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I took place in my first demonstration Saturday, meeting downtown with about 11,999 others to protest the passage of Prop 8 in the recent election. I just now got to reading coverage in the Los Angeles Times, and I can’t believe how Prop 8 supporters have gotten even more hateful. Take this, for instance, reprinted from the Times:

“They can protest all they like, and it doesn’t change the fact that Prop. 8 has passed and the election is now over,” said Frank Schubert, manager for the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

There were many religious signs at the protest, most of them being held by people who were obviously religious themselves. “The same Bible was used to justify slavery.” “I was born gay. You were taught religion.” Even some “Mormon Against 8″ signs. There was a lot of humor, as well.

Again, from the Times: “It’s unfortunate that the ‘No on 8′ campaign has devolved into personal attacks and statements of religious bigotry. If they think this is going to help their cause long term, they might want to consider a new strategy.”

It’s unfortunate? Hypocrite! The Yes on 8 campaign was nothing but personal attacks and statements of religious bigotry. Oh, such a twister of words. It’s devious, untrue, and bordering on evil. It’s definitely hate. It makes my skin crawl. Well, when these supporters of segregation end up burning in their hell with those who strung up black people in trees and those kept women from being able to vote, perhaps then they’ll think twice about their treatment of their fellow man.

(Click the pictures to see larger versions. I’ll be putting more pictures of the protest in my gallery soon.) (UPDATE: I did not!)

Any dumbass who supports the marriage of church and state should be given gentle daily reminders of why that is a horrible idea.

Here’s today’s: “Afghan Student Sentenced to Death After Downloading Report.” And we “liberated” this place? Good job, us! We rock!

Well, I’m very disappointed in Ben Stein. No longer will I be able to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and think of Ben as the funny teacher. I will think of him as the pathetic mouthpiece of ID who, despite himself, must have accidentally been funny.

What the hell am I talking about? This:

Wow. There is so much that’s horrible about that clip, I can’t even see straight. O’Reilly really is an ignorant, posturing creep. It makes me sad that so many people hang on this man’s every word. And that Ben! What? He always presented such a fun yet rational image!

Okay, it’s not very fair to bludgeon Ben and his talents because he believes in God, but he really is asking for it. Perhaps I’m persecuting him for his beliefs, as he says “the seculars” do! Well, no. I’m not persecuting him for that, I’m persecuting him for his ignorance on the matters he’s trying to discuss. If you’re going to summarize the “secular” viewpoint of the beginning of life on Earth as “lighting striking a mud puddle,” then you are open game. Trying to sell the ID agenda as a simple first amendment right to free speech is full-on bullshit.

I got into all this again thanks to a very good Ars Technica article describing how, after a defeat in the courts, Intelligent Design is rebranding itself to take another shot at infiltrating schools. Ben mentioned in the above clip how desperate “seculars” are because Darwin’s theory is so flawed. “Seculars” aren’t the ones who are desperate, it’s the creationists who are desperate. Science doesn’t need to throw up a smokescreen to get taught in classes. Only fake, made-up ideologies reliant on ancient superstitions and human failings need to do so to be considered as proper curricula for schools.

While certain slimy types keep wanting to force ID into everyone’s consciousness, it’s good to keep finding articles like this one, which demonstrate how, little-by-little, humans can piece together the true evolution of life and the workings of the universe. There are no little pieces like this to support the concept of a creator, and I think, Mr. Stein, that that is what is making ID lovers nervous. All science needs to do is explore, finding clues and proof about the real world, while ID must rely on attacks, whining that science hasn’t discovered all the answers yet. Somehow, ID folks feel religion has, which is ludicrous.

What I find amusing (in a very scary way) is how Ben says evolution was a “brilliant proposition,” but faults it for not describing how life began in the first place. Gee golly gee! I wonder if perhaps Ben expects the theory of relativity to explain how H. G. Wells came up with the idea for his novels? This is a perfect example of propaganda. All you need to do is distort the facts enough, make up false doubts, and you’re on your way to a successful undermining of truth.

May I finally point out, Ben, that while you deride Darwin’s evolutionary theory as being out of date (“[it] was a brilliant theory in the middle on the 19th century… it’s the 21st century, there are a lot of questions…”), the concept of a creator is even more out of date and even more full of questions. Nice try. “Stein? Stein? Stein?”

Well, friends, I just read a site that walks one through the new $27 million Creation Museum. It looks incredibly fancy. But, really, come on. Are there many museums out there based so much on ignorance and blindness?

This museum has every right to exist, of course. We all have the right to say what we want. But here’s a good question posed by The New York Times :

Given the museum’s unwavering insistence on belief in the literal truth of biblical accounts, it is strange that so much energy is put into demonstrating their scientific coherence with discussions of erosion or interstellar space. Are such justifications required to convince the skeptical or reassure the believer?

I just got done reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and the details the poor guy has to slog through to disprove—er, sorry, counter—religion are tiring and incredibly painful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good read, but the fact that it had to be written at all is what’s so unfortunate. To have to argue against something so silly seems a waste of time.

Making things even sillier, here now are the creationists, once again altering their interpretations of the Bible and science to, among other amusing concoctions, include the dinosaurs in a 6,000-year Christian time line. The Creation Museum literally puts the dinosaurs with Adam and Eve. “Adam and apes share the same birthday. The first man walked with dinosaurs and named them all! God’s Word is true, or evolution is true. No millions of years. There’s no room for compromise.

Belligerent religion has become something of a nuisance in America lately, especially since the election of Bushy baby and that thing on 9/11. I think what’s happening now is a last, desperate grasp to hold on to something that, in today’s light, is so ridiculous and still unproven. Moderate religious people can hold onto science and still make room for their belief in God, but the flailing, glassy-eyed, bad-haired Christian extremists who do what they can to hold onto their moldy Bible and its antiquated teachings are running out of room to wiggle.

Let’s walk down a quick path through the past. Just for a moment.

We are back in the mists of ancient time, and humans are fairly ignorant about a great many things in this universe. There is no direct evidence of how the Earth and humans came about, so why not come up with something? Human invention fills in the gaps where our knowledge is lacking.

Christianity and the other one-god beliefs become an inevitable later chapter in the evolution (yes, evolution) of religions. So you have your one god, and he created the entire universe and, while you are making up the story, he created mankind in his image. Fine. Evidence of your god’s divine skills in creation are everywhere. How else to explain the caterpillar who so magically and inexplicably turns itself into a butterfly!

As you marvel at the creation all around you, this little mammal of a thing called science emerges. It’s timid and unsure at first, but within a certain amount of time, it can show how the caterpillar turns into a butterfly. No problem for you, however! It simply underscores the wonder of your god’s skill and imagination.

The world is filled with tiny mysteries that, as science grows, become less mysterious. Still glorious, perhaps, but not mysterious. Yet, still, it is very easy to keep an unwavering faith in your god because, you see, each little step shows his brilliance.

Science, however, grows exponentially, making incredible strides. It builds upon itself, each discovery being made upon the foundation of others. It is self-healing, evolving (yes!), and changing as observable states become more entrenched in its volumes of fact. With the smaller mysteries solved, the larger ones come next, and then the larger ones, and the larger ones…

And suddenly, boom. You find yourself in an age where many of those gigantic, unsolvable questions of the universe that your religion was created to answer begin to unravel under the gaze of science. It is proven (not suggested, but proven) that the Earth is much, much older than that clever book of yours suggests. The evolution of creatures on Earth has been discovered, and fossils demonstrate that it’s been going on a long time. More and more of your book is shown to be lacking in support of what others have observed.

At this point, the moderate religious person begins to simply accept most of the truths of science, writing your book off as allegory or symbolism. But because the existence of god himself is, by intelligent human design, impossible to prove or disprove, they can still take comfort in knowing that he still had a hand in all this.

Oh, but this will not do for you! Oh, my, no! You hug close the wisdom of your book, and believe in it with all your heart and head. As the “facts” in your book slough off into the trough of fiction, you can no longer simply do what the weak-faithed moderates do. No. The only thing left for you is denial. Deception. Acceptance of the fanciful and preposterous. The caterpillar is now the entire universe itself, and as science drills deeper into the truths of this universe, further expanding the borders of concepts the human mind can grasp, you have only one choice. Lie to yourself. Oh, and lie to others. Die a revered modern missionary.

That’s where we are now, back in the present.

There will forever be humans who believe in a god of some kind, and the concept is malleable, changeable, and adaptable—traits that will assure that the evolution of religion continues without dying. Unlike the evolution of science, which expands and improves as it builds upon itself, Christianity (and other religions, too, I suppose) stays the same as it folds in on itself, changing only as much as its narrow rules allow. It becomes inbred.

The fundamentalists, being deniers of evolution and, as time marches on, actual observable fact, have to fight. Their brand of belief is dying, and they are doing what all dying things do: struggle.

During this struggle, the rules of common sense are going wayside. Any tactic will be acceptable: lying, misquoting, ignoring pieces of arguments, and enthusiastically supporting only those tidbits of the world of science that fit into the biblical world view.

The Creation Museum is bold. Daring. That it can put the unsupported and unprovable “facts” from the Bible next to scientific “lies” that have been unquestionably proven and re-proven again and again is ballsy. It fits right in with the Intelligent Design crusade to get creationism taught in public schools. It’s all bullshit, but boy, is it marketed well.

Thousands of years of Christianity can not so easily be wiped away. The branches of Christianity that will not stray from the old ways are going to die and fade. But like an exploding star, the fundamentalists will make a big noise, engulfing new minds and capturing needy hearts, before ultimately fading away into the fringe.

I saw this video over at Darren’s site. (Direct link.)

[NOTE: The former link no longer worked. This link has more of the surrounding story. Note how the Fox lady colors every comment with viewpoint nstead of letting the story speak for itself.]

For just a moment, I thought Fox News was going to be doing an anti-anti-gay interview with this woman. That would be shocking, since Fox tends to be fairly anti-gay itself.

As you can see, however, the interview immediately degenerates into an immature shouting match, which is not too terribly surprising considering this is Fox. The anchor ends up counter-preaching the Bible to Shirley of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), and takes a pro-military, pro-America stance. Shocking. Though you can barely hear anything in the verbal melee, the anchor does provide a few choice Biblical counterpoints. Her arguments are no better than Shirley’s, though, because she’s just as bull-headed and argumentative, and she is the one who instigates the shouting in the first place.

A journalist is supposed to allow the person she is interviewing to complete her argument, or at least get a good way through, before calmly offering a counterpoint question or point that suggests the subject’s viewpoint may be seen as inappropriate or wrong. This bimbo (as Shirley calls her) is no journalist. She’s a mirror Shirley on the other side of the screen. The folks at Fox News know it’s good TV, if not good journalism, to attack so reprehensible an organization as the WBC. I find that in itself just as reprehensible.

Consider that this kind of interview plays perfectly into the WBC’s hands. The WBC gets fuel for their zealot fire, while Fox’s technique is indefensible as a successful exposé of the WBC’s nefarious actions and beliefs. Fox is unable to say that they provided a clean and intelligent forum for the WBC to hang itself with its own comments. They merely staged a Jerry Springer-like shouting match. Anyone can do that.

I’m certainly not supporting the WBC in any way. Just try to visit its website. If you can stomach it for more than a few moments, you will see what an awful organization it is. I would welcome a good on-air skewering of the WBC, but Fox does not have the talent, patience, intelligence, professionalism, or maturity to do so properly. Once again, where’s Edward R. Murrow when you really need him? (I know, dead, but still…)

Did I not say I should stop reading the newspaper? Did I not learn the ensuing lessons of posting anything about religion?

I did. And I didn’t.

Simply scanning the front page of the Times today, the following article came to my attention. Click it to read, perchance to weep [NOTE: Link now goes to a PDF file]:

Christians Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Policies

Cute little headline there, but the reported nonsense isn’t cute at all. Just read it! Is it any wonder I feel I need to lash out against these morons? These people hang themselves with their idiocy, but I simply have to point it out to others so that those of us who are of stable and thoughtful mind might be the ones to finally kick the stool away. And Matt and any other sane religious people out there should want to join me in the kicking!

This quote is kind of like jumping into the middle of the pond without first walking along the dock, so read the story first.

Okay, now that you’ve done that, re-live, with gawking kisser, the following:

“What if a person felt their religious view was that African Americans shouldn’t mingle with Caucasians, or that women shouldn’t work?” asked Jon Davidson, legal director of the gay rights group Lambda Legal.

Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor responds to such criticism angrily. He says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different—a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.

By equating homosexuality with race, Baylor said, tolerance policies put conservative evangelicals in the same category as racists. [...]

“Think how marginalized racists are,” said Baylor, who directs the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom. “If we don’t address this now, it will only get worse.”

My goodness! Conservative Christians in bed with the racists? Horrors! This certainly would be the first time that’s ever happened. I proffer that the racists are marginalized for a good reason, and that Mr. Baylor needs to go buy his plot of land in Racistville right now, because he’s going to need to be building a nice little house for himself.

It’s the concept of “inborn” vs. “lifestyle choice” that is the very pivot of such arguments. (See, once again, John’s corresponence with Linda Harvey. Follow the links from this comment.) As the evidence for the genetic seat of homosexuality begins to accumulate, this final point of argument is in danger of being proved wrong. Now, of course, I’ve already spoken about how some (some, I repeat!) religious folks have no trouble ignoring scientific evidence. The people in favor of gay-bashing in the Times article will carry on bashing gays as long as they wish, despite any genetic evidence or otherwise to demonstrate that homosexuality is not a choice. But once the proof becomes overwhelming, these nutters will, indeed, begin to become marginalized just as racists are. In fact, the process has already begun.

I do believe that this sort of behavior is simply the final struggle, the desperate fight back against a social change these people consider detrimental and, I suppose, unholy. As the saying goes, when the cat is cornered, it’ll fight back. Is that a saying? If not, pretend it is for today. Anyway, that’s what’s happening. These mangy cats are fighting from a corner they’ve inevitably gotten themselves into. If the country doesn’t get any more screwed up politically than it is, these people will lose. They will hang themselves, and their souls will not go to heaven but to Racistville.

I might add that they could have difficulty finding people to style their hair or apply delicious window treatments once there. But there should be plenty of pleated slacks!

Looks like Wal-Mart has actually done something sensical and has taken a stand against the vile American Family Association. In a story reported today, Wal-Mart says it will sell and continue to sell the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain on DVD.

Bravo.

By its actions and words, the now-less-than-entirely-reprehensible Wal-Mart has said that Brokeback is a movie with an audience, and a movie they want to sell. (Perhaps they realize how many men will be coming in to Wal-Mart to surrpetitiously look at the package and maybe even buy the movie to secretly watch at home before they go back to their redneck lives in which they hide their true nature from their bigoted communities?)

In the Reuters story, a heinously misguided AFA spokesman says, “It wasn’t even a blockbuster movie, so if Wal-Mart isn’t trying to push an agenda, why would they put it at the front door?”

Perhaps the AFA should take a harsher stance against the other non-blockbusters that Wal-Mart routinely sells and promotes. You know the movies I mean—stuff like The Dukes of Hazzard, which grossed only $80 million in the U.S. (less than Brokeback, despite its Confederate flags); Because of Winn-Dixie ($42 million worldwide); Doom ($43 million worldwide); and Ice Princess ($33 million globally).

On the other hand, if the AFA is continuing to decry the mere presence of Brokeback Mountain on Wal-Mart shelves because of some Biblical objection to homosexuality, you have to wonder why they don’t object to the presence of such movies as Saw and Saw II, Sin City, and Red Eye, since the Ten Commandments lists “Thou shalt not kill” as one of the most important commandments from God. To date, I haven’t seen the notes from God requesting a Commadnment rewrite that “Thou shalt not have sex with men if you are a man.”

It continues to amaze me that the AFA uses obscure Scripture to object to homosexuality so vehemently, but rarely (if ever) makes mention of the legion of its own members who daily break one of God’s supreme Commandments (you think not a one of them ever says, “Oh, G-d”?).

AFA members will never read this, but if one of them should happen upon it, ask yourself: Shouldn’t you be upholding God’s laws before worrying about possible allusions to potentially “God-offending” behavior elsewhere in the Bible?

 

Just now, while eating my soup, the supposedly perfect remedy for being sick, I made the mistake of reading the newspaper. There was an article on students questioning their teachers when they teach evolution.

Is it any wonder I don’t want to hear the news any more?

While I’m not really laughing today, it really is kinda funny how these kids—and plenty of adults, of course—harangue their teachers on evolution, asking for proof yet doubting the proof that’s there in front of them. It’s funny because they are attacking what we know so far about biology using concepts and teachings that have no proof whatsoever. Faith is not proof.

People prefer the simple. Religion, to me, is what human beings have concocted to make the universe more simple to understand. This is an old argument I’ve used before, but there was something else about it that hit me today, reading that article.

See, I pictured my friends who are religious pointing out to me that religion is, in fact, incredibly complex. My God, Van studied it in college, even. You can go to school all your life and not finish learning the intricacies and complexities of religion. So religion, created by humans to explain and simplify the universe, has become complicated by the humans themselves.

Religions typically have a document of some kind that is the Guide to All Things. The most popular of these in our country is the Bible. The Bible was not written by God, of course, but by people. People supposedly writing for God or some such thing. But the Bible has changed as it’s been translated and revised through the years. That’s why there are versions, like the King James “version.”

Religion is simple, but the document full of rules and explanations that people need to interface with the religion is not. It also happens that the documents are based solely on hearsay, rumor, storytelling, invention, metaphor, and any number of other factors except one: fact.

Okay, so science has been caught embracing facts that end up to be wrong, false, erroneous. But science then discards such errors and moves on. Perhaps the Bible is filled with tales that came from factual events, once upon a time. But it discards nothing as it ages. As a document of faith, it’s not allowed to unless you’re King James. When you take something unchangeable, such as the Bible, and compare it to the canon of science, which is an ever-changing “document” of facts and truth, you compare the staid with the liquid. Scientific knowledge gets more complex every day because we discover so much. The Bible gets more complex because people keep looking into its inscrutable innards and “discover” new meanings. The Bible hasn’t changed. People add meaning on their very own.

Evolution happens in front of our faces every single day. The AIDS virus mutates with frightening voraciousness. A certain kind of elephant species in India has begun producing more males without tusks, since tusked males have been slaughtered for ivory. [UPDATE: The elephants in question live in China, not India. Read all about it here.] Antibiotics, like the one I’m taking now, the third kind in two weeks, have to be strengthened and improved every year as older antibiotics become ineffective against the resistant strains they leave behind. All over the place, we can see the adaptability and change of the world, and yet, because some old words placed in a book before much was known about biology say the world was created 6,000 years ago, people believe that. The desire for something to be true wins out over the real truth.

I need to stop reading the paper.

So it seems Pope Benedict XVI was given a 2GB iPod Nano a few days ago as a gift from Vatican Radio in honor of his visiting the station. It was a white one, of course.

“Computer technology is the future,” he said upon receiving the gift. Good to see the papacy is in the hands of the brightest and best.

The iPod came pre-loaded with files, of course, including audio of some of the station’s shows. It also had music by Beethoven, Mozart, and other hacks.

I hope the RIAA sues the pope. I could see the courtroom now:

“Mr. XVI, did you buy this iPod new?”

“Nein. It was given to me as a gift.”

“So it was used?

“Nein. It was new.”

“It had never been touched by another’s hands, mortal or divine?”

“Well, ja, it had.”

“So it was not new?”

“It was new, but it had been opened by someone to put some music on it.”

“Oh. I see. So there was already music on your ‘brand new’ iPod when you opened the box?”

“Ja.”

“Please help me, your pontifficleness… are you saying you had already used your iPod before receiving it as a gift?”

“Nein. Only God can perform such mira—”

“Yes yes. I know, I know. So if you did not put that music on there, who did?”

“Perhaps it was Father Lombardi.”

“Federico?”

“Ja. Or one of his staff.”

“I see. Very interesting, Mr. XVI. So Federico or someone under his command filled your ‘new’ iPod with music. Did they borrow some of your CDs?”

“I do not own any CDs. Only 8-tracks.”

“So where do you suppose, your holiness, Federico or his stooges got the music to put on your iPod?”

“It is a radio station. I am sure they have access to the music there.”

“Yes, I imagine they do, your blessedness. I imagine they do. Say, I wonder—and I’m just thinking out loud here—do you think maybe Vatican Radio owns the rights to the music they broadcast?”

“Only God knows such—”

“Yes yes. As I said, I’m just thinking out loud. So I wonder, as I continue to think out loud, whether Vatican Radio owns the music they play.”

“Perhaps—”

“I WONDER if the music is theirs to give out at random. To whomever they choose. To any Tom, Dick, and Pius.”

“I—”

“I WONDER, Mr. XVI, if Vatican Radio feels that a small token of THEFT is nothing to worry about. That perhaps the mighty RIAA is not so mighty as the Holy Church. I WONDER, MISTER right-hand-of-God, if you think you are above the laws of man!”

“The laws of God are above the laws of man.”

“I see, I see. Very, VERY interesting. So you are implying that GOD HIMSELF put Beethoven on your iPod? Specifically, that God himself directed Father Lombardi (a Mafia name if ever I heard one) to put Herbert von Karajan’s 1993 version of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, Deutsche Grammophon CD catalog number 439 004-2, on your iPod for your own personal use?”

“That was Karajan? A good Arian friend…”

“Be here now, popey boy! You’re an accused accomplice to music piracy! I wouldn’t be so glib if I were you!”

“God shall protect me.”

“I wouldn’t go—”

“God shall protect me, for I am his vessel. God is above piracy, a pitiful man-law that is nothing but laughable to Him. If God wants me to get the latest song from that Stravinsky fellow, or that spicy RuPaul, or Madonna herself, I will get it, Mr. Frackman, and so help you Him if you get in His way.”

Here is one of the most surprising, fascinating reviews of Brokeback Mountain I have yet seen:

http://www.decentfilms.com/sections/reviews/2645

Decentfilms.com says it is “a site of film appreciation, information, and criticism informed by Christian faith.” You’d think the movie would bash Brokeback Mountain. And, indeed, at first glance the reviewer gives the movie an “F” for “overall recommendability.”

Yet …

Read the review.

Go ahead. Read it now. Seriously. Then come back to this.

I mean it:

http://www.decentfilms.com/sections/reviews/2645

OK.

Now that you’re back, is it not possible that this shows, in some ways, that at least some conservatives might be coming around to the idea that love is good, even if you don’t understand it? Keep in mind, most of his objections revolve not around the idea of a gay romance, but of marital infidelity.

In some ways, this review has left me reeling.

Thank fucking God. I mean, really. Intelligent design was shot down today by a federal judge. Read this wonderful quote from the ruling:

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

Read the entire article (linked above), because there are some more gems. The judge who wrote the decision, Judge John Jones (that’s a TV show in the making!), even comments that his decision might be deemed the workings of an activist judge. “Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist court,” he wrote. Jones was appointed by Bush. How about them intelligently-designed apples?

Oh, this is a sweet, sweet victory for common sense and the real “truth.” While it only holds for the Pennsylvania school district, it’s a great step toward sanity. I can now leave for the (admittedly Christian-based) holidays with a happy sigh.

Here’s an interesting tidbit in Slate that discusses a viewpoint of the current state of Creationism that I hadn’t thought of before.

I was just saying Saturday night at a holiday party, after jumping off from the base topic of Brokeback Mountain, that the backlash against gays and same-sex marriage we’re seeing is the final push of a conquered bigotry. We will get the right to marry. It will happen. As any shift toward a more accepting society has taken place, be it anti-slavery, voting rights for women, desegregation, or any other of a truckload of issues, the final push of the close-minded is inevitable, rearing up as a more vocal, more angry, more serious threat than it really is in the end. Bigotry won’t be erased, but it will be less powerful in the end.

I hadn’t thought about that in the case of the whole Intelligent Design thing. Read the article and see what I mean…

I know, I know… I’ve been a posting powerhouse this week. I hate pushing one doubtfully-interesting post down the page for the next. But I had to give all y’all some links for the newest developments on the intelligent design front.

First up, the Kansas Board of Education has voted in favor of adding anti-evolution/pro-intelligent design teachings to science classes. The kicker is that they have actually re-defined science to get this to be legal. Can this be any scarier? On the plus side, voters ousted all 8 of the incumbent candidates for the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, who voted to allow intelligent design to be taught in their schools.

For your reading pleasure, here are articles from NewScientist and The New York Times.

For an interesting summary with some great links, check out an article in, of all places, Ars Technica. One of the interesting things this article mentions is the Catholic Church’s support of evolution. Interesting!

In reaction to the impending Kansas decision, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association used copyright law as a weapon, keeping science education standards manuals out of the hands of Kansas schools. On the surface, it sounds like a great tactic, but Jennifer Granick at Wired has a wonderful argument against it.

Of course, we’ve already had lively discussion here on The Wren Forum. Read “Intelligent Bullshit” (and the infamous “dickhead” comment that caused great strife) and “Evolution NOW!”

See what happens when you mix both religion and politics? Well, amidst all the drama, it’s good to know that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is still a viable option for crackpot metaphysical junkies, ex-Catholics included.

The pope died, and I have nothing funny to say about it. I am disappointed in myself.

The final letter from Ms. Harvey:

John:

I will not take up a lot of your time, but I want to make a couple of key points that I hope you will seriously consider.

Everything you say is in the definitions.You’ve said you know you were born gay, so to you that’s who you are. You believe God loves you the way you are, and that you learn about Jesus and his love of tolerance, temperance, etc.

This is crucial–are you sure you are learning about the real Jesus? One of us is right and one is wrong. In my study of neopaganism, I’ve learned some very troubling things being taught in self-labeled Christian churches. The Bible is pretty much dismissed. Other paths to God are accepted. The problem with all this is that, it leads in circles of confusion, theologically.Among the many, many self-contradictory issues that this raises are, Ii we don’t turn to the Bible, how is sin defined? Your definition and mine may be totally different–even in conflict. Who then is right, if we believe in “equality”?( This is, by contrast, easily resolved if we both report to the same boss, and we turn to Scripture as our guide).

Why did the Jews so carefully preserve the Scriptures for all that time, if they aren’t worth anything, or if we can pick and choose what out of them we want to believe? And, the message in the Old and New Testaments is from the same God–His goodness and truth are in both, with a lot of consistency. They weave a pretty consistent picture taken together.

There are counterfeit spirits that masquerade as the Holy Spirit, and Scripture tells us that only God’s Word (i.e., Scripture) will keep us on track. Satan and demonic spirits can appear as “angels of light.” ( 2 Corinthians) This is what is happening in many Christian churches. Acceptance of sexual sin clearly prohibited in Scripture is a signal that an authentic gospel is probably not being taught.

I don’t know what else to say to you. But deception can seem very appealing in the short run.

Please consider this and read your Bible! It’s the only sure way to know the Lord. Your reading of Scripture will reveal to you if something is off track.

God bless you.

Linda

You didn’t really think I was going to let her get in the last word, especially when Bible-thumping?

I’ve been to church many times in my life. As recently as three years ago, I was going weekly. I have read the Bible (well, most of it — I also saw some Claymation versions of the Gospel), and I have a strong sense of what I believe God wants from me.

So, here’s my response to the response:

**************************

Dear Linda,

Yes, I see we are not going to agree, but your thoughtful and kind response certainly matters to me, and is something I appreciate. If you do not want to get into a discussion with me, I certainly understand that — but I also believe that if “both sides” agreed more often to genuinely discuss and listen to the other, we may never come to terms and “change sides,” but we may certainly have a greater understanding … and, most importantly, a greater respect … for the other.

Let me reveal something that may surprise you: I go to church. I listen to the Gospel. I believe in its meanings and lessons and what it has to tell us about God’s love. I also believe in the New Testament, and that it sprang from the teachings of Christ — quite different in many cases than the messages conveyed in the Old Testament, as you no doubt are aware. And Christ tells us, time and again, to love one another. No matter what. Even Christ got angry and frustrated at those who seemed to be going against his teaching, as in the Temple with the moneychangers. But even there, he came to understand that tolerance, temperance and the belief in the love of God above everything are what we all should strive for.

Let me say again, as only I can (as only I have lived my life — just as only you have lived yours), that I was born gay. I know this as sure as I know I was born with brown hair and with middle toes that are slightly longer than my big toes. If God did not make me this way, then something or someone certainly did — and I, for one, believe it was NOT the opposite of God! I cannot tell you how much I know this to be true. I don’t “believe” it to be true; I know it is so. And God has blessed me with a loving, gracious, caring, compassinate, good-humored, joyous person in my life. Together, we are facing the challenges that life offers us. We work together to make a home, we pay our taxes, we give to charity, we budget our money, we take care of our neighbors (and they of us). We have cultivated a wonderful circle of friends, some liberal and some conservative, some gay and some straight, some our age and some older. We end each day knowing we are blessed and happy and grateful for the gifts that God has bestowed on us.

In that regard, we are no different, I think, than anyone else you might know. There were some, particuarly in our families, who found it difficult to accept as as a couple when we first were together — but over the years (four so far), we are lucky that every single one has come to accept us as who we are. Talking with his mother the other day, she said, “I don’t even think of you as two men anymore, I just think of you as Jeff and John and I love both of you so much.” How wonderful that is!

I just wanted to point out to you that we are not all that different from any “straight” couple you might know. We have two dogs who take up most of our time and attention, we work in our yards and wash our cars and mostly just stay at home because neither one of us is particularly outgoing in a social sense (though we love movies). That is to say, you might be shocked at how average and, well, boring we actually are.

Again, I can only speak for myself (and for the many friends I have who I know share the same overall sentiments): We certainly don’t have any plans to “recruit” kids or “infiltrate” our community. For myself, to be honest, I’m not so sure I even support the idea of “gay marriage,” since “marriage” has been so poorly respected as an institution in the past 30 years I think it has lost most of its meaning. So, I’m probably with you on that one! We are not and never have been child abusers or drag queens. We don’t have sex in dark corners or condone unsafe sex of any sort among anyone. We believe in monogamy and in the sanctity of our relationship. My friends who are not in a relationship want very much to find someone with whom they can quietly and privately share their lives.

Do I believe that God loves me just the way I am? Absolutely. Just as I believe he loves you. From my end, I believe that if you read the Bible through my eyes, you would see just as many passages that support my stances and views as do yours. I believe Scripture can be interpreted in many different ways to support many different views. I choose to use it to show that God loves everyone, no matter who they are.

One day relatively soon, there may be irrefutable, absolutely incontrovertable proof that the majority of gay people are born “that way.” I do believe (and know from first-hand experience) that SOME people, perhaps 10-15% of gay men and women, are not entirely “one way” or another. And for them, it may very well be possible to “choose” one preferred gender. If for just one single, instantaneous moment you could be inside my head, you would know beyond any doubt that for me, it is not possible.

I wish it were not an issue — just as I’m sure women in 1908 wished their gender were not an issue, or black people in 1954 wished the color of their skin were not an issue. I choose to relate to their struggles, not to alcoholics and wife-beaters, and it pains me to think that you would put gay men and women into the same realm as those troubled souls.

There is little about my life that troubles me, and the things that do have nothing to do with my being gay — they are the same things that probably trouble you (traffic, pollution, mean bosses, the cost of groceries). I am, however, genuinely troubled by those who believe they cannot consider, even for a moment, what it is like to be on “the other side.” Linda, I can never know what it is like to be you, but I do respect your views, your passions and your beliefs. I share many of your beliefs in God and Scripture. And when I pray, it is not for you to “change” (nor for me to “change”), but rather that we can all live together with respect for the way God made us.

I choose to believe he is happy that his children are all so very, very different and that — in the grand scheme of things — they’ve turned out so well. :-)

John

I hope people realize what an amazing moment this is. I complained about Linda Harvey’s mindset. John wrote to her. She wrote back.

Now, can they both agree to disagree?

Or is one or the other of them wanting someone to change to fit their concept of reality?

Oh, I’d love thoughts on this! Please! Anyone! Everyone!

Thanks, John, for this fascinating stuff and for putting your money where, as I hear tell, your mouth is.

IF YOU’RE LOST, the following links will help you catch up:

Part 1: “Calm down, calm down.”

Part 2: Bush the Vampire

Part 3: The Evil “Gay” Article

Part 4: John and Linda as Chums

OK, you asked for it. But you’re right, Steve: You ain’t gonna like it.

The Response

John:

I appreciate your polite and thoughtful letter. I get many that are not so kind, so I really mean it when I say–thank you!

What I want to say, though, is that I’m still going to disagree with you. I’ve known too many people who are former homosexuals–and known them well enough to know they weren’t faking it–too believe a person is born gay.

It all comes down to who is the authority in your life. This is much deeper thelogical subject than I can get into here, but first a person has to want to want to be different. I repeated “to want” deliberately. If a person has decided they want a certain thing, and they love that thing more than they love whatever they have learned about God, then that thing will predominate in their lives, and in their spirits. They will not be able to discern, spiritually, that they are living at odds with the truth.

But if you decide that God and Christ are your authority and that that is the most important thing for you, then this will frame your spiritual life, and your spirit will be amenable to the working of the Holy Spirit, which can begin to change you. Without that “Christ is the boss” attitude, no, you will not sense that you could be a different person.

I don’t believe God made you gay. You somewhere began to form those feelings, and they became more important to you than anything else. Who knows why–but it does have to do with wanting to be in control yourself,rather than trusting that there is a spiritual dimension to life, that Christ is in charge of that, and that the only way the Holy Spirit can work is for us to truly recognize that.

The fact that these feelings felt inborn is not proof that they were. Lots of things feel natural to people that are not good, are ultimately changeable,and we humans will cling to even the most pointless or even destructive behaviors, just because we feel like certain things about the practices, or feel trapped and unable to change. I know it’s not the same, but in one sense it is–when I make the following comparison. The person who is an alcoholic and drinks himself into the gutter–often he knows darn well that this is something they could change. But he continues because he likes to drink, it’s familiar to him, and he doesn’t have enough vision to see that he could be different.The passages in John chapter 3 apply here very well, verses 1 through 21.

The wife abuser continues to abuse until he loses his wife, whom he may feel like he will die without. But he continues the pattern until maybe finally she leaves–or he kills her. This is the story of human nature, so something feeling like a natural response doesn’t mean it is the best, nor unchangeable, nor forever.

This power to transform is the miracle of Christianity. It was completely unknown to me until I really committed my life to Christ. And it has been an unbelievable and life-altering experience. It is truly the power of the Creator of the universe working for you.

It’s hard to explain—- it’s like suddenly seeing things from God’s viewpoint. God made us male and female and would not have made you gay.And God knows the things we deal with, and what it was that originally gave some people gay feelings. His grace abounds so much more when there is more to overcome. That’s why sometimes these “overcomers” have a very powerful presence, because they have had to go through so much–but when they emerge on the other side, they are awesome people, and full of joy.

The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) This is meant to be our guiding principle in those times when we are strongly tempted to go in a direction that God’s Word is clearly tells us we shouldn’t. Many things can seem so tantalizing in the short run, and we say, “But Lord, surely this can’t be so bad!” But in the long run they will be a disaster.

That’s really why we have the Bible, for inspiration but also as a practical guidebook.

The vision many have had is similar to this: ” Lord, I feel totally like I was made gay. But I know what your Word says, so I know you did not make me gay. Therefore, I am going to go with your version rather than my own. Now, I am going to trust you that You will show me how to do this. And keep showing me, until I can grasp this and begin to see how you will transform me.”

God will be faithful to the person who does this out of real faith in Christ, and show him or her the way. It has worked in my life, not in relation to homosexuality, but other things that were also very difficult, and I cannot even describe how stunned I have been at how God can transform. It brings me to my knees. It did not happen overnight, but amazing things have happened in my life. I am only incredibly grateful that I did wake up and find the Lord, at last. It took me long enough in my stubbornness, but thankfully I was given many second and third chances.

I hope I’ve made sense. Please consider these things thoughtfully. Christianity is not a code of ethics–but a person and a spirit–the Holy Spirit of Christ, living in believers.And there’s nothing that He can’t overcome.

Linda Harvey

John,

Very nicely done. The bitter part of me–recent events and all–believes she would read this and say you are an abomination in God’s eyes. Of course a “gay” person would argue as you did. But she knows right and you, as a “gay” person, are deluded with sin. But that’s the bitter part of me.

You have admirably demonstrated how one can express one’s opinion and one’s reality to someone who wants one’s “gayness” to go away. I would love to hear a response from her, to see if she can match your level of conversation, or if she can only be intolerant of who you are.

Bravo!

My rather lengthy response to Linda Harvey, sent through the Mission:America website.

** PERSONAL FOR LINDA HARVEY **

Dear Ms. Harvey,

I’m sure you are being beseiged with letters and e-mails in response to your article on Worldnetdaily, which has been making its way around the Internet with a great deal of speed today. I hope you will be willing to read one more response.

First, let me say that by calling your group “Mission America,” you are implying that all Americans share your organizations views. With all due respect, we do not. Americans are of tremendously varying opinion, and even on one topic there are hundreds of positions. We do not live in an all-or-nothing, black-or-white world where people are either “for” or “against” an issue with no wiggle room in between.

I write to you not on behalf of any organization or group, only as one person — one person who is very hurt and saddened at your words.

Let me briefly tell you my story: My mother and father both were first-generation Americans, and they both struggled tremendously to get themselves educated and become professionals. My mother became a teacher, my father an executive with a well-known company. When I was born in 1966, my parents already had one child, my sister, and were remarkably conservative, devout people who attended church regularly, did not drink or smoke, and were the most attentive and giving parents you could imagine. My father was always there for his family and for each of his children. They instilled very traditional American values in each of us, and we grew up with the understanding and acceptance that our role was to be good children, to learn, to go to college, get a good job, get married and have children.

Strangely enough, though, I knew from the first moment I can remember that I would never be able to accomplish those last two things. Oh, I longed to do so — because that was my duty.

But I was born gay. I know that fact with as much conviction, determination, faith, belief and acceptance as you know that you were born straight.

I would certainly never, ever have “chosen” to be gay. I am not ashamed of it, but I also know that growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, being “not gay” would have meant not being taunted by other boys, teased by girls, and afraid to tell anyone how I felt. I knew there were other boys in my school who were like me, but when it came time for school dances and “date nights,” I stayed home — there was no possible way I could ever acknowledge who I was.

I’m not sure that anyone who is not gay can understand what it is like to be 11 years old and living with a secret you can never tell anyone. I don’t know that you can relate to the idea that I could not have a “normal” experience in high school because I could not date, show romantic interest in anyone or learn inter-personal relationships like the rest of my friends. The secret I carried with me was one that no one, not even my family, would understand.

Everyone around me ridiculed gay people and said that they were “bad.” I did not want to be bad! But I also had the deep-seated, immovable knowledge of who I was — a knowledge that only an individual can have.

As I moved into college, still determined to prove to the world that I could be who “they” wanted me to be, I began to date women. I tried to be like my friends. At the same time, I was finding illicit outlets for the same sexual energy that they were able to act upon openly and freely.

Every time I would have one of these encounters, I would be more and more ashamed of myself as a person, more and more convinced that I could never be who I was “supposed” to be.

Through it all, there was never any doubt in my mind of who I was, of what God had made me to be. Finally, one day — far too long in the coming — I realized that I was proud of myself as a human being, proud of my accomplishments and that talents that God had bestowed upon me. The only way I could truly let those talents shine was to allow people to know me, to know the secret that I was carrying.

I told my family first, and they were scared. My mother prayed and went to church, my father became introspective. Finally, my mother called me one day to say that the priest had told the congregation that homosexuality was a sin and that God did not make homosexuals. Of course, what that meant to her was that her own son was a sin and that God did not make me — something she knew to be wholly untrue. On that day, the animosity and intolerance she heard was the undoing of 50 years of faithful churchgoing, and from that moment she had strong doubts about the church’s place in her life.

My father, too, began to realize that the world was telling him that his own son was an aberrance, that his offspring was somehow less of a person than anyone else. He also knew that not to be true.

Today, I am a successful professional with a responsible position in a large company. Everyone I work with knows who I am. We talk about our lives openly; they share their stories of home life, I share mine. We respect each other and learn from each other.

When I read your column today, I wondered if you intended your words to sow seeds of hate and intolerance. I don’t believe you did — if only because I know that God’s Word is that we all have love and respect for each other and that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I don’t believe you would want someone calling you a mistake because you were born a woman, or with a certain color eyes or hair, or taller or shorter than others.

God has made us all different, and history has put is in a country that was founded upon differences. Our Founding Fathers arrived on our shores because they were persecuted for their beliefs and their opinions about the way they were being treated. We were founded, in many ways, as a nation of outcasts — which is why we spent the first 200 years welcoming those who were different, growing to accept diversity and realizing that a “melting pot” was truly that, a place where all people were embraced and came together to form a new type of community.

I value and endorse your right to voice your opinion — I believe in that right so ardently that it is one of the things for which I truly would lay down my life. You have the right to speak your mind and say what you feel.

So do I. So does everyone else.

This is not a war. We should be finding ways to live together, to come together, to understand that there is no “right” and “wrong” … there just IS.

On an individual basis, I can assure you I have no “agenda.” I want only to be able to live peacefully with people who hold differing views, and to be able to talk with them and understand why they believe what they do. I certainly don’t believe that a Christian, a black person, a green-eyed person, a Muslim or a vegetarian is less a person than myself.

In fact, there is only one group I believe truly is inferior: The intolerant. Intolerance forces people to keep secrets, to be less than their full selves. In an adult, that can be difficult. In a child, it is devastating.

We should all be who God made us.

Sincerely,

John Singh