I’ve actually been meaning to write this for a while. It was just never the right time or place to do so but I took a minute to try analyse religious homophobes and as much as they excite my disgust I still reason with them to an extent.
Here is what I summed up:
Religion isn’t the problem; people are.
No religion I have ever encountered has actually advocated violence, rape, oppression, racism, or sexism of any kind. If anything, they advocate against all of that.
Maybe I’m just sick of hearing people say they don’t believe in God because God hates gays. Or that Islam is a bad religion because it has a history of terrorism and abuse. Or that they were disappointed when someone turned out to be homophobic because they’re an atheist.
Is it going too far to say that your belief system has nothing to do with what you believe in? Yeah, okay. That’s taking it too far. Yes, what you believe in certainly influences your opinions. But. Ugh. If you are an atheist, that does not automatically make you a better person. It does not make you more intelligent. It does not make you an ally of any oppressed communities. It does not automatically mean you are not racist or sexist or homophobic or cissexist or any of those bad things. If you are part of a religion, any religion, it does not automatcally make you a bible-thumping homophobe.
A friend of mine once said that he used to be against organized religion because of all the wars it caused, until he realized that religion doesn’t start wars. People start wars in the name of religion. Yes, he still has a problem with religion as a whole, but he understands that religion itself is not the problem. People are.
What I don’t understand is why that’s not immediately obvious. Every time a priest is revealed to be a paedophile, people start talking about how bad religion is for allowing such things to happen. But just think about it — if you really want to take advantage of someone, what’s the best way to do it? Become a person of good repute, and take advantage of their trust. How is that condoned by religion? I fail to see how anyone who tries to take advantage of people in the name of the greater good can actually be considered a part of that religion. They’re just imposters.
And I suppose you could argue that, without religion, people wouldn’t have something to infiltrate and use to their advantage, but I disagree. Because religion is not the problem and people are, people would simply find something else to take advantage of.
And haven’t they already? Instead of robbing a bank, one simply has to become CEO of some huge corporation and they can steal all the money they want for their personal gain. Just think about that.
And I know that I can be incoherent and disorganised with my thought processes at times, but just look for a minute. What I’m trying to say is that some corrupt people will try to use well-founded institutions, including but not limited to, the church and every other religion, for their own personal gain. People do that. Religion doesn’t tell people to do that. They just do it.
And stepping back on a smaller scale, let’s look at homophobia. I’ve ranted on this before, but the Bible was written in Hebrew and if you spent five minutes on Google you would see that the direct translations are barely comprehensible and need to be taken in context. And yet, some publishers will extrapolate meanings into what they want them to mean.
What do I mean by that? Well here’s a scenario. Somebody hates gays, said person is in a position to publish a Bible. They interpret certain phrases and add their own, personal opinions to them. Suddenly, their opinions are now the word of God. See how easily everyone was just taken advantage of?
And yes, yes I hate those homophobic fundamentalists. I hate that they took for granted what a few people claimed to be true without doing their own personal research into the matter. (you realize if you’re going to become hard-core religious you need to not just read the works of scholars but actually read the religious texts yourself and make your own opinions, right?)
But almost as much as I hate them, I hate when I hear people say they’re atheist because God hates gays. Or when I hear people admit they probably shouldn’t talk about their opinions on equality because ‘This is a Catholic school and all’. If you’re going to be an atheist, do it because you think the idea of a supreme being is stupid, or something, not because ‘God hates gays’. I’m sorry but that’s seriously a very weak argument for rejecting an entire religion. And don’t ever, ever refrain from talking about what you think is right just because it’s in a Catholic school. Honestly that’s just stupid. Plenty of Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, anyone who has any religion ever, are totally fine with homosexuality and transsexuality and all sorts of other sexualities. And if someone tries to tell you to stop or say you’re out of line, then screw them, because everyone deserves respect so they’re the ones who are out of line, not you.
Oh, and that other example. Where people expect anyone who is atheist to automatically be an LGBTQ* supporter. Yeah… No! Again, that has to do with the person themselves, not their belief systems.
So basically, what you should take from this post is that religion is not the problem; people are. People take advantage of the fact that religion is a trusted institution to spread their own personal beliefs, or to start wars, or to just be douchebags in general. And if religion weren’t around, people would find something else to infiltrate and spread lies with.
Because that’s just how some people work.
The reason I’m writing this is because religion actually does help a lot of people in a lot of ways for a variety of reasons. People, in general, need something to believe in, and if that’s God or Allah or the Universe or Carl Sagan it really doesn’t matter. The point is, though, that people find peace through their beliefs (again, regardless of what they are) and I don’t think it’s fair for society to have this whole “Religion is nothing but trouble” attitude because quite frankly it’s not.
And I should probably mention now, I’m not trying to defend the people who legitimately believe it’s God’s word that gays should burn in hell. They were tricked into believe that by some bullshit interpretation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible for doing their own research into their religion.
I am also not trying to bash atheism in any way. I am not trying to suggest that any belief system (whether theistic or not) is better than any other belief system.
I just want people to start putting the blame for all the bad shit that happens where it belongs: on the people who do it, not the religions they supposedly represent.