This this one goes out to everybody out there who's vaguely annoyed by Richard Dawkins:
Please, please, take the time off from your ranting to read a little story I found last year at FSTDT:
Just recently my son Bobby came out to me. I had been worried for awhile. His teachers said most of his grades were slipping and he seemed depressed and withdrawn.Now think carefully about how such a thing could happen today, in 21st century America. This ain't the 900 A. D. We're supposed to be beyond knee-jerk reaction to anything different. The rise of easy contraception means most heterosexuals have gotten over the idea that non-procreative sex is evil, the only objection to homosexuality that ever sounded halfway rational. The gay rights movement, especially the mass declosetings, have quashed accidental ignorance of homosexuality. Accidental is the key word here--even the above-quoted forum post shows how open discussion of homosexuality has become, how available sane professional advice on the subject has become. The parent may have been ignorant, but it isn't accidental ignorance.
Bobby said he'd been hiding it for awhile because he was afraid I would reject him. I sat him down and told him that I loved him and that God loved him, but that his salvation was in danger if he did not resist his unnatural tempations. I told him how being gay would mean he would live a shorter life, and that if he couldnt change his orientation he could be celibate like most the ex-gays are. He started crying saying something along the lines of "I knew you wouldnt understand! You're just like everyone else!" before running to his room and slamming the door.
What did I do wrong? I dont want to lose my son, but I fear I already have. I talked it over with his therapist, who had the ludicrous idea that homosexuality was unchangable and that trying to repress could lead to lots of psychological damage (I've dropped him and will try to be finding another therapist with more moral beliefs). I wouldnt be surprised if he's the one who's feeding my son all the homosexual propaganda about how its 'ok' to be gay. That, or how homosexuality has engulfed the media, making it seem 'cool' and 'hip' and how they were just another oppressed minority. You didnt have to worry about seeing two men making out on tv at my age! I dont want to sound like a fanatic, but Im worried what other effects will come out of this increasingly secular, immoral society obsessed with filth.
Am I too late? Or is it possible to save my son
[Note: The thread this originally came from indicates that this boy eventually took his own life.]
There's really only one explanation: admitting that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality means admitting that the Bible is wrong to pronounce it so odious as to be deserving death or to be God's curse on a wicked humanity, and that the Bible is therefore, to at least some extent, the work of ignorant barbarians. Some people are unable to accept that fact, and this is ruining lives. In this case, a boy was driven to suicide.
That much is clear from a little thinking and casual observation of the world, but for those unfamiliar with the modern Evangelical movement, I must emphasize that this is the result of a complicated system of willful ignorance. It's not just the fact that there are writers cranking out anti-gay propaganda like crazy. It's that churches are distributing the stuff, and in my town at least we aren't talking about street corner ranters but the nice, mainstreamish Church of We Are Not Fundamentalists.
The stuff is dishonest crap with the shiniest polish money can buy; if you want to understand how it works, I recommend the brilliant sendup The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths. Oftentimes, it's the work of people who are unapologetic about valuing dogma over honest inquiry. Exhibit A in this department is chapter in the book Hard Questions Real Answers by the loathsome William Lane Craig (those not familiar with him should read Robert M. Price's take on his dishonesty as well as my own quote heavy take). Craig began by arguing that homosexuality must be wrong because the Bible says so, and then going on to admit that it's a lot harder to argue against homosexuality without the Bible, an admission followed by some suggestions on how to do so. For Christians he must have been giving sage advice; for me it looks like a pratfall until I realize that Craig's blatantly dishonest replication of the standard propaganda has no doubt done a lot of harm to real people.
The whole situation is so bad that in the context of what happens on a daily basis in the evangelical community, Ted Haggard's "I hired a gay prostitute but I'm completely straight" lie becomes not extreme but depressingly unremarkable.
Though the gay issue is one of many examples of where religion causes harm, I use because the harm is ongoing and involves clear cases of ruined lives. My hope is that it will shock people away from the absurdly trivial complaints leveled at Richard Dawkins and other prominent critics of religion. I'm not taking issue with people who have serious concerns that certain things they've said are inaccurate. Those discussions need to happen. As I hinted in the opening sentence, my target is the people who are vaguely annoyed with Dawkins and say all kinds of weird stuff because they have no remotely legitimate complaint: they whine about politeness, they whine about tactics, they whine that Dawkins uses English in a perfectly clear manner than ordinary people can understand, rather than a convoluted manner invented by liberal theologians. At The Uncredible Hallq I recently had to deal with a situation of a patently false accusation followed by a series of weird evasions.
All this needs to stop. Religion isn't a fun form of make believe which no adult takes seriously. It's a serious issue that has a major impact on the lives of real people. If you like frank, open discussion, regardless of your view on the main questions, take a seat at the table. However, if you find violations of modern taboos on honest discussion of religion too emotionally distressing, please stop bugging the grown-ups about it.
Tags: Richard Dawkins, religion, homosexuality, gays, Bible, Evangelical Christianity