Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Open Letter To Homophobes

The following is an open letter to anti-gay activists in response to Matt Barber's "Open Letter To Homosexuals" on the cesspool of crazy & dishonesty that is World Net Daily.

I write this not to professional homophobes.  That is to say, not to members of the well-funded, politically powerful anti-gay activist lobby.  They will mock and reject my words outright.  They will twist and misrepresent what I say to further their own socio-political agenda.  That’s fine. It’s to be expected.  It merits little more than a yawn and an eye roll.

Instead, I write this to my fellow travelers in life – average, ordinary people, male and female, young and old – who happen to have a problem with people who "call themselves gay.”  I write this out of obedience to humanity.

It is my hope that you will consider what I have to say and take it at face value.  My intentions are pure and my motives upright.  If I can plant the seed of truth in just one person, and that seed begins to sprout, then I consider this letter a success.

I hope that you are that person.

What I write may offend you.  It may even infuriate you.  But I hope it makes you think.  Know this: Your friends have lied to you.  You do hate homosexuals.  You hate them intensely.  You hate them because of who you think they are, not because of what they do, or because of who they really are.

Still, to love someone and to lie to them is to hate them – especially when that lie inevitably leads to a tragic and hopeless end.

If you have a loved one, blindfolded and running full speed toward cliff’s edge, do you not yell, "stop!"?  Would you not run after them, even tackling them if need be to prevent them from plummeting to certain death?  What would we think of the person who said, “Keep running; all is well.”?

All is not well, and you know it.  On this path, “it” decidedly does not “get better.”  It only gets worse.  You will fall and you will die –perhaps not physical death,straight away – but certainly, an emotional and spiritual death.  Anti-gay activists, “conservatives,” Fox News, AM radio, and your church are telling you to keep running.

I’m yelling, "stop!"

Your lifestyle – homophobia – is always and forever, demonstrably wrong.  It is never good, natural, right or praiseworthy.  If you have “family values,” you have "anti-family values".  Although homophobia is not the only bigotry, it is, indeed, bigotry.  Society is unequivocal on this fact throughout both the Ancient and Modern History.

But this reality is manifest beyond the pages of History. Unnatural behaviors beget real consequences.  So-called “sin” is not responsible for the fact that, homosexual teens commit suicide in disproportionate numbers.

Hate is responsible.

In too many instances to count, the most vocally anti-gay end up being gay themselves.  They grow up being told that being gay is a sin.  So when they are gay themselves, they attempt to deal with the resulting cognitive dissonance by preaching the anti-gay message of their religion.  The entire time, they struggle with gay urges, because they have no choice about their sexual orientation.

Is this you?  Be honest.

At least be honest with yourself.

You admonish with words from a book you claim holds value, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23), and you threaten people with death & other punishments from your god (and sometimes from yourselves).  You threaten with both physical death as well as with spiritual death, or Hell (the existence of which you cannot even prove).

I know from which I speak.  I do not obsess over other adults' consensual sexual behavior.  I reject your concept of sexual sin.  I reject the concept of homosexuality as sin, and of sin in general.  I do not treat women as inferior beings in need of divine protection from men's so-called sin.  I respect them as people, and I do my best to treat all people with the respect deserved by all.

I am responsible for my own behavior.

When I do someone wrong, forgiveness can only come from them.  Never from an imagined third party from whom I can receive forgiveness for whatever I choose whenever I choose.

Do I still struggle with doing right?  Of course.  Every day.  We all do.  We are fallible.  We are human.

You claim your Christ’s gift to you is forgiveness, redemption and life everlasting.  My friend, that gift is available to no one.

Give it up. Please.

I've met many like you.  You're often otherwise good people.  Perhaps this is why you get defensive when groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) label anti-gay Christian organizations as hate groups.  You think your hate is justified and not actually hate because you have a book that tells you so.  It doesn't seem to matter to you what that book says about shrimp, clothing, unruly children, slaves & slavery, or rape victims.

Hate is still hate, no matter what you use to justify calling it truth.

The truth is that you could have immeasurable value. You are a beautiful, unique, priceless human being.  No matter your beliefs of another life after this one, you have only a short time in this world.  Is it worth it to waste that time judging others who's sexual orientation you personally dislike?  They are of the same humanity as you and thus are deserving of the same rights & respect.

You are valuable and worthy of love because life is rare and fleeting.  If you define your identity based upon sexual temptations and behaviors your religion has called sin – an “abomination” – then you are not using your short time in this world to its fullest potential. In so doing, you have become the sum total of your hate.  You are in rebellion against human decency and you know it.

Yes, the activists tell you to take “pride” in your anti-gay bigotry, but you don’t feel pride. You feel ashamed, and so you try, in vain, to numb the shame with more of the very behavior that causes it.  You will never fill the void you feel with your narrow minded religion or your attempts to force the rest of us to also be narrow minded and hateful.  These things only expand your emptiness.

Personal accountability, reason, & love can fill the void.

And they will, if you let them.

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Open Letter To Leah Libresco

The following is an open letter in response to the recent conversion from atheism to Catholicism by atheist blogger Leah Libresco.

I had never heard of you until your recent conversion went viral within the religion vs atheist community online.  I do not mean that as an attack.  I haven't heard of a lot of people and a lot more have not heard of me.  I only say so to be more clear about where I'm coming from.

Your conversion has left me with some questions.  You owe me nothing, obviously, but I need to ask these things anyway.  I'm aware that I'm only one of many currently asking you questions, and you'll likely never even see this, let alone respond, but I would feel negligent in my devotion to truth if I left this unwritten.  I've been able to do some reading on this, including some of what you've written in response to other inquiries, but I have been unable to find satisfactory answers to some issues.

While I do not personally experience confusion about morality such as you described, I do get that many do.  The confusion I have is how that can lead one to believe a deity exists.  Did you witness some sort of evidence for this deity?  Or was this revelation entirely internal within your own mind?

More specifically, how did your experience lead you to believe the Catholic god is the right one?  Other than your issues with the source of morality, what did you consider when choosing Catholicism over all the other religions?  Was the Vatican's tacit approval of child rape a factor?  How about their misinformation campaign in Africa regarding the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV?

You mentioned uneasiness regarding their stance on homosexuality.  Was this a factor in your decision or was it not considered until afterward?  Are you okay with supporting a Church with such discriminatory stances?

Do you believe the Christian Bible is the word of God?  Do you have issues with any other parts of that book?  Are you okay with getting your morality from a god that supports/commits genocide, rape, child abuse, & slavery?  Are you okay with saying your morality comes from an institution that protects pedophiles & lies to millions about the effectiveness of condoms?  Did you have any morality issues with the Vatican while you were still atheist?  If so, how have those issues changed with the conversion?

Do you pray now?  If so, have any of prayers been answered?

Is the Pope infallible?

And finally, when the priest blesses the wafer & wine, do they become literal flesh & blood of Jesus Christ?

These questions of mine are related to things I wonder about Christians & Catholics in general.  Seeing someone, confident enough in their atheism to write a blog about it, become a Catholic makes me wonder even more about you.  I look forward to reading more about your rationalization for your new-found faith, because for me, it is incredibly mind boggling.


Like most Americans, I grew up with Christian parents & went to Christian Sunday school.  The only ones I remember were side events of the various on-base churches we went to (my father was Air Force).  Children attended the first 10-20 minutes of the service then were taken off to another room for Sunday school.  From what I remember, it wasn't much more than the telling of Bible stories, usually with the assistance of puppets.

I understood that it was a way to keep the children occupied while the adults did whatever they were doing.  What I didn't understand was that it was supposed to be something more than that.  I never had a specific moment where I figured it out, but somewhere by the time I was 10, I had realized they thought they were telling me true stories.

I'm sure some may say it was stupid of me to go so long without realizing the stories were supposed to be true, but I don't see that I ever had any reason to see those stories as any different than the fiction stories I was told in other settings.  I don't remember ever being specifically taught the difference between fact & fiction before then, but I do know that this particular skill goes back as far as I can remember.  The stories the puppets at church were reenacting were much more similar to the stories presented as fiction than those presented as fact.  So I took them as fiction.  As a result, I took the premise behind them (that a god exists) to also be fiction.

Since then, I've never been given any reason to see it as anything else.  Because of my reverence for truth and the number of people proclaiming it be true, I've searched for such a reason.  I've found reasons people want it to be true.  I've found clever wordplay, from people desperate to prove it's true, but none that held up to basic logic tests.  I've even found psychological explanations for why someone would believe something even while acknowledging they have no good reason to believe it to be true.

But I've never found any tangible reason to actually believe anything super-natural exists in any form.  As a result, I'm still as atheist as the day I was born.