Tag Archives: Religious Freedom

Cancer During the Trump Era

9 Oct

I was just recently diagnosed with cancer, specifically colon cancer. I am still processing what this means and how it will impact me and my family. A good bit of me says “fuck cancer,” but a large part of me is just simply terrified. As my friends and family are gathering around me to support me, they insist that”I have the strength to beat cancer,” which keeps being echoed. I’m not sure I believe this–and I have serious doubts I can beat cancer during 45’s administration. I need to let everyone know that that the artwork shown at the end of the article was done by some former students, now friends/colleagues of mine–thank you Erin and Nick. I love you both!

In the context of living in the US during 45’s reign of terror, being diagnosed with cancer is making me wonder if perhaps this is my time to go. Being barraged everyday with another assault on human rights by a narcissistic autocrat is quite wearing on one’s emotional (and obviously physical) health. The intense racism, homophobia, misogyny, and classism have been more than just revolting: they speak to the very worst in humans. I must confess, this is not the world I want to live in and the fatigue of 45 is real. I also constantly worry I do not know how to adequately take care of those whom I love and love me. I know people that love me are scared and I struggle with how to care for all of these wonderful amazing people.

While hurricane Maria wreaks havoc on Puerto Rico (an American Territory), 45 has the chutzpah to blame the country and even worse, to blame the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. (How dare you be a strong and smart woman!) On a side note, one should mention that Trump helped to contribute to the debt of Puerto Rico when he abandoned his golf course there and left the people of Puerto Rico with the 33 million dollar debt he created. To further push his racist agenda, 45 thinks he is on a television show again and wants NFL owners to fire the black athletes who kneel in protest of the racism people of color experience daily in the United States. 45’s exact words: “Fire the Son of a Bitch”–my how presidential. It is very difficult for me not to hear this as: Hey, all you white owners, you need to tell all of these black people how lucky they have it to work on the field.

More discouraging news which does not encourage one to fight any type of cancer: Gollum, I mean AG Jeff Session just found a way to allow employers not to cover the cost of birth control for women, but will continue to cover the cost of medication for men to have an erection. This all falls in alignment with what misogynist and homophobe Mike Pence has been promising around Religious Freedom, a.k.a the justification to hate and deny people their civil rights. In an effort to spread more hate and venom, on October 6, Sessions issued a 25 page memo that outlines how all business can now legally discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community under “religious freedom,” meaning Christianity. Who would Jesus Hate? This memo supported by 45 is one of the most significant bills of hate. Of course, the insane Spin Doctor 45 responded to this proposed bill with: “his administration will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” Wow! I have no words on how to address this twisting of power and the ability to sustain a white supremacist, homophobic, misogynistic power structure. If you are not actively resisting this mishigas, you are NOT an ally to targeted communities. Here is where I will agree with Rex Tillerson: “Trump is a fucking moron.” I have to also agree with GOP Bob Corker referring to the  “Whitehouse as an adult day care center.” Wow! I just agreed with two Republicans.

Yes, as you can see, there is not a great deal of motivation to fight cancer given the overwhelming amount of power that normalizes HATE, normalizes homophobia, normalizes racism, normalizes misogyny, and vilifies any type of journalism that tries to hold 45 and his white robed cabinet accountable. It’s so hard to believe that all of this has happened in just one week, the week since I received my diagnosis.

And yet! And yet I am going to fight in ways that people better be scared of me! I am 50 years old and I don’t believe I have said “Fuck You” to enough people. I have not shown enough active resistance to tyranny. Now is my time. I shall call this cancer “45,” and I shall fight it until I kick its ass and defeat it. My ability to defeat this cancer will signify that communities all over the country can use our power to love each other and embolden targeted communities–we can tap into our shared humanity and refuse to live in fear. “I ain’t dead yet.” Stay tuned!


The Return of Concentration Camps for Gays

17 Apr

It is with great sorrow and disgust that I share this news story. I write it because we must take action and because the world needs to know what is happening right now. We seem to be intentionally ignoring the lessons we should have learned from WWII.  Currently, the Russian republic of Chechnya is rounding up men who are gay or perceived to be gay and putting them into concentration camps where they are being tortured, beaten, their hands electrocuted, and being forced to sit on bottles. At present, we know that at least three men have been murdered according to the  independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.  Of course, Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov denies these claims saying that Chechnya has no homosexuals and reported: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”

Sadly, Russia has a long established history of homophobia and anti-semitism. What is more disturbing is that our own government in the United States seems to be creating a parallel structure of hate, homophobia, racism, anti-semitism, and misogyny. The anti-semitism coming from 45 and his minions like Sean Spicer is not only embarrassing, but it is exceedingly dangerous! Since 45 became President (thanks to a lot of help from Russia) right wing racist and homophobic Christians have become emboldened to the point that they are now taking our country hostage and eradicating our democracy and replacing it with a KKKristian theocracy.

For example, the trans bathroom rights established by President Obama have now been repealed, putting trans-identified and gender non-conforming people in danger. HB24 just passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in Alabama, thus paving the way to make it legal to discriminate against LGBT homes and deny them the ability to adopt or take in kids in the foster system. Of course, this all fits into Vice President Mike Pence’s agenda of establishing a national “Religious Freedom” law, which would allow for his perverted idea of Christianity to rule the nation and to discriminate against the LGBT community. Ultimately, this would mean gay/queer people must worry they will be denied services, denied housing, denied medical care. Yes, this is where we are now as a nation.

Take Action: We must stand in solidarity with each other and we must enlist the help and support of allies. We must make it known around the world that what is happening in the Russian republic of Chechnya is unacceptable. We must resist 45 and his homophobic administration at all costs! If you consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQ community, now is the time to make your voice heard.

Bigot of the Week Award: Mike Pence and Matt McLaughlin

27 Mar
No, I'm Not Gay!

No, I’m Not Gay!

Sadly, Republican Governor Mike Pence signed into law on Thursday the freedom to hate and discriminate. This law is fairly far-reaching in how it will impact many communities.

Yes, the obvious community it allows for hate and discrimination against is the LGBTQ community. I would also like to call attention to the fact that this “Religious Freedom” law also paves the way for police officers to refuse to defend mosques or synagogues because it may go against their Christian beliefs. This law now allows the refusal to help women experiencing domestic violence, as previous laws in place to advocate for women  may not apply to someone whose religion says someone may discipline their spouse and children however they deem proper. I presume this law also allows the medical profession to now legally deny women access to birth control.

Help me understand how this law is beneficial to anyone’s civil rights? How is this not about protecting the fear of white heterosexual Christian men?

Demonstrating his enormous privilege and horrific lack of reflection, Pence had the audacity to observe

This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it.

As icing on the one-man-one-woman-only wedding cake, he also signed the legislation in a private ceremony. Just a little shy about making your hate public, Governor?

In other atrocious news, a most dishonorable mention must go to Matt McLaughlin. McLaughlin is backing the bill in California called the Sodomite Suppression Act, which calls for the execution of gays with a bullet to the head. Goodness, McLaughlin certainly seems obsessed with anal sex! Gratefully, California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, is desperately trying to find a way to just dismiss this modern-day Nazi bill.

Enough awful news! I am in search of all of the many heroes that need celebrating.

Hero of the Week: March 23, President Jimmy Carter

23 Mar

Hero of the Week

In an age where major party presidential candidates sign pledges of discrimination and turn a blind eye to death threats at their debates and vicious attacks on women from their pet pundits, it is heartening to remember that our country has elected some truly noble men to our highest office. Long-time readers of TSM will know of our admiration for President Carter; after leaving office he made the most of his fame and power and spent his time and energy making the world a better place. He recently published a new book, NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, in which he addresses faith and the proper role of religion in our civic lives.

A brilliant but humble man, he articulately expresses his own faith and the deep importance of maintaining a secular state. Of particular relevance are his comments regarding the use of religion as a club against women.

I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women, because I believe what Paul taught in Galatians that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between men and women, slaves and masters, Jews and non-Jews -– everybody is created equally in the eyes of God.

Are you listening Right Wing Republicans and Tea Party bitter tea bags? Pretty simple, isn’t it? In a later question, Carter addresses a topic that even President Obama waffles on, full  marriage equality.

Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies. I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine.

What an eloquent statement about the separation of church and state, the difference between personal values and legislation, and Carter’s own wonderful understanding of our innate humanity.

Honorable mention this week goes to regular TSM hero Elizabeth Warren. Not content to wait until she’s asked about an issue, Warren has made LGBT rights and marriage equality active parts of her campaign.

Marriage equality is morally right. I’d be glad to see it included in the Democratic platform. It helps raise awareness of the impact of DOMA and it helps build support to repeal it.

Wednesday Word of the Week: March 16

16 Mar

My moral superiority can beat up your moral superiority

This week’s word is INTOLERANT

unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters; unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights : bigoted – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

This word gets significant play in public discourse these days, especially as an accusation by the Right. Too often, when faced with a fact or a charge that they cannot dismiss, Right-wing pundits will retort that their interlocutor is merely being “intolerant” and that the conversation cannot continue. Let me illustrate with two good examples from this blog.

From late January we have blogger NW Republican, who accused the regular Bigot of the Week award of being “More Hate-Love from the Angry Left.” (I presume that this was intended as an Orwell reference, however ineffectual.) The gist of his post is that using the word “bigot” is intolerant and demonstrates both leftist disrespect and an attempt to block reasonable dialogue.

More recently, the visit of pseudo-intellectual moralist Matthew J. Franck to the campus of Oglethorpe University stirred controversy both in that school’s LGBT community and on this blog, run by an Oglethorpe alumnus. Franck’s most notorious thesis is that using the word “hate” to describe Right-wing speech – particularly religiously-based opposition to marriage equality – is designed to shut down dialogue. In fact, an anticipatory defense of Franck at CatholicVote.org was entitled “The Intolerant Left Strikes Again.”

Words like “bigot” and “hate” are strong, so let’s start with the assumption that these examples from the right have some merit. Is the use of intolerant language intended to stop a reasonable conversation? Perhaps – although the over-generalized claim from the Right paints with a very broad brush and a case-by-case analysis would be far more reasonable than a standardized label of the “Intolerant Left.” More to the point, if some words are so harsh that they simply block dialogue, a quick read through the Right-wing posts above will show accusations that those on the Left are “fascists” and “mindless idealogues” and that LGBT Americans are “sinners” and “the walking wounded.” A careful analysis of the use of language makes the charge of intolerance seem very much like the playground retort: “I know you are, but what am I?”

Right-wing hypocrisy aside, Franck, CatholicVote, NW Republican, and their ilk are making a fundamentally flawed argument. Some words are very strong, it is true; words, however, have meanings. For example: BIGOT

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred or intolerance – Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

Bigot means something, and these people:

  • The minister who creates YouTube videos dehumanizing the LGBT population,
  • The politician who constructs a McCarthyite witch-hunt against Muslims,
  • The pundit who grotesquely lampoons the First Lady using racial sterotypes, and
  • The academic who assumes “moral superiority” from his chosen beliefs and wields them publicly against anyone who fails to share his homophobia and misogyny

are bigots. Anyone who ignores the broader Christian message of love in favor of condemning people whom they wish to label as Other are religious bigots. The word has meaning and can be fairly applied. As for the Right-wing aversion to the label of HATE

an intense hostility or aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury – Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

Peter King’s fear, Andrew Breitbart’s anger, and Matthew Franck’s sense of injury, amplified by their bigoted writings and actions involve hate. As these two wonderful dissections of Franck’s hatred of the word “hate” demonstrate, the word has meaning. As this tragic tale of a Christian boy and Muslim girl’s affection leading to murder proves, wielding faith as your defense does not prevent you from practicing hate. The label can be fairly applied.

Words – tolerance, hate, bigot, fascist, sinner, the lot of them – matter. If Right-wing extremists (yes, that word has meaning too) are averse to the labels that fairly adhere to them, that aversion has far more to do with their dislike of the truth than with the labels or the people who apply them. It seems that the bigots may just be truth-intolerant.

Jeers to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley

19 Jan

The New Face of "The Church Lady"

How my heart goes out to those that live in the state of Alabama right now, especially if you are not a “christian.”  According to Gov. Robert Bentley (R – AL):

But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have, if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister,” he said. “Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters.

Once again, we have a concrete example of a civil servant who is supposed to work to protect ALL citizens admitting he is playing favorites.  Does this mean if you are Jewish, Muslim, or Atheist you will not be treated fairly?  Given the governor’s own words, I would say I would not feel safe in Alabama.  Unfortunately, (big surprise) Bentley represents the very same “christians” that adhere to an anti-gay agenda.

What happened to religious freedom? Separation of church and state? Was not the purported reason for coming to America to escape religious persecution?  Shall we start burning non-christians at the stake?  I would like to support ALL non-Christians in Alabama to ask they not pay any state income tax–don’t fund a government that considers you less than equal!  See Jeremy’s blog for the full article.

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