Religious Tolerance

I grew up in Snellville, GA, a suburb of Atlanta.  I was raised as an Episcopalian; Catholic light, half the guilt. I was baptized around 10 years old, had read the bible, and learned Christianity mostly from my mom.  My dad? He was more of the mind that you are no more a Christian for going to church as you are a car if you are in a garage.  I learned a great deal about religion and Christianity as a child/teen.  One of the biggest lessons I learned was that Jesus was our savior and died for our sins.  He was also preaching love and forgiveness, and that God would be our final judge.  I kinda dug that.  A lot.
Fast forward 20+ years, and I still believe in the teachings of Jesus.  I also have a pretty good understanding of both federal and state laws, thanks to my wife studying and passing two Bar exams in two different states.  For those that know me, you know that I’m hard to label politically.  I’m a liberal conservative, and a conservative liberal at the same time.  I firmly believe that gay couples should be afforded the same rights that I have with Nancy.  I firmly believe that Christians, the ones that truly follow Jesus’s teachings, are just hung up on the word “marriage”.  I want my friends Peter and Gregg in Seattle to have the same rights that Nancy and I have.  The same rights that my mom and dad had.  I don’t give two shits in the wind if the wording is “civil union” or “marriage”.  Just make sure that (God forbid) either Peter or Gregg are in the hospital, the other can have the same visitation rights.  That’s not really too much to ask, right?
As I found out last night, I guess it is.
Someone that I work with — we’ll call him Bob — posted the following link on Facebook:
Bob posted it and essentially agreed that Satan was responsible for gays. Um, ok.  Pretty sure God made…everyone.
I let the post go for a bit, then my friend — We’ll call him Tad, because…well…that’s his name and I respect him — said that “gay people wanted others to stop demonizing them”.  To which Bob responded “I guess it’s neither here nor there, but I agree that no person should be demonized…but no one is doing that, so there is nothing to stop really.”
Ok, hold on here for a minute.  Bob is saying that no one is demonizing gays.  What. The. Floating. Fuck.  Apparently gays are NOT being killed for being gay, according to Bob.  No gay person has been driven to suicide because of bullying.  Gay couples are able to live without fear.  When the hell did this happen?  I must have missed the memo.  Clearly Matthew Shepard was asking for it?  Allen Shindler had his skull bashed into a public bathroom’s porcelain sink so hard that his head broke the sink from wall over a simple misunderstanding.  For the record, I was stationed with the JAG that prosecuted the murderers of RM3 Shindler.  I saw the JAG’s case files. I was sickened.
Having said all that, you all can see that Bob is ignorant to the violence against gays.  How can a person be ignorant of the hatred of gays?  It was his comment that dragged me into the thread.  Here is my comment:

I love you man, but I have to pipe in here.

I’m not the most religious person you know, but I am a baptized Episcopalian. My first beef with all of this is your statement: “No one is talking about equal protection”. BS. Complete and total BS. Equal protection is EXACTLY what the GLBT is looking for. If one of the men in a male couple of 20 years in most states is on death’s door in a hospital, the surviving male is NOT ALLOWED to visit his partner. He is not eligible for his mate’s insurance. How the HELL is that fair?

I get that you are very much Christian. I honestly respect that. I’m not making fun or mocking you. I wish I had some form of faith to latch on to like you. I REALLY do. But, with that said, my teachings were that Jesus loved everyone. He essentially negated what was in the Old Testament. Old Testament = Judaism. New Testament = Christianity. My God is a loving and forgiving God.

With that said: Jews don’t eat pork. It’s against their religion. Homosexuality is (in the Old Testament) against Christianity. Do you see any Jews trying to regulate and/or ban the sale of bacon? I don’t.

Gay marriage should NOT be forced into churches. But, homosexual marriage SHOULD be recognized by both state and federal law. Separation of Church and State and all that.

Bob’s response was:

Don’t know all details to the story you shared, but it doesn’t sound fair at all. My question would be was the partner named beneficiary and named in will but insurance went to another family member still? Dude, I’m not sure I agree that Jesus negated the Old Testament. Even so, when He answered the Pharisees in Matthew 19:4-6, He specified that marriage was to be between a man and a woman. If we all believe that Jesus was the epitome of love and He was the one who decreed what marriage should be in New Testament scripture, what should we believe bruh?

The thread went on and on, as you can imagine.  My buddy Tad, the resident atheist, posted a good amount of stuff.  Bob came back and said that he would pray for us all.  He said that he tolerates all kinds, then said that he would pray especially for *name redacted, but our mutual gay associate*, who was active in the conversation.  I’m sorry, but that just came across as pretentious.
Here’s my argument in a nutshell:  If you are gay, who gives a shit?  If your religion says that gay sex is forbidden, don’t fuck someone of your own sex. It’s that easy.  If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry a fairy (just wanted to rhyme there).  Jews say that it’s against their religion to eat pork.  I respect (don’t understand) their belief.  Can anyone show me where a Jew is trying to ban bacon? Didn’t think so.  I asked Bob this, and he only prayed for me.  He would not engage in my questions.
That was all last night, and then Tad posted a very long and very awesome response.  He essentially said that we weren’t trying to convince Bob that his beliefs were wrong, only that legislating gay marriage was unfair.  It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever read, and I was extremely disappointed in Bob’s response:

I love you Tad!!! This thread is closed though. Go start another. Choose your own path my friend, you will never choose mine for me. Now take satan and go advocate for him on your own page, you can stay here as long as you abide by my rules. When I say a thread is done, it’s done. I run this. Now I dare you or anybody else to extend this thread again, because you will no longer be allowed to speak here again.

First and foremost, this was all done on Facebook.  If you don’t like what’s on your wall, delete the thread, don’t issue an ultimatum, because that’s only going to make me rise to the challenge, hence this post.  Social media is awesome because we get to find out how folks truly feel.  I’m glad I was able to find out that Bob is not someone that I want to associate with.  For the record, Bob is a black man that is a little bit older than me.  Why do I bring race into it?  I likened gay rights to civil rights.  I said that interracial marriages were illegal in his parent’s lifetime, and his response was “the bible didn’t say interracial marriage was a sin”.  He missed my point entirely.  Blacks were hosed down in the 50’s, and yet, in the 2000’s, gay people are beat up because they love someone.
If gays get married, it will not affect your religion.  You can still be Christian.  Don’t let religion restrict freedom, and don’t let it legislate relationships.
Bottom line: The Jesus I grew up knowing preached a lot of things.  One of the best lessons can be summed up in the message: “Don’t be a dick”.
PS Here’s my response to his thread:
First and foremost, I don’t do well with ultimatums.  This is Facebook, social media.  If you don’t like what’s said on your wall, delete the thread.  I’ll accept your dare and post here.  After reading your ultimatum, I’ve decided that I’d rather be defriended by you than be associated with a bigot that uses his religion for hate.  Is that harsh?  Maybe, but I honestly believe that Jesus would just look at this and shake his head in disappointment.  Go ahead and defriend me, I really don’t give a damn.  Life’s too short to associate with folks that have that much negativity.  I wish you the best in life, and I honestly mean that.


15 responses to “Religious Tolerance”

  1. Poor Bob! I guess I am glad at least one person in the thread appreciated. My two cents!
    Hail… Satan, I guess? (Emphasizing the absurdity of thinking I can advocate for a being whose existence I don’t recognize. )

  2. Fan-fucking-tastic blog! I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this read, and agreed with you on all points. Well done!

  3. Like most arguments that use a religious bias (ANY religious bias) as their primary source of evidence, Bob contradicted the very argument he was trying to defend:
    “Choose your own path my friend, you will never choose mine for me.”
    THAT is exactly what the LGBT community has been asking for… the right to *not* have their path chosen for them.

  4. I agree with you on every point you made, Dan. I’m straight and always have been, but I can’t even tell you how mad I get when people try to use their religions to control the gay community, or anybody not in line with their way of seeing the world. The Sh!t-Fil-A shenanigans got me so fired up that it caused a lot of issues between myself and a lot of my very religious friends and family and it opened my eyes to just how discriminating people really are…. that and how blind so many people are to what’s really going on as well, but that’s a whole other story. I couldn’t believe how actual facts and links to articles from highly reputable sources couldn’t even budge those that I had thought were highly intelligent people, completely lacking any sort of compassion just to hold fast to their belief in what a word means to them and how others need to uphold it as such. To me, it’s just a plain lack of intelligence. Rights are rights, people need to get off of their high-horse. I too decided I don’t need people like that in my life, there are people that are intelligent and actually worth talking to out there.

  5. Heya Dan! Being well into my second year at a Bible college I must admit that your concise summary of one of Jesus’ lessons is spot on.
    Far too many Christians have totally missed the main reason Jesus came here. They’re essentially wasting time up the wrong tree. Jesus didn’t say, “I have come that you may have good behavior, and even the best behavior.” What he said was, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”
    The tree that Adam & Eve ate from which started this mess was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God threw them out of the garden to keep them away from the Tree of Life in their fallen state. Then along comes Jesus, “the last Adam” to fix the problem and give us access to that Tree of Life again.
    But instead of pointing people to the Tree of Life, most Christians are over in the other tree trying to get people off of the “evil” branches over onto the “good” branches. It’s a total waste of time ’cause they’re up the wrong tree altogether.

  6. Actually the Hebrew Bible (Torah) had the quote before the Christians began preaching from that same said Bible … so, if you want to blame anyone for issues with the LGBT population – it’s us. You can find the quote that everyone is waving around in Verse 22 Leviticus Chapter 18: Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence.”
    BUT… modern Jews believe (and I quote from “Mahzor Lev Shalem” – the High Holiday Prayer Book): “Scholars debate this verse’s original meaning and how Jewish law in our time should treat same-sex relations. One view is that the biblical text does not refer to homosexuality as we think of it today. …Aside from this verse and its parallel in Lev 20:13, the Bible mentions same sex relations in the context of rape and with regard to ..male prostitution.”
    In addition: Why don’t we adhere to the quotes nearby (in the text): “Do not come near a woman during her menstrual period.” ? There are entire passages about cleanliness and ritual bathing. There are entire weeks that a man & a woman are supposed remain in separate beds according to the Bible.
    You are very thoughtful in your “rant”. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  7. I’m always impressed by your clarity, Dan. I’m thankful for people like you who spend the time and energy to advocate for fairness.

  8. Good rant. Wish I could have read Tad’s…i.e. the really great reply.
    I switched from Agnostic to Athiest when I realized that I was just being a pussy who didn’t want to irritate my community, friends, colleagues, co-workers by saying I was an Athiest. I hate athiests who preach athiesm…I generally hate people that preach anything…unless it is something that is good for everybody. I.e. I’m okay with trying to get people to exercise, or fight iliteracy…or make a little money for cancer research, etc… Religion is cool when it helps you to do good things…i.e. Shriners, etc…but I fucking hate the hate that stems from the religious zealots of this world… I also don’t give a shit if you are gay. I appreciate the compliment when you tell me that I’m cute though…just leave it with the compliment and go on and find somebody who is more receptive! No harm no foul.
    Good rant.
    Platonic Hugs,

  9. Dan, I am honored that you used me and my partner as an example in this beautiful, well written rant. You have proved once again that the love I feel for you is more than justified. I am honored to call you my friend.

  10. Hmmmmm… you make me wonder when you became a thought provoking person? For whatever reason, this showed up in my email inbox (my daughters laugh at my email use “so old school” they say) … and I read your entire posting. Pointing out intolerance and hypocrites is something most don’t want to do. Much easier to answer with a meme, or snarky remark, maybe a platitude of “I’ll pray for you”, or just to state “conversation is over – don’t bother commenting”. So I’m glad to know and call you a friend.

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