Planting Peace and Shocked Rants

Hi gang. I want to talk about a couple of news items that caught my eye yesterday.

In entertainment news, singer Michelle Schocked decided to end her musical set over the weekend with an anti-gay rant, according to those in attendance at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. Ms. Schocked, an alternative/folk singer who had some success in the 80’s and 90’s, has previously danced on the edge of coming out. In 1990, she talked to Outlines, a Chicago gay newspaper, about having her first relationship with a woman.

By 2008, Shocked seemed to struggle with her identity, as quoted in the Dallas Voice: “According to my Bible, which I didn’t write, homosexuality is immoral. But homosexuality is no more less a sin than fornication. And I’m a fornicator with a capital F. I like the sound of being called an honorary lesbian and the comparisons to black disco divas. But right now, I’m a dug-in-the-heels fundamentalist who’s not too happy about it.” In 2012, Shocked has apparently decided to take up the banner of hatred in the name of fundamentalist religion. Over the weekend, she ranted at her show, reportedly telling the audience she feared gay marriage would “destroy the world”, and they could go on Twitter and say, “Michelle Shocked hates fags.” She mostly emptied out the club at that point. Shocked herself Tweeted later, “Truth is leading to painful confrontation.”

I wonder if she was talking about the crowd or her own internalized homophobia? I don’t personally care if she’s gay or straight, but can somebody tell me why every time one of these “converted” born-again Christians speaks, they have to launch into such vile and hateful language? Are they trying to convince themselves or everyone else? I’m going to Tweet to Michelle: Don’t hate yourself, God loves you either way.

In more uplifting news, did you see that the Westboro community in Topeka Kansas has a new Equality House? That’s right, and it’s located right across the street from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, run by the fundamentalist homophobe Fred Phelps. Planting Peace is a diverse charity organization with projects ranging from environmental causes to opening orphanages worldwide that rescue children from the street. Planting Peace has now opened the Equality House in Phelp’s own neighborhood.

Aaron Jackson, one of the group’s founders, said, “I read a story about Josef Miles, a 10-year-old kid who counter-protested the Westboro Baptist Church by holding the sign that says ‘God Hates No One,'” Jackson told The Huffington Post “I didn’t know anything about the church or where they were located, but that story kept popping up. And one night I wondered, Where is this church? I got on Google Earth, and I was ‘walking down the road,’ and I did a 360 view. And I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign sitting in the front yard of a house. Right away it hit me, Oh my gosh, I could buy a house in front of the WBC! And immediately I thought: And I’m going to paint that thing the color of the pride flag.”

Today, volunteers are painting the Equality House in rainbow colors. Yes, the sound you hear is the crowd going wild. Phelps is in the business of intimidation and bullying. In my experience the only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them. Let’s see how Phelps and his hate-mongering followers handle a neighbor who isn’t going to cower in their presence, or worse, ignore them in the hopes they’ll go away. The sign hanging on the Westboro Baptist Church states the same message Michelle Shocked proclaimed: God Hates Fags.

No. God hates hate. Clearly, these adults are not smarter than a fifth grader.

We shouldn’t be shocked by either of these stories. There will always be people like Phelps who use religion to justify their bigotry and hate, and sadly, their will always be those like Shocked who internalize the twisted message and lash out as a bizarre defense mechanism. I feel sorry for them because hate only breeds hate and what you give always comes back to you. Be the change you wish to see, right? Planting peace. What a concept.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading~
LM

It’s those damned homosexuals again!

Science? Bah! It’s those damned homosexuals again!

Have you seen the latest ultra-conservative preacher’s assertion that the current storm on record—Hurricane Sandy—is our fault? The LGBT community that is. You know the story. These preachers can’t help themselves, every time there is a devastating weather event, it’s because of the gays and lesbians. Now, hurricane Sandy has already plowed through the Caribbean, causing untold damage, and sadly, the deaths of some 69 souls and is bearing down on the east coast of the US. Rather than mobilizing their religious brethren in community efforts for rescue or other assistance to those in harms way, these “men of the cloth” instead use the tragedy once again to stir up their sinister brand of hatred for the LGBT community.

Of course, there is a long history of this false prophecy fear mongering among the hardliners of the religious right. John McTernan is only one of a sad list of so-called Christian leaders who regularly employ such tactics to get attention. There’s Pat Robertson, who has famously asserted that the LGBT community is responsible for Hurricane Katrina. 9/11, according to Jerry Falwell, is the evildoing of our community as well. Fred Phelps has his own special niche blaming the deaths of US service members on our country’s “acceptance” of homosexuality. Presumably, if we were all imprisoned or worse, all casualties of war and every natural disaster would cease. Our military would be invincible, impervious to every bullet or bomb, and never again would we see a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado, I guess. Wow.

What about science, you say? Hogwash! Scientific theories regarding climate change and evolution get in the way of the fire and brimstone scare tactics. Better to relegate groups of citizens to the realm of godless heathens, responsible for every ill of humanity than to accept reasoning or scientific theory. These same types of preachers once used race to demonize and blame, but now that’s passé, and besides they can get a lot more fundamentalist churches on their side on the issue of homosexuality. Ahh, now here’s common ground for biblical ultra-fundamentalists, regardless of race.

I realize that these types of preachers have always tried to use images of “vile” human behaviors to justify what they warn is God’s wrath, and many times the message strays into the demonization of a particular group. Jews, blacks, Asians, communists, Muslims, Catholics, gays, and lesbians, have all been targets of the same ideology at different points in history. Of course, forces of nature that we cannot control are events most easily exploited to summon the images of the wrath of a vengeful god, and who better to blame for terrible misfortune than some “other” group? Sadly, it’s a recurring pattern for those who supposedly are God’s messengers to the world, regardless of religious affiliation. I’d like to suggest to these folks that they would better serve their fellow citizens by demonstrating consistent charity and love. Tell your flock how to unite for the good of humanity, especially in times of hardship or natural disaster. If all of these preachers tried it, imagine the good they might actually accomplish.

Thanks for reading~LM