2.17.2012

Fischer: Muslim Immigrants Must Convert To Christianity

A day hardly goes by when Bryan Fischer doesn't say something insane.
Bryan Fischer, asshole

Now, we know that Bryan Fischer is an Islamaphobe. He's said Muslims have no first amendment rights. He thinks they should be banned from the military. He's urged the US to ban the construction of mosques. He's stated that they are dangerous, unintelligent and mentally ill due to inbreeding. He's called Muslim Americans a toxic cancer to society. It goes on and on.

Yesterday, Fischer continued his ignorant, anti-Muslim tirade, calling (once again) for the conversion of all Muslim immigrants to Christianity.

On his hateful little show, "Focal Point," Fischer stated that all Muslim immigrants have "got to embrace your God, they've got to embrace your faith," claiming once again that "America is a Christian nation."

One of my favorite of Fischer's claims from this particular tirade was, "Muslims worship an entirely different God." You know, that other God who revealed himself to Abraham.

Watch:





2.16.2012

Redefining History: The Myth Of Marriage As Religious Union Between Man & Woman

Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum (Egypt)
One of the most common arguments against marriage equality is the claim, "Marriage has always been between a man and a woman."

We also hear time and again about the "sanctity of marriage," and that marriage was designed by God, and is therefore a religious institution.

These notions are simply not true. Anyone with a basic knowledge of human history would know these claims don't float.

Let's have a quick look at some examples from history which shed some light on how marriage has been defined, and re-defined, over time:

Pre-500 BCE

• Abraham (founding forefather of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) had his wife Sarah sleep with both the Egyptian Pharaoh and the Semitic King Abimelech for political positioning and increased riches. Unable to provide Abraham with an heir, Sarah encouraged Abraham to marry her Egyptian slave as his second wife (polygamy), which resulted in the son Ishmael.

• A wife was considered her husband’s property. Marriage was used to strengthen a family’s financial or political position.


5th Century BCE thru 1st Century BCE

• In Athens, “Marriage was respected as an institution that provided progeny and good housekeeping; it was not expected to fulfill one’s longing for a soul mate.” The ideal union was considered to be between an adult man and an adolescent boy.

• Marriage was a contract made between the bride’s father (or brother) and the groom.

• Toward the end of this period, “Roman marriage laws began to require the consent of the bride and groom.” The requirement for mutual consent between the bride and groom began spreading throughout the Western world and helped to change a wife’s position from a piece of property, like cattle, that could be given by the father to her husband.


1st Century CE thru 14th Century CE

• The early Christian church was hostile to marriage, believing that marriage and family were distractions from the path to salvation. To remain single and celibate was the ideal.

• Nero married two men, Sporus in 54 CE, and Doryphorus in 68 CE.

• Same sex weddings took place in increasing numbers over a period of time, but were outlawed in 342 CE.

• Basil I, founder of the Macedonian dynasty, entered into three same-sex unions, first with Nicholas, a monk of the church of St. Diomede; then to John, son of a wealthy widow in Achaia, Greece; and then later to the Emperor Michael. After Basil entered a formal union with Nicholas it was reported that “they rejoiced in each other.”

• “Canon law made two changes that were to have long-term effects. First, the church pressured individuals to marry in the presence not only of witnesses, but also of a priest, and to perform this ceremony ‘at church.’ Second, it downplayed the need for parental consent, and foregrounded the mutual will of the intended spouses as the major criterion in the making of a valid marriage. This revolutionary doctrine would endure and flourish over the centuries.”

• Love preceding marriage began to take hold in Europe, when previously affectionate feelings or familial devotion was expected to develop after marriage.


15th Century CE thru 18th Century CE

• Although mutual consent and love preceding marriage had taken hold, marriage retained elements of its former status as a property arrangement. Once a woman was married, her husband became her legal guardian. Her husband legally owned all the property she brought to the marriage.

• Governments and Churches in greater Europe successfully enforced a rule requiring church ceremony to validate a marriage beginning in the 16th century. This requirement came to England a bit later in, in 1735.


19th Century CE

• 1801 Murray Hall, a prominent Tammany Hall politician in New York, was posthumously discovered to have been a woman. Hall dressed in men’s clothing, lived as a man, and was married twice, both times to women. Hall also voted in elections, which was illegal for women at the time.

• The Oneida Colony in upstate New York, founded by John Noyes in 1848, cultivated a form of group marriage called "complex marriage" in which theoretically every woman was married to every man. The community also practiced "scientific breeding" in which potential parents were matched by committee for physical and mental health.

• If a woman worked outside the home, everything she made belonged to her husband. Her children also belonged to her husband. If she divorced him, he kept all of her earnings and their children, even if he was a drunkard who beat her.

• Biawacheeitchish, also known as Pine Leaf and Woman Chief, became a renowned war and camp leader among the Crow Indians. She dressed as a man when she went to war and had a number of wives.

• Henry James’ novel The Bostonians contained themes of feminism and led to the coining of the term “Boston Marriage” to describe romantic friendships between women, which often included holding hands, cuddling, sharing a bed, and making open expressions of love for each other.


20th Century CE

• Sephardic Jews in the Middle East maintained the right to polygamy until an all-inclusive ban was pronounced in the mid-twentieth century, after the formation of the State of Israel.

• 1967 In Loving v. Virginia the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute unconstitutional, thereby ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. The court’s decision was based on the due process and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

• In 1969 in California, Troy Perry presides over the "holy union" of two women, Neva Heckman and Judith Belew — the first public same-sex marriage ceremony in American history.

• 1989, Denmark – The first government-recognized same-sex union in modern history takes place.


Dawn of the 21st Century CE (2000s CE thru the present)

• 2000, Vermont – Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to grant civil unions to same sex couples. Civil unions are intended to grant all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples, although they are not recognized by the federal government. The legislation that created civil unions came about as a result of a state Supreme Court decision, in which the court ruled that denying marriage rights to same sex couples was unconstitutional discrimination.

• 2001, The Netherlands – Same-sex marriage becomes legal for the first time in modern history.

• 2003, Belgium – This country became the second to legalize same-sex marriage.

• 2003, Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that same-sex couples should have equal rights to marry under the state constitution. Their decision is based on the grounds of due process and equal protection).

• 2005, Navajo Nation – Joe Shirley Jr., Navajo President, vetoed a bill by the tribal legislature that banned same-sex marriage on the reservation.

• 2005, Connecticut – The Connecticut state legislature became the first in the U.S. to pass civil unions legislation without pressure from the courts.

• 2005, Spain – Same-sex marriage became legal.

• 2005, Canada – Our neighbor to the north becomes the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage..

• 2006, Arizona – The state’s voters become the first to reject a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

• 2006, New Jersey – Under circumstances similar to those in Vermont in 2000, the New Jersey state legislature enacted civil unions in response to a state Supreme Court order that same-sex couples be granted the same rights as married couples.

• 2006, South Africa – Same sex marriage becomes legal.

• May 15, 2008 , Sacramento – California Supreme Court issued a decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Noting that the state’s domestic partnership law falls short of full equality, the ruling also holds that any discrimination based on sexual orientation must pass “strict scrutiny,” the same standard that applies to race and gender (In re Marriage Cases). Chief Justice Ronald M. George, an appointee of Gov. Pete Wilson (Dolan), writing for the majority stated that “An individual’s sexual orientation – like a person’s race or gender – does not constitute a legal basis on which to deny or withhold legal rights” (In re Marriage Cases).

• May, 2008, New York – Following an opinion by legal counsel, Gov. David Paterson directed all state agencies to begin recognizing same-sex marriages that are performed in other jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, California, and Canada.

The source of the above information, Labmda Archives San Diego, has not updated their timeline in a while, but you get the idea (I have also edited out numerous entries for the purpose of this post). It is important to note that marriage laws in the US, and elsewhere, continue to be challenged, and altered. Right now we are in the middle of several high profile same-sex marriage battles, including California, New Jersey, Washington State, North Carolina and elsewhere.

The point is this: Marriage has not always been a union between a man and a woman. Furthermore, marriage has not always been a union designed, or endorsed, by God or the church.

Here's the big one, folks: Marriage predates monotheism. Fact. In other words, marriage predates the God of Abraham -- the same God who supposedly designed marriage.

Marriage has been evolving over the course of human history, and it will continue to evolve until humans no longer walk the earth. Marriage has been re-defined over and over, and will continue to be re-defined.

To characterize marriage as "the union between a man and a woman as designed by God," is, quite simply, to freeze the definition of marriage at the point in human history that suits your idea of what marriage should be -- with total disregard for how marriage came about, how it evolved, and how it will inevitably continue to evolve.






2.15.2012

12-Year Old Autistic North Carolinian Pens Pro-Equality Editorial For Kid-Run Paper

Max Gearhart
Max Gearhart doesn't understand how anyone would want to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. While Amendment 1 is being hotly debated across North Carolina, Max sees it as a no-brainer.

"How can we be so unfair to our own people?" asks Max.

Max Gearhart, a resident of Greensboro, is 12 years old.

He also happens to be autistic.

Max decided to write a short, succinct essay in support of same-sex marriage in his local paper. No, not the Greensboro News & Record. Max published his essay in the Lindley Park Gazette, a neighborhood paper, written by kids, published by kids, and distributed by kids. (The Greensboro News & Record ran a story about the the Gazette in November.)

Here's Max's editorial, as it appears in the February issue of the Lindley Park Gazette:

Disagreeing with Amendment One
By Max Gearhart

I heard that there might be a new amendment to our state constitution called Amendment One. My parents will be asked to vote on it in May. It says that homosexuals cannot get married to their same gender and I say that we should say no to this because everyone is equal and we should not categorize people like that. I think nobody should be categorized because God created us all and no government law can ever deny that. If we pass this law, it will be really unfair. Gays are one of us! How can we be so unfair to our own people? Next thing you know they'll try to make a rule about autistic people not being able to marry.

Amendment One is a really unfair law that should never be passed. I think we should convince our parents to vote no on this law.

Here is exactly what Ballotopedia says about Amendment One

The North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Amendment will appear on the May 8, 2012 ballot in the state of North Carolina as a “legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.” The measure would define marriage in the state as between “one man and one woman.” If approved, the proposed measure would amend Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution by adding a new section.

The text of the measure reads:
Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

From Ballotopedia.org

News & Record story on the Lindley Park Gazette
The fact that a young, autistic boy can speak so openly and clearly about the discriminatory and harmful nature of Amendment 1 speaks volumes.

Not only does Max's sentiment reflect survey statistics (support for same-sex marriage is much higher in younger age groups), it also underscores the fact that prejudice is learned through living in (and observing) a society where prejudices exist.

Most importantly, however, Max teaches us that, while a great many of us are born lesbian or gay, nobody is born a bigot. Even a kid knows that.

Max's mother, Jamy Gearhart, perhaps said it best when she wrote about the Lindley Park Gazette on her blog (months prior to her son's editorial appearing within its pages):
We should pay attention because these kids are the people who will be the custodians of this planet some day. Our future is in their hands and it's so heartening to think that they may grow up to make real and positive changes in our world. If what they are doing now is any indication of their future doings, I foresee great things for them.



Mitt Romney Grilled By Gay Vietnam Vet During Stop At NH Eatery

Bob Garon of Ebson, N.H. is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He also happens to be gay.

Garon had an opportunity to ask Mitt Romney a question when Mitt sat down at his table during a campaign stop at a local restaurant.

Mitt had no idea what he was in for.

Watch:






The Interactive Periodic Table of Swearing

Clay Interactive has produced an interactive Periodic Table of Swearing for Modern Toss. (They sell prints of the table, and even a tablecloth version).

According to Clay, "It was built in our Hoxton Street studio during our summer holidays. It's constructed from over 100 buttons, CNC'ed and laser cut MDF, direct to media printing, over 100 meters of cabling, over 300 soldered joints and a whole lot of swearing!"

Watch:





Lin-Sanity, Tebow-Mania, Divine Intervention And Race

Just like the story of Tim Tebow, you needn't follow sports to have heard about the the insane (or, Linsane) run Jeremy Lin has had lately. There is no denying that Lin's story is one for the ages.

Yet Lin's emergence on the scene, and his odds-defying streak, are not the only things he has in common with Tim Tebow.

Like Tebow, Lin has people wondering if God is meddling in sports affairs here on Earth.

Lin doesn't think there's any doubt:
“Anytime something like this happens, a lot of stuff has to be put into place, and a lot of it is out of my control...If you look back at my story, doesn’t matter where you look, but God’s fingerprints are all over the place where there have been a lot of things that had to happen that I couldn’t control...You can try to call it coincidence, but at the end of the day, there are 20, 30 things when you combine them all that had to happen at the right time in order for me to be here. That’s why I call it a miracle...I think it’s a miracle from God”
The Tebow comparisons don't stop there. Lin and teammate Landry Fields have a pre-game handshake routine involving "a mimed reading of the Bible, followed by a mutual point to the heavens."

Fields stated, "God is good. He's doing miracles in his [Lin's] life, and I'm just glad to be a part of it."

While Tebow and Lin are not the first athletes to publicly credit God for their performances (both during and after the game), they certainly are the only two in recent memory who have received such attention for their faith.

Take David Ortiz, who had a similarly miraculous ascension after he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, has always pointed to the heavens after every home run. He has praised God in interviews. And he won the World Series. Twice. Yet his performances, often 'miraculous' (17 walkoff hits with the Red Sox, including 12 walkoff home runs) never resulted in anything remotely close to the religious fervor associated with Tebow-mania or Lin-sanity. Ortiz is only example.

David J. Leonard, associate professor in the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies at Washington State University, writes in Racialicious:

Religion, thus, becomes another marker of difference, as a means to celebrate and differentiate Lin and Tebow. Whereas black athletes are seen within the national imagination to be guided by hip-hop values rather than religious values, Lin and Tebow practice an evangelical ethic on and off the field/court. Tebow and Lin operate as “breath of fresh air.” Writing about Tiger Woods in Sports Stars: The Cultural Politics Of Sporting Celebrity, C.L. Cole and David L. Andrews argue that Woods’ emergence as a global icon reflected his power as a counter narrative. As “a breath of fresh of air,” his cultural power emanated from his juxtaposition to “African American professional basketball players who are routinely depicted in the popular media as selfish, insufferable, and morally reprehensible.”

The Tebow-Lin narrative reflects the centering of whiteness. In making the comparison, religion in sports and even Lin’s ascendance becomes all about Tebow. While black athletes have long given “thanks,” the efforts to construct Tebow as the source of a religious revival within America’s sports world is a testament to the wages of whiteness. “Black athletes who give a shout out to God aren’t seen as being evangelical but when someone like Tebow (i.e. white) does it, there’s a different ‘purpose’ being read into it,” notes Oliver Wang. “With Lin, I’d argue that because Asianness is coded as closer to white than Black, the Tebow comparison becomes almost automatic.” Wang highlights the profound impact of the comparison as it not only elevates Tebow as leader of the religious revolution of sports, but also furthers the coding of Lin as white body.

Through the comparison, we witness the profound ways that the media erases race by denying Tebow’s whiteness all concretizing Lin’s whiteness (of a different color). Represented through a dominant white racial frame despite his being subjected to racist taunts throughout his career, the comparison denies the power of race. It erases the ways in which whiteness serves as an anchor for the media sensationalism and celebration of Tebow; it erases the ways in which race and identity functions with the source of pride Lin’s has delivered for Asian American community or the ways in which Lin operates in relationship to narratives of whiteness; and finally it ignores the profound ways in which the celebration of their religious ideals and practices is overdetermined by the meaning of blackness within contemporary sports culture.

So while the varied meaning of race, their experiences, and their identities render a Tebow comparison null and void, making one wonder why Lin isn’t the new Avery Johnson or Hakeem Olajuwon, the ubiquitous conflation of Tebow and Lin illustrates its power and appeal. With Jeremy Lin we are all witness to a post-racial fantasy amid the racial spectacle of contemporary popular culture. Within American sports media, the God squad remains one defined and contained by race.





2.13.2012

NC's Clay Aiken Speaks Out Against Amendment One

North Carolina's own Clay Aiken speaks out against the harmful May 8 marriage Amendment.

Watch:

Visit ProtectNC.org to learn more about the harms of this amendment.

Remember to VOTE NO on May 8.


Catholic League President Bill Donohue: Is Nicki Minaj Possessed?

Nicki Minaj's performance at the Grammys last night probably had a lot more to do with ambition than blasphemy.

As we've learned from Madonna and Lady Gaga, there may be no better way to gain worldwide attention than to provoke the ire of the Catholic Church.

Responding to Minaj's elaborate exorcism-themed performance, Catholic League president Bill Donohue had this to say:
Nicki Minaj, fresh off looking like a fool with Madonna at the Super Bowl, showed up last night on the red carpet at the Grammys with a guy dressed like the pope. This was just a prelude of what was to come.

Minaj's performance began on stage with a mock confessional skit. This was followed by a taped video depicting a mock exorcism. With stained glass in the background, she appeared on stage again with choir boys and monks dancing.

Perhaps the most vulgar part was the sexual statement that showed a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer. Finally, "Come All Ye Faithful" was sung while a man posing as a bishop walked on stage; Minaj was shown levitating.

None of this was by accident, and all of it was approved by The Recording Academy, which puts on the Grammys. Whether Minaj is possessed is surely an open question, but what is not in doubt is the irresponsibility of The Recording Academy. Never would they allow an artist to insult Judaism or Islam.

It's bad enough that Catholics have to fight for their rights vis-à-vis a hostile administration in Washington without also having to fend off attacks in the entertainment industry. The net effect, however, will only embolden Catholics, as well as their friends in other faith communities.
Watch:




NOM's Maggie Gallagher Believes Her Bigotry Represents The Mainstream

Thom Hartmann interviewed Maggie Gallagher last week on his show 'The Big Picture.' It's unfortunate that the interview has not been seen by more people.

Maggie Gallagher is the founding president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). While NOM has, on one hand, been designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group is a powerful anti-equality force. NOM has been instrumental in several anti-equality initiatives across the US, including Prop 8, New York same-sex marriage opposition, and the 2012 presidential marriage pledge signed by Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Tim Pawlenty.

In the below interview, Hartmann eloquently dismantles Gallagher's case against same-sex marriage. What we learn in the process is that: A) there is no valid secular case against same-sex marriage, and B) there is no valid Biblical case against same sex marriage, unless we're also to follow all the other kooky legal advice from Biblical times. (It goes without saying that legislation must have a secular basis, but we can't ignore the religious arguments in this debate.)

We also see in the interview exactly what we're up against in the equality debate here in America. It is this nebulous, but powerful mix of fear, self-righteousness, religious bigotry, and ignorance (and boat-loads of money) that is driving the anti-equality debate. As Hartmann suggests, this vehement anti-equality sentiment is more fringe than it is mainstream.

What is dangerous is when the mainstream is inundated with damaging and inflammatory myths repeated ad nauseam by the likes of Maggie Gallagher.

Perhaps, as Hartmann suggests, we really should look to the Bible for guidance. Hartmann then introduces a segment by Betty Bowers, "America's Best Christian."

If only we could have had a camera on Gallagher's face at this point in the program.

Watch: