Growing up, we are often taught to avoid giving into stereotypes. Just because a person’s skin colour is different, or because he’s handicapped, or because she’s socially withdrawn, we shouldn’t snap to behaviour that discriminates. It’s generally sound advice. Yet, when we are told that someone has blown himself up, why is it that we can be so sure of the following: that the person is a Muslim? Worse, why is it then when a person professes unbridled hatred for homosexuals, we can be almost certain that this is a product of his or her religion?
That’s not to say atheists don’t commit crimes. They do. Though if we examine non-religious convicts, it’s difficult to say if they were atheists to begin with since there’s a difference between being unconcerned about spirituality and not believing in one. However, when is the last time an atheist committed a series of mass killings in a church or temple specifically because he had a secular axe to grind with religious people? Left alone, and assuming a healthy mental psychology, people do not translate their discomforts into suicide vests or attempted crucifixions. For that, you will need religion.
Such a statement runs the risk of generalising every religion out there for which indeed there are some obscure faiths that are truly peaceful. But they all still require absolute fealty from its believers in the incredible, unprovable and mystical. And there lies the problem. When a pastor declines helping a homosexual because it goes against his faith, or when a Sikh soldier opposes army attire regulations for his right to wear his turban or when an employee says he can’t work on certain days because of his religious observations, what incredible evidence do they have to backup their religious claims?
None. None at all. Ironically, and almost laughably bad, identifying yourself as an atheist gives you no special calling card. Everyone else gets to play the loony ball, but as an atheist, you are considerably screwed if you were hoping to get a cut of special atheistic discounts. Given that religions are still being invented as this point, with Scientology being the most controversial (and has celebrities like Tom Cruise among their flock of sheep), exactly what is going to happen when valid newly founded religions begin expecting society to make concessions for them? Today we have to plan with halal food for the Muslims, and tomorrow perhaps we have to cater non fish products for Catholics who decide to bring back an expired injunction.
At one point, BBC covered a Christian debate about whether the bible condemns homosexuality. I am sure that to most rational thinkers, that was probably the most underwhelming gathering of very stupid adults in a room. Harsh words, yes, but consider this: the entire debate went back and forth between lines quoted from the Bible with each team trying to explain why it needed to be interpreted in their own special way. Not only were the interpretations vague as they always are where religion is concerned, evidence was unsurprisingly absent, but worse, they had the audacity to insist that their interpretations were moral laws to follow to be a good Christian. The entire debate was such an intellectual flatline – Hitchens would have had an aneurysm halfway through.
Homosexuals cannot choose nor change their sexual orientation anymore than we can choose who want to fall very deeply in love with. All human beings want the same thing: to know that out there someone really, really cares that we exist; to be loved for our imperfections and for our transgressions to be laughed away; to be listened to with joy and spoken to with unvarnished tenderness. And no people, religions or governments have the right to take that away. Life is already hard enough as it is without people going the extra mile to purchase discrimination points simply because their holy book(s) said so. The effort funnelled to oppose homosexuality is no less than the same idiots who insisted a woman’s job was to stay at home. Nor is it below that of the murderers who used Christianity to justify the slavery of black people.
We learn very badly from the past, if at all. If the relationship between James Randi and Deyvi Peña is anything to go by, married homosexuals lead far more fulfilling and satisfying marriages than heterosexuals. Despite a massive age difference of more than 30 years, Randi and Deyvi, in the superbly crafted documentary “An Honest Liar”, show more honest love and awareness towards each other than most ordinary couples. It’s not hard to see why. If you waited your entire life to marry a person (the state finally recognised homosexual unions recently) and you had to overcome so much stigma just to keep the relationship going, you learn to treasure what was impossibly difficult to achieve.
Though the Orlando shooter’s father has insisted the killing had nothing to do with religion (Islam) and more to do with his son being mentally disturbed and physically abusive, I am certain the root of the idea can be traced back to his faith. How else would he have been angered by watching two men kiss? Without religious incitement, observing such a behaviour may at worse, produce some discomfort. Perhaps it’s time to be honest. Terrorism or extremism, however you wish to look at it, let’s at least admit that there are some very bad ideas in all religions when they make unprovable authoritative claims. We already mock North Korea for its cult indoctrination of its citizens. Shouldn’t we make the case for a movement towards secularism?
So have you thought (HYTA) about your views on homosexuality?