Category Archives: religion

Extreme Oklahoma: Wake Up, Now!

It’s no secret that the state legislature in Oklahoma is made up of a bunch of right-wing extremists. Sally Kern became famous last year for screeching about how homosexuals posed a bigger threat to our nation than terrorism. Mike Ritze, while not so well known, wants to put up a monument to the ten commandments at the state capitol despite the fact that the Supreme Court already ruled against this in McCreary County vs. ACLU. More recently, on Feb. 10th of this year to be exact, twenty of these right-wing nuts voted to strike a prayer from the official House Records because it had been given by a gay man. Fortunately, they lost because 64 legislators approved it, proving that not all Republicans in the Oklahoma House, while conservative, are necessarily nuts.

But just because they are not all the extreme right wing, plenty of conservative republicans and some democratic legislators vote with these core twenty people. That is why last week the senate was able to easily pass a bill making stem cell research illegal. The Daily Oklahoman, a conservative paper, is finally waking up to the fact of just how extreme Oklahoma’s rule making body has become with this editorial. But is anyone paying attention?

Now I don’t mind if Kern and her cohorts hate homosexuals and think it is unnatural, yada, yada, yada. What I do object to is the fact that her ultimate goal is to impose biblical law on society. If she thought she could get away with it, she would introduce a bill tomorrow calling for “stoning by death” of all known homosexuals. Next, would be return African-Americans to slavery and outlawing divorce and bank accounts for single women.

Banning stem cell research is just another way of saying ‘no’ to science and the modern age. It is another attempt to move Oklahoma in the direction of the stone age. Charles Key, with help from Randy Brogdon, recently passed a resolution, not a bill as World Net Daily proclaims, declaring Oklahoma a sovereign state. Is this what Oklahomans want? To leave the union and live in darkness?

It’s time to wake up, people. It’s time to take notice of what your elected representatives are doing. It’s time to quit drinking the Republican kool-aid and take action.

Call Gov. Brad Henry tomorrow and ask him to veto HB 1326. His phone number is : (405) 521-2342

Of course, if he does veto it, the veto could be overturned by the house and the senate, so then you will need to call your representatives and ask them to sustain the veto.

Click this link to find name and contact info for your representative: http://www.okhouse.gov/

Click this link to find name and contact info for your senator: http://www.oksenate.gov/

Do not take my word for it. Do your own research. Find out what your legislature is doing and let them know how you feel about it. Study the issues and make up your own mind.

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My New Favorite Movie: Doubt

Every once in awhile, a film comes along that is perfect. Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley, is such a film. Originally a play that won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2005, it must have been written in 2004, probably after Bush was “re-elected”, and the fear and despair that reasonable people felt about suffering through another four years of his administration was at its height.

While the film tells the story of a power struggle between a priest and a nun at a Catholic school in 1964, the real struggle is ideological. It is about hope vs. fear, compassion vs. hatred, good vs. evil. The Harry Potter books offer the same theme, but in Doubt there is enough ambiguity to keep you on your toes and really make you think. Throw in some racism and homophobia and you have a film that speaks to our times even though it takes place 45 years ago.

This film is about the current culture war. Meryl Streep’s portrayal of an embittered, cynical, old nun who only sees the worst in people reminds me of Maggie Gallagher at the National Institute of Marriage. They are the ones who recently put out that awful, fear-mongering ad about Teh Gays. But already YouTube is filled with videos countering that hateful message. To see a good selection, check out this post at The Gaytheist Agenda.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was great in Capote not so long ago, was excellent as the priest. As a child, I attended a Catholic church circa 1970 that had similar ideas to those that Hoffman’s character espouses. He reminded me so much of the priest that I knew that it was uncanny.

One other theme that really makes this film great is the idea of change vs. entrenchment. The priest wants to bring the school into the modern age. The nun is incapable of changing. She sees evil everywhere. Love and compassion are alien concepts too her. So the question remains: Are we moving toward a new era of acceptance or are we doomed to be ruled by our fear? And isn’t religion and its antiquated notions of heaven and hell part of the problem?

I gave up on Catholicism thirty years ago, but I would urge Catholics everywhere to watch this movie and really think about what it means. I suppose it is asking too much for the Pope to step into the modern age, but I can hope, can’t I?

streep-doubt

Lobbying at the Liquor Store with Lucky

I was sitting in the car today while my girlfriend went into the liquor store when who should pull up beside me but Lucky Lamons. Normally, I wouldn’t be so quick to recognize a member of the Oklahoma state legislature, but this is a figure who used to be featured quite often on the evening news back when he was a cop.

So while I sat in the car, I thought of all the things I could say to him. I could ask him about why House Joint Resolution 1003 was allowed to pass. That’s the one that declares Oklahoma as a sovereign state. I wasn’t sure offhand if this guy was a democrat or a republican, but somehow I felt like he was on our side or could, at least, be persuaded. Still, I figured he probably voted for it since the final vote was something like 83-13.

And I thought about how I could ask him why that bill by Ryan Kiesel was allowed to die in committee, the one that would fund a couple of scholarships for students who wanted to study geriatric medicine and commit to serving in rural areas.

But it was a Saturday. And there was a cold wind blowing. And I was only 95% sure it was him. But then, as he was stowing his beer and liquor into the hatch of his SUV, I glanced over at his car and saw a sticker that looked quite official. So I knew. This was a person who was a member of the Oklahoma Legislature.

I had to say something. I couldn’t pass up such a golden opportunity. As Lucky Lamons came around to the drivers seat, I rolled down my window and said. ” Hey , that Sally Kern is really insane, isn’t she?”

Lucky didn’t miss a beat. “Oh, Yeah, she’s insane. She’s a real nut”.

It was a great. I gave him the thumbs up and told him to keep up the good work. Later, I looked up the fact that he is a democrat and also a member of the NRA. And yes, he voted for the Oklahoma sovereignty bill.

But hey, I think he knows that I think that Sally Kern is insane. And I think that he thinks that, too.

Christian Potheads with Ugly Websites

Lavender Liberal, who does a great job of reporting on the battle against Prop 8 out there in California, published an article yesterday about the Caster family. This is a family that not only gave over half a million dollars to the “Yes on 8” campaign, but also has one of the ugliest websites I have ever seen. It should be a crime to have a website so ugly. Plus, I think Cha Cha Caster is probably a porn star.

I won’t tell you what the article says. Go there and read it yourself. And while you’re there, buy a t-shirt. I have the Harvey Milk design and I love it.

When fascism comes to America, it will be eating apple pie (wrapped in a flag) and smoking pot.

When fascism comes to America, it will be eating apple pie (wrapped in a flag) and smoking pot.

Calling Mike Ritze

Well, I just got off the phone a little while ago with Mike Ritze. Ha, ha. Seriously. He’s the Oklahoma legislator who has sponsored a bill to put up a monument of the ten commandments. It just made it out of committee today. I had left him a message saying that there was no way a ten commandments monument can be construed as secular or not endorsing a particular religion. I didn’t expect him to call me back since I am not a constituent of his.

But there I was, shopping for tofu and fermented black beans at the Asian grocery story, when my cell phone starts ringing. So we had a little one-on-one, me standing in the soy sauce aisle, with neither side achieving a clear victory. I have a tendency to get angry and am not the best debater, but for a dickhead elected to public office, he wasn’t much better.

Oklahoma Asshole of the Day

Mike Ritze: Oklahoma Asshole of the Day

Clearly, I should have done some research before calling. He cited a Texas case that went to the Supreme Court in 2005 – Van Orden v. Perry – as his justification for putting up the monument. I told him that such a monument was not necessary for people to know that murder is wrong and that the only purpose it served was to send a message of divisiveness. He somehow took this mean to that I thought murder was acceptable behavior. Huh?

He asked me what I did for a living and I asked why he wanted to know that. “Well, you’re home during the day so you obviously don’t work for a living.” This is the brilliant sort of mind that some Broken Arrow residents voted to represent them. If I’m against a ten commandments monument, I must be a welfare bum or some such ne’er-do-well.

The fact is that the monument in the Van Orden v. Perry case had been around for four decades before anyone filed a complaint. So while the ten commandments display was ruled secular in that case, an entirely different yet similar case occured at the same time. It was called McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. The same Supreme Court ruled in that case that the purpose of a ten commandments display was to advance religion and was, thus, unconstitutional. The swing vote in both cases was Justice Stephen Breyer. You can read about both of these in the Christian Science Monitor.

According to the Tulsa World, Tamya Cox of the ACLU of Oklahoma said they are considering a legal challenge so I know where I will be sending my money if this stupid thing passes. I mean, what year does Mike Ritze live in? He wants to think this is some Christian nation where murder is unacceptable, yet he conveniently forgets all the Native Americans murdered by these so-call “Christians” during their westward expansion. Sure, people didn’t think that way several decades ago but they do now.

Let’s pick and choose which biblical laws we will follow, which Supreme Court cases we will cite, which murders are wrong and which are necessary for economic development. And don’t forget, prayers by gay people aren’t really prayers so let’s vote to strike them from the record.

So now I’ve done the research. It would be pointless for me to call again, but don’t let that stop you from calling. His phone number is:

(405) 557-7338

Leave a message. He’ll call you back.

Hats Off to Kansas City

Kansas City is one of my favorite places to take a vacation, partly because it’s cheap and partly because it seems so much more metropolitan than Tulsa. After reading about a recent anti-Phelps demonstration there, I now know why I like that city so much.

phelpskc

From the article in the Kansas City Star:

Westboro church members believe that God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality. They have drawn harsh criticism across the nation for picketing at funerals of servicemen and servicewomen.

Their message didn’t sit well with many students at the high school where, according to student Jake Davidson, there is a Gay and Straight Alliance at the school and students elected a homecoming king in 2007 who was openly gay.

“Everyone is equal whether you’re gay or straight,” said Davidson, a 16-year-old junior from Leawood and an organizer of the student protest.

Does anybody still believe that we haven’t already won the culture war? I think we know which side the youth of this nation support.

The Culture War or What is Hate – Part III

After the passage of Propostion 8, I spent quite a bit of time reading Mormon blogs. This was difficult to do because I hate Mormons. Then again, I hate Southern Baptists and pretty much all Evangelical Christian types who think that homosexuals are an abomination of god. But I wanted to understand them. What makes these assholes tick?

One blog that was particularly useful in my quest for knowledge is called “Dream a little dream…” by a Mormon inspirational speaker lady. She is so far to the right, so hateful toward people like me, that reading her blog makes me feel like I am about to puke. She did, however,point me to an article in an LDS magazine written by a Los Angeles Police Detective Paul Bishop who, until recently, considered himself quite tolerant of the LGBT community. He talks about how difficult it was to join in the “Yes on 8” rallies, yet join in he did. And then he was shocked by the anger he witnessed after it passed. Of course, he didn’t call it “anger”. He called it “hatred”.

Here’s my favorite part of his article:

How do we respond to hatred disguised by the adversary as tolerance? Our stake president has talked to the temple presidency who has assured him the temple will be open for business as usual. There are eight weddings scheduled on the grounds. Will we be able to get to the temple without being molested or our vehicles vandalized? We must place our faith in the Lord and proceed.

Oh my gosh! The Mormons are worried about being molested or having their vehicles vandalised. But let’s take a look at the LGBT side of the equation. I will rewrite this paragraph from the point-of-view of a lesbian:

How do we respond to hatred disguised by the adversary as tolerance? Although I don’t attend church, I have recently begun going to my local Pride center so I can feel some sense of a community. But today I have to go to work and then the grocery store. Will I be gang-raped or shot in the back of the head? I must place my faith in humanity’s better instincts and proceed.

It quickly becomes obvious here that if I want to understand how Mormons and others of their ilk think, all I have to do is examine my own personal views and then turn them around 180 degrees. The only thing I have going for me is that I recognize my hatred for what it is, but they don’t.

Detective Bishop goes on to paraphrase and quote from Luke to justify his position of tolerance. So I decided to do something I haven’t done in decades: read the bible. Specifically, Luke 23: 1-34. To my surprise, I found this passage quite beautiful and moving from a literary standpoint which is the only way I can read the bible. After all, once you accept Jesus as metaphor, a representation of ‘everyman’, then there is nothing wrong with what he says. And so I can apply Jesus’ words to the Mormons: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’.

This all seems quite logical and yet, there is one very obvious flaw in my reasoning. If you haven’t caught it, I will come right out and say it because this is not the time for subtlety: I have created in my mind one huge group of people and labeled them. Whether I call them Mormons, Southern Baptists, Evangelical Pricks, really makes no difference. They are a faceless mob that is against everything I believe in. No wonder I hate them so much. For who isn’t afraid of a faceless mob, and what is hatred if not fear?

Rick Warren condemns homosexual behavior. Therefore, anyone “immature” enough to engage in it is part of that faceless mob called Homosexuals. It doesn’t matter how much he might like Melissa Etheridge as an individual. He still, somehow, is not quite able to see beyond the fact that she is doomed to burn in hell because the bible tells him so. In other words, Melissa Etheridge is not fully human.

Sometimes I think it must be easy to view the world in such stark black-and-white terms, to know without a doubt what is good and what is evil, to believe in such a simplistic concept as Heaven and Hell. But I can’t. From an early age at Catholic Sunday school, the idea that bad people would burn for eternity struck me as grossly unfair. Condemning someone to eternal damnation was not my idea of a loving god. And someone who believes in such a thing is, in my mind, very immature.

So maybe it is time for subtlety. If we think of Jesus as a symbol for ‘everyman’, then we are all children of god. And we all have to love one another without judging them. It is easy to judge mobs, but infinitely more difficult to pass judgment on an individual. To paraphrase the bible, who among us can say what is right or wrong? Who among us is perfect? If God (whatever that is) is the only perfect being and the only one capable of judging, then I have nothing to fear.

So to the faceless people who insist on judging me I have one word: Stop! Let me live my life in the way I see fit. By judging me, by insisting that their is a stink in my soul, you foster a climate of hatred that makes it acceptable for groups of violent, young men to go around raping and killing people like me.

Yes, Candace Salima. I am talking to you. I know you would never shoot some “faggot” in the back of the head, but you still have blood on your hands. I’m finding it very difficult to see beyond the stink in your soul, to see you as an individual, but I will keep trying, for my own sake.

The fact is, Obama is right. We have to reach out to the other side. We have to talk to them and try to understand them. We have to find a way to get them to understand us. We have to learn to coexist. And while many of us on both sides of the culture war may never be able to bridge the gap that divides us, I have some faith in this nation’s youth.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to throw my lot in with the local Democratic party to make my voice heard. I’ve flirted with political activism in the past but never been truly involved. Now is the time. I will be fighting for civil unions for all, and I won’t stop until I achieve my goal or I am dead.

just-say-no-to-the-mormon-agenda