"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Aura

Now Playing: Long Live by Taylor Swift (long live the walls we crashed through, all the kingdom lights shined just for me and you) 

Religious people have what I call 'The Aura'. They can attack science, they can attack reason, they can attack logic and compassion and human rights, but don't you dare attack an ancient text that is basically a recount of the sexism, racism and oppression of civilizations long gone.

I haven't read any religious text cover to cover. But I have read parts of the Bible - Old and New Testament - and the Koran. They're violent, oppressive texts. And yet they have 'The Aura' that science and logic don't have. Religious people can defend and are defended by these books and the consequence of this is more violence.

In response to Christian kids saying that they 'can't' support marriage equality and they 'must' be homophobic because 'the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin', Dan Savage fought back at the book that has been the cause of so much LGBT bullying, inequality and suicide. He said that we have to ignore the bullshit in the Bible. Not that the Bible itself was bullshit, but that there was bullshit in it. In the same way that Australia is not bullshit, but there's a helluva lot of bullshit in Australia. People who couldn't make this distinction walked out.

Because the truth is, whether you're Christian or not, that the Bible got a lot of stuff wrong. The Bible is a pro-slavery text - as Will Anderson said in one of his routines 'it says in the Bible that you can have a slave from a neighbouring island. Does New Zealand count?'. Now, nobody can a) have a slave or b) support slavery and c) call themselves a Christian and/or a sane person. The people I know who are Christian who don't support gay rights definitely don't support slavery, but they can't see that it's the same thing - it's a moral dilemma that the Bible got wrong. It doesn't make you any less of a Christian to just skip over the bits that you know to be wrong - would you be a better Christian if  you decided to enslave a New Zealander? No. The Bible got something as simple as slavery wrong. What are the odds that it got something as complicated as sexuality wrong?

As an atheist I don't just see the Bible as a holy text. I see the Bible as a book that contains many wonderful stories and many very good moral lessons. I also see the Bible as a time capsule - it encapsulates the social mores and conventions of a time and place I know to have been very racist, sexist, violent, ignorant and xenophobic. In a time before science and knowledge perhaps these attitudes and beliefs could have been excused, but they cannot, not now. The Christians who do support gay rights recognise the great value of a book such as the Bible in teaching morals and values. They see the value of having religion in their lives. But they also see that there is a difference between adhering to the Bible and adhering to the most outdated and absurd societal conventions that are totally out of time and place. They see that there's nothing Christian about homophobia, about corrective rape, about bullying LGBT youths into suicide, about denying LGBT people basic human rights or punishing them for what is normal, natural and inevitable.

People don't understand how many people have died because of this book. The Bible is being used against LGBT people in the same way that it was used against Muslims in the Crusades. But it is the most unfair fight imaginable because we're not even allowed to say how wrong the Bible is about so many things because that's 'offensive' - do you know what's offensive? Being told that you're going to hell/that you're immoral/that you're a sinner/that you're not worthy of respect or human rights/that you deserve to be bullied' simply because of what your genitals look like in comparison to those of your partner. It makes no sense.

We don't live the same way we did thousands of years ago - and thank God for that. We don't believe that women who engage in premarital sex should be stoned to death - which is in the Bible. We don't believe that eating shellfish or wearing polyester is a sin - which is in the Bible. There are a lot of things in the Bible people already ignore - and for good reason. The Bible was written in a time when we knew virtually nothing - about ourselves and the planet we live on. The Bible didn't get everything right. Sexuality is one of them, but it's the only thing that we continue to quote the Bible word for word, literally.

So you know what? Stop being offended. Stop being offended by the truth. And stop hiding behind a book to excuse your prejudices. I cannot believe that Rick Santorum is justified in saying that homosexuality and bestiality are essentially the same thing but Dan Savage can't even say that the Bible got something wrong and it's hurting people. The reason? Rick's got The Aura - The Aura that anyone who isn't white, male, heterosexual and Christian have to live without.

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