Faith isn’t something which human beings are very good at. For all the cosy little images which are spread about we seem to excel at religion and leave our faith locked up at home in a box. Religion is a tool. It is a means of creating the one world, one people vision of individuals, and always it seems in the vision of someone where everybody else has to change dramatically. Faith on the other hand is an individual path. Where religion seeks conformity faith is concerned only with the individual’s walk. Religion is a super highway with no exits and only one destination. Faith on the other hand is a map which can be adapted and changed so that we get to enjoy the journey as well.
Religion, be it christianity, islam, judaism is based on the idea of everyone conforming rather than the individual being celebrated. That humanity would construct a system where everyone was designed to fail from the moment they were born displays a remarkable cruelty of thinking. It’s the ethos of dominant and submissive and is just as repugnant now as it was when religion was used to justify the slave trade and genocide of whole nations. All that has changed is the kinds of people we view as subhuman and therefore a resource.
I use the word resource in it’s truest sense. Less than two hundred years ago Africans were still being traded and treated as property rather than humans. They were a resource to be used for the benefit and profit of the owner with no more rights than the chair he sat in. The only reason that they were fed and housed was because the benefit would cease if they died. That view was sanctioned by the church, was encouraged by it and it spent a lot of time coming up with justifications for what, if it were a white man doing it to another white man, would have been been seen as inhuman and against god. Today the slaves have changed but they still live.
It’s almost as if religious leaders early in the life of the monotheistic religions hit a wall when it came to dealing with the basic nature of human beings. They saw the base need for humans to be greedy, violent, and true to their animal desires and so chose groups that were different who could be used and abused without censure. Indeed it is encouraged for individuals to hate and use a “different kind of human” rather than turn those traits onto the local community.
Two groups in particular seem to remain the property of society today. Here in America the first and oldest group are the indigenous people of the land, the second is the LGBTQ community. Both are seen by the state as resources to be used and exploited while the church happily sanctions their denigration in return for remaining the dominant religious power. How many times have you heard human rights being denied justified “because this is a Christian country”. If Christianity was removed from the equation the LGBTQ would have had equality a long time ago and the native population would have received the control of its own resources that are rightfully theirs.
The insidious way that religion has allowed itself to become the tool of oppression is pretty easy to see. First a people are subjugated. Next you teach them to self hate. Then you teach them that the only path to acceptance is through your god. To do that they will always be second class, always have to give more than the rest of society, but that’s ok because their reward will be in heaven. That heaven and the presumed rewards have never been proved is irrelevant because if you need proof then you have no faith, and therefore have failed to be a real human. This process of mental and spiritual slavery can be seen in every country that Christianity has touched, and every country that is claimed to be “Christianized”. In the end it has nothing to do with souls and everything to do with money and power, and the church has always loved money and power.
Both the LGBTQ and indigenous populations have been classified as “subhuman” and therefore not worthy of the restraints imposed by the ten commandments.”Thou shalt not steal”, “thou shalt not steal”, “thou shalt not covet”, and “thou shalt not misuse the name of God” become irrelevant once you have defined a gay man as being against the will of god, just as you can poison first nations land and children with a pipeline when you declare them possessed by demons and heathen. It becomes a culture of mental and physical violence where abuse is justified if the person has been deemed sinful. Of course there will be those who are moderate, who see the excesses that can occur but the system is rigged so that those who are most excessive in their abuse are protected. They become the unspoken shame of the rest but are not actively challenged by those they claim to represent.
So it is that the likes of Scott Lively can go out into the world and give governments a means to scapegoat the LGBTQ community and at the same time indulge his own vicious bloodlust. His advocacy of laws in other countries, knowing that they will be carried to extremes (unless he is ridiculously short sighted as to how humans work), is no less vile than sociopaths who seek to rid the world of evil by slaying prostitutes. The sad thing is that because he uses men’s intrinsic need to dominate, rather than wield a knife on individuals one by one, he is supported and seen as a good man by his supporters. So it is that there is even a debate in this country over the rights of homosexual couples to adopt, to form partnerships, to have a say in the treatment and care of a sick partner, to love beyond the borders of this country, and when a partner has died to inherit that which they have worked together to build. Christianity has taught society and government to say “we will take your money in taxes, your sweat in making this country a better one, your blood in the service of your country, but we will not accord you the same rights as those who fit into the box the church tells us is the right one.”
For the First Nations the same is true. Treaties are ignored, traditions put into the box labelled “quaint but sinful”. A Jew told by a Christian that theirs was not a true faith would close this country down in a heartbeat. If the Jew was told that their torah was nothing more than a quaint set of tales for children but that to believe them meant you were demon possessed would cause international outrage. To say to a Jew that their children must be taken and schooled in the right way of living would have blood on the streets quicker than you could say “bagel”. But this is what the church and government have done and still do. Very few outside of the First Nations and LGBTQ communities take a stand with them against the repression and destruction of their way of life.
For myself I have become an advocate and ally for the First Nations. I believe wholeheartedly in organizations such as “Idle No More” who protect the rights and future of their nations. As a gay man I have witnessed violence towards, misrepresentation of, and abuse towards my own community. In having been at the receiving end of lies and fists I can’t stand by and let another community suffer the same. Where I am portrayed as a ravening sexual animal with the sole desire of perverting society and its children my native friends are portrayed as drains on the taxpayer, demon possesed, sinful because they practice a faith not a religion.
In doing so I am not being prideful, the greatest advocates and allies to my mind are those who have no connection or experience to the ones they seek to protect and help, but in being similar I know the pain of the lies and the taste of blood from the fists so can do my part. To my mind the two communities need to stand together. Both are the scapegoats for the Church and we have both been delivered to governments by it. We have been designated resources to be exploited by the church as an organization and so kept from our natural human rights. The rights to live peacefully, happily, without let or hinderance. To change the mind of society must be our collective goal. The First Nations need to be seen for the incredible peoples that they are and not the “Tonto” of the movies just as the gay man and woman needs to be recognized for the contributions they make to society.
This mind shift can only happen when we educate our children to see more than the one world view of the Livelys of this world. Native history should be a compulsory part of every child’s education and more than just a month’s project. It should be core to the whole of the history curriculum and taught from the perspective of the people who were here first rather than from the Anglo-Saxon perspective. So too we need to educate our children that people come in more varieties than just a mummy and a daddy. It shouldn’t be part of the sex education of a child but rather should be introduced through history, art, language, literature, and music. The love story of Alexander and Hephaestion should be seen as being as beautiful as Romeo and Juliet. There should be an equality where the genitals of the partners have no intrinsic value it is the love of the couple which is important. The sting of stigma can only be removed when we reject the values of the church and instead choose to present all humans as equal and of value. We need to reassess how we educate and see that to mentor is always better than indoctrinate a mindset we ourselves have been indoctrinated by.
When we lose religion from our minds and accept instead that we can only have a personal faith we change our view of others. We lose the right to dominance and to enslave those who are different. Violence and social oppression become seen for what they truly are, sick and twisted minds taking pleasure in the destruction of other people. When we see religion as a mental disorder we can no longer justify its influence on society. When we move from religion to faith we become responsible for our actions because we too are vulnerable. We are forced to protect each others rights in order to protect our own. Religion is the mindset of the slave owner and the conqueror, faith is the freedom to believe and must be accorded equally to all.