Saturday, May 15, 2010

Religion and Gay Families

I'm going to do something I haven't done in a long time.  No not that; one time after college was enough!  I'm going to defend religion.  Well kind of.

Today I got another urgent cry for help (and money) from the Human Rights Campaign. ( I've put down my feelings about HRC before and you can read that post here.)  Apparently, religious based schools are not happy that there are kids out there with same sex parents.  As HRC puts it in their email, right before the "Donate Money" button to help fight this injustice:

This one is beyond the pale...

Just days ago, a Boston third-grader's admission to a Catholic school was rescinded – solely because his parents are lesbians.
But here's the worst part – this is no isolated incident. Just a few months ago, a Catholic elementary school in Colorado expelled two preschoolers (that's right, preschoolers) for the same reason.

Oh the outrage!  What?!  Now children are being punished for having same sex parents?  It's not their fault.  They didn't have a choice in the matter, they were born in to a family with two daddies, just like Jesus.

Now, come on.  HRC is one of the first groups that will jump up and down in fits screaming "separation of church and state" any other time.  But in defense (gulp) of the Catholics, homosexuality is a mortal sin, one that will land you in Hell.  Right up there with using condoms and reading this blog.  I have to ask, why would gay parents enroll their kids in a school that is going to teach them that their families are wrong and shouldn't exist?  I mean, we try so hard to deflect negative energy and comments from our children, and you're going to put them in a class where they will be told their parents are sinners, going to hell, and you should not be proud of who they are and what your family represents?  Sorry, I don't get that.  The Church did these kids a favor by expelling them.  Now they can see religion for what it really is--a giant cult that aims to keep its members in line by threatening them with eternal punishment now and even after they die.  I don't understand why a gay person would want to be a member of an organization that (yes I'll say it) hates them.  It's like George Bush joining the Sierra Club or Sarah Palin running for president of Mensa.  And HRC wants to force the Church to let these kids back in? 

Ironically, on the same day I got this email, I saw a story in the Arizona Republic about a nun who has lost her post at St. Joseph's Hospital because she authorized an abortion in order to save the life of a critically ill patient.  Not only was she disciplined, but the patient was immediately excommunicated from the Church.  Because, you know, it's better for you and your unborn child to die instead of doing whatever you can to save your own life.  In my opinion, this woman's as lucky as the preschoolers above because now maybe she can live a better life free from religion.

Now, as an unbeliever I'm admittidly biased, and many of you may take issue with this post.  That's OK.  As for Sabrina, she can learn about religion when she's ready.  For me, that's after she's old enough to make rational decisions about morality, fantasy, and reality.  If after that, as an adult, she wants to join a church, I'll support her.  By locking her in the attic.

And now...your thoughts?

25 comments:

anotherfineproductfrom said...

Personally I'm a very big fan of religion. I think that each person needs to make that choice but as your post says - it is a CHOICE. So to intentionally choose a situation where you are regularly told how awful you are - well it just seems like a recipe for pain. Pain for you, pain for your children and endless guilt. Why? There are plenty of welcoming religions out there.

I'm not preaching here, I started life Catholic, grew up with step family that is Southern Baptist and ended up falling in love with a Lutheran woman. If you ask me that's the way to go, Lutherans Rock!

But I'm with you, I don't want to be - nor do I want my children - surrounded by hatred, negative imagery or regular lifestyle bashing. It's just not something I enjoy. Do I know it's out there? Definitely, I lived in Lynchburg, VA while Jerry Falwell was alive and attended their first ever pridefest. Would I take my children? No. It's out there and it's easy enough to find if they are ever curious. But I want to teach them more about love than hate.

Great post.

~Katie said...

I like your thoughts and post. It shames me to hear that the church -MY church is doing this. I am Catholic but like any organized religion I think you have to take what you agree with and leave the rest. Just b/c the vatican says, doesn't mean I believe. I hate to say that I am a cafeteria catholic, but I am and I cringe when stories like these come out. Anyhow... great post.

BloggerFather said...

Well, I guess you're right. They're a private institution with the right to do evil things. There is a problem with tax breaks for religious institutions, though, but there's just as much of a chance of change in that as having an Atheist President.

Gwensarah said...

*applauds* that last paragraph..spot on!

Daddy Times Two said...

I hear you but don't blame all the Catholics.

Our parish and priests are wonderful to us. The parish's congregation is about 5,000 Catholic families and very diverse. Actually, the Chairman of our Parish School's PTA is a Gay male. His kids are enrolled along with 6 other children of non-traditional families.

Religion plays a big role in our life and has even assited with our adoption. Our parish priest wrote a letter on our behalf that was submitted with our adoption home study. Father got us through the difficult months when our first adoption failed. He even visited us in our home during that dark period.

Religion is such a personal matter. It can not be judged by headlines in a news story. It should not be judge by the actions of few narrow minded people or priest. We are Catholic for so many reasons. Catholism has shaped our life and helped us along the way.

And yes... our child will attend Catholic School. This is the right choice for our family. A choice that I will never defend with anyone but myself. Just as you should never have to defend your parenting style or life style.

This is just a little food for thought. And remember... there are always two sides to every coin.

By the way... I love your blog! I do not always agree with your views but it helps me broaden my perspective.

Michelle said...

We are with you Bobby on this, as unbelievers too. We have our own beliefs. Very well said. As for that Nun...that is so sad but in the long run I also think its better for her to be free from religion.

Jimh. said...

I strongly agree!! Good for you! I have similar thoughts on the subject, however, I am not willing to openly state them as my family and friends would probably dis-communicate me as a family member or a friend...sad but true. Yea Bobby!

Bobby said...

Full Disclosure:
I appreciate the comments so far. I should say that I was raised Catholic, was baptized and confirmed. (I chose Mark as my confirmation name because Marc was a jock in my 7th grade English class. Father wouldn't let me spell it "Marc" like his, but that's another story!) Going from that to not believing is a process, and a long one. So of course I don't expect everyone to agree with me. I love that we can disagree on a subject yet remain a community. I can come across as condescending, I know, but believe me even if I don't understand religious people, I don't think that makes them bad parents.

To JimH--isn't it ironic how of all the things, religion is the one that you can't even question or your family may disown you? Why can't it be discussed? Hmm.

.jon said...

America has taken a strange twist in the past decade with all this newfound religiosity. The mega-churches, the incursion of religion in public policy, blatant intolerance by the organized religions towards anyone they feel isn't part of their clique, the list goes on... With that said, I feel the motivating factor for this has been the fact that our economic system has gotten so out-of-whack and alienated so many people that some (many?) are marching towards organized religion as some kind of imaginary backstop. But this is an illusion. The only change in our quality of lives will only come through political change; divine intervention will only do you good once you have passed from this plane to whatever the "afterlife" represents. Is it a coincidence that the nations that offer the most generous social welfare programs - like the Scandinavian countries, France, etc - are the most secular on this planet, where most of the citizens of these countries now view religion from an archeological standpoint. I believe there is a correlation. If the state provides people with their basic necessities, rather than having their citizens compete like animals for an ever-shrinking piece of the pie, then the need to find comfort in some undefined divinity becomes less of a need to help one get through the day. Here in the US - where it's every man, woman and child who must fend for themselves and "I've got mine, so screw you, you go get yours" - the economic imbalances and the collapse in our standard of living is driving people to seek solace in the most unlikely of places like religion - while the most obvious culprit, the social imbalances created by unchecked capitalism, being the last suspect thanks in large part to a mainstream media that is owned by corporate interests and a political culture that is owned lock, stock and barrel by lobbyists for the elites. Of course, it's the "American way" never to question our free market system, even though the Founding Fathers themselves warned clearly that church and state should always be separated and as products of The Englightenment, they understood best of all the danger that too much religion could wreak on any free society and social cohesion. So today we have economic politics making strange bedfellows, with many of the fundamentalist organized religions - like the Catholic church - in bed with economic conservatism and all that this "unChristin" philosophy stands for today: denial of human rights to people, denial of health care to the unemployed and lower classes, making education almost impossible for middle class families to afford, sowing division between people of different races, classes, sexual orientation, the list goes on. And with this empowerment that religions have gained (er, via their pact with the devil as some would argue), they feel emboldened to piss off anyone they want, including innocent children of gays and lesbians seeking a good education. And of course we are supposed to believe that if Jesus were running this school, he would have denied admission to the child of these lesbians. Yup, right, hello.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if things are different in Canada but I went to Catholic school my whole life. Not only did we have gay teachers (not that they were openly gay but we all knew it!) but we also had muslim and other non-catholic students. A lot of people put their kids in Catholic school because there is actual TALK of a GOD existing (as opposed to public where you can't mention God) and there is generally more funding. I don't ever remember learning that all gays were going to hell. I think it really depended on the teacher and their own opinions. (we were also taught safe sex, as opposed to abstinence) I think if same sex parents want to put their child in a Catholic school, they should have the right AND they (and their children) should be treated just like everybody else.
Elise*

Stacey said...

I don't understand wanting to be Catholic or sending your kids to a Catholic school when you're gay. I don't get it because, as you've said, they think we're evil sinners.

That said, we do attend a United Church because that was how I was raised and I think it builds a nice community (they do a lot of volunteer and outreach work) as well as give the children some background on religion. We chose this particular church because they do not believe other religions are wrong and they accept gay people and marry them. They teach children about other religions before confirmation (at 16) so that you choose what works best for you. No pushing. No judgement.

So you can't lump all religions together. Yes, it's difficult being gay and always feeling judged by so many religions. But not all churches are the same.

Stacey said...

A note on the last commenter. I know several teachers in Canada and you have to be Catholic to be a teacher in a Catholic school. Teachers will even convert just to land a job (more jobs). Many students, however, are not Catholic. Sometimes people go because of location, school and uniforms.

jaenkes said...

Great Post, right down to the end. I don't get it either... it's the same with Boy Scouts. We've let our son know why he wouldn't be joining them (he didn't want to, he just wanted to know what it was)... "because their organization thinks families like ours is wrong". "That's dumb" was his reply! :)

Anonymous said...

Stacey, you can be "Catholic" and be gay, in the sense that if you were baptised and did your confirmation, you are considered Catholic. But again, it depends on the school...because now that I think of it my cousin had to "re-marry" her husband in a Catholic church in order to teach in a Catholic school
Elise*

Stacey said...

Of course. I just wanted to clarify that the students don't have to be Catholic but the teachers do. :)

print girl inc said...

i agree 110%.

Mickey said...

You and I both think religions are cults are the same thing, the only different is how long they've been around and their popularity, right?

But I think gay people have the rights to seek religion as much as straight people do. My take to this case is much different than yours and I went to detail on in a post from a couple of months ago.

http://www.takingthemickey.net/2010/03/homophobia-lesser-bigotry.html

Regardless, homophobic discrimination should be illegal, so religious schools shouldn't be able to do that regardless of what they think.

What if according to their holy book they should discriminate against people of colour? Should they be allowed that?

--Mickey

Michael said...

I am glad you brought up this topic. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and for one short period of time we belonged the local Catholic Church. Incidentally, we stopped going when we discovered that the local diocese supported Prop 8. Even though our church did not support the ban on same-sex marriage, apparently donations were diverted to the cause. Ugh. I digress...

To this day, we struggle with the question of where to send our two kids to school. Should we go public, and risk them being undereducated, or should we send them to the parochial school where we know they will receive a stellar education? Personally, I did not grow up Catholic - and every time I attend a mass I feel as though I am watching a cult. My husband did, however. Ironically, he is not the one pushing the parochial school. Oy. Such a conundrum...

Monogram Queen said...

My thought is that churches making a move such as kicking a child out because they have same sex parents..... REAL nice... way to teach 'love thy neighbor'.

You ought to try living in the Deep South, we have our own special brand of religious crazy. Oh well, all I can do is teach my daughter that love comes in all forms and that church certainly shouldn't tell her who to love/not love nor should they be passing judgement. And this is the longest run-on sentence EVER! Sorry!

Tim and Louie said...

I too am an atheist and as a gay man, the last thing I would ever do would be to send my kid to ANY religious based school, let alone one that is predominantly anti-gay.

Were I forced to send my kid to such an institution, at least I would choose a school that is tied to a more progressive sect, I.E. they bless same-sex couples, they allow LGBT and straight females to minister their flock, etc., etc.

The last thing we gays need is give the anti-gay bigots more ammunition to use against us as we struggle to achieve our civil rights.

I can just read it now "Gays want to FORCE churches to accept their children" etc.

Don't get me wrong, if any school is taking tax payer money, then they should not discriminate against ANYBODY!

Do we really want to start looking like we're the ones "forcing" churches to do something that their "god" and holy writings tells them not to do?

Anonymous said...

Send your kids to the Unitarian Universalist church where they can learn about all religions. They can attend church with some who are atheists, some who are christians and some who are pagans. One Church many beliefs.

Tim and Louie said...

Indeed, if I had to make that choice, Unitarian Universalist would be at the top of my list.

Malea said...

OT:What's going on with Whacked Daddy?

mommy3 said...

I've been reading this thought-provoking thread for a while and figure I need to jump in with my own comment. I have never ever ever understood WHY in the name of religion, judgements are made, biases are decreed, countries are taken over, people are discriminated against--and my list goes on. I left the Lutheran Church over these issues years ago and could never find another church that made sense after that. If I pick and choose among spiritual ideas, then I find some good stuff, but no one theology, ever. That said, how in the name of any church or god could children be discriminated against, could families be denounced? I've read these news articles lately and they only make me angrier, personally. As the mom of a son who I assume will come out in the next few years and as a woman who considers discrimation of any kind one of the deeply evil issues of humanity, organized religion should not be able to rule our "free" country -- which I notice every single day is only "free" for some of us. I agree with the prev poster regarding religions simply as older cults. I sit here shaking my head and afraid for those those who will hurt my son as he matures -- but ready to support him when he is ready to live openly as a gay adolescent. Why should I have to worry about him more than my daughter who is straight? With the prevailing winds of neo-fundamentalism and more, I do truly worry and keep him in my heart. I don't want any of my three children to have to understand why our close friends' family is circumspect because they have two moms or why another family at our son's school is "weird" because they have two dads. Why should it matter?

crystal said...

I'm totally with you on this! I grew up a Jehovah Witness, and the damage that it does is understated. There are plenty of welcoming religions but most of them come with a a huge price tag. The indoctrination that most of them spew is sickening.