Woman President? Yes Or No?

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Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 7.59.42 PMIn 2004 at the age of 14, these were my thoughts on a “woman president.” Last night, 12 years later, I watched the first woman receive the Democratic presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton‘s speech was beautiful and encompassed everything our country is about. ‪#‎ImWithHer‬

Flash Forward

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Flash forward to a world where Republicans get what they want:

A wall that extends the entire border of Mexico and the United States. We didn’t have compassion for those crossing the border seeking a better life.

A more militarized police force. We didn’t listen to our black brothers and sisters in pain.

Laws that support legal discrimination against LGBT people. We didn’t acknowledge their cries for equality.

All abortions are illegal. We didn’t have empathy or take the time to listen to women and hear their experiences.

All Muslims are required to carry ID badges. We let our fear and judgment get in the way.

No gun control. We didn’t care if you were on the no fly list – purchasing weapons that can kill 50 people in minutes was your right as an American.

How can we “Make America Great” in a world without empathy or compassion? Are we that greedy and selfish? If we judge existence based on our own perspectives without ever thinking of others, what kind of a life do we live? Are we so closed off, in our own little bubbles, that we completely forget about others? “Every man for himself” keeps us living devoid of any empathy. Our compassion for others shapes our hearts and fills our souls. A famous book once proclaimed, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female.” We’re all people. Let’s listen, learn, and love with everything that we are, because we’re better and stronger together.

My Thoughts On The Orlando Shooting…

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I’ve tried all week to write a post, but each time, my words wouldn’t come out. My heart is heavy and for now, this is the only thing I can manage to say:

Stop straightsplaining. Stop saying that the massacre in Orlando was an attack was on all Americans. Stop trying to further your anti-Islam agenda. LGBT people have NEVER been treated like all Americans, so why are you trying to group us together now? You call us sinners, disgusting, and demon possessed. You compare us to pedophiles and murderers. You don’t support non-discrimination laws for LGBT people. You don’t support marriage equality. You don’t want to see LGBT people holding hands in public and you boycott tv shows that have LGBT characters. You want to ban transgender people from going to the bathroom. You want the right to deny services, fire at will, and deny housing to LGBT people. You constantly use gay slurs. Your church speaks against homosexuality and you shout “amen” in agreement without ever doing any research on your own. You demonize and dehumanize us. (Yes, this is directed at the people who claim they are “Christian” and don’t act like it). SO…. No one wants to hear your “thoughts and prayers” for the LGBT victims in Orlando. You don’t support us in life, so don’t act like you care now that we’re dead. You remain silent when it comes to the high hate crime rate of LGBT people. You have nothing to say about the high rate of LGBT suicide. You’re silent when LGBT people are homeless due to family rejection. You don’t care and it’s painfully obvious.

Right now, the families of the victims in the Orlando shooting are having to deal with unspeakable, despicable events. Imagine your child dying, but the church you attended all of your life won’t let you have the funeral there. Imagine your child dying and people standing outside shouting things at you such as, “Sinner!” and “God wanted this!” and “Your son/daughter went to Hell!” This is the reality of what’s going on in Orlando. So, next time you offer your “thoughts and prayers,” but your actions create a culture of fear for LGBT people, you can save it. You can take those empty words and SHOVE IT. You already do such little work as it is – you flip open your Bible, read a few words, and BAM – that’s enough to make your case against gay people. You don’t do any research on your own. You condemn gay people with just a few words. You never stop to look at the context of the time, what certain words meant back then, and so on. You don’t listen to LGBT affirming pastors and hear what they have to say. You refuse to read books or watch documentaries that shed light on LGBT people and LGBT history. You’re perfectly comfortable with your bigoted views and you don’t care about changing them. It’s okay though – the bigots who thought interracial marriage was a sin eventually shut the hell up because they realized they were horrible human beings for using the Bible as a tool of hate. It’s okay though – the bigots who supported segregation and held up signs saying, “God wants segregation” eventually shut the hell up because they realized they were despicable human beings for using the Bible as a tool of hate. It’s okay though – the bigots who supported the mistreatment of women eventually shut the hell up because they realized they were terrible human beings for using the Bible as a tool of hate. (By the way, all of these issues are still present in society in some form or another). The Bible was also used to condone slavery, the Salem Witch Trials, the Spanish Inquisition, and so on.

Today, you want to offer your “thoughts and prayers,” but hold the Bible in your other hand to condemn LGBT people. So no, your “thoughts and prayers” aren’t wanted. Your love and acceptance is, but you refuse to give it – all in the name of a “loving God.” And THAT is the most disgusting, filthy, despicable, sinful thing in the world. It’s okay though – eventually you’ll shut the hell up and realize that you’re a horrible human being who’s using the Bible as a tool of hate too.

A Breakdown Of How LGBT People Are Demonized And Dehumanized

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Everywhere you look, LGBT people are being demonized and dehumanized. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the treatment of LGBT individuals. Many “Christians” believe that ‘calling out sin’ is perfectly fine. They think that making jokes about Caitlyn Jenner is justified. This mindset is wrong. Here’s an easy-to-read breakdown of how religion hurts people.
THE BEGINNINGS OF HATE
-Pastors (who claim that they speak on behalf of God) misconstrue and cherry-pick Bible verses. They condemn one version of “sin,” yet look past another. (Example – Pastors used to preach against divorce, but as more and more church members became divorced, preachers obviously had to retire those sermons).
-Pastors demonize and dehumanize LGBT people in their sermons.
-Parents, politicians, and other religious leaders sit in church and listen to the preacher. These churchgoers believe every word that is said. These people go on to demonize and dehumanize LGBT people.
-The children of these parents see and hear how their parents treat LGBT people.
-These children grow up believing that LGBT people are less than human and become bullies who harass LGBT individuals in school.
-These bullies become adults and they don’t think twice about committing an act of violence against LGBT people because they’ve heard LGBT people be demonized and dehumanized for their entire life.
LGBT PEOPLE ARE LEFT WITH FEW OPTIONS
-LGBT people can be brutally attacked in a hate crime.
-LGBT people can die at the hands of an attacker in a hate crime.
-LGBT people may commit suicide because, for their entire life, they’ve been made to feel worthless. (After all, who thinks they have a good chance at life if they’re already condemned to Hell?)
-LGBT people may turn to drugs to cope with the feelings of worthlessness and despair.
-LGBT people may sleep around to find fulfillment elsewhere because they think they’re unworthy of love.
-LGBT people may suffer emotionally and psychologically from all of the bullying and harassment they endured in school.
-LGBT people may end up homeless on the street because their parents kicked them out of their home.
-LGBT people will try to find the strength to carry on after they’ve been treated horribly for their entire life.
THEN, IF LGBT PEOPLE ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO MAKE IT TO ADULTHOOD, THEY HAVE MANY OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
-LGBT people must worry about discrimination in the workplace, in businesses and stores, doctor’s offices, apartment/house hunting, getting loans/credit with banks, etc.
-LGBT people must fight for their right to have the freedom to marry in order to gain the same financial benefits as heterosexual couples.
-LGBT people must worry about PDA and being overly affectionate in public.
-LGBT people sometimes have to hide who they are so that they won’t be fired from their jobs (which is perfectly legal in 32?states).
-LGBT people deal with online harassment on a daily basis. Every day an LGBT person logs online, and they see people saying horrible things about them.
-LGBT people have to deal with family members who aren’t supportive, sometimes even not being allowed to attend special events or holiday functions.
-LGBT people may be kicked out of their church once the church finds out.
So, the next time your pastor, your family member, or your friend makes a joke or says something negative about LGBT people, remember….. Words can heal, and words can harm. Words and actions have consequences. Words carry on and reverberate into eternity. Are your words helping to harm or to heal?

*This post was originally published on Liberal America here: http://www.liberalamerica.org/2015/06/05/breakdown-lgbt-people/

The Hypocrisy Behind Evangelical Biblical Studies: Being Gay Is Worse Than Child Molestation

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(Originally published on May 29, 2015)
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Duggar family from the popular television show 19 Kids And Counting are in the middle of a massive scandal. It was revealed recently that Josh Duggar admitted to molesting young girls – including some of his sisters. In what seems like a never-ending whirlwind of controversy, developments continue to arise. From Mike Huckabee supporting the Duggars, GOP hopefuls hanging out with Josh Duggar, the police report against Josh Duggar being destroyed, Josh Duggar joking about incest, to the lack of sympathy for the victims, the Duggars are now a household name – albeit for the wrong reasons. Now, there’s even a hilarious video parody of the Duggars.

As we all know, the Duggars have been vocal about their hatred of LGBT people. They’ve celebrated the repeal of LGBT anti-discrimination laws, called LGBT people a threat to children, demonized gay people, and stated that gays are child predators. One of our writers even had an article go viral. The article, which is an open letter to Michelle Duggar as she celebrates victory in repealing LGBT anti-discrimination laws, reveals the hypocritical nature of the Duggars.

The problem with this latest Duggar scandal is the fact that the Duggars are complete hypocrites. The Duggars are guilty of pointing fingers at everyone else except themselves. Matthew 7:3, anyone? They can point out the sawdust in other people’s eyes, but it looks as if they need to pay more attention to the log in their own eyes. However, this doesn’t apply to evangelical biblical studies. No. Molestation is better than homosexuality.

The Duggars represent a horrible concept of Christianity. Everywhere you look, people are coming up with ridiculous reasons as to why Josh Duggar needs to be defended. Evangelists are even stating that when Josh Duggar molested the young girls, he wasn’t a Christian yet. Somehow, Josh Duggar is receiving a free pass. Do you know who isn’t receiving a free pass? LGBT people.

All over the country, people are fighting for their right to refuse services to LGBT people. IndianaMinnesotaNorth CarolinaAlabamaTexas, GOP hopefuls such as Jeb Bush, and the list goes on and on. I have an important question – will businesses fight for the right to refuse service to Josh Duggar? According to the Bible, Josh Duggar has committed a sin. So, using the same logic that many conservative “Christians” use, wouldn’t they want to deny Josh Duggar service as well? Conservatives love the idea of denying LGBT people services, but why is this situation any different?

Let’s look at the main problem here. According to conservative “Christian” logic, BEING GAY IS WORSE THAN MOLESTING A CHILD. In order to support this belief, many “Christians” have come up with an excellent concept. Josh Duggar molests girls and sins. Josh Duggars asks God to forgive him. Josh Duggar is now forgiven. All is well. Everyone can now go on with their day.

Now, let’s look at gay people. According to conservative “Christian” logic, gay people choose to be gay, choose to act upon their “homosexual urges,” and can repent and turn away from that “lifestyle” at any given moment. Therefore, many “Christians” believe that gay people are sinning every single day, sinning over and over, and choosing to continue to live a “lifestyle” of sin. Why is this worse than child molestation? DUH! If you molest a child, you technically sin only once and can quickly be forgiven by God and decide not to molest children again. BUT, if you’re gay, you sin over and over each day. Therefore, God will not forgive you. Somehow, many conservative “Christians” use this logic to justify the mistreatment of LGBT people.

Let’s look at another sin – murder. According to conservative “Christian” logic, committing a murder is better than being gay! If you kill someone, you only sin once and can be forgiven by God (although you’ll obviously suffer consequences on earth such as jail). Once again, if you’re gay, you’re choosing to sin over and over, and God will not forgive you. That’s some pretty messed up logic, right? These beliefs are nothing more than bigotry wrapped in a coat of religion. Has anyone else had enough of the “religious freedom” laws? Has anyone else had enough of hypocrites who condemn others? I, for one, am tired of crazy logic and beliefs that are only meant to hurt people. The Duggars and their “Christian” beliefs are detrimental to society and the well-being of LGBT people.

This article is meant to be facetious and was originally published on Liberal America as seen here: http://www.liberalamerica.org/2015/05/29/biblical-studies-duggar-scandal/

An Open Letter To Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

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(Originally posted on April 1, 2015)
Recently, the state of Indiana has been under a microscope of scrutiny. Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law and all hell broke loose. Thousands have protested the anti-gay law which (despite what Gov. Pence continues to say) DOES and WILL allow businesses to deny services to LGBT people.

In an interview on Sunday, Gov. Mike Pence refused to answer six times if gay people would be denied services under this new law. Then, in a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence decided to blatantly lie numerous times about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Pence backed the law and insisted that the law does not discriminate against gays or will allow businesses to deny services to gay people.

The fact remains – the Religious Freedom Restoration Act CAN and WILL discriminate against LGBT people. This law WILL allow businesses to refuse services to gay people.

Two Indiana lawmakers recently admitted that “No Gays Allowed” signs are now legal. An Indiana business Memories Pizza has already become the first business to reject catering gay weddings.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has essentially signed segregation into law.

Pence needs someone to tell him like it is. This is an open letter to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Dear Indiana Gov. Mike Pence,

You’ve made a mistake. You’ve signed a very dangerous bill into law.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows discrimination against LGBT people. FACT. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows businesses to refuse service to LGBT people. FACT. Not only that, but the law allows discrimination against a multitude of people.

You are aware of how many sins are in the Bible, right? Businesses can claim “religious freedom” and refuse to serve anyone who might be seen as a “sinner.” This isn’t limited to LGBT people.

This law opens up possible discrimination against:

  • interracial couples (Deuteronomy 7:3-4, Ezra 9:1-2, Daniel 2:43, Matthew 25:32, Deuteronomy 22:9-11)
  • people who are divorced (Matthew 5:31-32, Mark 10:2-12, Luke 16:18, Matthew 19:89-9)
  • known adulterers (Proverbs 6:32, Matthew 5:28, Hebrews 13:4, Exodus 20:14, John 8:4-11)
  • unwed parents and single mothers (Ephesians 5:5, Galatians 5:19)
  • people who have tattoos, piercings, or jewelry (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Leviticus 19:28, 1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 2:3)

That’s a lot of discrimination to go around!

When you go out to eat, do you openly pray before every meal? When you attend church, do you openly pray in front of everyone? Are you aware that “the Bible is quite clear on the issue” of praying in public? Matthew 6:5-7, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, and Luke 6:12 all condemn praying in public. And all of those verses are from the New Testament!

Do you eat bacon? Leviticus 11:7-8, Isaiah 66:17, and Deuteronomy 14:8 all state that eating bacon is a sin.

Do you eat shrimp or shellfish? Leviticus 11:9-12 is quite clear on the issue. If you’d like to see what the world would look like if people viewed eating shrimp as a sin, view my article on that here.

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, you have made it legal to discriminate against a multitude of people. Christians can refuse service to Atheists, Buddhists, and Muslims. Atheists can refuse service to any religious people. People who have a religion other than Christianity can refuse services to Christians.

You have opened up a huge can of worms.

You claim that you abhor discrimination, but your record shows otherwise. You claim that the law doesn’t discriminate against gay people, yet you refuse to support laws that would help protect gay people from discrimination. It’s ironic that you keep using the word “abhor” in your interviews. You know who also used that word? David. Psalms 119:163.

“I hate and abhor lying…” 

The Bible is VERY clear about lying (Leviticus 19:11, Proverbs 12:22, Proverbs 13:5, Proverbs 14:5, Proverbs 17:7, Hosea 11:12, Acts 5:3, Colossians 3:9, James 3:1). By openly lying about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, people now know that you’re a liar. You’ve been open about it. When you walk into your favorite restaurant, it’s possible that the business may refuse you service due to their “religious convictions about lying.”

I’m going to be blunt. You’re not fooling anyone anymore. You’ve been caught. Instead of making things right, you continue to dig your hole deeper by lying over and over.

You were warned numerous times that this law was discriminatory. Unlike the “Good Samaritan,” you looked the other way.

Your willful ignorance has cost you and the state of Indiana dearly. Instead of apologizing and showing that you don’t want LGBT people to be discriminated against, you’ve built a house of lies and retreated into the corner.

It’s not good enough for you that the First Amendment already protects the freedom of religion. You and many other conservatives have to go one step further and force your religion on others. But don’t you see? You DO have the right to any religion (or lack thereof) and to worship freely! You DON’T have the right to use your religion as a tool of hate and discrimination.

And quite frankly, why would any “god” support discrimination? That raises questions as to what kind of “god” you believe in. If you honestly believe that your “god” wants you to treat LGBT people differently, then you should re-evaluate your religion.

Jesus Christ taught love, compassion, friendship, and hope. He didn’t teach fear, discrimination, and prejudice. If you’re not using the Bible to learn more about understanding, compassion, acceptance, and love, then you’re reading the Bible completely wrong. Period.

So, I beg you, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — show compassion, acceptance, and love to LGBT people. Sign a non-discrimination law for LGBT people. Show that you truly abhor discrimination just as much as David abhorred lying.

As Governor, show that you support ALL of your people in Indiana.

Sincerely,

Caleb

This article is meant to be facetious and was originally published at Liberal America here: http://www.liberalamerica.org/2015/04/01/an-open-letter-to-indiana-gov-mike-pence/

In A World Where Eating Shrimp Is A Sin

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More often than not, the Bible is used to condemn LGBT people. Using the Bible to further discrimination is not a new concept. Over the years, the Bible has been used to condone segregation, condone slavery, and justify the mistreatment of women, minorities, and interracial couples.

Cherry-picking specific verses from the Bible to support prejudices continues to cause much harm to others. Why is it that the conservative right and so many “Christians” constantly pick verses of the Bible to condemn LGBT people, yet completely ignore other verses that condemn getting tattoos (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Leviticus 19:28), putting up Christmas trees (Jeremiah 10:1-8), wearing jewelry (1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 2:3, Leviticus 19:28), praying in public (Matthew 6:5-7, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12), getting divorced (Matthew 5:31-32, Mark 10:2-12, Luke 16:18, Matthew 19:8-9), and eating shrimp (Leviticus 11:10-12)?

Is it because these so-called “Christians” commit these sins themselves? Maybe their pastors don’t preach about these sins because if they did, they would lose almost their entire congregation?

Leviticus 11:10-12 states:

 

Leviticus 11:10-12 King James Version (KJV)

10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.

12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you

 

What if eating shrimp was as big of an “abomination” as homosexuality in the church’s eyes? Can you imagine it? I can picture it now… Here are a few scenarios:

  • A young boy secretly eats shrimp in his bedroom. His mom walks in and catches him. “No!” she screams. She quickly takes the shrimp and throws it in the garbage. “How could you? We’ve got to get on our knees right now!” she exclaims. The mother and son get on their knees and kneel beside the bed. The mother attempts to “pray the shrimp away” and desperately pleads to God that her son will “stay on the right path and follow God’s Word.” Before she leaves the room, the mom demands that her son change his ways and that if he doesn’t, she will put him in ex-shrimp therapy.
  • A family of four decides to go out to eat at the local Red Lobster. Upon driving into the parking lot, they are met with protestors who hold signs that say, “God hates shrimp-eaters!” and “You’re an abomination!” The family pushes their way through the screaming crowd and finally makes it inside the restaurant. Outside their window, protestors scream insults and yell out Bible verses.
  • A family is watching TV when suddenly the main character is seen eating shrimp. The parents quickly turn to social media to complain about how their favorite show can no longer be watched by their children. The parents talk about how they’re “tired of shrimp being shoved in their face.” They refuse to ever watch the show again.
  • Politicians try to make laws that ban eating shrimp. Lawmakers desperately try to close all of the restaurants that serve shrimp. They cleverly craft “religious freedom” laws that allow workers to refuse service to anyone who eats shrimp.
  • In the pulpits, pastors constantly preach about Leviticus 10-12. Preachers claim that the world is “going to Hell in a hand basket.” Churches refuse entry to those who eat shrimp. The choir director is caught eating shrimp and must resign his position and leave the church. People are shunned and called abominations.
  • A kid sits quietly in the middle of a classroom with students all around him. He sits at his desk trying to ignore all of the students calling him shrimp-eater, freak, loser, and an abomination to God. The boy endures this torture for months until he can’t take anymore abuse. He ends up committing suicide.
  • A young woman walks down the street at night. She makes her way home, wearing her favorite shirt that has a big picture of a shrimp on it. Before she can reach her apartment, two men notice the picture of a shrimp on her shirt and decide to attack her. The two men leave the young woman broken and alone on the street. The woman is badly injured and doesn’t survive. She is now the victim of a hate crime.

These scenarios are not that far-fetched. LGBT people endure these situations daily. The main reason they endure this? A book of hate — the Bible. It’s time for the Bible to be used as a book of love, not hate. The Bible can be a great inspiration — it sheds light on love, hope, compassion, kindness, and friendship. When we become so focused on “sin,” we miss the point. The “Christians” who condemn gay people, yet refuse to acknowledge other parts of the Bible, are no longer fooling anyone. The gig is up. Stop hurting people with your book. If God is love, then God doesn’t hate gay people or shrimp-eaters. God loves everyone.

 

This article was first published at Liberal America here: http://www.liberalamerica.org/2015/03/20/in-a-world-where-eating-shrimp-is-a-sin/