Friday, July 01, 2005

And The Truth Comes Out

Every so often, someone makes a "Freudian Slip" in writing. Such is the case with Link Byfield's latest column in the Calgary Sun.

Of course, along with other religious objectors to Same-Gender-Marriage (SGM), Link is now raising the prospect that the Bible might be declared "hate literature" in some future scenario now that the SGM legislation looks to be on its way to becoming law.

Says the great Link:
So how much longer will it be before the Bible is formally condemned as hate literature, because it describes sodomy as worth hating?

Well, Link, this is the same Bible that contains passages in it that infer that women and children are property; that we shouldn't wear clothing of mixed fibres, and that the world was created in 7 days. The Bible doesn't describe sodomy as worth hating - it does in some sections appear to proscribe it - there's a big difference. Besides - is it not the same Bible in which Jesus says something to the effect of "Let he who is without sin throw the first stone"; and God makes noises about "Judgement alone is mine"? In other words Link - live and let live. If God is as real and omnipotent as the Bible says, we'll each find out in the next life, won't we?

I doubt in any real sense that the Bible itself will ever be declared hate literature. It's too ancient a document to qualify for that designation. Of course, people like Mr. Byfield who use its words to justify their own actions which are in one form or another discriminatory or marginalizing may find their actions challenged.

Of course, in his bitter decryal of the events of recent weeks, Mr. Byfield claims:

For a little longer, the fiction will be preserved that gay equality does not conflict with freedom of belief. But then, six years ago, Parliament was insisting gay marriage would never happen. Political fictions outlive their usefulness pretty fast these days.

Rationally, nobody is interested in what Mr. Byfield believes. Frankly, if he wants to believe that the Bible says the moon is made of green cheez that's just fine with me. As long as he is willing to let me believe (as I do) that the moon is a ball of rock hurtling around the earth.

Of course, it becomes a very different thing if Mr. Byfield comes along and starts to demand that those of us who don't believe as he does should not be allowed to teach in the schools because he's worried we might corrupt/subvert/pollute his offspring.

It is unlikely that the Bible itself - or the holy text of any major religion - will ever come to be seen as "hate literature" in the legal sense of it. Of course, actions taken by people may well be hateful, no matter how fervently the actors believe the Bible protects them.

Since the interpretation of the Bible led to the creation of the Malleus Maleficarum, a book used by the Church-sponsored Inquisitions to 'find' witches, it seems to me that even the words of a book now seen as a 'guide' to 'good society' can be twisted into the most evil of actions. The so-called "Aryan Churches" interpret the Bible to justify their own hate-filled view of the world. It is not the Bible that is hateful, it is the actions of those who censure others based that become hateful. (Those not familiar with the "Witch Hunts" in Medieval Europe are encouraged to do some research - it's a fascinating topic, and a gorgeous example of how power can be abused)

The only thing that I will agree with Mr. Byfield on is this - there is a growing tension between Charter clauses guaranteeing freedom of religion and the clauses guaranteeing equality. The debate will no doubt be raucous, but I think it will come down to this - freedom of belief is an individual thing. While Mr. Byfield is free to believe in his peculiar brand of Christianity, I am equally free to believe something quite different.

It is not the Bible that Mr. Byfield needs to worry about - it is his own words and deeds.

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