Tag Archives: religion

Dear Catholics…

10 Apr

Dear Catholics, please help me out here. I am truly and desperately trying to understand how those of you who supported Trump did so because of your identity around being Catholic. Sadly, I have family who have used the “we voted for Trump because we are good Catholics” excuse.

Here is some background information. I was talking with a white, heterosexual, cisgender, able bodied, middle class man last week. He was explaining to me that being gay or transgender had nothing to do with gender equity and more importantly that being gay or transgender was WRONG and those people would go to hell. Subsequently, this person explained why he supports Trump: “Because it is God’s will.” Sadly, this white heterosexual man then went into defensive mode by saying: “…by the way some of my friends are gay — they were even at my wedding. While I know they are wrong and will go to Hell, they are friends of mine.” Oy! I wonder if these “gay friends,” assuming they do exist, would consider him a friend?

Here is where I need some help. Please do chime in and illuminate and educate me. Does your God really support a man like Trump — a man who said it is okay to grab a woman buy the genitals? A man who appoints a white supremacist as the attorney general? A man whose behavior has demonstrated nothing but great avarice? A man who publicly mocked a man with disabilities? Is that the God you worship? Who would Jesus hate?

Furthermore, I thought Catholics were against divorce and adultery. How is that you are able to give Trump a dispensation here? Do the rules only apply to those who are poor and cannot afford to buy off a fraud case for $25 million dollars?

Just a quick history lesson here, for those Catholics that are climate change deniers and think science is just a bunch of poo poo, let us remember that in 1633 Galileo was locked up by the Catholic Church for heresy for asserting that the earth was round and revolved around the sun, which countered the wrong geocentric model the church subscribed to at the time. Damn that science! It took over 300 years for the church to acknowledge it was wrong and that Galileo was right. I’m horrifically sad to see that we seem to be repeating history.

Again, I am truly trying to understand how and why Catholics supported and still seem to support Trump and his administration. From my understanding of Catholicism and Christianity, his behavior seems antithetical to the teachings of Christ. I am also exceedingly sad for this man’s children. What if one of them is gay or trans-identified? This man made it clear he feels obligated to judge them and condemn them. Maybe it is just me, but this does not seem like good parenting, nor does it seem very godly. I welcome all voices on this issue to help better educate us all.

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Why Are The Gays So Loud? Unsolicited Advice From David Brooks

3 Apr

David BrooksIn the nasty wake of Republican Governor Pence making it legal to discriminate  against the LGBT community (which Presidential wannabes Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have both applauded), we have been admonished by his holiness, White Hetero David Brooks, shining his beacon from atop his throne  at The New York Times.

While I have never been a fan of Brooks, I used to think of him as being at least a quasi rational conservative, albeit one who never quite understands his position of power and privilege as a white heterosexual man in  the United States. Apparently our uniting and proclaiming that we will not be considered second class citizens was enough to cause Brooks to clutch his pearls and grab his smelling salts. Sadly, Brooks’ latest diatribe does not even bother to include transgender people, or bisexual people.

Brooks has missed the civil rights bus at several stops. First, NO,  the law passed in Indiana is not “just like” the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That Federal Law and the 18 state laws actually modelled after it have their own problems — just look at the recent Hobby Lobby decision irrationally referencing RFRA — but are fundamentally different from the Indiana hate legislation. RFRA prohibits government action from interfering with the faith of individuals. Indiana — just like Arkansas, North Carolina, and Georgia if they are foolish and bigoted enough to follow suit — allows individuals to use their personal beliefs as a weapon against other individuals, refusing services and goods. That is absolutely not the same, something a man with Brooks’ education and background ought to clearly understand.

Secondly, my goodness what great privilege you must enjoy, demonstrated by your ability to remain this obtuse:

Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.

While I would never have claimed you as an ally of the LGBT community, I do fear you are working against us, and this editorial certainly commits great trespass, for which I’m fairly certain you will neither reflect upon, nor make any attempts at repair.

Like many of your contemporaries, older, white, heterosexual males, you seem to be driving the train to irrelevance in the 21st century world. This is not what I would want, for I truly believe there is room for us all, however, the onus to get up to speed and become more inclusive is on you, not those of us who are targeted, marginalized, and have disproportionately less power. One should note, the Anti-Violence Project has reported that the homicide rate against the LGBT community is up exponentially in 2015.

Looking at this through a lens of social justice, I would add that people of color who are also LGBT often have even more at risk, thus I have to bring up the issue of race, as race and misogyny are always inextricable from the conversation.

Mr. Brooks, your aimless, thoughtless piece puts the blame on the victims, wondering why we have to push so hard to make ourselves heard. Your own deafness should answer that question for you. As a Jew Mr. Brooks, what happened to tikkun o’lam? Your behavior along with this editorial do nothing to help repair the world.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Pope Francis?

27 Nov

pope-francis_2541160bWell, I suspect the gates of Hell are now freezing over. For those of you who read this blog, you know I am not a religious person. Never did I think I would be actually praising the Catholic Pope, but alas I am.  Today, Pope Francis actually said that Capitalism is “a new tyranny,” and he also managed to dismantle the ever present Reagan myth of “trickle down economics.” Is it possible the Catholic Church may be moving to a model of social justice and abandoning a platform of hate that has been in place for the past 40 years?

It is difficult for me not to think about the classism and avarice demonstrated by John Boehner, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the Teahaddists when I hear Pope Francis say:

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

Not only does he address poverty and how we treat humans as “consumer goods” but he addresses the systemic root problem which we call Capitalism. When I first read his comments, I thought he was talking about The Hunger Games, and in a way he is. The top 20% live off the remaining 80% and they watch us as we fight for any scraps available and mock us for needing social services because not everyone makes a living wage, not everyone has health insurance.

We are approaching the Thanksgiving Holiday; how many millions of families will be struggling now to put food on the table? Thanks for cutting food stamps just in time for the holidays!  The entire apostolic exhortation is really quite wonderful and if you have the time, I encourage you to read at least the first 25 pages.

Sadly, as wonderful as this movement towards social justice is, it left me wanting more. While he addresses poverty and the causes of poverty, he does not seem to be able to understand fully who is impacted and the intersections of oppression – -those oppressed by intersecting identities of gender, race, ability, and sexual orientation. I was hoping for a call to action to stand with all targeted populations and understand that poverty disproportionately affects people of color, LGBT people, and women, so one can imagine how one might be affected by poverty if one is a black lesbian, or Latina transgender woman.

Again, I give full kudos to the Pope’s address here, but when will “the voice of God” talk about women being able to govern their own bodies? Eradicating homophobia and racism? When does the church say: “All are welcome regardless and ever regardful?”

Number 4 Bigot of the Year 2012: The Catholic Church

28 Dec
Number 4 Bigot of 2012

Number 4 Bigot of 2012

Regular TSM readers know that I have real suspicion of organized religion and its role in privileging dominant forces in the power structure, thus sustaining a white, heteronormative discourse. While some denominations have inched toward inclusion and social justice, the Catholic church leadership of the 21st Century has abandoned its traditions of caring in favor of narrow political dogma and oppression–completely abandoning any dedication to social justice. This year, the hate filled voices of Pope Benedict XVI and his bishops have proved that more loudly than ever.

Not content to stick with centuries old traditions of misogyny and homophobia, the bishops danced a cruel jig across the lines of church and state, issuing proclamations about candidates and electoral issues willy nilly. Some, like Newark Archbishop John Myers, went so far as to suggest that priests refuse communion to parishioners who support marriage equality, reproductive choice, or progressive candidates–my, Who Would Jesus Hate?

The church spent the year emptying its venomous purse as well. The single largest contributor to anti-equality campaigns in the four states that voted on marriage equality this fall was the Catholic Church. It spent over $2 MILLION fighting fairness. When added to money contributed by the Catholic group Knights of Columbus and the National Organization for Marriage, a church ally that uses local congregations to raise funds, Catholic contributions exceeded $6 million. How much poverty could that fight? How many lives could have been saved instead of harmed?

Just to add insult to injury, the Pope used his biggest speech of the year, the Christmas Message, to spew a little more homophobia and transphobia.

There is no denying the crisis that threatens it (the family) to its foundations — especially in the Western world. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child — essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

Again I ask, who would Jesus hate?  I don’t want to dismiss the progressive Catholics that exist, but I feel it necessary to remind everyone that every time you tithe, a portion of that tithe goes to Rome and the Pope.

Sadly, there are a number of homophobia dishonorable mentions this year. High on the list, nearly taking the crown from Benedict’s head, is the Boy Scouts of America, which pretended to consider its anti-gay policies and then doubled down on them. Fake researcher Mark Regnerus and his “gay families are harmful” study funded by NOM and its Catholic allies wraps up this unholy trinity in a foul shroud.

Additional dishonorable mention goes to NOM itself and to the ironically named Family Research Council. Both spent huge amounts of time and energy spewing homophobia and pretending to offer “balanced” views to common sense positions of equality. Happily, they lost just about every issue they supported.  So much fear, misogyny, and homophobia.  I guess it is true, the squeaky wheel (Pope Benny the Rat) wants the grease.

Hero of the Week Award: December 7, Ludovic Mohamed Zahed

7 Dec
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Last week an impressive new mosque opened in Paris. Set up in the home of a Buddhist monk, the mosque is the first to be explicitly LGBT welcoming. It was founded by Ludovic Mohamed Zahed, a gay man born in Algeria who now lives in Paris with his husband. Named Unity, the mosque is explicitly established to address traditional taboos in Islam that serve to marginalize people. Zahed describes it as “radically inclusive.”

We need to have a safe space for people who do not feel comfortable and at ease in normal mosques. There are transgender people who fear aggression, women who do not want to wear head scarf or sit in the back of the mosque. This project gives hope back to many believers in my community. It is a safe place to worship.

Unity will invite women to lead prayers and will not segregate seating by gender, encouraging equality in participation and celebration. Zahed and his partners in the mosque — where he will be one of three imams — believe that their progressive approach is a true reflection of the founding pillars of Islam.

We have an embarrassment of riches in the HWA arena this week, with two honorable mentions. First, courtesy of TSM regular and my dear friend Nancy, is Rev. Bill Brennan, a Jesuit priest from Wisconsin. Father Brennan is a longtime peace and equality activist. This week he celebrated mass with a woman priest, violating Catholic doctrine. As a result, he has been sanctioned by the church and forbidden to celebrate the Eucharist. Congratulations to Father Brennan for standing up for human rights over outdated and bigoted codes of behavior.

We’re also happy to celebrate Marilyn McKenna from Washington. Her husband is Rob McKenna, the outgoing Republican state Attorney General who narrowly lost his bid for the Governor’s office last month. Rob has been a vocal opponent of the Boy Scouts’ discrimination, but came out against marriage equality during his campaign. As a delightful breath of fresh air, his wife stood up for equal rights in an editorial as Washington’s same-sex couples began to receive marriage licenses this week. We’ll let her words speak for themselves.

Marriage is a blessing, not a political issue. We do well to remember that everyone benefits when couples commit. … The Republican Party needs to get the hell out of people’s bedrooms and get a life!

Bigot of the Week Award: November 2, Rev. John McTernan

2 Nov

Bigot of the Week

Curses! Another practitioner of far-right religious rituals has gleaned insight into the power of the Gay Agenda! Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally CJ Hurley for inspiring me to write this story. This week the Not-So-Rev. John McTernan, host of the website Defend and Proclaim the Faith, discovered that the mere hint of marriage equality was sufficient to create SuperStorm Sandy. While watching the news (one shudders to think what network he prefers), this nasty KKKristian saw a story on the impending hurricane in the Northeast followed by what he took to be a sign from God. President Obama, following up on his party’s platform and his personal statements, endorsed the three marriage equality initiatives in next week’s elections. Clearly, the two must be related. Sound the warning! Jesus is weeping, and his tears will flood the Sodom known as Manhattan!

Ordinarily, a penny ante preacher like McTernan wouldn’t merit elevation to BWA. Sadly, he is media savvy enough to blend the election, the storm, and the threat of the Gays — a perfect media moment. He’s received huge amounts of attention by being the latest in a sad series to blame death and destruction on the LGBT community. With a nice twist, he managed to blame the President, too. Racist much?

The hypocrisy of the so-called community of faith around civil rights is palpable. All three state marriage initiatives have been receiving strong support. In the last week, huge ad campaigns opposing equality have suddenly appeared. They play the fear card (Gays are coming for your kids! Teachers will have to talk about gay sex!) which has worked so well in the past. And they are largely funded by fundamentalists and out-of-state Catholic organizations like the Knights of Columbus. Let’s show McTernan and his ilk that America is tired of their ballot box bullying and get a pro-marriage sweep on Tuesday.

P.S. – a related thank you to my friend Madeleine for sending me this lovely link that shows how Gay Power can be harnessed for good!

Bigot of the Week Award: October 26: Richard Mourdock

26 Oct

Bigot of the Week

This week yet another Republican forgot his talking points and actually said what he meant. Thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey for pointing out this easy winner of this week’s BWA. Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock unseated long-time Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar in this year’s primaries. In the debate for the Senate race on Monday, Mourdock — currently the state Treasurer — was asked about abortion and came up with this astounding answer.

Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

That’s right, folks, if a woman is raped and discovers she is pregnant, she should just smile and know that she’s carrying a gift from God. Now that’s some compassionate conservatism!  I wonder if some intelligent person cut Mourdock’s penis off, would we just saythat God intended that to happen?

Mourdock is just the latest in a series of Republicans who forgot to dissemble when asked about abortion and rape. Todd Akin and Linda McMahon have both put their electoral hopes on the skids with their spouting off. Let’s hope that Mourdock has done the same and that the extremist nominees put forward by the Teahadists dash any chances the GOP had of taking the Senate in November.

Dishonorable mention goes to the great dissembler himself, Mitt Romney. The Mittbot had just released a 30-second spot endorsing Mourdock before the debate. This is the only Senate race in which Romney has so actively inserted himself. Faced with Mourdock’s comments, Romney issued a bland “I disagree” and has since gone silent; he has not, however pulled the ads. Which is it Mitt?

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