Top on my list of religious groups today is the new Trail Life, a boys’ group formed after the Boy Scouts decided to accept gays for the troops. The Boy Scouts still exclude gays as leaders, but that isn’t good enough for the “Christians” who formed Trail Life. Yesterday Daily Kos published a brief article about the group with a comment about their special “salute” and a link to show the photo. I filed the link and then returned it today. Lo and behold, the photo has been changed to this sweet photo.
Unfortunately for Trail Life, the computer never forgets. This is the photo that ran with the article yesterday before the news source changed it.
As fundamentalists try to train these young people, many others are changing their attitudes about religion. Last year, for the first time, more people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 30 now identify as having no religion that those who identify as either Protestant or Catholic. The younger the group, the larger the percentage. For example, 32 percent of those 18-24 have no religion as compared to 29 percent ages 25-34.
This poll is not alone in its findings: both Pew and Gallup have identified a trend away from organized religion.
Organized religion’s bigotry is turning these young people away. Public Religion Research Institute determined that 31 percent of these people identified churches’ negative perspectives and treatment of homosexuality as an “important” factor in their decision. They don’t identify as LGBT; they just don’t believe in religion’s institutionalized intolerance. They are more likely to support adoption by LGBT families and legalized marriage equality. Older people understand the problem: 58 percent of people in the United States of all ages agree that religion has “alienat[ed] young adults by being too judgmental on gay and lesbian issues.”
In the past decade, the percentage of people supporting marriage equality has gone from 32 percent to over 50 percent. The most astonishing change is the increase within white fundamental evangelicals from 12 percent to 27 percent. And those Millenials, ages 18-33? Sixty-nine percent of them support marriage equality, compared to 37 percent of those ages 68 and older.
As has been suspected for quite a while, there’s a big difference between people who know someone who is LGBT and those who think that they don’t. With the number of people coming out of the closet, 65 percent of people in the United States today know someone who is LGBT, compared to just 22 percent 20 years ago.
People arguing against same-sex marriage claim that it doesn’t fit the bible’s traditional view of marriage. Here are some examples of biblical marriage:
- Solomon had 300 concubines or sex slaves in addition to his 700 wives of royal birth. God only minded because “his wives led him astray.” (1 Kings 11:3)
- Masters in he bible had sexual rights, including cruelty, over slaves if they weren’t betrothed to another. (1 Peter 2:18)
- Abraham got his wife’s slave pregnant with the wife’s permission but then let his wife mistreat the slave got pregnant and the wife got upset. (Genesis 16:1-6)
- The bible required men to marry a widowed sister-in-law even if the man is married. (Mark 12:19)
- According to the bible, if a wife defends her husband, the man must cut her hand off. (Deuteronomy 25:11-12:11)
- Technically, no one should marry, according to the bible. “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do.” (1 Corinthians 7:8)
The literal view of biblical stories, as preferred by fundamental Christians, show a hateful, murdering god:
- God sent bears to kill children after they made fun of Eliseus. (4 Kings 2:23-24).
- God turned Lot’s wife into salt although she wasn’t warned about turning back to look at her home. (Genesis 19:26)
- God hates the blind, lame, dwarves, blemished, bad skin, etc. (Leviticus 21:17-24)
- God tried to kill Moses with no explanation. (Exodus 4:24-26)
- God killed a lot of people when he drowned everyone except Noah and his family, helped the Israelites kill everyone in Jericho, and even helped Israelites kill 500,000 other Isrealites.
- God told his followers to kill their children, for example Abraham and Jephthah who burned his daughter alive to make God happy. (Genesis 22:1-12)
- God killed Egyptian babies. (Numbers 16:41-49)
- God killed someone because he wouldn’t have more children by having sex with his sister-in-law. (Genesis 38:1-10)
- God helped Samson kill 30 people to get their clothes because the two of them had a bet. (Judges 14:1-19)
- God wrestled a man all night, cheated by wrenching the man’s out of its socket, and still lost. (Genesis 32: 22-31)
- God killed people because they complained about God killing people, some of them by setting fire to them. (Numbers 16:1-49)
- When God wasn’t killing people, he tortured them, for example Job. According to the bible, God was having a conversation with Satan and started bragging about what a great guy Job was. After God takes everything away from Job and makes his life a hell, Job apologizes, and God gives him new animals and children. All because of bet with Satan. (Job 1)
William “Jerry” Boykin, deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence for most of the Bush/Cheney era, was part of the failed search for Osama bin Laden and wore his uniform when he frequently spoke in churches to explain to his listeners that the Iraq was part of the End Times. He goes beyond a literal reading of the bible, telling his listeners that Jesus will arrive with an AR-15 assault rifle at the Second Coming. According to Boykin, Jesus was responsible for the “the whole concept” of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.
Even Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin agrees with the young people when he claims that homophobia is “insulting to God.” He added: “We all belong to one another and there is no way we can build up a society in which people are excluded or insulted.” Ireland is considering legalized same-sex marriage.
The archbishop’s attitude is opposite to that of some Catholic leaders in the United States. When a family sued the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis because a former pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in St. Paul, Curtis Wehmeyer, abused their two boys, ages 12 and 14, lawyers blamed the mother in court for leaving the children alone with Wehmeyer. He pled guilty to luring the boys into his home, giving them drugs and alcohol, and telling them to touch themselves and other boys. Archdiocese officials knew about Wehmeyer’s “risky sexual behavior” when he was appointed pastor.
According to many fundamentalist lawmakers, God wrote not only the bible but also the U.S. Constitution—like former House Speaker Tom DeLay (R-TX). These are the people who are making our laws and training children in Trail Life, teaching them to give a salute identical to the one taught children in Nazi Germany. With the current trends, however, hopefully some of them won’t be giving the salute in a few years.