Sunday, October 16, 2005

Civil Rights, Equality Rights

One of my pet topics is that of equality and civil rights. Recently, there has been a certain amount of emerging tension between the rights of sexual minority groups and religious groups.

Today, in my travels through the web, I encountered the following article on BBC. It seems a couple of thugs took it into their minds to rid the world of another "queer" - the result is another corpse in the morgue waiting for the coroner.

I doubt that the goons who committed this atrocity have either the intellect or desire to understand the notions of equality and rights, much less how they might apply beyond their immediate needs for a beer and a little pugilistic self-gratification.

However, when religious doctrine is prescribed as some kind of absolute truth, it is far too easy for it to be used to justify marginalizing people whose lives are otherwise quite unremarkable. When people like Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary stand up on their hind legs and publish articles like this, this and this, he perpetuates the very mythology that allows the goons mentioned above to feel justified in their actions. Of course, I should point out that for all that I level my sights at the Roman Catholic Church, they are nowhere near as blatantly awful as some so-called fundamentalist churches - such as this, or individuals like Pat Robertson who bring back the deep south segregationist approach to anything and anybody they do not understand. Of course, groups like 'Concerned Christians Canada' have made it their purpose in life to use the schoolyard bully tactics that I remember encountering so many times in my youth to advance their position. They talk in vague terms of "Religious Freedom Under Attack", and the "Homosexual Agenda" (and lord knows how many other things).

Like George W. Bush, they are waging "war" against an "enemy" that they have neither identified nor understood. What is "al Quaeda"? Is it real, or is it a concept? How does a heavy armour war in Iraq fit into shutting down terrorism? In reality, the precepts are the same - based on misinformation, and an assortment of "convictions of faith", a war is being waged.

On a societal level, as long as we deny otherwise peaceful, lawful members of society full participation in our nations, we give the goons the implicit justification for engaging in violence against those citizens.

There is an interesting balance point to be explored here - many fundamentalist Christians believe that homosexuality is a mortal sin, and _deserves_ to be persecuted - if not in law, then by social pressure. They claim that as rights are granted to the sexual minority communities, it is at the expense of their rights to freedom of religion and expression. At some point, that is no doubt true - if the legitimate expression of their faith was being impinged upon by granting rights to other groups, I would agree. So far, as near as I can tell, they are merely trying desperately to conserve their right to regurgitate bigotry of one form or another.

We appear to be going through a phase - in Canada, and likely to a different degree in the United States - where we are learning that freedoms are not freedoms when they continue to promote the isolation and marginalization of others.

1 comment:

Lori said...

... freedoms are not freedoms when they continue to promote the isolation and marginalization of others.

Well said!

This, of course, is a main difference between agnostics (or atheists) and many, many Christians -- at least it is where I live (in the state of Georgia). As an agnostic, I make no demands on anyone to share or not share my beliefs (or non-beliefs, as the case may be). The Pat Robertsons of this world, though, insist upon imposing their beliefs on everyone and would be infinitely pleased with a Christian theocracy in power.

And before anyone says that Pat Robertson is the exception, not the rule, we should consider all the "exceptions" who live where I do: the red-faced, shouting men who parade on my campus with signs reading "God hates homosexuals, sports fans, Catholics, computer fanatics" (and no, I'm not kidding -- the list is actually much longer than this); the men who verbally accost students on their way into the library, asking if they are going to hell; the men (why are they always men?) handing out New Testaments on the corners every time you pass them by; the politicians in the counties in which you can't purchase alcohol because it is "immoral" (and in my county, you'd better not get a hankering for a beer on Sunday); the school administrators that put stickers on textbooks claiming that evolution is merely an unproven theory... the list goes on and on.

I guess I branched off topic a bit, but the point is essentially the same: fundamentalist Christians who work tirelessly to impose their narrow-minded views on the rest of us.