Saturday 21 September 2013

Questions for homophobes

I have so many questions, I had to divide them into six piles. The first pile: Leviticus. 

I had a few questions about Leviticus in which, we are told, God bans gay marriage.

The alleged holy ban on gays comes to us in the book of Leviticus. According to the Bible, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, escaped, went to Sinai, sent Moses up the mountain to receive God’s law, and continued to receive the law on Sinai through Leviticus and into the book of Numbers. God’s decrees in Leviticus allegedly occurred at Sinai: see Leviticus 25. But scientists, historians and archaeologists have made clear to us that the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt was a myth: it never happened. The Jews were in the Holy Land the whole time, not in Egypt. If the enslavement was a myth, then the escape and the trip to Sinai were also myths. And therefore the story of God passing his laws to man on Sinai was also made up. So even if you believe in God, how can Leviticus really be the true word of God?

Also, Leviticus, and indeed the entire Torah, was allegedly written by Moses at the time of these alleged events. But the books themselves describe the death of Moses as something that occurred many years in the past, so the authorship of Moses is fraudulent. Leviticus wasn’t even completed until the many centuries of Jewish judges and kings were over, and Israel had fallen to the Babylonians and Persians. So even if you believe in God, how can Leviticus be the word of Moses?

Third, whoever did write the laws of Leviticus – some priest who was a subject of the conquering Persians – was obviously not thinking clearly. He not only hated gays, but prescribed the death penalty for gays. Execution! Someone who was mentally sound would have realized that such a sentence would be insanely disproportionate. It would never be carried out anyway under the ruling Persians, who were quite tolerant in terms of everything from food and drink to local religions. It wouldn’t even have been carried out under the Israelites, whose many violations of God’s laws, as told in the tales of judge and kings – murder, adultery, incest, rape, idolatry -- went unpunished. So how can this law even be the work of someone of sound mind? And that’s in terms of 500 BC, let alone today. 

Execution? How can anyone take the first part of the rule seriously – the ban on gays – when the second part, the death penalty, is so ludicrous? Which is perfectly in keeping with some of the other truly insane laws – laws on mildew and unclean things, whether you can eat vultures and bats, the ban on tattoos (which a lot of hard-core Christians ignore)? Or are the hard-core believers really advocating the death penalty, here in the 21st century?

Fourth, the founders of Christianity – Peter, Paul and James – decided that Christians do not need to follow the law of the Torah, including Leviticus. Paul said so in several of the epistles, including Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, Collossians, Hebrews, and the first Pope, Peter, agreed, as did James, the disciple who wrote the new rules that Christians should follow, instead of the Torah. The founders of Christianity said “set aside the Torah, follow these new rules instead!” 

And many of the Christian denominations acknowledged this, including the Catholics – the doctrine of supersessionism, the notion that the ministry of Jesus means we no longer have to take every word of the Torah literally. Thus all that ham and shrimp on Christian tables, the trimmed beards, the cotton/poly blends. So even if you believe in God, why are Christians insisting on literal word-for-word interpretation of the Torah, when the founders of Christianity and the churches that followed said you don’t need to do that?

Fifth, Leviticus is addressed to males. It says nothing about lesbians. So why are we trying to use Leviticus to stop lesbians from marrying?

So the Leviticus rule is not the word of God, is not the word of Moses, is not even the word of someone in his right mind, it was repudiated by the founders of Christianity, and it says nothing about lesbians. The entire argument for using the Bible to ban gay marriage is based on error. So why are hard-core Christians making this laughable scriptural mistake the centerpiece of their political “ministry”?

And sixth, even if you believe in God, since when do we use the Bible to make the laws in America? You want to use religion to write the laws, go to Iran or Saudi Arabia, or join the Taleban. This is America.


When the hard-core homophobes are pushed into a corner, they fall back on the language of Leviticus, the law of the Torah. They use that anti-gay passage in the Bible to justify banning gay marriage. As far as they are concerned, Torah is paramount, and no other argument is needed.

With that in mind, I have a few trivia questions to throw at you.

QUESTION 1: Which famous figure said, over and over, in speech after speech, in letter after letter, that it is okay for Christians to ignore Torah law, that blessedness is independent of the law, that we are now discharged and set free from Torah law, that people who ignore the law will still receive God’s glory, that Jesus put an end to Torah law? Torah law, which includes Leviticus?

Clues – he said this --  “Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?... Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law…. Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

And this --  “Listen! I am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace…. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!...For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.… But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.”

And this -- “Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths…. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”?  All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.”

Answer: Saint Paul, the man who did more than anyone to build the Christian faith.

QUESTION 2: Which famous figure argued that one of the Torah’s most important laws, the law on circumcision, was a Jewish law, and that it was stupid to make Christians obey it? Ignoring Torah law is okay, even on the major rules?

Answer: Saint Peter, the first Pope.

QUESTION 3: Which famous figure told Christians to throw out the Torah laws, and instead wrote a much shorter list of social rules for Christians, and sent the list to Christian churches all across Europe?

Answer: Saint James, the man who ran the infant Christian church in the early days.

QUESTION 4: Which famous figure said that doing good was more important than following Torah law, that the hard-core protectors of the law were worthy of contempt, who told people to ignore Torah law on food and divorce and adultery and circumcision and cleanliness and the Sabbath? And repeatedly violated Torah law by doing work and helping people on the Sabbath, put wine in the water jars used for the Jewish holy rites of purification, caused a riot inside the center of Jewish law -- holy temple of Jerusalem, and said the temple would be destroyed? And praised a man who emphasized doing good rather than following the rituals of Torah law?

Answer: Jesus of Nazareth. A figure who is kinda important to the whole Christianity thing. Jesus was actually echoing the sentiments of Isaiah, Zechariah and Ezekiel, three important Jewish prophets who said people needed to stop focusing on the law and start living better lives.

QUESTION 5: Following the establishment of Christianity, name at least three people or institutions which approved the doctrine that at least some of Torah law is no longer valid.

Answer: acceptable answers include the Catholic church. Church of England, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, dispensationalists, followers of New Covenant Theology, and two of the great formative thinkers of the faith, Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Bonus points if you know the name of that doctrine: Supersessionism.

Bonus points if you knew which denominations were already fighting for LGBT equality -- the Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Methodists. The Anglicans are likely to follow suit soon.

QUESTION 6: Which famous figure said that not only is he okay with gays, but even atheists can be saved if they follow their own conscience?

Answer: the current Pope. The Bishop of Rome.

In other words, people who insist that we must shun gay people because it’s God’s immutable law, are flying in the face of Jesus, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint James, Isaiah, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Catholics, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, and the current Pope.

The only people who are sticking to the “ban the gays” doctrine are the hard-core white-folks churches – the most extreme Baptists, Pentecostals, snake-handlers etc – and the hard-core Muslims, and some of the more backward African countries, and Russia under its current knuckle-dragging dictator, Vladimir Putin. In other words, the world’s ghettoes. So if you are trying to keep gays as second-class citizens forever, these are the people you’re keeping company with.


“The Bible says ‘one man, one woman’!”

Well, is that all the book says on the subject?

All you Christians out there who really believe that God’s plan is for marriage to involve one man and one woman, I’ve got a test for you. Look at this group of 33 names – the great names of the Bible – and tell me which two names don’t belong with the other 31.

Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Esau, Gideon, Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Ahab, Lamech, Caleb, Belshazzar, Ezra, Manasseh, Nahor, Simeon, Zedekiah, Joash, Elkanah, Ashur, Abijah, Jehoiada, Ahasuerus, Benhadad, Eliphaz, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Machir Mered, Jesus

The answer? Adam and Jesus. The other 31 men all practiced polygamy. Adam had sex with Eve, but since they were made from the same flesh, technically that was not marriage, it was incest. Jesus never married at all.

The norm for men in the Old Testament was not one-man-one-woman marriage. It was polygamy.

First, in Genesis, God’s original plan was for Adam to “partner” with an animal. No women were contemplated at all, originally. 

When that didn’t work, God made Adam a wife out of his own rib. 

When God was forced to reboot all of mankind in the Flood, he re-peopled the world using Noah’s family. A rather tiny gene pool. 

When the patriarchs of the Old Testament came along, God allowed them to marry multiple wives, as we saw earlier; one such patriarch gave away his wife to be raped.

When the apostles came along, Jesus told them to leave their families behind, to go out and preach the gospels; most of them did just that. All but one of the twelve was killed on the road, their wives many miles away. 

When the disciples took over Christianity, they said Christians could ignore all the laws in the Torah, and just try to live moral lives. Read Romans, Collossians, Ephesians, Galatians, Hebrews. That, incidentally invalidated the language in Leviticus on gays. And most Christian denominations have acknowledged this – the notion that you can’t take the whole Bible literally. 

So, in order, the Biblical tenets on marriage are….bestiality, incest with a clone, incest again after the Flood, polygamy, desertion, and – scariest of all! – tolerance, in defiance of Torah law. Happy marriages involving one man and one woman are actually extremely rare in the Bible. 
 And no, we’re not counting Joseph-Where-The-Hell-Did-That-Baby-Come-From, and Mary-That's-My-Story-And-I'm-Sticking-To-It.

See, this is what happens when you read the whole Bible, instead of cherry-picking the bits you like.

In addition to approving bestiality and incest and polygamy and desertion, the Bible also approves a long list of truly immoral behavior: genocide, cannibalism, ethnic cleansing, slavery, the murder of children, the pornography in Song of Songs, and rape as an instrument of war. But gays who love each other – THAT’S immoral. Do I have that right…?


Imagine my joy to hear the wingnuts hollering: “You don’t see homosexuality in the natural world. It’s unnatural!”

So….how are you defining the word “natural”?

First of all, homosexuality has been seen in well over a thousand species, from the lower-order animals up to primates. Same-sex couples across the animal kingdom not only have sex – they court each other, show affection, pair off, and raise offspring. Sheep seem to be major “offenders”. Among black swans homosexual pairings may be as high as 25 percent; ten percent or more in mallards and western gulls; the practice is epidemic among penguins; dolphins have gay sex with their blow-holes. A majority of sex activity among bonobo apes is girl on girl, and homosexuality among primates is very high, suggesting the possibility that homosexuality is linked to higher intelligence. Asian elephants engage in gay sex almost half the time and form long-term gay relationships, and the rate is even higher among giraffes. Dragonflies have gay sex even though it can damage their heads (which suggests to me that maybe they’re doing it wrong). Some animals are asexual, and others indulge in cross-species sex.

Likewise it is dubious to argue that God, the maker of nature, hates gay people, when he made millions and millions of them, in addition to all those gay animals. Again -- just as it says in Corinthians: “However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you.” In other words, you were Born That Way. Made That Way By God. Or, if you prefer, nature. 

And second, if we’re talking about unnatural things…can we talk about the Bible? A talking snake, totally unnatural. A wheel of fire in the sky, a violation of the laws of nature. A burning bush, a rain of blood, a magical massacre of children, water into wine, raising people from the dead, angels, dragons, demons, talking donkeys, a ladder climbing into the sky, witches talking to the dead, walking on water, feeding five thousand with one basket of food, curing the sick with the laying on of hands, sticks into snakes, parting of the Red Sea, water from a rock, the sun stopping in the sky, iron floating, manna from heaven, a man living in a whale’s stomach, a woman turned to salt. We are told of four-headed Cherubim, six-winged Seraphim, the many-eyed Ophanim, seductive Succubi, and giants.  Even Harry Potter didn’t give us such an incredible circus of nature-defying magic. The Bible is not only not natural, it is an insult to nature, violating nature’s laws in laughably fraudulent fables.

Oh, and by the way, if you go back to the original King James bible, it also has...unicorns. Isaiah, 34:7.

And nothing, nothing in the history of man or his literature, could ever be more unnatural than God deciding, in Genesis, to kill off almost all of mankind AND the animals and plants too. Then God did the same in Egypt – when he killed the first-born babies, he killed off the first-born animals too. And then God promises to do the same again in Revelation, kill off almost all of mankind while wreaking widespread destruction of the natural world on earth. God declares unrestricted war on nature. 

 And no gay man in history ever violated the laws of nature more than the Big Cheese himself, Jesus of Nazareth. Not only did Jesus violate nature over and over, his followers used those very violations of nature to prove his divinity. There is a causal relationship here – the way you prove you have God on your side is to violate nature with a miracle. The second most prolific miracle-monger in the Bible, after Jesus, is Moses, who flung all those nature-defying miracles at the Pharaoh, and Moses is the tent-pole for the entire Old Testament, handing down the laws (via miracle, of course) to the Jews, who then spent most of the Old Testament violating those very laws and receiving God’s punishment (again, via miracle).

The early founders of Christianity stressed this over and over: Jesus must be God because he rose from the dead and flew into heaven in violation of nature’s laws, and the disciples must be holy too because they performed miracles. The way you prove you’re on Team God, the way saints get their sainthoods from the pope, is to violate nature via a miracle. 
Taking the faithful at their word, then…if you don’t believe in miraculous violations of nature, you can’t really be counted as a Christian. Faith in miracles is what gets you in the door.

So, summing up, religious faith requires belief in miracles: it requires a belief that nature’s laws don’t matter -- except when it comes to gays. Who already exist in nature anyway. That’s religious “logic” for you. 

Being gay is perfectly in harmony with nature. The Bible is a violation of nature. Or do I have that wrong?

For extra fun, let’s remind the evangelicals of all the stuff they do every day, that is unnatural. Using indoor plumbing, wearing glasses, refrigeration, the microwave, the internet, the telephone, the TV, modern medicine so we don't all die when we're thirty, brushing our teeth, driving a car, wearing shoes, deodorant, tampons....solving our problems via democracy instead of hitting each other with sticks....


The right to marry isn’t just the right to the church, the limo, the rice, the rubber-chicken reception, the DJ, the cake. So, homophobes…If you think that giving LGBT couple equal rights isn’t important, are you willing to live the way they live?
Are you willing to have to fight for health insurance?

Are you willing to be treated like a freak every time you need to file paperwork for compensation for service-related deaths, income tax filing status and deductions, tax-free property transfers, Social Security, veteran’s pensions and disability, disabled vets tax exemptions, relocation benefits for military families, survivor benefits and continuation of health care for surviving spouses?

Are you willing to be treated like a criminal when you’re dealing with organ donor issues, next-of-kin status, parental rights, access to school records, alimony, child custody, adoption, foster care, homestead laws, water rights, spousal assets as a factor in determining need for government aid  including VA benefits, housing, educational loans and farm price supports, name changes, domestic violence laws, spousal privilege for criminal witnesses, prison visitation, hospital visitation, conflict-of-interest rules, medical decisions, funeral decisions, condominium laws, bankruptcy, child support, shared property, prenuptial agreements, wills and inheritance?

For five thousand years, straight people, and only straight people, have been entrusted with the institution of marriage. And for five thousand years they have made total hash of it, a record of disastrous failure. Marriages destroyed by infidelity, drinking, drug abuse, immaturity, domestic violence, abandonment, child abuse, incest, and mental cruelty. Straight marriage has a failure rate of fifty percent – if it was a toaster or a blow-dryer, they would have to recall it. Heterosexuals have proved that they cannot be trusted with this institution anymore. 

What if, the next five thousand years, only gays and lesbians can marry? Straight people will just have to get along with the same deal that gays have had to put up with. Fighting with lawyers and doctors over legal rights, health care, child custody, hospital visitation. Because opponents of gay marriage insist, vehemently, that it’s okay to force gay people who love each other to live like that, right? Force straight people to live in the shadows like that, if they think it's okay to treat gays that way. We’ll see how quickly their attitude changes. 

So for the next five thousand years it's the other team's turn. Gays get to marry and straights don't. They can still have kids, buy houses, make their lives, but no marriage. Who's with me?

And by the way, how wobbly is your traditional marriage, if it can be “threatened” by the two gay computer programmers living down the street?

Discriminating against an entire class of people, under the law, just because you’re clinging to the book of Leviticus, isn’t just unfair, it’s unconstitutional.


Did you know that most Christians have the story of Sodom wrong? According to the Big Book (Genesis, Isaiah, Ezekiel), the city of Sodom was punished for mistreating foreigners and the poor, not gay sex.  

Did you know that once the Israelites finally built their own kingdom, the first great heroic king was gay? David, future king of the Jews, and his pal Jonathan “became one”. Jonathan loved David as he loved himself; the two men made a covenant together; Jonathan took off his clothes and gave them to David; he made David swear he loved him, and defied his father because of David, the father thinking the relationship shameful; they shared a love surpassing the love of women; they had secret meetings, kissed and wept. During this time David kept himself from women, although later he did his kingly duty and married so he could produce princes, which turned out badly. So….these two lads made a covenant? What sort of covenant do people make when they love each other? Round these parts they call it “marriage”.

So…according to the God People, we can teach a child how to use a gun, but not how to use a condom, to keep them safe?

Why do so many believers have tattoos, which are banned in the same book of the Bible that allegedly bans gays? Do the God People realize that if I came to their church on Sunday and tossed out all the people who were violating Biblical law – tattoos, eating ham and bacon, wearing cotton/polyester blends, trimming the corners of their beards and goatees, fornication, adultery, disobedient wives – I would be standing in the church by myself? In fact, isn’t that what Jesus was doing that day at the Temple, just before they arrested him?

When God made millions of gay people and thousands of species with gay behavior – was that a mistake?

What kind of “loving God” would put love in our hearts and then force us to choose between loving the person we love, and loving God?

So the imaginary gay effort to convert straights to homosexuality is an abomination, but the very real Christian effort to brainwash gays to become straight is critical to saving America?
A religious group which tried to take people’s money for “gay conversion” therapy has now found itself in court, for fraud and abuse. They made unsubstantiated claims about the scientific validity and success rates of their “cures”, claims rejected by the American Psychiatric Association (even other “gay converters” are finally giving up the game and apologizing). When does religious practice become fraud? A crime?

The “gay conversion” efforts in America are even less amusing when transplanted overseas. In South Africa, white supremacists, as a sideline, have built “gay conversion” camps, where children have died. “Conversion” by means of burns, beatings, starvation, dehydration, chaining children to their beds, forcing children to eat feces and cleansing powder, torturing children who beg to leave. Is this what you hope to impose in America? Huckabee already said he wants to put HIV patients in concentration camps – do you want that for all gays?

Gay and lesbian teens are five times as likely to commit suicide, because of persecution and bullying from people like you homophobes. Did you realize that your tyrannical effort to “save” the rest of us now has a body count?

Do you really think those high-schoolers come out as gay by choice, because they know the other students are going to be so wonderfully understanding? 

And finally, even if being gay was a choice….so what? Love is always a choice: unless you’re in some tribal third-world dump, you chose who you were going to marry. Gays want the same thing: the only difference is their body parts, which are none of your business.

And there you have it. I ask these questions because America’s homophobes are undertaking an entirely unconstitutional effort to take rights and privileges and money away from millions of Americans, because of a reading of the Bible which is selective and just plain wrong anyway.

So I pause for your reply. I fully expect the usual lies, evasions, attacks, straw-man arguments and cherry-picking, but perhaps Team God can surprise us for once. 

Saturday 14 September 2013

So why is Facebook discriminating against gays and atheists?

Some questions we can all ask Team Zuckerberg…

When evangelicals set up whole groups and pages on Facebook, all dedicated to posting hate speech aimed at atheists, agnostics, gays, lesbians and bisexuals…why doesn’t Facebook shut them down? Why does Facebook software reject reports against those groups without even reading them?

When atheists and gays point out that we’re not, in fact, genocidal maniacs, that we’re not unnatural, that we’re not immoral, that we’re not trying to persecute anybody, that we’re not bloodthirsty pagans, that we’re not mentally ill, that we’re not on the warpath to destroy marriage or civilization, that we actually know the Bible as well as the people who are waving it in our faces…when we defend ourselves against this hate speech, why are we the ones who are blocked and banned?

Just look at all the hate-speech sites Facebook tolerates – Atheism Fails, Atheist Delusion, Liberals Are Sheep, Atheism on the Slide, entire sites slamming gays for wanting to marry….can you imagine what Facebook would do, if we built sites like Christians Are Deluded, Evangelicals Are Insane? How long do you think those sites would survive?

Why has Facebook determined that anti-gay hate speech isn’t hate, but defending yourself against hate is…hate?

When atheists and gays use the Bible itself to refute claims by evangelicals…why does Facebook call it hate speech?

When is Facebook going to recognize that atheists and gays have the same right to speak out against injustice, and to be protected against hate speech, as churchgoers?

The three worst offenders in this regard are sites called “1,000,000 Supporting Traditional Marriage”, “OMG America”, and “Conservative Daily”. All three sites post content which clearly violates the Facebook Terms Of Service regarding hate speech, regularly posting derogatory attacks against gays, atheists and anyone else they don’t like. But if you try to go there and challenge their dishonest attacks, you are likely to be “gang-banned” by their members – who file multiple reports against people they don’t like – and then tossed out of Facebook. “Conservative Daily” has a particularly sweet deal: they are getting such good protection from Zuckerberg that sometimes you need a special extra security scan before you’re allowed to even post on their site.