So I’ve finally been pushed to create my first post for THC, and what a push it was.
It seems, somewhat ironically, that today I found that there may well be an element of truth in the Friday 13th superstition: today is a day of darkness. Now I’m not being dramatic, I promise you. As I was browsing the internet and tucking into my regular dose of the Guardian, I came across an article that simultaneously frustrated me, left me laughing out of sheer woe, and led me to conclude that even in 2012, we’ve still got a long way to go towards rooting out and exterminating one of society’s many diseases: ignorance.
In today’s news section of the Guardian, one will find an article about a Christian charity, which has sponsored a conference promoting the idea that gay people can be ’converted’ to heterosexuality. Not only this, oh no, but said charity has funded interns for an estimated TWENTY members of parliament – SOME are even members of our current ConDem government! The Christian Action Research and Education Charity (Research? Education? Christianity?!) devised sessions on ‘mentoring the sexually broken’ and their mission is to ‘de-gay’ people. Can you see how ridiculous this is? Most people reading this will not need me to point that out. ‘Sexually broken’ ? Like a person’s sexual orientation is something that can and should be manipulated, fixed, and made to conform?!
Before I go on, I’d like to remind you all that according to Christian teachings, one should always ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’. Absolutely. Oh, and that ‘God’ made all His people in his ‘own image’. Clearly, such sentiments do not stretch to our gay brothers and sisters who need to be ’corrected’. For some reason these fundamentalist Christians believe that actually, it is their duty to change, what they claim was made in a perfect image. The contradictions are endless. The organisers of this ‘conference’ said they were “very worried about the continued progress of the gay – and in fact the LGBT – agenda across the board in the UK. Social, cultural, political and religious sectors are being targeted and most of them are capitulating”. What really caught my attention was the use of the word ‘progress’. We may have come some way, but with views such as these being held by prominent people, ‘progress’ is merely superficial.
Frighteningly, these homophobic interns are dotted right across the main parties. Interns from the Christian organisation in question have been recorded for Conservative MPs John Glen and Gary Streeter, Labour’s Sharon Hodgson and Catherine McKinnell and the Lib Dem president, Tim Farron. THE LIB DEM PRESIDENT. According to the Guardian, ‘The register for the 2009-2010 parliamentary session showed that the Lib Dem MPs Alan Beith and Alan Reid as well as Labour MP David Drew also employed Care interns.’ These are the people who are running our country. That terrifies me. A spokesman for the organisation said the programme was “a well-respected training initiative for Christian graduates”; he also stated that ”If there are people who want to change their sexual behaviour or orientation, who have an unwanted same-sex attraction and voluntarily seek help, there is no reason why they should not be at liberty to do so.”
No. The only reason why a person might want to ‘change’ their sexual orientation is because they are scared of the repercussions of being gay. They are terrified of what the majority of society might say. They are terrified that the Status Quo will oppress them. They are mortified by the possibility of ignorant religious people terrorising them mentally, emotionally, and in many parts of the world, physically. The disgusting thing here, well there are many, is the fact that these people seem to think a person chooses their sexual orientation. They do not. Endless research has gone into this stuff. Common sense, if nothing else, will tell you that you can’t force yourself to love a person/ or persons that you do not love. Of course, members of this organisation would argue differently:
Their co-director claims that “It is of deep concern that there can only be one point of view and that is the point of view of individuals who are determined to push through gay marriage and apparently believe that homosexuality cannot be altered in any possible way…That is not a universally held view. This is a disturbing development and it is disappointing the UK finds itself in this position.”
I take issue with several points in this sorry excuse for a justification. Firstly, marriage as a union of two people should not be seen as a ‘Christian’ development. Here we go again with Christianity being the ‘ULTIMATE TRUTH’. Secondly, it is clear that the advent of ACTUAL marriage for gay people instead of just ‘civil partnership’ has given more ammunition to this devastating fire. Thirdly, the only ‘disturbing development’ we have here is that people can genuinely believe that you can ‘alter’ people, like some sort of Doctor Doom. If at any point, you have found my tone harsh, then may I will now draw your attention to this part of the article:
‘In January, Core Issues staged conferences in Belfast and London backed by Anglican Mainstream, entitled “The Lepers Among Us.” The lead speaker was Dr Jim Reynolds, an evangelical preacher from the US, and the programme explained that homosexuality, or as he it put it “same-sex sin”, is “a disease of epic proportions, a malignancy that spreads”. Sessions included “naming the sin, lifting the shame” and “normal sinfulness or a sickness”. The event drew protests from gay groups appalled by the title and the content of the conference.’
As far as I am concerned, this conference was not only a gathering of dangerous people with very dangerous, malignant, and destructive ideas, it was also a vehement proclamation of hate.
Homophobia within religious communities is nothing new. In the Bible and the Qur’an, it is made clear that same-sex relationships are wrong, and that gay people are an abnormality in society. Now, I always argue that one can scream and shout all they like about the problems in society, but nothing will ever be achieved by simply attacking the symptoms of the ACTUAL problem. So long as religious dogmatism is allowed to exist, society will continue to decay. We will be eaten by a cancer so ruthless, nothing worthwhile will be left behind. I find it absolutely abhorrent and intolerable that so many religious people believe that they have the right to try and propagate negative ideas to a public that do not want to hear it. What boils my blood is the incoherence of religious teaching and the refusal of so many to acknowledge the concrete conditions of the world we live in today. How can you preach about love, peace, and acceptance, when you are set to wage a war on freedom and individuality. How can you advocate acceptance, when you yourself cannot learn to accept. How can you speak of progress when you yourself live by rules written over two thousand years ago?
An issue that was not even touched upon in the article, but is perhaps the most important thing here, is how little work is being done to investigate the influence of Christian lobbyists in the House of Commons. We no longer live in Anglo-Saxon England. The Church should not have a hand in the work of the government – and yet it always finds a way to do just that. In theory, Great Britain is a Christian country, HOWEVER, we ARE moving towards secularism as more people open their eyes to the contradictions and impossibilities of religion. Fundamentalism and tolerance can never go hand in hand. Progress and fear of difference can never work in harmony.