Before I get into this necessary bit of personal clarification, I just want to direct you all to the ‘New To Outspoken Ally Page,’ where you can find a link to Outspoken Ally on Facebook. Let’s keep the discussion going! Okay, on to the topic at hand:
I sometimes speak with people who are aware of my work as Outspoken Ally, but misunderstand just what it is I have an issue with regarding religion. Regardless of how much I write and clarify the messages Outspoken Ally espouses, I realize that faith is a very personal thing. There will always be people who feel attacked when just one or two tenets of what they believe are confronted – I understand that. I also understand why they believe what they believe, and it would help if Outspoken Ally was understood as well. Misunderstanding does nothing but distract us, and while we argue, the people I’m fighting for are being hunted, abused, and killed in the name of God/Allah/Yeshua. That second one, Allah, will be dealt with in a later post. For now, the opposition I face is primarily Christian, so let’s clear up a few misconceptions.
“You have problems with MY church. Christianity isn’t bad, you know. It’s just the people who misuse it and misrepresent God.” – While it’s true that I have issues with the church, my biggest issue is actually with the inextricable intolerance and hatred of religion in general. I’m not particularly concerned with the average sermon on any given Sunday morning. What I care about is the doctrine of exclusion and moral superiority, and even more-so the practice of retreating to the Bible to educate yourself about those you don’t understand. If evangelical Christians would go to the communities of those they are wary of and initiate conversation, views may change a little bit. Honestly, you really don’t want to be using the Bible to educate yourself, it clearly was never meant to be a textbook. As for those who “misuse and misrepresent God,” I’m not buying that. I know some loving and inclusive Christians, and I know some exclusionary and hateful Christians – like it or not, they all have equal justification for their views; and those justifications are found in the same book.
“If you want to see the church reform, why not fight for change from the inside? You’re not doing any good by staying outside.” – This would be a good point, if not for two things. (1) I left the church because I could no longer support the message or believe the underlying concepts. Not long ago, I was very involved in the church. I played lead guitar and sang backing vocals in a praise band, and I promoted youth engagement. To continue that charade, however, while no longer supporting the church itself, would be dishonest. (2) I AM doing good from the outside. I’ve had LGBTQ Christians thank me for Outspoken Ally’s message, I’m fortunate enough to be asked to speak at educational institutions that have Christian students, and I am regularly contacted by a slowly growing number of people, specifically to answer their questions related to the conflict between faith and identity. I want to see society reform. The church has to come with it, and my efforts from the outside are doing just fine.
“You just want to see all of Christendom fall apart. You’re just as hateful as you’re accusing us of being.” – Well, no, actually. I don’t want to see Christendom fall apart. Faith means a lot to people, I don’t necessarily want to take that away from them. What I want is for religiously motivated ignorance, bigotry, and sense of moral superiority to fall apart. Christendom is a huge problem because of it’s global influence on division and human rights abuses, but if doctrines changed to actually place value on the lives of ALL people, I would have little left to disagree with. My stance here isn’t hateful, it’s a reaction to hate. Outspoken Ally was borne of an intolerance toward hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and dishonesty. These are ideals that we shouldn’t tolerate, ideals that are fundamentally harmful to all of us. Just as hateful as I am accusing you of being? Not even close.
“You’re just mad at God.” – This one bothers me. I am a Secular Humanist, and as I wrote on October 25, 2014 (The Guiding Principle Of Honesty), I live by a principle that “best fits the values and work that my life is devoted to. It informs my actions, decisions, everything … it’s called Honesty.” I am too honest to say that I know whether or not any God exists, so how could I possibly be mad at the concept? I’ll admit that Christians often do things that make me angry, I’ll even admit that I’m generally angry with the church for the atrocities their teachings ultimately cause and promote, but mad at God? If you think I’m mad at God, you’re way off.
These are the misconceptions I am most frequently confronted with, and I am more than happy to answer further questions on the matter. It’s so important that we understand each other. Outspoken Ally is concerned with social injustice and the religious foundations of it. The approach to that, here, is honest, clear, and blunt. The anger, frustration, and button pushing turns of phrase are justified, when one considers the consequences of the attitudes being fought against. Outspoken Ally stands for people – people who are systematically beaten down by those who would rather put their trust in a 2,000+ year-old book, than in actual facts in the here and now. The differences between us should be celebrated, not condemned, and those who disagree with that are quite frankly denying themselves of the interconnected beauty of the human condition. That, in a nutshell, is what Outspoken Ally is about. You may have additional ideas about what it is that I believe or have a stance on, but by all means, please ask; and be kind when you do. My values, the values that Outspoken Ally promotes, are important to me. I want you to know about them. You won’t be turned away or ignored if you ask with genuine tact and interest. Understanding is so very important.