Showing posts with label Religious Violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious Violence. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hate Crimes, Shootings, Guns, Domestic Terrorism, and the History of Ignorant Attacks on American Sikhs

The focus of this blog is most commonly the violence and hatred with which hypocritical religious individuals and institutions shower LGBT persons.  After last weekend's mass shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin, I am again made painfully aware of the violence and hatred that religious individuals and institutions are capable of hurling at those of other religions.  This shooting is another in an endless line of violence that results from the tragic combination of ignorance, hatred, religion, and weapons of mass destruction.  


Ignorance:  The Huffington Post article shares numerous quotes of those who perpetrated these crimes.  One murderer said: I'm a patriot and an American. I'm American. I'm a damn American," "I'm going to go out and shoot some towel-heads," "all Arabs should be shot," and his desire to "slit some Iranian throats."  There is a common pattern in the listed crimes: the Sikh victims were ignorantly assumed to be Muslims, specifically members of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda.  

Sikhs are not in any way Muslim, nor are they the members of al-Qaeda responsible for 9/11.  Neither are nearly 100% of the world's Muslims and/or Iranians.  Yet, innocent Americans of these backgrounds have now been the victims of eleven years of domestic terrorism perpetrated by self-proclaimed "real Americans."  Ignorance breeds hatred and violence.

Religion:  From what I've been able to research (I'm by no means an expert on Sikh beliefs.), the founders of the Sikh religion, the Sikh Gurus, did not believe in the exclusivity of their teachings or writings.  Contrast this with the founders of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism, who all believed that they had a divinely-inspired, exclusive claim to the one and ultimate truth.  In other words, our god is better than your god(s).  This is a recipe for violence in the name of one's supreme being.

Weapons of Mass Destruction:  Glock semiautomatic pistols and handguns have been usedin  the recent mass shootings in Oak Creek, Aurora, Tucson, and Blacksberg.  The high-capacity magazines that have been used with them have been created with one purpose only: shoot as many bullets in as few seconds as possible. The result is mass destruction, injury, death, and terror.

We live in a nation, where the right of a U.S. citizen to legally buy these weapons of mass destruction trumps the right of every other citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  After last weekend's attack upon the Sikh gurdwara, we again see that the right to bear weapons of mass destruction also trumps the right to peacefully assemble and the right to worship or not worship as one sees fit.

We accept many limitations on our rights.  It's illegal to drive at unsafe speeds, because the result might be death.  It's illegal to smoke at many indoor establishments, because the result might be cases of lung cancer for those standing nearby.  It's illegal to self-prescribe medications, because one might do harm by means of an overdose or uninformed mixing of drugs.  It's illegal to drink and drive, because one might cause an accident killing others.  

If we accept these limits on our rights to perform these actions, because the result of these actions might be injury and death to others, why can we not accept limits upon the right of citizens to purchase and stockpile the semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines that have been the tools used to reap terror, destruction, hatred and death upon so many innocent Americans?

How many more times must the tragic confluence of ignorance, hatred, religion and weapons of mass destruction be allowed to occur before we legislate concrete, preventative measures to ensure the safety of all Americans? 

In the meanwhile, the ignorance of a few will continue to result in hate crimes perpetrated against the many.  



Here's what Lawrence O'Donnell had to say about the NRA after the tragedy in Aurora, CO:
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Biblical Marriage & Traditional Christian Values

How can one argue with what's in the Babble?  

Come on, conservative Christians, let's stick up for "traditional" values and legislate these religious beliefs:
I came across this chart on Facebook.

Monday, May 2, 2011

While America Rejoices in the Death of Osama bin Laden...

     "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."* 

--Martin Luther King, Jr.
*See Correction

     If only we as a nation could show that kind of intelligence and control.  Instead, the likes of preacher-turned-politician-turned-FOX-personality-turned-politician Mike Huckabee continue the jihad of hatred by welcoming Osama bin Laden to hell.  

     What happened to "love your enemies and pray for your persecutors"?  

     Along with usury, caring for the poor, protecting children, and reaching out to those on the margins, many Christians in the U.S.A. have forgotten their scriptures.  The hatred spewing forth across the nation under the guise of celebration will only breed more hatred for the truly ugly American.

     Am I relieved the world is free of one more religious fundamentalist determined to kill in the name of his god?  Yes.

     But will I rejoice and boast?  This atheist will not.

     Get some class, America.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Highlights" for Adults: the Tea Partier and the Taliban

     Here's a simple exercise reminiscent of the ones I completed in Highlights as a child, but this one is for adults.  What happens when a tea partier and a Taliban run into each other?

     Via BuzzFeed:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adults Are Also Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

     A recent Religion Dispatches' article, "Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church: When Adults Are Victims," tells a story that I know all too well from my own experience of being sexually assaulted, exploited, and abused by my priest while I was in college.  The article tells the story of Katia Birge, who at 25 was raped by a charismatic lay minister in her Denver parish only to be bullied by church officials when she came forward and sued.  (Click here to read the full account, which because of it's length I will not repost.)

     This particular quote from the article sums up what I learned in therapy after seeing my case covered-up:
     To Jeb Barrett, Denver Director of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a peer counseling group that Birge turned to after the attack, her story follows classic lines of abuse of authority. “There are many cases where very charismatic men develop very close and controlling relationships with the people given to them for pastoral care. There’s a kind of intimacy that’s of a different level than the grooming of a child. You groom a child with favors and candy and strokes and get their trust. With an adult, it’s different.”
     Adult victims could comprise up to 25% of all clergy abuse cases, estimates David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP, but often face considerable skepticism about their stories. “In the eyes of the law, victims like Birge are adults. But that doesn’t mean that emotionally, psychologically, in the presence of a trusted, powerful, charismatic clergy person, that in fact they can function like adults.” Considering the abundant ethical and legal prohibitions against doctors or therapists having even consensual sex with patients, in recognition of coercive power imbalances in play, Clohessy notes, “none of us have been raised from birth to think that a therapist is God’s representative or that a doctor can get me into heaven.”  [Another estimate is that over 95% of the victims of sexual exploitation by clergy are adult women.]
     In my case, I was completely groomed by my perpetrator.  Like Ms. Birge, who's perpetrator (Hernadez) called her a "whore" and told her that no man would want to be with her, after he'd just raped her, I was told by my confessor/priest/perpetrator that I was "seductive," "manipulative," and "sinful."   Because he was "God's representative," I believed him.  I believed that I was was the depraved sinner who had corrupted a holy priest.  This dynamic gave him more power over me by increasing my dependency upon him for his spiritual insights and sacramental graces, including forgiveness.  After I escaped his grasp, it took years of therapy and the recognition that my perpetrator was continuing to groom other barely-legal students--who my friends at the time referred to as "the new Tom"--for me to find the strength to come forward.

     Here are a few more paragraphs from Ms. Birge's case that ring true to my experience of coming forward:
     To victims’ advocates, this level of intimidation, and the attempt to recast Hernandez as an insignificant volunteer, is par for the course across the country, and especially in Denver, where Church lawyers have used increasingly aggressive, victim-blaming tactics as part of a brutal Church defense industry, composed of attorneys, insurers and the bishops who hire them. 
      “That’s been our experience here,” says Jeb Barrett, “that people who have gone to the Archdiocese have found their families scrutinized and questioned. It’s revictimizing, and it discourages other victims from coming forward.”
     I was told by the powers-that-be to be extremely careful with whom I spoke about my accusations and that reputations were at stake.  They asked "Why would you want to hurt your parishioners by scandalizing them with this?"  Those in power refused to speak to my parents and to respond to my sister's emails, even though my family was reeling in the face of the abuse and in need of pastoral care.  My counselor's advice and prescriptions were summarily dismissed, for she was a woman, and a lay woman, at that.  (This wasn't 1950.  It was 2004.)
     If anything, adds David Clohessy, “I think Church officials are even more reckless and callous when a predator exploits adults.”
      This is very true.  A priest exploiting an adult is almost a relief to some bishops: "Well, it's not like he raped an altar boy."  But the psychological/spiritual damage to the victimized adult is horrendous.  Like Ms. Birge, I also suffered depression and panic attacks.  After church officials covered things up, I became suicidal.  While I left the priesthood, my job, my community, and the church, losing everything I knew, my perpetrator was given a promotion to be in charge of "Catholic Identity" for the diocesan schools and remained in his campus ministry position, where he continued to have an ongoing supply of handsome, naive, and malleable young men fresh out of high school; gay boys like me, who were closeted, feeling rejected by the church's anti-gay teachings, in need of acceptance and love by God and his ministers, and ripe for exploitation by a known predator allowed to remain in power.

     Thank you Ms. Birge for coming forward.  May your witness inspire other adult victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to speak out.  The scandal doesn't end at the age of consent.


If you or anyone you know has been abused by clergy, here are some resources:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Anglican Priest Show's up at David Kato's Funeral to Condemn Gay Mourners

     A gay civil rights leader is bludgeoned to death by a hammer in his own home after a local newspaper outed him and called for the hanging of all gays.  Terrified, shocked, and friends, family, and supporters bravely gather to mourn the assassination of their leader.  What would Jesus do?

     Ugandan police have escorted a priest away from the funeral of a gay rights activist after he told homosexuals to repent, sparking scuffles.  Anglican priest Thomas Musoke told mourners that homosexuality was "evil".
     Hundreds of people had gathered for David Kato's burial in his home village near the capital, Kampala...hundreds of people - friends, family, colleagues and diplomats - crowded outside Mr Kato's family home in the village of Nakawala in Mukono district, 40km (about 25 miles) from Kampala.  Many members of the lesbian and gay community wore T-shirts with Mr Kato's portrait on the front and the words "La luta continua [the struggle continues]" printed on the back.
     They were shocked when the priest started condemning homosexuals.  "You must repent. Even the animals know the difference between a male and a female," he said, before warning that they would face the fate of residents in Sodom and Gomorrah, the biblical cities destroyed by God.  Gay rights activists then stormed the pulpit and prevented the priest from continuing.
     An excommunicated priest who has in the past called for people to respect the rights of homosexuals then presided over the rest of the service.
     So, let me get this right.  The practicing Anglican priest, who is supposedly his god's vessel of grace on earth and guide to heaven, berated the mourners with death threats of Biblical proportion.  The excommunicated priest, who has supposedly been cut of from his god's grace and will be punished with an eternity in hell, reached out to the mourners, cared for them, and buried the dead.  It sounds like Anglican hell beats out Anglican heaven as the better place to be. .  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ugandan Lesbian to be Deported from UK and Possibly Face Death; David Kato, Ugandan Gay Rights Leader, Assassinated

     From an email I just received from Get Equal:
     Brenda Namigadde, a Ugandan lesbian in the UK, faces deportation TOMORROW back to the life-threatening persecution she fled eight years ago.
     We just found out that one of the leading figures in the LGBT movement in Uganda, David Kato, was murdered yesterday in his home. This awful tragedy makes clear what's at stake for Brenda if she is forced to return.
     Will you join more than 10,000 people in 85 countries and sign this urgent letter pressuring U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May to stop Brenda’s deportation?
     Click HERE to sign the letter.

     There was tragic news out of Uganda today.  The Guardian reports the murder of David Kato, gay civil rights pioneer and leader:
     He was known as the "grandfather of the kuchus", as gay people in Uganda call themselves, a brave and fiercely committed activist who led the struggle for gay rights for more than a decade. David Kato went to jail for his beliefs, and to court, winning his greatest victory three weeks ago against a newspaper that had called for him to be hanged.
     But early on Wednesday afternoon he appeared to have paid the ultimate price: he had been battered to death with a hammer in his home in Kampala, shocking the gay and human rights communities locally and abroad.
     Kato's friends and colleagues believe his sexuality and work are likely to have played a role in his murder. Oloka-Onyango said Kato did not appear to have been involved in "shady business or party politics, the things that normally lead to this kind of attack".
     "This is a very strange thing to happen in the middle of the day, and suggests pre-meditation," he said.
     A joint statement from several civil society organisations in South Africa, where Kato lived in the 1990s, paid tribute to "our courageous queer African martyr", and said that certain politicians and religious leaders in Uganda were "at least in part responsible for this callous murder" due to their "fostering of prejudice and homophobia".

Friday, January 21, 2011

Catholic Church Unveils 12-Step Program for Homosexual Addiction and So Much More

     It was really only a matter of time.  When I was a priest/seminarian, I was formed to believe that my (homo)sexuality was an addiction and prescribed so many "more natural" ways to "deal with" my "depraved" nature that was a "gift" from a loving god.

     The Catholic Diocese in Colorado Springs has adopted a 12-step program that offers "support" for homosexuals.  Despite striking similarities to Alcoholics Anonymous's 12-step program for recovering addicts, proponents claim that the program is less about therapy than it is about support for people experiencing homosexual thoughts that they consider "a burden."
     Sure it is.  And it has nothing to do with a closeted clergy projecting their own crap onto the rest of the world.

     Here are the actual Twelve Steps as reported in The Huffington Post via The Gazette (and my comments):

      1. We admitted that we were powerless over homosexuality and our lives had become unmanageable.

     When I was parked at the edge of a frozen river with the plan of driving on the ice until it broke and I died, I admitted that I was powerless against Catholicism.

     2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

     So, I guess, those of us who are out of the closet are obviously insane.  

     3.  We made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him.

    Clarification: as Holy Disfunctional Mother church taught us to understand "Him" [sic].

     4.  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

     As a gay Catholic, my greatest was going to hell because god made me gay.  

     5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

     Exact nature?  According to Catholic teachings, their god makes people gay.  How can one's exact god-given nature be wrong?  Unless your god's a vindictive ass hole.

     6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our character.


     7. We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

     Pray away the gay.  And you'll soon discover that nothing fails like prayer.

     8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make direct amends to them all.

     Someone, who claims to have been injured by someone else's homosexuality, is the person who needs to be making amends for their bigotry.

     9. We made the direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

     I'm still waiting for Father Mustache and those who covered his tracks to apologize.  But maybe their apology would hurt me too much.

     10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

     Yes, just as Pope Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope, has promptly admitted his wrongdoings in the sexual abuse scandals.

     11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of God's Will for us and the power to carry it out.

     "Conscious contact"?  I guess that is in opposition to the unconscious contact that being gay implies.  

     12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

     So I guess that makes Rev. Larry Brennan, diocesan director of priest formation, who defended this program to the paper a liar, for The Gazette quoted him: “It’s not about therapy and not about activism.”  Yes, and the Catholic money, DVDs, and pamphlets that support the suppression of gay rights is totally not about activism either.

     And for those of you who just can't stop harping about the penile focus of the Catholic Church , don't worry.  The Gazette reports:
     A 12-step program for lesbians may also be created if there is demand for it, Brennan said.
    Fight on, my feminist lesbian sisters! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1997 Letter Exposes Vatican's Refusal to Report Pedophile-Priests to Irish Civil Authorities (and a Trip Down Memory Lane: Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope)

     As Pope Benedict moves towards beatifying John Paul II, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church continues to balloon.

     The latest news out of Ireland is that a 1997 letter from the Vatican reveals how the John Paul II/Ratzinger-led Vatican resisted the Irish bishops' adoption of mandatory reporting to civil authorities of pedophile-priests.


     A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials told the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they had serious reservations about the bishops’ policy of mandatory reporting of priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.  The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of child abuse suspects.
     A documentary to be aired tonight reveals the contents of the letter and also claims that, on at least two occasions, the Vatican stepped in and stopped attempts by Irish bishops to defrock abuser priests.
     Last month, details of one of those occasions was made public when a High Court order finally allowed the full publication of a previously censored chapter in the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese.  That revealed that when bishops made moves to dismiss paedophile priest Tony Walsh, the Vatican instead sought to send Walsh to serve 10 years in a monastery.
     Tonight’s RTÉ programme, Unspeakable Crimes, shows Walsh went on to abuse another child after a Church court recommended that he was laicised because Rome insisted on a long, drawn- out appeal of his case.
     Watch the documentary by clicking here and then clicking on RTÉ's January 17, 2011 episode of Would You Believe?  The revelation of the letter's content comes at 0:12:00.  The connection to Benedict XVI/Ratzinger comes around 0:23:00, when he refuses to defrock pedophile-priests in both Ireland and the U.S.A.  The documentary's lack of sensationalism is damning.

     "The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican's intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere," said Colm O'Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of the human rights watchdog Amnesty International.
     The January 1997 letter is from papal nuncio Archbishop Luciano Storero to the Irish hierarchy. It states that the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, which oversees policies for the more than 400,000 priests around the world, said the bishops' new policy of mandatory reporting of suspected sex crimes by priests to police "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."
     Storero (who died in 2000) wrote that canon law, which governs abuses and legal matters within the church, "must be meticulously followed" and any bishop who took actions that did not follow canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of being overturned on appeal in Rome. Such a result would be "detrimental" to the bishop in question, the Vatican warned.
     The letter closes with a stern admonition to the bishops that Vatican policies must be "meticulously" adhered to.
     How the folks in the pew can continue to disassociate themselves from the overwhelming evidence of their "Holy Father's" collusion in such heinous crimes against children and humanity is beyond me.

Postscript:

     And, in case you forgot, here's a news report from last spring on Benedict XVI's and John Paul II's protection of Legionaries of  Christ founder and serial pedophile, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.  (At 4:00, watch Ratzinger/Benedict slap the hand of the ABC reporter that questioned him about Maciel.  How's that for humbly turning the other cheek?)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Egyptian Muslims Risk Lives to Protect Worshiping Coptic Christians

     On New Year’s Day, a devastating terrorist bombing at a Coptic church in Egypt killed 21 people and injured 79 others. Although the identity of the culprits was not known, it was assumed that they were Muslim extremists, intent on targeting those they saw as heretics. Religious tensions immediately rose in the country, and angry Copts stormed streets, battled with police, and even vandalized a nearby mosque. The riots and heightened tensions between the Muslim and Coptic communities was likely what the terrorists wanted — to divide the Egyptian community and create sectarian strife between different religious groups.
     Yet by Coptic Christmas Eve, which took place Thursday night in Egypt, things had changed completely. As Egyptian Copts attended mass at churches across the country, “thousands” of Muslims, including “the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak,” joined them, acting as “human shields” to protect from terrorist attacks by extremists. The Muslims organized under the slogan “We either live together, or we die together,” inspired by Mohamed El-Sawy, an Egyptian artist.
     Now, if only we could get American Christians to stop putting targets on their fellow Christians' heads...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dan Savage on Sex, Religion, Bullying & His Catholic Seminary Experience

     If you don't have time for the whole interview, the first four minutes covers Savage's Catholic seminary experience, his moving beyond the beliefs and shame of that faith, and an incredibly honest priest (there are some) that surprised him when he came out.  Also, around minute twenty the conversation again turns to religion, including biblical violence against homosexuals.

Friday, October 22, 2010

President Obama's Hypocritical "It Gets Better Video" on LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides

     The AP reports:
     President Barack Obama said he was "shocked and saddened" by the recent suicides of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay.  "As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart. It's something that just shouldn't happen in this country," Obama said in a video posted late Thursday on YouTube and the White House website.  It's time, he said, for Americans to dispel the myth that bullying is "just a normal rite of passage."
     "I don't know what it's like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it's like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don't belong," Obama said. "It's tough."  The victims of bullying can sometimes feel that they are responsible for the taunting because they're different or don't fit in with everybody else.  "But what I want to say is this: You are not alone. You didn't do anything wrong. You didn't do anything to deserve being bullied," Obama said.
     But, if you are gay, the Commander in Chief will fire you from serving in the U.S. military because you did nothing wrong.  Your love and your commitment aren't worthy of equal protection under the civil marriage laws supported by President Obama.  
"I'd kiss you, but you're gay."
    Here are the final words of the LGBT community's self-proclaimed fierce advocate's message to bullied children with my words in parentheses.  The full transcript is available by clicking here.
     The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. (When you are able to get someone in office that will stand up for equal rights for gays, lesbians and transgender persons.) And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. (But not equal rights.)  You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. (And you won't vote for me 2012.)  And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.  (For straight Christians, like me.)
     It will mean that you’ll be more likely to help fight discrimination – not just against LGBT Americans, but discrimination in all its forms. (But I can't let the federal courts fight discrimination.  DOMA and DADT will remain in effect until a minority of homophobic senators and Jesus accept your "lifestyle choice," which is how my staff continues to talk about you in public, because you chose to be gay.)  It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that as adults we set an example in our own lives and that we treat everybody with respect. (But your loving commitments are not equal to ours; but we respect them, such as they are.)  That we are able to see the world through other people’s eyes and stand in their shoes (Which is was I did when I lied to Lt. Col. Victor J. Fehrenbach's face, telling him that I would end DADT and that his military career wouldn't end.)  – that we never lose sight of what binds us together.  (Our 2500-year-old Judeo-Christian homophobia.  Bishop Gene Robinson and others like him don't count.)
     As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal (But no joint federal tax filing for you.)  and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness  (Unless the majority votes yours away.); to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves (Like my parents who were an interracial couple that couldn't be married because a religious majority thought it was a sin.). That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. That’s what America is all about. And every day, it gets better.  (Except for on Wednesday and a week ago Tuesday, when my administration fought to preserve discrimination rather than decry it.)
     I think I can truly say, with all seriousness, that the hope I had in Candidate Obama, who was the first major presidential candidate that I ever heard include "straight and gay" in a line of adjectives describing the various parts of our nation of equals, has been killed by President Obama.  

     I appreciate him speaking out against the bullying of any child, but he is blind to the reality that his recent political actions have struck a major blow to the progress of civil rights.  Children see this.  They see his actions.  They hear the news.  They hear the homophobic political commercials and sermons.  They need a president who will act on his words to end all discrimination against same-sex couples and homosexual soldiers.

     President Obama's video should be titled "It Get's Better (But Not on My Watch)."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Message for Children who Are Being Bullied

Bishop Gene Robinson on the Connection between Religion and Bullying

     An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, "Guns Don't Kill People -- RELIGION Kills People!" In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.
     Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it's hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish...
     These bullying behaviors would not exist without the undergirding and the patina of respect provided by religious fervor against LGBT people. It's time for "tolerant" religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people. Nothing short of changing our theology of human sexuality will save these young and precious lives.
     For the entire article click here.

     Thanks to Russ at Blue Truck, Red State for the lead on the article.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New York Yankees Fans Bully Others with Homophobic "Y.M.C.A." Parody

     There is something incredibly broken about a nation that protects this kind of speech.  
     In the video "Homophobia Literally Kills: Yankees Game" which is posted below, a group of New York Yankees fans surrounds a fans from the opposing team and shout a hate-filled homophobic parody of the Village People's "Y.M.C.A." at the men.  You can hear the bullies' friends giggling in the background.

     Yankees fans routinely sing a version of "Y.M.C.A." to fans of opposing teams during their ballgames that demonizes gay people. These are clips from other YouTube videos over the past few years that show Yankees fans in action singing this homophobic songs at opposing fans. As NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has said, "homophobia literally kills", and it is this kind of homophobia that leads to anti-gay bullying and harassment at our schools and LGBT teenagers to commit suicide.
     The site After Elton explains that as of yesterday there were still some Yankees' fans continuing this "tradition" of homo-berating the opposing teams fans:
     Earlier today we posted a video of New York Yankee fans singing a shockingly homophobic version of "Y.M.C.A." A short time ago I spoke with a spokesman for the Yankees who told me that video was from four years ago and that the Bleacher Creatures (a group of fans seated in a specific section of Yankee Stadium) had been told that homophobic lyrics would not be tolerated.
     That turns to be true and not true. While the most virulently anti-gay version of that song is no longer being performed by most fans in Section 203 , the Bleacher Creatures clearly still don't get what is offensive about their antics because they have numerous videos posted of themselves from as recently as several weeks ago singing "Y.M.C.A." with the lyrics changed to "Y. R. U. Gay?" as a way to denigrate fans of opposing teams.
     This is a perfect example of the "trickle-down homophobia" explained by Kathy Griffin.  When adults engage in blatant anti-gay activity, children learn that it's okay to violently pick on people different from themselves.  Children see.  And learn.  Some of them take to the streets of the Bronx and kill.

     I'm curious to know when this Yankees' "tradition" began in relation to the wave of HIV/AIDS death's that decimated New York's population of gay men.  Really, it doesn't matter.  The fact that this taunt is still being performed and posted online (by bragging Yankees fans) is an front to every gay man who has died of AIDS.  Shame on the Yankee's organization.  Unless, I see some spectacular mea culpas, I'm done rooting for them.

     In a previous post, I said "Bullying doesn't end after high school.  It becomes free speech."

     Here's the proof:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns' Impassioned Speech on LGBT-Bullying-Related Teen Suicides

     Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns spoke last night about the recent string of LGBT-bullying related suicides.  He makes an impassioned plea to children considering suicide to not give up on life and then to parents and adults to make a difference and end the hate and the bullying.

     His impassioned speech is worth watching in whole.  (It brought me to tears.)  

     Just hold on. It really does get better.
     That's the message Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns shared in an emotional speech during Tuesday night's council meeting, saying his goal was to reach out to youths everywhere who are struggling with being gay.
     During a moving speech, Burns said it tears him up each time he hears about youths taking their own lives somewhere in America after being bullied because of their sexuality or simply struggling with it.
     Burns, who is gay, said he'd like to give his 13-year-old self -- who also struggled with being gay -- glimpses into the future.
     His younger version would see him meeting his partner, being loved by his parents, winning a City Council election, Burns said.
     "High school was difficult, coming out was painful," he said. "I want to tell any teen who is watching this, life will get better. ... Life will get so, so, so much better."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Columbus Day?

Image by SomeECards

Another Tragic LGBT-Bullying Related Suicide: Zach Harrington, 19, of Norman

     There has been another tragic suicide of a teenager, who was bullied for being gay.  Zach Harrington killed himself a week after witnessing a "toxic" city council meeting in Norman, Oklahoma, where "concerned citizens" gathered en masse to hurl their hatred and homophobia, decrying LGBT persons as deviant, sinful, damned, etc. etc. etc.

     Here are some links to the story:

     The Norman Transcript: local new report of Zach's death and the fall-out of the council meeting.

     Qweerty: this post contains the video and partial transcript of the "toxic" council meeting.

     Zach's memorial page

     Rest in peace, Zach.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mormon Update: Boyd Packer's Homophobic Speech Redacted & Protest in Salt Lake

     Here are a few quick updates on the reaction to the LDS Boyd K. Packer's very homophobic and unscientific speech at the 180th General Conference last Sunday:
     The LDS has edited the speech changing Packer's description of homosexuality as a "temptation" to a "tendency" and cutting his question asking why his Mormon god would create people with an "impure" and "unnatural" "pre-set" homosexuality.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports upon these changes here.  This is one response: 
     “It leaves it out there like this is a temptation, like this is something one can choose,” said Watts, a Provo father of six grown children, including a gay son and a lesbian daughter. “They’re trying to edit it and soften it and make it better, but it’s not going to work. [The speech has] gone viral. Everyone knows what he said.”  Packer and the church should have gone further in their subsequent statements, Watts argued. “It would be nice to have the church apologize and say they’re editing it because they’ve recognized that it’s caused a tremendous amount of hurt and discomfort,” he said. “I know many leaders of our church know that homosexuality is experienced honestly and involuntarily and is not amenable to significant change. I’m disappointed they don’t speak out.”