Monday, March 8, 2010

Survival Of The Oldest

What came first? Gay and trans people or religion? Far from setting off another "chicken or the egg" debate, I'm being quite serious. What is the answer? Well, since we are a part of the human species, it is fairly obvious to me that we did, long before some bright, inspired person invented gods and a need to believe in something - or to make up stories to threaten the kids to eat their yak-butter or the Great Glarp would come and steal them away in the darkness.

These days, there are many enemies of human rights, equality and the right of everyone to walk freely as equals together. Of these, there are Pride, Envy, Hatred - but to me, the worst at the present time, is religion - specifically in our case in the West and South - the Christian Church, a sprawling body of mis-matched groups that can often not agree on a single thing - except on who to hate, persecute and oppress.


Somebody once said: "To be rid of ones enemies, outlive them". I'm not sure who this was, but I am fairly certain it was somebody very wise. I am drawn to wonder if he or she is still alive.

Ecclesia de Lange, the Methodist minister who was dismissed for marrying her long time girlfriend, has announced she is contesting the MCSA's prejudiced policies and taking them to court. If the church will not change voluntarily when it is given ample opportunity to do so - and appeals for acceptance and tolerance and equality go ignored - then it is time to force change. I applaud this decision.

Clearly the church itself has in the past had no problem with Ecclesia and other gay ministers serving in their ranks - she has made no secret of her sexuality, or apparently of her partner. It seems though, that just a few leaders caught up in the bigotry of the past do have a problem with her - and like most hallmarks of bygone eras, they too will all be swept away in time.

The church, any church, is made up of people - it is not solely the domain of those who declare themselves to be leaders or bishops, elected or not - and placed in positions of power and influence. And leaders who don't please the people don't stay leaders for very long - simple dynamics of leadership. History bears this out. History, like time, is on our side.

For weeks arguments on the matter have raged on, with people airing their views, trampling on our feelings and applying their muddy footprints to our dignity and collective self-worth as people. I have watched and often participated in these debates, knowing full-well that arguing with narrow-minded people is a pointless exercise - they are ignorant and they are clearly intent on remaining so - and worse - intent on forcing their ignorance on all others too.

Keep your ignorance and your hatred - go and try to extinguish the light of reason elsewhere - you are not welcome here.

A recurring theme in their argument is the following hollow sentiment, which to me is little more than a veiled threat: "Remember that Jesus loves you, He died for you. I hope you accept Him one day."

Firstly, how arrogant to assume that because I am gay or trans that I haven't done so. Secondly, while Christ may love me - I am pretty darn sure the writer of this message does not. And thirdly, I don't care. I don't know if there ever was a real person like that. There are so many lies out there, it is impossible to tell lie from fallacy. There are so many people calling themselves followers of Christ and "Christians" who do evil and blame it on God and Christ I really don't want anything more to do with religion. The stink of hypocrisy sickens me.

Second, I don't reject Christ, or the idea of Christ, or what Christ is supposed to stand for - I reject people who hate us and persecute us in his name. I stand against those who raise themselves above us in arrogance and in deceitful and malicious intent.

"The Church must change or die" a Bishop by the name of Spong is quoted as saying - at this stage, as far as I'm concerned, either will do.

It has to be said that yes, there are Christians and Christianists. The two are not the same thing, because while you have the Jesus-freaks and nut-cases chanting and parading on street corners, bellowing at and intimidating passers-by about how rotten they are - thus elevating themselves above others - you also have the decent ordinary folk who mind their own business and keep their noses out of other people's lives - who actually happen to have faith in Christ and actually try to be a compassionate force of the love Christ embodied in this world. Guess which of these I respect? Guess which I don't? Guess whether I care if anyone likes it or not?

What is a Christianist? Why, a person who believes he is a Christian, and because he is a Christian, feels that everybody else is or should be a Christian as well - and if they are not, views them as a threat to Christianity. This paranoid ideology is by its very nature elitist, oppressive, fascist, exclusionary and intolerant - the total antithesis to the very teachings of the Christ they claim to revere and follow as God. It is this movement which is currently focused on altering the SA Constitution to remove all our hard-won rights from it - including the right to marry - which in case you haven't noticed, is what the Ecclesia saga is all about.

It is just one facet of the great big diamond that represents the battle around our human and civil rights and the fact that many churches and religious organizations are slow to change and resistant to accept that they are not above the law, nor any better than anyone else simply because of what they believe in. They are looking for ways to re-assert their narrow views, to overthrow the rule of secular laws which guarantee true equality and to replace them with a return to a theonomic demagogue.

Why do I object to having clauses like "in humble submission to almighty god" rudely jammed back in the SA Constitution after finally having had this piece of bigotry removed in 1996? Because South Africa has non-Christian citizens also - people who do not like having religion forced down their throats by proxy. I'm one of them. Because I object to mind-control, which in essence is what religion and specifically Christianity, is all about. And because the Constitution of South Africa guarantees equality for all people - and if it is altered to raise one group above another, then this guarantee is null and void and the whole sweater begins to unravel.

Because it starts with the Constitution and works its way downwards into all aspects of society, infiltrating laws and education. Because education should make sense and not focus on "abstinence" when it conflicts with common sense. Because blaming "immorality", natural disasters and political disagreements and corruption on gay people for existing, loving and marrying each other makes about as much sense as anything else the religious right has ever brewed up in that vile cauldron of theirs in the past. Absolutely none.

Because repainting hate in bright cheery Christianist colors and calling prejudice "righteous" and calling bigotry "love" doesn't make any of those things true. Because in our hearts, we are the ones that know our true nature, that this is who we are, how we were born to be - and because of that, we know better than those who know nothing of what it is to be us - and nothing of the hateful God concept those who hate us have raised in their own image against us.

Better they close the churches down and use them as homeless shelters so they can actually live up to Christ's vision for once. They've had 2000 years to get their purpose in life sorted out - and instead, they have appointed themselves as high and mighty moral police - with powers of judge, jury and executioner. Enough, I say. Close them down, before we enter yet another age of darkness and ignorant superstition, replete with inquisitions and witch-hunts to satisfy these demagogues.

For decades arguments have raged over the "causes" of sexual orientation and gender identity, and there has been so much proof delivered to show that it is by nature that such things happen - and consistently these proofs have been denied, rejected and even ridiculed by those who would advocate the use of ancient scriptures written by cave dwellers over common sense, logic, reason and scientific thought in the same way that when the Sun was shown to be the center of the star system, the scientist who discovered this, was threatened with death by the church. Surely you can see that if they had their way, we would still be trapped in such dark soulless days?

It seems that science still scares some people because it takes away the comforting wool from their eyes and they can see the cold hard facts and suddenly - whoops - no more warm fairy tales, no more chicken soup for the soul. Delusion is so much more safe and comforting to them. These are the growing pains of the human species. Accepting reality, warts and all. No more invisible friends, no more getting away with everything because kids are cute. Accepting the reality. And reality terrifies them like little children terrified of the dark.

People like the idea of some higher intelligence guiding them to safety, influencing their decisions and treating them like pieces on a chess board. And when you remove that concept, they are suddenly confronted with the truth, that we are at almost every moment a hair's breadth from disaster - and nothing separates us from that, but the choices we make, to zig or to zag.

I am not quite a complete Darwinian, nor an actual atheist. I am more an agnostic, which leaves room for maneuver and space for unanswered questions - and means I am honest enough to admit, unlike others - that I don't know all the answers - and if I don't know all the answers, then to quote John Lennon, "what is there worth killing or dying for"?

People tend to use the God concept as a scapegoat to blame things on and an excuse to do things to other people - and a crutch to support their mental and spiritual weaknesses. In the Darwinian universe, this describes them as the opposite of the fittest. And we know what he said about them.


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