Fear of Change (or You’ve Gotten Your Civil Rights All Over My Bigotry)

You can tell the presidential election is right around the corner.  And by that I mean 16 months away.  Already we are inundated with candidates, especially from the right, that seem intent on grabbing headlines and mind space.  What I’ve noticed, not that it is new, is the hate and fear mongering that is going on.  It seems to have ratcheted up significantly over the last few years.

Perhaps we should blame Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.  After all, they masterminded W’s presidency and campaigns and solidified the country behind him.  This was done by fueling the fear that Iraq was ready to bomb the US and was funding/hiding/helping terrorists.  Turns out that none that was true.  But being scared, we overlooked the “mistakes in intelligence” (or lies as they might be called – Colin Powell might have quit because of them, as you may recall).  And then fear became a heavy political tool.

So what do we have today?  Fear that our religious freedoms are being taken away.  Where?  I don’t see it.  Marriage for all?  Ok, don’t perform weddings in your church for a same sex couple.  Do you really believe a gay couple, who KNOW you hate their lifestyle and biology, want to force you to do their wedding?  I don’t think so either.  Let’s be totally honest, your religious bigotry is fine in your home and probably in your church or shed or garage or wherever.  But let’s be frank:

Marriage is a legal contract accorded with rights under the constitution and laws of this nation.

Stop fighting it.  If you really believe you must get divorced so that you can protest what the 9 smartest legal minds in country decided, perhaps it is more curious why you haven’t joined a cult.  David Koresh anyone?  The Moonies?  The Manson Family?  Maybe Heaven’s Gate was more your speed; feel free to restart that one.

And let’s not throw down “the Bible”.  Men wrote it.  It’s been edited and modified many more times over the last 1500 years  than you are probably willing to admit  Let’s stop looking at this novel as sacrosanct.  You want to follow it? Great.  But recall it also has several men with multiple wives.  It contradicts itself.  It’s a book.  The only thing it doesn’t have a T. Rex and Woolly Mammoths.  Ever wonder why?  Me too.

That all being said, I believe in your right to believe what you want.  And other than a piece here now and again, I won’t disparage you in public.  After all, over 70% of the US practices some form of Christianity and only 2% of are Jews.  You know us, the cheap ass money lenders leading the illuminati, right?

But you don’t have a problem with other religions do you?  You afford them the same respect as you would like?  You know, that vocal minority waging “the war on Christmas”.  That’s code for “They are attacking Christianity”.   One of the most ridiculous causes I’ve ever heard.  The overwhelming majority sets the rules.  And in case you forgot, there are no famous, renowned or even discussed Jewish Founding Fathers in US lore.  And there is no attack on Christianity.  But there is a lack of patience for intolerance and institutionalized ignorance.  The world is changing.  Civilization is, in a sense, growing up.

That’s why Fox will bring up “THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS!” every year.  It resonates.  It helps fuel the fear that “their” religion is under attack.  Clearly, Fox spokestool Bill O’Reilly is onto something.  After all, this religious attack is the worst we’ve seen since the holocaust.  No?  I must have been watching the wrong “news” station.  My bad.

What you fear in the night
comes to call in the day anyway
(Duritz, Bryson 1994)

My friend and author Laura Antoniou put it well, “… if you think someone’s religious beliefs trump my civil rights, then you are cordially invited to fuck off.”  I couldn’t agree more.  It is about civil rights.  Not only are we finally righting the wrongs of the South and their war on civil rights for Blacks (150 years in the making mind you) we are also giving everyone civil rights regardless of sexual orientation.  The amount of progress and growth in the last few weeks has been immense.  Or has it?

My favorite whipping boy, the Genius Ted Cruz, thinks that extending those civil rights will hurt the Christian Churches he loves so much.  The Evil Obama IRS is targeting their tax exempt status.  That’s right.  Genius Ted believes that organizations that deny the civil rights of others are to be glorified and guaranteed their tax exempt status.  He is frightened of potential changes brought about by the evil Obama IRS.

In fact, so much so he is also scared for the Jewish Churches.  Yo! Genius!  Jews don’t go to church.  We don’t have churches.  We go to Synagogues and Temples.  Or we go to Shul (an acceptable secondary answer).  I was appalled at his lack of grace and class.  Of course he was talking to Glenn Beck, so my expectations were already quite low.

Let’s ignore the ridiculously large amount of insensitivity toward the Jewish people.  Let’s focus on the fear mongering.  I know I have been concerned over the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status for years.  How else could they afford to pay hush money and settlements to the victims of pedophile priests?  I’m not saying all priests are bad.  Most aren’t and I’m a HUGE fan of Pope Francis.  But since the number of pedophile priests is more than 1, (and honestly it is WAY more than 1) it is too many.

And other religions have their issues as well.  So is creating a worry about tax exempt status important?  Why yes it is.  It allows people to focus on things other than the fact that many organized religions are more concerned with denying others their civil rights and freedoms than they are anything else.  This distracts the conversation.  It’s the political equivalent of yelling “Squirrel!”  It rallies the religious base to ignore what’s really important and move to build a protective wall around their (religious) treasure.  And nothing generates more votes than fear and hate.

For the record, there has not been any targeting of churches’ tax exempt status for this reason yet.  But when the issue was raised in the Supreme Court discussion, it was noted that the continued denial of civil rights could lead to a review of tax exempt status.  That makes sense to me.  If corporations or people deny anyone their civil rights, there is an action taken against them.  Are we to believe that religious entities are above the law?

Yes Virginia, there is freedom of religion in this country, but there is not freedom to break the law.  If your new religion requires human sacrifice and cannibalism should we permit it? (I’m sorry if that hit too close to your beliefs, Scientology.)  Of course not.  The law wasn’t enacted to circumvent religion.  It was enacted to guarantee that all MEN and WOMEN are created equal and allowed the same rights.  Period.  We should not celebrate anyone or anything that believes otherwise.  Next you will tell me Boko Haram kidnapping and killing girls because they dared be educated is allowable.  Stop using religion to shield your small mindedness.  Embrace the golden rule – treat everyone well.  Don’t make exceptions when you don’t or won’t understand others.

In the Dark Ages and other less advanced times, homosexuality and science (!) were considered Satan’s work.  We know that’s not true now.  You can ignore science.  You can dislike the practice of homosexuality.  But we acknowledge the truth of science and we know homosexuality is not a choice.  We are smarter, more educated and more open to the truth of things than we were.  Let’s stop the fear mongering.  Let’s stop the hate speech.  I think it is time for understanding and acceptance.

And you kill what you fear
And you fear what you don’t understand
(Collins, Banks 1980)

Hey Ted!  Boy Genius!  Do you think you could lay off the fear mongering and hate speech? Do you think could work on understanding?  You did go to college, you do have an education.  Keep in mind I will be proposing a Wonderlic Test for politicians.  And why yes, I do think you would score below Vince Young, another famous Texan.  Maybe you could aspire to more?  I don’t think so either.

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