Questionable Motives

March 4, 2010

How do religious leaders inspire bigotry?

Two ways in particular: promoting fear and loathing to be directed at a select group of individuals based on some unalterable trait, and by not taking a stand against fear and loathing directed at that select group of individuals. In Uganda, religious leaders aided and abetted by American evangelicals and the Vatican, we have both (See my previous posts about this exercise of religious bigotry here, here, and here).

From the BBC, Religion, Politics, and Africa’s Homophobia, comes this latest religious embarrassment:

Since a Ugandan MP proposed the death penalty for some gay people, homophobia has been on the rise in other parts of Africa. Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama’s criticism of the Ugandan proposals led to huge anti-gay rallies in neighbouring Kenya.

Monica Mbaru, from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, describes these crackdowns as a ripple effect from the Uganda situation. She says many African leaders and communities remain hostile to gay people because of pressure from religious leaders.

Our politicians have great respect for religious leaders and are careful not to disagree with them, especially not on homosexuality,” she says.

The Malawian authorities say gay activists should be more open – but say if they do come out into the open they will be arrested because homosexuality is illegal.

There are small pockets of resistance within the religious community – but theirs is a hard fight.

Reverend Michael Kimundu served the Anglican Church in Mtwapa, Kenya, for 30 years. But recently the Church expelled him because leaders found out that he headed a religious organisation called The Other Sheep, which preaches tolerance towards gay people.

“I am a preacher I should be spreading love, not hate – that is why I don’t believe in treating the homosexual community with disdain,” he says. “My Church didn’t want to be associated with such beliefs. Because of my stance I have had many people accuse me and many of the pastors I work with of being gay because we refuse to let this injustice continue.”

So although a few brave people who happen to be religious are willing to stand up to the religious leaders who support the bullying tactics of bigotry, the battle is far from over.

March 2, 2010

Atheists: anti-religious zealots or merely hate filled?

From Ed over at Dispatches From the Culture Wars quoted in its entirety:

The religious right has reacted with a predictable freakout to the Obama administration holding a meeting with the Secular Coalition for America last week.

“It is one thing for Administration to meet with groups of varying viewpoints, but it is quite another for a senior official to sit down with activists representing some of the most hate-filled, anti-religious groups in the nation,” said Council Nedd, chairman of the religious advocacy group In God We Trust.

And once again we see the religious right making a lame attempt to coopt the language of liberal causes that involve real oppression in order to strike the martyr pose and paint themselves as victims. When someone else disagrees with and criticizes their ideas, it’s just like when blacks had fire hoses, police dogs and lynch mobs unleashed at them. Because both are “hateful.”

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the meeting provided a “definitive answer” about the administration’s stance towards religion.”People of faith, especially Christians, have good reason to wonder exactly where their interests lie with the Obama administration,” Donohue said in a statement. “Now we have the definitive answer. In an unprecedented move, leaders of a presidential administration are hosting some of the biggest anti-religious zealots in the nation.

Riiiight. President Obama shows up at every prayer breakfast anyone can schedule within 1000 miles of the White House, has a team of spiritual advisers on retainer and talks incessantly about his religious faith, but he lets his underlings have one meeting with a non-religious group and it just proves how he’s really anti-religious and probably a gay-loving atheist…I mean terror-loving Muslim…oh, whatever. He’s obviously a terrible person now.

One has to wonder: Is there any claim so idiotic that the religious right won’t make it? I have yet to find a limit to their absurdity. I doubt I ever will.

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How sadly true. And from Comment #4 by Sadie Morrison comes an excellent question in response: Is there any claim the religious right can make that is so idiotic and repugnant that mainstream America finally stops giving it the attention and reverence it craves?

I can’t think of any.

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