist right-wing groups that previously championed the fight against marriage equality for gay people - it doesn't take much at all to join the dots.

It's quite simple you see. African culture today is a hodge-podge blend of native tradition and enforced Western religious fundamental influence which has fused on the sub-atomic level. Despite the fact that sexual and gender diversity has always been a part of African culture and tradition, as it always will be - it is fiercely denied and fanatically oppressed. In trying to be proudly "African", traditionalists are in fact enforcing foreign unrealistic "morality" that stems from a puritanical nineteenth century Victorian obsession. Being different is looked down upon, feared and hated - as the rising tide of homophobic hatred sweeping through Africa can attest to.

Thus, homophobia and transphobia is not as important or serious as racism. Racism is topical and relevant and the suffering of people because of racist prejudice is far more critical to address than that of what they consider to be "lesser beings".

In their view, all the misery and unhappiness inflicted upon the pink community just isn't relevant or important - in fact, taking it seriously makes a laughing stock of real hate crimes and offends people who have real problems - like facing racism.

It is of course, an insane and irrational argument - because as anyone who has been hated or persecuted can tell you - being hated feels the same, regardless of whether it is for your sexual orientation, gender - or your skin color.

One could equate this apparent jealousy over what form of human rights abuse is "more legitimate" than the other with the prevailing view that the pink community's human rights are not viewed as "legitimate" - because they do not view us as human. In fact, countries all over Africa prove this through their barbaric conduct towards the Pink Community in terms of oppression, persecution and even a perpetual threat of state-sponsored genocide.

One could take this a step further by openly calling this jealously-guarded precinct of who was more persecuted than who - or who deserves to be protected from persecution more than the other - just what it is - HYPOCRISY.

They are basically saying "we were persecuted - you are being punished, and you deserve it" - which just goes to show how flimsy and thin their smoke-screen of "morality" really is. It's not okay for people to be persecuted for being born a particular race - but it is perfectly justifiable to be persecuted for being born a particular sexual orientation or gender identity. Yes, very moral indeed.

This kind of thinking is dangerous because it devalues the value of human life as a whole. You cannot uphold the value of all human life while attaching a higher price to the lives of any one group of people over another. That defeats the entire point.

In fact, if the United Nations, or any other body act in such a light - or go along with it, they will be making themselves guilty of double-standards and a party to crimes against humanity.

What will South Africa's government do next, after the World Cup is over and the world stops watching us so closely?

The solution to this stupid argument over which form of hatred is more important to address it simple. It can't be addressed by saying to Africa - you're right, all those queers shouldn't have protections - only you folks have the right to be included in protective clauses and laws because racism is more important than homophobia. The opposite is also true. It needs to be made perfectly clear that hatred and persecution on the grounds of inherent characteristics such as race and sexual orientation, gender or gender identity need to be be viewed as equally important.

Human rights are human rights - it's that simple.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Out Of Focus

Has anybody taken note of what's happening in our neighbor Zim-BOB-we lately? Not only did they refuse to include the human rights of their pink community in the negotiations for their country's new constitution - but they are now saying they will build criminalization and punishments for homosexuality into it as well.

Of course it will be very interesting to see how South Africa's govenrnment handles this, after the World Cup fuss dies down of course - and after the world's attention isn't on us anymore. Yes, then it may just be back to business as usual - ignoring, and in increasing cases, stepping on the human rights of the Pink Community - here, as well as in Zim and everywhere else in Africa.

Even Morgan Tsvangerai agrees with this utter disregard for the humanity of its pink citizens. My point is, that if neither the ruling party, nor its only opposition in that country demonstrate any concern for the human rights of its citizens, then Zimbabwe is in a very, very poor condition indeed.

Will any foreign countries demonstrate the courage to continue any blockades and bans imposed on Zim? Or will the human rights of the Pink Community once again just be allowed to slip away unnoticed, swept under the rug? Sure, all the people of Zim are suffering - they're suffering the consequences of their own actions - for supporting a corrupt and incompetent government, and for keeping a petty dictator and his cronies in power for thirty years.

There is something for the young democracy that is South Africa in all this - a lesson - a lesson about what happens when you stick to supporting a former liberation movement with delusions of being an actual political party that knows anything at all about actually governing a country properly. Are we learning yet, South Africa?

Why hasn't the populace of ZIm voted Bob and his brigands out of Salisbury House yet? Well there are numerous theories about that, the least of which is the last two elections. The first was fraught with intimidation and cries of "foul" as soon as it became clear that Bob was actually losing. The second, well, I doubt anyone would take the results of that one with anything less than another pinch of salt either. But I would like to suggest that the reason Bob wasn't voted out was because all the people who would have voted against him aren't in Zimbabwe anymore - they're dead, intimidated - or over here in South Africa, without visa's, passports or work-permits.

That's right, they have been wandering across our porous borders at their own discretion - except for the duration of the World Cup of course, because that is far too important to risk illegal entry for. But of course, we need to feel sorry for refugees who are too lazy to go back to their own country and actually sweat to make it work, so for them we just scrap all existing visa legislation that still applies to foreigners visiting from real countries.

Yes, a decade of foreign pressure on Zim has yielded nothing at all, except another broken African banana republic, down on its knees and trying to rebuild what its own leaders have destroyed and squandered away. And yet Mugabe is still smiling, he's still rich, he's still calling the shots - it is the people of that country who are suffering, it is they who hunger, it is they who thirst. And the sheer idiocy that abounds when the people of Zim blame not the pompous self-glorifying lunatic at the helm, but the rest of the world who has been trying unsuccessfully to warn them.

It is all their fault for colonizing Africa 200 years ago. Never mind the past three decades of independence and self-rule - it is all Britain's fault for coming here and running the show in the first place. See, what Mugabe is actually admitting here (if you read between the lines) is that the colonial powers did run things before - and they ran things so much better that things actually worked. Whereas today, we have been doing it by ourselves for the past 30 years - and look - a catastrophically devalued currency, a terminally ill economy, collapsed infrastructure, famine, disease and social turmoil - thank God we can still cling to power and blame everybody else for our own self-inflicted woes. Clearly the only thing still working in Zim today (aside from Mugabe's mouth) is the government propaganda machine - oh yes, and the state police.

Bob is 83 years old - why isn't he dead yet? Some people like to point to the 70-year mark as being the cut-off time for us mortals, with every year after that being viewed as a blessing from God. The irony is, that if Robert Mugabe at 83 is blessed with such long life for all the evil things he has wrought in the past three decades, and all the harm he has done to his country and his nation - then one has to wonder, does God have a sense of humor? Probably. A good look at a country like Uganda should answer that question.

I will be waiting to see what will happen in South Africa after the last football hooligan has packed off back overseas. It will be interesting to watch how Errol Naidoo and Mr Gigaba, the Vice-Minister of Home Affairs and the so-called "Justice Alliance of SA" start applying pressure to introduce their censorship bill under the guise of Christian fundamentalist "morality" and "protecting children" - and then turn their focus on gay rights and changing the Constitution.

While the rest of us are enjoying the World Cup, I will be waiting for the punchline. And you know what it is?

"I told you so."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Smell Of Fear

The forces who today oppose the struggle for recognition, equality and human rights of others think of themselves as strong. They stand today at the top of the pile, glorying in the lie that all people already are equal and have equal rights. They claim that those whose fingers they have spent countless years treading upon, are not fighting for equal rights, but "special rights" that will somehow elevate us above them. They look down on years of suffering, persecution and abuse - and somehow still lack the conscience and humanity to acknowledge the sorrow, unfairness and inhumanity they have forced upon their own peers and relatives for so long - for the injustice it is.

Those who denounce the struggle of achieving equality as some kind of insidious "agenda", clearly think of themselves as an overwhelming majority, a strong and powerful force. In their minds, they are supported by God, by their concept of morality and puritanical beliefs. They believe that because we are a minority in this world, that we are push-overs, weak and compliant.

They're quite wrong. Being strong doesn't mean not being vulnerable to pain and suffering. Being strong doesn't mean not getting hurt - it means surviving pain, strife and overcoming difficulties and facing the hardships that life throws at us.

If I think of all the people who, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have been bullied at school, assaulted in the street, persecuted in churches and in their workplace, fired, discriminated against - and who have faced the prejudice of lesser men, and survived - then I realize that every gay, lesbian, bi, trans, intersex person out there is a stronger person than the petty school-yard bullies we face. The people with insecurities about their own sexuality, their fears about their own misapplied and unrealized religious convictions - they're the weaker ones, the smaller ones.

And the more active they become, the more angry the reactionaries get, the more I smell the truth. Fear. They are afraid of us, and of losing their privileged position in life.

It's a war, this struggle for freedom and equality - that's what it's always been. And in reality it is that - they have called it that so many times. A war. They have used the term freely because they feel in control and they feel justified in doing so. They feel justified and safe in using such a horrible word because they know that, very likely, there will be no negative consequences for them.

They believe they are in the right, and that their might makes them right. So arrogant and confident are they that they see no wrong in subverting religion, God, love, family, society, justice and basic goodness to serve their purpose and to win this war of theirs. They wage war on us. Their hearts are filled with hate and they twist love to serve it.

And then there is us, the Pink Community. A minority group of people drawn together by the simple reality that we are in some small ways different to the rest of the herd - more to the point, because we are outcasts, and in our persecution we have united in loose alliances to defend ourselves against tyranny and injustice of a world run by people who feel that the end justifies the means and that people are only good because they say they are, and because of what they do to others in the name of their purported goodness.

We stand against those who would abuse our human rights and destroy us. They make a move, we make a move. The important thing is to be ready, and to keep opposing them, never give them their way without a fight.

They think we stand alone. Do we?

I don't think so. In the modern world there are many groups under pressure from the patriarchal religious fundamentalist mindset which hates - well, just about everyone. Feminists, liberals - and anyone who dares to blur or erase or bend the lines they prefer to remain between the gender stereotypes which serve to keep them in power.

This is a power struggle about equality, justice and humanity - a struggle between those who demand the freedom and equality they have been denied for so long - by those who have everything they want and wish to continue denying it to us - and paint a smoke screen of "righteousness" to excuse their lies and inhumanities.

Despite whatever differences we may have between us, this should make us allies in what is a war declared on all of us by a common enemy.

One thing I have learned in my time in this war of theirs - if the religious fundamentalists attach value to it and are even willing to go to "war" over it, to destroy our happiness, hopes, dreams and even our lives over it - then it can't be anything good, decent moral or worthwhile. And if they win out in the end, disaster lies in wait for us all.

If every one of us did something to protect our civil rights, to defend our human rights, no matter how small - imagine the effect it would have? If you did something too, just something to contribute to our fight for equality, dignity respect as human beings? If we all actually voted in local and general elections, supporting parties that defend our democratic rights, instead of sitting at home bragging "I'm too cool to be interested in politics" - and GIVING our enemies an undeserved victory? Even something as seemingly small as being open and visible, while being a contributing and valuable member of society, being the best you can be at your job, being generous with your resources and helping the world around you - if each one of us did that - each one of us - it would make a huge difference.

I do all that I can, but I am just one person, one voice. And even if I am a small voice, I will shout as loud as I can. Even if they call me insignificant, even if they hate me and slander me and in the end, destroy me - they will have to acknowledge me - even if that is only by stepping over me. Even if that is the only difference I make in this life, I will make it.

What will YOU do?

Monday, June 21, 2010

State Of Grace

Isn't it sad and funny how the worst in some people tends to bring out the best in others? Or is that the other way round? You know these people, trying to live the good life, walk the straight and narrow. The people who take it a step further, going beyond minding their own business, and starting to mind the business of others. The manic street preachers and interfering busy-bodies who think they are doing "God's work" and that the end justifies the means, no matter how messy the means.

Do we really need to listen to people telling us about how great they think their god is? I am fine with what I believe - I don't need some twat standing on a street corner with a bible in one hand and a bull-horn in the other, telling me what to believe. Who are they trying to convince? Us? Or themselves?

What other people believe doesn't really other me, except where their beliefs are acted out in such a way as to affect my safety, my rights, and my future, with the potential to ruin my life.

What other people believe shouldn't (be allowed to) hurt me.

Don't mistake my commentary here for religious intolerance, but please consider when last you have seen or heard a group of Buddhists pointing fingers and yelling on a street corner about how great their lifestyle is - and how bad everyone else is? Really, how often do you hear a Buddhist or a Wiccan bragging to all and sundry about their religion and its greatness? Count how many times anyone will get picked on for wearing an ankh or a pentagram around their necks and I'll lay odds at ten to one that the people doing the picking will be "Christians".

Where does this insecurity come from? This paranoia? Is their own faith so weak, their confidence so fragile that they cannot co-exist in peace with people who feel or believe differently and have to fight to be the top-dog all the time?

Point out to them the fact that the actual symbol of "true" Christianity is the fish and not the cross and some fanatics will even consider burning you at the stake. But at least we live in a modern country with a reasonable grasp of civilization, so that isn't very likely, at least for now.

Oddly enough, nobody is persecuting their religion, preventing them from worshipping in their dedicated temples and churches - and yet they feel the need to go out and "evangelize" and tell people how wrong they think they are about their own lives - and how they think other folks should live like them. Yeah, that's quite a bold step, when you think about it. Considering most of them live lives at least as fucked up as everybody else, and in some cases even more so.

This still isn't enough to dissuade the people trying hard to influence government with their fundamentalist religious ideology - people like Erroll Naidoo, who openly brags in his FPI newsletters and on his organization's website that he is leading the charge to push the religious right agenda into government. Let us not forget this is a man who has told the media that he hates gay people, a man who is supposedly a pastor, a man of God - who has for at least fifteen years consorted with human rights abusers and in the process of opposing every human rights gain in this country, indulged in the abuse of our human rights himself. What a shining example of Christian "morality" this bigot is, a man unwilling to allow other people the free will and civil rights to live beside him, to share the same space in peace, dignity, freedom, mutual respect and equality. He calls himself "Christian". I wonder how many real Christians find that offensive? Funny I almost never hear them saying anything about this man hijacking their religion and speaking for them.

I disagree with lots of people about lots of things. Most of the time I can still be friends with them, and work with them without wanting to kill them for what they believe or who they happen to love. (Yes, even those strange people who think that wearing socks and slops at the same time is cool). Sad that so many people just can't live and let live - as other people allow them to.

And yet, isn't that the very definition of Christianism? The belief that because you are Christian, or have chosen to be Christian, that yours is the one and only way, that everyone else has it all wrong - and that it is up to you to show them up for it? The belief that because you are Christian, you are better than everyone who isn't, and that everyone else should be Christian too?

Pastor Rick Warren, from Saddleback Church in the USA, a man instrumental in the mentoring of the people behind the Ugandan Gay Genocide Bill - a matter still unresolved by the way - and a man whose name appears on many books lying on the desks of people claiming to be Christians. Pastors, bottle-blond housewives, and even a few lost and confused Pink clergy all swear by him. Everything else the man says seems to make sense from a "Christian" point of view, they say. No, they won't let a little thing like incitement to genocide stand in the way of reading his "wisdom", will they?

Scott Lively, the author of "the Pink Swastika", who was recently exposed as one of the promoters and architects of the Ugandan gay genocide Bill, has recently gone back on his shock and horror of the inclusion of the death sentence in this article - and has somehow decided to again show open support for it.

According to Ugandan leaders, Lively is "a lone voice for morality" in the West. Hooray for Scott. If you follow this claim to its logical conclusion, then you are left with the paradoxical statement that morality = genocide.

I'm slow to understand this Christian "morality" thing, but I think I'm getting the gist of it now.

It's not "Christian" for two men to love each other intimately, but it "is" to persecute and to kill them for it. It's not "Christian" for trans people to change their own bodies to suit their personality or to rectify mistakes of nature - but it "is" to cast them out of society and make their lives miserable. It's not "Christian" to live and let live - but it "is" to spill blood and to act out of hatred towards others.

"Christian" = "Christ-like", and this attitude is hardly Christ-like. We are told that "you will know they are Christians by their love." Love? Has anyone seen these people campaigning against the human rights of the Pink Community, whether in Uganda or in the USA or anywhere - ever use the word "love" in any kind of positive sense? No, they have been using other words, such as "threat" and "hate" - as in God "hates" gay people. They have beaten and perverted a message of love, tolerance and peace into a weapon of spiritual warfare to further their own agenda. They have completely bypassed the single, core, central tenet of the Christian faith that it is by God's grace alone that they are saved - and not by ANY good works of their own hands. And suddenly they are on pedestals, looking down upon the rest of us, judging.

Tell me, how can you justify using grace as a weapon?

Well that about sums it up for me. People claiming to be Christians and advocating the murder of innocent people - just aren't Christians at all. What a shock.

There are churches and religious groups which isolate gay, bi and trans people as "sinners" and exclude them from their churches - and try very hard to get others to exclude them from everything else. Then they claim that people who don't go to church aren't Christians. But when you ask most gay people why they don't go to church, it isn't because they don't have faith, or don't want to attend - it's because they are made to feel unwelcome or denied access.

You see, nobody can take your faith away from you. Faith is something you have to lose for yourself.

So therefore it is possible that the most faithful, loving and believing Christ-followers are to be found nowhere near a church at all. And the biggest noise-makers, bible-bashers and bags of hot air are nothing more than the clanging cymbals referred to in the Old Testament which these "evangelists" have rejected Christ and the New Covenant for.

This proves to me once and for all, that going to church or standing in a pulpit - doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.