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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Please Remind Me… What Is So Great About Christianity?

09 Feb

Arkansas churches refuse funeral for gay man, give hateful Bible verses to husband

Arkansas churches refuse funeral for gay man, give hateful Bible verses to husband

I know there are “extremists” among every group; even among the Christians. What angers me most is how this kind of ## goes on and on and on and on and on, without any apparent end and yet the “majority” of those who “identify as Christian” fail to show up to call their hateful counterparts out on their very-UNchristian-like behavior. (Read the article by clicking on the image to the right in order to better understand why I am writing today’s blog entry.)

The absence of these so-called “good” Christians is so overwhelmingly apparent that I understand why others feel as they do about this faith and its followers. I myself have begun to think that, all in all, this is a faith I should be more and more inclined to distance myself from.

I DO believe in a higher power (as I am quite convinced, for very personal reasons that there is more to life than simply that “we are born, we die and we become worm food”) — but the God, the Creator, the Spirit that I believe in is a LOVING entity (not just a deity to be whored out when the need to judge others presents itself).

The judgmental morons that condone the kind of behavior afforded the family of James Stone (deceased) and his surviving husband (Jay Hoskins) are “anything BUT” loving. Furthermore, the absence of any real effort (by other followers of this faith) to call these “supposed” Christians out for the kind of behavior they did heap upon a grieving family at their most vulnerable is greatly disappointing. If that is truly what “being a Christian” means to those who identify as such, then you can damn well keep your faith. (I’d like to think this doesn’t represent the majority. It’s simply the lack of response by “Christian friends and loved ones”, to these kinds of situations that has me on my soapbox this evening.)

As for myself, I will choose to worship (in private) a Creator that is loving, tolerant, understanding and non-judgmental. The “Christians” may keep their heaven, their hell and all of the judgment they swear is not “their” place to hand out (yet it is; daily, hourly and moment by moment).

Why? Because actions speak more loudly than words and the deafening silence that ensues each and every time “Christian organizations” (along with those who identify with them) blatantly express judgment, feign indifference and actively seek out to cause harm to LGBT persons, their families and their friends (under the guise of religious faith)… Well, let us just say that it is VERY evident that the flocks of these organized religions are nothing more than hypocrites whose real motto is, “Do as I say, not as I do.

Yeah, I’m pretty hard-pressed to take up for Christians and Christianity, for the moment, since so many seem incapable or unwilling to take up for those of us they profess to love.

Related Links:

  • dallasvoice.comChurches Near Mountain Home, Ark. Refuse Funeral For Gay Man.
     

    What follows is a comment made by Jay Hoskins, husband of the deceased, following the article and update on the Dallas Voice:
     

    —BEGIN QUOTE—
     
    do not know what happened to the post I just commented on. I am James’ “legal” husband of nearly 6 months, and we had been together for over 10 years. Yes, this incident happened. And yes, it was out of the fundamentalist Clarkridge Church of Christ, amongst others. I just learned of the media coverage of this issue in the past couple of hours on the Voice. I have been contacted by local media in the last hour.

    I can tell you that there were not only issues having a service for him, but also in so much as that one or more members of the Clarkridge Church of Christ called and “CANCELLED” our family get-together after the service, and that TWO members of the Clarkridge Church of Christ, Jerry and Vicki Oels gave James grieving mother, myself and the preacher a nice big envelope each

    One filled with over 10 pages of Bible passages condemning us to hell, referencing God’s marriage laws, marriage amongst people and animals, and then a sympathy card.

    I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED SUCH HATE AND BIGOTRY in my life. James was taught not to be bigoted, hateful, and would not have approved of this.

    James did not die of Sjogren’s Syndrome. He died a tragic death of suicide where his poor mother and myself found him hanging from a ceiling fan. I tried unsuccessfully to revive him, but it was too late.

    To the people of Clarkridge, including his own family, RUTH STRAIN, RAY WAYE, ROY (JUNIOR) STONE and JACKIE STONE- you all will be judged just as everyone else. The same goes for VICKI and JERRY OELHS.

    And for anyone who would like to send their thoughts to Jerry and Vick Oels, you can write them at JERRY AND VICKI OELS
    3843 CR 37
    CLARKRIDGE AR 72623
    I can be reached via email at jhoskins2@att.net
     
    —END QUOTE—

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Happy Easter

19 Apr

Happy Easter - He Is RisenI know that not all of my friends are particularly fond of religious holidays and I understand the bias. After all, those of us who have grown up as gay men and women, transgendered or pretty much anything that qualifies as “outside of the norm” have felt the judgment and scorn that is so often served at the hands of someone who identifies as a Christian.

That said, I would ask those same friends who feel less than amicable toward those who celebrate a religious holiday to remember, “Not every Christian (or person following any other faith for that matter) is out to judge and condemn that which [they] see as different.”

We have supporters in the Christian community, just as we have in pretty much every faith that still exists today. Do they outnumber the haters or are their voices as loud? Perhaps not (I don’t know) but it certainly isn’t fair to those who ARE on our side to criticize or diss a holiday that is important to them just because of the more boastful, prideful, self-interested hypocrites who “identify” with their same brand of faith.

I identify as a Christian though I profess there are many things I’ve been taught as a young child that I really don’t believe any longer. To some, that makes me more of a heretic but honestly, I’m not out to impress or seek the approval and favor of my family or my peers who might believe differently than I. My spiritual walk with a higher power is very personal and to put it bluntly, my purpose in this lifetime is for myself to figure out (with the help of my own personal brand of faith and the God that I serve).

Many of my more conservative friends or family probably believe that is a very dangerous bet to hedge. After all, most of those I’ve grown up with have attended the same kinds of churches as me, where the Sunday sermon was all about fire and brimstone. So, to them it may well seem like a huge risk to take, to set aside some of the lessens I was taught as a young child. It may seem to some that my “walk in Faith” is something akin to a fool’s journey, compared to their own beliefs — but it’s my journey alone.

Enough about that though..

Today’s blog entry is my way of reaching out to those who feel hurt, betrayed, scorned and judged by all persons of faith. It is specifically directed at those who identify as gay or lesbian, who have been the focus of MUCH judgment by those professing to be Christians, who now feel angry enough that they’re willing to push back at that same group by dissing that group’s religious holidays (such as Easter).

I get it; I’m gay. I’ve been pissed off in the past and I’m certain I’ll [often] give in to that same anger again and again as those hiding behind religion seemingly attack me or the community of which I’m a part.

But I want to acknowledge the disservice we do ourselves to let THEIR ignorance and hypocrisy turn us into something we are not. We don’t have to give in to the anger and hurt, choosing to respond similarly and attacking “all” persons of faith. That isn’t a very good approach if you stop and think about it because not ALL those who believe are in fact judging us. If you look around you will likely find that many of your own long, trusted friends have ties to one religion or another. We would do well to remember in this day and age that it is more often than not simply an outspoken, ignorant small-percentage who temporarily gain the spotlight, who give others of the faith a black eye in the process. The outspoken among them judge all of us, stereotyping our community and attaching behaviors and values which might seem befitting for some gays and lesbians. We become angry because “we don’t believe those stereotypes apply to us personally” (and odds are many do not).

We would do well to remember this and apply that same analogy as we approach those of faith, such as Christians. “Not every ‘Christian’ is the same.”

And besides, the truth is that we only hurt ourselves if we give the “hypocrites” the power to influence our own attitudes toward an entire group of people. You’re better than that; I’m better than that. There is a better way (and please DO feel free to remind my own sorry self of this when I go totally bonkers and lose my sh#t in the future – because I will – you can trust in that). LOL

In closing and in the spirit of my own faith, I want to wish every person reading, be he or she gay, straight, bisexual, white, black, Mexican or Spanish, Muslim or what-have-you… a very Happy Easter. This holiday is of special significance to many religious faiths; it is significant to my own beliefs as well and in that spirit I simply want to wish each of you peace and harmony.

Namaste,
Michael

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Matt Moore on the Straight and Narrow

29 Mar

Oh joy, here we go again… Another article from The Christian Post that talks about a young man who’s “seen the error of his ways and turned away from his [homosexual] orientation.”

It never ceases to amaze me, how some people are so quick to embrace the hypocrisy surrounding the belief the Bible “states” homosexuality is a sin. Untold damage has been thrust upon youth and some adults who find themselves struggling to accept their same-sex attractions as “normal” (for them). “Old-school, traditional churches” have tried to impress upon these same young men and women, throughout their lives, that it’s a terrible sin and surely one cannot find grace and redemption unless he/she chooses not to act on such attractions.

Many churches have re-engineered their message of bigotry and bias, now professing that “being gay (homosexual or same-sex attracted)” isn’t a sin that’ll condemn you to a life-everlasting in hellfire and damnation but “acting upon” the attraction will.

Translation:  You can “be” gay but must choose not to “act” on your natural inclinations. If successful, you get an A+, can pass “Go” and proceed directly into the arms of the heavenly Father upon your earthly demise.

It’s really sad that a lot of LGBTQ youth and young adults buy into that line of reasoning. Not because we “need more queers to make ourselves the mobile, ever-more-formidable force that we can be” {sarcasm} but only because such a reaction means they’ve given up any hope of realizing a full, loving and productive relationship with someone they can be “FULLY” attracted to. There’s nothing wrong with love, people.


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Faith’s foot in the door

13 Mar

This is in response to Davey Wavey’s blog entry of yesterday (2012-Mar-12). DW has always been rather … well, anti-religious and I can understand why he feels the way that he does.

As gay men, women and teens, most of us have experienced the kind of Bible-bashing that pretty much turns the majority of LGBT persons “off” to the slightest possibility of faith and especially, organized religion. You condemn a group of people for just being themselves long enough, you shouldn’t be surprised when they turn and say, “Screw you.” There have been times when I myself have felt this way and I’m a person who considers himself spiritual and faithful (but it does get old after a while, having to constantly endure the prejudice of others who use the Bible as their weapon of choice against you).

Think of it this way; an entire class of people (described by most fundamentalists as “sinners” just for being gay) are made to feel completely unwelcome in the very places of worship that could provide for their/our spiritual needs. Somehow, I don’t really think that was the message that Jesus Christ was attempting to convey all those years ago.

The real problem is that once the damage is done, it’s very difficult to undo. Why else do you think that LGBTQ persons are so quick to lump those who judge us, justifying their bias and prejudice (with religion), into the same category? What started out as prejudice continues to evolve and feed into further prejudice (directed toward the very people who seemingly began the judging). It really is a never-ending, vicious cycle and it doesn’t serve anybody’s best interests.


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Something to ponder..

04 Mar

“God is a much better idea than religion.”

— Courtesy of Clarke via a comment he made on Davey Wavey’s “Break the Illusion” blog:

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Christian, Religious, Spiritual (Which are you?)

29 Feb

Of course, you could be agnostic, meaning none of the above apply, but…

Another blogger asked his readers to differentiate, in their own words, between being religious and being spiritual earlier this week. I can only speak for myself so here is the comment that I left on his [blog] entry:

One who calls him- or herself “Religious” is, in my opinion, generally a person who narrowly fixates on (follows) one interpretation of faith. That individual believes that the rituals and teachings of his/her faith are the one and only way of meeting God’s expectations, in order to be worthy of His reward. Such persons usually insist that all other persons, regardless of their own personal beliefs, should conform to his/her religious beliefs; else wise, they are (1) “wrong” and their beliefs are dismissed, and (2) those who do not believe the same as the “religious person” will, in the end, be separated from God.

I describe myself as “faithful” and “Spiritual” (but identify as a Christian because of my primary influence and as well, because of my upbringing). However, I also believe that where Love is present, all paths lead to God.

Some make the mistaken assumption that I might believe there is more than one God (I do not). However, God is known by many different names and is worshipped under the influence of many different religions. God, Allah, Yeshua, Spirit or sometimes called The Great Spirit, Yahweh, Vasna, Jehovah, Parwara, Fashutana, Elohim, Eloah, Adonai, HaShem, Khudawand and many others. As regards the name, they are all the same to me. After all, what is in a name? Our own names, the color of our skin, the regions in which we grow up; none of these things are important. What is important is the substance of our being; our actions.

Inasmuch as religions are concerned, I believe there is “some truth to be found within the rituals and teachings of every religion that has, does or will exist at some future point in time. Faith, to me, is a matter of searching for a deeper truth; the truth to and purpose of our very existence. In the end, I believe we will all reunite (or reintegrate) within the body of Christ. We are a “part of” God; that is why we’re called “children of God” (and this is where my belief constructs differ from the traditional teachings of the protestant church).

Jesus Christ was, is and always will be “a” child of God; but God’s only son (or Son)? I disagree with that construct. Jesus is the epitome of what we should strive for (unconditional love, forgiveness, perseverance, etc.) — but to say He is God’s “only” son? Jesus is but one of God’s many sons and daughters; we are all God’s children thus we are all sons and daughters. Just as Jesus, we will, each one of us, return back to that whence we were born of.

Having said this, let there be NO mistake. I am thankful for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on our behalf; His death and rebirth (for those of us who believe) gave us much to consider over the years that may not have been otherwise possible. I am grateful beyond compare for the sacrifice made on the cross that day.

Bottom line, being religious (in my opinion) represents a belief in “only one construct” whereas being spiritual simply means that while I certainly believe in and am thankful to God, I do not believe there is only one path back into His fold (even if Christianity is the primary influence upon my own faith).

That is how I approach the two and why I generally identify as a Christian who is “faithful and spiritual.”

If anybody else has something to add, I’d certainly be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Namaste and peace be with you,
Michael

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A word about Faith and Reparative Therapy

28 Feb

A friend on Facebook posted a link to an article on the Huffington Post about a UAE Gay “Cure” video that had appeared on Youtube (since removed). He is [rightfully] angry about the fact that in this day and age, such places still exist. I can’t blame him; I too am angry that such abuse still takes place in the name of God.

Having said that, I want to share with you the comment that I made on his post. Maybe it will help you to understand exactly why I feel as I do about these places. (It isn’t that I believe they’ve a chance in hell of “really” changing a person’s sexual orientation. The best that can be expected is that they’ll screw the person up, giving him a feeling of “guilt for ever having such natural (for him or her) feelings in the first place” and delaying their own search for love with a partner to whom they REALLY are attracted.)

No, my anger is actually ALL ABOUT FAITH and the fact that the actions of such institutions are actually causing spiritual injury to their human subjects in the process of carrying out their abuse.

Here is my response:

Yes, this is truly disturbing but please remember that for every nutjob conservative who justifies his or her prejudice behind misunderstood scripture … there are many more [faithful] who are realizing just how wrong such treatment really is. I know that it does not seem that way sometimes but as more and more LGBT persons come out to their families (and this is by no means me encouraging others to come out before they are ready, or to even feel guilty if they choose not to), those same families are starting to question what it was that they were so adverse to in the first place.

Change does not happen overnight, regardless of how badly we would like to see it come to pass.

I’m forty-eight; I’ll be forty-nine in a couple of weeks and I’ve been among those waging the war for LGBT acceptance, understanding, tolerance and equality since I was twenty-one. (Sometimes more actively than at other [times] as it is, quite honestly, exhausting and the setbacks can take a toll on oneself.)

I DO agree with you that we need to strengthen the separation of Church and State (I’ve always believed that); I even believe that religious organizations who are involved in ventures that are implicitly intended to “be profitable” should be taxed as any other business would be.

What saddens me, however, is that when the bigots hide behind their Bibles to project prejudice upon and discriminate against LGBT persons, our community suffers two-fold. I am speaking only for myself but I do find peace in my faith. Unfortunately, many others who “might” find a similar peace are made to feel that God does not love them or that faith is not possible, given that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. The gift of hope that there could be something more, IN ADDITION to the great lives that are ours to enjoy, is made all the less likely because these same wonderful children of God do not feel welcome. THAT is what really makes my blood boil; that the nut-jobs who hide behind “their false understanding of God’s intent” use their faith AGAINST others and in the very process, diminish the likelihood that those upon whom they prey will find their own path to a faith that serves them well and might help them cope in an otherwise difficult and petty world.

I understand your anger, Robert. I even agree with you. Just please try to remember that those of whom you’re angry at represent the “extremists” among the religious right. They certainly do not speak for myself and they don’t speak for many of those I consider to be my true friends among the faithful.

Namaste and peace be with you (and have some hugs on me)

I hope that anyone reading this entry will have a better understanding of where I’m coming from, when I’m talking about matters related to LGBT equality and acceptance. If you don’t, it’s not for a lack of trying on my part.

Namaste and God bless,
Michael

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How much longer do we continue?

26 Feb

It’s time to pull back and leave them to themselves.

Soldier in Afghanistan

The New York Times reports of the burning of an [undisclosed] number of Korans at a landfill near Bagram Air Base on Monday, February 20, 2012. It seems to me that, according to witness accounts of laborers AT the landfill, those burning the books were unaware of the significance of their actions. (In large part, because the Korans were among many other books that were being disposed of. Further evidence of this is supported by the fact that they were doing so openly. After all, who in their right mind would burn the Koran, a book of religious significance in the Middle East, openly for others to observe when people have been murdered for just drawing a cartoon of Muhammad?)

I believe it was a mistake; one that could have been avoided but a mistake all the same! It wasn’t done with malice; it was NOT done out of disrespect.
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Jason and deMarco

16 Jan

 Jason Warner and Marco "deMarco" DeCiccio I was blessed to watch as a young couple, Jason Warner and Marco DeCiccio (now known simply as deMarco), sang at our church last night. I’d seen a documentary about them previously so I already knew what to expect – and they did not disappoint.

The documentary entitled “We’re All Angels” (2007) is what first brought this couple to my attention. They’ve been together for just over ten years; both are approximately 35-years old and are the proud parents of twin boys (as of last May).

Most importantly, it’s clear they put God first in their lives and are very much in love. They married one another in California before Proposition 8 was passed so are in every sense of the word, “a couple” (regardless of what those who oppose marriage equality may think).

But this blog entry isn’t about marriage equality, nor will it be an opinion piece on the fight for LGBTQ equality, acceptance, tolerance, etc. It’s simply about two beautiful young men who are building a family; a family with God at its center.

Jason, raised with a Pentecostal background, joined the staff at Unity Church of Christianity in Houston, Texas in 2007. The two perform together regularly and kicked off this year’s tour with the concert at Cathedral of Hope here in Dallas, Texas. And just in case you’re curious, deMarco grew up a Roman Catholic; he sang “Ava Maria” as a solo this evening and even though it was in Latin, it was very moving. Because it was in Latin, I don’t know if any of the lyrics had been changed or not (I suspect they were not); in his words, this is the tale of [Marco’s] own reconciliation between his sexual orientation and his faith. I have to tell you, I’ve heard the song sung before but the way that he sings it with such passion, it’s simply stunningly beautiful (but the song moves me every time that I hear somebody singing it). Listen to it for yourself (below).


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I said I wouldn’t

08 Jan

Friends who are blindly liberal (many of whom are gay themselves) have given me a lot of grief for expressing my outrage at Barack Obama over his performance in the White House. Many are shocked when they hear I didn’t vote for him in the last election. (After all, I am a registered Democrat. “How could [I] turn my back on my party that way?”)

They can’t understand how any self-respecting queer could ever vote for a republican rather than the man who promised to repeal DADT and end America’s participation in the war in Iraq. I’ll admit that Barack kept his word on DADT and he did [finally] get our boys and girls back home from Iraq but there’s still much about the man’s leadership that I question and some that I even despise.

Mark Levin (somebody I often find myself raging at because of his ultra-conservative positions on many issues and his willingness to “buy the Kool-Aid” that is doled out by those who blindly follow(1) the agenda of the Republican Party) had a caller on his show recently.

Neurosurgeon places call to the Mark Levin show

A caller who identifies himself as a neurosurgeon returning from Washington, D.C. claims patients over the age of seventy will receive “comfort care” instead of life-saving neurosurgery to treat the illness or disease under the Obama health care plan. The surgeon, a member of the AANS, then goes on to describe how the HHS describes “patients” as “units”, a term that dehumanizes the patient and can only be justified by trying to make it easier to base one’s medical decisions on “profit vs. the health and well-being of the individual.”

The man who called in explains how a patient who may be seventy years of age with a bleed in their brain might come into an ER but the physician will be unable to get an ethics panel (made up of administrators, not physicians) to convene at 3 o’clock in the morning to authorize the surgery. His and the term used by many others who oppose Obama’s idea of health care reform refer to the ethics panels as “Death panels.”


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Posted in Politics