Christians, it’s time to stop picking bad fruit from a bad tree.

  
I hope I start to see changes in how many American Christians talk about LGBTQ people and equality issues. Because if you tell us that you’re sorry for our suffering today, but go back to opposing our rights and demeaning us for being LGBTQ tomorrow, then your words of love are empty and pointless. If you falsely accuse trans people of putting you in danger in bathrooms but you don’t work to stop the REAL violence we face every day, then you are a hypocrite.

You must reevaluate how you address LGBTQ issues. You MUST start accepting us, even if you personally still disagree with us. You can’t claim to care about me and still oppose legislation that would help protect me and those I love from violence and discrimination. You can’t claim to care about us when your anti-LGBTQ teachings are literally driving young people into depression and suicide at record rates, and encouraging people to see us as threats which results in violence. You don’t get to claim to be loving when you spread misinformation about us that puts us in even more danger. Many Christians believe in sin, but they don’t expect non-believers to follow their religion’s standards and they don’t put us down for it or fight our legal equality. This I understand and can even respect. But you have NO RIGHT to expect anyone else to live by your religion’s standards, or to socially punish people for not conforming to your personal ideas of morality and normality. It’s literally killing us, and has been for a very long time. But you don’t see it. You don’t want to see it. You want to see us as bad people who are persecuting you, instead of the other way around. 

  
You keep picking bad fruit off the tree and saying it’s a good tree. But the fruit of homophobia is pain and death. Why are you still watering a poisonous tree? 

Do I have to scream for you to hear me? Do I have to bleed for you to see me? Cause I grieve; you’re not listening to me. (A song from my Christian days. It seemed appropriate.)

Please don’t be silent.

  
You’ll post about us when you want to oppose our rights, but you won’t post to condemn those that massacred us. 
You’ll talk about how immoral you think we are, but you won’t tell us you care when we’re scared and hurting and facing increased risks of violence.
You’ll talk about how LGBTQ people are ruining *your* nation, but you won’t apologize for how your anti-gay attitudes have contributed to the violence and social oppression that we face every single day. 

You’ll pretend we don’t exist unless it fits your anti-LGBTQ agenda. We don’t exist unless you are putting us down or opposing our rights. We don’t exist unless you are preaching about our “debauchery” or accusing us of trying to ruin your lives. But when we suffer? Silence. It’s been the same exact pattern for decades. 

Whether it’s publicly or privately, show us that you acknowledge what happened to us and that you care. Pray if you want. But if that’s all you do, you’re not really helping. We can’t hear your prayers. We need solidarity and acceptance much more than prayers. We need to be acknowledged as human beings who didn’t deserve this. 

It can be as simple as “My prayers are with the LGBTQ community today. I’m so sorry that you were treated this way. Nobody should be murdered for who they are.” There! It’s that simple! Why is that so hard for so many Christians to say?! 

Perhaps it’s because they believe we deserved it, or it’s our own fault. Or perhaps it’s because they’ve finally realized that we, not them, are the ones who are actually being rampantly persecuted in the US, and they are too embarrassed to admit it. Perhaps it’s hard for them to support us because then they’d have to admit that they were wrong about the violence and oppression we face because of homophobia. Perhaps they’d rather be silent than admit they were wrong. 

Perhaps you have other reasons for being silent. But we need you to not be silent right now. It’s the worst thing you can do, aside from telling us that we deserved to be shot. Share a support meme or rainbow picture if you can’t get out the words. There are lots of ways to show solidarity even if you are grieving. Trust me, we know how hard it is. We live it all the time. If you can’t support us publicly, message us privately. 

This explains it well.

The LGBTQ community won’t be ok for a while, and that’s ok.

  
Please be patient and supportive of your LGBTQ loved ones right now. Many of us are angry, sad, scared, numb, frustrated, and/or grieving. We will each be processing our feelings about the attack in different ways. Some of us may not be ok for a while. Some will never be ok again. We may be less trusting and more angry for a while, and understandably so. 
Going forward, many of us will be fighting even harder for society to treat us with dignity. We may be asking our loved ones to get off the fence of neutrality and start standing up for us. We will be asking others to hear our stories, and to treat us with compassion and dignity. We will challenge homophobia even more because it is literally killing us. 
We need to stand together and not let this horrible act turn us against each other. We can’t change what happened, but we can choose how we respond to it.

Orlando Gay Club Shooting

  The worst shooting in US history was targeting a club full of gay people. While we don’t know his motives for sure yet, it’s possible that the shooter was a religious extremist and he was definitely homophobic. Homophobic people are already gleefully saying that this was “God’s work”. The shooter may have possibly been Muslim (we don’t know this for sure yet), but Christian extremists and other homophobic people are already applauding his actions. Even if he’s not a religious extremist himself, he’s revealed the violent natures of so many others in the US. 

Can you see why so many LGBTQ people live in fear? Why we are trying to get society to accept us? It’s about survival, not us pushing our “lifestyles” on you. When a minority group of people is not accepted by their culture at large, it makes them a target for violence and abuse, and it encourages terrorists like this to target them.
LGBTQ people face discrimination and violence all the time in the US, and from people in every belief system. Religious doctrines that condemn homosexuality or gender differences, plus rampant general social stigma against us, have resulted in a culture where LGBTQ people are regularly abused and targeted for violence. But many Americans don’t believe them because they aren’t personally affected by it. A mass shooting targeting a gay club is pretty hard to ignore though, isn’t it? 
I’m really glad I’m in Canada right now. The US scares me. It’s not a very safe place to be LGBTQ. 
My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I hope people of all beliefs come together to help them. 

The Bank of Emotional Goodwill: Some Christians are Abusing It.

In every relationship, there is a level of accumulated emotional goodwill. We’ll compare it to a bank account. We all start out with an empty bank account, and we fill it up with positive interactions with each other. When we ask something of the other person or hurt them, we drain some of that goodwill. If we deposit more than we withdraw, then we have good relationships. If one person withdraws but rarely deposits, we eventually run out of goodwill and then a negative balance occurs- this is when frustration and anger comes up.

Here’s the problem with being a Christian in Americasome of you are constantly draining our tanks of goodwill and you don’t even realize it. You assume that we should be totally fine with how you’re treating us, and that we should never complain about it. Then when you make yet another withdrawal on an empty balance, we snap. You can’t figure out why we’re upset because you don’t understand how you’re draining us on a daily basis.

This is how some of you drain our tanks of goodwill:

  • When people change their beliefs, you make them feel bad about it. “You’ve disappointed us by changing your beliefs and making decisions we don’t approve of. We can’t be happy because you don’t share our beliefs anymore.” Forcing someone to choose between their conscience and making their family happy is a terrible burden to put on anyone. I am not responsible for your happiness. If you cannot be happy because I don’t share your beliefs, then you have a personal problem and you’re taking that problem out on me. That’s unfair.
  • When people change their beliefs, you accuse them of abandoning or betraying you. But we’re just following our conscience, same as you. Just because I started out believing something doesn’t mean I am obligated to continuing believing it. In fact, changing our minds is a normal part of growing up. Of course I started out as a Christian- I didn’t know anything else! One of the worst feelings in the world is knowing that you have failed the expectations of those you love.
  • There is something seriously wrong with you for thinking this way. You are a broken, immoral person for not thinking like us. You must be deceived by the Devil or be mentally compromised somehow; it’s inconceivable that you could change your mind without something being terribly wrong with you. You must be going crazy!” If you have said or implied any of this to your loved ones, then congratulations! You have most likely ripped a hole through their heart and they will forever bear the scars. You have made them feel like a pile of horse dung, destroyed their self esteem and self confidence, and then when they get upset with you for hurting them so much you’ll shake your head and wonder “what did I ever do to them?”
  • Unresolved conflict. Problems don’t just go away because we don’t talk about them. If you’ve hurt someone and have refused to change the hurtful attitudes or actions, or if you won’t even acknowledge that the hurt took place and apologize, then the other person will be forced to deal with that pain in silence even if you have forgotten about it. Every time you post or say something that reminds the person of the hurt you caused them, you are reopening the wound all over again. The only way to solve this is to stop avoiding the problem and fix it head on. If you won’t fix it, then don’t complain when the people you’ve hurt sometimes get emotionally triggered and get upset with you over seemingly nothing. It’s not nothing; it’s all the underlying hurt that hasn’t been resolved. You just poured more salt in the wound and then wonder why they’re mad again.
  • You knowingly and willingly worship a god that you believe will melt the flesh from my bones because I believe the wrong things. The fact that you think I deserve this kind of punishment makes me sick to my stomach if I think about it for too long. Sure, you have a right to believe this way, but you’re not free from how this makes your loved ones feel.
  • You demonize those who disagree with you. It’s one thing to say “I don’t agree with your opinion on this matter.” It’s another thing to imply or outright say that the other person has no morals, is incapable of sound judgment (“deceived by the Devil”), does not deserve compassion if they make decisions you don’t like, and so on. I have many Christian friends, and most of them I get along with perfectly fine because they don’t make me feel inferior to them– we respect each other even when we disagree. So if people are getting mad at how you’re expressing your beliefs, it might be time to reevaluate your methods and attitudes. Don’t blame us for getting mad at you if you’re making yourself needlessly offensive to people.
  • You demean us. “Gay people are unnatural and deviant and they are sexual predators. They will destroy society! I can’t have those perverts around my children. Transgender people are abnormal and shouldn’t be accepted by civilized society. Atheists can’t be trusted. They’re always angry and selfish. They can’t possibly have moral standards and they’re going to ruin society.” Listen carefully- THIS IS VERY HURTFUL STUFF YOU’RE SAYING OR IMPLYING HERE. Also, LGBTQ people face high rates of suicide and assault because these attitudes and inaccurate stereotypes keep being perpetuated and used against us. Something to keep in mind.
  • You tell me what I believe. When my beliefs changed, many Christians immediately applied their atheist/Pro Choice/Feminist/Liberal stereotypes onto me without even bothering to find out who I really was and what I actually believed. And most of their stereotypes were wrong. So they created an image of me in their head that was based on fiction, not fact, and then couldn’t understand why I was upset.
  • You oppress others. Disagreeing with someone is one thing. Even if you’re rude, I can still work around that. But opposing their legal rights? That’s a different story. It’s gone from disagreement to you actively forcing your personal beliefs onto them. Opposing my right to make my own decisions in regards to who I marry, how I plan my family, and opposing my right to not be discriminated against… when you do these things, the message you send is this: “I should make your decisions for you. You aren’t good enough to choose your own path. My personal beliefs are more important than your personal liberty.”
  • Your “Us vs Them” attitude. Mainstream Christianity has declared war on the rest of society because they cannot tolerate the rest of us living or believing things differently than them. And many of you align yourself with this movement and say the same things that they do. If we’re not on the same side as you, then we are either potential converts or enemy combatants. And then when we say “Hey! Back off and let us live in peace! Just end the war already and coexist with us!” you claim that we are attacking you. When you start a war, don’t be surprised when people fight back and tell you that you’re not very nice.
  • You equate disagreement with persecution. People disagreeing with you or telling you that you’re hurting them is not persecution. People asking for the same rights you have is not persecution.

We hear these messages constantly, day in and day out, sometimes with flowery language but sometimes almost as bluntly as I wrote it here. (Did I tell you about the Christian online who told me that I deserved to lose most of my friends when my beliefs changed?)

There is nothing wrong with me for being an atheist, for being Pro Choice, a Liberal, or for not being heterosexual. And yet so many people have made it very clear that these parts of me are utterly unacceptable to them- there is something wrong with me because I don’t agree with them anymore.

I’m crying as I write this. You cannot tell me that I’m deficient and a bad person for changing my beliefs without hurting me deeply. There is nothing wrong with me– and yet you think there is. I will never be whole again in your eyes.

Well guess what? Being rejected and judged for who you are hurts, and it causes low self esteem and stress. So in a way, people create their own self-fulfilling prophecies. “People who leave the faith are always angry and lash out at us!” Well of course we are angry! You spend so much effort making us feel inadequate and bad for not believing like you- of course we will not be happy with you and will probably be mad at your religion when we finally leave it! Yes, sometimes people go overboard (I did at first), but you are also making it pretty rough for ex-Christians and then blame us when we get upset.

The Tank Gets Drained

So our tank of emotional goodwill gets drained, and drained, and drained some more. What happens when the tank gets empty and then you make another withdrawal? It goes into the negative and we get irritated. We develop a short fuse with you. You’re taking and taking without depositing enough to fill it back up again. So when you are not depositing, but then make a withdrawal (like posting another thing that reminds me of how little you think of me), you have now pushed us into the negative. It should not surprise you when we get snappy with you when this occurs- after all, you have been abusing our goodwill bank for a very long time.

Understand Your Position of Dominance and Privilege.

Yes, this goodwill bank account thing does go both ways. You have a goodwill tank with us too and we also need to be mindful of how we treat you in return. I’ve never claimed to be perfect at this, and I’ve apologized before for responding in ways that I shouldn’t. But you must understand the difference in power and social dominance here, and understand that for the most part we are forced to be on the defensive against you when we would much rather just live in peace.

As Christians in the USA, you are in the majority- 70% Christians (of various sects) versus 3% atheists and 3.4% LGBTQ.

Please read those stats again. WE ARE THE MINORITY HERE. BY A LANDSLIDE.

When we say something against you, it is NOT the same as you saying it against us because we do not have the social power and privilege behind it like you do. You’re in the overwhelming majority; we’re so small that we have to scream to even be heard compared to you. We face social ostracizing and rates of physical violence and discrimination that many Christians simply can’t relate to because they’re never had to personally see or experience it for themselves. They’re so used to their position of social dominance and privilege that they can’t comprehend what it’s like to live in the US and not have those freedoms.

Almost all of our political leaders identify as Christians. They pray and believe in God, like you.

For LGBTQ or non-Christians to earn the SAME rights as Heterosexual Christians, we have to fight tooth and nail for it just like women and people of color have had to fight for theirs.

And even when we finally win and get some equality, mainstream Christianity gangs up on us to take our rights away again. How many Christian politicians talk about reversing marriage equality, or ending safe abortion access?

Do you have any idea how many millions of dollars are spent by American Christians just to oppose LGBTQ equal rights? It is literally a nationwide campaign to make sure LGBTQ people have to live by Christian values. And in return? LGBTQ people have never once tried to pass laws requiring Christians to marry someone of the same gender, or to become transgender. All we want are equal rights and to be treated with dignity, just like women and people of color have fought for. That is not persecution. This is us asking to be treated fairly, and Mainstream Christianity is freaking out that they don’t get to control us anymore.

Mainstream American Christianity is a massive social machine with one focus- to make America a Christian nation. Christians of this sort are constantly pushing to have their beliefs be adopted by all of society- and then they wonder why minorities like me, who have very little voting power or social power in comparison to them, get so angry about it. You’re acting like bullies, guys. 70% Christians vs 3% atheists/3.4% LGBTQ and you act like this is a fair fight, or that you are somehow the victims.

So you and people like you are draining our goodwill all the time even if you’re not talking to us directly. We see the things you say and support regarding people like us, and we’re not impressed. We are a pitifully small minority in comparison to you, and yet you use your massive influence to paint us as awful people and you actively fight our equality. Our goodwill bank account is constantly in a state of withdrawal, and we are expected to put up with this treatment from you even when you give us nothing in return and contribute to immense societal harm against us. If we object, then we are accused of attacking you.

Expressing Your Beliefs Without Oppressing Others.

If you want non-Christians to stop getting so easily upset with you, then look at how much you and your fellow Christians are draining from our goodwill banks.

When you tear us down by constantly telling saying how bad you think people like us are, are you making a conscious effort to build us back up again? (And no, telling us about Jesus does not count. That’s only a good thing in your world, not ours.) If you want us to respect you, then stop beating us down with your Bible and politics and start making positive deposits into our lives!

It’s hard to get angry at someone who makes you feel good about yourself. And you know what? When you build people up instead of tearing them down, they may actually start to open up to what you have to say. Even if they don’t agree with it, they’re not likely to be hostile towards you if you have treated them with respect and dignity and supported them when they’re being persecuted and needed help.

If you align yourself with Mainstream Christianity, we may start out very apprehensive or nervous around you because we’ve been burned by people affiliated with you so many times before. You can show us that you’re different- and we’d love to see that! But if you do or say the same things to us that everyone else does, then don’t get offended when we respond to you like we do to them- with irritation and justified anger. You’ve shown you’re no different than the other millions of Christians that have made the USA an awful place for us to live in.

So how can you express your beliefs without being oppressive?

First, stop crying persecution all the time. This isn’t the Middle East. It’s very frustrating when you say we’re persecuting you when we just want you to leave us alone so we can live in peace. Or, for you to say we’re attacking you when we ask to be treated as equals. Yes, some people are jerks and will argue or throw insults over anything and they’re out of line, but most of us have genuine grievances and have good reason to be angry. That doesn’t mean we’re persecuting you.

Second, make sure you are treating us with respect and dignity. You greatly outnumber us, so it gets overwhelming dealing with stuff like this from all of you all the time. Don’t be another hurtful voice in a sea of hurtful voices. You will not win anyone to Christianity that way. You just make people even more hostile to your religion because you’re hurting us with it.

Thirdly, do not oppose our equal rights. You like having the freedom to make your own decisions, right? You wouldn’t want someone else’s personal beliefs to be forced on you, so don’t do that to us. If anyone ever tried to make it illegal for you to go to church, I’d be right there fighting for your rights. Why? Because I stand for equality- not just for me, but for everyone. It would be nice if you felt my rights were worth fighting for too, but if you can’t support me then at LEAST don’t be one of the ones oppressing me.

 

Sorry this was long, but there are years of pain and frustration that needed an outlet. If you took the time to read it all, perhaps you’ll understand me a bit better now. Either way, I wish you well.

 

‘Great Precaution Not To Offend A Minister’: Couple Denied Marriage Explains Why They Chose A Judge (link)

“We took great precaution not to offend a minister — that’s why we went to a judge to get married, never dreaming that he couldn’t follow the law,” Wilson told WTOL. “That he wouldn’t follow the law.”

“To go through that experience when it’s not pleasant and singles you out at a time in your life when you’re celebrating the fact that you have the same right as everyone else, it’s just not good. I don’t want anyone else to go through it,” she added.

But of course, the religious right will never be satisfied. Most same-sex couples who want to marry aren’t asking clergy members they don’t know to marry them, to avoid awkward situations and out of respect for their religious beliefs.

But taxpayer employees of the state have, as written above, a legal duty and sworn oath to do their jobs, “faithfully and impartially.”

How much more are same-sex couples supposed to do to appease anti-gay activists and “Christians”?

What more does the religious right want?

http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/_great_precaution_not_to_offend_a_minister_couple_denied_marriage_explains_why_they_chose_a_judge

So what more can we do? This couple specifically didn’t go to a church in order to not offend any clergy, and they were STILL faced with a religious person who refused to marry them, even though it was literally his job to do so.

This is the next stage of the LGBTQ movement for equality- making sure that state officials actually obey the law. State officials are NOT entitled to refuse service to anyone because of their personal beliefs- they are obligated to represent the law, not themselves, even when they personally disagree with the law. Any government official that cannot represent the law consistently should find a new profession, since they’re unable to fulfill their most basic duties which they swear to uphold.

When the Hateful Accuse Us of Hatefulness (link)

I almost cried reading this article. We’re allowed to be angry. We’re allowed to share our anger and our stories about the hurt we’ve endured and still endure. We’re allowed to point out oppressive attitudes and actions when we see it. We’re allowed to express our anger and hurt even if it makes our oppressors uncomfortable. After all, their momentary discomfort at our expressions of joy and pain is nothing compared to the generations of oppression they have inflicted and still inflict upon us.

Just because we won this single battle doesn’t mean the fight for equality is over, nor does it erase the unimaginable harm they’ve done to us in the name of “love”. We’re allowed to make sure that our immense struggles are not forgotten or toned down to make our oppressors feel better about themselves. It is not hateful for us to show them how they’ve hurt us, to make them aware of the damage they’ve caused and are still causing. It is not hateful for us to be angry at the terrible way we’ve been treated, or to celebrate a victory over their oppression of us. It is not hateful to recover from oppression and live our lives in ways that our oppressors dislike. 

Although I personally don’t agree with the term “fundagelical” to describe anti-gay Christians (I find it unnecessarily abrasive and would personally use another term), after how I’ve been treated and my LGBTQ friends have been treated and countless generations of LGBTQ people have been treated, I think a strongly worded article in reply is more than justified.

But I’m not going to play nice here: the Christians opposing LGBTQ rights have rivers of blood flowing down their hands.

Every single demand that we shut up, give them “respect” (again, meaning: silence and an allowance to keep acting as if they won rather than lost), and stop being “hateful” is being made while they peek at us through bloody fingers. Their hands are so close to their faces that they can’t even see the blood streaming down their wrists.

They have turned their gazes away from the lives they have destroyed, the children they have murdered and abandoned, the bullying they have done, or the constant stream of filthy smears they have made against a marginalized group–marginalized, remember, because of their hateful pseudo-love–that never actually posed a threat to anything of theirs. They can’t see any of that. When this information gets shared with them, they try to silence the messenger–because the message runs so contrary to their crafted and curated self-image. Their emotional paychecks depend on seeing themselves as the “good guys”: the embattled paladins of truth and justice fighting against a monstrous and agelessly-evil enemy. The truth would destroy that image of themselves they hold so dear–and would put into question all the other false ideas they hold. But all of this is their problem and not ours.

Until they wash their hands and get cleaned up, they have no right at all to try to shut anyone up for pointing out their error. We however have every right to talk about that error, and we will continue to do so.

We are not being hateful, and we will not be shamed into silence by those culture-warrior Christians feeling stung over their loss.***

We are not being hateful, any more than they were ever being loving.

Read the whole article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/excommunications/2015/07/when-the-hateful-accuse-us-of-hatefulness/#sthash.C3pGWfEH.dpuf

To My Christian Friends who Oppose Marriage Equality

This past week has been a roller coaster of emotion for me. On one hand, marriage equality finally came to the U.S.- although there are still other important areas to be worked on, this was a massive step for LGBTQ equality and that’s wonderful! My first Pride Festival was also a very positive experience; I loved the acceptance and freedom to by myself that I felt there. It was a safe and happy place and I was able to meet other people just like me. I was also very happy to see support from countless Christians in my life this past week- even those that did not personally agree with me were still vocal in their support of my right to choose for myself, and they shared my joy with me even as they stayed true to their own religious beliefs.

But there was another side to this past weekend- Christians who don’t approve of marriage equality did a lot of posting and talking about their feelings on the matter. Of course it’s your right to believe whatever you want and express those beliefs, and I’ll always support that right because freedom can’t be given only to those we agree with- but your words come with consequences. And often it’s other people who have to live with the consequences of words we so causally throw around.

I cried this past weekend. I cried because the way you used your freedom of speech hurt me deeply. You’re not strangers on the internet, people I’ve never met who understandably wouldn’t have as much personal empathy for me. But you are people I know personally, people who claim to respect and care about me. I need to express to you how you’ve made me feel this week, I need you to understand the power of your words to tear people down and push people even farther away from your faith.

1. This isn’t just a simple disagreement.

I disagree with my Christian friends all the time. Our conversations usually look like this:

(Me) “I believe homosexuality isn’t a sin. I don’t believe in sin. Therefore I would marry someone of the same sex if I fell in love with them.”

(Them) “I believe homosexuality is a sin. Therefore I would not date or marry someone of the same gender.”

THAT is a disagreement. We both have our views, we express them respectfully, and neither of us are forcing our views on each other. This, however, is what has been happening with the issue of marriage equality:

(Me) “I believe homosexuality isn’t a sin. I don’t believe in sin. Therefore I would marry someone of the same sex if I fell in love with them.”

(Them) “I believe homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, no one should be allowed to marry someone of the same gender, even if their beliefs say otherwise. I also believe that you are pushing your beliefs on me by even asking to marry someone of the same gender.” religion-505x320

Do you see the difference? You’re not just disagreeing with me, you’re literally telling me that I do not deserve legal freedom to follow my own beliefs if they happen to be different from yours. You want YOUR religious beliefs to be legally enforced on my personal life. That isn’t a disagreement- that is you using your religion to oppress me.

And then, to add insult to injury, you are getting upset at me for even ASKING to be allowed to legally live out my own beliefs, or for pointing out that the way you’re addressing this issue is extremely hurtful and oppressive to the LGBTQ community. My fight for legal equality is presented as an attack on your religious beliefs, even though you’re the ones trying to make me live according to your beliefs and not mine. Me wanting to live out my own beliefs is not an attack on your religious freedom.

When you say we don’t deserve legal equality, you’re saying that we are second class citizens who can’t and shouldn’t make decisions for ourselves. By saying that your personal religious beliefs should trump our personal freedom, that you should dictate how we’re allowed to live our lives, you dehumanize and demean us.

You’re also going against everything our nation stands for, since our nation was literally founding on the idea that all people should be free to follow their own personal beliefs without our shared government promoting any of them over another. The same constitutional clause that unequivocally protects your right to follow your religion also protects me from being forced to follow your religion in any way.

I don’t care what you believe about sin. That’s a matter of personal belief. I may respectfully debate it with you (if we both want to have that conversation), but as long as you’re not shaming, belittling, or mocking me I don’t care what you believe. However- I DO care that you think your beliefs about sin should be enforced and regulated via our shared government, which was founded upon freedom for every American. Freedom and justice for ALL, not freedom and justice for Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians. Your religious freedoms only extend as far as my freedoms begin. I can’t (and wouldn’t!!) force you to marry someone of the same gender or perform same sex marriages, and you can’t (and shouldn’t!!) force me not to.

2. You have dehumanized and mocked me and my struggles.

This week I’ve watched as my Pride symbols have been taken apart, mocked, belittled, and appropriated to support your own cause. Here are some examples:

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Please stop.

The LGBTQ community faces discrimination and persecution that Christians in the United States don’t even come close to understanding. 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ teens and young adults that were thrown out of their homes when they came out of the closet, or that left home in desperation because they couldn’t stand the constant judgment and stigma from their loved ones. Transgender people face a 66% risk of violence or attempted violence, most have been severely bullied or discriminated against, and 41% of them have attempted suicide because of how society treats them. LGBTQ people are regularly assaulted, harassed, and judged in public places in the United States. Many have literally lost their lives, whether because of violence enacted against them or because of suicide after years of unending societal torment. The LGBTQ community faces a high rate of depression because of the stigmas and discrimination they have to endure. BQstZ8vCEAA6IqI

THIS is what these symbols represent. Our struggles, the blood and tears we have shed, and the hope of one day gaining freedom from oppression, societal violence, and unjust laws. Our flags and colors and symbols represent unimaginable struggle, but also courage and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. The rainbow represents HOPE for us, just as it represents hope for you. For us it represents hope that there is beauty after a storm. We can both gain equal and different inspiration from this beautiful manifestation of nature. 

And yet you mock our symbols, manipulate them to promote your own religious agendas, you put our symbolism down to build up your own. And then you wonder why the LGBTQ community gets angry at you?

3. “God will judge our nation for this!” “It’s like Sodom and Gomorrah!”

This is so incredibly insulting. With all the horrible things happening in the world and in the United States, such as sex trafficking and priests sexually abusing children and black churches being burned by racist terrorism, THIS is the issue you think that God will destroy America over? Loving committed relationships will ruin our nation, but the Christian holocaust of Native Americans in our early history didn’t? Our massive slave trade and legalized racism prior to the 60’s didn’t? America’s terrible treatment of the LGBTQ community wouldn’t? If your God would judge America for loving relationships but not these atrocities, then he is an unjust monster that is not worthy of worship.

4. “We win in the end!”

I didn’t see this one specifically on my friends’ posts, but it was certainly being thrown around by a lot of Christians this weekend. Even if you believe this is true, try to see it from our point of view. Your God is going to destroy us anyways in the end, and you’re happy about this? Wow.

5. “One Man One Woman” isn’t just insulting, it isn’t even Biblical.

one_man_and_one_woman_is_a_marriage_shirt-r64bca016ec19467d9304d1d1817ac763_f0yq2_1024This one has long been posted by anti-gay Christians, and a huge number of Christians on my Facebook have been posting them this week. it’s by far been the most popular. But here’s the problem: It’s not even Biblical.

While the Bible may not allow same sex marriages (debated hotly in Christian circles), it certainly DOES allow polygamy, sex slaves (concubines) and treating women like property. The only place that says a man should have a single wife is specifically referring to bishops. This is an issue that Christian missionaries overseas have had to come to grips with, since other nations still embrace polygamy even while also embracing Christ. These missionaries had to acknowledge that the Bible doesn’t actually condemn polygamy, and thus they had no right to condemn the cultural practices of the local people. I studied this when I was in Bible college preparing to be an overseas missionary, and I remember having to reevaluate my idea of what marriage meant in other Christian cultures.

“One man and one woman” is NOT the only type of marriage God allowed in scripture, so these memes are far more indicative of your own personal prejudice than of God’s alleged words. So not only are these memes hurtful because you’re making it clear that our marriages disgust you, but they don’t even match what your own Bible says about the types of marriage that God allegedly condones. i_support_traditional_marriage_pin-rd49d3b1df1b24668a0ff03ad723ca880_x7efx_1024

And as for the memes that state “I support traditional marriage”: “Traditional” doesn’t mean it’s right. Banning interracial marriages was once traditional too. Treating women like property was once traditional. Marrying girls barely out of puberty (or still in puberty) is STILL traditional in many countries. Until 1993, “traditional marriage” included the legal rights of the husband to rape his wife, and not that long ago wives were not allowed to vote or hold their own property. And the Biblical versions of marriage are VERY different than the marriage traditions we hold today.

“Traditional marriage” is a meaningless phrase that can be translated into “We’ve always done it this way, and I don’t want to change it!” Our laws should not be based on tradition, but on what’s fair and just for all citizens. And sometimes that means challenging and changing traditions that shouldn’t have been traditions in the first place.

6. You Were the Catalyst for Me Leaving Christianity.

Not directly, and probably not for the reasons you’re thinking, but it’s true. Years ago, when I was still a Christian, the state of Maine was voting on marriage equality. Although I believed it was a sin at the time, I didn’t think it was right to force any of my beliefs on non-believers, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. I had several gay and lesbian friends and I supported and loved them even though I disagreed. However, countless Christian friends on my Facebook were not so empathetic. Most of these Christians were people I went to Bible college with, though there were others from my circles growing up.

The message they sent was clear: They did not respect or love these people. They wanted to force their religion on them, and were not above dehumanizing and degrading them to accomplish this. And not only that, but they started attacking and belittling any Christians who dared to disagree with them. I saw this on one of my friend’s pages: “You can’t be a Christian and support gay marriage!” Really? You’re speaking for God now?

Their hateful attitudes and lack of empathy caused me to question whether or not being gay was actually a sin. After all, Jesus never said the things they were saying. Was this anti-gay attitude really Biblical after all? So I dug deeper into scripture and actually listened to other Christians who believed it wasn’t a sin, and I was shocked. The issue wasn’t as black and white as I’d thought- there were other legitimate ways to interpret those scriptures, similar to how we interpreted verses about slavery.

That day I realized two things that shocked me to my very core- One, my Christian circles only accepted me if I thought just like them, and two, that the church that I had trusted to teach me truth had been wrong on something really important. This last realization caused me to dig into other issues as well. Once I started openly questioning my faith, the questions I’d pushed down for years on many issues all came flooding to the surface. Eventually I wondered whether the Bible was divinely inspired, and realized I didn’t think it was. And then came the biggest question of all: Does God actually exist? My answer surprised me, but it was also comforting too because I no longer had to try to explain away the things that had never made sense to me. I no longer had to struggle with cognitive dissonance.

If these Christians in my life had not been so blatantly hateful towards the LGBTQ community and Christians who supported them, I would probably never have started questioning my faith. If my religion had been a source of love and acceptance instead of division and intolerance that was causing immense pain to LGBTQ people I cared about, I would have had very little reason to question those beliefs. But you made it impossible for me to coast along anymore. You forced me to dig deeper, to ask the tougher questions. And for that I thank you.

I want to clarify that I didn’t leave Christianity because of mean Christians. I’m not foolish enough to judge the validity of an entire belief system on the hurtful actions of some. There are mean atheists too, every group has its good and bad members. Truth is not determined by how people act. However, while your attitudes didn’t directly result in my unbelief, it was the catalyst that caused me to begin openly questioning my beliefs.

I know that converting people to your belief system is important to you, and keeping them in the faith is even more important to you- and the way you’re dealing with this specific issue is turning people away from your faith in so many different ways. For some like me, it was the catalyst that got us questioning our beliefs in general and was thus an indirect cause of our leaving the faith to become atheists or agnostics. For others, the hatred and anger coming from the church made them not want any part of it anymore, so they left the church to follow God in their own way, often joining the ranks of the “nones” who have no specific religious affiliation.

Here’s my point: If you want to get people into your faith, and to stop people from leaving it, then you HAVE to change how you’re addressing this issue. You don’t have to compromise your beliefs on sin to acknowledge that how you’re treating sinners isn’t effective and may not be how God would want you to act.

Conclusion:

I love you all, even those of you who have caused me pain this week. I don’t begrudge you your right to express your beliefs just as I express mine. But I need you to understand that how you’re addressing this issue affects me and the rest of the LGBTQ community. It’s hard to see my friends post and say these things, even as they claim to love and respect me. Saying “I love you!” means little when you’re using your religion to belittle and hurt me. And when I’m hurting, sometimes my filter doesn’t work as well as it should. I’m more apt to passionately comment on those posts trying to make you see how hurtful it is. I’m more apt to share posts that may hurt you in return, things that on a normal day I’d refrain from posting. I’m not excusing any reactions I’ve had that may have gone too far, I’m just saying that I’m not perfect and when my friends act this way it feels like I have to defend my right to even exist in their world. I’m saying that in my pain I sometimes lash out because I just want the pain and judgment to stop, and nobody seems to listen when I say things nicely. I’m doing my best to coexist with you, but some days you make it so damn hard.

I don’t expect any of you to change your beliefs on homosexuality being a sin. I’ve never asked that and never will. But I am hoping that perhaps you’ll find a new, kinder, more effective way to address it, just as you address other sins.

Girl Learns That Boys Aren’t her Only Option

Found on https://www.facebook.com/LizzyTheLezzy?fref=nf.

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Funny, but also sobering. I grew up thinking my only options were boys too… I wish I’d had someone talk to me like this when I was little, to tell me that it’s ok to like either one or both. Instead I had to figure it out myself years later.

Ugandan Pupils Celebrate Anti-Gay Bill

Uganda-bill-signing-3“Ugandan pupils from different schools take part in an event organized by born-again Christians to celebrate the signing of a new anti-gay bill that sets harsh penalties for homosexual sex, at the Omega Healing Center outside of Kampala, in Uganda Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.”

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/02/kerry-u-s-launching-new-effort-to-combat-anti-gay-laws-worldwide/#.Uw53peme-oo.facebook

I know that not all Christians are like this. However, I think this needs to be seen. This isn’t an isolated incident- these things are happening in many places around the world by Christians, and some Christians even in the US have made it clear that they would like to make things as difficult for gay people as possible.

Many Christians would say that these people are “deceived” or “not true Christians”. But how do you know? Who determines what is a “true” Christian? I’m sure these people think they are the ones who fully understand God’s will- so who is correct?

Here’s what bothers me after reading that article (and many others like it in the past):

1. Many Christians I know speak out very strongly against Muslims, as though they are all the same- violent terrorists. And yet, I look around the world and I see Christians doing horrible things too, sometimes not much different than radical Muslims. Of course that doesn’t mean they speak for all Christians- but neither do radical Muslims.

2. Many Christians I know say that the Bible is the ultimate moral standard, and that without it we would be lawless, murders, and our society would digress. Seeing the harm that many Christians have done to societies, both past and present, I find this extremely offensive and hypothetical. I’m sure it’s not purposefully said to be offensive- but I’m sure you can see the reason behind my frustration. I see articles like this, showing Christian children brainwashed to be so hateful, and I see other examples every day- and then I am told that I have no morals because I’m an atheist.

3. Many missionaries think that “the Bible is all you need”. I have heard people say many times that “If we could only get Bibles there… God would do the rest!” They send Bibles by the thousands to people whose culture is currently violent and oppressive, sometimes to people who barely know how to read, much less deal with complicated theology in a book that can be interpreted thousands of different ways. They hand them out for free like candy on a street corner, where anyone can take them. But when you send a book to a culture that thrives on violence, and that book has lots of violence in it and at first glance appears to condone such violence, what do you think will happen? Do you really think they will take the time to pick out the verses about kindness instead of focusing on the violent parts that they like? Do you think they’ll get the part about the New Testament overriding the Old Testament before taking Levitical law literally, or that they will take your interpretation over the Westboro version? If you must push Christianity on another culture, make sure you teach kindness and love above all else- don’t just throw the Bible at them and leave, hoping they will “get it right”- especially if they are prone to violence or inequality! It’s a disaster waiting to happen.