Category Religion

WWJD?

As a conservative, I voted for Jan Brewer. I felt no qualms in doing so. I’ve been irritated with some of her choices of late, mainly her decisions regarding Child Protective Services, but I have been impressed with her refusal to back down on issues such as Second Amendment rights and immigration issues.

Now, as a lesbian, I’m sitting here with my breath on hold. The state senate and house of representatives have both passed SB 1062. Now all that waits is Governor Brewer’s decision – sign it into law, veto it, or take no action and let it become law.

The bill came about after multiple lawsuits and civil complaints brought against business owners in several states. Gay couples preparing to hold marriage ceremonies are running into bakeries and photographers who are refusing to do business with them because the business owners are Christians and don’t agree with homosexuality, let alone gay marriage. When this happens it makes the news. It also typically goes straight to court. Several states, including Kansas, Ohio, and Kentucky have all drawn up laws with the intent of preserving “religious freedom” and protecting business owners who want to refuse service to gays based on their religious beliefs. Arizona, however, is the first state to come this far in passing that legislation. All other states have dropped it.

I’ve read the bill. It’s short and simple enough to understand. The big problem I have is that it’s pretty ambiguous in its language. In short, the bill literally says that any business can refuse service to anyone and claim a “sincerely held religious belief” to avoid being sued or penalized by the government under discrimination laws. That means this would stand to affect more than just gay people; it could spread to racial and religious discrimination very quickly.

I have said before and will say again that I will only support gay marriage rights as long as the rights of churches to refuse to perform gay weddings is preserved. Churches should never be forced to engage in practices that go against their beliefs. For the record, I think if a caterer or a photographer doesn’t agree with gay marriage they shouldn’t have to be forced to do business with gay couples. I think that if a gay couple knows that they’re going to a Christian-owned business that won’t want to help with their ceremony, they’re inviting disaster in the form of poor, shoddy work. The problem that I have with SB 1062 is that it is far too broad and flings the door wide open for all kinds of discrimination to be excused by religion.

In reality, however, this is little more than an exercise in stupidity by the socially conservative hard right. This is more of the same from social conservatives who claim to want limited government and then turn around and expect the government to legislate personal and moral issues. Rather than minding their own business and learning to live and let live, they want everyone to snap to and agree to their brand of morality a la legislation. If anyone dared suggest allowing Sharia courts anywhere in the United States (something I vehemently refuse to support, in case anyone was wondering), these folks would be up in arms in a heartbeat, as well they should. But they have no issue at all with trying to legislate from their own pulpit.

Mushy moderates like John McCain and Jeff Flake know how strong their social base is and they play to it. During the last election, both Arizona senators openly supported the social conservatives who were worried about gay marriage and gave them exactly the answers they knew that base wanted to hear. Now that both of those senators have come out in the Gang of Eight and agreed to come to some kind of compromise on gun control, those socials are crying foul. They just can’t understand this kind of betrayal.

You don’t get to feign ignorance now. You were more worried about those damned social issues than you were about the economy, amnesty, taxes, healthcare, and gun rights. Because that was your primary concern, we’re all stuck with men representing us who are willing to sell us out. The problem is that you are still refusing to see that truth. The liberals are thoroughly enjoying the resultant mess and watching the conservative side implode. They are the ones that will win this war because you simply cannot let go of issues that have no bearing whatsoever on what’s really destroying us right now – the economy, Obamacare, amnesty, and rising taxes. Cities are going broke and some states are well on their way and we’re still kibitzing about gay marriage.

Of course, none of this is to mention the breathtaking arrogance of social conservatives. Your whole beef is that you should be allowed to refuse to do business with someone because they’re gay and you don’t agree with homosexuality. Do you really think Jesus would approve of putting up a sign in your restaurant asking gay people to stay away? Do you think Jesus would applaud you for turning away a patient because you didn’t want to treat a gay person? What would Jesus say if he were standing in front of you while you called all gay people pedophiles and screamed for them to be stripped of their rights? What happened to “whatever you do unto the least of these”? If you support this farce of a law, then go out and scrape that WWJD sticker off your car and take that cross necklace off. You obviously don’t remember what Jesus said about how you’re supposed to treat other people.

Asleep In The Light

I identify more with Judaism now, but I was raised in a Christian home. I know the Bible better than most. I no longer celebrate Easter because it is believed that Easter actually became known as it is because of a church custom of taking pagan holidays – in this case, the celebration of Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, hence the bunnies and eggs being so popular – and “Christianizing” them so the pagan cultures would convert without having to give up centuries-held traditions.

It’s not that I don’t believe in G-d or His Grace. I just don’t believe that the church today really puts much emphasis on it these days, even though they claim to.

A rabbi that I know and deeply respect once said something to me that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “if Yeshua (Jesus) was the messiah, He certainly never intended his followers to become what they are.” He wasn’t talking about one issue in particular, he was discussing many issues in that one statement, and he was right. Christians in America can be the most arrogant, pious, and self-serving people on the planet. They do more damage to their own cause than they will ever be willing to admit, and they claim it all in the name of love.

This isn’t solely going to be an indictment on Christians for their teachings on homosexuality (although that is definitely part of it). There’s more to it than that. I’m not willing to call them hatemongers, but they are blinded by their own self-righteousness. Keith Green wrote some amazing songs that called the church out on its hypocrisy – I grew up with his music, and I still love it. What astonishes me is that he was so popular with the very people who were behaving exactly as he described:

“Oh bless me lore, bless me lord”
You know it’s all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear…

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
’cause it’s asleep in the light …

I still remember, well after Green died in a plane crash, the music minister at my church singing that song one Sunday morning. The high points of the song garnered cheering. My church, Grace Community Church of Clear Lake (now GCC Houston with two massive campuses, one on either end of the city), had a very large, beautiful facility. It was very expensive. I remember fundraising efforts to have the backlit stained-glass window installed behind the baptismal. All of the money that has been spent on that facility could have gone to a million different things, but they spent it on the latest and greatest buildings and technology.

At the time, I would have proudly defended it. We need these things, I’d say, because we need to be able to attract people to the church to hear the gospel. I now believe I was very wrong, and so were they. Knowing what I know about what went on in the offices I don’t think any of the staff were nearly as ministry-minded as I used to believe. Even I wasn’t ministry-minded; I was religious, and I couldn’t tell the difference between being religious and having faith. They really are two vastly different things. I now understand perfectly the dichotomy of that song’s message and how nobody in the congregation understood it.

In my first year of working as an EMT, I had to learn where the county homeless shelter was and who was allowed to be there. Because the homeless could go there and get three square meals, religious groups were barred from gathering to pass out food – I have since had to ask many of them to leave. Nearly all of them have gotten aggressive with me, often accusing me of being an angry lesbian (yes, it really is that obvious) who hates God and only wants to stop their “ministry”. I’ve had groups all but assault me, trying to “lay hands” on me to pray for my salvation. I know that they don’t mean to hurt me, but at the same time I can’t let them do those things. I’ve had to call police to remove them more times than I can recall.

You see, rather than offer assistance to the county to help run the shelter and kitchens, they’d rather hand out food themselves and preach. I used to do it, too, and I know exactly why they do it – to feel better about themselves. They go out on a Sunday afternoon and make a gesture that, in the end, really doesn’t mean much. Once their good deed is done for the week, they go to church on Wednesday and brag about how they did battle with the “forces of darkness” (that would be me, of course) and talk about doing it again.

Being a good Christian is about more than a big facility, expensive production equipment, and going out to hand out food to the homeless once in a while. It’s about more than saying grace before sitting down to eat. It’s about more than a cool slogan, t-shirt, bumper sticker, or the most recent devotional version of the Bible. It should be about faith. Among Christians, divorce and financial irresponsibility are rampant. They want to hold all of society accountable but they can’t even hold themselves accountable. Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, yet we have Christian leaders (including my former pastor from Houston) telling their congregants that G-d’s blessings will make them wealthy if they only have enough faith.

The only people that Jesus specifically condemned to hell, however, were the religious leaders. He spoke seven woes upon the Pharisees and Saducees. I think if He were here in the flesh now he’d say the same thing. He’d ask, “what do you need this huge building for? Why are there pictures of the pastor all over every piece of literature this church hands out? Why are you on TV asking for donations when you already have a huge home and an expensive car? Why are you out protesting a group of people when you could be quietly living a faithful life and setting a better example – without the piousness?”

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s Easter. If it means something to you, I think it’s great – it’s between you and G-d. The next time you get into that debate and you feel the urge to shout me down, ask yourself why. Why is it so important that I force my faith on everyone through law? Was G-d’s promise to “heal their land” really meant for us, or was it simply directed at a wayward Israel? How does the gospel gain converts when you beat everyone about the head and shoulders with your beliefs and claim that they’re the same as our Founding Fathers?

If you can’t answer those questions honestly – without invoking the “this is a Christian nation” argument – then you need to question yourself. Unfortunately, I don’t think enough people out there are smart enough to do that. That is why the church will always be asleep in the light.

Chik-Fil-A: The Great Flap

If you’re listening to the hard left, you’d believe that the boycott of chicken chain Chick-Fil-A is working and the brand is being dealt an irreparable blow.

Unfortunately for them, this is pure fantasy. There’s a CFA restaurant right next to my loft, and these days the place is absolutely packed. The dining room is stuffed to the gills and the drive-thru line quickly wraps around the building. Every CFA in the country seems to be getting more business these days.

We all know what the kerfuffle is about. Dan Cathy, the company’s CEO and the son of founder S. Truett Cathy, recently said “guilty as charged” when asked by the Baptist Press if he supported traditional family values. He never specifically singled out gay marriage; he did single out divorce quite specifically, but the way things have gone you’d think Cathy held a forum in support of Fred Phelps and called for us all to be rounded up and herded into concentration camps.

Roseanne Barr said that everyone who eats at CFA deserves to get cancer. After then saying that people who feed their kids at CFA are guilty of child abuse, she went on another nazi-cursing tirade against the chain. Non-celebs went completely bats as well, commenting that CFA sandwiches are “deep fried in hate” and called traditional marriage “a sacred bond between two consenting bigots”.

The really frightening thing about all of this, however, is what elected government officials are doing now. It began with Boston mayor Thomas Menino declaring that CFA was banned from Boston and he would see to it that it was nearly impossible for the company to get proper permits to operate. As soon as he did that, actress Eliza Dushku promptly tweeted, “That’s right, B!” (Eliza, you’re breaking my heart here…I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and SMG is still my celeb girl crush, but I once had a crush on you, too!) That was followed by Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno swearing to block CFA from opening a new restaurant in his district. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel backed him up, saying that “Chick-Fil-A values are not Chicago values” (strange, since gay marriage is illegal in Illinois and nobody in Chicago politics has moved a finger to change that). San Francisco mayor Edwin Lee then tweeted that the nearest CFA restaurant was 40 miles away and “I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.” DC mayor Vincent Gray has now said that “I will not support #hatechicken”.

Calling them a bunch of lunatics is being too nice. They’re outright violating CFA’s First Amendment rights, and frighteningly so. Their reason is that they strongly disagree with Cathy’s beliefs, and they think that because they disagree and can claim that CFA discriminates because of Cathy’s beliefs they have the right to stop the chain from growing, opening new stores and creating more jobs. Our tax dollars hard at work.

First of all, let’s clear the air here: being against the legalization of gay marriage does NOT equal being anti-gay. It certainly does not deserve the title of “hatemonger.” I know a few gay people who don’t believe in legalizing gay marriage. That does not make them hatemongers, they simply want to live their lives in peace and not have to worry about who might be offended. Second, I routinely go to CFA. My item of habit is their grilled chicken sandwich deluxe. I have never, not once, EVER been discriminated against by any employee. In fact, most of them know me by name and chat with me while I’m waiting. They all know I’m gay and not a single one of them cares. CFA employees have frequently been the most gracious I’ve encountered.

Third, it is beyond comprehension that any government official would dare to infringe upon the rights of any person. What would these same people say if a conservative mayor forced a gay-owned-and-themed business out of their city because of religious objections to their beliefs and/or lifestyle? I can tell you now, they’d all be howling for the DOJ to investigate. It’s perfectly acceptable, though, when liberals want to do it.

Boycotting isn’t un-American, and none of us have claimed that it was (Fox News certainly hasn’t, and you’re lying through your teeth when you claim they have). If you want to personally boycott the place, that’s your right. You may not, however, tell them that they’re not allowed to open or expand in your city because of your disagreement with the owner. I will be the first to stand up for their rights, because if I sit back and let you violate their rights, then mine will be next.

Outing True Hate

I got into it on Twitter with a guy who talks like a 15-year-old. He says he’s Catholic. He openly hates gay people, loves using the word “fag”, and is an incredible hypocrite.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the man who calls himself Daniel Cali – AKA @dheaddan from somewhere in the liberal state of Illinois:

Now, after the “discussion” began (if you could really call it that), I called him a hypocrite. Why? He spouted the tried-and-true Leviticus “clobber passage” to try and prove to me that I am damned for being gay. I pointed out that the same set of ceremonial laws – the very laws that Jesus Christ purportedly sacrificed Himself to fulfill, thus no longer requiring ceremonial cleanliness – ban us from handling pork products and wearing cotton/poly blends. Simple argument, right? He comes back with the argument that the New Testament tells us we are allowed to eat foods considered unclean despite that law, purely because of Jesus’ sacrifice. He replies that only food was made spiritually acceptable again (but not fabric woven of two different materials? Interesting…). I called him a hypocrite, because that’s exactly what he was.

He later made multiple excuses for calling me a sodomite and a fag.

First he called me a sodomite – which, since I am a lesbian, is not possible. Sodomy is defined as “anal or oral copulation,” the key word being the very last one. Copulation requires the involvement of male genitalia, and Dan apparently doesn’t know enough about biology to understand this. He insisted that I was a sodomite even after I first pointed him to Ezekiel for the reasons that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed (homosexuality is never listed among the sins God destroyed those cities for), and I contend that based on scripture, the use of the name of that city to describe male homosexual acts is incorrect in any case. He continued to call me a sodomite even after being reminded that the word describes male interactions, gay or straight.

He wasn’t listening. He went on to call me a fag multiple times (all spelling inaccuracies are his, cut-and-pasted from his Twitter feed):

Daniel Cali ‏@dheaddan
@animelmaguire I am not a hypocrite, but your a fag.

Daniel Cali ‏@dheaddan
@animelmaguire BTW when you cite chapter and verse where fag is OK with God, then let me know until then you’re wrong and don’t bother me.

Daniel Cali ‏@dheaddan
@animelmaguire Sodmite is another one of those inaccurate descriptions, sodomy is any abominable sex act which, you as a fag engage in.

Daniel Cali ‏@dheaddan
@animelmaguire keep twisting sorry that is not condoning fags

Daniel Cali ‏@dheaddan
@animelmaguire I am in good company for the same term “fag” was used by William F Buckley when referring to Vidal Gore.

Daniel Cali ‏@dheaddan
Fag-> @animelmaguire: I thought you were shaking the dust off your feet. Since you cannot stop using that foul word, let me help you.Buh-bye

If you doubt me, click here and read his tweets before he deletes them.

His first excuse for using the word “fag” was he was “saving space.” I called him on it, and his next excuse was that we had “perverted” the word gay and he refused to use it in that connotation. Well, in England they call cigarettes fags…cultural reference. If a word has such extreme negative connotation, you’re not doing yourself or your so-called faith any favors by using it continually. In reality, anyone with half a brain knows that you’re playing games with me, particularly trying to get me worked up. I’m doing with you what I did with Jeffrey Don Davis – I’m outing you, a supposed conservative, for the hard-right hatemonger that you are. You are another part of the reason why liberals call me a self-loathing closet case.

I hate to break this to you, but the Constitution will not hold up under social conservatism. It will not jibe with laws being passed based purely on religious dogma, which is all you seem to believe in. America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and I am a believer, but our founding fathers were not all Christians (several were actually Deists, including Thomas Jefferson) and they specifically wrote the Constitution to reflect America as a free nation, one that was never intended to recognize as law the beliefs of a singular religion.

In other words, if you’re against Sharia being passed into US law, you cannot turn around and insist that Catholicism be what our laws are based on.

So that I don’t beat a dead horse, here are a few other blog posts I’ve written on these subjects. Oh, and Dan…take a gander at Luke 11:37-52. The only time Jesus openly condemned anyone to hell (that we know of) were the religious leaders who pretended to have it all figured out. If you look at the way He continually deals with them throughout the gospels, He gets irritated that they put on a good face and twist scripture and the law to turn it into what they want it to say. I find it amazing that, despite His dire warnings, a couple thousand years pass and nothing has changed. Just like Fred Phelps, you claim that you’re behaving this way out of “love”. You apparently missed I Corinthians 13.

Whose Morality? – Commentary on the birth control debate and how liberals are attacking Catholicism

Put It In Context, Part I – Debate over what hate is and how it does still infect those on the religious part of the Right

Jennifer Knapp Makes A Comeback, Part II – contains my testimony and comments on going from being religious to being a person of faith

Put It In Context, Part 2

(Before anyone asks, yes, I will address the repartee between Gov. Jan Brewer and President Obama – just not right now. I’m giving Obama the opportunity to respond.)

As I mentioned in the last post, I have been accused of doing nothing but complaining about the mean things that liberals say. Also, as I mentioned, the person who made that accusation has never read anything I’ve written calling out those on the right that I disagree with (that would include George W. Bush and Joe Arpaio). So, without further ado, here is the promised outing.

Meet Jeffrey Don Davis.

In Todd Starnes’ report on the incident at Shawano High School in Wisconsin, there were three or four out of a few hundred who posted genuinely hateful comments. This guy led the pack. He was good enough to make his profile picture available to the public on Facebook. He apparently went to technical school at Texas State Technical College and studied computer networking. He also apparently has no idea that Sarah Palin vetoed a very popular bill as soon as she took office in Alaska – the bill that would have stripped same-sex partners of state employees of any and all benefits. I say that because he has her listed as one of the people who inspire him. He lists several other people who wouldn’t agree with what he does. Here is a sampling of his drivel:

“Joe Distefano But it’s ok for a perverted hate pig like you to express your hatred of decent people who do not want to be exposed to your disgusting behavior. As for expressing our beliefs in GOD, GOD himself judged homosexuals and found them to be severly lacking.”

“Dawn Dickinson I have news for you Dawg, some sex change bulld*ke does not a man make.”

“Joe Distefano I speak my anti-pervert opinions in public and the only demeted ****** who ever dared to criticize me spent the night in the hospital. Opposition to sexual perversion (including homosexuality) in public is nothing more than good taste and common decency.”

“Joe Distefano Yes homosexuality is a perversion just like pedophilia, bestiality, incest, coprophagia, necrophilia, etc. Actually I had a pervert call me a bigot for opposing homosexuality, I spit in his face, he swung at me and I kicked the **** out of him. Once again you POS, anytime you want to see a bigot, just look in the mirror.”

“Joe Distefano Once again idiot, don’t try speaking for your betters, you have more than enough trouble speaking for yourself. Jesus’ father, GOD sentence homoNazis to death.”

“Jeff Taylor I”ll bet you’re mighty macho when another ****** takes your boyfriend to the bathhouse and leaves you in your mother’s basement.”

“Chris Green I take your word that you’re a faggy-behind-a-keyboard.”

“Jeff Taylor If you want to hit on that pervert, buttboy, take it somewhere that decent people don’t have to see it. In typical fag fashion you give up and accuse me of being a fag too. At least your STDs still allow you to think enough that you realize that decent people consider accusations of homosexuality to be insulting.”

“Chad Jonathan Walls As compared to your peach fuzz? Do you keep those cats around to lick cream off your face or do you keep them around to molest. After all, homosexuality is a perversion just like bestiality.”

“Jeff Taylor Go **** yourself instead of the little boys your chase after you demented stool sample.”

“Conrad Shull while an animal like you seeks to put your filthy hands in the pants of little boys. NAMBLA is a homosexual org.”

“The truly intolerant bigots infesting America are homoNazis. I don’t ask for their tolerance. They will tolerate my opinion whether they want to or not and that’s a rule that I personally enforce.”

“Michael Fitzpatrick I don’t ask old faqqots like you to tolerate me. You will tolerate me whether you like it or not.”

THAT, liberals, is hatred. You cannot reason with a person who will threaten you like this. Most of the others engaged me in honest, civil conversation – they asked questions that weren’t staged as thinly-veiled challenges and respected my right to disagree, as I respected theirs. But when you behave like this, whether you’re a religious nutcase on par with Fred Phelps or you’re a liberal claiming that you don’t have to tolerate what you classify as hatred (usually things far milder than this guy and the two who agreed with him), you invalidate your own argument. You make yourself a hypocrite with what Mr. Davis said just as surely as you would by saying, “you anti-gay collaborators need to remember what was done to the Nazi collaborators – they had their heads shaved, their throats slit, and their bodies hung from lampposts.”

In short, here is my belief: Jesus never touched on homosexuality. He did, however, tell us how we should behave. Nowhere in scripture did He give us any command to be belligerent, get in people’s faces, spit on people, judge them, hate them, or spark a fight and later claim you were defending yourself.

I don’t issue threats. I don’t need to. All I will say is that the bible also does tell us to be wise, and while we are to love mercy, we are also to obey justice. If you do wrong and I catch you, I will act appropriately. It is reprehensible that you would try to claim that your religion gives you the right to behave as if there are no rules. You’re an embarrassment to conservatives and the biggest single reason why I find it so difficult to talk to liberals.

Put It In Context, Part I

Recently, in the comments of the vlog I posted where I called out gay liberals for their blissful ignorance, one user said that it was somehow one-sided to “only call out liberals who say mean things.” Of course, this was a user with whom I had never had a discussion before and he had no idea that I have, in fact, called out the people on the right who have uneducated ideas about what homosexuality is about; he was commenting on a single video and had no idea what my beliefs were, but he assumed and, naturally, he never admitted he might well be wrong.

This is going to be one of those Come-To-Jesus posts where we sit down and have a good talk about the religious view of homosexuality and the place of both in society.

It starts with a story out of Wisconsin. The Hawks Post, the student newspaper at Shawano High School, published an op-ed mashup between two students of opposing viewpoints. That is perfectly normal for a high school newspaper. What isn’t normal, however, is the subject matter: gay marriage. Even more abnormal was the fact that the student who wrote the dissenting opinion did so from a completely religious perspective, something that doesn’t really jibe with the continued assault on the rights of religious students to express their beliefs.

According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, that student wrote, “If one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment. A child adopted into homosexuality will get confused because everyone else will have two different-gendered parents that can give them the correct amount of motherly nurturing and fatherly structure. In a Christian society, allowing homosexual couples to adopt is an abomination.”

Pretty harsh. Scripturally inaccurate, for sure, but I’ll address that later. First I want to point out a few other things. The article was seen by a 13-year-old student whose parents are a gay couple, one of several in that school district who lead very balanced, healthy homes. When he asked his fathers about it they were both stunned and upset; they talked to the superintendent of the district, who also expressed shock at the article. Almost immediately, the district issued an apology and called the article a form of bullying. One of the fathers was quoted in the article I linked above saying that the printing of that article in a school paper “sets us back 20 or 30 years” and claimed that it could lead to bullying of gay students at the school.

I have a few things to add to this debate before I get into anything else.

1. This debate has no place in a public high school newspaper. Period. It never should have been done. The reason I say this is that it was an op-ed mashup; when you give one student the green light to write in support of any gay rights, you open the door for other students with deeply-held religious beliefs about this subject to insist that their opinion be printed as well. They are going to find ways to express their beliefs, but when you give those beliefs space in a school-sponsored publication you might as well be giving those views some form of validity. It should have been left alone.

2. Once the damage was done, the worst thing the district could possibly have done was attack the dissenting student. Believe me, that is exactly what they did when they apologized and called him a bully. That student doesn’t understand why his views are so reviled, and he is going home to a family and a church body that is affirming what he wrote as a courageous stand. Everything you say against him is, to them, persecution; you are validating everything they’re teaching him.

3. Far be it from me to criticize a parent, since I am not one myself…I am, however, an aunt, and I also remember quite well what it was like when my mother would pound on my principal’s desk about the things they were teaching that she didn’t like. It was embarrassing because it made me a target of the real bullies in school who didn’t claim any religion at all. If you push too hard, you’re setting your own kids apart more than anyone else is. Plus, if you get upset about it, they will, too – turn it into a learning experience, and do it peacefully. You might make more friends than you thought you could.

Todd Starnes of Fox News reported on it as well, and if you read the comments you’ll see some pretty intense back-and-forth from some genuinely intellectual people and other folks who…well, aren’t quite that well educated. If they were going to let one student write about the subject, then it was only fair that they let a dissenting opinion in, and since they made that decision they should be standing by it. Instead, the district has behaved in the worst way possible.

I’m going to say what they are not going to let anyone else say…while this student has his right to his opinion, he is wrong.

Jesus never, not once, addressed homosexuality. Never in any of His sermons, prayers or responses to the religious leaders did He ever say one word about homosexuality. The only place where it is called an abomination is in Leviticus 20 (which this student did cite) – the very same ceremonial law that also called for the death penalty for adulterers, children who disrespect their parents, idolaters, soothsayers (what we know today as astrologers), and married couples who have sex during the wife’s menstrual cycle (no, I’m not joking). That ceremonial law takes up nearly the whole of Leviticus, and the ceremonial law was exactly what Jesus meant when He said He had come to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). The ceremonial law and the moral law were very distinct and separate. Jesus’ sacrifice – His torture, death on the cross, and resurrection – was the atonement for sin that the ceremonial law called for according to scripture. The biggest reason for the ceremonial law was to set Israel apart completely from other nations, and because Christ is the way to salvation now, the ceremonial law is moot for us.

Nowhere is that point so clearly made than in Galatians 2:15-16: “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” In the very next chapter Paul reminds the Galatians that if you only cite part of the law but do not keep it all, you call a curse on yourself. I would caution religious conservatives who like to point out those scriptures – you’re taking scripture out of context.

My next post will be a little different. I will be dropping names, pictures and direct quotes from a couple of genuine hatemongers.

Becoming the Persecutors

The summer after my senior year in high school was my first summer in Phoenix. That summer, my church held an anti-gay workshop over a weekend led by Exodus International – the anti-gay ministry arm of Focus on the Family. During that workshop, gay rights activists held a protest on the sidewalk in front of my church. At the time, I was still in denial. I honestly believed I was straight. My friends and I all talked about how wrong this group was and how much we hoped they’d come in and listen, but we all agreed that as long as they were on public property they had a right to protest.

Most churches would agree with that. In fact, nearly all would in the same vain hope – that the protesters would hear what they’re teaching and have that come-to-Jesus moment that everyone in the church tries to drag everyone into. Turn the tables, though, and it’s a different story – gay leftists in this country cannot stand it when bible-thumping holy-rollers come into their territory and preach. They do it in significantly lower numbers, too, but none of that matters. In Philadelphia a few years ago, I had contact with one Christian activist group known as “Repent America” – borderline extremist, but at least their leader had a civil conversation with me, proving that he’s not a hatemonger – that was protesting outside the big gay pride festival. They were set upon by a literal mob and were told by police that they, not the real instigators, had to leave.

There was no conversation. All there was was anger, yelling, screaming, open hatred – all from a group that is supposed to be more tolerant than others.

I’ve seen the same thing in gay neighborhoods, including my hometown of Houston (Montrose) and my mother’s hometown, San Diego (Hillcrest). I’ve seen it outside Phoenix gay pride. The two biggest reasons that I stay away from gay pride festivals now are 1) the shock-factor attendees who like to prance around in their underwear or even topless (sorry, but seeing a transgendered woman walking around in a Utilikilt, topless, with electrical tape over “her” nipples just about scarred me for life), and 2) the vehemently anti-Christian attendees who threaten violence against the Christians standing outside to preach and hand out tracts.

I have said before that hypocrisy is an irritation that I do not suffer gladly. I have been a hypocrite before, and I was a complete idiot. I have also said before that I have no patience for gay leftists who claim the mantle of tolerant self-righteousness and yet cannot tolerate others. About one month ago, in Montrose – the gay neighborhood of Houston – two area preachers well-known for holding signs, preaching and blowing on a shofar (a ceremonial Jewish musical instrument made out of a ram’s horn) were accosted by police, manhandled, arrested and had their signs and shofar confiscated. This was after a previous encounter with police that was far less confrontational. I’m usually the first to stand up for the police, and the young officers who spoke with them the first time were very cordial, but the officers who came later were remarkably unprofessional.

This was AFTER a number of residents in the area complained that they shouldn’t be there because they weren’t wanted.

David Stokes and David Allen have been doing this for around two years and all of a sudden it has become an issue. Now, I can understand complaints about the shofar; that thing can be awfully loud and Houston does have noise ordinances as far as I know. First Amendment freedoms, however, cannot be infringed upon unless their words become threats, and they never have. I have relatives that live in Montrose and they don’t care for these two preachers. I heartily disagree with their message AND their method, but agree or disagree, I would still fight to my last breath for their right to stand on the corner of Westheimer and Montrose and speak their message. Defending their rights is no different than defending my own, and if I dared take their rights away, it would be the same as giving mine up.

Today the Harris County Attorney dropped all charges against the two preachers, citing a lack of evidence. The charges were displaying illegal signs and playing an illegal instrument. I’m not going to say that I hope they file a complaint against the police, because I can see arguments both ways, even though I disagree with the police in this case. I’m not going to say I welcome them back, because I do not agree with them. I AM going to say that the gay leftists and their supporters need to be as tolerant as they demand others be, or they become the persecutors they have long claimed Christians to be.

Free At Last

One of the most important lessons I have learned in my life is simple: do not allow your emotions to control you.

Emotions are literally drugs. Harvard researchers even found that the human brain, when a person is in love, reacts in the same fashion that it does when using cocaine. Love literally gets us high. Anger does also, albeit in a different way. When a major incident drives us to a rage, adrenaline can numb our nerves, steel our muscles and help us tune out some pretty intense things. As a kid, I wasn’t very emotionally controlled. As a grown woman, I’ve learned that it is when our emotions threaten to boil over that we must exert all of our willpower to remain calm and find a way to channel that emotion into something healthy.

In May of 1993, much of the country (largely the uber-religious portion) forgot what it means to moderate themselves.

I saw news reports about the murder of three eight-year-old cub scouts in West Memphis, Arkansas and saw the adults around me react first with revulsion, and then with untold fear. Mind you, they didn’t always put voice to it. The story went that it was an occult ritual crime. My church, however, started whole new classes and sermons about how to spot potential satanic activity in kids. I grew up in the culture of satanic panic and at the time I believed it. Then again, I was a kid and I had no reason to question it. While I still believe in the spiritual realm, I don’t see it as being what they made it out to be back then.

When the news reported that three teenage boys believed to be involved in a satanic cult had been arrested for the murders, churches everywhere went wild. A guilty verdict was not necessary in the least. As soon as the story hit that Jessie Misskelley, Jr., Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols had kidnapped, raped and murdered the boys as part of a satanic ritual, no evidence was needed. They could have done without the trial entirely. The mention alone was enough to convict three teenagers. Once the three had fingers pointing at them, no other suspect was even considered. Even West Memphis Natives Chris Morgan and Brian Holland, who skipped town for California just four days after the bodies were discovered and made incriminating statements AND failed polygraph tests with Oceanside police, were forgotten. All anyone focused on were the statements made by Echols about being a satanist. Then again, every metalhead kid I went to school with back then said the same thing for shock value because the Christian kids gave them a reaction.

Looking back on that time is surreal every time I do it. It feels strange to realize just how emotionally involved we were in all of that and how dangerous it has become. With barely circumstantial evidence, zero physical evidence and a coerced confession, prosecutors were able to put two teens away for life and sentence a third to death. Rumor had it that Damien Echols had taken his first name (it had been Michael) out of an obsession with the movie The Omen. In fact, he’d taken it after a famous Catholic priest when he converted to Catholicism. That was never said in the courtroom.

Defense attorneys in both trials – Misskelley was tried before Baldwin and Echols – were denied the ability to present expert witnesses who could have thoroughly debunked Misskelley’s confession as coercion. It didn’t matter that police had only recorded 46 minutes of a 12-hour interrogation, and it certainly didn’t matter that police had to correct him (and were caught in the recording correcting facts such as when the boys were abducted, what they were tied up with, and how the bodies were left in the creek). It didn’t matter that forensic evidence actually proved the boys were never sexually assaulted. A superstitious jury of locals convicted Misskelley.

When he recanted his confession and refused to testify for prosecutors (even though they offered him a sweetheart deal to testify) in the Baldwin/Echols trial, the confession was legally not allowed to be presented as evidence. So-called “fiber forensics” proved little more than the fact that fibers found near the victims could be matched to clothing worn by half of the people in West Memphis. Hair and blood traces were collected, but DNA testing wasn’t then what it is now. There was almost no blood from the boys at the scene. There was absolutely no evidence whatsoever to suggest that even a halfhearted cult crime had taken place anywhere near the scene. A hunting knife was found in the lake behind Baldwin’s home, but it didn’t belong to either of the boys and couldn’t be called the murder weapon because none of the victims were stabbed. The prosecution’s star “expert witness”? It was Dr. Dale Griffis. He sold himself as an expert on all matters occult. Every single thing he said on the stand was untrue, merely a parroting of legends and myths that Christians had long spread about satanic cults.

Then, during deliberations, jury foreman Kent Arnold slipped word of Misskelley’s confession into the deliberations. The move was completely illegal; he’d talked to an attorney friend intimate with the prosecutor’s work to convict the West Memphis Three and knew details about the confession that weren’t public. What he didn’t say was that it was fraught with mistakes that interrogators openly corrected him on. The confession was completely inadmissable, but it was entered anyway and all three ended up behind bars for a crime that they didn’t commit.

Years later, in 1996, a little-known documentary began to make waves. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills raised questions that many wouldn’t dare ask for fear of offending the families of the victims or questioning the wisdom of what had been done. Heavy-hitting musicians and actors poured money into the defense fund. In the past five years, DNA evidence has proven that none of the West Memphis Three were at the scene of the crime. The initial appeal for a new trial was denied by none other than Judge David Burnett. Burnett, you see, had been the original trial judge, and he had handed down decisions blocking the defense from presenting a great deal of exculpatory evidence. He never would have allowed his own decisions to be questioned, particularly not in a case of this magnitude.

It took a ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court to grant a new trial. Then, out of nowhere, prosecutors played on the fears of all three accused and all of their families and supporters: they cut a deal that both spared prosecutors from eating crow and granted all three immediate freedom. They would offer an Alford Plea. Such a plea allows the accused to maintain their innocence while agreeing that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them. In other words, they were pleading guilty without admitting guilt. None of them liked the idea of admitting even a hint of guilt, but all three agreed because Echols has been within three weeks of execution once already. Any longer and his execution would move forward. They were re-sentenced to time served, given ten years of probation and immediately freed.

Echols, on death row, wouldn’t have had much contact with other inmates, if any at all. Baldwin and Misskelley were a different story. I can only hope that all three find their place while they work to clear their names, which they have vowed to do. Far too many of those who have been freed from prison after more than a decade behind bars have ended up in trouble again because they didn’t know how to live “on the outs”.

Knowing what I know about criminal justice, investigations, evidence, legalities and all that goes into them, it seems plain as day to me that the WM3 are innocent. Those who continue to cling to the idea that they are guilty don’t have any hard facts; all they have are emotional reactions based on a superstition that created the wrong in the first place. Having learned the hard way just how dangerous that is, I believe we should learn, even when we are so enraged we cannot see straight, to take a step back, look at it from a couple of different angles, and if we can’t make an informed decision, then have others help us to do exactly that.

I am less than impressed with the game being played by prosecutors. It is unfair that these three were forced to take this step. I am ecstatic, however, that they are free, and I pray that they have the support they need to make it in the world as it has become. I pray that the true killers are found. I still hold to my faith even though it is dramatically different now than it was then. I believe that all of those who are unrepentant will answer to God for their wrongs – including the hordes of people who blamed their drive to convict three innocent teenagers of murder on their religion and have continually refused to admit their wrong.

Yes, I Am Islamophobic – Three Years Later

Just three years ago, Steve found a missive I’d written on a MySpace blog (remember that site?) and invited me to join the family here at gayconservative.org. I’ve enjoyed connecting with everyone I’ve met here in that time. I thought, in light of Obama’s continued claims that lone-wolf, homegrown terrorists pose a greater threat to us than the jihadists who continue to plot against us, it would be appropriate to repost the article that ushered me into the fold.

* * *

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, otherwise known as CAIR, has become widely known for throwing around the term “islamophobic” as widely as the gay community uses the word “homophobic.” Any time a news story appears involving some wrong, real or perceived, against a Muslim anywhere in America, CAIR jumps on it with both feet crying “ISLAMOPHOBIA!!!”

Ashraf Al-Jailani was ordered to deport to Yemen in 1999 by a federal judge. He didn’t. In late 2002, he was arrested after his business credit card and contact info were found in the posession of another Al-Qaeda operative in Chicago. He was arrested, and CAIR began it’s anti-islamophobe campaign, decrying the move as islamophobic. They said it was a case of “living in America while Muslim.” Al-Jailani had three children with an American woman, and he viciously abused all of them. He gave up his case after CPS authorities took the kids, and he self-deported to Yemen. As soon as he got there, CAIR and his idiot wife took up the cause of getting the kids back, and as soon as CPS did it, mom took the kids to see dad in Yemen (after swearing she wouldn’t). Yemen wasn’t part of the Hague Convention on international kidnapping. So when Al-Jailani took the kids and sent his wife back to the States, nothing could be done. Sami, Amina, and Layla Al-Jailani will likely never be seen again.

If believing that Al-Jailani was an abusive man who should have been deported without his children makes me islamophobic, then yes, I am.

In 2006, Yaser Abdel Said suspected that his teenage daughters, Sarah and Amina, were dating American boys in the small Texas town where they’d been raised as Americans. When he searched the girls’ cell phone records, he discovered that they were spending a lot of time talking to the same boys. He tasked their brother with “escorting” them everywhere, and he forbade the girls from doing anything without their express permission. Their mother went with them and their boyfriends to try to escape, but Said talked her into coming back. Then he had mom talk the girls into coming back, too, even after threatening to kill them for refusing to obey his wishes for arranged marriage. Last year, he took the girls out in his cab, shot them to death, and disappeared, probably back to his native Egypt. CAIR and the Said family is lambasting the American public for calling it for what it is–a Muslim honor killing. They say we’re just islamophobic.

If believing that Said did what he did because of his Muslim upbringing, just like 5,000 other men do every year to women in their family, makes me islamophobic–then yes, I am.

Mark Steyn, a Canadian pundit, just finished a massive court battle for supposed “hate speech.” He had the audacity to speak his mind about the realities of Islam in pop culture; his books “America Alone” and “The New Criterion” called a spade a spade and pointed out that America is the only nation on the planet willing to fight back in the “age of Jihad.” The Ontario Human Rights Commission filed a legal complaint about 22 articles Steyn had written related to his views on Islam. Canada, which puts a limit on so-called hate speech, called Steyn before three different HRC tribunals. One is still pending. CAIR and others say Steyn is islamophobic.

If believing that one has the right to criticize Sharia law and Jihad makes you islamophobic…yes, I am.

Every day, rockets are fired into Israeli towns such as Ashkelon and Sderot from Palestinian (read: MUSLIM)-held Gaza. Fighters from Hezbolla make strikes into Israeli territory where they beat, torture, kill and kidnap innocent Israelis. A Palestinian gunman walked into a Jewish religious school and fired 500 rounds, killing eight and wounding scores. The belief of all Muslims is that Israel doesn’t deserve the land she occupies and that the Jews should be forced into servitude. Yesterday, a report said that there is a massive movement of weapons stockpiles into Palestinian neighborhoods that harbor Hezbollah terrorists despite the cease-fire. Why? Read the Qur’an–no Muslim is required to abide by any truce or agreement to non-Muslims. I have a copy if you’d like to see it for yourself.

On September 11, 2001, 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked four American passenger airliners. Two were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center; one was flown into the Pentagon; and the other crashed during a courageous fight in a field near Shanksville, PA when the passengers realized what their captors were doing and refused to let them win. There is now a hole in the New York City skyline where the towers stood, and the buildings around them were destroyed when the towers finally gave way and collapsed. Nearly 3,000 Americans died in the attack, and the final words of the hijackers were captured by air traffic controllers: “La illaha ill Allah, Muhammadur Rasul Allah.” It’s known as Shahada, or the Muslim creed: there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.”

If believing that Israel has a right to defend herself from Islamic Jihad, Muslims want to see America destroyed, and 9/11 was merely a precursor to what they will do if given the opportunity, and if believing that the Hezbollah flag is a giant flashing neon sign that we should stop allowing Johnny Jihad to beat us half to death with our own rules is islamophobia…

Then, yes. I AM ISLAMOPHOBIC.

Atheism: The New Religion

Today, it was announced that a group calling itself “The American Atheists” filed a lawsuit over a particular item at the 9/11 memorial. Particularly, they are suing to stop the now well-known 9/11 cross, discovered still standing at Ground Zero during the cleanup and made of steel beams from the frame of one of the towers, from being prominently displayed in the soon-to-be-opened 9/11 memorial museum.

In the weeks after the attacks, the fires were fought and human remains were carefully recovered and respectfully removed. In some cases, all that was found was a handful of bone fragments or some clothing. A mangled helmet belonging to one of the Engine 3 firefighters will be on display, as will the mangled Engine 3 itself – it has already been lowered into the museum by crane. As the smoke cleared during the recovery efforts, however, the only beams found still standing had formed a cross. That cross offered a great deal of comfort and inspiration to those who lost and those who helped work on 9/11.

Considering the fact that the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation is a private organization and is tax-exempt (not to mention the fact that the property is privately owned), the group isn’t likely to win their lawsuit. They are basing their lawsuit solely on the fact that the organization has received government grand funds. That tactic has never worked in the past. The group claims that they favor absolute separation of church and state, meaning that they believe that no mention would be made of religion whatsoever during any event or in any facility that has the slightest fingerprint of government on it.

Most telling about their position, however, is the press release offered by leader Dave Silverman: “The WTC cross has become a Christian icon. It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. It’s a truly ridiculous assertion.”

That’s not a legal position. It smacks of religious undertones, whether it was meant or not. When I posted the link to the original story on Twitter, I wrote, “atheism: the religion created by those who wish to prove that God does not exist.” User @HatefulAtheist was apparently quite offended. He still hasn’t let go of the fact that I called the move quasi-religion.

He refuses to admit I have a point. Here are a few definitions, taken directly from Merriam-Webster:

RELIGION: 1: the state of a religious 2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices 3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness 4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Note that there are a few varying definitions, and not all are spiritual. The poster then said that religion must contain “dogma” in order to be a religion. Let’s take a look at that definition…

DOGMA: 1: something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet 2: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church

Note that the church reference is secondary in this instance. To be sure, let’s take a look at the definition of another word used here…

TENET: a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially : one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession

Religion isn’t even mentioned here. My point in all of this is that my opinion is that atheism has to some degree become a religious movement in and of itself. The ardent refusal to believe that God exists has become so important to some that it trumps all other pursuits. You can see multiple open insults in Dave Silverman’s comment; his choice of words is not unlike those of religious leaders in Christianity and Islam. There are leaders in every religion on the planet who take verbal swipes at other faiths and those who openly hold to no faith. In fact, some are quite well-known for such insulting behavior.

When a group is willing to persecute another group so vehemently that they refuse to allow any vestige of that group to be experienced in public, it has become a religion, regardless of the values or beliefs of others who belong to that group. Entire organizations of atheists have been built for the purpose of tearing Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and other religions down until the public no longer sees references to any established spiritual belief.

To @HatefulAtheist and those like him, I say this: Christians aren’t all anti-gay. There are “open and affirming” churches all over the world, Christian churches that believe that homosexuality is not a sin and congregations that welcome those who are openly gay. Jews aren’t all anti-gay, either. In fact, the IDF – the Israeli military – has long allowed gays to serve openly. These facts do not change reality. The reality I speak of is the fact that most gay people see both religions in an extremely negative light because of the members who really do believe homosexuality to be a sin, some of them preaching borderline hatred against us.

You are entitled to your opinion just as I am entitled to mine. You are as likely to change my mind as I am to change yours. Since I am a believing Christian and you are an atheist, we both know how far that’ll carry us. The difference between you and I is that I don’t see my faith as a religion and, in fact, I bristle at being referred to as religious. You would disagree and pigeonhole me as religious just for believing in God. You can argue with me all day – but I see it this way: if I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

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