Christina Engela - 2011-10-14 Untitled Document
I regularly meet a friend of mine, who is a Christian reverend, for drinks at a local coffee shop. We enjoy casual chats about religion, persecution and human needs and frailties. He’s mentioned to me that there is no one Christianity, but many, and that today there are more than 200 different formally identified "mainstream" denominations – or "churches" – around the world. Ironically, each one considers itself to be the one true Christianity, or at least, the face of it.
I often find myself wondering what the true face of this religion is, behind the mask it presents to the world and to its adoring somnolent followers.
I watched a National Geographic documentary a few nights ago on the Ku Klux Klan, old and new – and the scary, unsettling thing that stands out is that these people actually believe they are Christians, doing God's work by hating people, and in some cases, killing them for who they are – be it blacks, Latinos, gays or Jews. They brag about it, at one point even arguing how they would not allow sub-sects of the KKK using the swastika to participate in their own rituals and ceremonies and protests because of the Nazi symbol because they view themselves as Christian. WTF? Quite simply, I can't understand how they can reconcile being Christian – or Christ-like – with anything they stand for.
Another thing that is obvious to me now (regardless of what cross they march under or which one they burn) is how alike the KKK is to the far right Christian fundamentalist hate groups otherwise, who (while not actually lynching anyone that we know about) in that both distort facts and make extensive use of very, very similar pseudo-science, propaganda and religious rhetoric to convince people to join up with them in their cause for racial purity and domination over others.
The other, even more disturbing, fact is how low the average IQ must be of people who actually fall for their pitches – or are people in the West so used to being led unquestioningly that they are no longer capable of verifying facts or questioning and thinking independently? I am reminded of the term coined by the author of 1984, George Orwell, when he introduced the concept of "groupthink". Also, don't you think it odd that you cannot find copies of the movie anymore? I do. Perhaps they know most of the youth today either don't read, or spend their lives with their noses in fantasy novels – or skip reading in favour of movies and PlayStation. Hmm.
Most people today claiming to be Christians while condemning other people refer to Old Testament scriptures – which, of course, identifies them not as Christians but as Leviticans, or "super-Semites". I have written on this subject before. The whole thing is such a mess, is it any wonder so many are turning their backs on it all for greener pastures? I have hardly never run into anyone in the Pagan community frowning down at me, pointing a finger and shouting "Thou shalt not ...!" and then taking a swipe at me with a big heavy book. No wonder those Christians who actually know what a Pagan is, or a Wiccan, consider Pagans to be immoral or a "threat" to everything they hold dear – their hatred of others.
Everybody seems to have a need to feel better about themselves, don't they – and what better way than to cling to a doctrine that "proves" how right they are, while enabling them to look down on other people?
Earlier in the week I read yet another letter in the Herald by another nameless someone who took issue with the gay couple who got married in this city, making the by now obligatory hostile remarks from a patently stupid and religious fundamentalist position – that of ignorance and remarkable shortsightedness.
"God is not mocked," said Christian, Central, Port Elizabeth. "Read what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible. Gay marriage is an abomination. God says so!"
Oh? Really? Hark at this idiot – he/she/it doesn't even know that Sodom and Gomorrah were stories about inhospitality, not about gay people. If the average Christian today is this ignorant – and about their own religion – and the lives of others they choose to persecute on the basis of this shaky knowledge – no wonder the world is such a mean and cruel place to live in – and no wonder so many Christians encounter hostility to their blind faith in what is seen more as an oppressive regime than a peaceful religion.
I have to wonder how anyone can take Bible stories like that literally. I mean, most of these suckers will double – and triple-check any kind of law being passed by the government for errors, comment on grammar and spelling and then lay out in point form chapter and verse how this law will affect their daily lives, their spiritual practices, etc – and yet they will swallow something like this without question (because they are told "God wrote it"), believe what they are told to believe, without knowing who really wrote it, why, when, where, under what circumstances, and in which language, what the translations have changed in its meaning, and how others have changed it, or the original cultural connotations ... And these people are allowed to drive cars, own guns and raise and educate children?
Abomination? A friend commented to me about the topic of the biblical term abomination – versus the modern misunderstanding – which shows something very clearly different from the one being used as nails to crucify our human rights on the cross of their religious unity.
Also the term abomination has a different meaning now. The word that was used that became the English word abomination meant more along the lines of being ritually unclean. That whole section of the Bible describes the ritual laws for clergy, and the section about men lying with men as with women refers to sexual sacrifices which were common at the time. It meant that for a priest to have sex with a man as a ritual sacrifice to God was an abomination. It was improper and unclean. It is similar to how there are rules on what priests were, what foods are eaten or offered, marking the body, etc. The whole section is all in relation to things which were common in religious rituals and were laws on how they relate to rituals and offerings to YHWH.
Hence why eating prawns and getting "MOM" tattooed on your ass is an "abomination" – but hey, that never stopped these same assholes from stuffing their faces with shellfish and getting tattooed while bashing gay people. Bigots and hypocrites make me sick.
I wrote a little letter to the Herald about this matter, but typically, they chose to fan the flames of hate rather than to publish it, because we all know how hate sells copies, and criticising Herald policies on anonymity doesn't win any popularity.
I find it interesting how many fine upstanding "moral citizens" have been posting their intolerance and hatred of gay people in SMSes and letters in the Herald – without noticing the irony and paradox in this. It could be assumed from their attitude that being "moral" and a "good Christian" means being a bigot and a persecutor of others – and that hate is a "family value". One could almost believe that these people speak for their god – or at least, that they believe they do.
Clearly these "Christians" are so proud of their religion (or their version of it) because they are relentlessly judging and condemning other people while acting as if they are perfect by comparison – when in reality they are no better than those they judge, if half that good. Why, then, are they so shy to sign their names to their little hate notes? Are they afraid to be recognised for their perfection and righteousness?
Cowards – stabbing from the shadows. That's right – I am not afraid to sign my name to my posts and letters – and that's more than can be said for them. One would think that with all the political intrigue, natural disasters and human suffering in the world, they would find something newsworthy to whine about instead of victimising people on the basis of their own improvable and flimsy beliefs. Instead of making the world around them a darker, more negative place, they should be working to make it better for everyone by shining the light of love, inclusion and sharing that their Christ died for. Bigots! Hypocrites! Impostors!
They obviously don't have enough going on in their own boring privileged little lives that they have to look for attention in the papers by making the lives of other people, who have enough problems already, more difficult.
Moving on, last week I saw an article from the US that told how a homophobic pastor had his henchmen assault his gay son and his boyfriend while evicting them from their church during a service. Not surprisingly, the same pastor and his church got busted the very same week for committing fraud. Karma is a bitch, they say – but I think she is rather sweet.
I'm so fed up with hearing and seeing how much "Christians" hate us. There are many who hate us to the point where they prove so obviously that either their whole religion is nothing but a lie – or their claim to be Christians is.
The week only got more interesting as it wore on: the Tutu vs SA Government debacle really livened things up and opened some people's eyes to the inner workings of the machine a little.
"We will pray as we prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government. We will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us." You tell 'em, Arch. Loved how the government protested that it was still processing the visa and that South Africa is an independent country that doesn't run to the hotline to China to make its decisions. Uhuh. Right. All together now: "How the hell can we belieeeeeeve you ... How the hell can we belieeeeeve you ..." I loved the comment I saw in a paper on Friday that went, "Can't wait to hear the Government articulate ‘Ja baas’ over the phone in Chinese ..."
But I digress yet again.
The advocacy lines seem to be abuzz all over on the topic of teen suicide and school bullying and homophobia lately – both here and abroad.
This article gives a little insight on the US issue. Anderson Cooper: "At the funeral, perhaps the priest summed it up best, when he said, ‘Imagine that of all things, that by the time we're 14, we are now expected to fully know our sexual orientation, verbalise it and defend it to anyone who gets in our face. How demanding our world has become. How relentlessly impatient we are."
One of the commentators on this article posted: "I live in west Texas, and if someone is known to be gay or gay-advocate, he/she is forbidden on school property for fear that he/she might 'turn' one of the kids. How can councillors [sic] manage situations like that? If I were to discuss ways to 'get over being bullied for being gay', I would be considered as trying to groom him for my 'use'."
How can anyone – especially someone in charge of a school – where you would expect the staff to possess a modicum of IQ – believe something so feeble and patently false with all the knowledge out there to show it is a load of horse manure? This problem is not limited to the USA, though, as even here we are not immune to the tragedy of unnecessary bullying in schools.
Locally, things are looking up – there is a new group aiming to work against homophobia and transphobia in schools, although there was some concern about the religious angle among fundamentalist and conservative teachers and parents who would no doubt get all bent out of shape about their favourite sport being curtailed.
Of course some will argue that this hate is part of their religious values – which they seem pretty insistent about – but it should be pointed out to them that religion has no place in an institute of education – and neither does racism, sexism, hatred, bullying or violence. It's seriously sick. What part of "equal before the law" has to be spelt out or illustrated in pictures for them? If you want to learn how to add, study history, geography, or how to run a business, or prepare to study at college or university, then you go to school. If you want to learn about Jesus or Allah – or how to persecute your schoolmates – then go to your church, mosque or temple in your own time.
I don't care what religion advocates hatred and persecution of others, but if it makes a 14-year-old kid so miserable that they choose to take their own life out of desperation, then it is a load of rubbish.
The conservatives and homophobic haters advocate that homosexuality or transgender is a "suicidal lifestyle" – and they have been going out of their way to make it true, by making life so tough, and so difficult, and so miserable for the LGBTI youth that death appears to be the lesser of the two evils – a choice in enduring the hatred and persecution and taking the exit route. In short, they claim that being different from them is suicidal – and they set out to make it so – and to blame it all on the victims – and then they still have the arrogance and beastliness to justify or defend the guilty by preventing and obstructing counter-measures?
Some have said “Beware of upsetting conservative religious parents and school administrators”. The problem is that just as in making omelets you cannot prevent homophobic or transphobic bullying in schools without upsetting conservative religious parents who believe it is their religion to do so. Confrontation is inevitable. To stop the bullying and the death of innocents, something has to be done. Come what may.
The South African Constitution guarantees freedom from intimidation, persecution and oppression – and therefore, regardless of their intolerance of whatever programmes need to be instituted in schools to prevent such oppression or persecution, you need to apply the Constitution to everything you do in such a programme.
If schools prefer to promote conditions conducive to bullying and homophobic bullying, then the Constitution needs to be applied in such a way as to ensure that such elements are removed from the school, because they endanger the lives of children. I find it ironic that conservatives are often the very first to cry "Will someone please think of the children?" – except, of course, when it is gay or trans children who are adversely affected. Hypocrites! If they want children to be indoctrinated with religious values that encourage bullying and persecution, then it needs to be made clear that schools are not the arena for that – but they are still free to get all the hate they want in their churches.
Kids facing homophobic or transphobic bullying: survival is the best form of justice and revenge – survival and success. Outlast, outplay and outlive them. They may hate you for it, they may punish you for it – but in the end, they will respect you for it, and you will overcome.
You have to love yourself. Not just accept, but love ... In the end, you are all you have. Self-hate and resentment of yourself for being who and what you are will only make you weaker and make things easier for those who hate you or work to make life harder for you. Love yourself. Someone has to. Sure, some people will hate you for who and what you are – but they're not perfect either. If they're hoping I will commit suicide if they bully me hard enough, they're in for a helluva long wait, and a much bigger fight than they expected. I walked a long way in this life hating myself – so take a page out of my book, okiday?
A reminder: information resources for the pink community. Know your enemies, know their strategies, know their weapons and their weaknesses – and know how to beat them. See my blogspot.