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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Holy Porn, Vatican

Everyone does it. It’s normal. It’s natural. It’s part of life. We all stream. We all download torrents! Nothing to be ashamed about, I’m streaming as I type. Whenever I stream I use my “incognito window” of Google Chrome because I don’t want my work to see what I’m doing (I’m aware they still can, I’m aware of the capabilities of spying on employees). Anyway, I do it because I want to hide what I’m doing—however I know I can’t, that gives me a leg up on the Vatican.

The people at Torrent Freak have found that someone with the Vatican IP address is downloading porn. Oh yeah, that’s happening. It’s not your run of the mill “oh the pizza dilveray boy is here” porn…this is BDSM. Things like “Whipped Ass”, “Russian Slaves”, and “TS Pussy Hunters”….what does the TS stand for? I better go back to church and find out.

Aside from this being against everything they preach and are allowed to do…it’s also illegal! DOWNLOADING ILLEGAL BDSM?!!? Catholics, here I come! Viewing parties at the Vatican aren’t new, in January, a priest mentioned in an interview that they’d watched “Django Unchained”. What else is on the viewing list? “Love, Actually,” “Chicago Fire,” British soap “Neighbours” and “The Americans.” The Vatican is kind of a cool place to hang out…amiright?

It’s old news that religion is outdated and rarely practices what they preach….but the fact that they are illegally downloading porn instead of just going to YouPorn, or  any other of the hundreds of free sites…baffles me. Now when people ask me why I’m an atheist my answer will be, “I cannot support something that buys the cow when they can get the milk for free.” Porn, whatever I get that–that makes sense…but Chicago Fire? Really? I’m sorry I can’t support that.

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Not Your Life, Not Your Soul

I’ve talked about this before—this being the religious rights of young children and infants. Circumcision, where it is not medically necessary (in most cases, it is not), should not be practiced upon infants or upon children too young to give informed consent (if you’re too young to have a say in which parent should have custody of you in a divorce, you’re too young to consent to minor elective surgery).

And I have mentioned that infant baptism is creepy as hell. And please do not misunderstand my meaning—if you are fifteen or twenty and you decide that you are a Christian and want to dedicate yourself to whichever denomination of that faith, more power to you. Get baptized. If you decide on Judaism or Islam, then, by all means, get circumcised. At such a time as you are capable of making that decision for yourself.

I understand the mechanics of baptism—which, depending upon the denomination or the family, ranges from a pledge by the family to raise the infant as a Christian to claiming the child’s soul for the Christian God to divinely cleansing the infant of spiritual evil (sin) believed to be inherent to all humans. As with all religious rites, some members of faith communities treat these as expected social events and give them no more thought than one would a bridal shower, while others hold baptism and other early religious rites as being of vital spiritual importance—as well as mandatory.

Please stop it. Like the title says—it’s not your life. It’s not your soul. This extends beyond infancy and early childhood. If you are a Christian and your thirteen-year-old wants to start reading about Theravada Buddhism or another denomination of Christianity or otherwise does not believe what you do—that’s normal.

Adolescence is a standard time for children to begin striking out on their own in small ways—questioning the political views of their parents, seeking alternative activities ( Like the cliche: “But you love football.” “No, dad. You love football! I like ballet!”), discovering where they fit in socially, and very likely reconsidering their religious beliefs. Atheists may take up an interest in Jesus. Reform Jews may look into Orthodox Judaism. Agnostics may start reading about contemporary Paganism.

It’s called being in high school. Students are more open about it in larger schools, when greater diversity makes them feel more comfortable being honest with themselves (my school had about a dozen Pagan students and you were likely to have an openly LGBT classmate in every class, especially by senior year—but, in college, I met people who never met a non-Christian until high school).

It’s also called growing up.

If you’re a Methodist and you are worried that your child may leave the church because he or she is reading about Buddhism in his or her free time, relax. Sometimes, students just read about their friends’ beliefs, or for school projects. And sometimes looking at other faiths can help you to put your own into perspective—and to strengthen your preexisting beliefs. Faith is not worth anything if it cannot be challenged.

Now, in some religions (namely, the Abrahamic religions), being outside of the faith is believed to have severe consequences—beyond simply making one’s parents uncomfortable. I’m a Pagan. Specifically, an eclectic Revivalist. If my child became a Buddhist or an atheist or a Christian, my response would be mild, mostly silent, disappointment. I would much prefer that to a child who did sports, dangerous drugs, or worse, was an otherkin. That’s it. I would never raise my child to be a member of my faith. I would not withhold affection or financial support or dangle incentives in the hopes of getting a hollow admission of adherence.

Why? Because, in any religion, accepting a label and having genuine belief and devotion are radically different. Going through the motions without true belief is completely meaningless.

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. Your children are not equines—in this metaphor, you can recommend your favorite drinking spots and watch them figure it out for themselves. That way, if they choose the same one that you chose, whether they are in middle school or college or later in adulthood, it will actually mean something.

(Christians are certainly taking notice of drops in church attendance and religious adherence among their children who go to college and, for the first time, find that they have a choice. Give them a choice earlier on, and they’re more likely to make one that will make you happy. Even if they make another choice, it will still be their choice.)

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