Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Religion, Deception and Our Political Landscape

One of the very first moral codes we learn as a child is "do not lie" I teach it to my children as it was taught to me, so many years ago, by my parents. This isn't an arbitrary moral precept but a practical way to aproach the world and our relationships with other human beings. I just told the "boy who cried wolf" story to my 4 year old daughter to help her understand that I need to believe the things she says, for a very good reason. What if she's hurt, in trouble, or in need? The ability to know that those are authentic needs are important (although I would be there no matter what). Honesty is a fundamental requirment for a healthy, functional family as it is for a healthy, functional society...

Dating myself a bit here aren't I? But put down your paint spattered sunglasses and stop looking for your Izod shirt or candies...this is serious. This song represented to me the current state of our political dialogue about gay marriage and points to a deeper and more disturbing trend.

The right often uses misinformation and distortion to create an emotional climate that makes people receptive to their message and tune in again and again to see if the sky has fallen yet. They have taken a people that believed in their country and convinced them that its all going to fall apart at any moment. mayby that true...I hear some disturbing things (I.E...civil war rumblings). But we expect a certain amount of that from the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannity's of the world. They are showmen, like the circus ringmasters of old, and first and formost they want to keep you interested in their product, which is their opinion. So there are no suprises when they spout half truths or deliberate misinformation because they want to scare us into staying tuned. They only have a platform as long as we watch.

Its religion that has got me scratching my head these days because its influence often writes itself on our hearts in a way that transcends personalties, trends, or cultural circumstances. Ask anyone with a healthy helping of Catholic guilt...

"But Bryan" you say, "Hasn't religion always been a source of conflict and strife in the world? How is their current behavior any different?"

Well, I guess in the sense that religion, as an organized body of human beings acting on their own agendas, thats very true, but not as the core of values I was raised to believe in. I think Traditionally, religious abuse refers to the men and women who have intentionally manipulated the spirituality of others to gain power or money. But do the folks behind referendum 71 in Washington State and Question 1 in Maine really fall into that category? Sure they are manipulating people with falsehoods that they now, indirectly, admit to...but I dont see the connection to money or power that is the hallmark of so many other religious abuses. I'm left to wonder if in fact people like Mark Mutty and Maggie Gallagher have literally drunk their own kool-aid. They believe in the cause so much that they are willing to go to any length to see it fullfulled. But how can they stand on a platform of wholesome values and literally lie to people about the effects of allowing gay marriage? Surely that means does not justify the end? Unless they themselves believe those lies themselves, which is the only option we are left with...deliberate lies...or deep denial.

This Leaflet image was taken from a recent post in "Pams House Blend" a blog I love to follow. Here is an example of some Washington States "reject 71" garbage:

In this lovely picture from a great t.v. show we see the nostalgic America that is the Ideal of The "protct Marriage" crowd. The Problem...the two boys in the picture...Ricky and David Nelson...grew up to be quite untradional. Ricky Married his three month pregnent bride, Had three more children and then divorced her. His brother David followed suit. In addition to this the article points out the number of times the backers of the "reject referendum 71" campaign have been married and divorced themselves.....wow...you know...I dont want to make judgments on anyone...their life is their life...its where they attack my life that the gloves come off. If your going to stand up for "traditional marriage" shouldn't you be in your original one? What about their kids? Wheres their, in home, mommy and daddy?

Read the whole article here: www.pamshouseblend.com

They are fully aware that many of those people sitting in the pews on sunday will not look further for information on gay marriage then what their pastor delivers every sunday at the pullpit.

So the lies are being repeated...even by religous leaders who are supposed to espouse the truth. "they are going to teach kids about gay marriage!"...hogwash. "My church will be sued!"...balderdash! "good christians will lose their jobs!...100% pure cow poop. The Longer Gay rights exist in tollerant states, the more people can see their real consequenses. Conversely, The more mistruths about gay marriage and gay rights are repeated, the thinner they become and the easier for the common person to see through. By common person I refer to anyone that doesn't live on a constant diet of infotainment. So I ask..is it personal gain...or blind fanaticism that allows the use of lying as an acceptable practice?

Every week Mormons, Catholics, and many others are out there are digging into their already cash strapped wallets to give to their churches, that spend it on a political campaign. How many bibles could that have bought? How many blankets? How many meals in the stomachs of hungry children? These ordinary folk are rellying on their spirituall leaders to guide them, And yet here the church is...backing up organizations and individuals willing to lie to win an election...and they find that moral. Is it me or is that not adding up? Is this a fight the churches really want to pick? Its making them look less and less like a bastion of love and hope and more like great angry tyrants. How is that good for the health of religion in America?

And In what universe did Christianity(in any form) become the moral police for the nation? Nowhere in the Bible is it taught by Jesus that we are to impose our values...or what we percieve to be GODS values...on others? Will you find examples of that in the old testament? Sure you will. But , do you really want to live by Evrything in the old testament? If so I hope you are immune to stoning because you got one coming. Didn't he want us to chose him, not have him forced on others? Christianity was meant to lead by example...not political coersion...and certainly not by lies. "For I am the way, the TRUTH, and the light. No one comes to the FATHER but by me"...

So I pose the question.....If the church is willing to lie about the effects of gay marriage because of a handfull of biblical quotes that they take out of context...what else are they willing to lie about? What else are they willing to DO to accomplish their goals because they believe them to be biblical?


  1. I think they are willing to do anything.

    I have no reason why, no way of knowing, i just think so.

    When People ask, you as a gay person where do you stand in regards God and the church? I simply respond.

    I do not believe, but i do understand. believe in espirituality, the joy of god, and the people who not need to, just believe.
    Church? Burn it, rebuild it. Just don´t listen to it.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hey Brian, great post. But the question I have for you is how is this different than any other subject being discussed in the political landscape? The same lies are spread about healthcare, particularly the public option i.e that it will bring socialism and fascism. No one tells the truth, on any mainstream media station, that the for profit health insurance companies are the problem and ought to be destroyed. The same lies are spread about torture i.e detaining people indefinitely and torturing them makes the world a safer place. No one, again in the mainstream media, calls anyone on this gross contradiction -- much less argues for the prosecution of the Bush Administration or the CIA officials at the ICC for crimes against humanity. For the biggest lie we need look no further than the gross wars of Iraq and Vietnam.

    We, America, are a culture that celebrates lies in political discourse and the effect is to render our first amendment rights useless. The prohibition on lying, as Kant rightly argued, allows us to discover and discern what is true. If everyone lied no one could know the truth rendering communication useless. Of course, the right is to be blamed, but so is the left and anyone else who is complicit for letting lies pass in the discourse of politics as if they are just the other side to an opinion.

    Unfortunately the predicament you face is what happens when fact and argument are conflated with opinion and you can see this in the mainstream media; it presents both sides without telling you which one is right and calls it "balance" and "objectivity" -- giving the same value to truth and lies. This is not new. It has been going on for decades and you can find its roots in segregation in America, where the New York Times’ commitment to “objective” journalism, for example, clouded the reality of the lynching of blacks in the South. Read these stories now and you shudder at their mendacity and heartlessness. More than 4,000 African-American men and women were hanged, shot, mutilated, burned alive or killed in other horrible ways by white mobs between 1880 and 1947. And the articles, while they report the lynching, also report what historians have now found to be lies: that these black men raped white women.

  4. OT-The Thompson Twins-I'm in 80's heaven!

    I think your talking about two different groups. the established Christian church and the Save Marriage" organizations that sprung up in response to SSM legislation. The churches message may be one of peace and tolerance but most of its messengers are anything but. The church preached that slavery was in the bible(Haam, one of the tribes of Isreal) and therefore blacks should be slaves. They also were instrumental in the subjegation of women-Eve gave Adam the apple, original sin,etc. So I'm not surprised that the church leaders are involved in limiting certain peoples rights again. church leaders know that preaching love and peace only gets so many into pews every Sunday. But preach against homosexuals or other social "evils" and the parishioners and offering plates increase because of the subject matter.

    As for the organizations like NOW and their ilk, it is a business and those who run it are looking at one thing-worshiping the almighty dollar. Do Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher really believe their spiel? I doubt it but the more they demonize the opposition and lie the more the easily swayed "sheep" will believe it and send in money to pay their salaries.

    Finally, I don't believe all Catholics believe the entire Catholic ideology. Look at birth control. The Church says no Catholics should use any method of birth control, however plenty of church-going Catholics do use some method of preventing pregnancy. They still consider themselves Catholic and believe in the God and the service but choose what teachings to accept. Same way with SSM, amongst my friends there are Protestants, Catholics and Jews who may or may not approve of homosexuality but do not try and instill their values on others. I do wonder what group NOM and their followers will target once marriage equality is passed. Because you know they aren't happy unless someone is disenfranchised.