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.

Is the Hijab a Symbol of Diversity or a Symbol of Oppression?

coca-cola-hijabIs the Hijab a Symbol of Diversity or a Symbol of Oppression? 

I really like this article. I have been very torn about the hijab. One the one hand, I believe it’s wrong to discriminate against someone’s choice of dress or religion. But on the other hand, most women don’t really choose this. If someone wants to wear a hijab, that’s great- I have no problem with that. But the majority of women who wear the hijab do so because they have to, or because they have been raised to believe that they must. When your family will shun you or you can get beat up for not wearing it, or when your religion promises negative consequences, or when you feel like less of a person for not wearing it, then there’s not really a choice- even if you convince yourself that you want to wear it.

I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but I once convinced myself that I liked clothing standards that I actually didn’t like very much too. The Bible college I went to was very conservative- skirts that covered the knee completely and tights to every class and church service, high necklines and nothing tight, no dangly earrings or flashy jewelry, no watching movies unless expressly approved by the staff (they only approved Christian films), etc. At the time, I convinced myself that I really didn’t mind the rules. They were for my own good, they made me a more modest person, I liked them. But I didn’t like them. I love dangly earrings and big jewelry! I loved them before college, and after college I rediscovered my love for them. Back then I would catch myself drooling over clothes that I could never wear there and lamenting because modifying it to be modest enough would have ruined the look. When the formal banquet came around, we had to do a modesty “hallelujah” test- we raised our arms above our heads, and if our armpits or shoulders were showing, we had to wear something else or modify our shawl placement. Many girls wore tee-shirts under their beautiful dresses or sweaters over them in order to meet this very strict standard. It looked friggin’ awful half the time if you couldn’t find an appropriate and stylish shrug and a prom dress with a high enough neckline. Some girls were able to make it look good, but most of the time the beauty of the dress was just lost.

In my particular case, and I think for many other girls I knew there, I believe this was a coping mechanism. In order for me to reconcile with my beliefs, I had to convince myself that I agreed with the rules, throwing out my ability to choose for myself. I told myself I dressed modestly because I wanted to- but that wasn’t really true. Not when I was truly honest with myself, which was very hard to do back then. I dressed modestly because I had to, because it’s what the other people in my faith did in that setting, because I was taught that I was “more spiritual” if I dressed that way. I fit in when I looked that way.

Of course I cannot say that all Muslim women are in the same position I was, everyone is different and their culture is vastly different- but in the few instances I’ve seen where they defend their love of the hijab, I see a similar reaction in them that I once had, except in this case it’s much bigger and more dangerous.

Women should never be oppressed, whether they choose to wear a hijab or not. I would NEVER support forcing a women to not wear one- but I would also highly support any programs that helped to give women a CHOICE. I am torn about the commercial featuring the hijab as a form of diversity- I honestly don’t know what I think. Women who wear hijabs in the US are often bullied for it, so in that regard I am glad to see diversity shown in a public way. But it is more often than not a sign of sexist oppression… should that be glorified in the name of diversity? I don’t know. But I do think this article opens dialogue that needs to be started. If you haven’t read it yet, please see the link above before commenting.