Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Religion, Oppression, and Stuff

The other night on I lurked on a conversation happening about a post about Lady Gaga's appropriation of Latin@ imagery in her Judas video. I'm agnostic as to the OP, whether or not Lady Gaga was really appropriating cultural images that did not belong to her. She is Catholic, of course, but I can't speak to the difference between Italian and Latin@ imagery because I am not Catholic, and I'm not knowledgable enough about Catholic culture to put in my two cents.

What fascinated me, though, was the conversation in the comment section about religion, the three largests monotheisms, which transpired there. It was basically a conversation about whether or not religion is inherently oppressive. Personal stories poured out of people. How ex-Christians had to leave because it injured them, oppressed their souls.

For me, when someone says religion has oppressed them, than that for me full stop means that their experience should be respected. No one has the right to try to convert them, or try to change their minds, or talk them out of their feelings. That just compounds the problem. Christian privilege is the air in which we move, and live, and have our being. I wish more Christians understood this, that their well meaning attempts at "revealing the truth" to some people, are in themselves oppressive; In one posters words "even if the person is nice about it."

It's unwanted. And therefore, oppressive because it functions in a society that privileges all things Christian.

This needs to stop. For one, people have heard it all before. In the US, nobody is ignorant of the basic "gospel message." For another, many people have spent their lives in faiths to which they no can longer adhere because it has harmed them. For another, I fail to understand how "love thy neighbor as thyself" could ever translate to pushing something down someone's throat. That's not love. It's violence.

I also wish more Christians realized that by fighting for restrictions on abortion, and for biblical roles in the family, and against gay rights, they are actively oppressing people. I mean, I'm a pro-gay (and queer), pro-choice person of faith. But even if I wasn't, it wouldn't be my place to legislate people's personal choices (not, of course, that being gay or trans or a woman is even a personal choice at all!). For many Christians, being anti-gay and anti-choice are just  "issues" they adopt because as good people of faith they "should." They think it's God's will. But, for the queer folks and women, these are THEIR LIVES they're messing with.

America, I hate to break to some people, is not a Christian nation. Or, rather, it shouldn't be. It's a democratic republic. Which means, when the people speak, the nation needs to listen. When I thank Godde for my country, I would thank Her for letting me live in a country whose charter documents spell out religious freedom. For everyone.

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