My Not-so-Internal Debate

I’m Catholic, and yet whenever a random stranger handing out mini-Bibles asks me “When were you saved?” or “Have you found the Lord Jesus?” I have to suppress feelings of disgust. They are spreading God’s word and trying to make the world a better place. Why is that so unappealing to me? I’m sorry, but at a street corner or in my doorway is not the place to bring me to Jesus. At emotional rock bottom, perhaps, but probably not on a Wednesday at 3 PM.

I digress. You can have your religion, whatever it may be, and that is great with me. Keep your religion- and your genitals- out of my face, and we don’t have a problem. Even if that religion happens to already be mine as well.

My real issue is with equal rights. I am a firm believer in equal rights for all, no matter their subset of humanity. The way I see it, what variable that a person is born with could possibly define them in entirety or makes them less of a person than others?

Suppose you feel differently than I do. Suppose you announce this opinion in front of me. Am I obliged to tell you my thoughts and feelings? I certainly want to. I probably am kind of disgusted that you are against a large group of people that you have judged on this one characteristic. That you feel they are condemned to hell and should rightfully have less rights than you. That they are lesser than you.

Still, unless you are being particularly inflammatory, I will say nothing. Everyone gets to have an opinion. If I am against others people pressing their religion on me without my inquiry, then others probably don’t want to hear me pour my heart out about my personal values. I’ll grant you two comments, but at three strikes I will calmly and logically explain why you are wrong. Fair deal. You started it.



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Little Girls Are The Devil

Let’s travel to Locust Grove, GA where men are animals and girls are problems. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself but I’m really pissed about this story. Maddy is an eleven-year-old girl who loves to play football. She’s pretty good at it too; she even made it on her school team. Last season she had four sacks, all of her teammates and coaches wanted her back for next season saying she’s one of the better defensive players…but Maddy won’t be coming back. Maddy is banned from playing football because “boys might start lusting after her”. That’s right, because boys might have impure thoughts Maddy is not allowed to partake in something she loves—or as she put it, “It’s like taking my dream and throwing it in the trash.” Sure, let’s just get rid of the girl—let’s not teach boys that they need to control themselves and have respect for women, or teach them that their every little desire does not need to be fulfilled. God forbid we teach young boys self-control—just get rid of the evil vagina. Oh, I should probably mention that this is a Christian school so clearly sex and the female form is the WORST thing in the world. Really, a vagina is the destroyer of the Universe. I sort of covered this topic in my “Men Aren’t Animals” piece but this now illustrates that point so I’m revisiting it.
Athletic Director Phil Roberts e-mailed 11Alive News a statement saying, “Our official policy is that middle school girls play girl sports and middle school boys play boy sports.” Football is a boys sport—girls don’t play football in the NHL do they? Nope. Girls play with girls and boys play with boys. That is actually a semi-understanable stance when you put it under the guise of “girls can get hurt—these boys don’t know their strength and football is a contact sport” but that’s not the truth. It’s not that “girls play with girls and boys play with boys”. In a closed door meeting with Maddy’s mom, Mr. Roberts had this to say, “In the meeting with the CEO of the school, I was told that the reasons behind it were, one, that the boys were going to start lusting after her, and have impure thoughts about her. And that locker room talk was not appropriate for a female to hear, even though she had a separate locker room from the boys.”
Let me tell Mr. Roberts something—it doesn’t matter if Maddy is on the field playing a game she lvoes and excels at—the boys will still have impure thoughts about her. Want to know why? It’s because they’re 12-year –old boys. They have impure thoughts about everything. They have so many hormones raging through them that anything is sexy. But that doesn’t mean they do anything about it. So why does Maddy have to be banned? Is it because we don’t trust boys to not attack her? Is it because she’s not as tough? She’s just a little girl—she can’t hear bad talk?
Give me a f***ing break. This is the biggest pile of crap I have ever heard. You want to know why we have a rape culture? This is why. We never teach boys that it’s fine to think things—but you don’t always get to do them. We just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. “Girls are dirty, girls are to subservient, girls do what men tell them to”. Shame on them.



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Ten Commandments Up All Over A Public School

It is 2013. Am I stupid or just blindly optimistic for being surprised that a US public school has the Ten Commandments up everywhere?

Because there is such a school. Until May 15 of this year, which is 2013, they had the Ten Commandments posted in multiple places throughout the building. This is a public high school in Muldrow, Oklahoma, by the way, and you can read more about it here.

But, basically, they were threatened with a lawsuit after an anonymous student filed a complaint. The school relented, because I guess that they were aware that they were clearly in flagrant violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Members of the community complained that this was somehow persecution. The usual stuff that comes up with these things. Let me just clarify a few things:

The Ten Commandments are an integral part of religious doctrine for most Jews and Christians. They are found in the Torah (the first five books of what Christianity refers to as the Old Testament). These religious laws were, according to the narrative in Exodus, passed down to the Isrealites through Moses by their God, Yahweh.

The US government and its institutions cannot endorse any particular religion or establish an official religion. Which means that posting a set of religious laws is Unconstitutional. These laws are not only decidedly religious in origin, but they actively exclude American citizens of other faiths.

 

Let’s just break these things down:

1 – “You shall have no other gods before me.” This is, quite possibly, the most offensive and non-secular law within the Decalogue. It makes sense as a law within the Abrahamic faiths—it does not make sense as something in a public school where a student who, privately or publicly, is not a part of that faith will have to see it (outside of the context of someone’s school project or actual religious scholarship) hanging on the wall. In particular, many people within the US and elsewhere on the globe, are polytheists. We are exactly the sorts of people and are members of exactly the sort of faiths that the First Commandment is opposing. This should never be displayed on a public building in a way that suggests that I am unwelcome in the country of my birth.

2 – The second one is a little wordy. But this is the one about no graven images—no idols. Well, a lot of faiths use idols in their religious practices and many adherents possess these images out of devotion. A lot of overlap with the first one as to why this is offensive.

3 – Don’t take the name of the Abrahamic God in vain. That’s a specific restriction on members of that religion. Irrelevant to everyone else.

4 – This one is about the Sabbath. Not working on the Sabbath. Not bound by that restriction. I have done a great deal of work on both Saturday and Sunday, including going to my place of employment, homework, housework, yardwork, writing. Another specific restriction for the Judeo-Christian community.

5 – “Honor your father and your mother.” Well, not everyone has parents worth honoring. My father happens to be an awful person. While this one is not always good advice and while it is religious in origin, this one is not nearly as offensive as the first two.

6 – “Do not murder.” Well, yeah. Even if you believe that some people absolutely need killing, US law (and most laws) outlaw killing people under most circumstances.

7 – “Do not commit adultery.” Ridiculous. Even if interpreted by a narrow interpretation (“if you’re married, be monoamorous”), no government institution has a right to tell you anything of the sort. More widely interpreted, it’s a statement against not only extramarital sex, but premarital sex. Aww hell naw.

8 – “Do not steal.” Agreed! Inappropriate on a school’s wall because it, you know, is a religious doctrine, but in a vacuum, I have no problem with this rule.

9 – This one is about bearing false witness against your neighbor. I’m fine with this rule.

10 – The tenth one is really weird. This is the one about coveting your neighbor’s “possessions” (including livestock, servants, and wife—who does not seem to count as a neighbor). This one draws more of a “what the hell” response than the kind of moral outrage that some of the earlier ones elicit. (Though I should note that some people interpret this as a law against “mental crimes” of envy, while it is also argued that the original translation makes this a law against theft—specifically from your neighbor, which seems a little redundant with number eight)

 

The Ten Commandments are not and can never be secular symbols. They are not and can never be anything but a set of religious laws for a set of religious adherents. Hanging them up throughout the year (again, as opposed to displaying them as a part of a student’s classwork, such as a report on Judaism or Christianity or something along those lines) is absolutely an endorsement of particular religions over others. Unacceptable for any religion—mine included.

I think that it is fair to speculate that many of the people protesting the removal of the Ten Commandments would also protest the installation of, say, religious laws from the Qur’an. They would also protest a sign that began with “There is no God.”

Those two examples are how the Ten Commandments look to the rest of us.



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“An Army To Save America’s Souls”

I apologize in advance for any nightmares that this gives anyone. Because if you watch this video or even just read this article about it, it’s creepy.

Disclaimer: As I have mentioned before, I am not anti-Christian. I am opposed to a number of Christian beliefs, but I fully support Christians (most of whom, in my experience, are wonderful people) and their right to practice their faith.

I say that as a religious minority with many friends who are non-Christians, whether of minority faiths or non-religious. But I also say that as an American. Something like eighty-percent of US citizens are Christians; only about one-third (I say “only” like one-third is not terrifying) of US citizens would like to see the US adopt Christianity as its official state religion. So, the majority of US Christians are reasonable people who do not want the government imposing their beliefs upon their fellow citizens.

The terrifying video is made starring conservative Christian teenagers. Their message? That public schools are godless dens of debauchery where Christians are oppressed for their faith. That young Christians across the nation need to rally and, basically, that the country needs to backtrack in terms of religious freedoms by about sixty years.

It’s easy to look at this video and, after ignoring that a few of them set off your gaydar (they’re going to have some internal struggles in a few years), say “Oh these kids are horrible.”

But they aren’t. They say some scary things and they say some awful things. They also say some untrue things, of course. But you know that most kids at that age repeat the values of their parents—particularly when they are raised in households where differences of opinion are not accepted. This is not a representative sample of Christians or Christian teens or even conservative Christian teens. This is a representative sample of fringe-right evangelical statements, spoken through the mouths of teens.

Hate the message; pity these particular messengers.

So let’s just get a few things straight:

No one, including the Supreme Court, has banned students from praying in schools. Teachers and administrators are not allowed to lead students in prayer. Students are not allowed to disrupt class for any reason, including leading others in prayer. If a student wants to pray before eating or at any other moment of free time during the day, that has never been forbidden. They can pray privately. So long as they are not disruptive, they may pray in groups. There are multiple afterschool clubs dedicated to various Christian groups.

Creation is not a scientific theory. If you have that as a religious belief, then you have that as a religious belief and you presumably believe that either your God or the devil has planted a false trail of evidence to lead scientists to other conclusions. While I do not equate the two as beliefs, as educational topics, Creationism has as much of a place in a science classroom as Ancient Aliens has in a history classroom.

Images shown in sex education (for those students lucky enough to receive actual, comprehensive sex education rather than counterproductive abstinence-only drivel) are not pornographic. You see drawn cross-sections of people’s internal genital organs within a vague silhouette of human bodies. You might see some thermal images in video if you really get the whole story. That’s it.

Much like your right to swing your fist, your right to religious freedom ends at another person. Protecting everyone’s religious autonomy is not oppression, it’s . . . stopping some people from oppressing others.

I really wish that we could rescue young people from growing up in these kinds of mindsets. I think that everyone deserves more of a chance than these kids have. Perhaps, one day, when I give this wretched world the queen it deserves.

 

PS: They describe themselves as an army, which is horrifying enough. But I snorted with laughter when they said that Christ was their commander. If you want to express your faith by saying “Christ our king” or something like that, that’s fine. But I didn’t picture that. I just pictured Cobra Commander. Not the image that you want.

 



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