Defend Truth


Will the gays and women please rise?


Styli Charalambous is the CEO and co-founder of Daily Maverick, having joined the effort a few months before launch in 2009. Over the years, he has studied media models and news innovation efforts. He has also helped launch various projects and products within the Daily Maverick orbit.

Lately, reading these pages, one might be forgiven you’d landed on a pro-secular, religion-bashing website. One of a columnist’s jobs is to promote thinking, encourage debate and reasoning. But, if in the course of doing that, we focus attention on the injustices of religion, then so be it. And given so much material to work with, I just can’t resist having a go.

I follow a Twitter account called “cuntoftheday” which kindly suggests people around the world that I should be adding to my population-culling wishlist. (Before I offend the feminists, I take the word “cunt” as “an unpleasant stupid person” as defined in the SACOD, rather than its other definition as female genitalia.) Each day, mass murderers, robbers, paedophiles and generally nasty people are bestowed with the dishonourable title. So it’s not surprising that Pope Benedict XVI and his merry band of homophobes are often fingered in this daily ritual. 

Just this week alone, the Pope, a child-molesting priest and a Cardinal were all awarded the daily or weekly accolade, for their intolerance towards a progressive and liberal society. The issue of homosexual union once again reared its head as the United Kingdom looked to step out of the dark ages by allowing same-sex marriages. Cue outrage from those Catholics and Anglicans that oppose this long-overdue move to bestow couples in same-sex relationships the same rights as heterosexuals.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, lashed out at the proposed law change calling it “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. Not satisfied with that mild bigoted slur, he went on to compare gay marriage to the slave trade and has previously compared gays and lesbians to captives of their sexual aberrations.  Apparently, Jesus wasn’t thinking of homosexuals when he pleaded for us to turn the other cheek.

I would say the madness and grotesque violation of human rights lies with the churches’ principles and not those wishing to see the entire population treating as equals. This is yet another instance of the prejudiced core belief of the church (and I am lumping all Christians into this melting pot here given this unified anti-gay stance).  But I’ve since recognised religion for what it really is, and this column is not directed at the papal elders who sip from diamond encrusted chalices while plotting how best to spend the congregations’ tithing.

No, my anger is directed at the many followers who choose to remain silent in the face of such bigotry. Just because some old guy with flowing robes and a funny looking hat says some stuff, it doesn’t make it right. Nor does it make it wise or necessarily God’s will. By remaining silent, you condone this moronic and hateful stance of the church, which in turns makes you as bigoted and ignorant. By remaining silent, you prove you are nothing more than a sheep being fleeced for money and acting as agent of indoctrination. By remaining silent, you’re saying homosexuals do not deserve the civil liberties you enjoy. By being silent, you are acting against the very doctrine your supreme being in the heavens wants you to follow.

Fortunately, there are some among you who have the courage to stand up. Tony Blair has openly defied the Pope by voicing his support to legalise gay marriage. But if Christianity isn’t going to be destined to the historical scrapheap of other indoctrinating cults, more people need to stand up and reject these nonsensical calls opposing gay marriage. More people need to realise that you can still remain religious and criticise the leaders of your faith.

But I suspect if you did, it wouldn’t be long before you throw that particular towel into the ring. Once you realise why most religious doctrine is not open to debate, which is that asking questions will inevitably lead to doubts with which the church doesn’t want to have to deal.

And while you’re at it, would you mind telling the Pope that women are people too? The Orthodox and Catholic churches do not allow women to be ordained as priests because of some “holy decree” that only baptised men may enter the priesthood. My rudimentary understanding of this decree is that God does not view women as human beings of equal standing with men. (For more proof, just refer to “word of God thingy” called the Bible where women are often listed as belongings of men, alongside horses and land.)

Again, I direct this column at you, the church-going disciple who stands and sings hymns of praise to a God who apparently does not recognise the rights of women. Say nothing, and you condone it. I’m not asking you to cross the Rubicon into atheist belief, but rather question why these age-old doctrines haven’t changed to afford modern thinking its rightful due. Saying nothing, means you are happy to teach your children these very policies and continue the outrageous intolerance. And, as for the homosexuals and women who sit quietly in the pews, where is your voice? You must be the most indoctrinated of the lot if you can sit in a congregation that argues against your right to civil liberties and equality.

So before the atheist-bashing response to this column begins, let me ask you why you treat religion with kid gloves. There is no grey area here, you either sit quietly and do nothing in apparent support or speak out against archaic thinking. Is your religion really supposed to be a one-way street of put-up or shut-up? DM


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