One step forward, two steps back
A few weeks ago, I was contemplating whether or not I should continue trying to write my book on atheism. Part of my hesitation came from the fact there are already so many books on the subject, and everyone with a soapbox believes they have something to say on the issue. It can make a person’s own opinion on the subject feel small and relatively unimportant.
Still, events seem to conspire to force me into action. Just yesterday, while America embarked on the most unique presidency in their history, the citizens of California voted to repeal the rights of gays to marry. In other words, while Americans took a step forward on the issue of race, they took a big step backwards on the issue of sexuality.
The major reason why this occurred is due, in no small part, to the tireless work of religiously motivated homophobes. It’s no secret Christians detest homosexuals and feel their ability to marry one another is the greatest threat to the ‘sanctity’ of marriage.
If you asked me, a liberal minded atheist what I felt was the most sanctimonious part of marriage, I would answer that it is the ability for two people in love to make an emotional and legal commitment to one another. What the two people look like, or what sex they are seems to me the least important part of the arrangement, simply because the love necessary to make that commitment isn’t dictated by sex.
It was obviously not how a majority of Californians felt, and in voting to repeal the rights of its own citizens, California now is in the uncomfortable position of having to remove rights to a minority that had previously been allotted. Not since the internment of Japanese in the Second World War has this been true.
What is most frightening is how the issue of repealing the rights of an individual seems less important to people than their religion. The religious sensitivity of one group in the majority has now trampled the rights of a minority that has spent the better part of the decade working towards them.
The fact is, religion is on a major upswing. This is particularly apparent in domestic and foreign policy, which is marred in the murky language and motivation of religion. The separation of church and state appears to be vanishing, as candidates are now being judged based on the degree of religiosity. The reasons are simple: rather than try to force governments to spread their Christian values, the religious right is now making faith a major issue in politics, ensuring that candidates are, in part, making decisions from a Christian point of view.
It’s sad that gays in California will no longer benefit from the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. But more than that, it is merely a small demonstration of the growing power of religion. As they flex their muscles, so to must we flex ours.
I should have never underestimated the power of writing. Although I have no great illusions of the degree of influence I possess, even my own site is but a small fabric in a large tapestry. I may not be able to change the world, but I at least have lent some of my talent to the endeavor.