Shuck and Jive

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Saturday Screed

Portugal shows it is more decent and humane than New Jersey (and virtually every state in the U.S.) by voting for marriage equality yesterday. Thank you, Portugal! Congratulations for standing up to the bullies!

The parliament approved the measure and it will likely be signed into law by conservative president, Anibal Cavaco Silva. I found this story buried in the back pages of the Johnson City Press:

Conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva is thought unlikely to veto the Socialist government’s bill, which won the support of all left-of-center parties. His ratification would allow the first gay marriage ceremonies to take place in April — a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on an official visit to Portugal.
What exactly happened?
The bill removes a reference in the current law to marriage being between two people of different sexes.
Just a slight change in wording. Why would they do such a thing?
“This law rights a wrong,” Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in a speech to lawmakers, adding that it “simply ends pointless suffering.”
Righting a wrong. It is that simple, isn't it? So what is the score on right vs. wrong these days?
Gay marriage is currently permitted in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway. Canada, South Africa and six U.S. states also permit it.
We have a way to go. The largest obstacle to justice, to righting wrongs, to being simply decent human beings will be of course, Christians.

Let us consider the Christians. Here is what they are up to as reported by The Raw Story:

The conservative American Family Association is calling on President Barack Obama to fire Amanda Simpson, Obama's transgender appointee to the Commerce Department, because the appointment "puts the weight of the federal government behind the normalization of sexual deviancy."

"'Amanda' is a biological male in every cell of his body, and no amount of surgical mutilation is ever going to change that," AFA President Tim Wildmon said in a press release circulated Thursday. "It's a mistake for our president to appoint such a sexually confused individual to a position of public responsibility."
Why would Christians want to do such a thing? Here is a wild guess: superstition.
Wildmon went on to say that "gender is assigned by the Creator at the moment of conception, and no healthy society should ever regard sexual mutilation, even if it's self-inflicted, as something that's normal and merits approval."
Wildmon is an ignorant and an evil human being. He is certainly not alone. Our country is filled with folks who share his ideology.

My progressive Christian friends take offense when I post favorably about Richard Dawkins. To clear the air, I don't agree with everything Dawkins writes. I think there
is a place for humane, rational religious practice. But Dawkins is more right than wrong when he exposes the dangers of superstition. Christianity seldom loses an opportunity to flaunt its superstitions.

It is up to thoughtful Christians to prove Dawkins (and other critics of religion) wrong, not by defending indefensible superstitions or by claiming special privilege but by taking the necessary risks on behalf of justice, compassion, equal rights, reason, and freedom of thought.

Christians should be leading the way for gay and transgender rights. Christians should be leading the way on behalf of ecological sustainability. Christians should be leading the way defending the teaching of science in our schools. Christians should be leading the way in ending "pointless suffering" where ever it is to be found.

Dawkins and Company do not think Christians are leading the way. They think Christians are on the opposite side of justice. When I look around at what Christians are doing, I can see the evidence may be on the side of Dawkins. My comment to Christians who are offended by Dawkins is this: Don't whine about him. Get off your fat asses and do the right thing.

Now, you atheists. Yes, you are right that we Christians are bunch of fearful, homophobic, war-mongering, superstitious hypocrites. You are right to call us on it. But sitting around bitching about us over lattes at Starbucks ain't making it. Why don't you get organized and do something?

While we certainly have been ambiguous in our organization, Christians have historically built schools, hospitals, and do good work that is disconnected from superstition. We do have an infrastructure. There are a lot of progressive faith communities that are not superstitious and hold the same values as you. They are trying their damndest to make a difference. They could use your freaking help.

That is all. You may return now to your regularly scheduled programming.


  1. Religulous, the Bill Maher movie, offers the same kind of critique challenging Christians to stop supporting the prophecies of Armageddon which could become self-fulfilling. He says we are enabling a possible catastrophe of epic proportions. The movie is entertaining, disturbing and comprehensive.

    Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + + Why 99, you know we have to murder and kill and destroy in order to preserve everything that's good in the world." --Maxwell Smart to Agent 99

  2. We should have a viewing of that movie some night!

  3. Don't have a lot of time for Hitchens. My only response to Hitchens is that he is a drunk that betrays his friends (see Blumenthal's The Clinton Wars).

    Talked with my daughter last night about the Holocaust and what a Christian response to this story should be. Her English teacher, whom encouraged by her mother Spencer dislikes intensely, went on a rant blaming Christianity for the Holocaust.

    I said the Nazi's may have been many things but they weren't by any definition Christian. In fact, before the Final Solution was perpetrated, they gave up on their effort to subvert the Church (generally because it was more trouble than it was worth after their power had been consolidated). I also said that the worst atrocities of the last century were perpetrated outside of the Church by nominal atheists. That is my response to Dawkins.

    But we do have a major problem. Too many people don't see the good things Christians (inside and outside formal structures)have done and cannot hear the word Christian without starting and stopping with Falwell, Dobson et al. This isn't going to change anytime soon.

    All we can do is continue to work in the vinyard and live in hope and faith.

  4. "cannot hear the word Christian without starting and stopping with Falwell, Dobson et al. "

    That's just IT. The Fundamentalists give Jesus Christ a bad name!

    Their tabloids, their crusades against [fill in the blank], their self serving bigotry and hypocrisy in the name of righteousness all land at the feet of Jesus.

  5. I do think it is important for thoughtful people to work together. Atheists are our best allies. Progressive Christians, Atheists, and Christian Atheists need to find common cause which include some of the things I mentioned in this post.

    Some of the challenge is within progressive Christianity to accept religious atheists as their own.

  6. "Christian Atheists"

    That's kind of an odd term.

    Like decaffeinated coffee. I'm not sure what the point is.

  7. And that, Jodie, is exactly what I am getting at. Religion without God. Atheist Christianity. Non super-natural religion. Natural religion.

    Once we say that gods, god, supernatural, and all that is not central or necessary then we can talk about what religion can be about.

    The supernatural (and all the baggage that goes with it including God) is a distraction. It is a leftover like our tailbones that we no longer need.

  8. OK, I'll keep my tailbone.

    But I think you get the point, right, uh...

    ...ah hell... : )

  9. Well...

    What about God without religion? Christ without Christianity?

    I mean, it's no secret that Jesus had a problem with religion. Is it?

  10. As for the tail bone, I think it provides >some< support. Especially when I sit.

  11. God without religion would be another way to go about it.

    Religion evolves. Views of God including leaving go of the concept is certainly possible.

    The other way of somehow keeping the concept but leaving go of religion would be what exactly? Private practice I suppose?

    Religion to me requires a community. Spirituality or mysticism could happen alone and that I suppose would be God without religion. I personally am less interested in that. I like communities. They are messier.

    Tailbone. Comes from the theory that our ancestors once had tails. Kind of funny how we kept that language.

  12. I like communities. They are messier.

    Pshaw. You just like the potlucks!

  13. Gord Brown said, "All we can do is continue to work in the vineyard and live in hope and faith."

    Only if by "living in the vineyard," we mean keeping the Covenant of distributive justice-compassion, which is not as easy as a lot of folks think.

    "hope" is not going to do anything for the Transgendered people unless the rest of us take inclusive action and loudly and publicly counter the outrageous bigotry.

    "Faith" is worthless if all it means is "belief" that "God" will eventually intervene and do something. We're the ones who can do something.

    (Not to make Mr. Brown wrong here, just pointing out that it's easy to sleep under the grapevine . . . which metaphor gets mixed in a hurry.)

    And just to satisfy my own wish to join the screed, What do the Fundies want us to do with our transgendered babies, and others born with varying kinds of anomalies that they would force us to carry to term into a lifetime of suffering because abortion is a killing offense?

    Are we to put our unwanted children out on a hill to die?