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.
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.