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The Hypocrisy of Gays Chanting at Churchgoers

I will never understand why my fellow queers think it’s OK to be intolerant of the religious freedom of others while calling for religious tolerance for themselves. Last week on Valentine’s Day, a group of LGBT activists protested outside Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral in support of gay marriage and a friendlier stance towards gays by the Catholic Church. As part of the protest, my fellow LGBTers yelled at churchgoers entering the cathedral, a few of whom were quoted in the forelinked Chicago Tribune article saying the protest impacted their ability to enjoy the day’s special mass.

Raised Catholic myself, I understand how maddening it is to be schooled in a religious faith that tells you homosexuality is bad, at the same time that you’re discovering you’re attracted to the same sex. Arguments about the usefulness of gay marriage as a civil right aside (though given the high breakup rate in our community, we may want to have concentrated equally hard on the right to divorce, too), it’s a no-brainer that everyone has the right to expect to be treated fairly by the religious communities where they adhere.

I also get how so many of my fellow LGBTers become so turned off by the concept of God entirely, after a lifetime of dealing with the intolerance–and abject hypocrisy–of the Catholic Church as an institution. But I think it’s a big shame, too.

If gays think the Catholic Church is wrong on homosexuality, why do so many of them reject God based on the views of a church they reject? That’s about the worst internalized homophobia imaginable–believing God hates you solely because your church tells you so.

In reality, we all get to choose what we believe–about God, life, the universe, and everything else. Don’t like what the Catholic Church says about God? Find another church. I know it’s hard for Catholics to understand this, but trust me: you’re allowed.

You’re also allowed to have a personal relationship with God or a higher power of your own understanding, explore the many different versions of faith, and–just like the holy rollers many LGBTers oppose–say the word God in public with a sense of reverence rather than irony.

I say all of this as a Buddhist who made the leap to what for me has been an uplifting faith that let’s me handle my relationship with God on my own. Which isn’t to say that unhappy queer Catholics should run out and buy meditation cushions.

But it is to say that if you think it’s ok to shout down other people simply trying to practice their own religion, then maybe it’s time to examine your own beliefs. Because the Golden Rule applies whether you’re a Catholic or a Buddhist. What you give out you get back.

And always deservedly so.

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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9 replies

  1. It’s funny that the great majority of people taking issue here are those defending atheism in my comments thread, not those defending the actions of LGBTers last Sunday. I’m going to put a fine point on it here:

    The actions of LGBTers were unfair and I’m not concerned with alienating anyone by calling out things that are unfair.

    My stance to never date an atheist (as currently causing a silly amount of contention on my Facebook) is a statement of fact and I’m unconcerned about alienating anyone by stating facts about me–especially atheists, who I’m not about to marry anyway.

    As far as atheism, an even finer point here. Consider two types of atheist if you like. Those who call their belief a personal choice and those who consider their choice a political statement. I have no quarrel with the former group. The latter group, however, stands at the ready to tell those with faith a.) why they’re wrong; b.) why religion is the scourge of the planet; and c.) how much better we’ll all be when that scourge is eliminated.

    No matter how many times some atheists jump up and down and say theirs is a benign personal choice based on private belief, if they’re using atheism to justify the above three things, they’re going far beyond the personal–and I have absolutely no qualms about letting them know they don’t have my permission to plan a world without my right to faith in it.

    And if that annoys them, then it only proves they’re finally paying attention to someone else’s point of view.

  2. First off, your all wrong. The real topic to this subject is who cares and why they protest. People need to feel that their lives are of some value Gay or Straight, Black or White, Christian or Muslim and most people only get a feeling of self worth when they can elevate themselves or belittle others and when you pay attention to activist who have no actual point you give them credibility and power. For some reason people seem to feel like they need to tell others what to do and think and will come up with some wacky out of the world reasons to justify that position.

    Second, Marriage is not about religion it is a contract plan and simple a contract between two people other wise you wouldn’t need to get a Judge to dissolve it you would need a minister. Gay people deserve to be just as happy/unhappy as straight people and should be allowed to get married/ legally bound to each other no matter what religion has to say about it, it is a business agreement and this topic has been tossed into the mix to stir people up and change the focus of the devolution of our society in general.

    Third, The Church is about one thing and that is control and they are losing that and it has nothing to do with Gay rights. Knowledge is power and the perfect example of that is confession, but that is a whole other topic.

    Fourth, The bible is just a book written by people not God and it is the same thing as Greek Mythology. Stories, just Stories to give you some sort of moral compass in life, if you want to believe it Good for you go on your Journey in life and if you don’t Good for you also. Life is short time is the greatest thing of value that you have why would you waste time running around bitching about if two men can marry each other. A gay man is no less of a man then a straight man is and if you have a problem with that you need to look at yourself first.

    For some weird reason their is this whole if I get touched or hit on by a gay man I will turn or become “GAY” and yep if that kid on the playground touches you your gonna get Cooties.

    All I can say is that Mike looks pretty damm good for being 55 years old.


    Taking issue with your “strict definition of atheism”, Mike. I don’t know how many atheists are in your inner circle, but among my close atheist friends, not one defines it the way you do — as an absolute. In fact, the atheists that I call friends generally believe there are no absolutes.

    And really, Mike, your last comment (which you posted while I was composing mine) makes you sound hypocritical. You’re lumping all atheists into the same group and comparing all of us to religious fundamentalists. I haven’t belittled you or begrudged you your beliefs, but you’ve certainly done that to me with your blatant generalizations, your refusal to segregate extremists from the rest of us.

    And I’m not just being touchy, either, Mike. You clearly don’t want to be considered a fundamentalist, so why call all of us that?

  4. Here’s an irony for you, Mike: I went to a Baptist college in the Deep South. I started as a licensed Baptist minister. By the time I graduated four years later, I was an agnostic. Needless to say, I’ll never be recognized as one of the school’s “Distinguished Alumni.”

    Over the years since college, I’ve realized that my agnosticism was really atheism — and it has absolutely nothing to do with my being gay. I cheered when Gene Robinson was elected bishop in the Episcopal church, and I closely follow the debate over homosexuality in the worldwide Anglican Communion, putting my support behind the more progressive provinces of the West and against the fundamentalists of Africa.

    You see, Mike, not all atheists oppose religion. I don’t believe God exists, but I don’t begrudge anyone their belief in a god, however they may define the term. As I said on your Facebook discussion of this topic, atheism is a belief, not a definitive statement. Those of us who subscribe to the secular humanist branch of atheism put our faith in people, not the supernatural. We’re not denying we have faith; we simply redirect it.

    Many gay atheists find it difficult (read: impossible) to reconcile God and homosexuality. But these are people who, pardon me for being so bold, lack the imagination to think for themselves. Even before I became agnostic in college, I rejected many of the conservative beliefs that had been pushed on me by religious leaders. I was pro-choice, for instance, while the pastor of the Southern Baptist church of which I was a member frequently spoke out against abortion rights. I did not subscribe to beliefs because the powers-that-be said it was so; I interpreted the Bible myself, and it said different things to me than to those who came before me.

    I don’t consider myself a gay atheist; I’m gay, and I’m an atheist. They have absolutely nothing to do with each other. When I read the Tribune story a week ago about the Valentine’s Day protest, I was appalled. This should not be a gay vs Christian debate. It is and should be a gay vs anti-gay debate. Certainly, the official teaching of the Catholic church opposes gay rights, but that doesn’t mean all Catholics do. My dad’s family is predominately Catholic, but I’ve never heard any of them express an opposition to gay marriage or adoption rights. Perhaps that’s because there are about half a dozen out gays and lesbians in this very large family, or just because they see the injustice in it. Either way, they reject the official teachings of their religion.

    Finally, I’m going to take issue with the first commenter, Paul M., who makes two separate arguments about education, neither of which are supported by my experience. First, he says that out gays tend to be better educated than the general population. Really? Have you been to a gay bar lately, especially one that’s frequented by 20-somethings? There’s a piano bar in Lakeview (I reject the “Boystown” moniker, since I am far removed from adolescence) that I enjoy spending time in. Most of the people I’ve met there never went to college and couldn’t discuss the topic of religion and homosexuality with anything resembling intelligence. It’s not surprising that so many homosexuals are employed by the hospitality industry (bars, restaurants, hotels, etc) — many of them have few other options precisely because they don’t have formal educations.

    The other argument is that “the more educated people are, the more likely they are to be atheists.” This simply is not true. I went to college with some very intelligent people, who went on to get advanced degrees yet remain Christians through and through. One of the most well-educated men I know personally (with a doctorate from an Ivy League school) is the pastor of a Baptist church (albeit a liberal one). Even Harvard has a divinity school.

    Education is not a predictor of religious beliefs. And neither is sexual orientation.

  5. Mark (Elyaqim), you atheists are always so touchy. When I began typing that sentence, I thought I meant it figuratively. But I actually do mean it literally. Defensive might be a better term, and I also might throw in holier-than-thou. And those are all hallmarks of fundamentalism.

    Actually, the strict definition of atheism is the positive rejection of theism–that is, not merely the lack of belief in God, but the belief that there couldn’t possibly be a God.

    I do not agree with the atheist argument that the “burden of proof” rests on those who believe in God to prove the existence of a higher power. I hold that the burden of proof rests on anyone who claims to have absolute knowledge about the universe. Atheists like to use science as a defense. By your logic, anything science hasn’t proven doesn’t exist. Unfortunately for science–but fortunately for atheists–solar fusion, photosynthesis, and the human immune system all existed long before science took notice of them and “proved” their existence. Lack of scientific proof is simply that–lack of scientific proof.

    In my heart and in the many miracles I experience throughout my life, I have all the proof I need of an ineffable universe. That’s good enough for me, and if it isn’t good enough for you, that’s immaterial. You’re on your own journey.

    But I do think your worldview is limited by definition. You have decided nothing without scientific proof is worth believing in. That’s a rigidity that just doesn’t hold water. There are many common elements of everyday life that exist without science knowing exactly why the do, or in some cases even what they are. One very important one, gravity, is recognized only by its impact on the objective world but is otherwise a mystery explained only in theory. However, I’m sure atheists are very happy that it exists.

    In the same way, those with faith in a higher power or otherwise aware universe recognize the effects that power has in their lives and the world around them. The difference is that religious belief is a personal matter. People have a right to a personal relationship with God as they define God, if they so wish.

    The most annoying thing about atheists is how they think it’s their duty to somehow make the world right by outright belittling of the personal religious views of others. The eventual goal of deep atheism to somehow someday “rid” the world of religion? How is that any different than a fundamentalist Muslim or Missionary Christian praying for a world free of those pesky other religious believers? Or any less dangerous? Does your religio-cidal worldview even take into account faiths like Buddhism that are non-creedal and have no opinion about God one way or the other?

    And who asked atheists to be the religion police, for that matter?

    It’s unfortunate that atheists feel so uncomfortable being stuck here on earth surrounded by so many wrong-headed faithful and agnostics. But not matter what kind of a perfect world you’re picturing, get over it. Atheists have a right not to believe in God. But they don’t have a right to belittle others for believing differently. It’s mean-spirited, unfair, and uncalled for.

    It is, however, about as fundamentalist as it gets.

  6. Mike, your response to Paul’s comment is uninformed, illogical, insulting and makes you sound like the very ass like which you were trying not to sound.

    You seem to have no concept of burden of proof. If someone came up to you and said he saw a green ogre, or saw his friend sprout wings and fly away, or saw the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you would be a “fundamentalist” who is “going on faith” by your own definition if you didn’t believe him. You couldn’t possibly know for certain the outlandish things he described weren’t true unless you were omniscient (not omnipotent), despite simple logic’s dictating the person would need to provide convincing evidence if he wanted to sway your most basic concepts of the way the laws of nature function.

    Therefore, atheists are actually not “going on faith.” That is what religious people do when they believe concepts without sufficient evidence. Requiring evidence before rewriting the rules of science to include supernatural beings does not fundamentalism make. Unlike zealots, atheists would be quite willing to change their minds were there compelling scientific evidence, but the human concept of divinity is conveniently beyond evidence.

    Your ideas that “a more logical position for those who don’t believe in God to adopt is agnosticism” and that “Calling oneself an atheist is simply saying you actually have an answer” are also illogical. Your playing with semantics here. Whether right or wrong, a person’s not believing in God is the very dictionary definition of an atheist, so identifying as one should not automatically make him a fundamentalist zealot. By that concept, anybody who identifies as an adherent of any religion would be a fundamentalist zealot. If someone believes in the divinity of Jesus, a more logical position for him to adopt rather than calling himself “Christian,” despite its being the very dictionary definition, would be agnosticism, because calling oneself a Christian is simply saying one actually has an answer. You’ve created a semantic double standard wherein theistic persons must be zealots to be called zealots, but atheists are automatically zealots. Both groups believe things, but only one believes in supernatural concepts without proof.

    And another thing, don’t underestimate how many gay people there are when trying to deny us civil liberties. When fighting for acceptance in larger society, that’s not an unreasonable statement to make. But apparently when said about atheists, it’s automatically “creepy.”

    Next time you’re in New York, let’s spend some time together.

  7. Actually, Paul, in my experience the truly educated don’t assume they know everything (much less claim to speak for an entire community.) Atheism is a fundamentalist position no different than religious zealotry whose adherents tell others they’ll go to hell or get blown to smithereens by a car bomb for not believing in their one, true God. The only way either party–atheist or zealot–could hold their position with any certainly would be to be omnipotent, themselves.

    Obviously, that’s an impossibility. It seems to me a more logical position for those who don’t believe in God to adopt is agnosticism, because lack of personal belief in a higher power doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of one. Calling oneself an atheist is simply saying you actually have an answer, when, in fact, you’re just going on faith.

    That’s exactly what I’m doing, too. Though unlike you, I’m not warning other people not to “underestimate” the power of my position, or labeling those who hold different beliefs as uneducated. Not just because the way you say it sounds really creepy (beware, faithful world, the mighty swift sword of atheism!), or because I don’t think it’s true (though I don’t.)

    But really just because it would make me sound like an ass.

  8. I like how you imply that “God,” or any higher power, exists. A fair segment of us gay folk don’t believe in a god at all, and we aren’t nonbelievers simply because of the negative effects we see religion bring to the world, though there are many. We don’t believe in a god because we are atheists and we think that is the only logical, coherent position to hold. Do not underestimate how many of us there are. On average, the gay community (or at least the out gay community) is better educated than the general population. And the more educated people are, the more likely they are to be atheists. Just something to remember when you start talking about gays and god…don’t ignore this critical and growing minority.

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