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“A child in North Carolina spent part of his Easter Sunday morning protesting outside a Winston-Salem church that has vowed not to host any wedding ceremonies until same sex marriage is legalized.”

via Raw Story

http://youtu.be/d7OyJtfmW8k

“Police said Riddle shot and killed his father, Richard Riddle, 52, as he was leaving Easter services at the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ Sunday afternoon.”

via Fox8 Cleveland

Show me, where is God in all of this?
(I don’t believe, but if I were asked to point it out, god would be there in the face of the woman who wanted to give that angry boy a hug.)

I took some time to catch up on the weekend’s news and my favorite blogs yesterday and today.

– I learned that Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban in South Africa said that pedophilia is not criminal, it’s an illness.
– I read that in my home state of Michigan, a federal Judge Blocked the U.S. health-care reform’s mandate requiring employee insurance plans to provide coverage of contraception because a Catholic business owner falsely believes it causes abortion (even though the Catholic Journal published a study that found Plan B does not cause abortions).
– I watched CNN’s news coverage of the Steubenville, Ohio rape verdict. I managed to read a portion of their texting transcripts without vomiting. I read about the teenage girls (the rapists’ relatives) who were arrested for sending death threats to the victim.
– I read about the 1,100-page report that shocked the Netherlands by revealing how 800 Catholic priests and monks abused as many as 20,000 children in their care between 1945 and 1985.
– I read about young girls in Africa who are being bought and sold as “fifth wives,” essentially becoming slaves to the family of the “husband” owner.
– I read yet again about how the testimony of a Muslim woman is half that of a man because some “prophet” long ago thought women were mentally deficient.
– I heard about musician Michelle Shocks ranting on about how God Hates Fags during one of her recent concerts.
– I read about how Arkansas is no longer the strictest state in the nation when it comes to abortion since North Dakota passed the anti-abortion bill – with no exceptions for rape or for the mother or the fetus’ health, making abortion illegal in the state for anyone who is more than five weeks pregnant.
– I read the story of Nabila Sharma who was abused at her mosque by the Imam from the ages of 7 to 11, and how, very similar to Catholic and Jewish communities, the Muslim community covers up such things.

Now, I may not believe in many things that require faith, but here is something I do have faith in – a better future. It may never be a perfect utopia, and I accept that. There may always be humans who seek power and control – that truly is one of the things I cannot change. However, I cannot accept the abuse of authority that renders women and children POWERLESS – not only against the authority of their own churches, but of their own governments and worse yet, their own families – why can’t I accept it? Because as long as I live and breathe, that is something I CAN CHANGE.

I don’t have to believe in God to believe that what you do to the least of your brothers, you do to yourself. We’re all connected. Even more strongly, I believe that SILENCE in the face of oppression or abuse is an act of siding with the oppressor. That’s why I’m over here obsessively talking about the need for women to rise up and escape from the very fundamental religions that teach them from an early age that they are not worthy of equality, that they don’t deserve equal pay, that their opinions are not welcome or valid, that they cannot make intelligent and informed choices for themselves.

Sitting idly by, well, it is not in the cards for a woman like me who fought her way out of the mind-numbing, NEANDERTHAL belief that she is LESS THAN. NOT EQUAL TO.

SUBMIT.

Many of the people I grew up with, the people I consider family and friends, are still raising their sons and daughters to be unquestioningly faithful to a doctrine that requires them to take a literal view of the Bible, a book that emphasizes this very sort of misogyny throughout. It requires them to accept this concept as part of God’s will, his plan, his design, and whether or not you choose to agree, that way of thinking is precisely what leads to the types of stories I listed above – the horrifying stories we all read about in the news every goddamned day in this, the 21st fraking CENTURY!

I can’t sit silently by while women and children are sexually, physically abused, mutilated, enslaved, abandoned… as a victim of abuse, as a mother, as a sister, as a HUMAN BEING, I object! As long as I have a voice, I will not be silenced.

As long as I breathe, I will stand against oppression. Every single day of my life I plan to publicly confirm my stance against any and all religions that resort to brainwashing the naive, emotional manipulation, or psychological/physical torment. I have eyes to see that this is an attempt to to invoke conformity and submission among those who would remain powerless. Ultimately, it lends to the ongoing imbalanced dissonance that leads to the abuse of power at its worst. I’m talking war, slavery, things that are unfolding literally right in front of our eyes.

You can deny that religious texts propagate division, slavery, misogyny, bigotry, racism, pedophilia, and genocide all you want. I know the truth and I am not only free to speak it, but I am obligated. See, that’s where MY faith for the future comes in. I see a future nation where people will not be made to feel ashamed of who they are or who they love. I see a future where girls can get an education without the fear of having acid thrown in their face, being shot at or poisoned. I have faith in a future where a girl can get on a bus without getting gang raped. I have faith in a future where pedophilia, rape, slavery, mutilation etc. are so rare, we are actually surprised to hear about those occurrences in the news – rather than it being something we’ve grown accustomed to. Procuring that future for my daughters, my daughters’ daughters, requires those of us who are free to unshackle the enslaved minds and arm the powerless – not with weapons – but with education.

So if claiming that I reject religion every day of my life, if publicly pointing out the harm religion is presently doing and has done in the past, if encouraging my community of friends and family to employ logic and reason rather than falling back on blind faith and tradition, if arming the powerless makes me an asshole…

I accept that too.

Maybe I’ll turn out to be the loudest asshole you’ve ever met.

via The Telegraph

From the page:
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said that Christians and Jewish people who oppose homosexual relationships on biblical grounds were applying double standards unless they also believed in some of the more obscure commands in the Old Testament.

He told a debate on gay marriage in London that religious texts had to be reinterpreted for new generations meaning, he argued, that same sex couples should be allowed to marry.

The debate, co-hosted by the religious campaign group Catholic Voices and the British Humanist Association also heard claims that David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriage had more to do with “elitism” and “snobbery” than equality.

Dr Romain, the minister of Maidenhead Synagogue, is a leading figure in the liberal-leaning Reform Judaism which has publicly given its support to same-sex marriage.

He told the debate that Christians could not take references in the Old Testament to homosexuality as an “abomination” literally unless they also practised circumcision or adhered to the Jewish food laws.

————————–

This is a great argument for those who would quote the Old Testament verses that condemn homosexuality, and one we’ve been trying to point out for years. So when a religious leader speaks out about it publicly, look out… progress has been made.
If you’re looking for a similar argument for the New Testament verses in Romans, see this response to the Kansas Pastor’s statement that the government should kill gays.

For me, it’s no longer an issue of controversy or disrespecting one’s religious beliefs, it’s completely an issue of equality vs. bigotry. The god of the Bible and those who wrote in his name are very clear about what is and is not acceptable behavior and what is expected of his followers. If that doesn’t sit well with your sensibilities, perhaps you should examine closer the reasons you continue to support a religious institution that would point to those verses to condemn our fellow brothers and sisters, for certainly there’s something in that holy book somewhere that condemns you too.

Good news, everyone!

via USA Today

A U.S. appeals court Thursday declared that the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The unanimous ruling said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman discriminates against gay couples because it doesn’t give them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.

via Boston Herald

From the page:

While he played all over the world, Watson still lived most of his life in the vicinity of the Deep Gap community where he was born in 1923. Blind since infancy, Watson’s first childhood instrument was harmonica. His father made him a banjo at age 10, and he learned the basics of guitar from a neighbor.

Watson was always pragmatic about music as a way to make a living. He began playing for money in the 1940s because, as a blind man, he had few other career options. Jack Lawrence, who played with Watson for more than a quarter-century, frequently said that Watson preferred home to being on the road and was less interested in being remembered for his music than as “the good ol’ boy down the road.”

——————-

I heard Doc tell the story of how he lost his eyesight at birth because the midwife’s eye solution was contaminated. To imagine that in an alternate history of time, that bottle of solution might have been replaced…

Thankfully, we lived together in this time with this humble man who has influenced so many musicians.

The Independent: Brazil rocked by abortion for 9-year-old rape victim

From the page:
Police believe the girl (age 9) was sexually assaulted for years by her stepfather, possibly since she was six. That she was four months pregnant with twins emerged only after she was taken to hospital complaining of severe stomach pains.

The controversy represents a PR nightmare for the Vatican. The unnamed girl’s mother and doctors were excommunicated for agreeing to Wednesday’s emergency abortion yet the Church has not taken formal steps against the stepfather, who is in custody. Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the conservative regional archbishop for Pernambuco where the girl was rushed to hospital, has said that the man would not be thrown out of the Church, because although he had allegedly committed “a heinous crime”, the Church took the view that “the abortion, the elimination of an innocent life, was more serious”…

…The young girl at the centre of the case escaped excommunication only because she is still a child in the eyes of Church authorities. The stepfather, who is 23, was arrested last week, apparently trying to escape to another region of the country. Police say he is also suspected of abusing the girl’s handicapped 14-year-old sister. He is in protective custody, and if convicted faces up to 15 years in prison.

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This is outrageous. I have no words.

Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

BEAVERTON, Ore. – A church pastor is suing a mother and daughter for $500,000 because they gave the church bad reviews online.

“If I went to Costco or any place in town, if I ran into somebody, they would turn their heads and walk the other way,” she said. “All we did was asked questions. We just raised concerns. There’s no sin in that.”

Got a related question for ya: is one song really worth $22,500?