religious fundamentalism

Christina Engela's picture

Out And About

Outing.

How do you feel about it?

I'm referring to the willful public exposure of individuals against their will, and without regard for their health or well-being. Quite often this is an intentional act of spite - sabotage - intended to ruin the life of the victim. An act of malice, to injure them, sometimes an act of revenge.

On Saturday I heard from a young friend that he had been outted and he was very distressed. It seems a love interest of his had tricked him into holding an intimate conversation via blackberry messenger, which he then showed to other people as proof that my friend is gay. There was also a phone call in which they discussed intimate details of getting together and formalizing their relationship, which had been something of an on-again-off-again thing over the past 2 years. My friend is 20 and the love interest 21. This guy shared the entire conversation with his mother, who is connected to my friends family by way of a second marriage to one of his relatives. Apparently she had also been allowed to listen in on the telephone conversation. My friend told me this woman had been calling all his close family and informing them that he is gay. His sister had called him to inform him of the situation and to ask what was going on. He was left with little choice but to come out to his mother before she received the same phone call.

This love interest of my friends seems by all accounts to be one of those guys who suffers from internalized homophobia, being incapable of accepting his own sexuality, while maintaining an overt heterosexual dating life, being all macho and outwardly homophobic - and meanwhile back at the ranch, he is equally comfortable in the sack with a guy. But just don't tell anyone about it. It is our little secret. It is little wonder then that this malicious act leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. Was it some last ditch attempt to prove to the world, at the expense of another person's dignity and privacy, how "straight" he is?
Christina Engela's picture

A Place In The Sun

No matter what I am or what I have done, I am also just as human and just as flawed and vulnerable as anyone who thinks they are perfect, or stronger, or better than me. Nevertheless, it seems there are always people who think that because I am not straight like them, and not living the gender I was born in, that I am anti-social, have a persecution complex, a huge chip on my shoulder, and am either less intelligent than they are, or that I am just plain stupid.

All told, I had a pretty interesting week.

Friday night I attended a small informal event at a cosy straight-friendly pub in Central Port Elizabeth at which the new SA gay flag was being passed around, promoted and even sported as a clothing accessory. It was nice to see people embracing a symbol of our diversity, even as I noticed the stark absence of the lesbian component of our community at events in this city. As usual I was drowning in testosterone, albeit pink.

Where were the lesbians? Where were the trannies? "Who cares?" Someone said - reminding me of the saying "out of sight, out of mind". And isn't that the truth? Our different groups socialize apart from the rest, forming little cliques. And then we sometimes have the audacity to wonder what happened to the "community"? Some people later wonder why they have been excluded from any of the planning of x, y, and z. What a cheek.

And then I looked at the item being billed as the "gay flag" for South Africa. Gay flag. Says everything, doesn't it? It has stripes of all the colors which represent each group making up the Pink Community, but somehow it winds up getting called the "Gay Flag". How did that happen? And why didn't I get the memo?

A friend told me of his frustrations at getting people in this burg to actually show up for anything without booze, smokes or some other form of entertainment laid on for free, gratis and for nothing. I empathized. Having had a hand in the planning of several under-attended and even cancelled-due-to-lack-of-interest events in the past, I knew exactly where he was coming from.

A few things were said at this event by some, about how fortunate we as the Pink Community are to live in South Africa, and about how "concerned" our government is with our welfare, about how important our well-being, dignity and protection is to the government and so on, and so on to the point where I wondered who they were working for. I cringed. "Are these guys for real?" I asked myself.
Christina Engela's picture

Christo-fascism Anti-fun Police At Work In SA

In recent times I began pondering more deeply about religious matters. Having come from a Christian background, I am more familiar with the way things work in what Pagans tend to describe as a "book religion" - by this is meant - a religion which is defined by a set of rules in a book, and a dogma which is taught and enforced in its temples, homes and wherever its adherents go.

The concept is firmly aimed at extending control over its adherents. You're not allowed to question or challenge anything. You're not supposed to innovate or find your own path or "cherry-pick" which principles in the book you're going to adhere to, and which not - which oddly enough is precisely what the fundamentalists do, even though they certainly won't admit to it. You're not supposed to think, argue or challenge anything - and least of all, to test it for yourself. You're supposed to do nothing but follow, keep your mouth shut, trust, have faith - and above all, to obey the doctrine.

Anyone who doesn't comply is outside the church, outside the law and out of "the grace of god" - or so they clam. When you begin to pick at the stitching holding this bag of nuts together of course, it begins to unravel somewhat dramatically.

The entire concept of a book religion is a house of cards - built on the foundation of the book itself. Therefore it can never be more firm than the foundation upon which it is set. It is claimed that the book is the work or writing of the foundational god of the book religion itself - and once you realize that "hang on a minute, some blokes wrote all this stuff down" - it's pretty much a domino effect from there. That's right - for a book to be entirely produced by the central deity of the religion - i.e. a set of laws given by it to Humanity itself, would amount to tantamount proof of the existence of that deity. Unfortunately, not one single copy of the Christian bible (or any other holy book) has been found with any signs that it was written by anything other than ordinary mortal men - no matter what their adherents claim. Oops.
Christina Engela's picture

Bed-knobs And Broomsticks

If people today think of anyone who is sexual, or who enjoys sex, as "immoral", "deviant" or "undesirable" today - it is because of religious indoctrination. If we think of people who abstain from all sexual activity, and those who remain virginal through their lives, living by a code that sex is for procreation and not enjoyment, it is because of the puritan hangover left us by folks who were too afraid to see themselves naked lest it cause them to think sinful thoughts - and with an obsession about the afterlife and where they would spend it - instead of enjoying and celebrating the life they had.

Older civilizations did not suffer this afliction. Historians can bear me out when I say that the Roman, Egyptian and Greek civilizations did not fall because they were sexually wanton by today's "Christian" standards, or because they were "morally corrupt" or "sinful". In fact, Rome fell because it had become militarily weak, and ironically enough, at this time the state religion was Catholicism. Hmm.
Many people today spend a great deal of time meddling in the lives of others, working to limit their options, delineate their freedoms, and suspend their liberties - and they do so from a blatant and overt hyper-religious angle, attempting to force other people to embrace the same litany and adhere to the same liturgy as they hold to themselves. Of course, we all should know that not everyone is the same, looks the same or feels the same about everything, so why should people all be forced to think, feel, believe and speak or act the same way? And how can one group, in all fairness decide that IT should be the model which all others should adopt and be held accountable to?
Christina Engela's picture

Blasphemous Rumors

I know I have been quiet lately, but it's just because I've taken the weekend off. Honest. Rumors of my being raptured are greatly exaggerated - in fact, I am still here, and so is my underwear drawer, which still needs tidying. Damn.

I am typing this article on the morning of Sunday 22 2011. I am still here, and so is the house I live in - and the cars parked outside tell me the businesses across the road are doing their usual booming breakfasting business. The city around me is not on fire and there haven't been any tsunamis during the night. My mother woke up this morning, as usual, and shuffled past my door - so I knew she was still here. All is right with the world then.

As I expected, the May 21 "rapture" was a bust. Partly I was a little disappointed, because I had accepted invitations to several events on Facebook, such as the "Post-Rapture Party" and the "Post-Rapture Looting", which I admit, I had been looking forward to a little. In fact, I already had been eying those fancy cars some of the folks from Harvest and Word of Faith drive around in - unless they took to selling or giving them away in anticipation of being "raptured" of course. Hehe. I can only imagine the arguments to follow.

Be that as it may, it is now May 22, and nope, no Rapture. Some of you, a very few, may wonder what this "Rapture" is supposed to be. My mother, who has been a Christian her whole life, is one of them. Simply put, the Rapture is supposed to be the start of the end times, when all the "good Christians" vanish from the Earth, cars and planes crash with nobody to fly them, to be taken to God, Jesus, Heaven etc. People just disappear, leaving behind perhaps no more that a set of empty clothes and maybe a half-eaten hot-dog - which has prompted some folks to attempt some interesting pranks!

The Rapture supposedly leads up to the rise of the "anti-Christ" and ultimately the end of the world - because, as everyone knows, civilization simply could not exist without the Conservatives.
Christina Engela's picture

Come To The Dark Side - We Have Cookies Too

Christians - you just can't seem to win with them. If you're gay, you're evil. If you're not religious, you're evil. If you're an atheist, you're a "willing pawn of the devil". If you believe in another god or gods, or even call their god by another name, you're evil. If you are tolerant of other faiths, or of homosexuals - then you're "misled", "backsliding" or yep, evil.

If you're gay and a Christian (horror of horrors), they want to cut up your membership card and deny that you are part of their club (or ever were), and when you abandon their faith or even go so far as to change religions and want nothing more to do with them, they still persecute you because you have somehow "proved them right" - and then they see you as an even bigger "threat" to their paranoiac little "worldview".

Many Christians automatically assume everyone else is a Christian too, or if they aren't, should be - which is why I often receive these annoying spam chain letters filled with snarky comments about Muslims or other faiths - or about us dirty rotten trannies and queers who just don't seem to get the message. God has got our number and will be coming round to punish us for our "sinful lifestyle choice" - oh yes, and presumably to pat them on the head for a job well done. And quite often, these people do not realize the harm they do to their own image and their own cause - take for example the following:

The world is always ending, the sky is always falling, and there are always "signs of the end times". I am seriously looking forward to the 22nd May 2011 - because I am going to taunt every fundamentalist half-wit who sent me a chain letter about the end of the world being nigh on the 21st with: "Hey guess what, the world didn't end yesterday - don't we feel stooopiiid?" LMAO. Just like the other twenty-odd dates I've heard of in the past few years. What happened? Was it postponed? Cancelled due to poor attendance? Why didn't I get the memo? LOL. Now, ahem - before someone runs off to report me for being a "Christophobe" (that one was specially for "Dr" Peter Hammond of the FF and CAN conglomerate whose wonderful book exposed our cunning plan to take over the world), let me move on to my point.
Christina Engela's picture

Not Seeing Is Believing


Ever hear a child put his hands over his ears, or sometimes closing her eyes too, and chanting loudly, "I can't hear you - lalalalala"?

Aside from the old adage that "there are none so blind as those who will not see", there are different names for this concept, such as "selective ignorance" and "self-imposed ignorance". I often use another term, because I think "willful ignorance" fits better due to the fact that it takes a conscious decision to decide to stay ignorant about an issue on purpose - especially when there is so much information available. We are surrounded by it, and so as far as I'm concerned, to remain ignorant about some things must take a supreme effort of will.

Ignorance is not knowing something, and ignorance in itself is not such a problem - people closing their minds and being willfully ignorant, is. Some people are unwilling to accept facts or information that will either contradict their beliefs, or relieve their ignorance - precisely because the facts or truth will disprove their beliefs. That is what happens when people become set in their ways, old and inflexible. It is the same with belief systems. The same could be said for languages - when they stop growing and changing to keep up with the people who use them, they become obsolete and die. Basically, what I am talking about here is resistance to change.

Likewise, it's amazing how fragile religion can be, how like a house of cards? When its continued existence rests on the continued denial of actualities and facts, because the pillars of that religion have come to rest on assumptions, mistakes and outright lies instead of the foundations upon which it was supposedly founded?

Take an example. Some people who belong to a particular religion, say Christianity for instance, hate gay or transgender people. They say that gay and trans people are "evil" because they are gay or trans, and they use their religion as an excuse for their hate, and drum up other people who feel the way they do into a frenzy of anti-gay and anti-trans sentiment - leading to exclusion, discrimination and persecution.

The gay and trans people say "stoppie bus", protest - and say they didn't choose to be gay or trans, and in any case most feel they were born that way. Just ask Lady Gaga, she'll tell you. The haters refuse to accept this, maintaining that being gay or trans is a "sinful lifestyle choice" and see this as relevant and fitting because all "sin" is a choice. The ringleaders attempt to mask their hate by making idiotic statements like "hate the sin and not the sinner", clearly not understanding that our expressions of love or self-identification are precisely part of who we are as people, and obviously not realizing the brute stupidity and implications of such a statement.
Christina Engela's picture

Spit Or Swallow?


Belief is subjective, you don't have to like somebody else's beliefs any more than somebody else might agree with folks standing in church waving their hands in the air. Some folks see religion as chicken soup for the soul - well, some folks like their soup with croutons, others with noodles. Some like tomato, others butter-nut. It would be a boring old world if we all just stuck to "hearty beef" now wouldn't it?

When I posted that on Facebook as a status, an old friend of mine replied, extending the metaphor: "Some people are vegetarian, others just hate soup, others say soup is for sick people, and some just eat soup cos they are too poor to eat steak."

What can I say to that, other than LMAO?

Be that as it may, some folks like to criticize other people for believing "a load of bullshit" because they believe in another religion different to their own - which they see as the only "true" or "right" religion. Somehow the irony in that completely eludes them.

Others like their own religion or belief system so much that they decide that other people should adhere to their belief system too, and cannot accept the possibility that other people might not want to, or would choose another belief system. You see, to them their belief system has become a lens through which they see the world, and without this lens they would be plunged into a world of darkness, terror and gloom, and for all intents and purposes, essentially blind. Substituting their own lens for another would not work for them either, as it would seemingly distort their view of the world to the point where the world would be overrun by monsters and demons and they would see their worst fears realized.

Yes, I have used yet another metaphor - this time substituting the religious views people have of themselves and the world around them with optical lenses, and each religion being represented by a different lens - each providing a starkly different view of the world. As in real optical lenses which come in different strengths, so too do religions. Christianity 25+ for example gives a different world view to that provided by Agnosticism -5. For one thing, the elephants look a little smaller, and things sure do look hazy, but not as hazy as for example when using Rastafarianism 0 (cough - cough, this is good shit, man). Yes, this is tongue in cheek, so please put down the gun and back away slowly and nobody will get hurt.
Christina Engela's picture

Viva Secularism, Viva!

Many people today have moved beyond the confusion caused by mixing religion and affairs of the real world. Unfortunately there are still many people who cannot tell the two apart. To them there is no difference between politics, civil affairs, daily life and their own personal religious views. And for some unfathomable reason, whenever it is pointed out to them that they are being unfair for using their personal religious opinions to detract from the civil rights or equalities of others, they start whining childishly that it is they who are being picked on, and not their victims.

Fortunately, this sort of mentality appears to be gradually on the decrease, and those indulging in it are increasingly being exposed for the bigots, hypocrites and fascist leftovers they make themselves out to be.

This world is made up of all kinds of people, resulting in diversity - and not just diversity of race, culture and language, but also beliefs. This means that to expect people of all kinds of beliefs in particular to be satisfied while the government in their area proudly champions just one belief system or religion, while trampling the rights of others underfoot and preening its feathers at their cost - is not only naive', but plain stupid as well.

The logical mind would arrive at two possible outcomes; the first being to homogenize all belief systems into a harmonious gray sameness, where all people believe the same things, and have the same values. This is of course, unlikely at best, and has been something many social engineers have been trying to achieve since time immemorial.

The second alternative is to keep matters of government, law and justice and civil matters apart from religious belief systems, and to accord all religions equal status under the law of the land. This second system is called secularism - and for Christian fundamentalists in particular, is a favorite most-hated feature of the modern world - second only to homosexuality and other religions, chiefly Islam. It is nevertheless, this second system which history has demonstrated works best, although I am sure the Roman Catholic church would disagree - after all, their faith came about as a result of the first option, back in the old days when the emperor Constantine created Catholicism and then blamed it all on Christ - which I have to say, seems to be a favorite pastime of many modern cult-like evangelical churches today.

Nevertheless, secularism - the separation of church and state - is one of the tenets of modern civilization, and something which if applied correctly, favors no religion and prejudices no religion above or below another - and allows for all people to flourish on equal terms without using religious values to impede them. This is key if the world is to avoid any more religious wars in future.
Christina Engela's picture

Reading Between The Lines

Apparently South Africa has gained a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council - for the second time. I can only imagine the kind of mayhem they could wreak if they ever got a permanent seat. As a South African of mixed sexual orientation and gender identity, it makes me shudder. No, really. I love my home, and I love my country - but lately I cannot help but to be ashamed of it.
 
In the past 20 years I have seen this country rise from the depths of racist, heterosexist and theocratic abuse of power, to become an inspiring young democracy - only to become once again mired by the same flaws and failings which characterized the Apartheid state, only in slightly different shades of neo-fascist red and totalitarian purple.
 
According to an article in the latest Pink Tongue, SA International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says that "SA will be too busy dealing with African issues on the UN Security Council next year to worry about who goes to bed with who" - this when asked whether SA would use its non-permanent seat on the Security Council to address gay rights and other human rights issues.
 
This flippant and insensitive response demonstrates at best a cavalier approach to very real and very serious human rights issues faced by our community in Africa. Delegates concerning themselves with saving Pink lives and working to cancel out prejudice and oppression is a) reduced to a matter of bed-partners, b) not an African issue, and c) obviously not important, duh what are you thinking? At worst it demonstrates a callous disregard for the plight of human rights of gay, bisexual, intersex and transgender people on the continent - a continent on which South Africa is a major role-player and economic power.
 
All of this, coupled with the appalling record South Africa has in terms of sabotaging or ignoring human rights issues over the past few years, proves to me that our government is hostile to the Pink Community - no matter what the Constitution says.
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