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religion is not an excuse for bigotry

Now I want to start off by saying that I while I’m not religious myself, I have nothing against religion. I understand that people have different beliefs to me and I respect that. Besides, even if I didn’t, it’s not any of my business anyway and certainly not my place to say so.

But I do object to religion being used to discriminate against, or to openly judge other people for their personal choices. It seems that to say one is religious is almost a get out of jail free card. Particularly with issues such as same-sex relationships and marriage. Someone I know and like recently said something along the lines of ‘homosexuality is a disorder and should be cured’. And when we called them on it, they threw out the line ‘you need to respect my beliefs’. And that is usually a sure-fire way of shutting other people up. Because it is instilled in us from a very young age that we do need to respect other people’s beliefs – and rightfully so. But there is a big difference between respecting what other people believe in, and keeping quiet when someone publicly spouts bigotry and hatred.

I strongly believe in respecting other people’s beliefs and opinions if they do not hurt anyone else. I believe in respecting other people’s choices if they do not hurt anyone else. But when they do hurt others, I’m not about to stand for it, whether it’s a part of their belief system or not.

Now I have to clarify – when I say ‘religious’ I am not talking about all or even most people who self-identify as religious. I have many friends of a variety of faiths who would never ever use their beliefs to hurt, put down, or discriminate against others. And I don’t believe that any of those things are a true part of any religion. Which is why it bothers me so much when people hide behind their faith as an excuse for prejudice, because it’s insulting to others with religious beliefs to even insinuate that bigotry is an intrinsic part of it.

When it comes to the issue of same-sex relationships and marriages, what I really can’t stand about the interference of the church in this state based matter is that other people’s belief systems are not being respected. There is no acknowledgement that not all people feel the same way. There is no care for other people’s personal opinions. And I’m not just talking about those attracted to the same sex either. Numerous polls have shown that the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage. So when the church interferes, which they have been doing to a remarkable degree, they are only speaking on behalf of their own beliefs and aren’t considering what the majority of Australians want.

Ahh, there’s that word again, ‘beliefs’. When someone makes negatives comments about a persons race, do we call that a belief, let alone one that should be respected? So why is it alright to make negative remarks about people based on their sexuality? Why is it alright for a group such as the Australian Christian Lobby to make hate-filled remarks about the gay community? Why are we, as Australians, tolerating it?

But what bothers me most of all is this: Why is it anyone else’s business? If you don’t agree with same sex relationships…don’t have one. It really is as simple as that.

When it comes down to it, discrimination is discrimination, no matter what excuses people use to hide behind. It’s 2012 and people STILL don’t have equal rights in the eyes of the law. We are still practicing ‘separate but equal’ notions that only serve to discriminate, as well as further empower those who wish to force their beliefs onto others no matter the harm that it does to society.

From now on I am not going to stand back quietly when people pull the religion card out as an excuse, no matter whom it may be. I’m fine with people having their own beliefs and living according to them, but to discriminate against and harm others should never be tolerated.

(Image credit: 1.)

 

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