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.

“Justice” Antonin Scalia is Loony Tunes

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re probably aware that the US Supreme Court issued its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark case that just brought marriage equality to the entire United States.  Of course, not everyone is thrilled about that.  Conservative Christians are predictably freaking out, and “Justice” Antonin Scalia is among them.

Scalia is completely unhinged.  All you really need to know is that he thinks it’s a-okay to execute innocent people.  He also thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old.  Moving on though.

Scalia’s latest hissy fit dissent in today’s decision demonstrates yet again how wildly out of touch he really is.

“The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me,” he offers. “It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”

Well congrats, but guess what?  It is of “immense personal importance” to LGBT people, who are directly affected by the ruling.  Their rights are at stake.  It would be nice if all the justices cared about that.

But far more troubling is Scalia’s talk about “who it is that rules me”.  Um… as a Supreme Court judge, isn’t the Constitution supposed to “rule”?  Hint: the answer is yes.  But Scalia just brushes that aside, and brazenly declares that he doesn’t use the Constitution as the basis for his decisions.

He goes on to freak out about the Supreme Court doing exactly what the Supreme Court is supposed to do: rule on the Constitutionality of cases brought before it.  I don’t quite understand why conservatives so often lose it when courts do exactly what they’re supposed to do.

Another quote from Justice Loony Toons:

“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” he writes. “If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag.

Exactly which part is unreasonable? Let’s see:

The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach

That’s exactly what the Constitution is for.

a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons

Um, yeah, specific rights of human beings are outlined in the Constitution.

within a lawful realm

Again, that’s exactly what the Constitution does. It defines legal rights. What’s so outrageous here?

to define and express their identity

What more fundamental right could there be than to simply be who you are?

I see absolutely nothing pretentious or egotistic.  It was simply a statement of what the Constitution does.  But Scalia has shown he doesn’t care about the Constitution when it’s inconvenient for him.  He shows again and again that he really doesn’t get it (or doesn’t care) at a fundamental level.

“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.

Marriage equality, pedophilia, and the “slippery slope”

I recently came across a discussion of a recent ruling about part of a polygamy law that got struck down.  The participants of the discussion were mostly Christians, so of course the discussion turned to pedophiles and how since we are beginning to grant gay people the right to marry, it will inevitably lead to pedophilia just being a sexual orientation.  Then somebody came in saying they had read an article about the American Psychiatric Association doing just that.

It took me all of 30 seconds on Google to find that that was not true.  It turns out that the APA, in the midst of a series of changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), accidentally labeled pedophilia as a sexual orientation.  It was quickly corrected and the APA issued a statement, but the right-wing media had already exploded and flung the story to the ends of the Internet.

We all know Christians don’t like marriage equality, which is really what this is about.  They love the “slippery slope” argument that says if we allow all consenting adults equal rights to marry, it will inevitably lead to pedophiles being provided with all the kids they can get their hands on and there will be nothing anybody can do about it.  They don’t like marriage equality.  That’s fine.  But we’re not going to make laws based on what Christians do and don’t like.  We’re talking about consenting adults who aren’t hurting anything other than Christians’ feelings.  Get over it.

It appears there is a genetic component to pedophilia.  Whether Christians or anyone else likes that or not doesn’t change whether it’s true or not.  We know there is a genetic component to addictive behavior.  Denying that won’t make it any less true.  Recognizing that doesn’t mean we just accept bad behavior or crimes when one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  We don’t just throw up our hands and say, “well he’s an alcoholic and it’s genetic so we just can’t punish him for DUI and killing people.”

No, we punish those who harm other people, while trying to help them before they do.  Recognizing underlying components of diseases or disorders means we can better deal with them, and help those afflicted with them.  We help alcoholics, but we still punish bad behavior.  Likewise with pedophilia, recognizing a genetic component does not mean endorsement.  It means we have a better understanding of it and can better deal with it.  It also means that, while still punishing bad behavior and protecting innocent people from harm, we can show compassion and help people deal who suffer from harmful desires and urges.  And if there is a genetic component, then at some level pedophiles are partly victims of their own disease as well and we have a responsibility to help them, both for their sake and for their victims’.

This can certainly help potential victims too.  Gaining understanding of pedophilia means we are better able to treat and manage pedophiles, perhaps even detecting those likely to have such a gene.  There are problems with this too of course, but the point is that more knowledge is a good thing.

But of course, Christians are hysterical about marriage equality, so they just love to toss around the “slippery slope” argument.  Ah of course, if we allow gays to marry, next thing we can’t stop people from kiddie fiddling.  Riiiiiight.  And we’ll have to let people marry their cat.  Of course.  It has nothing to do with rights of consenting adults.  Nope, can’t be that.

Another comment was along the lines of what wicked times we’re living in.  Yep, we sure are.  The way Christians have treated homosexuals is incredibly wicked.  But don’t worry, we’re standing up to them.