all rights for allSome people want legal protection  if they choose not to do business with members of the LGBT community. Or as comedian Seth Myers said, “Nice shirt, nice shoes, no service.”

The bill in Arizona (Religious Freedom Bill) was vetoed, but similar moves are being discussed in other states of America. I believe the bill was vetoed because of the buying power of the gay community, with large corporations such as Apple pushing hard to make sure the bill didn’t go through.

So the reality in Arizona is “Expensive shirt, designer shoes, service guaranteed.”

I’m glad the bill was vetoed, but sorry it wasn’t vetoed for better reasons, such as equality, fairness and empathy.

I’m really sad that I feel the need to write this. I thought we had moved past these sorts of shenanigans, but apparently not. And after participating in some recent Facebook conversations, I’m aware that Bible literalists are still peddling the idea that it’s a sin to be homosexual.

I can’t for the life of me understand how it can be a sin to live as you were born, to love who you love and to express something that you never chose. Just imagine if I was refused service in a restaurant because I’m heterosexual. It’s just as unthinkable, even nonsensical, as refusing service to someone because they are male, white or red haired.

Empathy! If we could really get inside the shoes of people being discriminated against, we wouldn’t allow it. This video is longish but worth the view. It describes a world where it’s a sin to be heterosexual.

It’s powerful isn’t it? I hope it gets viewed widely, and I hope the message of empathy takes hold. My career in the church began in the inner city of Sydney in a church that was on the Mardi Gras parade route. In my first year, I suggested we open the church on the night of the parade as a water and rest stop. The idea sparked a furor among some who felt that this would be an endorsement of a sinful lifestyle. It was the beginning of the end of my interest in church, where it seems to be more important to be right than to treat people right.

Surely compassion is at the heart of the message of all religions. The Golden Rule says it plain as day. Here it is, in multiple versions,

Isocrates (436-338 BCE) said, “Do not do unto others what angers you.”

Confucianism- “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself.”

Christianity- “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Buddhism- “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”

Hinduism- “This is the sum of duty; do nothing to others that you would not have them do to you.”

Islam- “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”

Judaism- “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”

Taoism- “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”

Zoroastrianism- “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.”

Native American Spirituality – “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within the web of life. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” (Chief Seattle)

golden rule

This is surely the heart of religion.  I’m completely fed up with people who think they have some direct line to God through the Bible, that gives them absolute truth on morality and then use this to justify bigoted behavior. It seems to me that in the case of believing that homosexuality is a sin, it’s not enough just to believe you’re right.You have to believe you are SO right, so sure God is on your side, that you are prepared to hurt, exclude and discriminate against a significant portion of the population to speak your mind. Can anyone be THAT sure? Can any human being live with that burden? Wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of love rather than judgment? Isnt that what Jesus was all about?

Jared Leto gave a great acceptance speech at this year’s Academy Awards. Here is his speech, where he talks about acceptance while accepting his award.

 

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  1. Ann Haruki says:

    Right on Ian!

  2. Elise says:

    Thanks, Ian! 

  3. fiz says:

    I cried through the hetero video. It is so sad that any human should have to be so marginalised, and so despised………we all have faults and all have good parts, but cruelty to another human can never be justified. Jesus would never be  cruel to a fellow human. Jesus has empathy and compassion for us all…..despite our many imperfections. Dont mistake religion for the heart of Jesus. Sadly the ”church” isnt often portraying God’s real heart. Keep to the golden rule. :)

  4. @theteapixie says:

         My religious beliefs or disbeliefs are of no concern of others, so I do not announce them.  In saying that, what I also mean is that whatever I believe is not going to be used by me as a weapon to control another.     We each deserve to focus on the power of kindness, love, and acceptance.  The kind that is given with no expectation of “results” or changes or shifts or anything except connection.  As a mother can still love their child when they have seriously transgressed against society, I can be kind to someone who is filled with anger and hatred, or someone who has wished me dead, or someone who has attempted to destroy my life.  Anger and hatred are pure disguises for deep, deep sadness.  In my heart I feel compassion for them because they are damaged.     But with that compassion is also self-preservation.  We are right to protect ourselves from the shrapnel that flies when such damaged individuals act out.  Our mistake is that we focus on the shrapnel instead of the core problems: mental health.  When anyone expresses hatred or discrimination toward another, they are expressing a deep seeded fear that, for whatever reason, they, themselves, are not good enough.  We waste our time fighting about creating legislation to limit how such individuals may or may not express their discrimination.       We need to end the need to express discrimination.     We could be establishing services and institutions that help people to deal with the original damage that brought them to a place of fear.  We despise the propagation of hate, but we don’t focus on addressing the hate, understanding it’s origin, and helping people to recover from that hate so that they don’t try to replicate it in the world.     Until we start helping damaged individuals, we will be having this discussion over and over.  

  5. Pat Fox says:

    I am deeply connected to humans in every detail of living.  Thanks, Ian, for opening my heart even further!  All’s well in Jesus’ creation.

  6. Bpb G says:

    Like so many others the gender debate has left me utterly weary and so disillusioned with the Western version of Christianity ( I say western because it is so far removed from the original). At no point in any of these ‘holy righteous’ reactions (they are mostly NOT responses ) is the question of motive taken into consideration. Conservative/ evangelical Christianity has very much become the gospel of ‘against-it-ness’ ( I cant take any credit for this phrase) where we are taught to be ‘against things’.In the process Christians, so it seems, never seem to take motives into consideration. I have often said that “wrong motives with, so called, right verses” will always be wrong. This has always been at the heart of what Jesus called ‘the Pharasical  spirit. It is so easy to hide behind verses that are surgically removed out of context and then wave them furiously “I’m right, see the Bible says so”. Of course it is always purely coincidently that there are verses to support my position.  No wonder so many, like myself, have given up on the Western version I refuse now to call myself a Christian yet at the same time still carry a deep life connection to the source of all life.

  7. Frank Sosu says:

    We just do not know it all. I entirely agree laws, believes and practices all need to be broken down in bits in order to reflect their depths to an increasingly sophisticated humanity. This is evident when am reading the Bible. Thoughts (l believe good and bad) flow to me in answer or doubt to texts and stories that ruffle my instincts. All coming to illuminate and craft a deeper understanding of what is said in verbatim. Thus dwelling on simple but compounded texts as basis of judgement on mankind is graver than the direction or prohibition intended in the teachings of the good books. Reason why our ends do not justify their means these days. To the extend that the peace-keeper is doing more killing than the terrorist – so labelled.
    Understanding and exercising wisdom is not for ones that watch the picture, but those that watch through it. We profess many things with passion and velve but fall abysmally short when we are to be acting on the same words. IAN, the bigger picture of our inability to accommodate each other reflects in the endless wild goose chase of the sinner when the sinner is really us. Thank you.