The Legacy of Fundamentalism

Today on International AIDs Day let’s take a moment and put some portion of the blame for the 25,000,000 lives lost in painful and agonizing death on Christian fundamentalists.

If you are one of these Christian fundamentalists just give me a moment. Surely promiscuity and sharing of needles by drug abusers are not to be dismissed. But let’s take a moment and look at where some large portion of blame for this worldwide pandemic squarely rests – on Christian fundamentalists.

Those who are willing to realistically look at the history of the response when AIDS first appeared in the United States, during the Regan administration, will conclude that a disease that attacks queers, Haitians, and IV drug users had a muted national response. At a time when the disease could possibly have been contained, it was only considered a back burner issue. Those who compare the earlier response to Legionnaire's disease, which broke out after a convention of American veterans in Philadelphia, can surely see the difference in response. The Christian fundamentalists tended to view, by orders of magnitude, the value of an American veteran over the value of a homosexual. They saw the AIDS epidemic as evidently the wrath of God due to the promiscuity of homosexuals. And now, 25 year later, 40,000,000 are infected with the HIV virus worldwide.

Many of these infected are innocent children or the husband or wife who were unwittingly infected by a spouse. Is this the wrath of God or a product of the smug self-righteousness of homophobic Christian fundamentalists?

These Christian fundamentalists, including the Catholic Church, have dug their heels in when it comes to sex education and the use of condoms - they are insisting on maintaining a Dark Ages approach to the realities of human sexuality.

And they are pervasive still in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where homophobic bigots of the type of Delegate Robert Marshall continue to force their perverted religious views on the population – even if it comes to amending our Bill of Rights to insure this discrimination into posterity.

I’m reminded of the words of Gandhi, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Comments

hr_conservative said…
Christians have always advocated the number one way to contain this disease -- wait until you are married to have sex. That's what I did.

For those that refuse to follow this time tested logic, at lease don't have unprotected sex.

I love how you have to stretch and weave to try to blame things on Christians. Christians have done more to try to stop all STD's, people just don't follow what is taught.
Bill Garnett said…
Hello: hr_conversative

For those new to my blog, let me introduce you to the poster of the above comment. This poster, who goes by the handle of hr_conservative, runs a blog, Virginia Conservative Analysis. And he has been an obsessed campaigner for the recently passed Virginia Marriage amendment. And he characterizes himself as a devout Christian – an errantly reading, word-for-word Bible follower – not just the Bible, but THE Bible, the King James Version in English. And it is ONLY his interpretation of The King James Version of the Holly Bible in English that, according to him, is the correct and God desired scripture on which one is to conduct one’s life. And despite his implied commitment to the laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he maintains that his Biblical interpretation is not only to trump anyone else’s interpretation, but it trumps anything and everything – including the laws of Virginia.

But this is just the beginning – this right wing fundamentalist authoritarian driven conservative Republican thinks it is his God given command that he devout his life to have his Biblical interpretation imposed on every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth.

And this is despite the implied allegiance he should have to the laws of the state and the intent of the Constitution and our tradition that the government is not to intrude on the practice of any religion; and that religion is to not impose its practices, prejudices, beliefs, or laws, onto the common people of this Commonwealth.

My religion strongly informs me that my sexual orientation should not preclude me from any freedom, protection, benefit, or responsibilities that is the right of heterosexuals. This suggests that there are various religious views on this matter. Our founders, anticipating this conflict, and having in their recent history from Europe, a wisdom and brilliant insight, so as to develop a strategy to arbitrate conflict. That strategy is make civil law base on facts, logical argument, rational debate (much as we imagine our founding documents were crafted.) – facts and logic. And their wise decisions were made, by oath, on the merits, taking into account an unbiased review of the facts and logic. And they were decisions based on the rational outcome, in the context of the will of the people, and our Constitution.

Even the Kings James version states that we are to give unto God that which is God’s, and to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

And a second anticipation by our founders was the obvious flaw in a democracy. This is “tyranny of the majority”. On an island democracy of ten people, any six could vote to enslave the other four, take their property, require that they adhere to a specific religious practice, etc, etc. Our founders thought through this process and came up with a list of rights that represented the intrinsic and natural rights of all men, and that these rights were to be inalienable, never to be taken away or infringed upon by the majority, regardless if that majority is six or nine on this hypothetical island.

These rights include the individual inherent worth and sanctity of every human being, regardless of his/her differences. We have the law and tradition of equality under the law. Our ancestors hedged on the rights of blacks, for historical and political expediency. It was practical and pragmatic and by it’s postponement led to 600,000 causalities in the Civil War. And our ancestors hardly considered the suffrage of women, partly out of a Biblical tradition and Biblical justification.

Our ancestors had little thought or knowledge or experience with the characteristic of sexual orientation. Newer democratic governments, with that knowledge, initially insert that right – the right not to be discriminated against due to sexual orientation – into their constitution, as did South Africa recently. Other countries, states, and the EU, with a higher regard for rational debate, a higher level of enlightened tolerance, and less intrusion of fundamentalist zealots into the affairs of state, have amended their constitutions to insure that sexual orientation was protected from the tyranny of the majority.

In contrast, the most undemocratic, unchristian, and despotic countries in the world are the ones who are most discriminatory against homosexuals – from allowing housing and employment discrimination to capital punishment. (These are often the countries that America is trying to democratize and which are threatened by the fundamentalist zealots of another religion. How dense does one have to be to not be able to step back and see the forest for the trees – to see how pompous, arrogant, stupid, and mean-spirited it is to try and impose your religious interpretation, and in doing so deprive those of a different religion, their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Mr. hr_conservative, your efforts interfere with the practice and beliefs of my religion, and in this conflict, you violated your oath to the state to decide such matters by fact and rational debate. Your efforts interfered with my ability to be treated as an equal human being, to marry the person I love and benefit from the protections and benefits of marriage, to adopt children, to be seen in my community as equal to all under the law.

But no, the tyranny of the majority enveloped the land on November 7th and may God be the judge of that bias, meanness, prejudice, bigotry – but mostly a strange and almost pathological homophobia – Freudian.

What hr_conservative needs to fully and logically present is that is our democracy we take an oath. We pledge an allegiance, to, for practical and for Bible based reasons, agree that both we, as people and God intends us, to obey the laws of the land. These laws which guarantee that we may individually freely practice our religion, while not coming into conflict in our communities when religious law and practice conflict.

Mr. hr_conservative, may I ask you, as you are a virtuous man who only had sex after marriage and within the bonds of matrimony? Did you ever violate God’s law and not go forth and multiply, use any form of birth control ever, only have sex for procreation? (For if sex is additionally meant by God to be for the purpose of giving pleasure to two people in love, then why is not any consensual sex between two loving people meant by God?) And you must have over a dozen children. Do you?

And Mr. hr_conservative, how many of the children that you work so hard to insure that no homosexual adopt, do you adopt? These children that will never have the opportunity of being raised by loving caring parents. How many have you adopted?

Yes, readers let me introduce you to Mr. hr_conservative – he and his kind have been with us over time and place. His kind justify their actions based on some rigid narrow reading of scripture, out of context of the time and place in which it was written by imperfect human beings, and by not reading the verses in context with one’s reason. But, instead, reading it from his authoritarian directed and controlled rigid belief system.

He will pick and choose his verses to comport with his bias; he will interpret those verses such that they comport with his bias. And he will present few if any facts, little if any logic; but merely contend that he will never admit he is wrong, never give a neutral consideration of another’s point of view. And he remains anonymous, without the courage to stand in God’s light and protection. (I might mention that in contrast, at the right is my website with my life history and resume. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I intend to discuss this out of facts and logic, and only mention my beliefs for transparency of discussion, but with no right or intent of imposing them on anyone).

For the rest of us, God gave us the ability to think for ourselves, treat others as we would have them treat us, the responsibility to question and take responsibility for our spiritual and moral decisions, courage to stand up for what we believe, wisdom to weigh other points of view, humility to admit we are fallible, and flexibility to change in the face of fact and wisdom and common sense.

After all, past our six senses, God gave us common sense. Or at least he gave it to some who are more progressive, responsible, open, tolerant, non-judgmental, enlightened, and intend to live lives, as Jesus would have us live our lives.

. . . and without intruding on the religious beliefs of others.

=============

Mr. Hr_conversative, why not have a commission of scrupulously selected, unbiased, qualified, bipartisan, wise men and women to study this matter and to make a recommendation – BASED ONLY ON FACTS AND LOGIC? I was at Delegate Bob Marshall’s committee meeting.

 Which, as a political ploy and maneuver, was introduced on the first day of the legislative session with a minimal time for the opposition to coral a handful of opposing views - and the entire committee process, from beginning to end was less than two hours – with almost no debate by the committee, few questions, and mostly the bored and cynical expressions of the majority who seemed surely to have had their votes counted long before the meeting started. And this was for a historic amendment to our Bill of Rights – the first time in 260 years. The first time to enshrine discrimination. The first time to withhold rights and not to extend rights.

- Which was confusingly and awkwardly written and “on one hand this/on one hand that” ambiguous phrasing that only a legislative of rural county lawyers could bring. (Can you imagine the conversations on how to word this based on the “real intent” of the proponents which seems to be – THERE IS NO DAMN WAY WE WANT TWO QUEERS TO BE ABLE TO LEAGLLY MARRY IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRRGINIA). If you think I am using hyperbole, well you then don’t have the empathy of my life’s journey, or that of the other 300,000 gays and lesbians living in Virginia who fully know, not believe, but know that we did not chose this sexual orientation. And that we know the difference between right and wrong no less than you do. And we, from our life experience, know that being homosexual is not a moral choice, nor is expressing that love in anyway seen acceptable in the state for heterosexuals, to be less moral. We want basically nothing more than what you want. We want to live happy, healthy lives with the person we love and the children we would choose to raise. We want to be accepted and equally treated in our families, communities, and churches and by our government. We know that all this cannot possibly be achieved by legislation. Life isn’t fair. But this amendment is so obviously unneeded - and is riding on a subsurface of ignorance and bias, that I challenge you to disprove. How can we as, a state about to celebrate our 400’th anniversary turn and say to our predecessors: ‘we passed the baton, we preserved the most valuable asset of our country’s treasure – our rights, freedoms, and liberties. And we, as earlier generations have, contributed to extend those rights, freedoms, and liberties. No, history will see this for what I have just described in one person. Mr. hr_conservative.

We are better people than this.
Jakki said…
Hate to point a small flaw. You talk about fundemental Christians being against sex-ed and birth control.

First of all, it is mainly Catholics who oppose the use of condom, which is the option after abstinence. Many of the prostestant denominations do not share this opinion.

Furthermore, there are Christians outside US of A as well and in other countries they do not share this idea of opposing sex-ed. I would see the issue as an extention of the abhor that Americans have towards nudity. The problem with nudity is not only with the religious parts of the USA but in other areas as well. True, Christians are most vocal about it but idea of nudity being pervert is in the bones and marrows of the society.

I do realise that your blog is towards Americans, but when talking about the AIDS problem in Ghana, the other countries are included as well as well as different denominations

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