Saturday, July 7, 2012

Religion and Faith vs. "The Church"

Some recent discussions on my Facebook wall have had me thinking a lot about this topic, and so I have decided the time is now to blog about it a bit.  What is the topic?  Religion, faith, and The Church.  First things first, let me clarify that when I say things negative about a religion, those things are about the doctrine or practices of the religion, not the people who follow it.  The same goes for when I say things about a Church.

I believe strongly that there are very big differences between religion, faith, and The Church.  Webster's  defines faith as "unquestioning belief, specifically in God, religion, etc".  Faith is a wonderful thing, and most of us have faith in some form or another (even us Humanists and Atheists).  Religion is defined as "a specific system of belief or worship built around God or gods, a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, etc."  Religion can be a wonderful thing, and can also, because we are human, be corrupt and used for evil.  Church is defined as "a particular Christian denomination."  When I refer to The Church, I refer to those who run said denomination, not the denomination itself (ie, the Pope, deacons, presidents of denominations, etc).

Now, the recent heated discussions have mostly come from posts or memes I have posted criticizing either religion in general or the Catholic Church (and this is using my view of what Church means).  Catholics can be some of the most passionate people about their faith, and I admire that passion.  The problem is, most people have problems separating the ideals of faith and religion from The Church.  My criticisms of the Catholic Church are primarily over those in power.  Bishops, bureaucrats, and, of course, the Pope.  I feel that the time for rational discussion and "changing the Church from within" has passed (if it ever existed) when it comes to the Catholic church and many others.  While I admire people who stand strong in their faith, I can no longer admire or hold high the act of supporting a Church whose doctrine and rules or bylaws denigrate women and LGBT persons.  To stand by such a Church; to remain a member in good standing who not only supports the Church by attending and speaking out in support, but also by giving money to it, is, however indirectly, supporting misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, and all the other ills these Churches propagate. 

Another thing that has been bothering me is the use of the bible to condemn LGBT people and our lives as sinful and wrong, while only using the portions they see fit to harm others.  Take Leviticus, for example.  Do not use that book to condemn my life unless you follow every directive in that book, which very few people in society are able and willing to do.  No tattoos, no speaking to women while they're on the period, guys, no mixed fiber clothing, etc.  IF you follow each and every one of those to a T, then we'll talk, if not, then shut up with your Leviticus condemnations.  Even more than that though is the fact that IF you want to say that my life as a gay man is sinful and wrong because your bible says so, then YOU (or your Church for those who support such Churches) are condemning me and other LGBT people to death.  Period.  Leviticus 20:13 states "And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."  I no longer accept any argument against homosexuality based on biblical principal from people unless they are willing to own the fact that the same bible also calls for death for homosexual acts. 

So, in a nutshell, if you are a member of a Church organization who has policies or doctrine against women or LGBT people, you are indirectly supporting that hate, especially if you give money to your church.  I know it is not your intent, and I know that most of you do not directly support of believe such things, but again, if you support the organizations that do, then you are helping them to do their harm.  If you are among those who say homosexuality is a sin, and you are using the bible as basis for your assertion, then you are calling for the death of LGBT people... you can't pick just the pieces you like and forget the rest (sure, Christians do it all the time).  I'm sorry, but I'm calling bullshit on this one, folks.


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