The Black Community, Religion, President Obama, and Same Sex Marriage
On August 4, 2012 At 5:47 pm
Responses : 17 Comments
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This past week, Jamila Bey, an atheist and a member of African Americans for Humanism (AAH) and Black Atheists of America (BAAm), as well as a journalist, attended a press conference (video) for the Coalition of African American Pastors.
She asked questions (transcript) of the ministers (between the 19:10 and 20 minute marks), some of which dealt with the marriage of Abraham. Eventually, the ministers threw her out of the press conference for asking her questions about Biblical marriage, in particularly, Abraham. Personally, I think Bey deserved answers to the questions and the only reason the ministers threw her out was that they choose to ignore the answers to her questions. Abraham committed incest by marrying his sister. Does this mean the ministers support incest, but damn same-sex marriage?
I will shorten this mess about Biblical marriage by allowing American’s Best Christian tell you about it in the video below, but do not let it surprise you that men in the Bible were primitive and their brains were in their penises. Sometimes I wonder about men who follow an Abrahamic religion literally and as the inerrant word of God, because they seem just as primitive to me. These religiously extremist men attempt to drag women by the hair to the marriage bed while carrying a belly club, metaphorically of course.
Now, I would like to throw in my $2 (inflation) into the ring of this battle, which denies people their basic civil rights, despite the fact I am a white woman, who was married to a black man, gave birth to his children, and raised his children by myself, as many women have done. When it comes to Civil Rights skin colour and gender does not matter, in my opinion, but I know there will be people saying, “She’s White/not gay. What does she know about Civil Rights/being Black/gay?” I know what it is to be human and how it feels like for someone to hate my family and me for something, such as interracial marriage, even in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
First, what I want to know is, if marriage is between one woman and one man, then why was Abraham’s between one woman, one man, and a slave woman? Why did the Bible include and support polygamy, especially if the Biblically definition is supposedly between one man and one woman? Why did Lot and his daughters have an incestuous relationship? Does this mean these ministers condone such relationships, but not homosexuality, which seems better than incest, in my opinion, because many homosexuals want a committed relationship between themselves and their partner, not between themselves, their partner, and relatives? Is enslaving women into submission to a man, who marries more than one woman and uses his daughter as a concubine more acceptable to these ministers than same-sex marriage? Is forcing a woman into a marriage to a man who raped her, and probably will sexually abuse her more in marriage, honestly ethical and humane, just because the Bible condones it?
I am getting sick to my stomach as I mention all those scenarios, which condoned and practiced such relationships in the mythical storybook these ministers use.
I also do not want to hear that homosexuality is not natural, when in fact it is just as natural as heterosexuality. Sadly, Gandhi’s saying, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” seems very true, because the American human animal, especially those who literally follow the Bible, does not seem to treat each other very and well, not to mention other animals within this nation. Why should I expect the human animal to treat each other any better, when some insist on destroying nature, other animals, and our environment as a whole, because God gave it to use as we see fit? The Christians, who shout that same-sex marriage is morally wrong, are probably the same ones who insist that we are superior to other animals and Evolution is not true. Repeating the science that shows that homosexuality is not only genetic, but also natural and removed from the DSM as a mental illness decades ago, would be pointless, so I move on to other things mentioned in the press conference video.
If these pastors supported the Civil Rights Movement AND interracial marriage, then why not the civil rights of LGBTs? Biblical marriage is not between one woman and one man, but a harem of wives, slaves, and sometimes their own daughters, of which the last is just repulsive.
Also, why is it when Obama was just a “Black man” running for president, he was exercising his Civil Rights of a male of colour and now he is suddenly a man who is supporting a minority wanting marriage equality, which these pastors deem as wrong? Why is it they deem his support of LGBTs as a mistake and not a civil rights issue?
"Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."
Another question I have is; why would I, a woman who married a Black man and had his children, want to sign a petition that denies a group a people marriage in a manner that is much similar to the denial of miscegenation? Even during Loving v Virginia and prior court cases similar to theirs, they used the Bible to deny interracial couples the right to marry. These laws were called anti-miscegenation laws and people used the Bible and their religious beliefs to support the discriminating laws that denied people their civil rights as a loving couple.
"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
The BS I hear from Evangelical Fundamentalist ministers is no different, even though they insist it is and that same-sex marriage is not the same as interracial marriage. To that I say, “Um, yes it is, especially when you use religion to deny a loving couple the right to marry.” In that respect, it is the same and it is using the very much the same religious arguments.
Who gives them the right to decide who people should and should not fall in love with? What makes their views any better than Islamic views, who choose who their children marry or do not marry, without even courtship prior to marriage? These religious views are man-made and have nothing to do with any god. Religion, used in such manners, has nothing to do with a deity, but rather humans attempting to demean, dehumanize, control, and manipulate other human beings, forcing them to submit to the will of other humans with assumed power and control, nothing more or less.
Thanks to the Lovings, the Supreme Court ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional in 1967 and any religious argument against interracial marriage was then invalid after that.
"My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."
I shall now refer to two other people, who I consider wonderful role models and the greatest people to influence social change.
Before she died, Mrs. Coretta Scott King gave her support of same-sex marriage.
"The widow of Martin Luther King Jr. called gay marriage a civil rights issue, denouncing a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban it.
Constitutional amendments should be used to expand freedom, not restrict it, Coretta Scott King said Tuesday.
"Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union," she said. "A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."
Following that statement, black ministers insisted that comparing same-sex marriage with the Civil Rights Movement demeans the movement.
"To equate a lifestyle choice to racism demeans the work of the entire civil rights movement," the statement said. "People are free in our nation to pursue relationships as they choose. To redefine marriage, however, to suit the preference of those choosing alternative lifestyles is wrong."
I propose that it enhances the movement and that interracial couples are a form of an alternate lifestyle in that in order to raise the children of said relationship, they need to learn about both sides of their heritage, not just one. The children need to learn that one side had slaves, as well as abolitionists and Civil Rights activists, and the other side were slaves, as well as Civil Rights activists. The two sides are not exclusive when it comes to history, especially the children’s family history. The children need to know the history of their family trees, as well as what that entailed in the past up to the present. Some are a mesh of at least two American subcultures and people who enter their homes often vary in backgrounds, skin colours, places of origin, and even sexual orientation, especially if the parents are open-minded.
Interracial families also need to use caution as to whom their family makes friends with, to ensure their children do not experience any unnecessary racism, discrimination, and hatred. They also are selective in the places they frequent and if they find discrimination, they rarely return.
At least that is how it was and is in my family, with a high appreciation for learning about people, places, other animals, science, and knowledge in general. Part of learning and acquiring knowledge is learning about others from different backgrounds and orientations.
I see this as no different with children, whose parents are the same-sex, except that the difference is their parents are the same sex. Their parents are still fighting for the right to marry and there is a long history with that too.
The triple evils, within the King Philosophy, include racism, which the King Center defines as “prejudice, apartheid, ethnic conflict, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, discrimination against disabled groups, stereotypes…” The emphases are mine and along with that, the King Center follows with the statement below as defined by their definition of racism.
“Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.”
In other words, one group views themselves as the center of value and, in this case, their definition of marriage is the object of devotion, which everyone must kneel to in submission. This is an absurd dogma and it only inflicts spiritual and physical homicide on those who cannot bow down in submission. This also creates an out-group of people deemed less worthy of anything in the minds of the controlling group.
The King Center’s definition includes the behaviours of these black ministers, which I find shameful and view these men as horrible role models for my sons and other children, but within the King Philosophy, one is not to attack people. One can attack their views though and if you truly admire MLK Jr. and believe you follow his example, I suggest you educate yourselves concerning his views and philosophy, because this idea that same-sex marriage is not a civil right is completely inaccurate and misleading, especially if you admire the Kings and what they did to bring about equality.
For me to sit back and allow Black leaders, especially those who say they admire MLK Jr., to say that same-sex marriage is not a Civil Rights issue, is, in my opinion, wrong. I must speak up as a person who adored the Kings and their non-violent philosophy. The attitudes and beliefs of these ministers are far from their “Beloved Community” also.
"Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.
Dr. King’s Beloved Community was not devoid of interpersonal, group or international conflict. Instead he recognized that conflict was an inevitable part of human experience. But he believed that conflicts could be resolved peacefully and adversaries could be reconciled through a mutual, determined commitment to nonviolence. No conflict, he believed, need erupt in violence. And all conflicts in The Beloved Community should end with reconciliation of adversaries cooperating together in a spirit of friendship and goodwill."
Sadly, I think these attitudes, which extremist bigoted ministers express towards gays and same-sex marriage, will lead to deadly violence and has lead to that. People, especially ministers, use their god concept to invoke and incite violence amongst their congregations against gay couples and they cherry-pick the Bible to support their statements, while they ignore the rest of the Bible, which Bey so apply pointed out in the press conference.
Because I honour and respect the late great Kings, I cannot join such an inhuman and hateful group that is actually anti-marriage and totally ignores what the Civil Rights Movements and the King Philosophy really is.
Obama’s views are not derelict and the information these pastors give about Black leaders is wrong on so many levels, including and especially concerning Civil Rights. If ministers want to invoke God and state that marriage is an honourable state, then bigoted views need changing to conform to what Civil Rights really is. It is more honourable to take a view and stance such as the Kings’.
Using the myth of Adam and Eve is silly, superstitious, and ignorant. The story is just a story, of which many an Episcopalian and other liberally religious people would state too.
Homosexuality has nothing to do with molestation, even if some gays were molested as children. The fact is there are straight people who were molested as children by straight adults, of which I am one of those straight people who suffered from incest. Such statements referring to molestation, in relationship to homosexuality, do not hold up in view of the facts. Straight men molest children and it is not exclusive to homosexuals.
In other words, some men molest children, but not all men who molest children are gay and probably, the percentage of such an illness is less in the gay community than in the straight ‘community’, just as the percentage of atheists in prison is far less than that of religious people. Of that percentage of “straight men” molesting children, some are homophobic ministers, who are ironically gay themselves and denying themselves a healthy sexual relationship because of their moronic religious superstitions.
If anyone wants an example of ministers gone wild sexually, they need not look any further than the Catholic Church. However, the same thing happens in Evangelical Fundamentalist churches too. Sexual molestation of children and sex scandals are not exclusive to Catholic priests, who may or may not be closeted homosexuals. More often than not, sexual deprivation could be part of the issue, as well as deeming sex sinful, except within certain confines.
Placing same-sex marriage as a moral issue that is sinful is also problematic too, because there are those of us, as with the subject of abortion and women's health, who view such religious views, which discriminate against LGBTs, as immoral. If you want to talk about “the soul of America” then let us discuss freedom- freedom of religion, freedom from racism, bigotry, discrimination, freedom to make decisions concerning our bodies, and freedom from various forms of violence, as well as choosing whom we will marry or not marry and with whom we will have sex with and when.
If one of my adult children came to me and said they were getting married to a person of the same sex, of course on one level I would feel sadness, but only because they could not give me grandchildren who are blood. However, that is not the end all and be all of grandparenthood because one can become a grandparent through adoption, which has its own rewards and benefits. Not to mention, children with same-sex parents do just as well as children with parents of the opposite sex, and if one does a search, there are reliable studies, not including the recent one done by Evangelicals with an agenda, done by actual psychologist and other researchers showing children do well. Thus, I would get over my sadness rather quickly, because babies, children, and pets just bring me joy and happiness. They are not at all discriminating or bigoted because such hatred, just like racism, the parents teach to their children. No one is born hating anyone.
The love of fellow human beings includes accepting them as they are, without trying to change them, and many children, not taught to hate, are good at accepting people.
There is a Tao short story in the The Book of Chuang Tzu, at the end of chapter seven, which I think is quite fitting to this situation, which also deserves a turn of play with other religious texts, since the ministers think they are quoting from their Bible. The story deals with tolerance of other people.
"The Emperor of the South Sea is known as Change. The Emperor of the North Sea is called Dramatic. The Emperor of the Centre is called Chaos. Change and Dramatic met every so often in the region of Chaos. Chaos always treated them kindly and virtuously. Change and Dramatic said, “Everyone has seven orifices so they can see, hear, eat, and breathe. Chaos does not have these. Let us bore some holes into him.” Each day they bored a hole into Chaos… but on the seventh day Chaos died."
The moral of the story is that forcing change on a person, so that they are just like you and conform to your ideals, is bad and to do so could kill them in some manner, be it mentally, spiritually, emotionally, or physically. Forcing someone to change so that they are just like everyone else is not only bad, but goes against the Way and eventually destroys the person. It goes against their nature and natural tendencies. “You can’t go against what is already perfect,” according to the professor, I had for Taoism and Buddhism.
I realize this may take some time for some to ponder and figure out, if they even consider a story from a different religion at all.
Lastly, while black people had to go through the back door, at one time, and not go through the front door, they never had to sit in the closet with the door sealed shut. That argument does not hold up to reality either. Black people could not hide their skin colour, but people can conceal their sexuality, sometimes to the point of lying to themselves, as some Christian ministers do and it often leads to their demise.
Now, if you want to talk about dogs, hangings, beatings, and people dragged behind pick-up trucks… Hate crimes in general, that argument might work in the fight for Civil Rights. People have dragged gay men behind a truck, just as they have Black men. People have hung gays, just as they have blacks, and both groups received beatings, sometimes deadly beatings. Some transgendered individuals have been shot and killed, with some questioning if the murder was a hate crime. The murderous actions of intolerant and hateful people towards those they do not like because that group of people is different is the same, but do not use the example of doors, at least not in that manner, to support Civil Rights for only one group of people. That argument just does not work and is a very poor example against Civil Rights for LGBTs and shows nothing more than homophobia that perpetuates hate crimes against them.
The arguments such ministers use to oppose same-sex marriage just do not hold up to reality and fail to coincide with modern times. We no longer live in a primitive cave man era where people are intolerant of differences based on superstition or at least, I think, we should have grown past that by now. I think it is time we strive to live in a more civilized era in which all people are accepted for who and what they are, because it is not the “color of their skin”, their sexual orientation, their gender, or their religious beliefs or lack there of that people should be judge. Human beings should be judge by the “contents of their hearts” and not by their sexual orientation, gender, skin colour, or worldview.
It is time we stop the asinine superstitious religious arguments and start treating our fellow human beings as humans, regardless of our differences. For me, not to treat someone as a human being is just as immoral as denying a woman medical treatment and letting her die in childbirth. Women and LGBTs are just as human as men are and are not things to control, dominated, and manipulate by religious men’s wills.
The religious dogma that religious extremist men spew is nothing more than an attempt to gain power and dominate those they deem lesser than them. There is no god that would demand such horrid inhumane things or if there were such a deity, that is not a god I would worship. As the Dalai Lama, of whom I also respect, said, “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” and “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
Even Gandhi said, “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” Thus, if you hate others and think them sinful, then I cannot see how anyone can possibly love himself or herself and think s/he possess any good qualities.
If one were to judge Christian extremists by the content of their character, as MLK Jr. suggested, then sadly none of these Black ministers measure up to the Rev. King and his wife’s ideals. They not only fall short of a man they say they admire and adore, but they also fall short of treating other human beings with love, respect, and dignity, something the more liberal Episcopalian ministers do a little better. Liberal Episcopalians are more accepting of LGBT’s than these ministers, some of whom lived through the Civil Rights Movements.
Thus, Christian extremists can quote their definition of marriage from their Biblical view all they want, but keep in mind others may also point to the more liberal Christians and ask, “Then why is it, they can accept same-sex marriage and give LGBTs equality, using the very same book as you do to support their views?” Seems to me, religious extremists do nothing more than breed hate.
"Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
"Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated." ~ Martin Luther King Jr
I find it ironic that Christians sing, “They will know we are Christians by our love” and when Christian extremists are asked about it, they have a strange and twisted way of defining love. Their definition of love often sounds like a person with Stockholm Syndrome and sadly, they cannot seem to understand anyone else’s definition of love, not even the liberal Christians definition of love, which goes a little something like this from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
Long before I became a humanist and was still a Christian, I could not fathom hatred and abuse of other people as love. While love maybe the greatest of the three in the writing attributed to Paul, none of the things Christian extremists do or say, fit any of what is written in this passage of their little book. Yet, these men would sooner point to liberal Christians and call them hypocrites. Just remember, the next time people, such as these ministers, spew hatred, bigotry, sin, and discrimination, as they call other Christians hypocrites, three fingers point back at them and that they cherry-pick the Bible to fit their agenda, propaganda, and dogma.
The reason why they did not answer Jamila Bey’s questions is that they did not want to admit that the very things she was asking them about is also in the Bible and they were avoiding admitting that such unions exist in their Bible stories and are condoned by the deity in their book. They do not want to admit that they cherry-pick the Bible, just as all other Christians do, in order to support their dogma, agenda, and propaganda. Without their religious stories, they have nothing to support their views and must concede to those who support the rights of LGBTs. Their irrational views concerning same-sex relationships are nothing without their storybook and even with their book. Their views are insanely immoral, unethical, inhuman, and inhumane, with absolutely no reality to support their views. All the Christian extremists have is, “God said so” and that means nothing, but the stories of Western religions are probably about the only religious texts that concern themselves with gender, sexuality, and marriage, because I do not recall any of the Eastern (Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism) religious texts saying a word about homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Not only that, Jesus never said a word about homosexuality or same-sex marriage either. The character was completely silent on the matter. So silent that one could hear crickets in the wilderness concerning the topic.
Ironically, some Christians say, “Since Jesus came, the Old Testament is obsolete.” I find that interesting, given that they sometimes fall back on the Old Testament to support what they say.
Whatever the case and however one looks at it, these ministers, who are anti-marriage equality, have no reliable and accurate information to support the propaganda they spew. They will not answer questions that defeat their purpose and agenda for bigotry and discrimination.
Bey showed this well by pursuing her questioning of the ministers at the press conference and these ministers are probably wrong about the Black community not voting for Obama just on this topic alone. Those who think for themselves, instead of allowing hateful ministers to do their thinking for them, will probably vote for Obama, regardless of his stance on LBGTs, marriage, and equality.
Those of us who support marriage equality probably have more reasons to do so than just pointing at a book and saying, “Because this book said so.” The reasons we hold in favour of same-sex marriage, with full equality to any other marriage, are also well thought out and often researched, with various sources to support those reasons and not just one source.
Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery". She has two grown sons and raises cats. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
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