Monday, July 5, 2010

Resistance To Change

I have seen Puritanism being described as "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy", and I have to agree that puritans, a.k.a religious fundamentalists are the embodiment of the "Fun Police".

Everywhere people dare to have more fun than them, they appear, stern-faced, outraged and protesting. Whatever it is, a casino, the Sexpo in Cape Town or a Pride march - they show up in order to try to drain the fun and enjoyment out of it like a great big serious, religious black hole - which has far more in common with the reality of it than being a mere literal device.

They see threats everywhere - and honestly, the way they have been going on the past decade or so, whining about gay rights threatening the fabric of society, religion, morality of the country and the "family unit" - before long I think they will have us seeing threats in our soup. Amazingly enough, not a single one of the "threats" they have warned of have come to pass, and most certainly none that could ever be connected to the pink community.

They see every group trying to achieve equality with them as a threat, because obviously if they become equal to them, THEY won't be able to stomp all over their human rights anymore. Duh.

They simply cannot let go of the pre-1994 idea that they are still in control of South African society. They sit at the top of the hill and look down on other groups which are legally equal to them, or still struggling up the slopes which they muddy and make difficult to negotiate by pouring down a continuous stream of objection and protest. They simply cannot get to grips with the reality of it all. For them, being equal to us is some kind of come-down, a demotion - as opposed to the actual meaning of equality - meaning ALL equal. Yes, to them, us and our civil and human rights being made equal to them and theirs, somehow elevates us above them. Crazy.

Aside from challenging the currently agreed upon and accepted definition of the word "EQUAL" - which effectively defeats any of their arguments on this point, I think these idiots need to go back to school.

Religious right groups have interesting terms to describe the fight for equality and justice for the pink community. As an example, the great fearless leader of the "Christian Action Network" (who like the good Christian "reverend" he is, teaches his children to shoot trick-or-treating youngsters in the face with paintball guns on Halloween), "Dr" Peter Hammond, has coined yet another new term, calling our fight for civil rights "homo-fascism" - an interesting insult, coming from a religious fundamentalist, who if he had his way, would have children marching in little uniforms under a white flag with a blue and red cross motif on it.

Incidentally, this man and his group also hate Muslims (and atheists and agnostics, feminists and humanists, and secularism) - and every other religion except their own fundamentalist brand of pseudo-Christianity (there's a new one he can add to his list). In fact, our "Dr" Hammond brags of how he has spent up to twenty years or more trying to prevent Africa from turning Muslim. On one of the CAN websites, he tells tales of his brave exploits (while working for the old SA Apartheid government no less) behind enemy lines, spending time in jail with people who it seems benefited so much from his influence that they went off to become presidents-for-life of their country - and then went on to stomp religious freedom (and a load of other freedoms) into the ground in the name of "Christianity".

I see it as no coincidence that several of Hammond's groups and affiliates and others have been deeply involved in "church-planting" and "mission work" in many of the African countries where homophobia is rampant today.

As a minority group, we have been called a variety of interesting names you probably will never find in a dictionary, among them "homosexualists" - a nice term referring to what Hammond defines as "militant" and "unrepentant homosexuals" - who are a threat to "decency" and "Christian civilization", morality, society, "the family" - and of course, Christianity.

But this kind of mindset is not limited only to Hammond and the Christian Action Network. Oh no. There are LOADS of these crazies out there - a veritable army of them. Let me give you an example. Last week, I came across a website based in South Africa that reserved a few pages intended to leave visitors in no doubt that anyone who is gay is destined to hell, damnation, fire, brimstone, the whole tootie. I thought I would test the water, and offer these nice people some enlightenment in the form of a very informative article written by an American minister some years ago, highlighting the source for the very misconceptions and untruths promoted on their website.

"Dear Chris,

I stumbled upon your website (http://www.christianchurch.org.za/sin%20of%20homosexuality.htm) and the section in which your group espouses its rather obsolete, ignorant and hostile views on human sexuality and couldn't resist sending you the following to help educate you on the matter.

"The following material may prove useful to you as it does to me. It is the most comprehensive and though it is long, it is the shortest easiest to understand that I have found so far: It is also not easy to find and I feel that if more people in the ministry had access to it and used it in their own ministry, it would have a far greater impact. Affirming clergy are in the front line with us GLBTI folk and we often lack the religious tools to fight this fight against misconception and ignorance.

Origin: "http://www.otkenyer.hu/truluck/six_bible_passages.html

Kind regards,

Christina Engela"

He sent me the following rather whimsical reply:

"Christina,

Obviously you are also one of them. I did not even waste my time to read your mail.

Why do you not wait till you stand in front of Jesus one day and see what will happen to you.

Chris Mengel"

I then sent Chris Mengel the following response:

"One of them"? Haha. What is this? Cowboys and Indians? Spy-spy?

By not reading the information I sent, you have shown just how ignorant and narrow-minded you are. By not wanting to read it, you are demonstrating WILFUL ignorance.

You are helping to persecute millions of innocent people - and you are using the grace of Christ, that is salvation, as a weapon instead of as a life-preserver - how will you answer for that when you stand before your maker one day? I am indeed relieved to not be you.

Get down off your pedestal and stop pretending you have any room to judge others and to look down on them. You are no less a sinner than anyone else. You have no room to judge or condemn. You did not obtain salvation through any works of your own - but through grace - which does not mean you can use that grace (which is not yours) as a weapon to destroy others with.

How will you explain the hatred you have expressed against people whose only crime was to be born?

How will you explain that you made people into outcasts, rejected them and isolated them, drove them out of the house of God and tried to steal the love of God away from them - in His name?

If you believe in God and that God made everything - then you have to believe that God made us also - and nowhere is it written that God hates any person, nor any one of his children - which includes us."

He never did reply. Either he couldn't think of a suitable response, or he realised that he was cornered - or he never "wasted his time" reading my reply. And yes, it is far more satisfying for people calling themselves "Christians" to believe that God hates people for how She makes them, than to actually discard their own shallow prejudices, and to actually accept that they have been misled by years of incompetence and deliberate manipulation.

What we see far too little of today is people who identify as Christians, standing up to the hate-mongers and death-dealers who have been hijacking their religion and using it as a murder weapon. The question is just begging to be asked: are they afraid? Or are they just not interested because they feel it somehow does not affect them?

In our country today we see sexual and gender diversity being persecuted and discriminated against in a variety of ways - and very vocally and publicly by the Christian fundamentalists and extremists. Gay ministers are fired, or prevented from being married. Hate is preached from pulpits and in schools - where it most definitely does not belong. Fundamentalist-owned media trumpet hate and prejudice in public spaces. Religious figures espouse their own personal hatred and wage a vendetta of discrimination by moving their prejudice into government - and use their God to back up their blatant lies and acts of terror. And all the while, the moderates and the liberals are cowed into a stony silence.

In my humble opinion - people who identify themselves as Christians should start taking responsibility for the image and perception of what really is "Christian" and all the injustice being done in their name, instead of turning a blind eye and pretending that all the harm being done to others (and their own) in the name of their religion does not affect them and isn't their fault or responsibility to face up to.

Getting through to the stern-faced, joy-less people who seem determined to remain gratuitously ignorant, and to bully others into silence is a daunting task that will still take years - and possibly at least two elephants and some fancy language.

And we cannot do it alone. We need your help. Start speaking out against hate and fundamentalism and extremism. Put the frauds and wannabe fascists back in their places. Before it is too late. Act. Act now.

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