I want to say I’m sorry

I was thinking today about my journey from conservative fundie Christian to where I am now.

As I’ve talked about before, I grew up Seventh Day Adventist, which is a very conservative sect of Protestant Christianity.  The joke is that SDAs are about 20 years behind Baptists.  SDAs are hardcore young earth creationists, anti-LGBT, and tend to isolate themselves from the world.  They have their own schools (Kindergarten through college) where parents are strongly encouraged to send their kids.  When I was growing up, almost all SDA churches were strongly against any kind of rock music, there were no drums in church, and usually no guitars either… just piano and organ for hymns.  Makeup and jewelry were “self adornment” and looked down on, or just plain not allowed in most schools.  There was no dancing, no bowling, and no movie theaters.  Once a year our school would have a field trip to the local skate rink, and they had to unplug all the arcade games, and play “more appropriate music”.

I’ve heard a lot of this has changed now.  Not the young earth creationism… oh no, no, no.  The church leadership has come out strongly on that recently stating that the literal six day creation week is fundamental to Seventh Day Adventism and there is absolutely no room for compromise.  But the more socially backwards traditions like jewelry, makeup, and drums in church are, the harder they are to maintain among younger generations.

My point in explaining this is to explain where I’ve come from.  I grew up in that and I believed it.  I later left SDAism behind after I realized I just didn’t think the distinguishing parts were that important, so I just became sort of general Christian, but still very conservative.  It just doesn’t make sense to me to take the Bible seriously and not be conservative, or at least lean that way.

But I digress.  When I was a conservative fundie Christian, I was on the wrong side of many issues, and the one that sticks out most in my mind right now is LGBT rights and equality.  I thought being gay was a sin.  I bought into all the anti-gay rhetoric.  I voted for California’s Proposition 8 which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

I wasn’t outspoken or an activist, and I never “gay bashed” or anything.  I never directly harmed any LGBT people, but I was on the wrong side of history.  I supported and/or was part of organizations that did harm LGBT people.

So I want to say to my LGBT brothers and sisters, and all my now fellow advocates, that I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for contributing to oppression and discrimination.  I’m sorry for all you have had to endure because of people like who I used to be.

I’m happy to say that I’m firmly on the right side of history now.  I’m 100%, categorically, unreservedly, proudly an LGBT advocate and activist.

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“Erotic Liberty vs Religious Liberty”

“Erotic liberty vs religious liberty” is the new buzzphrase for bigots who want to attack LGBT people and deny equal rights to others, all based on religious beliefs.

The implication of “erotic liberty” is that those damn dirty gay people just want to get off at the expense of the “religious liberty” of devout Christians trying to stand up for Jesus. Christians who, bafflingly, seem intent on fighting tooth and nail to deny equal rights to a group of people over something that doesn’t even effect them. That’s called bigotry.

It’s hard to conceive of a more ignorant and bigoted phrase. It should hardly need to be said, but the fight for LGBT equality is not about eroticism. It’s about marriage. It’s about equal rights and equal treatment and protections under the law. It’s about all kinds of things, but eroticism isn’t really one of them. That’s what opponents of equal rights don’t understand. That’s what they refuse to understand.

But if they insist on the term “erotic liberty”, then the fact is that LGBT people want the same “erotic liberty” as everyone else. That’s where this new buzzphrase really fails. It doesn’t even say anything new. It’s still Christians trying to deny LGBT people the same rights that everyone else has. So we’re back to square one, and that square is equality. If they want to deny equal rights to a group of people, that’s still called bigotry.

The phrase appears to have originated with Albert Mohler, who is no stranger to saying ridiculous things. I’ve been told Mohler is one of the “brightest mind[s] in evangelical Christianity”, and that “leading secularists would have to recognize Dr. Mohler has one of the brightest minds in our country”. Oh boy, I don’t think so. From everything I have read from him in regards to LGBT people, contraception, atheists, and even yoga (among plenty of other issues) that he thinks are a problem for Christians, his arguments are painfully bad. I’m no expert. I don’t have a doctorate in anything. I’m a very amateur philosopher, and I found it comically simple to pick his arguments apart on just about any issue.

People like Mohler want to force LGBT people back into the closet. They want to turn back the clock to when LGBT people were treated like freaks and weirdos and second-class citizens. They want LGBT people to think of themselves as broken and sinful. Nevermind the depression. Nevermind the suicide. Nevermind the bullying when people think LGBT people are sick. Nevermind the cognitive dissonance of LGBT people trying to reconcile their natural orientation with what they’re told they should be. They don’t care about any of that. I know Christians don’t like this label, but too bad. Yet again, that’s called bigotry.

The upside to all of this is that the tide is against those who would use such rhetoric to push their bigoted views. Love is winning over hate. More and more people are coming to realize that everyone deserves equal rights. Marriage equality is advancing state by state. It’s not fast enough, but it’s happening.

But the really good news is that, despite all their stamping of their feet and hysterical shrieks of persecution, we don’t have to care what religious people think of all this. The separation of church and state, clearly defined in the US Constitution, says that we don’t make laws based on any religion. Unfortunately not everyone gets this, but that’s too bad for them. As with other civil rights movements, we shall overcome.