Bigotry will be their salvation

One of the best experiences of living on the Island of St. Croix is the Writer’s Circle I belong to. It is made up of a variety of people from all walks of life. The other day I showed them my most recent blog, the one about Harry Potter. HO HOs Role in Polytheistic Monotheism We always critique one another’s work with an eye toward positive reinforcement. One person pointed out that much of what I said would be offensive to the religious community. I agreed with that assessment. She wondered why I would do that since she liked the beginning and the ending bits a lot. I explained the nature of Freethoughtblogs.com and said the comments would fit in with the tenor of the other bloggers and readers. I suspect she really wanted to know why I was being intentionally offensive because I don’t come across as being an offensive person and would be likely to point out a similar offense in others. She has a valid point.

I often wonder why those of us who have been stung by organized religion have the emotional reactions we do. Conversely, why does our secular society cow-tow to these harmful, secretive, exclusive, tax-exempt clubs? There is sense of privilege religions take. Religious privilege is a demand of the pious. They demand special treatment because, well, not for any contemporary reason, they have always had it. Many do good and charitable works alongside their political actions and deceptive sales pitch. It’s honored because its always been that way. I would love to know why we continue to do so? They are tax-exempt, exclusionary, bigoted, private clubs. They have the least-rational premise of any organizations, for example: heaven, hell, angels, getting your own personal planet when you die. Then there is praying dead people from some other religion into their version of heaven and having the relatives get really mad about it. The covered heads and gender specific clothing, food, saying prayers instead of taking action, and a whole slew of myths about birth, rebirth, and death. Folks, these are the ancient equivalents of wands and quidditch matches (it’s a Harry Potter thing), robes and flying brooms – the exemplars of an attempt to commune with the Dreamworld. The difference being that art knows it’s an artifice, religion pretends it isn’t. J.K. Rowling intends to entertain, edify and exalt humanity with her novels; take them or leave them, just don’t demand that government codify the rules of quidditch.

Now, I remember the friends of my grandparents being quite upset at the possibility of Jews being allowed to join their Country Club back in the 1960s. I remember the efficient, immaculate, and at times invisible all-black serving staff at the Club with their white gloves, and polite subservience. And I remember feeling so unwelcome by the other kids at the swimming pool when my Grandmother would take us there. She thought she was honoring us with this privilege, when all we were, was embarrassed. The elitism of that Club carried throughout the community – the most privileged of the white upper class.The way it had been for a very long time. Society and that Club have changed along with the times. Anyone willing to pay can join today and a person of any skin-color or religion may serve or be served dinner.

Religions enjoy privilege in this culture, however, they are more resistant than the Country Club to the progress of time. We see it most blatantly in the “religious liberty” legislation they are attempting to pass. They want to make secular laws allowing for the religious version of an all black wait staff. They wish to keep today’s version of “Jews” (or the Irish, or the Catholics, etc.) – the LGBTQ community, from being in their club. They feel put-upon and abused because their own antiquated bias humiliates them. Toto has pulled back the curtain on their fraudulent misbehavior a long time ago – cover-ups and perpetuation of child rape for example, but they have hired lawyers; so, in the style of Donald Trump, their deceit is obvious and met with a “so what” attitude. Regardless of whether their behaviors are right or wrong the holy wizards want to win, morality be damned. When lawyers take church doctrine and transform it into legalese, then the jump across the wall separating church from state is easier to make. The most effective organization opposing LGBTQ rights in this country is the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, a collection of faith-based lawyers sponsored by the most militant evangelicals. They are legally sophisticated and determined to win in the courts and work at it with little public scrutiny.

The privilege of religion is sinking toward a negative number, just like Trump. The shear inertia of that ancient privilege has kept them going this far. Irrelevance, scandal and other atrocities provide the friction that slows the momentum. They are grasping at roots from long dead trees as they fall over the cliff attempting, in desperation, to invent legal codes that merge their falling religions with the secular laws of the land. They must legalize their “ability to exclude” to survive. Bigotry will be their salvation.

So, getting back to the original question, why offend the religious? Quite frankly, I felt deceived and betrayed when they did not live up to their promises in my youth. I have outgrown the hatred and vitriol that I carried for the church for so many years. The absurdity of organized religion and its misbehavior is now a recognized matter of fact. Using humor to point out the oddities of an absurdity seems nicer than forcing it into an academic debate. I mean, Jesus, HO HOs are funny! The first third of my last post mostly pokes fun at myself. The middle third shows how absurdly out-of-date Christianity is. The last third finds moral value in an easily accessible format, suitable for the age in which we live – the morality parables of the Harry Potter Series. ART!

ADF = Bully

 

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost

my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of

myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,

Iago, my reputation! 

Act 2 scene 3 of Othello has one of the more devastating moments to be found in any of Shakespeare’s plays. Iago intentionally gets Cassio drunk and embarrasses him in front of the boss. The character of Cassio is the epitome of goodness and virtue, and Iago is the most evil dramatic character ever created; the ultimate bully who revels in Cassio’s angst seen in those lines above.

Things to keep in mind about bullies:

They are smart.

They use strategies based upon circumstance.

They attack your reputation, knowing that you will protect it.

They almost always win.

To fight back you must accept the fact your reputation has already taken a hit, so put that reality to use. The bully is relying upon you to protect your reputation. You can beat the bully by removing reputation as the foundation of their strategy.

“You see what power is – holding someone else’s fear in your hand and showing it to them.”

-Amy Tan, from The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991)

If you fear the destruction of your reputation then the bully can keep you right where he wants you. Get rid of that fear and the bully no longer has power over you. A reputation is ephemeral, it ebbs and flows, it can be rebuilt when it is damaged. It is based in what other people think and you can’t control that. But you can control what you think about yourself.

The best way to get rid of the fear of damage to your reputation is to “know thyself.” Confidence in who and what you are allows you the fortitude to endure the inevitable assault. When you choose to oppose the attacking force, being fearless is like pulling their horses out from under them; they lose their momentum and gravity throws them into the dirt.

The Alliance Defending Freedom takes a strong oppositional stance to anti-bullying efforts in schools. Their strategy involves removing the ability for a child to become confident in themselves. The less the child knows about where they fit into the LGBTQ spectrum of existence the less confident they are. If you give them knowledge, you give them power so the ADF recommends that no information at all or even a mention of LGBTQ issues be part of anti-bullying campaigns. That will prevent struggling children from knowing themselves and certainly prevent sympathy for their lot in this circumstance. By ignoring the topic it becomes easier to use language like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’ and ‘dyke’ negatively since no-one has told them not to do so, or has even said that it is bad.

Social pressure, shame and reputation are valued in an authoritarian mindset where rules are respected more than individuals. Self-knowledge is irrelevant in this approach because standards have already been established for all individuals. So, if your kid doesn’t know the kind of pain he is causing a gay target when he calls him a fag, well, it doesn’t really matter because that childish shaming is what keeps the christian rules enforced. And, it is sort of the moral thing to do in their way of thinking because rules are more important than the individual. They don’t see the intentional restriction of knowledge as immoral either, especially if it helps the LGBTQ person know themselves. That sort of thing would let them think and reach conclusions that help build self-confidence which is the bully’s greatest fear. Keep them ignorant so they can be controlled. Let them fear being shamed and fear losing the false god of ‘reputation.’

But the Alliance Defending Freedom doesn’t stop there. They don’t want teachers reporting bullying incidents. They want investigations into bullying events contingent upon whether the bully’s parents permit it. They don’t want bullying events reported by anonymous complainants. They equate any education about LGBTQ issues to be propaganda advancing a Gay Rights agenda and undermining the family structure.

Their version of rules for “anti-bullying” give tacit approval to bully the LGBTQ population. They preemptively steal the student’s ability for self defense. They do this with lawyers under the guise of false moral superiority. They encourage anti-intellectualism, cruelty and blind allegiance to their own ignorant belief system. This is not Christ-like behavior.

Alt-Right, The Alternative To Being Right, Welcomes the ADF

New words and phrases enter our vocabulary all the time. One new arrival is the designation known as: Alt-Right. This name is designed to prevent a visceral reaction to the extreme ideologies it identifies. The right wing of American politics has been renaming itself for a long time. Neo-conservative shifts in thought bring about a distinction called the “paleo-conservative,” who only became “paleo,” or old, once the “neo,” new conservatives asserted themselves. Old ideas or political philosophies require a new moniker to be successfully recycled.

The Tea Party evolved out of Pat Buchanan’s declaration of cultural and religious wars in the 1990’s. Buchanan was attempting to re-define the Republican party with his incendiary speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. He said: “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America”.  The Koch brothers and their cohorts used a different approach as they created a new movement to influence the Republican party which eventually became the Tea Party. This was given a name that folks could hang their hats on both literally and metaphorically. Its suggestion of rebellion was attractive to white middle-class evangelical types because it’s just like the American Revolution. Anyone could pin a teabag to their hat and join the rebellion. They all knew about the 1773 Boston Tea Party from elementary school so the historical reference made them feel smart. They were empowered by their metaphorical fight for independence while seeking extreme conservative change.

“Tea Bagging” faded after a series of Sara Palin-like fiascos cluttered up their image. Meanwhile, white evangelicals searched for a new leader. They were sorely afraid of the black president who managed a scandal-free eight years in the White House. The line-up of candidates in the 2016 republican primaries offered a passel of overtly Christian and sometimes chubby, mostly white guys. They chose, the least Christ-like and most Palin-like contestant in the group. Trump seemed to endorse calling a spade a spade, as they say, and stood up to political correctness by retweeting the words of white supremacists. Now, look at this, Trump appears to be direct and forthright by repeating these memes. He calls it as he sees it. However, he stops short of being clear. His true message is hidden in this misdirection but people think they have been given at least a wink and a nod: “See, I’m on your side,” They finally had permission to feel good about their bigotry.

These folks prefer the name, Alt-Right. It just sounds more respectable, like “pro-life,” and “pro-family” and “christian”. Who can complain about an “alternative” to normal right wing politics? After all, it’s much more respectable than clearly stating the actual bigotries that define them: white supremacists, racists, homophobes, misogynists, and all those plain-old-white-folk who are scared of sharing control with darker skinned folks.

The Alliance Defending Freedom was created by hate groups such as the American Family Association, Focus on the Family and Coral Ridge Ministries. ADF has provided legal support for a number of these like-minded groups. They masquerade as just plain lawyers while advocating harsh, unkind, hateful anti-LGBTQ points of view. Christian hate-mongers wearing legal robes this time. There is nothing about being a lawyer that removes the responsibilities of civility, but this group masks incivility with cunning legal gimmicks. Dressing up to seem respectable is the purpose of the term Alt-Right and it is the purpose of the ADF for Christian bigotry.

Evangelicals feel they deserve respect.  They want this respect while being discriminatory against immigrants, Muslims and gays. They want control over women, blacks, and transgender people while at the same time wanting to feel good about their bigotry. The go-to guys for Alt-Right legal and political action is the Alliance Defending Freedom. “Alt-Right” gives them cover to feel better about their immoral choices. ‘It is just an alternative, there is no need to turn up your arrogant noses at us; our beliefs are merely an ‘alternate’ to yours’. Shouldn’t an alternative have equal status?

The problem is that they are seeking equal status with the more-principled and morally correct ideals of equal treatment. They have skipped a few steps here. The name ‘alt-right’ is equivalent to the morally despicable ideologies of white supremacists, racists, homophobes and misogynists. If those ideologies elevate themselves up to an appropriate moral standard they might earn equality, until that time comes, both the ADF and Alt-Right are merely putting lipstick on a pig. In Trump’s case, he is putting makeup on some very wealthy pigs.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has always been a part of the Alt-Right crowd. With the recent designation from the SPLC of “Hate Group” we can break through the facade of credibility to speak bluntly about their vile nature.

ADF = Hate Group

The most efficient and effective anti-LGBTQ group is now officially a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Link. The Alliance  Defaming Defending Freedom (ADF) is an organization of Christian lawyers who defame the LGBTQ population with legal actions.

Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally. [from SPLC site]