Are Religious Scriptures “Hate Speech?”

The Westboro Baptist Church picketing at the m...

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According to Wikipedia hate speech is defined as:

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.[3] In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

Over at Anne Rice’s Facebook page there is discussion about hate speech and homosexuality. Many are claiming the christian bible as their authority to call out homosexuality as sinful behavior. They have every right to label something sinful if they want. That’s their choice. However, one person’s comment struck me however when they said that the bible itself was hate speech. Hmm. I tend to agree that bible could be construed as hate speech. So can the Koran and other scriptures that advocate killing due to behavior or ethnicity. The Hebrew god condoned killing when “he” moved the tribes of Israel around and demanded others move out to accommodate them. The Muslim god condones killing those who don’t believe in their religion. This falls under the category of inciting violence against a protected group. So I believe both of their scriptures can be construed as hate speech if they are taken literally as guides for modern life. In fact, I think anyone inciting violence using religion and their scriptures as a prop for supporting such violence should be prosecuted for hate crimes. Let’s just call it for what it is and be done with it. You can claim something as sin all you want as long as you keep it to yourself. If your religion is peaceful you have nothing to fear.


I Get It Now! I’m a “loose” Woman!

I think I understand why fundamentalist Protestant and Catholics stop by my blog and engage me in conversations about the church. These are usually nit-picky types of things like arguing whose facts are more important or bits and pieces of church history. They, like all believers, think that since I take issue with the church and its institutions, I must have some driving need for forgiveness for sins. This is a fairly common assumption (among many) made by those believers who try to figure out those of us who “rebel,” or “backslide” as they would call it.  We’ve had the audacity to leave church! Shock! Horror! Look at the endless grief they’ve given Anne Rice!  They just can’t understand why we would leave so they look and dig and hitting upon an incident we may write about ourselves on our blogs, they play amateur psychologist and console their own consciences by saying, “Ah, there’s the reason.” In their benighted sort of way, they think they are helping us, offering us a deity’s comfort. That’s sweet. But what they can never understand is that that comfort comes with a price; intellectual and spiritual integrity.

It actually makes them feel better that they’ve hit upon a reason, because the black/white, either/or thinkers are extremely uncomfortable with nuance, subtlety, and things that don’t fit strict categories or follow rigid authority. It’s scary out there after all.  It just occurred to me this morning and it makes complete sense. I think they would pick a better method of pastoral counsel though than the “you’re wrong, I’m right” approach. That’s why we left church in the first place; because of being constantly told not to trust ourselves, to follow rules, follow leadership and especially follow men. You see it’s especially ugly for them when women dare to leave the church. A woman without authority over her just cannot be countenanced. Quite frankly, I’ve always thought that women should leave the church in droves.  We’ll see if men could get any work done if they had to wash and iron their own vestments or church accouterments, polish all their sacramental cups and saucers, type their own sermons or bulletins, or watch their children. Men might have to {gasp} teach Sunday school or something! Oh my LORD! Cant’ have that. Women loose in the world is the downfall of Western civilization!

Afterthought: of course I do come off on these pages as someone with mixed emotions about religion. Like Anne Rice, I am sympathetic to open-minded, progressive spiritual persons who are trying to live a non-condemnatory kind of life. So I can see why I probably invite the criticism sometimes. However, I struggle to make sense of the world like everyone else. I just don’t like others telling me what to believe about ethics, politics, or philosophy without giving me the same courtesy.

Documentary History of Catholic Clergy Abuse

Thanks to Bishop Accountability for creating a time line of recent clergy abuse “at a glance” (post 1940, not including all the history of killing through the Crusades, persecution of innocents during auto da fe, and horrific abuse of all who dared to disagree with his pope-nesses down through the centuries).  For a video documenting before that:

Of course clergy abuse isn’t limited to Catholic priests. Most religions have their pedophiles, murderers, and nutcases, the majority of them male, which is a good reason to steer clear of men gathering in large groups and those males who hold positions of authority.

Growing Out of Church

Interesting article about a prominent church author leaving the institutional church. The comment that caught my attention was this one the blog author wrote:

Finally, John Eldredge says, “The accusation is that we are backsliding, but the fact is, we are living a richer Christian experience than ever.  It’s mature Christians who have opted out of church.

That’s a good way of putting it. Church is mainly designed for new believers who are clueless about what it means to be a Christian. Once done teaching that, it only makes sense that one gets “out of school” as it were, and goes out into the big world as it is. It’s like leaving home for the first time to go to college or to get married. Some of us leave happy homes and have a hard time getting out there. Some of us leave bad environments and can’t wait for freedom. Church is like that. It’s a religious school for the baby Christian. I know that I felt church could no longer offer me much, especially if I was learning and believing vastly different things than they were willing to teach. When someone with an insatiable curiosity chooses to stay in that environment, one learns to either turn off one’s questioning ability completely or come up with some pretty creative answers to hard questions. Like going to the movies, when you go to church and listen to what they tell you, you need a high threshold of suspension of disbelief in order to get through it. At least I did.

I miss it sometimes.  However, while I can romantically and nostalgically remember my time in church, while I can read about doctrinal disputes and dogmatic questions, while I can keep an eye on the establishment and decry the base wickedness of clergy abusing children or parishioners swindling each other, I cannot seem to accept it all at face value any longer. There’s a time I’d like to crawl back into that comforting womb and be innocent and wide-eyed again (not that I was ever that!).  But leaving church is like the child who realizes her parents aren’t these god-like beings she always thought they were. She discovers they too have feet of clay and don’t know what’s going on either. They just act like they do. It’s an evolutionary necessity to get the young raised and out the door. So like a parent, a healthy religious institution should send “mature” Christians on their way into the world like we send our children into adulthood. Wouldn’t that be the logical thing to do? Because what makes it all worth it is that moment you realize that you are now on your own. It’s scary, but what a giddy, wonderful feeling to be free and trusted to make your own decisions about your life!

The Sin of Be-ing

I’ve often argued that religion and faith in something mystical are not synonymous. Jeff Lily has written a nice series on the subject of religion, and written it very well. Start here and wend your way through all six arguments. While I was reading elsewhere on the internet this morning I came across an interview with Dallas Willard. I would like to contrast Lilly’s assessment of religion with Dallas Willard’s excellent explanation regarding atonement theories and Jesus Christ. Coming at it from the theological angle, Willard tries to explain the meaning of justification, atonement, and other Christian terms. While Lilly’s argument takes on Christianity in general, Christians still argue amongst themselves about what role Jesus played.

Surprisingly, after reading both of these, less is Jesus becoming the “sticking point” for me in my spirituality. I’ve long been suspicious of religions and their leaders, but Jesus seemed always to loom large in my world view. However, the whole idea of a necessary atonement implies that humanity is just basically “wrong” from the beginning. This is indeed how many religionists view life and the world, especially the Catholic and Protestant churches. I viewed it once thus myself. All of Christian doctrine hinges on what Jesus actually accomplished on the cross, if anything. However, let’s back up and say that no atonement theory explains to my satisfaction the thorny issue of such a God creating a world and then holding it accountable for the flaws this God created. Atonement then is extremely tautological. This doctrine would be like your parents berating you your entire life for having been born, when you are merely the product of their own lusts. They didn’t ask you to be born. You just were. Imagine if they then told you that you can be brought fully into the family if your sister died to make up for it! We are all shocked at such a suggestion. But yet, we are not shocked when the Christian God demands that only by the death of a “son” can said God forgive the world! And THEN we aren’t done! We must then still work and work for a “kingdom” that never arrives and be satisfied that our whole life was spent working for an ethereal idea, all because of the possibility of reward “after death” when there is no proof of life after death either, except Jesus, who was resurrected they say. The church as an institution was created specifically to be the “family” gatekeeper; ones who could say “You are in.” or “You are out.” And not as nicely as Heidi Klum either!

Jeff Lilly makes a good argument for questioning religious leaders and our assumptions about religion, but I think everyone should back up from atonement theories and even  religion in general and ask the bigger question behind all of it: Who said there is such a thing as “sin” to begin with and why the automatic assumption that people are “wrong” or guilty from birth? Mary Daly, a radical feminist philosopher with two doctorates in sacred theology and philosophy from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and a doctorate of religion from St. Mary’s College, writes that sin is “derived from the Indo-European root es- … meaning to be.” (Pure Lust, The Women’s Press, Ltd., London, page 151) She writes further, “clearly our ontological courage, our courage to be implies the courage to be wrong.” (152) In other words, according to men’s religions, we are simply “wrong” from the beginning, women especially so. Therefore to be fully alive, we must find the courage to sin, not avoid sin. We must fully come into be-ing, not try to avoid it, something I believe Eve was faulted for in the Garden of Eden myth and something for which women have been paying ever since.

It’s a lot to take on but Daly’s thinking has so radically jarred my own for the past 10 years, that I have never been able to ignore it and it’s all well worth exploring. Since my college days I’ve asked, “Who said so?” and “Why?” The answers to those questions are why I’m here.

Quaker Worship and Love

Well, and here is the crux of the matter: an excellent explanation for why non-theists can worship with Quaker theists.  The bit that stands out is this:

Before letting George Fox speak to us about silent waiting, I want to help nontheists as well as theists to hear him — and to hear each other. Because, as 1 John 4 asserts, God is love and love is God, and because, as Paul asserts, Christ is “the image [in whom we are made; see Gen. 1:27] of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), we can define worship in a way that speaks to theists and nontheists by simply substituting the word “love” for “God” and “Christ” in the source texts. That substitution has been made (except when the meaning would not be clear, or when mythological agency is attributed) in the following passages from Fox.*

And this is to all that would learn silent waiting upon [love] and silent meeting; for none shall ever come to [love] … but as they do come to that of [love] in them, the light which [love] hath enlightened them withal; and that is it which must guide everyone’s mind up to [love], and to wait upon [love] to receive the spirit from [love], and the spirit leads to wait upon [love] in silence, and to receive from [love].

Other than waiting patiently and trustingly for the working of love in our hearts, then, we perform no action in Quaker worship. Our worship is essentially passive. Therefore there is no object toward which our worship is directed, toward which we proffer reverence. We’re simply waiting to feel the motions of love directing our lives. Thus do we avoid the error of attempting to objectify, to reify, God. And thus do we, if we are theists, avoid the error of secretly thinking that we are pleasing God by the work of worship.

Now that makes perfect sense to me. God/Goddess/Spirit is Love.  No scriptures required. No action. Just receive and live. Period.  End of story. Refreshing.