By Jim Koury, Editor, Diversity Rules Magazine
© 2011 Diversity Rules Magazine/James R. Koury, All rights reserved
Through the ages religion has played an integral role in the development of society. It has influenced how particular cultures view the world and those that inhabit it. It has also been used to control individual thought through the establishment of sets of parameters by which those practicing a certain religious affiliation should follow. If these precepts are not followed, pressure is applied on those individuals to conform and reject heretical thoughts and actions that contradict the edicts set by church elders.
As we all are aware religion has been the root cause of many wars and conflicts throughout history; most notable the Crusades in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, to the Spanish Inquisition and the persecution of such great minds as Galileo, to the contemporary terrorist organizations that use Islam as a guise to undertake horrific acts against humankind.
Generally, religions are man made entities influenced by a patriarchal society, where the benevolent force is of the male gender. This worldview endures in most religious belief systems of the modern age. In many theocratic cultures, women are still viewed as property of men, they have no rights to vote, to drive a car, or walk freely without having a male companion at her side. They are not entitled to an education nor do they have the ability to freely think for themselves and outwardly express those thoughts. In many instances death or extreme torture ensues because of these transgressions against established religious precepts.
In many of the bible based religions and other cult focused groups throughout the United States, while not as extreme as some cultures, there is a certain degree of thought control and teachings that are premised on male control of society and of those existing within it. Any deviations from the established thought paradigms as interpreted and established by male dominated hierarchies, is not tolerated. Those that do not fit into their tidy fabrications of how things should be are excluded, mocked and looked down upon as sinful and not worthy of spiritual fellowship.
The battle that is first and foremost on the minds of many of these bible based religions is fighting the scourge of homosexuality and its greater acceptance throughout most societies of the world. Forget combatting hunger, poverty, and other more detrimental social ills — ridding the world of homosexuality and trying to convert LGBT persons back to heterosexuality is their primary focus above all else. Instead of love and acceptance and succumbing to the reality that people are born LGBT and are created in the benevolent power’s image, they insist on tearing down the virtues of individuality, that includes one’s sexual orientation and gender expression, as something evil, sinful and corrupting of those that they may come in contact with.
What is even more dismaying is that these so called religious organizations exert their muscle in the political arena and expend millions of dollars doing so to influence the votes of politicians and voters in public referendums all the while enjoying tax exempt status. Unfortunately, our Constitution accords them eternal favored status to pretty much do what they please. Their arrogance and hypocrisy sickens and disgusts me.
The United States has a history and practice of according rights and privileges to minorities. It is not about taking away rights or preventing rights from being bestowed upon certain minority groups. LGBTQ equality is the last civil rights frontier that has yet to be legally formalized throughout our country. In many states, LGBTQ individuals can still be fired from their jobs for being queer, are denied hospital visitation rights, and cannot adopt children. What is even sadder is that that the religious community is leading the charge against queer equality and unfortunately, their ilk has been elected to the majority in the House of Representatives.
No matter how dire things may seem we must persevere and continue our fight for equality and against religious persecution of LGBTQ individuals. Despite attempts by the religious community and others to deny and take away hard fought rights, our nation’s history is on our side. While we may lose individual battles, the broader war against bigotry, prejudice and religious persecution shall be won. Do not relent in your efforts to achieve equality. As Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up.”