Saturday, August 5, 2017

A few thoughts about religion

As people tend to interpret things differently, I thought it would be prudent to add a short section about religion for a few reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, is to clarify that the purpose of sharing my "coming out" story is not to spew hate towards those who are Catholic or who follow an organized religion. I have a great deal of respect for people of faith. In fact my own parents still regularly attend mass, and it comforts me to know that they have a place to take a rest from the world, renew their faith and find peace. 

I also think it's wrong to use gay rights as an excuse to bash religion. Reducing the discussion about gay rights, or any human rights issue for that matter, to simply being an "us vs. them" scenario is unhelpful as it prevents progress and only fosters anger on both sides of a debate. Real progress and understanding can only happen if everyone involved is listening to each other. In other words, a debate should not be framed as "us vs. them" but rather how do "we", as in all of us, find a solution. For that to happen, a certain level of compassion and empathy towards each other needs to be genuinely expressed from all involved... and for that to happen, all those involved need to have the ability to express compassion and empathy. I'm not being sarcastic. Quite sadly, there are unfortunately people in this world, both for and against homosexuality, who are simply unable to express feelings of empathy toward others unless they share the same political or religious way of thinking. The fact that we are all human beings, despite our political or religious views, is lost on such individuals.

In addition, considering that 1) it is so blatantly evident that Catholic teaching about homosexuality is harmful to gay kids as is 2) the negative attitude toward those gay kids which is fostered by such teachings, and 3) that children are born gay due to nature's own design, I think logic dictates that it is the Catholic Church's moral responsibility to own up to this and change their teachings. That's a big ask, I realize, but one that is fundamentally necessary. It is simply irresponsible, prejudiced, unjust and incorrect for the Catholic Church to teach whole communities of people all around the world that homosexuality is shameful or more sinful than being heterosexual. Such derogatory teachings about gay people are undeniably a form of oppression which I strongly doubt was God's intention.  

Fact: This guy is flexible.
Belief: I think he's hot!

At the core of the conflict regarding religion and gay rights is a debate about facts and beliefs. These are two very different things which are often confused. A fact is something that the accumulated evidence will support, such as the outcome of doing something a certain way for a period of time. So a fact would be: "Forcing a gay child to conform to heterosexual norms by supressing his or her gay identity through mental and social manipulation is harmful to the child." A belief is not a fact. It is something that a person may hope and wish to be true, or have a strong assumption or feeling about, but there is no solid proof to support the subject. To that end, a belief is called a belief for the very reason that it is not a fact! So a belief would be: "Homosexuality is unnatural and therefore gay people should not be allowed to get married." Believing in something does not make it a fact. (Homosexuality is in fact natural. You can believe gay people shouldn't be married, but it is not a fact that they shouldn't.) You can also repeat a belief over and over again until you think it's true, but in reality it still does not become a fact. Of course, a belief can stir up strong feelings and can have strong value, but it will never be an unchangeable, proven fact.

Regarding individual beliefs, one of the problems in our society is that everyone does not share in the same belief that: "All human life is equal and therefore everyone should be treated with an equal amount of respect". In any case, it is illogical to ask others to respect your beliefs if it is your belief that you do not have to respect others. This applies to religious folks and gay rights activists in equal measure.

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Originally Posted March 2016
Last Updated Aug 2017

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