A Cold Slap of Reality

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

by Robin Anderson

No on Prop 8 icon

Many of us undoubtedly celebrated the winnings of certain candidates on Election Day. It was a long time coming.

But, come morning, a cold slap of reality came with the new day. In three states, voters approved constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage. And one of them, Proposition 8, approved in California, stripped same-sex couples of the rights granted them judicially.

Voters decided not only to strip these couples of their rights, but by enshrining this discrimination into their constitution, sent a message to gay and lesbian people in California and the country:  You are not full citizens.  We don’t respect your lives or your loves.  In other words, these people threw lesbians and gays under the bus.  “To hell with you,” this vote said, “we don’t care.”

What really stings about this loss was the fact that it was primarily religious and racial minorities-who should have had empathy with a fellow, discriminated-against minority-who were primarily responsible for this defeat.

The major donor in the campaign to strip gay and lesbian people of their rights was, of course, a church; in this case, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The Mormons spent, by some accounts, 20 million dollars to get this amendment passed.  How ironic that a minority, who had experienced religious persecution, and are still victims of it, used their financial clout to inflict discrimination on another.

And whom did they woo in their quest to legislate discrimination?

Primarily, it was African American and Hispanic Christian churches.  These are groups who are also experiencing persecution, because of their races.  In a rational world, one would assume that people who are intimately acquainted with institutionalized discrimination would have empathy with others.

But when religion enters the picture, both rationality and empathy often go out the window. It is very important to these groups, the Mormons and some Christian churches, to impose their morality on people who are not members of their organizations, or follow their creeds.  In other words, they were perfectly happy to engage in precisely the behavior their oppressors do, when given the opportunity.  Their religiosity has profoundly corrupted them. 

Don’t get me wrong.  If someone willingly wishes to submit themselves to religious “authority”, they can and should do so.  But people who live in a secular nation, like the United States, shouldn’t be beholden to organizations they have no connection to or interest in. 

Ultimately, this push to require people who aren’t members of their churches to obey the tenet of their religions isn’t that far away from the aims of religious fanatics like the Taliban.  The difference here is that while the Taliban uses terror and violence to further their aims, some Christian churches cynically use ancient, unreliable dogma and play on irrational fear and homophobia to get their immoral agendas passed into law. 

Forty years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. used the positive attributes of his religious faith to energize the movement that made Obama’s election possible. Many people-Christians among them-voted against this ugly legislation. And it’s to their credit that they did so.

You don’t need to be an atheist to understand how horrible the continuing discrimination of GLBT people is.  But it helps.  Ultimately, the cure for homophobia is more secularism and more atheism. 

It’s an unfortunate irony that some Christian churches-especially the Mormons, who really should know better!–have opted to embrace the ugliness and negativity of their dogma to strip homosexuals of their legally-granted rights.  It’s disgusting, and it’s evil.  And it’s a perversion of what King stood for. 

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